Rain And Shine: A Friends’ Weekend In Seattle – Part One

A chocolate Space Needle and the real thing, glimpsed from the Westin Seattle

A chocolate Space Needle and the real thing, glimpsed from the Westin Seattle

Any two given days in Seattle will bring a combination of sparkling sun and pouring-down rain, with a high chance of natural beauty, a bayside Statue of Liberty, and some ridiculously good food. Back in March, one of my dearest friends and I found all of this on a weekend getaway to Seattle, the Pacific Northwest’s “Next City.”

Along the way, we also discovered the sweet beauty of a chocolate Space Needle. [Read more…]

Be Afraid, Lamb Chop: Primitive Outdoor Skills at Canyon Ranch

Stuffed puppets set up for a stick-throwing drill at Arizona's Canyon Ranch

Stuffed puppets set up for a stick-throwing drill at Arizona’s Canyon Ranch

Ever dreamed of learning to make fire? Or quieting your thoughts so that you can see your surroundings in a whole new way? Or, say, murdering stuffed puppets with a throwing stick?

My dear friend and I learned to do all this (and more) by participating in the Primitive Outdoor Skills Program held twice a year at Tucson, Arizona’s famed spa and wellness resort, Canyon Ranch.

From here on in, the wilderness better watch out. [Read more…]

New Orleans: A Whole Different Country – Part Two


It’s really hard to get a straight-on photo of Sazeracs at the Carousel Bar

Continued from
New Orleans: A Whole Different Country – Part One

Along our wanderings through the French Quarter in New Orleans, my (now-ex-) boyfriend Eric and I managed to stumble blindly across a place we were actually looking for: the Carousel Bar & Lounge at the Hotel Monteleone. The hotel itself is pretty swanky, but too close to the craziness of Bourbon Street for my taste. I’d rather just come here and drink enormous Sazeracs at the round and slowly-spinning merry-go-round of a bar, striking up conversations with other tourists and locals…and losing track of time.

Deeper explorations of the French Quarter yielded increasingly quiet streets in a swirl of France, Spain and Disneyland, with horse-drawn carriages, low brick buildings and ornately wrought iron. Don’t forget to look up, and around corners, as well: there are amazing little details everywhere.

[Read more…]

New Orleans: A Whole Different Country – Part One


Shrine to faith and (memories of) love at New Orleans’ Voodoo Museum

New Orleans has grown slowly over a long time, as cities used to in the days before Wal-Mart, and dates back to an era when the New World still looked to Europe for its civic models and courtly manners. Historic plaques pop up on every other building from the Treme to the Garden District, like portals to a world of ghosts.

Modern-day NOLA has the Deep South’s languorous pace, complex system of race relations, and passion for a plot of land; the self-assurance and romantic notions of 18th-century France; and the beats, rhythms and magic of West Africa. It holds as fast as humanly possible to its own particular customs and traditions, some of which involve brass bands, a reverence for family lineage, and the right to walk proudly in the street with an open container.

It’s America and not America, all at once.

[Read more…]

El Encanto: Full-Tilt Enchantment in Santa Barbara


Butterflies flit along the walls at Santa Barbara’s El Encanto

A beloved hideaway since 1920, Santa Barbara, California’s hilltop El Encanto has re-emerged from its long renovation like a butterfly on a mission.  That mission? To relax and delight anyone who comes to visit. It’s a lovely, luxurious place to let yourselves unfurl. 

[Read more…]