Bavarian charm awaits you at the Hofsas House in Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA

Driving up from Southern California to Northern California is always a treat. As you pass through the Grapevine and leave Los Angeles County behind, California’s Central Valley opens up with aromas of fresh produce wafting in the air from the acres and acres of farmland and trucks with trailers of garlic, onions, and tomatoes – the main ingredients for a great marinara sauce. As you emerge from the Central Valley, the southern end of Northern California becomes apparent with forest areas and cooler temperatures. As you drive closer to the coast, fog and the scent of the sea invite you. Carmel-by-the-Sea is a charming town by the sea. The interior of the town reminds me of Big Bear, CA – very quiet in the morning and night. In the morning, you can hear the beautiful sound of birds chirping, woodpeckers pecking, and the sound of the waves crashing on the beach.

Being my first time visiting Carmel-by-the-Sea, I had the pleasure of staying at Hofsas House. This 60-year old inn has a great history. It all began when Donna Hofsas and Fred Theis moved from Los Angeles to Carmel in the late 1940s. They bought a few cottages and rented them out, thus the Hofsas House was born. In 1957, the main hotel building and a pool were added. Unfortunately, Fred and Donna divorced but Donna kept the Hofsas House. In the mid-1960s, she added on a north wing and meeting room. Donna’s friend, Maxine Albro, was commissioned to paint the Bavarian-themed welcome mural on the driveway next to the front office. Donna passed away in 1981 and the reins were passed on to her son, Jack Theis, and ran the inn until he passed away in 1996. His wife, Doris, and his son, Scott, ran the property from 1996 to 2000. In 2000, Doris’ daughter, Carrie Theis, became the General Manager and carries on her grandmother’s legacy of great service and hospitality. Carrie and her staff make you feel like you’re at home – very welcoming and helpful to new and returning guests, whether it’s where to eat for dinner or activities to do during your stay.

The rooms are homey. We stayed in Room 41 which was a great size for a family. The living area had two day beds with a 4-seat dining table, small television, small kitchenette (small refrigerator, sink, dishes, microwave), fireplace, and glass-sliding door to an outdoor deck with views of the ocean. There was even a rustic BBQ in case you wanted to grill up some steaks. Next to the living area, is a guest full bathroom. Down a short hallway is the master bedroom complete with a master full bathroom. After a couple of hours, we started our activities with a scenic drive to the Big Sur Foragers Festival in Big Sur, CA.

Upon our return, we enjoyed some Ventana Chardonnay and cheese from The Cheese Shop on the deck which can be ordered from the front office. After a couple of hours of relaxing, we decided to head down to the beach to find a spot to enjoy a beautiful sunset. Everyone else had the same idea and we were stuck in a bit of traffic. The sun started to set while we were trying to find a place to park. But, we were able to enjoy and photograph the sunset from the car. When we finally found a parking spot, we grabbed our S’mores Kit (from Cypress Concierge which can be ordered from the front office) and booked it to the beach. The sun was quickly becoming a memory in the sky with just the very top peaking over the horizon. But there was still enough ambient light to find a spot on the beach and start our fire. The S’more Kit included everything you needed: newspaper for kindling, wood for the fire, wire skewers, lighter, graham crackers, chocolate bars, and marshmallows. The fire started up quickly and the wood crackled as with excitement. We readied our graham crackers with pieces of chocolate and started to slowly roast our marshmallows. The slow roasting gets the core of the marshmallow warm enough to melt the chocolate on the graham cracker making the perfect s’mores. After a few of these, we needed to stop to save room for our dinner reservation at Mundaka. We enjoyed the relaxing sound of the ocean and brisk ocean air, carefully put out our fire, and donated the last of our firewood to a neighboring group. Hofsas House also loaned us flashlights, which came in handy as it was very dark getting back to our car.

