Spooner Lake, Nevada State Park

Happy Halloween! Yesterday, we decided to take a drive around Lake Tahoe and visit Spooner Lake Park which is part of the Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park. We have had unseasonably warm weather for late October so we decided to enjoy the freedom to drive around Lake Tahoe without any snow restrictions. Our hope had been to see the Aspen trees in full color since the trees in Truckee are showing beautiful autumn colors. This park has one of the larger parking areas, flush toilets, two picnic areas and connects to the Tahoe Rim Trail which is popular with both day hikers and backpackers. This map shows Spooner Lake and the hiking trails nearby. Being a Friday during Covid-19, we were surprised at how many people had the same idea as us.
The Spooner Lake Loop trail is just over 2 miles and goes around the lake
We have a book of easy Lake Tahoe walks and it recommended that we take the counter clockwise route. It starts with views of the lake through the trees and then brings you closer to the lake. We saw a couple of fisherman floating in large tubes on the lake and many birds all along the walk. Many benches with beautiful views are scattered around the lake not far from the trail.
Our first view of the lake, with bare Aspin trees across the lake
We soon realized that we were too late for the orange and yellow leaves of the Aspen trees, but the lake and other trees and bushes still provided beautiful scenery.
The trail just up from the lake alternated between Aspen groves and large pine trees
Some of these trees were very old, the tree trunks were huge for Aspen. We soon realized that we wouldn’t have seen as many lake views if the leaves were still on the trees. Next year, we will go earlier in the season.
Soon we were walking along the beautiful lake shore.
Beautiful lake views with reflections
We then were back in the trees and enjoyed listening to various birds.
This pine tree was so large and the limbs come almost to the ground. It reminded me of an octopus reaching out.
We saw a lot of these little pine trees holding large pine cones. They had dropped into perfect places to look like the little trees had grown the pine cones
Shortly, we were at the earthen dam which enlarged this lake in the 1980’s. Here the trail is much wider and goes over the dam giving a lovely view of the lake. We met many walkers that were just coming from the parking lot to see the lake and go back. I recommend that you walk around the loop, it is easy and has rewarding views.
View from the dam
After our walk we continued on to the South Shore of Lake Tahoe. Picked up a great sandwich at The Cork and More in town and stopped for a picnic before continuing our drive around Lake Tahoe back to Truckee. We saw beautiful fall colors on the Aspin trees in South Shore and as we headed through the Camp Richardson area. So our search for Aspen tree autumn foliage was a success!
Beautiful trees with the back drop of 2016 forest fire damage in the background
We drove past Emerald Bay. From there we continued on past Meeks Bay Campground which has a wonderful beach but was closed for the season. Emerald Bay. Then back to Truckee.
Emerald Bay, an Oct 2019 photo with a dusting of snow
A wonderful day, beautiful weather and different scenery from our local daily walks.
Until the next time – be adventurous and enjoy this short life! Vicki Start Hyw 89 series | Start Peru series | Start Galapagos series | Start Remodel series | Please add your email to ‘Follow this Blog‘ for updates. We never share your email. Interested in a vacation in Hawaii? Check out the units at SurfCondo.com

Carmel, Monterey & Big Sur-Sunny Days-Part 2

This is part 2 and the final part of this trip, read part 1 here.

On our way back to Carmel from Big Sur we stopped at Point Lobos State Park. We only had an hour but I wanted to get the layout for sites, parking and hiking trails for when we came back the next morning at opening time. Point Lobos is very popular, parking is limited and if parking is full you cannot drive into the park. It is possible to park outside and walk in but not as convenient. We purchased a map and headed to Whaler’s Cove where I had always wanted to dive but never did as we always tried to get in on weekends. (Now you can reserve a weekend time slot for diving.) It was spectacular! We climbed up the steep stairway to the cove cliff and walked around then headed back to drive the park roads and determine our planned starting point for the next morning. We also parked near Sea Lion Point Trail and walked the beautiful Sand Hill Trail to see many sea lions.  The Point Lobos Foundation is a wonderful resource for learning about Point Lobos.

Whalers Cove
Looking to the cove south of Whalers Cove
Looking out at the ocean on top of Whalers Cove Cliff Trail
View from Sea Lion Point Trail

As a side note, I have the California State Parks Poppy Pass which for a yearly fee allows free daily use at most California State Parks including the parks around Lake Tahoe and Donner Lake. This pass excludes some of the Southern California Parks. They also offer the California State Explorer Pass which covers all California State Parks. This allowed us to not worry about paying for just going into the park for an hour. These passes help support the parks and solve the problem of not having exact cash. I love having the pass because it encourages to get out all year. If you are over 62, you can get a reduced rate  senior pass but it excludes park entries from Memorial Day to Labor Day so for us this excludes all our summer fun.

