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Category — Travel

road trip

My posts for the next week to 10 days will be sporadic.

long drive

For good reason! Twenty-five+hours and 1757 miles of driving will be the reason.

Dave and I fly to San Francisco today to help Marissa and Jeff pack their lives into a U-Haul truck.  Then on Thursday, we’ll drive with them to their new life and jobs in Austin, Texas. We’ll be driving the southern route, shown on the map above.

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February 25, 2015   7 Comments

SF 10.0

drisco hh

Marissa moved to San Francisco on June 19, 2011. I figure I’ve visited her and written about my trips at least nine times in these last 3+ years. Hence the SF 10.0 title.

foggy bridge

The trip this past weekend was a wedding dress shopping trip. It was a success. We found the dress and had a glorious weekend, fog and all! (Do you see the Golden Gate peeking out in the background?)

pretty girls

Kaley, Marissa, Petra, and I went to the Renegade Craft Fair at Fort Mason, on Sunday afternoon.


There were so many wonderfully talented people selling unique, fun, and beautiful things. Marissa and I each pick up a set of these adorable berry napkins, perfectly packaged in berry boxes and tied with twine. It’s all about the packaging!

ferry bldg

After the craft fair, the girls and I went to one of our favorite spots in the city, The Ferry Building.

1700 pounds

It was there that we ran across this enormous pumpkin named “Roxanne.” She won 2nd place in the Elk Grove Giant Pumpkin Competition, weighing in at 1707 pounds. Makes you wonder about the 1st place pumpkin!


Later that evening, Petra flew home to San Diego while Marissa, Kaley, and I went to a new restaurant for dinner, Sons & Daughters. The Michelin one-star restaurant is not new, it has been open for four years, but it was new to us.

The menu is prix fixe and expensive. Very expensive. We enjoyed it, but there are so many terrific restaurants in San Francisco that don’t break the bank… I just can’t add it to my “highly recommended” list.

sons & daughter 5

Here are photos of our nine courses!

sons and daughters 4

The portions are tiny, but the meal is rich, satisfying, and surprisingly filling.

cool plates

The beautiful and fun plates were almost as delicious as the food!

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November 12, 2014   2 Comments

wedding dress shopping in SF

white wedding dresses

Marissa and I, along with her maid-of-honor, Kaley, and two of her five bridesmaids, Petra and Jessica, went wedding dress shopping on Saturday.

We visited two bridal shops and although the girls and I thought Marissa looked beautiful in nearly every dress, we have yet to find The One.


Marissa’s attendants were so helpful in finding dresses to try on! I just sat back and watched as they helped her choose dozens of dresses. What I loved most was how open she was to their choices. I knew some were not her style, but she gave all the dresses a fair shot.

I am not permitted to show you, Marissa, in any of them, but these “bottom half” photos will give you a small glimpse into our Saturday.

4 dresses

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November 10, 2014   3 Comments

Carlsbad, CA

We own a week at a timeshare in California. In Carlsbad, which is north of San Diego, to be specific. We haven’t used our week there the last several years, having rented it out instead. The main reason we haven’t used it is that we’ve either been vacationing elsewhere that same week or have just returned home from a big trip, such as Hawaii last year and Alaska the summer before.

carlsbad inn

It was the same situation again this year, having returned from Ireland only a week before our Carlsbad week began.

Well, this time around, I decided to use it anyway. Dave and Connor both had to return to work but since I don’t have classes to teach, I asked Peggy to come with me and we are here and we’re having a ball.

The week is from Saturday to Saturday, but since we both had commitments on Saturday, we drove out early on Sunday morning. Here is my day-by-day account of our trip so far:

Sunday – Friends and Family Day

wind farm

We were on the road a little after 7:00 and it was smooth sailing as we crossed the Arizona/California border. The California desert skies were cloudy, gray, and beautiful!

storms a brewing

Then things got a little more serious as the clouds were so low and so thick that this is what we encountered.

low visibility

A bit of rain and very low visibility! We made it through all that and arrived at “The Inn” just before 2:00.  Marissa was in town, visiting high school and college friends, Kaley and Petra. Elementary school friends, Lindsey and Alyse, also came to town for the girlfriend’s summer reunion.

beach girls

Add to that, high school friend, Julie, who is pregnant with her second, is staying right here at “The Inn” with her entire family… and you have not only a girlfriend reunion but a brief mother and child reunion too!