As we settled in for the night, we decided to keep the window open so we could experience the nature sounds of the night and ocean. The air got a little chilly, but the comforter on the bed kept us warm. The bed was comfortable and floated off to dreamland. The next morning we awoke to birds chirping. A blue jay perched on a tree across from our window and I heard a woodpecker pecking away. We got dressed and headed downstairs to check out the continental breakfast in the front office. The continental breakfast includes fresh fruit, yogurt, fresh pastries, juice, and coffee. You can eat in the parlor or grab a basket and take it back to your room. We decided to take it back to the room and enjoy the beautiful morning. As we sat on the deck, we enjoyed nature and watched an elderly woman playing with a cat in the neighborhood street below.

We were sad that our stay ended so soon, but definitely would like to come back to walk around town, window shop, and head over to the beach a little earlier for a front row seat for another beautiful sunset.


Lovin’ Long Weekends
Tail Wagging Package

For more information:
Hofsas House
Between 3rd & 4th Ave on San Carlos Street.
P.O. Box 1195
Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA 93921

Hofsas House is dog-friendly so bring your four-legged family members with you!

Hawaii Food and Wine Festival –Eat, Stay and Play Hawaiian

Whether you are planning your first trip or are a loyal repeat visitor to the Aloha State, The Hawaii Food and Wine Festival is yet another reason to stay, eat and return to Hawaii.

What sets The Hawaii Food and Wine Festival apart from all the rest and deserves to be on your must- do list is the fact that virtually all the ingredients served are grown, raised or caught in Hawaii.

This year, the festivities kicked off in Maui, just after the Kaanapali Fresh Festival, which is reason alone to plan a Maui visit before going on to Honolulu for the Hawaii Food and Wine Festival.

Both festivals will impress you with the transformation of Hawaii from a consuming to a producing Mecca. Where once almost every food item was imported, the state now grows much of what it eats.

Farmers and fishers are consulted, embraced and revered for their magic in producing and catching some of the tastiest home grown products available on the planet. The two days of events at the Kaanapali Fresh Festival serve to introduce locals and guests to the pleasures of this “locavore” haven and salute the farmers, fishers, and chefs who delight us with every bite.

If you start in Maui at the Kaanapali Fresh Festival plan to attend the Friday evening “Progressive Kaanapali Dinner.” Guests started at the Westin Maui Resort and Spa where they enjoyed savory tastes infused with coffee created by the resorts culinary team, then everyone moves on to live music and desserts provided by the team at the Sheraton Maui Resort and Spa.

Saturday starts with a trip to the local market to revel in local bounty. Then there is a tour and lunch at a coffee plantation to celebrate the 200 years of coffee production in Hawaii. The Saturday evening signature event boasts a tasting of farm-to-table cuisine with carefully selected wines highlighting the artistry of local chefs and farmers and a silent auction dedicated to supporting Maui agriculture. The level of cuisine and the wines provided by Southern Wine and Spirits is a stellar examples of the quality found on the island paradise of Maui.

Having tempted your taste buds with the celebration of Kaanapali Fresh, you will be ready to knowledgeably indulge in the pleasures of the Hawaii Food and Wine Festival, which stages its opening event, “Malama Maui,” at the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa on Sunday evening. The kickoff features sunset cocktails overlooking the Pacific, palm trees swaying to smooth jazz, and six global luminary chefs collaborating on a dinner extravaganza using Maui’s finest ingredients paired with international wines selected by Southern Wine and Spirits.

The remainder of the festival takes place in Honolulu four days later giving you plenty of time to relax, work up an appetite and enjoy the resort before taking the short flight to Oahu.

The Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa’s many features offer you an ideal location to start your festival experience. It is centrally located to all the tourist areas, and is a destination onto itself. Covering 40 acres, this property offers something for everyone. Among its most coveted highlights are the Swan Court and the Penguin Cove. The lush landscape, pool extravaganza complete with slides, caves and waterfalls, extensive shopping arcade, fine art collection and superb selection of restaurants makes this a one stop stay and play option for families and couples alike.

For a unique experience, sign up for Sushi School and a Tour of the Stars where the director of astronomy will show you the night sky from atop the roof. Treat yourself to Regency status for customized service and amenities to please the most discriminating guests and enjoy a meal at Japengo where locally grown products and Pacific Rim influences entice and delight the palate. .

