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The third day of our road trip began in Santa Barbara – a place that we are both very familiar with.  However, our goal for this day was to do a combination of things; some which we had done before while also taking part in some new experiences.



The first outing on our itinerary was to visit the Santa Barbara Mission, which is also known as the “Queen of the California Missions.”

As you can see, it is quite large and very beautiful.  But, before entering the mission, the rose garden that lay across the street was in full bloom and was calling to me.  For those who have been reading this blog for a while, you have undoubtedly seen me writing about the rose garden.

The rose beds were encircled by large expanses of grass, where you can see dogs chasing after the balls, frisbees being thrown and picnic blankets set out.


In April, all the roses were at the peak bloom, and the air was perfumed with their fragrance.



This bed was created with three different roses with different heights.  
I’m sorry that I can’t tell you what each type of roses these are, because they weren’t labeled.



My mother liked the multi-colored roses best, like the Mardi Gras, pictured above.


After getting our fill with lovely roses, we walked up toward the mission.


The sounds of water from the Moorish Fountain along with the scents of the roses and the beauty of the mission building itself is the reason that I make a stop here every time I am in Santa Barbara.


The mission was built in 1786, and it is still a working church.  All of the 21 California Missions were built to help convert the native Americans to Christianity.  The history of these missions is well know to every child in California as it is an integral part of the state’s history.

For our visit today, we decided to take the self-guided tour.



This is the ‘lavanderia’, which was built in 1808 by the Chumash Indians of the Santa Barbara mission village.  It is the wash basin where the Indian women did the laundry.  The clothes were washed in the basin and then scrubbed and laid out to dry along the sloped sides.



At the end of the lavanderia is the head of a mountain lion that was carved by a Chumash Indian.  It is thought to the be the oldest, public stone sculpture in California.

A flowering Dasylirion quadrangulatum.

The interior courtyard was filled with areas of grass, majestic palm trees, flowering perennials and a smattering of succulents.


Walking through the courtyard garden, you experience a feeling of serenity and the stresses of the day just melted away – so what if I had to submit a lengthy magazine article in less than 24 hours to my editor?

The cemetery was filled with old graves from the late 1700’s all the way to the early 1900’s.  The Indian girl from the book, “Island of the Blue Dolphins”, who was found on the islands just off the coast of California, is buried on the mission grounds in an unmarked grave.



This shaded pathway ran along the side of the cemetery.


In the center of the grassy area, was a huge Moreton Bay fig tree from Australia, that was planted in 1890.

After leaving the outdoor areas, we walked through the church just as a wedding was almost ready to start. 

As we walked out, I was reminded about why I love to visit this special place.



Have you ever visited a California Mission?  There are 21 located along the California coast from San Diego to San Francisco.  I’ve seen several, and will visit a few others on this trip, which I’ll share with you.

Now for the second part of our day…




Casa del Herrero is an historic mansion located in Montecito, which is a small town located next to Santa Barbara.


This Spanish Colonial style home was built in 1925 and is still largely the same, indoors and outdoors making it a wonderful example of the style of the 1920’s period.

A purple trumpet vine crawls up the side of the front entry.



This was the home of the Steedman family who came from St. Louis.  They made the decision to build their second home in Santa Barbara (Montecito).  Mr. Steedman was a engineering graduate of Harvard and owned a munitions plant that was instrumental during WW I.


After retiring, he began silversmithing and working with other metals, earning him the name “the blacksmith”.  His workshop is filled with countless tools, meticulously arranged.  There areseveral of his inventions still in the workshop that he had patented.

Bright red geraniums hang from the window, peeking through the rejas (decorative iron work covering the window).




Tours of the estate are by reservation only and small groups are led by docents at a pre-arranged time.  The tour begins in the home where no photography is allowed.  Then it moves to the garden and finally the workshop.  As you can probably guess, I was mostly interested in seeing the garden.



Numerous examples of creative metal work could be seen both inside and outside the house.

The tour begins in the house.  Photographs were allowed outside but not indoors.  I did really like the windows, which were covered with decorative metal iron, which is characteristic of the Spanish Colonial Revival style.  Another feature of this style is that window aren’t symmetrical – they are asymmetrical and occur wherever a window is needed for light or to open up a view.


The style of Santa Barbara (and Montecito) is the Spanish Colonial Revival style and I was very excited to see some great architectural examples as well as in the landscape design.



This view from the downstairs of the house shows a brightly-colored Spanish tiles.  The refreshing sound of water made me yearn to go outside.


At this point, I must say that I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed the inside tour.



When it was time to go outdoors, I tried to stay toward the front, without being obnoxious so that I could get pictures of the garden without people turning up in them – I think that I mostly succeeded 😉

This slightly raised area is backed by a ‘foot fountain’ where you can cool off your feet in the  shallow basin – I’d love something like that in my garden, wouldn’t you?



In this area of the garden, plants with white blooms were added at the request of the owners.  They liked to take a strolls at night and without outdoor lights, could still see where they were walking due to the way white blooms appear to ‘glow’ at night.

