Antelope, Oregon

Antelope like a lot of small rural towns in central Oregon, is just that small and rural. Mostly unknown these days, its heyday having long since passed since the railroad stopped running, buildings mostly left empty save for the few  souls who enjoy the solitude and low-cost of living.

But unlike most towns, Antelope was the center of a large federal investigation in the 1980s when a group purchased a large plot of land just outside town and little by little things got very out of hand.

Antelope was originally a wagon route connecting the Columbia River shipping route with Canyon City in Central Oregon. The town continued to grow until 1900 due to increased traffic thanks to the railroad. In 1981 the Rajneesh group purchased a ranch outside town, continued pressures between the group and the locals escalated until 1985 which ended in the group vacating and the town being left again to the locals. Sadly because of the conflict many people had moved away. So what was once a small but busy down with a opperating school and a cafe. Is now just a handful of houses and a post office.

When we visited it was very quiet, we poked around a few of the old buildings. Being mostly interested because we had been watching the Netflix documentary Wild Wild Country. We also wanted to make sure we weren’t disturbing any locals so we mostly just picked our way around the school and drove through town a couple of times snapping pictures.

It is a very cute little town. It is sad that because of that conflict it has turned to ruin. It would have been nice to see more life returning to it. I hope next time I get a chance to drive through this part of the state, which is gorgeous and I highly recommend the road trip, that it has a little more pep in its step so to speak.

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Casamento’s Restaurant – New Orleans, Louisiana

What can one really say about the best meal of their life? No matter what it will insufficient and at the end of the day all I can say is next time you find yourself in New Orleans if you have no reason to be in Uptown, go there anyway. Stand in line for a table at the microscopic Casamento’s and no matter what else you order, make sure you include a side of spaghetti and meatballs.

Casamento’s has been operational since 1919. Opened by a Sicilian man by the name of Joe Casamento and still retains the exact same spotless decor as the it did the day it was opened. It is small, tiled floor to ceiling and quite possibly the most charming place on the planet.  Kept operational today by Joe’s grandson CJ.

You can either sit up front with the oyster shuckers, who will give you all sorts of history about the restaurant. Or in the back closer to the kitchen, which you walk through to get to the restrooms.

Since I don’t eat shellfish, I could only watch in awe and sniff the incredibly aroma coming off the bbq’ed and cheese covered oysters my dining companions ordered. While I very impatiently waited for my fish. Which by the way was so good I almost cried. It doesn’t look like much but it will change your life.

Despite the fact that we all had entrees and most of us had an appetizer we also ordered the spaghetti and meatballs. When at an Italian restaurant you have to try to Italian food, right?! Again it doesn’t look like much but I really did cry a little bit eating this. I have never in my life, even in Italy had such incredible marinara sauce. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

We were so hungry after a long day of exploring, and then walking all the way from the Garden District to the restaurant, then waiting for them to open that we managed to eat everything we ordered, including dessert. And honestly, I probably would have eaten more. We almost went back the next and last night of our trip but we weren’t really in the area. Sadly. So next time, this will be my first stop, and quite possibly the only place I eat.

Additional Information:

  • Uptown (south of the Garden District)
  • 4330 Magazine St, New Orleans, LA 70115
  • Closed Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday every week.  June, July and August as well as all major holidays.
  • Open Thursday through Saturday 11 – 2 for lunch. 5:30 to 9 for dinner.
  • Sundays 5 until 9 for dinner only.

Lafayette Cemetery No1 – New Orleans, Louisiana

The Layfayette Cemetary No1 is located in the heart of the Garden District in New Orleans. Which was established at the time of the neighborhood (1833) to bury the family members of the wealthy land owners who built the area up to what it is today. Similar to other famous cemeteries in the area, the burial is done in tombs above ground. The thing that I particularly like about this one above others is that there are trees, and thus it is not in the blazing sun while you tour. It is also the cemetery used in the filming of Interview with a Vampire.

The practices of above ground burial is not uncommon world wide, though it is a bit here in the states. The reasons why the local folks chose above ground burial traditionally is varied, ask anyone and you will get a different answer. But I would image to a certain degree all reasons have some merit and probably played into the decision. For more information check out Prairie Ghosts site.

Regardless of the reasons why, it really is a lovely little plot of land. A large number of companies will provide walking tours if you are interested. I don’t always suggest such a thing but we really enjoyed the one we partook in and would highly suggest using them if you are interested.

The tours provide not only information about the burial practices and types of tombs but also history of some of the more famous residents, so you also get a good deal of local history which I found really interesting. I have been on a few tours, in a few different local cemeteries and this was by far my favorite.  It also happens to be across the street from the Commander’s Palace, famed brunch and jazz location.

