Celebrating 100 Years at Crater Lake Lodge

I drove to Ashland, Oregon from Los Angeles this June, and decided to visit Crater Lake National Park for the first time. I wasn’t disappointed. Amazing blue water in the midst of a mountain that blew its top nearly 7,700 years ago. It filled with water over time and another volcanic island called, “Wizard Island,” formed inside.

Island DreamsTwo Volcanos The Wiz   Crater Lake Lodge Doorway to Heaven Happy Camper

Oregon’s only national park is a mere two hour drive from Medford in Southern Oregon and well worth the trip. I was lucky enough to score a modest, but pricey, room at the historic Crater Lake Lodge, which is currently celebrating its 100th year. My room overlooked the lake, in theory, but I couldn’t see the actual water unless I went into the Great Room or outside. Still, a remarkable trip.

Sunset Watch Snow  Dinner at the Lodge Wild Salmon SaladCrater Lake Waltz Centennial PlatingCrater Lake Sunset Striations Wildflowers

Right now, there’s less snow than usual – ah climate change; although there was still too much to drive the entire rim. So, I hiked a bit and the next day drove partially around the lake. I’m not big on heights, so the perspective of being so high from the water is quite daunting. And, as I drove along the western rim, I was actually glad I didn’t get to drive the entire rim. I did stop at the closest overlook to Wizard Island and it was incredible.

Rim Drive West SignLiving on the Edge  Mountain to Lake Volcano within Volcano Visitors Center Lake tree Tree's Eye View Wizard Island Tree  Kicking Back Lounging at the Lodge Crater Lake The Other Side

I continued along the road out of the northern entrance to the park towards the smaller Diamond Lake and then towards Highway 138, the Highway of Waterfalls. Stopped and hiked in fern-laden green forests amidst several waterfalls. It was hot, nearly 100 degrees at times, so I continued on towards Roseburg, then south along Highway 5 to my favorite southern Oregon town of Ashland.

Road to Diamond LakeDiamond in the Rough  Leaves of Green  Fallen TreeStairway to Nirvana The Way Waterfall Watson Falls SignWaterfalls Map

Going Slow in SLO and Cambria

The worst thing about visiting Cambria along California’s brilliant Central Coast is leaving. So, I tend to go fairly often. It is truly right in the center of LA and San Francisco at 240 miles south of San Francisco and 240 miles north of Los Angeles. The drive from LA is about 4 hours along the coastal 101 Ventura Highway and Highway 1. On the way, dined al fresco at Jeannine’s in Montecito just south of Santa Barbara, where I feasted on some delicious breakfast tacos.

Jeannine's Breakfast Tacos

Jeannines Montecito

Arrived in Cambria before sunset. Stayed at Cambria Pines Lodge on their Escape Package, which includes dinner and breakfast. There’s also live music every night. Saw Jill Knight in the lounge. Nice and mellow.

Cambria Pines Lodge

Succulent Sea Scallops Cambria Pines Lodge

Strolled along wind-swept Moonstone Beach with amazing views of the Pacific just south of Big Sur. Hearst Castle and sea lions are just a few miles up the road. Skipped them this trip, but would definitely recommend a look.

Moonstone Beach Stairs

Moonstone Shadows

Bird's Eye View

Moonstone Beach Cambria

Winding Path

Seagull in Flight

Lori Cambria

Cambria Views

Sunset Over Moonstone Beach

Cambria Sunset

The next morning, I took a must-see hike through Fiscalini Ranch strewn with vivid-colored wildflowers and everywhere you look, the shining sea.


Caught a glimpse of some Jurassic-looking birds resting on the rocks below.

Jurassic Birds

Cambria Gecko

Fiscalini Ranch

Refreshed body and soul amid gardens and koi at the Cambria Nursery across from the hotel.

Cambria Nursery CROP

Santa out of Season

Koi in Cambria

Lori in Wonderland.