After enjoying marvelous Maui, it’s time to hop over to Honolulu to continue the excitement of the world class Hawaii Food and Wine Festival where over 70 renowned chefs from around the globe have gathered to utilize only Hawaiian products in their gourmet offerings. The culinary team is anchored by the festival’s founders, Allan Wong and Roy Yamaguchi, both of whom are Honolulu-based James Beard Award-Winners.

Besides five signature evening events, there are a series of educational experiences and seminars lead by four master sommeliers and top flight winemakers. The impressive array of culinary talent includes Ricardo Zarate of Mo-Chica in Los Angeles, Celestino Drago (Drago Restaurant Group).

Check in at the Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort and Spa, one of the venues for the many festival activities. Centrally located to take advantage of shopping and beach, this aloha-spirited welcoming resort offers daily activities through its cultural center to enhance your understanding, appreciation and enjoyment of the Hawaiian culture.

Learn lei making, hula, ukulele and much more. The Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort and Spa is home to world class Na Ho’ola Spa, where the breathtaking ocean view meets the spa. Select one of their many signature Hawaiian treatments and enjoy the sights and sounds of the spectacular views as you await your pampering.

Before the festival begins, dine at Japengo where Pacific Rim cuisine is at its most authentic. Executive Chef Sven spares no expense in selecting the finest ingredients to prepare each succulent item with the utmost concern for genuine regional flair.

Ever vigilant about honoring the traditions of each dish, chefs from Beijing taught the kitchen staff to make their authentic fried rice, and it took weeks to perfect!

And perfect it they did, as your taste buds will attest. That is just one example of the care that goes into each dish. The hip décor, intimate spaces for private parties and beautifully presented cuisine make Japengo “a must” on your culinary tour of Waikiki.

The Hawaii Food and Wine Festival signature event is sponsored by Hawaiian Airlines: “Under the Modern Moon: Morimoto & Friends at The Modern Honolulu.” This event includes 15 world class chefs from Asia and the Pacific— each offering succulent morsels to tease your taste buds, stellar wines presented by the winemakers themselves, including Jim Clendenen, whose Au Bon Climat label is world renown,, and you will also meet mixology magicians offering creative sips in a cool, hip, environment that wowed even the most sophisticated palates.

Try one of Honolulu’s favorite chefs, Chef Chai’s Restaurant, before you leave the city. As a TV personality and executive chef of Hawaiian Airlines, the only domestic airline to still serve complimentary meals even in economy class, his Pacific fusion cuisine is a soul satisfying blend of Hawaii’s finest ingredients with Asian influences, European technique and a pinch of health food savvy for good measure. That makes for unique items such as lobster bisque without the butter and cream, healthy stir fry and a lighter version of coconut cheesecake, all full flavored, delicious and ever so good for you!

Culinary demonstrations and wine seminars add to the daytime activities sprinkled in between the evening’s other special events. Saturday’s “Rooftop Garden at Hawaii’s Convention Center” and Sunday’s “Savory Ever After at Ko Olina Resort,” showcase the talents of countless luminary chefs from the Islands, Mainland, and Pacific Rim— all designed to thrill and delight the attendees who also come from near and far to experience the culinary excellence that is Hawaii.

Mark these two event— Kaanapali Fresh in Maui and The Hawaii Food and Wine Festival in Honolulu— on your gourmet calendar, and make this a culinary destination vacation to savor!

10 best college spring break destinations for 2014

WESH News announced Friday that they have the 10 best spring break destinations. However, they should have said it’s the 10 best college destinations and most of them are not in US. What’s interesting is that this Orlando, Florida news station created this list based on affordability, accessibility, popularity and nightlife while many states in the US are still covered with snow storms. However, the term affordability is based on what one considers to be affordable, most Americans are choosing not to leave the US when price is of concern and only a few could be considered family destinations in the off season. The majority seem to fit college students, young millennials and couples, which is what this is all about, partying and getting some sun, especially if you’re living in the cold states.

Countdown of 10 best college spring break destinations and some tips when you visit.

10. Sanibel Island – affordable for your average college student, only if you’re staying at a hotel off the island. There are affordable hotels before you go over the bridge which is about 20 to 30 minutes, but it’s worth the drive and the savings to your wallet. Bring your own bicycles or rent them for a nice leisure ride and check out the small town boutiques. Shell collecting is a must in this area. This is a good family destination, especially if you live in Florida, it is about two hours from Disney World.

