Day in Vancouver


Vancouver Skyline

Although the day started with clouds and rain, we’re in Vancouver, get out and participate. This is a city of walkers and outdoor activities, a little rain is barely noticed. After a drive through Stanley Park and along English Bay we spent several hours at the University of British Columbia’s Museum of Anthropogy – a treasure trove of art and artifacts of First Nation peoples.


UBSMA - Mask

Bob is especially interested in the carvings of totems, house boards, masks, boxes, canoes. Timing was just right for me to join one of the free tour groups while Bob took detailed photos. Although we’ve been interested in Northwest Coast art and culture for decades I learned a great deal from the knowledgable, energetic guide.


UBCMA - Carvings


We needed a respite after museum time and headed back to Stanley Park for a mid-afternoon lunch at The Fish House restaurant. The calm ambience and seafood was greatly appreciated. We noted that in addition to lunch and dinner the restaurant serves afternoon tea as well.


Fish House Interior


The rest of the afternoon was spent at sites in the park – totem poles, lighthouse, dense forests and walks along the sea wall.


Stanley Park Lighthouse Walk in Stanley Park


Throughout the day we were encouraged by sun breaks and patches of blue skies. We even found the clouds photographic.


Afternoon Skies Over Vancouver

Everything’s Coming Up Pumpkins

Parsons - Tractor & Pumpkins

While traveling the Crowsnest Highway between the Okanagan Valley and Vancouver today I had to make a u-turn and backtrack to Parsons Farm Market in Keremeos, British Columbia. The area is known as the farm stand capital of BC and we had passed numerous stands but Parsons demanded a closer look. Established in 1908 and one of the first family operations to open a farm market Parsons is now overseen by the fourth generation.


Parsons - Apples


A collection of antique tractors stand adorned with a fall harvest of pumpkins, squashes and gourds. Large bins hold a rich harvest of tomatoes and apples. A mobile juicing unit is at Parsons today quickly turning shovelfuls of apples into juice. While the decorations are eye-catching the produce is very appealing, if we weren’t on the road for a couple of more weeks I’d be loading up on all sorts of fruits and veggies.



Parsons - Apple Juicing

I share a slideshow of some of my favorite pictures from our brief stop in Keremeos. Please take a couple of minutes and enjoy scenes of autumn that will surely put a smile on your face.


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A Day of Orchards and Vineyards

Purple Grapes

With Penticton, British Columbia as home base we explored a small portion of the Okanagan Valley today. Acres upon acres of fruit trees and tidy rows of grape vines stretch across the landscape. Large red and golden apples await pickers and wine grapes swell with juice. Such a great location for a relaxed day of wandering back roads, tastings and photos – even if there were clouds and afternoon showers.


The Bench

Our day started at The Bench, a charming little artisan cafe and market a short walking distance from our lodging. A steady stream of locals stopped for morning coffee and conversation. We ordered “Eggers” (much like an egg McMuffin – only better) with a Dijon Mayo spread. Bob selected one with smoked salmon and capers, I chose bacon. We shared  a raspberry-nectarine scone made with fresh fruit. Yum, good start to the day.


Summerville Farmers MarketWe headed north along the west side of Okanagan Lake making a stop at the local farmers market in Summerland to purchase fresh pears and plums for an afternoon snack with cheese and crackers.


A helpful lady at the local visitor center steered us to Summerland Sweets and Sleeping Giant Winery a few miles outside of town. All over Western Canada gift shops and stores sell the jams, syrups and jellies (candies) made here at Summerland Sweets. A first for us was the syrup tasting station. With more than 20 syrups to choose from being able to taste before selection is a real bonus. I liked the Maplapple, Bob’s favorite was the Black Currant, we both agreed the pear was outstanding. Since this is a road trip we’re taking home quite a selection.


Summerland Sweets Syrups


Sleeping Giant WinesThe adjacent Sleeping Giant winery produces fruit wines, everything but grapes. From the long list we select five to try. Many are sweeter than normal table wines but some like the pear are dry and crisp. Peach is one of their top sellers and certainly gives off the distinctive peachy aroma. I note that a number of customers come in to purchase, knowing exactly what they’re after, obviously very familiar with the selection. To cap our tasting we try the seasonal pumpkin wine with the spicy flavors of clove, nutmeg and cinnamon. Our Thanksgiving guests will be greeted with mulled pumpkin wine this year.


Dirty Laundry EntranceThere are so many wineries in the region it’s hard to know which ones to select. On our first visit to the valley I chose by the more interesting names – Blasted Church, Black Widow, Laughing Stock, Therapy, Forbidden Fruit. How can one not wonder about a winery named Dirty Laundry? I remember taking home their Gewürztraminer. They’ve added a new tasting room and patio since our last visit. After tasting three different Gewuztraminers I select two for purchase. One of the wines won a North American award this year but at this point in the tastings I don’t remember the details. Tasters also hear the local legion of the Dirty Laundry name.