Lori in Wonderland

I always visit my favorite horse, Mattie, high on a hill overlooking Cambria before heading out of town.

Cambria Horse

Had to promise myself further adventures to convince myself to leave. These included an hour or so in San Luis Obispo, where I followed my bliss to a little juice bar along a creek beside the historic Mission.

SLO Follow Your Bliss

SLO Mission

SLO Mission Info

Music Mission

A bunny on a leash out for his pre-Easter trek.

SLO Easter Bunny

Continuing south, I stopped in my favorite town of Santa Barbara, where I dined on a Volcano roll at Kai sushi on State Street before heading back to LA reality.

Kai Sushi Volcano Roll

Kai Sushi Santa Barbara Menu

Hello Santa Barbara!

Spent an amazing day surrounded by the serene beauty of Santa Barbara. Started out at one of my favorite bistros, Stella Mare’s, near the 101 freeway zoo exit.

Stella Mar

You can opt for outside dining, but most prefer the French ambiance inside.

outside dining

inside ambiance

Stella Mar info

Stella Mar Menu

water on request

I tried the Grilled Salmon du Jour and was immediately smitten. The plating and gusto of the flavors from the base of carrot puree to the grilled onions and Swiss chard topped off with crispy roasted leeks more than satisfied my taste for something new in the salmon world.

grilled salmon du jour

lori and stella mar

To work off the calories, I continued to the Santa Barbara Zoo. This is the only zoo I am a member of because I would live there. Still, I wish all the zoos of the world would relocate animals to a more humane domain, such as a large, natural habitat where the animals roam free and humans are kept in cars. Still, here are some of my favorites, from the pink flamingos to the floating penguins.

Santa Barbara Zoo


penguin swim

State Street, the main drag in town, always amuses. Here a trio plays while Ben thinks.

State Street Trio

Ben on State Street

Another great spot is Alice Keck Gardens Memorial Park. I love to unwind after a day of walking. The turtles and ducks are friendly, as are the people. All in all, Santa Barbara is truly one of my favorite towns.

Alice Keck Park Trees

a nice couple

Feed the birds

Life in Venice, CA

Spent a great day in Venice, California, along the boardwalk. The only boards, however, are the surfing kind. Took lots of photos with my new Sony a6000 camera. Chatted up some of the vendors, including a sweet man who created miniature wireframe bicycles. Watched amazing urban acrobats careen across crowds, skateboarders ride concrete waves and surfers head for the briny seas.

Skateboarder Venice2 St. Mark Building Venice Tattoo Sign Venice Urban Acrobat2 Urban Acrobats Venice Beach Venice Boardwalk1
Venice Couple
Venice Dude
Venice Sales Hopper
Venice Surfers Venice Waves Venice1

Goin’ Kauaian

Just returned from an amazing trip to the Garden Isle of Kauai in Hawaii. The weather was balmy, with gentle rains cooling us off from an array of adventures. Favorite place – walking along Hanalei Bay near our hotel. Stayed in the north at St. Regis Princeville – a real treat. The views were spectacular of the mythical Bali Hai from the movie South Pacific.

St. Regis and Bay St. Regis PrincevilleKayaks Beach Princeville

All over the island, roosters crowed and chickens clucked. These colorful birds roam free. I’ve vowed never to eat chicken again. I’ll keep you posted.

Rooster Limaluli

Splurged on a unique luau – KiloHana Luau – at the historic KiloHana Plantation on the east coast in Lihue. The grounds were beautiful and the performance unique. It is held each Tuesday and Friday evening and one of the most popular events on the island.

Luau Kalamaku
Vendor Luau Kalamaku

Explored Opaekaa Falls and nearby Wailua River.