9. Playa del Carmen in Cancun. Although the accommodations may be affordable, it’s all relative especially if you don’t live there, your best bet is to look for a air/hotel package.

8. Cabo San Lucas, considered the “party capital of southern Baja.” Need we say more?

7. Jamaica – spring break for college students.

6. Puerto Rico – another Caribbean flair, and island that is still considered the U.S.

5. The Bahamas, with cruise ships galore, there’s lots of activities for sun seekers.

4. Puerto Vallarta – another party central for spring breakers.

3. Cancun – laid back, but still has late-night partying.

2. South Padre Island, Texas – interestingly this area caters to families in the luxury resort hotels but during spring break parties fill the streets.

1. Miami Beach – Florida vacations are only pricey if you stay in Miami, other parts of Florida actually have a good deal of versatility in accommodation costs. If you want to be near the beach in Miami it is near to impossible on a low budget. Even the worse inland hotels will burn a hole in your wallet, especially during the high season. However, if you’re traveling with friends, find a place you can all share a room then you may get a decent hotel.

If you liked this article click the Subscribe button to receive email updates when a new article is published. Connect with Monica on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest. Monica Lehua was born and raised in Hawaii, lives in Orlando, FL and has traveled throughout the US, parts of Asia, the Pacific and the Caribbean.

Cheap Canada Goose Jackets

Goose hunting is an particularly popular past time really enjoyed by quite a few through the United States. Just before you head out on your upcoming hunt, know your prey and be ready. The subsequent is an essential break down and description of the Canadian goose such as its behavior, geographical assortment, feeding, and mating behavior.

Also recognized as: Canada Goose, Bay Goose, Black-headed Goose, Calling Goose, Canada Brant, Wild Goose, Grey Goose, Honker

Canadian geese are wild geese, and native to the arctic and temperate areas of North The us. They breed in mild latitudes in Canada and the northern elements of the United States, and reside in different routines. Canadian geese inhabit ponds, lakes, streams, marshes, and fields and usually nest in elevated places. They go through seasonal migrations for the duration of the autumn months of the year among September and November, and travel in a “V”-formed formation.

Canadian geese are herbivores, but may well from time to time feed on little fish, insects, and other invertebrates. They graze on equally land and h2o to acquire foods. Canadian geese mostly feed on vegetation this sort of as grass roots, sprouts, and aquatic plants. They will also feed on grains this kind of as wheat, beans, rice, and corn when accessible. Canadian geese feed by dipping its bill beneath the surface area in shallow waters to attain food they could also dive underneath the surface area to feed on seaweed and other forms of aquatic vegetation.

Breeding occurs in the early spring in between the months of March and June depending on geographical area. Canadian geese have an considerable breeding assortment and type nests in open areas around shorelines and waterways. They are monogamous in nature and upon mating will continue to be with each other for life. The incubation time period is approximately twenty-8 days prolonged and females normally create a few to eight eggs. Through the incubation period grown ups lose their flight feathers and stay grounded till their eggs hatch. The moment hatched younger geese will remain with their mothers and fathers until immediately after the spring migration. On reaching adulthood geese are preyed on by coyotes, foxes, owls, eagles, and falcons.


  • Overall duration: twenty-50 inches
  • Wingspan: fifty-68 inches
  • Pounds: 7-14 lbs

Canadian geese are massive birds and are over-all brownish grey in coloring with white undersides. They have a long black neck, black head, crown, and bill with a white band, which runs from ear to ear, and underneath its chin. Canadian geese have small black tails that are white beneath. They also have black legs and webbed ft.


Canada, United States, Kamchatka Peninsula, eastern China, and Japan

Very long Island is encountering a lot more Canada goose difficulties this year than at any time just before. Admittedly, the previous number of weeks of winter season constantly see the most geese in big flocks passing north use Extended Island as a rest stop. They be part of the a lot of thousands of birds that both winter season the following or that stay 12 months-spherical in the New York metro region.