White bearded iris
Calla (Arum) lilies

Here is the rose garden, which was filled with tree roses enclosed in sharply pruned boxwood shrubs. Not really my style, but they were nice.

This other section of the garden starts with a unique water feature.



As with all Spanish Colonial Revival design, there are Moorish influences as is shown with this eight-pointed star-shaped fountain.

From an upper window, you can see how the star fits into the larger landscape.  I loved this part of the garden as your eye looks beyond the star toward what lies beyond.



A grassy space lined with star jasmine, trained as shrubs lead toward another water fountain and a gate at the very end.

It is so fun discovering what lies beyond as you walk closer.

I don’t know about you, but I really want to know what lies beyond the little gate.



Standing at the gate, you see an area that has been allowed to remain natural except for the Spanish tiled structure.  Evidently, the grandchildren of the originally owners would have campouts in this area and the servants would haul out cots, sheets and blankets for the kids.  I know that my kids would love to have done something like this.

Adding to the intrigue of this more natural area is a huge dragon tree (Dracaena draco), which adds intrigue and interest to this area.



Semi-circular steps lead you back up toward to the back of the house.

A shady seating area is covered with lovely tiles.  I think that this would be a really great option for a decorative patio.

Continuing toward the house, a narrow water feature runs down a few steps before draining into a basin covered in blue and yellow tiles.

Like most estates of the time, Casa del Herrero had a kitchen garden as well as an orchard.


Near the workshop, was a ‘runnel’, which ran along the wall.  This is another feature found in Spanish Colonial style.  They are often made from clay tiles and help channel rain water from the roof to a basin where it can be stored until needed – it’s like a Spanish version of a rain barrel.

We ended the garden part of the tour at the colorful potting bench of Mrs. Steedman.  It was covered in Spanish tiles and the bottom wooden portion was actually a ‘lazy Susan’ as it could be turned, revealing a shelf containing gardening implements.


The tour lasted exactly 90 minutes and was very educational and interesting.  I was inspired by many different elements in the gardens as well.

If you would like a chance to visit this special place, you can find out more information here.

After a busy day, we headed back up to my aunt’s house in Santa Barbara and had a lovely dinner with my aunt, uncle and cousin, who stopped by to see us.

All in all, a great day!

Our last day in Victoria was reserved for a visit to a very famous garden.  Butchart Gardens is the place to go for visitors to Victoria.


Years ago, my in-laws took me and my husband, as a college graduation gift, to Seattle and Victoria.  The year was 1998, and I was finishing up the last semester of my horticulture degree.


Flush with my new knowledge of plants and horticultural practices, I was especially looking forward to visiting this beautiful garden.  Fast forward 17 years later, I was excited to go back.



My mother and fellow travel companion.
Immediately upon leaving the parking lot, we were faced with fragrant, yellow wisteria that draped over an arbor.


Walking a few steps further, was another splash of color with anemone flowers in pinks, purples and white.

I hadn’t even gone through the entrance and I had already taken a number of pictures – it was going to be a veritable photographic feast!


Like most areas in Victoria, colorful hanging baskets could be seen all over the garden.

Butchart Gardens are over 100 years old and were created by the Butchart family.  Almost one million visitors come to visit this special place, which sits about 30 minutes outside of Victoria.


Today, I’d like to share with you some of my favorite areas in the garden.

Garden art is tastefully spread throughout the garden, usually in the form of animals.



One of my favorite color combinations is the bright green, spiky foliage of iris and its vibrant, purple flowers.


One of the many things that I liked was that the trash receptacles had plants growing on top.


I really think that this was a great idea.  Imagine trash cans acting as the base for plants that add beauty.  I love it!

Here are a couple more…



The garden is separated into several smaller gardens.  My favorite is the Sunken Garden.


This spectacular garden was created in a former quarry.

A long stairway leads to the bottom of the garden and winding paths invite your to explore more.



It was interesting to watch the people exclaim over the beauty of the gardens many were from other countries including Australia, China, Great Britain, Japan and Spain plus the good old U.S.A.


Because I had visited the gardens before, I didn’t feel as if I had to hurry in order to be able to see everything.  Today, I decided to walk slowly through my favorite parts.  As a result, I spent most of my time in the Sunken Garden.




At the end of the Sunken Garden is a lake with a ‘dancing’ fountain.



Different variations of spray patterns made onlookers stop for a few minutes to enjoy the dancing waters.  

After climbing out of the Sunken Garden, I strolled through other areas of the garden on my way to the Rose Garden.




Blankets of flowers surround, what I believe are crab apple trees.


Love the black bearded iris, don’t you?


Brightly-colored dahlia.


Clematis growing up on an old stump.


There is one flower in the Butchart Gardens that is a favorite of many.  This is the Himalayan blue poppy.


You can find them scattered throughout the gardens and their vivid blue flowers attract everyone’s attention.


They aren’t easy to grow.  To get them to germinate, you need to place the seeds in a moist paper towel and put in a Ziploc bag.  Then you place the bag with the paper towel and seeds and stick in the refrigerator (in the vegetable crisper) for 4 weeks before planting.