Opaekaa Falls1

Drove to the Na Pali along one-lane bridges and incredibly scenic horse ranches, Taro fields and beaches. Took a delightful hike at the lush Limahuli Gardens. The views were epic.

oceans north kauai Limahuli Gardens and Preserve
Taro Fields

Later in the week, we moved our “camp” to the Marriott in Lihue. More sun down here, as we drove up the intense Waimea Canyon Road, flanked by deep canyons. Finally, arrived at the overlook for some more views of this “Grand Canyon of the Pacific.”

Life Grows Here Capturing the Canyon

Drove a bit further up the winding road to my favorite view of the entire trip – the Kalalau Lookout – which overlooks the Na Pali Coast from on high.

Lori Kalalau Lookout72 Kalalau Lookout

Marty and Lori go Kauaian.

Marty and Lori Go Kauaiian72

Spouting Horn on the southern coast in Poipu.

Spouting Horn Poipu

Swinging Bridge in Old Town Hanapepe. I lost my cap to the breeze blowing across the bridge, but gained a beautiful ocean-blue necklace from a local artist.

Hanapepe Swinging Bridge

Spent my birthday in Hanalei and beyond. Caught a really sweet performance of old style slack key guitar and ukulele by Doug and Sandy McMaster at the Hanalei Community Center. Here’s a link on youtube to one of their performances. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=heW1QcuPZCY

Hanalei Bay Restaurant Hanalei Church oldest horsesSlack Key Hanalei Community Center

Some more idyllic moments below. Actually, they were all pretty cool. Lived on Oahu many moons ago, and it still holds a special place in my heart. Hope to return to Kauai and her sister islands soon.

Beach Cat at Dukes Lihue Crazy Koi Kauai Marriott Weather Chart Koloa Market Peacock plant Trucking Delicious Why Rooster Crosses Road Wild in Hawaii Pup in a Box Kukulula Farmers Market Old Town Hanapepe
Sunset Over Kauai

2713 Mile Drive Round-trip from LA to Seattle

Every once in awhile I need a grand adventure, and I am driven to head towards the unfamiliar, away from everyday scenes. I just returned from such a trip… a solo drive from Los Angeles to Seattle. Over 2700 miles of trees, ocean and rain. Living in Los Angeles, I often miss the rain and the oft’ cloudy skies of my childhood on the east coast. So I went off to count the trees between LA and Seattle. That was the final destination, for both work and play. But, what happened in between was the adventure. I’d like to share some of my highlights with you.

I wanted to visit Mt. Rainier, and hoped the ‘Mountain would be out.’ I’d never seen it before due to rain and fog, but finally got my chance on an incredibly sunny day – in Washington terms – this July. Lucked out and got a room inside the park at the National Park Inn, where I watched a deer graze on the front lawn, majestic mountain looming above. The only other park lodging is in Paradise, on top of the world.

Deer Mt. Rainier72

I took a hike near the fittingly named Paradise, where I stumbled upon a quote from John Muir about the illustrious wildflowers on the mountain. I had no idea he’d traveled this far.

Mt. Rainier John Muir Quote72

Mt. Rainier72

The Nisqually Vista hike was incredible. No words can aptly describe the silence of the snow, wildflowers in bloom, or proximity to the 14 thousand foot-plus summit that feels close enough to touch.

Nisqually Hike Rainier72

Rainier Wildflowers72

On the way to Washington, I spent several days in my favorite Pacific Northwest town of Ashland in Southern Oregon.

Ashland Pond

Ashland Stream

Stayed at Best Western Bard’s Inn, right in town. The people at the desk were incredibly nice and helpful.

Bard's Inn Ashland

Thai Pepper

Door to your Dreams

Downtown Ashland at Night

Downtown Ashland



Lithia Park Duck

Lori in Lithia


Oregon Shakespeare Festival

Oregon Shakespeare Gift Shop

Although the town is known for its popular Shakespeare Festival, the Oregon Cabaret Theatre also delights. Saw Ain’t Misbehavin’ with an excellent cast.