Final week, we acquired numerous cries for assist. Two calls arrived within an hour of every single other from desperate householders. Around one hundred geese had turned up out of the blue a week ahead of to foul their attributes. A single of the callers hadn’t seen a goose on her home in seventeen years. We also acquired calls from another two Long Island-based organizations wanting urgent answers to their geese complications. The deals were concluded inside a number of hrs resulting in two much more new clients for GEESE OFF!

Throughout the island people are reporting numerous a lot more geese than typical – additional flocks, much larger flocks. GEESE OFF! is however combating a sizable migrant flock of some 300 geese in Mill Neck on the north shore of Very long Island. These birds arrive from northern Quebec. They commit just about every winter in and close to Latting town, Mill Neck Bay, Oyster Bay and Centre Island.

Collared geese

How do we know wherever they’re from? Simple – for the very last 6 several years we’ve been seeing some of this flock donning peach-colored neck collars with big white quantities on them. We jot down the quantities and dial them into a special cell phone line for the US Fish & Wildlife Companies department that offers with migratory bird counts. A several weeks afterwards, we get a certificate telling us wherever the geese were banded. The certificate provides the birds’ intercourse, their age and the name of the wildlife biologist accountable for the banding. The man who bands the Mill Neck geese is a Quebecois. He captures and collars the birds up in the tundra in the course of the summer months molt when they cannot fly. All in all, we see about fifty geese with his collars.


But why have these Very long Island geese been so various and so persistent around the last two weeks? As mentioned in our earlier blog, the geese on Lengthy Island misplaced a good deal of precious feeding time through the snow storms that blanketed the island in February. They’re battling to rebuild their overall body excess fat in planning for their prolonged migrations. Meanwhile, female resident geese are also restocking their larders in purchase to have sufficient in retailer for the 28 days they will invest incubating their eggs in April. They will take in very little when they sit on the nest.

Spring relief

March 21, the 1st day of spring, will dawn a various day. Year after year, we’ve noticed spectacular declines in the variety of geese on Very long Island all around that date. Up in Westchester and Putnam Counties, we already mentioned flocks of twenty to fifty geese flying high on the back of last week’s southerly breezes before the saturday and sunday rain storms grounded the flights. More birds will shortly adhere to. At the exact same time, many nesting resident geese have previously returned to their house ponds to begin the nesting procedure.

For above a decade numerous Canada geese have been executing the unpredicted – they are not going again to Canada. As a final result, the Northeast United States has become household to an alarming number of these problematic birds. Tighter Federal and State protecting polices coupled with the transformed migration patterns of these birds have contributed to their settlement and expansion. From Connecticut to New York and the rest of the Tri-State location, populations of Canada geese are leading to really serious issues for the destinations they continue on to settle in.

The dilemma with these five million or so resident Canada geese is that the average complete developed goose eats three lbs of grass a day, which is kindly returned by means of a 1.5 lb bundle of droppings. For most folks, this could not be of a lot worry. For property proprietors with sprawling lawns of wonderful worth, nonetheless these Canada geese are significantly a lot more than just a nuisance.

The escalating quantity of year-round geese settlers has led to major troubles for the New York, Westchester, Putnam, Duchess, Long Island, and Southern Connecticut locations. Huge flocks of geese are triggering hurt and posing human health dangers in parks, waterways, golf programs, residential regions, company campuses, cemeteries and schools. In accordance to the New York State Office of Environmental Conservation and the U.S. Office of Agriculture Animal Wellness Inspection Company, “[Goose]Difficulties consist of through-grazed lawns, accumulations of droppings and feathers on play locations and walkways, nutrient loading ponds, manifest wellness considerations at seashores and consuming water provides, intense conduct by nesting birds, and safety hazards in close proximity to roadways and airports”.

For residence owners whose landscapes are plagued by the Canada goose, it is important to utilize each a risk-free and successful technique for discouraging these pest-like birds who frequent their lawns. Individuals with Canada goose troubles typically make the mistake of utilizing unsafe or fast fixes like poisons, noisemakers, grid wire, and plastic replicas of goose predators. Not only are these techniques momentary, but they can be harmful. It is vital (for both the environment and one’s wallet) to make the intelligent choice of using protected and humane goose management alternatives that final.