There are blue poppy seeds available in the and I bought two packages to try to grow them in my own garden.


There are several water features scattered throughout the gardens and I liked this one with the three fish, encircled with colorful anemone flowers.


The Japanese Garden is not to be missed.  I love the varying shades of green and contrasting textures.


As you can imagine, it takes a lot of work to take care of many garden spaces within Butchart Gardens.


Watching these young girls working, planting new annual flowers, reminded me of the years spent as a horticulturist on golf courses.


These are but a select few of the 319 photos I took of these truly stunning gardens.  

I hope you enjoyed them!

Before leaving Butchart Gardens, a visit to this special place isn’t complete without rubbing the nose of the ‘mascot’.


This is ‘Tacca’, which is a bronze replica of a wild boar – the original was created in 1620 in Italy.  ‘Taco’ is named for the sculptor who made the original.


It is said that if you rub his snout, you will have good luck.  So, millions of visitors have rubbed Tacca’s snout over the years.

After leaving the gardens, we drove onto get on the ferry to Vancouver, where we will embark on the next adventure of our trip.

More to come tomorrow!

Our first day in Canada began with walking from our hotel to the Parliament Buildings – just a couple of blocks from our hotel.



Victoria, is the capital of the province of British Columbia, Canada and the Parliament Buildings are quite beautiful.

This very English city is said by many “to be more English than England.”  

As for me, I don’t know if I would call Victoria more English than London, but I do know that I miss the British accents 🙂


However you feel about the ‘Englishness’ of Victoria vs. London, the Parliament Buildings certainly look very English.

It’s important to note that the Europeans weren’t the first people here in British Columbia…


Native Americans came here first and their importance in the past and present in this Canadian province is evident everywhere – especially when you see their iconic totem poles.


The sight of a totem pole in front of the very English architecture of the Parliament Building is a great illustration of Victoria with two different cultures coming together and calling this beautiful area ‘home’.



We decided to take the self-guided tour and were handed a guidebook and got started.



The rotunda was beautiful and filled with scenes describing the history of British Columbia.


We all know that Elizabeth II is Queen of England, BUT she is also Queen of Canada.  So it was no surprise that a significant portion of the  tour involved things related to English royalty.


This stained glass window was created for Queen Victoria’s diamond jubilee in 1897.


And this stained glass window was made for Queen Elizabeth II for her golden jubilee in 2002.

The Queen has visited Canada many times, including the Parliament Buildings.


Here is where the legislative assembly meets when they are in session.

When it was designed, the seats were positioned two swords lengths to prevent any ‘accidents’ in the middle of a heated debate.



Large beds outside of the Parliament Buildings contained a variety of colorful annuals.

Our next stop was at the Fairmont Empress Hotel.


Commonly referred to as ‘The Empress’, there is nothing common about this famous hotel.


The Empress is the oldest hotel in Victoria and opened in 1908.  She has over 477 rooms and is perhaps best know for her ‘Afternoon High Tea’ where participants indulge in finger sandwiches, scones and tea.


Many people were enjoying the afternoon tea.  The Empress even has their own China pattern available in the gift shop.


While the hotel is not inexpensive, you don’t have to stay there to enjoy the experience.

Walk through the lobby and see the fancy Royal Mail box or one of the staff dressed up in period costume…
 


The grounds of the hotel were beautiful with white wisteria vine and dark pink rhododendron.


The flowers are huge.


A hedge of California lilac shrubs (Ceanothus) added beauty to the grounds.



I love their flowers, although they aren’t fragrant.


The The Empress Hotel sits just off of the water.



The presence of boats, ferries, sea planes and mini-water taxis won’t let you forget that you are on an island.


Native American vendors sold their products nearby where I bought a pair of earrings.


Next, it was on to Government Street and more shopping.



There were a lot of the typical souvenir shops that each sold the same items.  Many of them were rather overpriced, so I limited myself to buying a small gift for my granddaughter, Lily.

We did enjoy some of the specialty shops, but did mostly window shopping.  


Lavender is widely planted in this area and looked great in this window box.

Soon, it was time for a lunch that really wasn’t a lunch at all…


Like I’ve said in earlier posts, I will really need to get back to healthy eating when I get home!


Victoria is well known for their iconic lamp posts and their hanging flower baskets.

Sadly, they hadn’t hung the flower containers yet during our visit.  But, have you ever wondered how they water all those baskets?

Notice the drip irrigation lines…


The restaurant where we ate breakfast had drip irrigation going to its flowering containers.

After doing a lot of walking and exploring, we took a small break back at our hotel before heading out to afternoon tea.  

There are a number of places in Victoria that serve ‘high’ tea and we made reservations at White Heather Tea Room.


In addition to your choice of a number of hot tea, you get a selection of finger sandwiches, smoked salmon, mini-tarts, scones, cookies and other pastries.  Top them off with clotted cream, lemon curd and/or raspberry jam and you are in heaven!

After tea, our day was winding down and we headed toward our last stop – The Government House’s gardens.