We stopped at Monastery Beach along Highway 1. This large, expansive beach is beautiful but can be treacherous due to the strong undertow and deceivingly steep water entry and exit. On a calm day it is fine but once the waves start, keep your distance from the water. This is also a popular SCUBA diving location for experienced divers because just off the northern end is the area known as the ‘trench‘. This deep canyon brings many fish and marine fauna closer to shore than possible for almost any shore dive. Bob, my husband, and I dove this area many times, many years ago. It was not any safer then than it is now but on a good, clear water day it was exquisite. At that time, diving was my husbands life and we both got the chance to see many beautiful places on dive trips. Now, just walking along the beach is a lovely experience.

Looking south, Point Lobos is the next hill with the trees
Looking north, the wash rocks at the end of the curve is near the trench

As you can see by these pictures, the surf was calm at this beautiful beach when Rachel and I visited.

Dinner was at The Forge in the Forest in Carmel By The Sea.  The menu is extensive.  We had had a outstanding lunch in Big Sur, so we choose to split an order of Steamers (clams and mussels) and a pizza.  I think it was the best pizza I’ve ever had!

Back to Point Lobos

We arrived early the next morning at Point Lobos State Reserve and drove to the Hidden Beach parking and picnic area. We had breakfast and then followed the Bird Island Trail to China Cove and Pelican Point. Beautiful views and coves.

China Cove with beach just peaking out. This beautiful jade color was only seen as the sun was shining over the cove in the morning. A good reason to get up early!
Looking out China Cove to the Pacific Ocean

The Pelican Point Trail goes uphill around China Cove and because it had rained just a few days before the Ceanothus or California Lilac bush was in full bloom.

We lucked out as Harbor Seals were just coming into China Cove beach for birthing in March

Gibson Beach can be reached by steps down from the top of Pelican Point Trail. It may be closed if animals are on the beach.

We took binoculars and saw lots of birds, sea lions, harbor seals and otters on our walk.

Arched rock and beautiful wash rocks as we continued to walk the Pelican Point Trail
View from Pelican Point

We then doubled back and walked the South Plateau Trail across the peninsula towards Whalers Cove. This densely brushed area is filled with trees and native plants.

South Plateau Trail scenery

Back at the cove we visited the Whalers Cove Cabin and Whaling Station Museum. A small place but filled with historical treasures covering many years and different uses of Whalers Cove prior to the park being created. Incredibly, this whole area was saved from being a housing development after its many different uses. Plan to spend some time here and talk to the docents. The ones we spoke with were so interested in sharing the history and answering questions that it really was an amazing part of the day.

Another view of beautiful Whalers Cove, the clear & calm water made me want to dive again!

Inside the Whalers Cabin is information about different eras and businesses that took place at Whalers Cove. The top picture is a bench and pounding table for preparing abalone. The bottom picture is jewelry and personal items made from polished abalone shells.

We took the Mound Meadow Trail back towards the coast and walked along Weston Beach and Hidden Beach before ending our visit to Point Lobos. 

The South Plateau Trail and Mound Meadow Trail cross the Point Lobos peninsula offering beautiful forest views and a chance to see some wildlife.

Walking along Weston Beach trail towards Hidden Beach

Hidden Beach

Point Lobos, another beach to explore.

We had a beautiful morning at Point Lobos and perfect weather.

Back in Carmel, The Tuck Box is a restaurant and tea chop inside one of the storybook cottages. It was started as a tea room in the early 1940’s. My husband had visited here as a child with his Mom and I had also visited as a child, so it was a real treat to have a late lunch here. Rachel and I enjoyed tea and a wonderful lunch.

Beautiful tables and an outdoor courtyard at the Tuck Box

We went back to the hotel to regroup and then headed back to Pacific Grove, near Lovers Point, to take the 17 Mile Drive from north to south so that we were on the ocean side of the road for all the stops. The wind was up but it was still beautiful to stop and see all the points of interest. Here are just a few pictures.

Our first stop was a large beach with waves and surfers trying to catch the waves
Then we saw this tree, ‘is that The Lone Cypress’? No, but it is all alone
Bird Rock
Another beautiful beach with houses along the cliffs
The real Lone Cypress at stop number 12

Lone Cypress

The sun was casting a beautiful light on the cliff holding the cypress.

Ghost Trees

As the sun was setting, the silhouettes of these sun-bleached cypress trees were just beautiful.

Recommend doing this with a little more time and making plans to have a snack or cocktails at Spanish Bay where you can see a person playing the bagpipes at sunset. Also, you can visit the Pebble Beach Visitors Center and learn the history of Pebble Beach.

Dinner was at Village Corner Bistro, another great Carmel restaurant.  We were pleasantly surprised at the wonderful selection of restaurants and the great quality of each establishment.  When we asked around, we were told that restaurants have a lot of competition and ones that just look at tourists as one-time customers just don’t make it. They restaurants pride themselves on great food, service and ambiance.  We would have loved to try Bistro Giovanni too!

