Bryce Canyon Memories

All I remember about Bryce Canyon National Park is how beautiful and strange and daunting the landscape was. A two hour tour of Bryce doesn’t really qualify me to say anything about it. But we had bitten off too many miles for our week in Utah so a quick view was all I got. Just remember that if you include Zion and/or Bryce in your itinerary along with the Moab spots, you are in for a lot of driving. Even if it is on the beautiful Utah Hwy 12, a road I hope to enjoy again soon.

So, we had a quick stop enroute to Kodachrome State Park that day. Weather was warm but beautiful for mid-September, and the bike/hike trail from the Bryce Visitors Center to the lookout was great. From there a short hike up a steep hill and there it was. Bryce Canyon. It haunts me as I cycle through my memories of all the beautiful spots we enjoyed that week.

Bryce Canyon Overlook on a beautiful September day. (Click to enlarge)

Standing at the rim enjoying the beautiful vista, I didn’t really know what to think. It was simply awe inspiring, like so many of our National Parks.

So fast-forward till I am home a week or 2 later and as I look through my photos I see a trail winding through the canyon. How did I miss that? Guess I was blinded by the gorgeous panorama before me. I am sure it is one of many, and as I sit here I realize that I have to return to Bryce. I have to get down into that strange landscape and see it up close. See the views from within, as the sun fills in after sunrise. Experience the heat and bright light of mid-day. And so and so…I continue to ponder Bryce Canyon…and Utah.

Hiking trail in Bryce Canyon (Click to enlarge)

This link will lead you to some great photos and information about Bryce. I hope you enjoy it.

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And here is the link to the Bryce Canyon National Park Site.

https://www.nps.gov/brca/index.htmhttps://www.nps.gov/brca/index.htm

Visit Utah. And give yourself plenty of time!

A Rainy Wintery Day

Lots of rain in San Francisco. And snow in the Sierras. Happy New Year. We found a nice spot to sit through a leisurely lunch, even though it took some wet walking. Pelted with rain. But BART works good. Wonderful soul food at Brenda’s, and a great place to enjoy a  stormy day.

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Brenda’s French Soul Food. Nice menu, great food.

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Taking care of business at Brenda’s.

Oakland West

Oakland West. Open air, after the trip under the Bay.

Greece 2018

Greece 2018 was a very good trip.

For us, all Greece trips start in Athens since we have connections and fond memories of friends and places there. Between arriving and departing from Athens we had a number of days, and enjoyed the Niarchos Cultural Center (SNFCC), the Athens downtown Triangle, a cool spot with new and exciting places to eat, and pedestrianization on the way. We also had dinner in Exarchia with friends, not to mention a quick visit to the Acropolis and lots of fun wandering in Koukaki. I also visited friends out on the Greek Riviera, as it is known, down the coast in Voula and Varkiza.

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SNFCC – Summer Nostos Festival 1

Anyway, more about Greek food and places to eat later on in another post.

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Fresh made hortopita, filled with garden greens. At Hyiati Coffee Bar and Restaurant, Alonissos.

After Athens, our first stop was Mykonos to visit friends. Tourist season is not the time to visit Mykonos, if you can avoid it. The small town becomes overwhelmed, especially on days when the 2-3 cruise ships disgorge 6000+ tourists for the day. Be very careful on the roads. But if you visit a beautiful spot like Fokos Beach for a swim and a leisurely lunch at the exceptional seaside restaurant, you will know why people love Mykonos. And seeing the ruins on nearby Delos should be on everyone’s itinerary! Thanks to Anika and family for a wonderful stay with them in Kalafati…far from the crowds!

Ikaria was an experience from the minute we got in the taxi from the port of Evdilos over to our hotel in Armenistis. Dashing over the hilly roads along the coast, Fotis told us about the Panagiri in the mountains that night. So off we went after freshening up in our lovely room at the Cavos Bay Hotel. Panagiris happen regularly over the summer and this one included all the wonderful dancing, live music and local foods that is typical. Coming down the mountain later that night, we knew we were in a magical place. And the next 7 days proved it true, with lots to enjoy combined with a slow pace. Think no crowds, safe roads, good food, very nice beaches, and friendly people living in a stress-free way. That is Ikaria!

With no itinerary in mind after Ikaria, we decided to go to Thessaloniki, Greece’s second largest city, and explore places like Naoussa, and Halkidiki. But after a nice couple of days in the city of Thessaloniki, the islands were calling again, when we found a ferry direct to the Sporades Group, including Alonissos.

So off we went to Alonissos without a hotel reservation. This led to us staying at the lovely Pension’ Votsi, as well as a lovely small villa down the coast in Vamvakies’, complete with private swimming dock. Alonissos is a small island that has a great vibe as well as beautiful waters and beaches all around. It looks to be ideal for a sailing vacation. We swam in some beautiful spots, ate great food and stayed with some very nice people who made us feel very welcome.