The Canada goose dilemma is increasing in the Northeast. On the other hand, goose problems don’t will need to be your difficulties with regional organizations who are accessible to present safe and sound and efficient alternatives to the raising quantity of avian immigrants from the north.

Did you know Canada geese mate for life? They are a person of the few species that are monogamous. They commit their total life with a single mate. They also have a near family bond. Youthful remain with their mothers and fathers for a whole yr and both equally mother and father get equal duty for nest building and youngster care. Collectively the pair guards, teaches, and feeds their kids right up until they are all set to fly off on their own. In buy to facilitate courtship, mating and parenting the few engages in a wonderful offer of lively dialogue. They have a big repertoire of vocalizations each with diverse meanings. Some experts feel they also have produced a full range of non verbal steps and indications which are utilized for communication. Mates shield 1 yet another. I read an account of a Canada Goose who attacked a hunter on a horse following the marksman had shot his mate. The angry male swooped down on the unsuspecting fellow and practically knocked him correct out of the saddle and on to the ground. When their spouse dies, some geese might search out a new mate, but numerous basically stay solitary for the relaxation of their lives.

The renowned theologian and writer Soren Kierkegaard the moment employed the lifestyle of a goose as an illustration for a lesson he was making an attempt to instill in his audience. He realized what an excellent example animals can sometimes be to men and women. The Canada Goose is a position model for human beings in a lot of ways. It stays committed to one particular spouse. Males and females consider kid rearing significantly and share the duties involved. A shut relatives life is critical to survival. Frequent communication is crucial.

The following time you spot a pair of Canada Geese get time for a 2nd look and a minor individual reflection. What they have to instruct us is hardly “for the birds.”

Best Irish Soda Bread Recipe from the Top Baker in Ireland

Widely acknowledged as the finest baker in Ireland, North or South, here is Robert Ditty’s prized soda bread recipe for your St. Patrick’s Day table. His shop is located in the village of Castledown in Derry, just outside of Belfast.

Robert Ditty’s Irish soda bread recipe:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Sift together:

4 cups white flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons sugar

Add 2 cups of buttermilk

currants, raisons or other dried fruit are optional

Knead for two minutes on lightly floured board

Shape into a round loaf
Place on a well-buttered, 8-inch pie pan and cut a cross along the 

Bake 35-40 minutes.

Enjoy warm with butter.

The Caverns of Sonora is a fun West Texas road trip destination

The Caverns of Sonora features a lovely array of calcite crystal formations, especially helictites. The cave is located on Interstate 10 in Texas, halfway between Big Bend National Park and San Antonio. It is located 15 miles southwest of Sonora. Along with guided tours of this cave, there are other activities including gemstone panning, exploring the nature trail, enjoying a workshop and camping out.

The Visitor Center and gift shop was built in 1961. It is a ranch barn design with vaulted ceilings and exposed oak beams. The store sells sterling silver and gemstone jewelry, rocks, minerals and fossil specimens from around the world. In 1966 the cavern was designated as a National Natural Landmark by the United States Department of the Interior. It is one of the most active caves in the world with over 95% of its formations still ‘growing’.

The cave was discovered when a dog chased a raccoon into a 20-inch opening in a rock. Locals began exploring the cave sometime in the early 1920’s. They were able to go about 500 feet from the entrance to a fifty foot deep pit. This section of the cave was eventually known as Mayfield Cave. In 1955, three speleologists, Bob Crisman, Bart Crisman and James Estes from Abilene were exploring another cave in Sutton County. They headed to the Mayfield Ranch to take a look at another cave known as Mayfield Cave. The speleologists entered the cave and made their way to a large room. A deep pit blocked their progress. On the other side of this pit were seemingly inaccessible passages that continued on. They were pressed for time, so they left the cave.

This story was passed on other cavers. On Labor day weekend of 1955, Danny Sheffield, Jack Allen, Claude Head and Jack Prince crossed a narrow, sloping ledge, high on the top of the right hand side of the big pit. They reached the passages on the other side. Stories of bizarre formations and untold beauty began circulating among members of the caving community.