Additional Information

  • Google Maps lists address as: Prytania St New Orleans, LA 70130
  • In reality it is a square block between Washington Ave, Prytania St, 6th St and Coliseum St.
  • Take precaution, heat stroke is really common.  Always wear a hat and sunscreen.
  • Muggings are common in all the cemeteries due to the nature of the environment so never go at night and always go with a group.

Garden District – New Orleans, Louisiana

The Garden District in New Orleans is 250 acres of sprawling mansions, tree lined streets and the most relaxed atmosphere imaginable. Quite the change from the beautiful but very crowded and cramped French Quarter.

Originally established in 1833 on plantation land bought and developed by wealthy tradesmen from all over the country. Who mind you built their large mansions here rather than the French Quarter to avoid interacting with the Creoles.  It wasn’t until 1852 that the area was annexed to become a part of New Orleans. As such everything about the area is a far cry from what you would expect if all you know of New Orleans is the French Quarter.

The large plots still intact with the original Victorian architecture feels like something about of a movie. Which it is in fact often a part of a movie as filming in this area is quite common, as are celebrities, many of whom live in the area. Sandra Bullock being one of them. I did see her house, though not her. Which is too bad, I swear if she just gave me a chance we would be the best of friends.

But the Garden District isn’t just fancy houses and old trees. It is also home to the Lafayette Cemetery No1.  A beautiful example of the traditional above ground burial practices in the area, which also happens to be tree lined and fully shaded unlike the ones in the French Quarter. Uptown, though not a part of the official Garden District is just a hop skip or street car ride down the road and is filled with local shops and restaurants. Food every bit as good as other parts of town, but with more local flair, less touristy.

Many companies offer walking tours of the area which I will admit is kind of fun. There is so much history it is nice to just take a stroll while learning something. Though if you are on a budget there are any number of self guided walking tour printouts you can find on the internet.

If you are looking to experience some of the charm and beauty of the area but you don’t want to listen to party people shouting all night this is the place for you. Quite, beautiful, clean, and safe. Perfect.

Flora Nola – New Orleans, Louisiana

I wanted to split my New Orleans posts up between the north side of Canal Street and the south side. Or more specifically the French Quarter and the Garden District. They are both really fantastic parts of the city but with very different atmospheres. I love the French Quarter, but there is something really special about the Garden District and if you are looking for a more quiet experience of the city sticking to the south end of Canal Street is really advised.

So for no reason other than getting to share some pictures of the flora of the area, here is a ridiculous amount of pictures of plants. The picture above was taken closer to Tulane University right off the main path of the Audubon Park. If you are in the area with young kids this would be a great place to spend some time, there is a zoo, a golf course, a nature institute and I am fairly certain the park as a whole is larger than Central Park, don’t quote me on it though. I had to take a picture of the tree above because my eyes just about popped out of my head when I realized how big it was. From this angle you can see that it stretches from one side of the street to the other but on the other side it also stretches across the next street over AND around the house which shares the property line.

The above picture was just down the street in the same neighborhood. It is of a Norfolk Pine (you know those little potted trees you see around at Christmas) well it was at least 20 feet tall. Never in my life have I seen such a large one!

Back over in the Garden District you will see these palm leaves every where, not just in plant form but on wrought iron every where you look. It was a popular pattern during the architectural booms of the city and such a great tribute to the area.

I honestly have no idea what type of leaf this is, but I just loved the vibrant green and curling edges. I found it sitting on a path in the Lafayette Cemetery. Which is full of these gorgeous trees. Did I mention too that this was in November, as someone from the Pacific North West it is so lovely seeing so much green when I had just left so much brown and grey.

These little ferns you can see popping up all over garden walls, house walls, steps and tombstones. Really anywhere, though it always amazes me that life finds a way in the worst growing conditions.

Oleander, deadly and so beautiful. And smells so amazing, though a lot of people are terribly allergic.

I just could not get enough of all the plants, over grown and lush. So incredibly. I could and did spend entire days walking around just looking at plants. If you love the outdoors, love plants/flowers or just enjoy spending your vacations strolling around aimlessly with a cup of coffee the Garden District is the place for you.

French Quarter – New Orleans, Louisiana

I have never been to a place like New Orleans, where just a few blocks away from where you stand you feel like you are a whole world away. Even between several of the Garden District neighborhoods the change in environment is stark. From one side of the Canal Street to the other it’s like being in two very different parts of Europe, all while standing next to the Mississippi River Delta.

The French Quarter, or the north(ish) side of Canal street is in a lot of ways why people come to New Orleans and for good reason. It is gorgeous. Built by the French, in the French style, while Louisiana was a French territory. And it is home to Bourbon street, named as such after the Bourbon Royal line in France, the ever popular party spot. But the district is so much more than just late night drinking.