From the description in our guidebook, I expected a few acres of nicely landscaped gardens around the house.  But, I wasn’t prepared for the sheer size of the gardens or how beautiful they were.  I even found some plants growing there that are also growing at my home in Arizona.


An enclosed area boasted of fragrant rose bushes, including old-fashioned roses.  The sound of the water fountain made this a very peaceful spot.


This blackbird found the fountain a great place for a welcome drink of water.


Benches were strewn throughout the gardens, inviting you to stop, rest and enjoy the view.

Everywhere you looked, there was a new place to discover, including somewhat hidden areas that invited you to go in further and explore.

Parts of the gardens were covered in grass and filled with colorful rhododendrons, but there was a large section that was filled with winding garden paths flanked by colorful perennials and succulents – the majority of which, were drought tolerant.  

*Note the agave in the lower left corner?  Many plants that grow in both cooler climates, such as peonies and hellebores, co-existed alongside agave, Santa Barbara daisy and salvias.


Can you guess what this purple-flowering plant is?

Believe it or not, it is the herb sage.  Mine flowers at home, but not this much.

Santa Barbara Daisy (Erigeron karvinskianus)


‘Hot Lips’ (Salvia greggii)

This salvia is growing in my garden right now.


Several huge trees dotted the property.


The 36-acre landscape surrounds the Government House where the lieutenant governor resides.  

I must confess, that I took only two photos of the house and over 300 of the garden 🙂

While there many plants in bloom in late spring, you could also see plants that flower in winter and also those getting ready to bloom in summer.



Much to my delight, my favorite flower (that I cannot grow in my desert garden) was in bloom.  I never get over how beautiful peonies are!

Iris

Red Rhododendron


These plants were growing in shallow pockets on top of this large boulder.

Large groves of Garry oak trees stood throughout the gardens.  You could almost imagine that you were standing in a California garden.  

As I stood admiring the oaks, I noticed out in the distance, a mountain range across the bay.  


It turns out that the view is of the mountains in the Olympic National Forest in Washington state.  We were there, enjoying the beauty of those majestic mountains only the day before.  

It’s really amazing how much sightseeing you can do in a short amount of time!


As I finished up my tour, I circled back around the house toward the parking lot, when I saw this squirrel sitting up in the grass.


Whenever I find myself near a beautiful garden, I tend to disappear in order to explore more.  My husband and my mother understand this and are so patient.  In this instance, my mother and I had expected a smaller garden that would take us a few minutes to see.  But, it was soon evident that there was more to see.  

My mother understands me so well and my love for gardens.  So, after she explored parts of the garden, she patiently waited in the car for my return.

The next day of our journey involves a return trip to the world famous, Butchart Gardens.  I can hardly wait!

For those of you who have been fortunate to have visited the ‘Emerald City’, you know how beautiful and vibrant Seattle is.


Both my mother and I have been here numerous times and decided to spend most of our time in other parts of the Northwest, but we couldn’t just pass Seattle by.  We had to spend at least a little while enjoying the sights and sounds.


So where do you go in Seattle when you only have a few hours to spare?




Over 100 years old, Pike Place Market has been described as “Heaven on Earth” and “a browser’s heaven”.

I like how AAA describes this iconic place in their guidebook: “The sights, the smells, the sidewalk musicians, the seafood-tossing fishmongers and the ambling crowds all make it a sensory experience of the highest order.”

Of course, the fish mongers are perhaps, the most popular attraction as they toss large pieces of fish in order to fill orders.







Fish mongers interact with visitors and help them find the perfect seafood for their table.


I must admit that it was fun to watch them yell and toss large fish to each other.






While I don’t eat large amounts of seafood, I do like to see the different kinds available.  Pike Place Market has so many different types of fresh fish and other seafood available.




In addition to the fresh seafood, Pike Place Market is also known for their fresh produce and flowers, which was more up my alley.






The produce was so bright and colorful and looked absolutely delicious.






I love berries and grapes!  Once I get home, I plan on making some jam from my own blackberry bushes.




Farmers markets are great places to see vegetables that may not make it to your local supermarket.




Of course, I always tend to find myself spending a lot of time next to the flower stalls.






I decided that if I were ever to get married again  that I would have my bouquet made up of peonies.
Just a note – I have been happily married almost 29 years and have no plans on walking down the aisle again.




Pike Place Market is also filled with shops and a large variety of ethnic food places.








You can easily buy a baguette at a French bakery, pick up some fresh cheese and some fruit for a delicious lunch.


There is one place where there is always a line of people eager to get a certain beverage…




Pike Place Market is where the first Starbucks opened in 1971.




People happily wait in line for their favorite Starbucks beverage so that they can say that they visited the first one.


In addition to the seafood, fresh produce, flowers and great places to eat are a variety of shops carrying souvenirs, clothing and just about everything else.




‘Rachel’ is the mascot of Pike Place Market and is a large piggy bank.  The money she collects is used to benefit social services.  People say if you rub her snout after giving a donation that you will have good luck.