When the girls arrived, they came up to our room for a “welcome” glass of wine before going down to the beach to meet up with Julie.


After beach time we all had dinner at Norte Mexican Food, which is adjacent to the property. Then the girls were off, insert sad face here.

ocean sunset

We’ll end Sunday with a beautiful California ocean sunset, a photo courtesy of Peggy.

Monday – Foreign Adventure Day

Peggy’s had an itch to go to Mexico for a while now. She just bought a new house and it has a lot of Mexican/Southwest flair. We decided it made sense to drive from Carlsbad to Tijuana (56 miles, 1-hour drive) instead of from Scottsdale to Nogales (183 miles, nearly 3 hours) so off we went.

good food

We had fun shopping and eating and drinking, especially eating and drinking! I always forget just how great Mexican food is in Mexico. Go Figure! The Mexican flag guacamole was outstanding and pretty darn cute and the shrimp ceviche – was delicious!

peggy in tijuana

All was good until we decided it was time to leave Mexico. We sat in the line of cars at the border for FOUR (4) hours, I kid you not. It was horrible!


You move so slowly that there are vendors set up between the lanes of cars and they are selling everything you can imagine; ceramics, churros, dulces, tostilocos, burritos, elote, lawn ornaments, purses, toys, everything you can imagine! There are hundreds of them and even more of you, sitting trapped like prisoners in your own car. Let me say that four hours is a long time to sit after drinking beer all afternoon if you know what I mean. It was torture!


We were happy when we finally saw the border, but it still took nearly 35 minutes from this spot. My advice? NEVER drive into Tijuana. Park your car and walk across! Live and learn.

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August 7, 2014   10 Comments

Irish Beauty

the sea

I have one more recipe to share with you from the class I took at Ballymaloe Cookery School, but it will have to wait for the weekend.

sun cross

Today, I’d like to post a few of my favorite miscellaneous photos from Ireland, in no particular order. (With one exception, all photos were taken by me with my iPhone 5s)

rock walls

Ireland is truly a treat for the eyes. Beauty is around every corner.

pretty walls

wool shepards and sheep

witches kitchen

water lily

trinity college

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July 31, 2014   3 Comments

Ballymaloe Cookery School and Ballymaloe House

Ballymaloe Garden Map

Ballymaloe Cookery School, Organic Farm & Gardens in East Cork is a magical place to go for an afternoon cookery class, a weekend cooking course, or a three-month professional course.

Ballymaloe House

Additionally, if you want a complete experience – you must stay at the Ballymaloe House, their hotel just 2 miles down the road. Myrtle Allen is the matriarch of the hotel and of the elegant dining room, The Yeats Room, where wonderful simple, classic food is served. Such as elegant salads, super fresh fish and shellfish, outstanding roast meats and smoked fish, and divine farm-fresh vegetables.

Ballymaloe ivy covered

Myrtle Allen (born 1924, Tivoli, Cork, County Cork) is “as important to her country’s cuisine as Alice Waters was to America’s.”

Ballymaloe garden arch

In 1943, Myrtle Hill married Ivan Allen, who was working at the 400-acre farm, Kinoith, in Shanagarry. In 1947, the couple bought Ballymaloe House and the surrounding farm and raised their six children there. Ivan managed the fruit and vegetable farm and worked on Kinoith, while Myrtle took care of the children and the massive house. Later, in 1958, Ivan Allen inherited Kinoith from Wilson Strangman, the deceased owner.

fresh Ballymaloe herbs

Myrtle had an abundance of fresh products in her kitchen. Under the guidance of Ivan, an avid gourmet, she learned to cook by taking cookery classes in the College of Commerce (designed by her famed architect father) in nearby Cork and by self-training with her ever-growing collection of cookery books.

animals at Ballymaloe

In 1964, Myrtle decided to start a restaurant in her own dining room she named The Yeats Room. Her philosophy of using local fresh ingredients and changing her menu daily to reflect the best offerings of the day and of the season was completely revolutionary at the time.

Ballymaloe Cookery School garden

Later, because of new liquor laws, she converted ten of the unused rooms in the home into rooms for a guesthouse, which grew into the hotel Ballymaloe House is today.

