International WorkBoat Show – New Orleans, Louisiana

Last November I took a rather ‘unconventional’ trip to New Orleans. I didn’t go for a bachelorette, graduation, retirement party or what ever else people visit the French Quarter for. I went to a boat show, and not to buy a yacht or a speed boat but to look at all things to do with working boats.

Random? Yes probably to some, but not for our family. When my step-dad asked my step-sister and myself if we wanted to go I am pretty sure our reply speed broke the sound barrier. And believe it or not, it was so much fun!

The show is a free convention (for attendees, if you sign up early enough) geared toward anything you could possibly need to run a boat based business from commercial fishing to oil transportation. You name it, they have it.

We spent two days milling about the booths and chatting people up, though it is a three day show.  And despite the fact that all three of us currently work in totally different industries we all found products that we were interested in. There are hundreds of booths with an inordinate number of products and services. I wager anyone could find something they would be interested in.

We all said on more than one occasion “we are coming back again next year right?”.

Information:

  • International WorkBoast Show website.
  • Morial Convention Center – New Orleans Louisiana
  • Generally the last weekend in November or first of December.
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MD HANEY & Co. – McMinnville, Oregon

If you happen to find your self strolling around McMinville make sure to stroll off the main street and up to NE 7th street. It is easy to miss, MD HANEY & Co. as you drive by on the main highway into or out of town. It just looks like a cute house. Which it is, an exceptionally cute house turned into a truly stunning home goods store.

The house itself was beautifully remolded by the owners of the store, and each room is set up as if it were a house. I want to live in this house! But scattered about are small collections of store stock in a way that you don’t really notice at first and everything is for sale.

The offer a variety of carefully home decor items, luxury small batch kitchen goods and will help you with any specialty painting you may need done. I stop in every time I go into town just to experience the beauty of the store and usually walk out with a perfect gift for someone I love.

Additional Information:

  • 4925, 636 NE Baker St, McMinnville, OR 97128
  • (503) 857-8176
  • Closed Sunday through Tuesday.
  • Open Wednesday through Saturday 10 to 5.

California Adventure – Anaheim, California

I am old enough to remember a time when the California Adventure park in Anaheim California was a parking lot. Literally it was, we parked in it once. Now its a neighboring park to Disneyland, and you can buy a ticket that will get you into both parks in the same day.  The park boasts slightly more grownup rides than the Disneyland site but does still pack in plenty of kiddie things, including my favorite The Little Mermaid Ride.

I have much fewer memories of this park, as it is relatively new. I at least feel like it is new, but I did just look up the open date which was 2001. 17 years ago?! That was a big year for me, but I don’t recall at the time the opening of this park being front and center in my mind. I do however recall my parents going to Disneyland for the first time that year without me and telling me that there was a new park that they visited and “boy was it fun” said they, while their daughter was busy studying in college. Alas education first, and I have since had the chance to visit plenty of times and I do love it.

As far as real estate goes it is a much larger park, the walk ways are wider and there is more space in the waiting areas. It tends to lend itself to a much more relaxed less frantic atmosphere than Disneyland. We often get park hoper tickets when we go and skip over to California Adventure when the afternoon crowds start to get the best of us. But for all intents and purposes it is just as well executed as Disneyland. Rather than the sole focus on cartoon characters California Adventure celebrates the adventurous spirit of the state, while still managing to stay true to its brand. I really can’t say enough good things about either park. If you find your self having to decide between one or the other I would just do your research because they are both equally fun, but in very different ways. But either way you are sure to have a blast, we always do.

Disneyland – Anaheim, California

I love Disneyland. I have loved Disneyland since I first went when I was nine years old and I will continue to love it for the rest of my life. I am not a Disney fanatic, I don’t wait impatiently for every movie, I don’t obsess about it’s history or collect certain souvenirs. I just really love the park.

There is something truly magical about it that manages to somehow manifest the nicest behavior in everyone. Despite being jammed into a park surrounded by thousands of complete strangers, everyone every single day I have been there is nice. So usually about once a year we pack off for a long weekend and head south to Anaheim with the singular purpose of spending a couple days at the park.

Part of the draw is the sunny dry climate. After sitting around in our perpetually rainy state it is a welcome reprieve. And for better or worse, even though it is a very intentional carefully planned type of magical atmosphere, the place really is magical. The attention to detail in everything, the cleanness, the kindness, the nostalgia…for a couple days a year it really hits the spot like nothing else does. But also Dole-Whip (see picture above).