The marketplace is big and ideal for walking and people watching.  There is no ‘secret’ method for seeing everything.  Simply walk into one of the many entrances and just stroll throughout.


I came away with several flavored pastas, including chocolate, habanero chili pasta and garlic chives, which I will share with my family once I get home.  


After leaving the market and Seattle, we headed up north toward Canada.  Along the way, we decided to visit the town of Sequim, which is famous for the lavender that is grown there.


I was surprised to learn that they produce the most lavender in the United States.


We decided to visit one of the lavender farms, called Purple Haze Lavender.




The sight of the cute farm house greeted us as we drove into the parking lot for the small store onsite.




Small lavender plants were available to buy right outside of the store.




While the lavender won’t be in bloom until summer, it was still beautiful.




This spot in Washington, is relatively dry, receiving only 17 inches of rain per year, which makes it a great area to grow lavender, which don’t like soggy soils.




Among the grounds were blooming clematis climbing over an arbor.




Chickens, a peacock and an orchard filled with fruit trees were located alongside the lavender fields.




The store had just about any type of lavender product, including lavender ice-cream.




Who wouldn’t love a view like this?




We left the farm with a new appreciation for lavender.  


You can visit Sequim for their annual Lavender Festival in July.


Our journey resumed toward Port Angeles, Washington.  Tomorrow, we will tour the Olympic National Forest before leaving for Victoria, Canada.



Day 3 of our road trip began as another cloudy day and our fun-filled day contained an unexpected diversion.



The day began with a quick breakfast at our hotel in Astoria, which sits on the northeastern most point of Oregon.  The plan was to head to see the house from the 80’s movie ‘The Goonies’ and then head to Fort Clatsop, which was where Lewis & Clark’s expedition ended up in the early 1800’s.  




But first things first – as a fan of ‘The Goonies’, we headed toward the house first.




The way to the house was well marked.

The house is privately owned, but you can venture up to the house.

Doesn’t it look the same as in the movie?

The garden around the house was nice too…

California poppies were in full bloom in the retaining wall underneath the house.

Believe it or not, this blue-flowering plant is the annual lobelia.  Evidently, they love cool, moist weather.

The pink roses were so vibrant.

There was a little arbor with white clematis.

After seeing the house, we drove back through town, along the coast of the Columbia River where you could see large ships and signs of the importance of fishing.  The sea lions along the pier were quite noisy and could be heard from far away. 

As we drive through downtown Astoria, we came upon a street market.  Of course, we had to stop.


The market stretched 3 blocks through downtown Astoria.


It was a live scene with vendors selling their goods, street performers, plants and unique food choices.


While most vendors sold items you would expect to see at a street fair (things made from wood, jewelry and clothing) – there were also some unusual items such as this gentleman who made guitars from old cigar boxes.

I must confess that I went the more traditional route and bought a bracelet for me and a necklace for my daughter, Ruthie.


Street performers played ‘Top 40’ songs, including Pharrel William’s song “Happy” using an electric guitar and drums made out of 5-gallon plastic pails.


The individual sounds from the drums varied depending on how high they were from the ground.

They were surprisingly good.

Plants had a large presence at the street fair.  Different nurseries set up booths selling a beautiful variety of plants.

Clematis
While I can’t grow hosta clematis in my desert garden, I do enjoy seeing them whenever I travel.

Lilacs
Weigela
While you’d be hard pressed to find most of the plants on sale in the desert southwest, I did find one plant that was being sold that grows great in my backyard…


Salvia greggii ‘Lipstick’ had red and white flowers on bright green foliage.  I love and so do the hummingbirds.  It blooms fall, winter and spring in my garden.  It was nice finding a plant that can grow in both places.


Fresh produce such as apples, asparagus, pears and sugar snap peas were on display.


This shopper was well prepared pulling a wagon filled with his purchases.


One thing that I have really enjoyed in the street markets I have visited on our road trip are the floral booths.


Gorgeous cut flowers are combined in a variety of beautiful arrangements.




The prices were amazing too!


I love peonies!


Before we left, we stopped by the food vendors.  There were a lot of ethnic foods available including Asian, Greek, Indian and Mexican.

Now, living in the Southwest, I am very familiar with Mexican food.  But, I must admit that I have never seen these unique offerings before…


I admit that I wasn’t even the least bit tempted to try bacon-wrapped or deep-fried asparagus. 
Even as an adult, I still don’t like asparagus.

On our way out, we stopped by a booth with a large number of baked goods.


We skipped the pies, but did grab 2 large cookies for lunch later.

Planters decorate the face of an empty building in downtown Astoria.

We enjoyed our time in Astoria very much and could have easily spent another day there.


As we drove away, we spotted two deer on the side of the road…


The next leg of our journey led us to the second state on our road trip.


We crossed the bridge over the Columbia River into Washington.


Yeah…that’s a lot of lumber.

We arrived in Seattle before dinner and walked a 1/2 mile down the road to attend an evening church service.  Then it was dinner at Chipotle.

Tomorrow, we will explore the downtown area!