Oregon Cabaret Theatre

OSF Costume

Star Sushi Roll

Star Sushi

Arriving in Seattle was, to say the least, overwhelming. Trees gave way to skyscrapers as I shot through the city, having no real idea where I was headed. Another tip for traveling to big cities, especially in the summer… have a reservation. I didn’t, and that led me on a bit of a chase looking for a room. I got a bit lost north of the city, and fortunately found my way to suburbs north in Edmonds and Everett. I fell in love with the tiny hamlet of Edmonds, right near the water, and would love to return. Green Lake, just north of downtown Seattle, was pretty, as well. The town surrounds a lake.

Edmonds Mural

Edmonds Washington

Randall J. Hodges Photography

Wild Salmon Tacos Everett

Green Lake Homes

Green Lake Park Seattle

Green Lake Surfers

Stopped at the Woodland Park Zoo for a few hours on a rainy day. It’s in Green Lake, and very nice, for a zoo. Hate to see the animals caged, but they do help with animal conservation with the money raised by zoo funds.

Woodland Park Zoo

Conservation 2





Penguin Lunch

African Savannah

Carousel WPZ

Downtown Seattle, where I stayed at the Crowne Plaza, was daunting. Visited Pike’s Place, very crowded in the summer, and kept driving past the Space Needle. Lots of construction made it impossible to get to the needle itself, though if I kept trying, I probably would have eventually.

My view from the 10th floor of the Crowne Plaza, downtown Seattle.


Cool Design

Seattle waterfront with Olympia Sculpture Park and Space Needle in distance.

Olympia Sculpture Park and Space Needle

The hub-bub of Pike’s Place in the summertime and probably anytime.

Pike Place Artwork

Pike Place Flowers

Pike Place Seafood

Pike Place Sign

The Music Scene

Umbrella Sculpture

VIew from Pike Place

After saying adieu to Seattle, I headed south via the 5 freeway. I stopped in the state capitol, where I stumbled upon a hemp festival. It is now legal to smoke there. I saw the capitol building and waterfront of this rather funky town.

Downtown Olympia

Hemp Fest

State Capitol Olympia

I continued to head south, where I took a detour east on Highway 14 at the southern tip of Washington along the majestic Columbia River Gorge. I got a great view of Oregon’s Mt. Hood along the way.

Gorgeous Gorge

Mt. Hood


Driving towards the Hood

After driving a half-hour or so, right after the Bonneville Dam, you can cross over to Oregon on the Bridge of the Gods. Here, I traveled west to see the stunning Multnomah Falls along the Gorge.

Crowded Falls

Incredible Multnomah

Lori at the Falls

Majestic Falls

Multnomah Falls Oregon

Multnomah Falls

All in all, an amazing journey.

Jazzin’ it up in Big Bear

Succumbed once again to the call of the wild for a weekend sojourn in Big Bear. I’ve only passed through a time or two, so decided to actually stay to celebrate the Summer Solstice during the Jazz Trax weekend.

Big Bear City

Big Bear Jazz Trax



Twin Trees2

Pirate Sign Main Street

Spumoni ala Paolis

Googling Baby

Stayed at the Marina Resort overlooking the lake. Nothing fancy, but was treated to an essentially free jazz festival that was held on the grounds, with such luminaries as Hiroshima, and Paul Taylor and Sax and the City. Especially enjoyed the smooth sounds of guitarist Norman Brown.

marina resort


Gone Fishin

Visited the Big Bear Alpine Zoo which is actually a rehab center for creatures in need on the mountain and beyond, from a three-legged bear to a blind bunny and a pair of bald eagles.

Big Bear Alpine Zoo

Eagles in Rehab

Took a relaxing cruise across the lake on Miss Liberty. Passed a pirate tour and one of the country’s few solar observatories.

Pirate Ship

Solar Observatory

Eventually realized there really is no place like home at the CATS (Community Arts Theatre Society) creative rendition of the Wizard of Oz. This is the first time I’ve seen the play staged. I will never tire of the music of this show.

Wizard of Oz Play