My love of Disneyland is multi layers.  I love art and models and history and the park itself is a living breathing work of art in miniature (or perhaps more accurately 75% scale). I am and continue to be totally blown away by the attention to detail and seamless creation of an entire world and mood. I could sit in one place in the park all day and be happy just observing all the minuet details that have been put into the place to create the mood of which ever part of the park you are in.

Then there are the rides, if you are a roller coaster person there isn’t a lot of rides in the park for you. They are all small, low key and even the fastest not all that daring. But I love them all the same, and again part of that is the attention to detail. The rides aren’t just about the thrill. Its about waiting in line and being surrounded by this new world, which is approximately 20 feet from a totally different world. I like the nostalgia and the fact that these rides were invented and have been operational longer than I have been alive in most cases.

I first went when I was nine years old with my mom, step-dad and three step-sisters. I was very tiny at the time, and didn’t get to go on many rides. The first time I rode splash mountain was actually several trips later when I went with my dad.

He stood outside the Splash Mountain ride and told me he was going on and either I was going with him or I was waiting at the entrance by myself until he got back. He claims to have no memory of this. But it happened,  and I went on the ride with him. Do the things that scare you right. I loved it.

My husband and I went there to celebrate a big job change for me. We celebrated by Mom’s 50th and 60th birthdays there. I have ridden Space Mountain, and Thunder Mountain so many times I can repeat all the announcements and warnings in my head right now, in both English and probably in Spanish as well if I thought about it hard enough.

Yes the park is crowded, yes the food is expensive, yes the lines can be long. My only suggestion is to find what works best for your family. Once you have an idea of what kind of experience you are looking for a simple web search will be given more options than you know what to do with. For me though the point is to go to a place with a history of family joy and memories. Its bobbing and weaving through crowds and still being able to pick out your people among thousands. Its standing in line with the people you love most in the world and having conversations you might not otherwise because when do you stand still with another person for more than 20 min. It’s about sharing and experiencing the expensive food that you have worked hard as a family to afford. And then going home and having all those memories to cherish for years to come. It’s about parents and aunts and grandfathers and kids and everything in between all getting to be kids at the same time.

It’s magic. Pure and simple.

Questions:

Have you ever been to Disneyland? What are you favorite things about it?

Edgefield Hotel – Troutdale, Oregon

You all already know my feeling on concerts. I mostly dislike them. But if I can sit, and sit outside while we are making demands then I mostly don’t mind them. The Oregon Zoo has a nice summer concert series  which I enjoy. But in my opinion the best venue in the Portland area is the Edgefield Hotel.

The Edgefield Hotel is much more than just a concert venue. It is, as surmised by the name first and foremost a hotel. It also includes a winery, a brewery, a spa, a golf course, a movie theater, and includes several bars and restaurants all on property. The property a former poor farm was bought and restored by the McMenamins company and has been operational for more than a couple decades now.

The summer concert series that they host are some of the most popular in the area and sell out quickly. And the venue is so popular people generally book hotel stays nearly a year in advance of the concert schedule being published on the off chance that a coveted band will happen to be playing that night.

This last summer I went to see Blonde and Garbage both of which were quite fun. But as it is with cell phone photos, the zoom isn’t stellar so none of the picture turned out very well.

I have in the past had the pleasure of seeing some of my favorite bands while sitting outdoors in the large lawn, munching on pizza and ice cream from the food and drink vendors inside the concert area. All in all if you are a concert goer, or even if you are not like myself I would highly recommend the experience.

The Rainflower – Amity, Oregon

Despite the Portland Metro region Oregon is a fairly rural state. Lots of small towns, lots of old buildings, many of which have been abandoned. It does seem like though as Portland has become more a more popular destination the tourism and money that comes with it has started to trickle out into the smaller communities.

It is not uncommon these days to drive through a one stop light town that looks all but abandoned, which actually houses at least one or two gems worth stopping for. Amity Oregon is one of these towns. Founded between 1848 and 1849 by by two Oregon Trail survivors the town today is home to about 1600 people. There is a school, a store, a gas station, and a whole lot of houses that look like they have seen better days. The downtown houses an antique shop, a pretty decent coffee shop and then right in the middle of the main street is a little shop called The Rainflower.