It changed hands over the years between France, Spain, France again and then finally the United States via the Louisiana Purchase (which included just about the entire middle of the country and a small portion of Canada). As such the history of the area is long and sordid. As well as ridiculously beautiful.

My favorite part of the day is always morning, while everyone else sleeps I like to walk around and experience the world while it is quiet and empty. This is my favorite way to experience the French Quarter, poking my head around every corner discovering all the hidden gems of the area.

It is also a VERY popular filming location everything from the classics like A Street Car Named Desire to the more current American Horror Story. So for all the movie buffs out there if you are planning on taking a trip check out this site to find the must see set locations.

If you aren’t the intrepid explorer type like I am, the area obviously houses any number of other ways to entertain yourself. From top notch food, a variety of museums or of course the night clubs. If you are looking for something other than random wandering check out the French Quarter Website. And maybe if you have a little extra time just stop and look around for a second, I bet you will see something beautiful and unexpected.

Greystone Mansion – Los Angeles, California

Back in June my husband had to be in Los Angeles for work so I tagged a long for a semi cheap vacation. I did a lot of walking while down there, since he had the rental car and I was mostly on my own. I spent a lot of that time wandering around the Sunset Blvd. And one of those ended (not really ended because I had to walk back) at Greystone Mansion. Greystone is the former home of Ned Doheny, son of oil tycoon Edward Doheny .  Ned’s life ended in scandal in a mysterious murder suicide with his male secretary only a short while after having moved into his newly completed home.

He was survived by his wife and five children. The house is now a city park, or at least the grounds are. The house itself is used privately for events and not open to the public normally. Though tours can be arranged through the Friends of Greystone, the organization that currently manages the park.

However the grounds are free to the public for 10am to 6pm daily. To see the interior of the building however, you can check out the wide array of movies and TV shows that used the location. Such as my all time favorite Gilmore Girls, where it was used as Rory’s high school, Chilton Academy. It was also used as the Royal Children’s Hospital in Star Trek into Darkness, where can watch Benedict Cumberbatch stand outside the building looking ever so dreamy.

The rules of the grounds are quite strict. Though given how incredible they are and how impeccably well kept I can’t blame them. No dog, picnics, skate boarding allowed. And professional photography is only allowed via permit attained at the park office (so please forgive my unprofessional photos, which they always are, because I am lazy).

To get into the grounds you surprisingly go past the main gate up the road….and turn left. Then continue up past the house to the parking lot. The hill is steep, and I was on foot. I thought I was going to keel over, I was so thrilled when I got to the top and caught my breath enough to enjoy the gardens. I walked all over the grounds, snapping unprofessional photos and enjoying the view.

The mansions exterior is stunning. I walked so far around the grounds I wound up at the bottom of the property on the inside of the main gate, which was not an exit. I was promptly turned back around by the security guard and told to exit the same way I came in. Which was at the top of the giant hill I had just walked up and down. I may have whimpered a bit at the realization that I had to walk back up it. Oh well, I took the stairs with my chin held high, well I was actually watching the stairs because I was about 8 miles into my day and my legs were getting a little jello-ie.

The voyeuristic side of me wished I could have toured the interior. And I may have more than once tried to tiptoe through the rose bushes to see into the windows. That being said, the grounds were truly stunning and the view unforgettable. For everyone with time on their hands and an affinity for architecture or garden design I would highly suggest a visit.

Sunset Blvd – Los Angeles, California

Back in June of last year as I have mentioned in the previous few posts we were in LA for a part work part play trip. We were also lucky enough to stay with extended family rather than the hotel my husbands office wanted to put us up in.

So while we was off working for half the week (with our rental car) I was on foot. Luckily the house we were fortunate enough to stay in was in a nice part of town and near some pretty  fabulous areas to walk, the Sunset strip being one of them.

The strip, long famous for its night clubs such as the Viper Room, is still packed with venues of all sorts. But the streets are clean, the sidewalks wide and it is dotted with shops, countless restaurants, and plenty of watering holes if you fancy yourself a drink.

I spent a couple days walking around the area, one day I walked east and found myself down at the Farifax Farmers Market. And another day I walked west and found myself on palm lined streets of Beverly Hills.

My favorite spot to stop was of course the book store called Book Soup which famously takes its name from the Groucho Marx movie Duck Soup. I went to the store more than once, wandering around the winding stacks. I never did quite figure out their system. There was certainly a fiction section in the center of the store. Off to the right seemed to be books on California and celebrity biographies. Where as the left offered up art books of all kinds. I didn’t buy any books as I was already toting three library books with me, but I bought some fabulous cards to send to some friends in the upcoming months.

