Singing Lullabys to Animals

Living in downtown San Diego has enormous benefits, such as being able to walk to Balboa Park.  This past Saturday, we decided to walk to the San Diego Zoo, thinking we’d get to see some great animals close up and in action.  Little did we know that their nap time is from 3pm-6pm and although not of human audible level, I could swear there was lullaby music playing throughout.

Check out our photos from the zoo, as well as the walk there – Balboa Park boasts some amazing rose and cactus gardens!

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24 Hours in L.A. – Trapeze Recital!

This past weekend, my husband and I went up to Los Angeles to see my sister and her boyfriend, perform in a trapeze recital on the Santa Monica Pier.  Since Antonio had never been to Los Angeles before, I took him on a little tour.

Admittedly, we never shy away from taking pictures.  As the saying goes, “You get out of it what you put into it.”

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Below are the videos from the The Trapeze School New York (TSNY) Los Angeles Trapeze Recital on the Santa Monica Pier.

Alexandra’s First Trick

Alexandra’s Second Trick

Ben’s First Trick

Ben’s Second Trick

Life. Love. Happiness.

Our first month and a half, living in San Diego has been all about adventure.  It’s so wonderful to live in such a beautiful place!

San Diego Bound: We Made It!

About a week and a half ago, we woke up in Las Cruces, NM VERY excited to be in the home stretch of our road trip.  Although it was another 10-hour day on the road, it was probably the most beautiful.  We went through desert, where we saw the impact of the drought (ever see a decaying cactus or ones destroyed by animals, looking for water?), abandoned homes, majestic mountains and plains, sand dunes that seem to pop out of no where, crumbled hills that look like they can fall apart with one strong wind and of course, miles of ocean.  We are so happy to be in our new home, although it still hasn’t quite hit us yet :-)

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San Diego Bound: Third Stop – Las Cruces, NM

Driving from Grapevine (Dallas), TX to Las Cruces, NM is a much more beautiful drive.  The terrain changes into so many different things, over the course of 10 hours.  You go from farmland, to hills, to buttes, to canyons, to mountains, to desert.  The clouds are so low that you feel like you can touch them.  The mountains are so old that you fear one strong wind will blow them down.  And, the closer your creep to Juarez, the more you see how so many people live – in complete and utter poverty.  We saw lizards and cacti, dust tornados, unusual inhabitants and lots of scenery that looked as if they jumped out of paintings.

But then, we got into Las Cruces, NM.  This little town has changed quite a bit, since the last time I was there, almost eight years ago.  We stayed at Hotel Encanto (which I highly recommend), which was a surprise when we walked in – so incredibly warm, inviting and charming with huge nods to the town’s Catholic roots.  Check out the pics below.

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What I really wanted to see was a place on the other side of town, called Mesilla.  I’ve been raving about this little town ever since I first saw it.  The Mesilla Plaza has been preserved, just as it was in the 1800s.  This is the town that Billy the Kid was tried and many mysterious deaths took place.  It’s a charming Spanish town with oddly, a huge French influence (check out the link below to learn more).

But, the most incredible part about this town is Double Eagle.  It was a private residence until 1976, complete with a haunted room and now serves as one of the best restaurants I’ve ever been to.  Much of the decor is original, including the vast amount of art work.  And, each room is completely different from the next (to read about each, click here).  Unfortunately, there was a private party in the hidden salon so no ghost hunting for us!  Check out our pics below.

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San Diego Bound: Second Stop – Dallas, TX!

Getting from Nashville to Dallas is not my favorite drive.  It was beautiful through Memphis, over the bridge on the Mississippi River and onto Arkansas and then… it stopped.  It made me understand what the “Kansas” was doing in this state’s name, mainly because they share the same physical characteristics – plenty of flat land and nothing around for hundreds of miles.  When you see a cow, it gets a bit exciting.  And then, you go under the overpass with that big huge star and the Texas state shape and you know that civilization has begun.  From there on, it was huge ranches with even bigger homes and plenty of modern-day conveniences, such as rest stops that were actually open.  After 12 long hours, we got to the Gaylord Texan, feeling rewarded for our efforts.

The Gaylord Texan is outstanding in its own right.  Although not as big as the Gaylord Opry, it’s distinct in its character, which gives it its own larger-than-life feel.  Modeled after some of the most iconic places in Texas, it was like taking a trip around the state without actually having to endure the miles of highway and the splatter of bugs.  Although a quick stop for us, it was totally worth it to come here.  (We even happened to come here during Artwalk Week!)  Check out the pics from our trip today, as well as the hotel.

 

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San Diego Bound: First Stop, Nashville, TN!

