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Saturday, October 30, 2010

There’s no place like home, and Rick & Pam, and Rob & I drove up through Orange and Ulster Counties last weekend to see the peak of the autumn colors.
Hudson Valley farm in autumn
We began here in Warwick and drove up to New Paltz on route 208 to 299 to catch the mountains up to Mohonk blaze out the oranges and yellows—right up to the sky.
Hudson Valley Autumn
We drove back down 55 to where it merged with 208, and that’s where we caught the views of the trestle.
Hudson Valley Autumn
autumn tressle

The weather was mild, so this was a perfect day. Some people are griping because this is not the most beautiful fall ever, and maybe the reds are not as vibrant as they might be, but it’s beautiful around here, so I will simply share it with you in photos.
farm in autumn

The colors have passed their peak now, but tuck this drive away for next year. It will make you feel good inside.

Hudson Valley Autumn

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Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Butchart Gardens

One million bedding plants of seven hundred varieties are used in Vancouver's Victoria Island's Butchart Gardens to insure continuous bloom from March until October. Therefore, that Rob and I are wonderfully overwhelmed by our visit to this 55 acre, family-owned floral extravaganza is not in the least bit surprising.

Butchart Gardens is a National Historic Site of Canada. It was once offered to the government but it unwisely refused. Today, more than a century after their inception, a million people a year pay to visit the gardens, enjoying not only its floral beauty, but the sculpture, the exquisite lighting designs, and the weekly fireworks displays.topiary

Our visit to Butchart Gardens is a continuation of the tour to Victoria Island our Vancouver hotel's concierge arranged for us. As we enter the Gardens, we are greeted to a breath-taking panoramic view of rolling terrain and serpentine paths lined with vibrantly colored flowers: begonias, bleeding hearts, snapdragons to name but a few.flowersflowersflowersflowers These Gardens grew in stages, the conception of Jennie Butchart whose husband became rich making cement at the turn of the century. Around 1908 when he exhausted a limestone quarry near their house, Jennie turned that into the first of the Gardens, the magnificent Sunken Gardens.

By 1908, they added the Japanese Gardens and then the Italian Garden.Japanese GardensJapanese GardensItalian Gardens Meanwhile, Mr. Butchart, who collected exotic birds from all over the world, had elaborate birdhouses set up among the gardens. He kept ducks in the Star Pond. He trained pigeons in what is now the Begonia Bower.Rose Garden Entrance

By the 1920s, word of the beautiful Gardens spread. Fifty thousand people visited annually, and the Butcharts named the avenue leading to the Gardens "Benvenuto Ave." meaning "Welcome" in Italian. They lined the path with flowering cherry trees purchased from the Yokohama Nursery in Japan. The walk to the entrance is so beautiful that we are blown away when we realize we haven't even begun to experience Butchart Gardens.

You will love visiting their website where they detail the events, let visitors know which flowers will be blooming when they visit, and offer a wealth of other information.I can offer you some background, but photos cannot adequately capture the lush, vibrant colors or the serene atmosphere visitors experience as they wander through the Gardens and drink in the charm and beauty.animals of twigs If we thought this visit would be anti-climactic after the amazing natural sights we had experienced on this trip, we were mistaken. This is one more place on this earth that is too good to be missed.

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Saturday, October 02, 2010


On our last “outing” of this journey, we board our concierge-booked tour bus that travels along Rt. 99—The Pan American Highway which goes all the way to South America—and head for the BC Ferry Terminal and our trip to Victoria Island. The terminal is a destination in itself with shopping, cafes so used to international visitors that the computerized cash registers adapt to the country of the money of the moment.

In Victoria we have time to explore before our biggest destination. We get off in Chinatown, once the largest Chinatown in North America. We walk through Fan Tan Alley, once a hotbed of gambling and opium dens and now a place of pleasant shops. The alley was named after the gambling game, and it once led to a labyrinthian maze that was then Chinatown. Today only 3,000 Chinese residents live here
Fan Tan Alley and Chinatown, Victoria

When we see a tour bus drop some Chinese tourists in front of a restaurant, we know that is the place to be, and we have an incredibly delectable bowl of soup filled with roast duck and wontons.
Chinatown Victoria

After lunch we stroll back down the hill toward the water, looking at the shops and sights, buying some chocolate, and being amazed at the number of bikes until we learn the cost of parking in the city--$2.50 an hour with no repeats.
bkike for the enviornment
street artist in chalk

Artists have contributed eagles to auction for charity, and they decorate the city. There is also a totem pole dedicated to the First People. This is a beautiful city on the water with marinas, varied architecture, good hotels, a zillion flowers and plenty to see—more than we can cover in this short time because we are off to the famous Butchart Gardens.

eagle sculpture
eagle sculpture
Victoria marinas

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