We spent the rest of the afternoon visiting a farm stand and driving up the east side of the lake to the village of Naramata. I don’t think one can go a mile without a sign directing you to a winery, artist studio or an artisan cheese maker. I need a week to explore this section of the Okanagan.


Black Widow Winery Okanagan Gourds


Apples 3 Rows of Vines

Huckleberries and More Huckleberries

Huckleberry Patch - Sign 2


Huckleberry Patch Sign

Bob loves seeing that little bear lazing in a huckleberry patch – the logo for a company called the Huckleberry Patch, specializing in that little berry you mustn’t ever call a blueberry.

Huckleberries, designated the state fruit of Idaho, are found in Montana, Idaho, Oregon and Washington. The Huckleberry Patch turns them into everything sweet and tasty.


We’ve patronized the store in St. Regis, Montana many times when traveling I-90. Today we found ourselves at the company’s motherland in Hungry Horse, Montana located a few miles west of Glacier National Park.


Huckleberries are often described as a small blueberry but locals are adamant they should not be called blueberries. We are told they can not be cultivated, that they only grow in the wild. Residents are very territorial about their “secret” patches. In fact this year one Montana man felt someone was intruding into his territory and shots were fired. No one was injured but it gives new perspective to an afternoon of berry picking. The other risk is that bears are quite fond the the small dark purple pearls.


Huckleberry Patch - Candy
Huckleberry Patch - Jars










Would you like your huckleberries in the form of syrup, honey, jam, preserves, jelly, vinaigrette, pie filling, barbecue sauce, or daiquiri mix. And, then there are the candies – huckleberry caramels, jelly beans, licorice, taffy, gummy bears, swirls or chocolate covered. Or, how about fudge – huckleberry, huckleberry walnut, or huckleberry chocolate?


Huckleberry Patch - Fudge


Huckleberry ChocolatesDon’t overlook the huckleberry truffles in milk or dark chocolate. Decadent, but oh, so good. What a great gift they would be for a special someone back home.


Skipping right pass the soups, salads and sandwiches we made lunch on a slice of warm huckleberry pie a la mode, the ice cream choice being huckleberry – of course. One can even order an entire pie over the Internet it you need a fix once you’re home.


Huckleberry Patch - Pie

When traveling in the Northwest be sure to try huckleberries in some form. Bob was sure today that he was in Huckleberry Heaven – as happy as that little bear in the logo.

An Evening with Michael Martin Murphy


MMM with Guitar


Red River, New Mexico has long been a location dear to the heart of entertainer Michael Martin Murphy. He has now established the Rocking 3M Amphitheater at the location of the old Lazy H Guest Ranch. The venue opened in 2013; for the 2014 season MMM performs twice weekly during July and August. With forested mountain sides and a quiet lake for a backdrop and an enthusiastic audience under an starlit sky Murphy says, “This is a dream come true.”


On this August Saturday evening we made our way up Bitter Creek Trail for the chuckwagon-style dinner and musical entertainment. Located north of the western resort town of Red River the 2+ miles of gravel road is rocky and steep in places but nothing the family sedan can’t handle with careful driving.


MMM - Front RowFestivities start around 6pm with a barbecue buffet prepared by Texas Reds Steakhouse in Red River. We filled plates with beef slices, smoked sausage, BBQ sauce, beans, macaroni and potato salads and wheat rolls. A special treat this evening was a big dish of stewed fresh apricots. Warm peach cobbler and vanilla ice cream completed the meal; along with hot coffee and/or soft drinks.


MMM - ShoppingFour tiers of tables and benches are spread out in front of the outdoor stage – good viewing from any location. A large tent is available in the case of evening rain. When the sun sinks behind the mountain the temperature changes quickly. We were thankful for the fleece and windbreakers we brought along. Many guests arrive with blankets. Between dinner and the music there’s time to check out MMM’s CDs including his latest release, “Red River Drifter”, and art work by band member Gary Roller.


MMM & Kids


MMM & Nancy

The friendly, relaxed atmosphere feels like joining Murphy and crew for a family barbecue. MMM visits with the guests and poses for pictures – from cute pre-schoolers to silly old ladies eager for a souvenir photo. This evening one extended family included three adorable youngsters prepared for the occasion with straw cowboy hats, stick horses and plenty of giddy-up.