Our second day in Oregon started out with an even greater appreciation of this beautiful state.


The day started out with walking down the street from our downtown hotel for a gourmet breakfast.


Okay, not really.  But we did walk down the street toward Pioneer Square, we ended up eating at McDonald’s for breakfast.


Although our road trips typically find us in a new place each day – there are a few things that we do each day.



The first being, my mother stopping by the nearest Starbucks for coffee.

Sometimes, it isn’t always easy to find a Starbucks, but, in the Northwest, there is just about one on every street corner.

The first stop on our itinerary today was to visit Portland’s Saturday Market, which is the largest continually running arts and crafts market in the country.  


The vendors have to make the items that they sell and each item must be approved.  So, you can imagine that the quality of what was offered was quite high.


There was a unique variety of things to tempt shoppers, including the booth filled with items made from old silverware.  I must confess that I was tempted to buy the hummingbird wind chime, made from old butter knives, forks and spoons.


Another booth offered duct tape wallets, custom made to order, which made a great birthday gift for my son.  I enjoyed watching them make it.

How about a custom-made garden gnome made in your likeness while you watch?


If you are into bonsai, there were several types of bonsai plants you could choose from.


I liked this succulent shadow box, but there was no drainage for the succulents, which would be a problem eventually.


Other items included hand carved children’s toys, beautiful woodwork kitchen utensils, clothing, jewelry and much more.


At the end of one aisle was a florist booth with buckets of fresh flowers.

The florists created absolutely beautiful bouquets and I would have gotten one if possible.
Those interested in henna tattoos, having their palms read or buying bracelets and necklaces made from hemp, also had places to shop.
The Saturday Market was the place to be on the weekend and it was fun to people watch.
Of course, there were street performers and best of all, lots of food trucks.
There was so much to do and see there, that we had to go back to our car and put more $ in the meter.
After a fun morning of shopping, we headed back to our car and passed by the Oregon Duck store…
As an ASU alum, I decided to pass right on by and tried to forget the last game I went to when the Ducks were playing and leveled our team.
It was time to leave Portland, but I could have easily spent a few more days there.  But, the nature of our road trips is to spend only 1 day in each area before moving on.  So we concentrate of a few activities and usually make plans to return at a later date to spend more time there.
Our next stop was the coastal town of Astoria.  On the way, we visited the small town of Tillamook.  Now for those of you who think that name sounds familiar, you would be right.
Tillamook is the home of Tillamook Cheese and they offer free factory tours and cheese tasting.  So of course, we made a stop since enjoying regional food is a large part of our trip.
The factory was large and tourists packed the parking lot in front while trucks delivering fresh milk from the county’s farms were in the back.  You could also see 18-wheeler trucks ready to deliver the finished product to stores.
The factory is a huge draw and I was surprised at how many people were there.  There is a cafe, ice-cream shop and a self-guided tour where you can go and observe the cheesemaking itself.
After watching blocks of cheese coming out, we were hungry and headed downstairs for the cheese tasting.
My favorite was the medium cheddar.
After buying some cheese in the adjoining gift shop, we found ourselves in the long, but fast-moving, line for Tillamook ice cream.  We shared a bowl, which was delicious.  I should mention now, that we leave behind our mostly healthy eating habits whenever we go on our road trips.


We got back on the road for Astoria, where we would be spending the night.  While you may have never heard of Astoria, you’ve certainly heard of a very famous movie that was made there called ‘The Goonies’.
It was dinner time by the time we arrived and we headed for the ‘Wet Dog Cafe and Brewery’ which was located on the Columbia River.

You could see the ships passing by at the windows where we sat.
While I like to eat at breweries, I don’t particularly enjoy beer.
But with names like these, I wish I did!
Tomorrow, we are off to explore the area around Astoria, including a look at the house from ‘The Goonies’ before heading north to Seattle.
We are having a great time!

We’ve just finished the first day of our Northwest road trip.



It all began very early this morning.  We left the house at 4:50 a.m. in order to get to the airport on time for our 6:50 flight to Portland, Oregon.

While I have traveled to the Northwest twice, this was to be my first time in Oregon and I could hardly wait to explore Portland.

Many of you may know that I am crazy for roses and that my love for them inspired me to go to school to become a horticulturist.


So, it should come as no surprise that the International Rose Test Garden in Portland was our first stop.


It is not only a beautiful garden open to the public – it also serves an important function to test new roses to see how they do.  The pink roses, above, were undergoing testing and as a result, not been named yet.  As far as I’m concerned, they deserve to pass – they were gorgeous and had healthy foliage.


I confess to having a preference for roses with multiple shades of color.


I loved the unique colors of this ‘Distant Thunder’ rose, don’t you?


The garden was large, but not overwhelming in its size.  We were able to walk around and see the roses within an hour’s time.


There were all sorts of roses growing there from climbing, floribunda, hybrid tea, grandiflora, miniature and old-fashioned.


There were a few differences in the rose bushes that is not often seen in drier climates like the desert Southwest.

For one, we don’t see moss growing on rose canes.