Ballymaloe demonstration kitchen

By the 1970’s she and her sous-chef, Darina O’Connell, started giving courses in cooking. In 1983, Darina, by then married Myrtle’s son Tim Allen, and her brother, Rory O’Connell, moved the cookery classes to Kinoith and co-founded Ballymaloe Cookery School. Darina Allen is now a well-known celebrity chef, cookery book author, and pioneer in Ireland of the slow food movement.

Ballymaloe back kitchen shelf

If you want to be truly inspired and become as in awe of this place and these people as I am, go to THIS PAGE and watch the “Myrtle Allen A Life In Food” video. You will learn so much more than I can share about Ballymaloe and learn how and why it is the unique and fascinating place that it is.

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July 28, 2014   1 Comment

Dingle Peninsula

Irish countryside

I don’t think I’ve mentioned just how gloriously beautiful Ireland is. Seriously, it is beyond words. Neither photos nor waxing poetic can do it an ounce of justice.


I do know that the words that will immediately pop into my mind every time I think back on our time in Ireland are:

Rock walls.
Endless fields of sheep and Jersey cows.
100’s of shades of green.
Rows of rock walls.
Immensely kind, hospitable, gracious Irish people.
Did I mention Green?
More rock walls.

So very many Rock Walls!

master stone stackers

One thing I know for sure, the Irish really know how to stack rocks and make sturdy and good-looking rock walls!

Not a drop of cement or mortar is needed!

beehive hut [

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July 23, 2014   3 Comments

upgraded … downgraded…

the other manor

In a mere 48 hours, we went from feeling like royalty, living in the lap of luxury …. to common Irish peasants, ready to harvest potatoes.

Adare Manor

This is where we thought we were staying. Isn’t it stunning?

door ways

We booked a two-room cottage next to Adare Manor. This was because two adjacent rooms in the actual Manor were out of our comfortable price range. Way out of our price range!


For some reason, I was under the impression that the cottages were near the Manor and that we would have full access to the Manor itself. Turns out they were more than a mile away. No matter, we didn’t end up in a cottage anyway.


When we checked in, the woman at the reception desk said, “We’ve upgraded you to a villa.”


How wonderful is that? We were upgraded in Dublin to the Princess Grace Suite and now we were being upgraded from a cottage to a villa!

ugly dudly

Even “Ugly Dougly” – as I’ve dubbed him – appeared to be happy for us!

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July 22, 2014   3 Comments

Victorian walled gardens and an Abby too


We visited Kylemore Abby in Connemara, County Galway.

Kylemore gardens

While the former castle turned Abby was wonderful and impressive, it was the walled Victorian gardens that really caught my fancy.

Kylemore Abby and Cathedral

Kylemore Castle was built as a private home for the family of Mitchell Henry, a wealthy doctor from London whose family was involved in textile manufacturing in Manchester, England. Construction began in 1867, and took one hundred men four years to complete.


Other buildings include a Gothic cathedral and a family mausoleum.

honey bee

The castle was sold to the Duke and Duchess of Manchester in 1909, who resided there for several years before being forced to sell the house and grounds because of gambling debts.

Irish green

In 1920 the Irish Benedictine Nuns purchased the Abbey castle and lands after they were forced to flee Ypres, Belgium during World War I. The nuns, who had been based in Ypres for several hundred years, had been bombed out of their Abbey during World War I.

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July 21, 2014   3 Comments

Ballynahinch Castle

pretty window

We really didn’t want to leave the luxury of the Princess Grace Suite at The Shelbourne, but that’s what we had to do on Wednesday morning.

ireland drive

We loaded up the rental car and began our drive across the center of Ireland, from Dublin, on the east coast, to Ballynahinch Castle on the west coast. It’s about a 4-hour drive, though we took a little longer, stopping in the center of the country, in the town of Athlone.

castle walls

There, we toured the medieval Athlone Castle along the Shannon River.


While the boys played “lawn” chess on the top level of the castle, I was more focused on what was in the background.

Ss Peter and Paul Church

I visited the beautiful Church of Saints Peter and Paul.

inside church

Beautiful, inside and out.

It began to rain, so back in the car, we went.

Ballynahinch Castle

We followed the road markers to our destination, turning down the dense tree-lined lanes until the castle rose out of nowhere in front of us.


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July 18, 2014   4 Comments