Leaving Alonissos after too few days, we took a ferry down to Kymi where our driver Vagellis awaited to drive us to Athens. Much better and faster than the bus connection. Resting up in Athens and visiting friends included a trip to Poros for Vicki. As for me, I stayed in Athens.

As for all the great food and places to eat in Greece…we’ll write more about that later.

Thanks to all our friends, new and old, for your time and friendship during our stay.

Were we ready to leave after 29 days? Yes, we wanted to get back home, but the lure of Greece remains and I can envision more time there in the future.

Horses at the Moraga Library

I have been enjoying the lovely and abstract horse sculptures at Moraga Library. Beautifully created by Amy Evans.

Moraga library is just off the Bike trail and very close to Moraga Commons. Young children frequently enjoy the fun of the playground at the Commons as well as a story at the library.

Support your local Library!

Family 2016
Horse 2; Sculpture by Amy Evans
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Horse 3; Sculpture by Amy Evans

Athens this Month – June 2016

Hot hot hot!
Hotels fully booked with tourists and conventioneers.
But few signs of refugees.
Glad to see the Posidonia shipping crowd leave town at the end of their biennial bacchanal bash!
The Niarchos Cultural Center in Kallithea is rising! Sure to be a beautiful spot bringing life to Kallithea. Athens needs a new trendy area!
Streets are full of traffic. Especially when protesters take over the Center!
Made it to the kick-off event of the Athens-Epidaurus Festival. Big out-door concert by 10+vocalists and brass and bouzoukia and accordion! And Mr. Cheimerinoi Kolymvites was the highlight of the evening!  O φίλος μου  Γιώργος ξέρει καλή μουσική!
Kukaki, just south of the Acropolis Museum. My new favorite part of town.
Mani Mani is still serving great food. At a great price with great service! Meanwhile, Indian restaurants seem to be on the rise!
People are still smoking like it isn’t 2016 and we don’t know better! Oh the cost…to family friends co-workers and self!
Taxis are still cheap and plentiful. But watch out for the jalopies!
Be sure to strike up a conversation with a local. Greeks love to talk…and you might end up with a friend for life!
And so Athens, my dusty old friend. I will be gone and back again…before you know it!

Refugee Children in Greece

A photo exhibit by GMB Akash at the Benaki Museum of Athens. 21 May 2016

This exhibit brings the refugee crisis to life. My compliments to Mr. GMB Akash for his efforts in documenting the people caught in this struggle. The work is artfully presented, using only the photo roll paper set low to the ground, which is so often our vantage point when looking at children.

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HANAMI – A Flower Show

Preview of Spring 2015 – A Major Flower Show of the Garden Club of America

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Hanami is an age-old Japanese celebration of Spring. People throughout Japan authoring under the flowering cherry and plum trees with food, drink and friends to appreciate the fleeting nature of the spring blossoms. Hanami is essentially the Japanese ‘preview of spring’. This theme invites us to be present in the moment, aware of the temporal beauty of nature and its diverse expression in the plant life of the natural world.

I had the pleasure of seeing this show on February 28th, in Greenwich Connecticut. Presented by the Green Fingers Garden Club, the show is a Major Flower Show of the Garden Club of America.

Art in Public Spaces

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Bloodlines by Emma Webster, 2014

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Sails of the Bay by Marius Starkey, 2014

Art in public spaces! Truly a gift for all to enjoy. These heart sculptures are sponsored by the San Francisco Hospital Foundation. Produced by a host of different artists, including Tony Bennett, there are more than 120 of them. Many are in private collections and not available for viewing. But each year new Hearts are displayed at Union Square and around the city. A number of Hearts from past years can be found around the city although there is no list anywhere to help people find them. The first was found at the Lyon Street Steps, and the others at Union Square. I get help from a number of Heart Spotters, like Mary, Claire, Bill and Beth, and others. Thanks Heart Spotters! See more Hearts at: http://www.thomaspappas.com/Home/SF_Hearts_Project.html

Ruth Asawa 1926 – 2013

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During one of my first visits to the deYoung Museum in 2007 I came across the work of Ruth Asawa. Displayed in a stark setting, with nothing but bare concrete walls and good lighting, I was instantly captivated by the shapes and shadows. To me it would be impossible to pass by these works without wanting to capture at least 1 image! A souvenir to remember the remarkable creativity of Ruth Asawa. Born in California, she had many influences throughout her life, including internment as a Japanese-American. But none defined her life more than her beautiful work!

Since my first experience, I never visit the deYoung without stopping to see her beautiful work. Thank you Ruth Asawa!