Also, blackspot is a fungal disease that is prevalent in humid climates and while it is a problem in the humid climate of the Northwest, it isn’t often seen in the Southwest.


The peak bloom season for roses in Portland is still a couple of weeks away, but there were still plenty in bloom.


Almost as fun as enjoying the roses was seeing all the different types of people who came to visit these gardens, including this little girl who was having fun by the fountain.


Not surprisingly, I took over 200 photographs of roses and have more than I will need for upcoming rose articles.  Who knows?  I may create a rose calendar for my wall next year 🙂


I happen to share William Shakespeare’s sentiments when it comes to roses.

After a quick lunch, we headed to the Oregon Historical Society Museum, in downtown Portland, to learn more about Oregon’s history.

We then took a stroll along the South Park Blocks, which is a green space that runs through the center of Portland that is made up of 12 squares (or city blocks).


In the middle of each square is a statue or other artwork.  Here is one of Theodore Roosevelt.


Abraham Lincoln can also be seen enjoying the beauty of Portland.


Okay, when people say that Portland is ‘green’, they aren’t kidding.  While it is so beautiful, it can be a little overwhelming to this Southwestern resident.

Our next stop was to the Far East, better known as the Lan Su Chinese Garden.  


To be honest, this wasn’t a scheduled stop on our itinerary, but we had some time to kill before we could check into our hotel and so we drove through the downtown and drove past this garden.

Well, as a mother of 3 children from China as well as having visited China myself a few times, I looked forward to looking through the garden.


Chinese lions guarded the entrance to the gardens.

As we stepped toward the entrance, a kind visitor offered to take me with her, using her 2-person guest pass, saving me the admission fee.  (Did I mention that all the people we have met in Portland are exceptionally nice?)


Upon entering the gardens, I was instantly transported back to China and the gardens that I had visited years ago.


Rhododendrons are in full bloom everywhere you look and I really liked how the pond reflected their pink blooms.


The blossoms are huge!


Being in Portland, some rain is to be expected and we got sprinkled on at the Chinese garden.


Visitors and workers enjoyed each others company.  I got a kick out of seeing this garden worker working in the pink taking care of the water lilies.


Decorative pathways made from pebbles stretched throughout the garden.


Bonsai plants were scattered about.  


While I like the look of bonsai, I lack that patience to use the technique.


Before we left the garden, I stopped by the gift shop to buy a Chinese gift for my daughter, Gracie, who is very proud of her Chinese heritage.

Portland is a great place to visit.  The gardens are beautiful…


And water is not in short supply as is evident from the drinking fountains that run non-stop…

Tomorrow, we will visit Portland’s Saturday Market, which is a large arts and crafts market with ver 250 vendors.  Then we are off to Tillamook (cheese) and Astoria, Oregon.  


I’ll be sure to post more tomorrow!

Do you like to travel?


I bet you do.  But, if you are like me, you don’t like the having to tasks such as packing, finishing up last minute things at work and such.


Since I will be traveling without my husband and kids, I’ll also need to stop by the grocery store so that they don’t starve while I’m gone.


Below, is my kid’s puzzle of the United States and on it, I have placed the states that I have visited – many of them on annual road trips with my mother.




As you can see, there are some empty spaces and our road trips are an ongoing effort to visit all the different regions in the United States.

So before I reveal where we will be going this year, let’s look at the options for the road trip we considered:


Southern and Plains states.


A few Rocky Mountain states.


New England, including Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine.


The Northwest, including British Columbia, Canada.

and


Texas and surrounding states.

Before I reveal our destination, I have to confess that it wasn’t our first choice.  We had initially decided to travel to New England and had worked hard on an itinerary filled with fun things to do and see.

But, that was before the harsh winter that they experienced.  We were advised by many New England natives that a trip this year would be difficult due to spring being delayed and numerous road crews repairing damaged streets due to pot holes left from the cold winter.

So, we decided to postpone our New England trip to next year (hopefully).

The destination that we finally decided on for this year is a region that we have both visited, but wanted to explore further…


We will be visiting the Northwest and British Columbia, Canada and I can hardly wait!

I have been to Seattle twice, but not by car and I look forward to exploring more of this dynamic city.

I’m ashamed to admit that I have never visited Oregon.  It has always been a state that is flown over on my way to Washington and I have always wanted to explore it further.

Here is a detailed map of where we will be going:


Our journey begins in Portland, where we will visit the world famous rose garden.  Of course, we will also explore other areas of this fun city.

After leaving Portland, we will drive to Astoria and spend some time before heading up to Seattle.

Later, we will stay in Port Angeles and visit the Olympic National Park.

The next leg of our journey involves a ferry to get us to Victoria, Canada.  I was fortunate to have spent a day in this very English city including Butchart Gardens, which I plan on seeing again.

Another ferry ride will take us from Victoria to Vancouver, which I have always wanted to visit since the Olympics was held there.

The last portion of our trip will bring us back toward Seattle with a stop in Mount Vernon and more gardens to visit.