Needless to say, whether you are a person who likes urban hiking like myself or if you would rather tour via a tour bus. Or anything in between, I think the Sunset Strip is well worth exploration while in Los Angeles. There is a lot of see, a lot to eat and plenty of opportunities to see filming locations or possible celebrity sightings.

Pioneertown, California

I am a huge fan of strange and unique sites and my family is a huge fans of old westerns.  So when I stumbled on the existence of Pioneertown an old live in western town movie set that happened to be pretty close to Palm Springs I jumped on the chance to take my family while we were already down there for a hiking trip.

 

The town was built up in the 1940s and it include several blocks of a an old western town, a sound stage, a functioning blowing ally and post office as well as a working restaurant. The restaurant Pappy and Harriett’s Pioneertown Palace started as a movie set cantina but continues today as a popular restaurant and music venue.

 

Most of the building while interactive are mostly facade’s. You can go into the store fronts but not much more and the heights are all faked to look real by scale but in fact are not true to life two story buildings.

It felt a little bit like being in Disneyland’s Frontierland, which makes sense because it was a movie set meant to evoke a feeling while also being compact and manageable. Much like Disneyland as a whole. We spent about an hour poking around the buildings pretending we were in old movies, dashing between sets and running down the dirt road. We had planned on having dinner at Pappy & Harriett’s but sadly we forgot to check their hours and open days and they were closed. So we hungrily drove back into Palm Springs and had dinner back in the valley. Moral of the story the restaurant and the set is worth the trip but make sure you check the restaurants open hours before you drive up because it does take a bit to get there.

Address and Additional Information: It doesn’t really have an address since it is an unincorporated community in the Morongo Basin but here are the coordinates 34°9′26″N 116°29′41″W.

 

 

Baixa – Lisbon, Portugal

Another one of my favorites in Lisbon was the Baixa neighborhood. This is the area of town that was flattened during the giant earthquake in 1755. When it was rebuilt it was rebuilt in the “modern” style (modern for the time) and with straight roads. It is one of the only areas of Lisbon with straight roads. It reminded me a lot of the main shopping district in Vienna, though Vienna’s pedestrian only shopping street seems to be endless, where as Lisbon’s is just the right size.

The central street is a pedestrian only street choc-a-bloc full of restaurants, cafes and shops. The side streets off the main pedestrian only space are also pedestrian only, though as you get further out more and more streets have car traffic as well. At one end you have the Terreiro Do Paço a public square on the waterfront that is ringed by cafes and restaurants. And at the other end a rather busy square that houses hotels, public transit stops and the Rossio Train Station.

The mix of architecture in the area is overwhelming, sings from the 1920’s standing on buildings built in the 1700s and everything in between. The main square which I think may be called Rossio Square though I couldn’t find any definitive information, has a large fountain in the center and is surrounded by a stunning array of services from old shoe shops, tabaco shops, modern hotels, pawn shops, fancy restaurants, bars,  jewelers, and even a McDonalds.

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The apartments at the top of each building in the square reminded of apartment’s in Paris though I suppose that shouldn’t have been surprising given they probably belong to the same architectural time.

We spent a lot of time in the Baixa, it was close to where we were staying and given the time of year and that it is a fairly bustling tourist hub a lot of the services were open where other areas may not have been. There were loads of shops for me to spend my evenings wandering around in, as a non night-scene person it was really nice to have a reason to be out without all the drama of bars and clubs. There was also this ridiculously cute pug having a ride about town.

There was also several pastry shops that we visited on more than one occasion. They were crowded and frenetic and made amazing coffee. They were always stuffed full of locals and severed everything from pizza to Portuguese pastries like our favorite, Chocolate Salami.

Chocolate Salami in fact has nothing to do with meat but is a chocolate fudgy dessert that is rolled up with cookies and nuts and then sliced to serve.  We ate a lot of it, and I mean A LOT OF IT. I think I probably had some everyday. Lisbon is known for the Pastel De Nata which are very good but I Chocolate Salami really blew me away.

Part of the draw for me to the Baixa was the use of it in the filming of the Spanish Language TV show El Tiempo Entre Costuras or The Time In Between. Which is adapted from the book of the same name. Most of the show is filmed on location in Moracco and Madrid but the later part of the story heavily highlights Portugal and Lisbon and Estoril were used in filming.

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One such filming location, though technically in the Chiado district it is only a block or so down from the Baixia, is the glove shop Luvaria Ulisses which has been operational since 1925. As a lover of all things Art Deco I knew I had to go there and buy a pair of handmade gloves. The shop is so tiny there is only room for the shop attendant and one or two customers. What you see below is literally the whole shop, when you walk in there is nothing more but the small door to the closet like stockroom. But it was charming and wonderful and we all of course walked out with gloves.