Jack Burch, a caver from Oklahoma saw the cavern for the first time in 1956. He began to see human impact in the caverns in places where there shouldn’t have been any damage. His vision was to develop the cavern to stop this destruction and preserve the cavern for future generations. Development started in 1959. The Caverns of Sonora was opened to the public on July 16, 1960.

The cave is formed in 100-million-year-old Cretaceous period Segovia limestone, from the Edward limestone group. The formation of the cave itself may have occurred between 1.5 to 5 million years ago. The stunning mineral formations, known as speleothems, formed after water had drained from the cave.

Busch Gardens spring excitement with Falcon’s Fury and Kids Triathlon

On Feb 28, Busch Gardens announced on Twitter that their highly anticipated thrill ride, Falcon’s Fury will open on May 1st to eager adventure seekers. The Fury will be the first ride of its kind to have ride enthusiasts experience free falling from 335 feet to the ground, face first! You can learn more about the behind the scenes preparation as Busch Garden ride engineers show how they put this monstrous Fury together click here.

As visitors prepare for spring and summer vacations, there’s lots of new excitement for the entire family at Busch Gardens even if you’re not a thrill seeker. On March 1st they celebrate the birthday of three lion cubs. Kembe, Shaba and Shtuko turn a year old and close to 200 lbs. Busch Gardens is having a Lion Birthday Party in the Edge of Africa.

Also coming up on March 22 is the Tampa Bay Kids Triathlon. This is a great event for kids 6 to 14 years of age to experience a triathlon at Busch Gardens Adventure Island Water Park. There are two divisions for 6-10 and 11-14 age groups. Over 450 participants will participate before the park opens and why not stay at the parks to celebrate a great accomplishment after the race.

Taliesin West: arrogantly, stubbornly very much Wright

Each year just after Thanksgiving, Frank Lloyd Wright departed Taliesin, his summer home in Spring Green Wisconsin for the warmth of Scottsdale Arizona. The famed architect built Taliesin West in 1937 and journeyed there every winter until his death at age 91. Today, the property houses the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture and the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation.

Wright was a consummate entertainer, especially at his winter home where through the years he added a music pavilion, a cabaret theatre and other entertainment venues. Each room harbors a heavy stone fireplace.

Wright marries the land to his living spaces

The various structures that comprise the compound are built of natural materials – wood frames filled with concrete, desert rocks, quartz and large boulders. Wright treasured the area’s near-endless horizons and wanted his structures to complement the land.

A dominant shape that’s often repeated through the National Historic Landmark is the triangle – found among eaves, frames and various other supports and decorative elements. Wright felt it mimicked the surrounding mountains, along with the desert, forever full of sharp, pointy things.

The property is continually under restoration, including the recent replacement of redwood beams that suffered dry rot. The supports were replaced with Douglas Fir painted red, but increasingly, steel is being used to further strengthen the buildings.

Wright’s choices may seem odd to some modern architects

The property’s centerpiece is the sloping, airy living room, filled with signature, Wright-designed furniture. The room is suffused with natural light, with one wall sloping dramatically, forcing visitors to sit on angled chairs to enjoy a garden view.

Not all of Wright’s choices make sense, including the redwood beams which were known to eventually suffer dry rot in the intense desert heat, and the thirsty, emerald carpet of grass that fronts the property. Visitors may find the property both beautiful, ugly, harsh, stunning and sometimes just wrong – as well as arrogantly, stubbornly very much Wright. The lesson? Damn the critics. Build your vision.

Bacchus rolls the streets while the Orpheus Captains celebrate at the Sheraton

Last night the Bacchus Krewe rolled down the streets of New Orleans with Hugh Laurie riding as 2014’s King Bacchus. Had things gone according to plan, this article would have photos of Hugh Laurie and others from the Bacchus parade. There would also be another article and photos from the Mardi Gras Joe Cain Day in Mobile, Alabama. Sometimes, however, plans have to be scuttled in favor of aiding a stranger in distress. In this case it requires the postponing of photos from Bacchus but allows entry behind the scenes of the Orpheus Krewe.