**If you have any helpful advice on what to do and see in this area, I’d love some advice.

I hope you will join me as our journey begins!  I will be blogging from the road, sharing the sights and experiences along the way.

It all begins on Friday


Do you ever go on road trips?


As a child, we traveled almost everywhere by car. My parents would load up our station wagon complete with its ‘faux’ wooden panels and my sister, brother and I would argue about who would have to sit in the middle first.


Tanaya Lake in Yosemite.  I’m on the left 🙂

Most of our road trips involved camping throughout the state of California.  I have great memories of sitting by the campfire, my mom making chicken and dumplings on the camp stove, dirty feet that had to be washed before walking into the tent and most of all, just having fun.

Now that I am grown, road trips are still a part of my life.  While I take many with my own family, I also go on a special road trip each year with my mother.


For those of you who have followed my blog for awhile, you have undoubtedly participated in our road trip adventures.  In fact, I am often asked where our next destination will be.

Every year, we both sit down and decide where our next adventure lies.  The goal is to explore different regions of the United States by car.

We typically fly into one city and days later, end up several states away.  Our road trips have taken us to a variety of fun places and experiences including:


Touring a horse farm in Lexington, Kentucky.


Walking through the grounds of an old plantation in Savannah, Georgia.


Observing an old Amish farmer, throwing manure onto his corn field.


Strolling through the streets of Charleston, South Carolina and admiring the lovely window boxes.


Touring Mackinac Island in Michigan and coming back with several pounds of fudge.


Visiting some beautiful botanical gardens like Olbrich Botanical Gardens in Madison, Wisconsin.


Exploring lighthouses, including the one at Point Betsie, Michigan.


Of course, wherever we go, I am always on the lookout for new gardens to visit, which I love to share with you.

As we hit the road, I blog about each day’s adventures – usually daily.

My bag is almost packed and I am finishing up a few things before I go, which leads me to the question that many of you have been asking:

“Where are we going?”

Earlier this year, I asked you for some suggestions and mentioned five different options we were considering, which you can read here.  

I’ll be back on Wednesday, to let you know what region we decided to visit!

Do you like to travel?  How about traveling by car?


I love taking road trips and over the past several years, my mother and I embark on an annual road trip in our continuing mission to learn about the different regions of the United States.



Both my mother and I are native Californians and now Arizona is our home.  So, our cultural journey has been decidely West Coast and Southwestern.

As a result, we enjoy learning and experiencing the varied sub-cultures that each region of the U.S. has, from its food, history, gardens and people.

Interesting past experiences include:

-Walking into the living room of our bed & breakfast in Indiana Amish country to find two old Amish women watching the royal wedding of William & Kate.

– Touring thoroughbred horse farms and participating at a bourbon tasting at distillery in Kentucky.

– Learning what ‘Kentucky burgoo’ tastes like and deciding to pass on trying ‘dandelion gravy’ in Amish country.

– Seeing the actual kitchen where the recipe of Kentucky Fried Chicken was developed.

I could go on and on, but it’s time to decide where our road trip this year will take us.


We have several options to choose from and you may think that this is funny, but I drag out my kid’s United States puzzle to see where we have been and to help us decide where to go.

This is where we have traveled in the past few years.

So for this year’s trip, here are our options:

Option 1: Oregon and Washington.  
I have been to Seattle and Spokane, Washington, but have never traveled to Oregon.  

Options for this trip would include visiting Portland, Oregon and driving up to Seattle, visiting the San Juan Islands and going on up into Canada to Victoria and Vancouver before driving over to Spokane where we have family who live there.

Option 2: Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas and Oklahoma.

We would land in Birmingham, Alabama and drive through Nashiville & Memphis, Tennessee before heading to Little Rock, Arkansas and ending up in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Option 3: Wyoming, Montana and South Dakota.

I’ve never traveled to any of these states and would love to see Yellowstone and Mount Rushmore.  

Option 4: Louisiana, Arkansas, eastern Texas and Oklahoma.

I am anxious to visit the vibrant cities of Texas such as Austin and San Antonio and visit some of my fellow garden blogger friends who live there.  

My grandmother was born in Louisiana and that would be a fun place to visit with a stop in New Orleans.  For this option, we would also visit Little Rock, Arkansas and Tulsa, Oklahoma.


Option 5: Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.



Okay, I realize that this is a lot of states to see, but they are small, so we would be able to fit them all into a road trip.  I have visited parts of New Hampshire and Vermont, but would like to see the other states in the Northeast.

So, those are the options we have to choose from.  We will be traveling in early May and our trip will last approximately 8 – 9 days.  

**Do you have a favorite option?  I’d love to hear your recommendations!

No matter where we visit this year, we hope to eventually fulfill all of the options listed above.

***********************

Baby Watch Update:

Not yet, but very, very soon!  The doctor says that the baby is settled as low as he can be, which is a good thing.  

I honestly think that it is harder waiting for your grandchild to be born than your own children.  


Okay, on second thought, not really – being pregnant for 9+ months and not being able to see your feet, much less tie your own shoes – I think waiting for your own baby is harder, but not by much!