Almost other worldly in how out of place a boutique flower and chocolate shop are in this tiny little town, especially one so perfectly styled. A blend of 1940s architecture and modern day simplicity it is worth the stop if ever find yourself in the area.

It quite honestly feels like something that all the big city gift shops are trying to pull off, the high ceilings, antique fixtures, minimalist paint, sumptuous details sprinkled around.  But you get the feeling that unlike other shops this wasn’t intentional, but an organic result of the surroundings. It is perfection. As are the chocolates, of which I ate far too many. For hours and other details check out their facebook page, and visit soon it’s worth it I promise.

LACMA – Los Angeles, California

As far back as I can remember visiting art museums has been a tradition between my dad and I. No matter where it was that we were at, there was always a museum, or gallery or store full of art to be visited. He is an artist and I have always wanted to be just like him. Real life happened  and I didn’t go into the arts, but I do appreciate them as well as paint from time to time.

There is nothing like one of the best art museums on the west coast to light the artistic fire in you. After visiting the LACMA I spent the rest of my summer afternoons painting in our backyard.

The LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) opened in 1965 and has expanded in both its collection and physical size ever since. The museum is huge, far too much to see in a single day but worth every minuet if you enjoy the arts.

We wandered around for a few hours, had lunch in their cafe which is actually pretty good and then wandered around for a few more hours. Our taste in art differs a lot but mostly in the type that we create. In many cases we do tend to like the same things in other people’s work. Which means spending a lot of time standing around a few pieces and then breezing through entire exhibits that don’t interest us as much.

Aside for the exhibits, the museum itself, like most museums has some pretty impressive architecture as well as exterior installations.  The museum shares a campus with the La Brea Tar Pits, so even if you don’t have time or the energy to go through the museum itself just walking around and taking it all in is an experience. All in all it was a really great visit!

Tocaya – Los Angeles, California

You know when you travel how your schedule gets off and you just start to feel icky. Then on top of the schedule your eating is off because you don’t have your kitchen, your stores, your meal prep and you start to feel more off. I almost immediately start to feel like that. I LOVE food, all kinds, but my system seems to prefer simple unfussy foods. Mostly veggies, no sauces, simple fats and lean protein. This can be very hard to find when traveling, less so on the West Coast but still a challenge.

I was so pleased to find Tocaya on Sunset Blvd, right down the street from where we were staying. It is a build your own food type of place, mostly in theme of Tex-Mex but with the typical SoCal organic flair. I can take or leave the organic thing, but I did very much appreciate the simplicity of the food and the ability to add what I wanted and nothing more.

I ate here more than once in three days, I loved the outdoor seating. Cannot pass up the chance to sit outside in the mild California weather. And the food always left me feeling satisfied but not weighed down. Sword Fish salad for the win, olive oil dressing, simple greens, manchago cheese and mixed fruits/nuts. Perfection.

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.

La Conversation – Los Angeles, California 

During my recent trip to Los Angeles I mentioned that I was mostly on foot. Which meant long days of a lot of walking. One such day wound up being 12 miles in total, I had intended to just walk to Greystone Mansion and back but as luck (and lack of planning) would have it I wound up at the mansion three hours before it actually opened. So I chose to hit the bricks and explore the area and if I could find a place to grab breakfast. I wandered around Beverly Hills for a while leering at beautiful homes.

I started to get hungry so I looked up a coffee shop, I wasn’t thrilled with my options there was a Starbucks or a extremely popular local place both still about a mile off.  I toyed with the idea of just not eating but that seemed unwise. So I chose the local spot and headed in that direction. About a half a mile later I walked passed a small store front that just said ‘cafe’ on the awning. I was REALLY hungry at this point so I popped in.

The cafe’s name, La Conversation, I eventually figured out was a really excellent last minute choice. The wait staff sat me right away, at my choice of table. The coffee was delicious and strong. The menu had a lot of really great healthy options without being terribly unsavory (no green juice or other non-food foods). I settled in and enjoyed a leisurely brunch in this heavily antiqued restaurant.

I ended up wishing that I had more time in LA and more time at this end of the Sunset so that I could have gone back, but our time there was limited and I never got the chance to return. Hopefully in the future we will make our way back and I can revisit this charming little shop. Should you chose to give it a go, La Conversation can be found at  638 N. Doheny Drive West Hollywood, CA  90069.