Hope Springs in Palm Springs-Part II

A few weeks ago four of us trekked off to Palm Springs, California to attend a three-day golf school.  We did other things in Palm Springs but attending the golf school was the reason we  made the trip.  There are probably many golf schools in Palm Springs. We decided to enrol in the Cahill Golf School where our teacher was Mike Cahill.  There were just the four of us in the class.  It was nice being only with people you know.  Mike has taught for about ten years.  Mike and his father Dave run golf schools in Las Vegas and Palm Springs.  

We decided to spread our three days out a bit during the week.  That was wise for you go from a winter climate with pretty much no golf (unless you are the sort who goes to indoor ranges or simulators) to 6-8 hours of golf in a day.  Our day started with almost four hours of instruction on the driving range and putting green.   That is a lot of time.  After a bit of break we would go on to the Cimarron Golf Resort course and play 18 holes.  Mike came with us for the first few holes to watch and give some advice on course management.  The weather was mixed throughout our time there but we tried to take full advantage of Mike’s knowledge (and patience perhaps) no matter the weather.  

Palm Springs Golf School March 2013

Speaking with and for my friends, we would all recommend the school (and don’t pay attention to the fact the photo is dated 2008, really it wasn’t taken then-maybe that’s just some weird note from the ether that says I should have gone to a school at least 5 years ago).  Mike coached each of us based on our individual abilities.  He didn’t try to make us all do the same thing i.e. it wasn’t a cookie cutter approach.  

We had videos taken of our swings at the beginning and end of the school and we have those videos to watch now that we are home.  We can continue to ask Mike questions and if we have trouble (as if we won’t), we can take a video and send it to him and he’ll help us from afar.  Now that’s service.

IMG_1650The thing is, we flew back to winter and now the challenge is to remember all we learned since we can’t get out and practice right away.  What was I to try with my grip?  How were we to set up for that shot just off the green?  

Have you gone to a golf school in winter?  Would you go back?  Please tell me it changed your game in a good way.

We golfed at a few other courses when we were in Palm Springs including the Resort Course at Tahquitz Creek and the Escena Golf Club.  The following gives you some idea of the scenery-first a serious swing, then a road runner and a cactus shadow on the fairway and lunch by the reflecting pool.  Ah, so nice.  




Hope Springs in Palm Springs-Part I

Golf is a very difficult game, at least it is for me.  When you golf, hope springs eternal
that your game will improve by leaps and bounds.   I just returned from a week-long vacation in Palm Springs, California where three friends and I rented a home and attended a three-day golf school.  And so, hope springs in Palm Springs.  

It’s a luxury to leave winter behind and go to places that sport palm trees and temperatures that are conducive to short sleeves and golf shorts.  The last day it sported an earthquake as we sat waiting to tee off.  Tremors should not be a surprise, I suppose,  as we were spitting distance from the San Andreas fault.   

Palm Springs is a popular destination for people who want to escape cold weather. There are all manner of license plates on vehicles from out-of-state.   It appears to me the average age is on the other side of 70.  Many Hollywood stars of years gone by owned homes in Palm Springs.  We hiked and cycled past homes that were, at one time, owned by Hollywood notables such as Bob Hope, Steve McQueen, Peter Lawford and Debbie Reynolds.   Marilyn Monroe was discovered at the Charlie Farrell’s Racquet Club.   She is now represented by a 26ft tall sculpture in downtown Palm Springs.  

Marilyn Monroe statue

The weather was mixed during our stay.  It was cold, cool, warm, hot, dry and rainy, windy and calm, sometimes all in one day.  The last day it was pretty much perfect, leaving us with a great last memory.  

There are many hiking trails in the valley and into the mountains. You could spend many a day exploring the various trails.  Cycling is fairly easy in the city.  There are a number of bike trails that often share sidewalk space with pedestrians. 

A couple of pictures from a bike ride:


A lavender lemonade at the Native Foods Cafe:


The home we rented through Vacation Rental By Owner (VRBO) was comfortable and the owners were very accommodating.  Here’s a few pictures of where we hung our hats for a little over a week.



And here we are by the pool.  Do you recognize me?  Have you been to Palm Springs or the area around it?  What was your experience?


A Favourite Spot-Hastings House, Saltspring Island

On our trip to the west coast of Canada this fall we stayed at one of our all time favourite getaway locations.  It was our third visit over the past three decades.  The place is Hastings House, on Saltspring Island, B.C.

The Green House
The Green House

We have always enjoyed the Inn and its amenities.  The food is superb.  Breakfast is included in the room rate while dinner is optional.  You may be served dinner in your room by the fire if you wish.  That’s a bit decadent, isn’t it. 

The service is always friendly, courteous and professional.  You feel very pampered from check in to check out.  

The Green House
Inside The  Green House

There are a number of out buildings where you can stay as well as rooms in the Inn.  This time we stayed in the Green House.   On a previous visit we stayed in The Meadow and during that visit I sat outdoors in an adirondack chair while lambs jumped and played in the meadow just a short distance away.  My husband spent the afternoon assisting the chefs in the kitchen.  He was very happy with the experience.  I was happy to use one of their bicycles and enjoy a nice ride around the area and not assist the chefs in the kitchen.