Tonight I encountered a somewhat familiar face in an unexpected place. The fellow was trying to get across the parade route. In chatting with him it became apparent that his familiarity was due to his working with the Wizard World conventions. He was the celebrity appearances manager of John Schneider and others. After a few aborted attempts to work our way through the crowd we jogged a few blocks down the street where, after showing my press credentials to a police officer, I introduced him as Mr. Schneider’s Manager and indicated his need to get across the parade route.

The officer soon had us across the parade route and I was invited to stay for the Orpheus Captain’s Party. If you ever have the opportunity to attend a Mardi Gras Ball, Captain’s Party or other Mardi Gras gala event, don’t pass it up. While forgoing the opportunity to shoot the Bacchus Parade was sad, I managed to soften the blow with the delicious foods at the Captain’s Party at the Sheraton. There were several stations with delicacies at each one. The first had meats that were tasty and the second, the seafood gumbo, a New Orleans standard, was delicious of course! At another there were succulent, sauteed shrimp over over grits, but the real surprise treat was the Jambalaya with alligator and duck.

For entertainment, the captains had the band, New Orleans Karma. They performed while the captains and krewe ate but it wasn’t long before the dance floor was filled with the Orpheus celebrants working off the delicious dinner. After Orpheus, the band was heading over to the Bacchus Bash to close the evening there. Again, if you get the chance to attend a performance of New Orleans Karma, you will want to do so. They are good enough for the Captains of Orpheus and the Bacchus Bash and you will love them too.

Oh, and the icing on the evenings cake was that Mr. Schneider did take a moment to allow me to catch a photo. Happy Lundi Gras everyone and Laissez les bons temps rouler tonight at the Orpheus parade!

Pick your favorite flavor

Who can resist an ice cream, even in winter? Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream is an American ice cream company with the principal factory in Waterbury Vermont. Receive a free sample of their best after seeing how it’s made.

Its factory tour is one of Vermont’s most popular tourist attractions. The tour begins with a short video about its history and company’s founders. A bird’s eye view of the production room demonstrates their manufacturing process of ice cream. The tour ends with an ice cream sample of a new flavor with more ice cream to purchase in their gift shop.

Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield founded this premium ice cream brand in 1978. Ben & Jerry’s produce ice cream, sorbet, frozen yogurt and ice cream novelty products. The company history is one of the great American dream. It begins by two childhood friends who upon college graduation decided on a unique career direction.

In 1977 they completed an ice cream making correspondence course offered by Pennsylvania State University’s Creamery. In May 1978 their $12,000 investment opened an ice cream parlor in a renovated gas station in downtown Burlington VT. In 1980 operations were expanded in larger quarters with ice cream packed in pints.

The factory is open year round. Manufacturing is scheduled five days a week from Monday through Friday, closed on major holidays. Guided tours are conducted every 30 minutes the last daily tour 1 hour before closing.

Tour hours
November through June
10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
June though August
9:00 AM – 9:00 PM
August through October
9:00 AM – 7:00 PM
Tour fee
Adults – $4
Seniors – $3
Kids 12 and younger – free
1281 Waterbury Stowe Road
Waterbury, VT

Ben & Jerry’s winter festival is Saturday March 1, from 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM offering free tours all day. They give free ice cream cones for moms on May 11, 2014, and free cones for dads on June 15.

Waterbury is a town of 5,064 population 24 miles northwest of Montpelier. It is 28 miles east of Burlington and 11 miles south of Stowe. Nearby Waterbury is Mt. Mansfield, the highest peak in the state. Montpelier is the state capital, a center for insurance and granite quarrying industries with a population of 8,035. Stowe is a town of 4,314 population with New England’s finest downhill ski runs.

Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream is a 338 mile drive of 6:15 hours from Rochester NY. Drive I-90 east to Albany then north on US 87 past Glen Falls exit to route 4 east. Continue route 4 east across Vermont to US 89 before the Vermont border. Drive north on US 89 past Montpelier to Waterbury. Exit from US 89 on exit 10, 1-mile north on route 100 follow signs to Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream.

Here’s what one visitor thought of the tour.
“The facility is bright and bubbly and the kids loved it!”