We began our trek across the country today with our first stop in Nashville, TN.  I now get why people love it here – everyone is friendly, up beat and certainly loves their country music (not to mention their southern cooking).  For me, this was a place on my “bucket list” – especially to take in a show at the Grand Ole Opry  - a place country music stars aspire to perform at.

We decided to stay at the Gaylord, which happens to be the largest non-casino hotel and conference center in the U.S.  It is the most charming hotel I’ve ever been in and certainly gives you plenty of things to do and see. Our stay included:

  • Taking a river boat ride through 4.5 acres of river IN the Gaylord
  • Grand Ole Opry show (the coolest thing about it – it broadcasts live on its own radio station (located in the Gaylord’s Magnolia wing) – you even see the announcer on stage, reading the sponsor ads).
  • Dinner at Jack Daniels’ saloon (I highly recommend the chili)
  • Wandering through the tropical forests and hidden waterfalls throughout the entire property

Check out our pictures below.

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A Date a Weekend: Hillwood House and Museum in DC

I am totally obsessed with social history and the story of Marjorie Merriweather Post has me fascinated (click here to read this book on her life).  What I hadn’t known was that her former estate in D.C., Hillwood House, was open to the public as a museum.  Naturally, it wasn’t much of a surprise, as she loved to entertain and show off many of her collections from around the world – particularly her obsession with Russian culture.

Unlike Dumbarton Oaks, the house and its grounds are 100% open to the public and what this house and the grounds contain is absolutely extraordinary.  In all my years of touring museums in the United States, I have never laid eyes on a more impeccable property that is so rich with history and detail, you almost wonder what it’s doing in the U.S. in the first place (some of the collections remind me of the Crown Jewels in the Tower of London, as well as Versailles).

I wish I could have captured every single thing about this house and the property, as every single room and its contents are so different from the next.  And while fascinating, the grounds captured my attention even more.  The only word to describe the landscape is “peaceful”.   If you have a free Saturday, I highly recommend taking a tour.

Below are my shots from my tour.  I’m steering away from my usual black and whites because the color is just too rich not to share. Click on each image to enlargen

 

Exercising or Exorcising?

Yesterday, my other half and I decided to take a walk.  In fact, most evenings we do.  Now that the weather is warmer and we’re both explorers (with one of us loving to take pictures of everything), it’s our favorite thing to do outside.

Our walk found us going all the way from Clarendon to Georgetown University and back (see map detail below).  We had no intention of walking 3 1/2 miles in one direction but the further we got, the more we decided to wander.  Where we wandered to made it one of the best walks we’ve had yet.

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Exercising or Exorcising?

We all know the affiliation between the movie ” The Exorcist” and the infamous stairs quite well.  In fact, I’ve never gotten through the movie once and although I’ve lived here my whole life, have never climbed the stairs – mainly out of fear (I know, it’s silly).  Some say these stairs are freaky and others say it’s just a pain to get to the top.

For those who have never even seen them, it’s a steep set of stairs that can be accessed from Fox Hall Rd., from a parking lot, behind a dumpster.  It’s definitely dark and definitely smelly, only adding to the “ambience”.  If you’re not athletic, I can only liken climbing them to feeling like the demons have taken the breath out of you (I said a few Hail Marys, trying to get to the top without stopping to take a nap).  I can see why former Georgetown student, William Peter Blatty, added this to his screenplay – there’s no way someone could successfully walk away from a fall (or a toss) down these steps without some sort of injury.

Anyway, once to the top, the view of Georgetown University and the surrounding area was magnificent.  I’m embarrassed to say it’s a part of Georgetown I’ve never been to and one I’m glad we trekked to.  Check out some of the photos from our walk below.

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Going over the Key Bridge - view of the waterfront

Going over the Key Bridge – view of the waterfront

 

Sunset over Georgetown

Sunset over Georgetown

 

The Exorcist steps at dusk

The Exorcist steps at dusk

 

A view from the top - once was enough

A view from the top – once was enough

 

A peek at the Key Bridge

A peek at the Key Bridge

 

Georgetown University

Georgetown University

A Date a Weekend: Ringling Brothers in Fairfax, VA

There was so much fun to be had on April 19th!  Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus came to town and since my other half had NEVER seen a circus, it was the perfect excuse for my family and I to go (although it’s been an annual family tradition).  This circus has received a lot of flack from animal rights groups over the treatment of their animal performers.  Well, it looks like they made some major changes to not just the public perception but the overall format of the show.  I’ve gone almost every year since I was a kid and somehow, they’ve still managed to make it even more magical than before.

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