Below are pictures of some of the buildings and the grounds.  The last two pictures are of an endive, walnut and blue cheese salad we enjoyed one evening and finally a view of the Pacific Ocean when you take a walk up the road from one of our favourite spots, Hastings House.

Do you have a favourite getaway spot?   What keeps you coming back or at least wishing you could go back?

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Hastings House
Hastings House

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Sooke Harbour House and Environs

We stayed in two lovely inns off the west coast of British Columbia last month.  The first inn was Sooke Harbour House on Vancouver Island.  The town of Sooke is about 40 kms from Victoria, B.C.  Each room in Sooke Harbour House has a view of the ocean in one way or another.  Here are pictures of some of the changing skies outside our window.

The first day of breakfast the kitchen must have thought we were twelve in the room, not two.  We had the quantity adjusted on day two.

The entrance to the Inn.

And finally a few pictures from a drive to the “Potholes” in Sooke.  Most places wouldn’t proudly refer to their potholes (in the road where they usually are), I thought.  In this case it refers to a picturesque river and swimming destination.  No swimmers on a cool showery day in October but there were some beautiful displays of fall leaves.

Pasadena in October

We journeyed to Los Angeles (L.A.)  last month.  It was Pasadena to be exact.  One of us went to the Woodworking In America conference.  The other one enjoyed some good long walks around downtown Pasadena.  Pasadena is 16 km northeast of downtown L.A.     Here are a few pictures in and around downtown Pasadena.  It’s a clean city with very wide streets and a number of places to do some sight-seeing within a few kilometre radius.   If you are ever down that way a couple of places we would recommend visiting are the Huntingdon Library and Gardens and the Gamble House.     Have you been to Pasadena or LA?  What would you recommend visiting?

I flew from Barcelona to Pasadena and found out I could have just gone to Barcelona in Pasadena:

Outside some back alley shops:

The courtyard of the Pacific Asia Museum:

Barcelona-Part III

A third and final blog on my quick trip to Barcelona (a couple of days of sightseeing and one day of work).  I hope you enjoy the pictures.  After a career full of wonderful experiences and opportunities, I am very grateful and always some surprised that I might have something to say that would be of interest to others.  And being able to do that in Barcelona, well, that’s some wonderful.  As far as providing information of interest to others, I haven’t seen the participants’ evaluations so who knows.  

Four thoughts on travel to (from North America) and a visit to Barcelona:

  1. Flight Itinerary.  If you consider a flight itinerary that sees you transfer from, say, La Guardia airport to Newark International when travelling, try to avoid it.  You go through downtown Manhattan as you transfer and even on a Sunday afternoon, the traffic is a nightmare.  I had almost three hours between flights and it took two hours to get picked up and across town.  Have you ever transferred between the three main airports around NYC?  Perhaps you have some knowledge about rapid transit you could share.
  2. Gaudi’s Barcelona.  While there are many places you can visit buildings that were designed by Barcelona’s most famous architect, Antoni Gaudi, I was only able to visit the Sagrada Familia in my limited time there.  I received a valuable tip from friends who had just visited Barcelona.  Buy an admission ticket on-line beforehand.  Great idea for even in a somewhat off-season (October), the line for tickets was almost three blocks long.  Those who had pre-purchased tickets had to wait less than 10 minutes to enter. 

I chose the self-guided audio tour and would recommend it.  There’s plenty written about the Basilica that you can find online.  Of note, the construction began in 1882 and  this year (2012), the construction is only 60% complete.  I have toured churches, cathedrals, basilicas in a number of countries and found the interior of this basilica to be breathtaking.  Gaudi believed in providing diffused light and rather than the dark interior you often see, this church is bright and airy.  The ceiling is magnificent.  A sunny day makes it even more amazing. My pictures don’t do it justice but there are plenty of images available online.

3.  St. Josep Market and environs.  Worth a visit.  It’s just off La Rambla, an impressive pedestrian mall in old Barcelona.  Hint: make sure you ask how much things cost if the prices aren’t posted (says she who paid what seemed to be a lot for a few sweets).

Have you been to Barcelona?  What your favourite spots and memories?

Window shopping on La Rambla
Asparagus and scampi risotto
Lunch before visiting the market
Refreshing drinks for a hot afternoon
Need a certain egg for a recipe?
Peppers anyone?

Barcelona-Part II

Apologies-I am trying to blog on a mobile device and it isn’t as easy to navigate as a computer. The pictures are from the hop on/hop off bus that ferries people around Barcelona. It’s a great way to get the lay of the land. Below are three more pictures that should have been in the previous blog. I pressed publish by mistake and away it went without more pictures. Below are three pictures: first-a bull-fight arena (now a shopping centre), a house designed by Barcelona’s most famous architect Gaudet, a tree-lined boulevard with a sole scooter. Lots of scooters in Barcelona.

Have you been to Spain? What was your experience?