MMM & Shaun Richardson

The one-and-a-half hour of music included a balance of Murphy’s most popular and requested songs plus new ones from his latest release. Tonight he was accompanied by Gary Roller on bass  and an amazing young musician Shaun Richardson who made everything with strings sing. Whether playing guitar, fiddle or mandolin Richardson could steal the show from a lesser artist; but it was obvious that MMM loved giving the young man a showcase. Carin Mari is a young lady that Murphy has mentored since she was nine years old. She performed a couple of numbers and joined the band for Murphy’s signature, “Wildfire.”


We’ve seen MMM perform in theaters, large venues and with a symphony orchestra but never have we had as much fun as the Rocking 3M Amphitheater. It truly appeared as if he was having as much fun as his appreciative audience.

Taos Leisure & Tastes

A leisurely summer Sunday in Taos started with breakfast at Guitz. We first tried this locally popular cafe a couple of times last year and it was high on the list for a return visit. The menu includes creative combinations after one gets past the Basic Breakfast and French Toast (which I so recommend). Bob ordered the Scrambled Egg Tower – scrambled eggs, mushrooms, spinach, diced tomato & Manchego cheese – served with Guitz potatoes & mixed green salad.I selected the Spanish Tortlla – Spanish omelette baked with onion and potatoes, topped with warm cucumber mushrooms & tomatoes, drizzled with basil pesto, served with olive tapenade & crustini. Great way to start the day.


Rio Grande Gorge Bridge

Between time reading and drawing at the casita we explored back roads and drove out to the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge. Spanning the gorge more than 500 feet above the Rio Grande River the is the 7th highest bridge in the U.S. The gorge slices the Northern New Mexico landscape for approximately 50 miles with depths up to 800′. Designated in 2013 as the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, 74 miles of the Wild and Scenic River is a draw for whitewater rafters, anglers, hikers and artists.


Kilborn Studio - Sunday Night 2012The evening started with an opening orientation session for Bob’s workshop with artist/potter Stephen Kilborn. Always a good time catching up with the Kilborns and seeing friends made in previous classes plus several new participants.


Afterwards we joined friends Dolores and Orrel for dinner at Doc Martin’s in Taos Inn. We noted that the menu selection were fewer than in previous years and missing the ladies favorite watermelon gazpacho. Our waitress provided cheerful, excellent service.


Taos Inn - 8:17:14

A Day of Favorites

Taos, New Mexico

Sunflowers - Taos Farmers Market


Eggplants - Taos Farmers Market

Saturday morning started with a visit to the Taos Farmers’ Market. Local growers, producers and purchasers fill Taos Plaza. Even though I don’t plan to do much cooking this week I’m tempted by almost every vendor. Just walking through the market and admiring the artful displays provides pleasure. We left with watermelon and cantaloupe from Rocky Ford, CO, red ripe “Happy” tomatoes, a perfect bunch of radishes and a giant sticky bun for tomorrow’s breakfast.  A bonus was running into one of the artist Bob’s painted with at previous workshops.


Taos Country FurnishingsOur second stop was to Country Furnishings of Taos, north of downtown Taos. I can always find something to fall in love with at this charming shop filled to the brim with everything from hand carved chests to hand lotion, many from local craftsmen. I actually started my Christmas shopping here today. I’ll probably return a couple more times this week to add to my stash of gifts from merchandise not found in every store and reasonable prices.



Claire Works

Next destination was the village 0f Arroyo Seco seven miles northeast of Taos. Our initial purpose was to place a custom order with jeweler Claire Haye. Her creative designs fill the Claire Works shop – necklaces, bracelets, pins, rings earrings. With my “assistance” Bob shops for future gift occasions. We were surprised to see friend Holly working today and Bob at Taos Cow 2011grateful for the, “Try this necklace, it looks so good on,” suggestion. One more holiday Bob has covered – if I can wait that long.


We cross the street to indulge in the best ice cream in New Mexico at Taos Cow. They didn’t have my favorite flavor today, caramel piñon nut, but the generous single dip cone of coconut did not disappoint.



Orlando's 2 - Taos

Mid-afternoon found us at Orlando’s Cafe for a late lunch. For almost 20 years this has been my favorite spot for traditional Northern New Mexico cuisine. Bob had the soft shell chicken tacos and I selected the smothered shredded beef burrito accompanied by beans and posole. I was never a posole fan until Orlando’s version. Half the large burrito came home with me for a weekday lunch. Orlando’s is another business we’ll return to this week.


We finish the afternoon with visits to three galleries along Kit Carson Road – Angie Coleman’s Studio/Gallery, Mission Gallery and Bryans. After a full day of visiting all these favorites we happily retired to the casita for a peaceful evening and a New Mexico sunset.


Taos Sunset




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