We also visited the Carmel Mission Basilica which is still a working church, school and historical mission. This historical site has the St. Junipero Serra and the Mission Basilica Shrine and The Caravaca Cross.

Beautiful gardens
Junipero Serra statue in the garden

Basilica from garden entrance and side entrance near the school quad.

Beautiful cactus and succulent garden along the school quad.

Too soon, it was time to go. Our four perfect days of sunshine was done, we woke up to a chilly fog which is not unusual for the Monterey and Carmel area. The town was very quiet during our visit, not sure if this is normal winter crowds or others were already avoiding travel. We were granted a late check out so we took another walk around Carmel admiring all the flowers and looked at a few shops. Then we were on our way back via Moss Beach to see Elkhorn Slough which is a wonderful kayaking estuary near Moss Beach. We love to kayak as does Rachel and her husband. When kayaking, Elkhorn Slough it is a birders paradise and you often see seals and otters. Unfortunately, from a car you don’t see much!

We stopped in at Phil’s Fish House for lunch and then drove back to Hayward. We spent the night, visited with my granddaughters and visited some dear friends of Rachel. We headed back to Truckee the next morning. All in all, a relaxing and beautiful trip with a great friend.

Rachel and Vicki

This is part 2 and the final part of this trip, read part 1 here.

Until the next time – be adventurous and enjoy this short life! Vicki
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Carmel, Monterey & Big Sur-Sunny Days-Part 1

Before our world was turned upside down by the COVID-19 Pandemic a friend, Rachel, and I took off for a few days road trip to Monterey, Carmel, Big Sur and Moss Landing, California. Our husband’s decided to go skiing at Mammoth Mountain so we decided on a road trip. We didn’t have any idea that this would be our last trip for a while and that upon our return home we would be ‘self-isolating’ (the new term, along with ‘social distancing’) Always looking for the good, I have lots of time to update this blog which has suffered from neglect for quite a while. Not that we haven’t been traveling! I just have not sat still long enough to put my thoughts and pictures together. Now this unthinkable pandemic has us all wondering what the future will bring so maybe some ‘arm chair’ vacations will give you an escape during this strange time we find ourselves in. We wish you health and safety. Rachel and I drove from Truckee at the end of a snow storm, it took us two hours to get over Donner Summit. Normally, this would be about a half hour. This was the first good storm since January. My clean car was a mess and as we drove into the cute Carmel hotel to check in, they must have wondered where we were from on this beautiful sunny afternoon! We stayed at the Candlelight Inn which was perfectly located to walk everywhere in Carmel. As soon as we checked in we called for dinner reservations at Cafe Napoli for dinner. Just a short walk away. Wonderful food, staff and Sinatra music played in the background so that you could still talk. A perfect way to end the day!
Cafe Napoli decor
Cafe Napoli music was ‘Rat Pack’ era
It had been years since I had been to Carmel. Rachel and I decided to take a guided walking tour the next morning. Gael Gallaghers, Carmel Walking Tours. We highly recommend taking a tour with Gael. She does many different types of tours in the Monterey/Carmel/Big Sur area. She is knowledgeable, fun and kept everyone’s interest. She encouraged us to follow paths and get lost in the many small alleys and gardens off Ocean Street. We started our tour in one of the many almost hidden courtyards of Carmel and we walked through many more beautiful shops, galleries and gardens.

A sampling of courtyards just steps off the main streets.

Just up from Ocean Avenue, The Forever Couple by George Ludeen. Gael telling the story.

Above, exquisite sculptures by Richard MacDonald.

Gael with the visor and sun glasses, one of our stops was in Cafe Napoli
Carmel Courthouse, where you can get a permit for wearing high heels among other city tasks. Beautiful railing.
Church of the Wayfarer A bear sits outside of the church. The story is that many years ago a little boy forgot his bear. A bear is outside waiting for the boys return.
Beautiful stained glass windows inside the church
Small church but has wonderful wooden accents and pews
Church garden and patio
Across the street from the church is the Cypress Hotel commonly referred to as the ‘Doris Day Hotel’. A lovely, pet friendly hotel.
The Cypress Inn Hotel, previously co-owned by Dorris Day
Dorris Day photo
Large Dorris Day movie poster as you enter the hotel
We had planned to get back here for cocktail hour but just ran out of time. Another highlight of the walking tour was visiting the Restaurant Casanova. One of the original adobe houses converted into a restaurant. It is one of the longest running restaurants in Carmel and highly rated.
Casonova from the front
Part of the patio dining area
A special treat was being able to see the private Van Gogh table and dining room which can be reserved. The table is said to have belonged to the painter Van Gogh. We walked in and out of alleys and gardens and saw many more beautiful sights.
Vibrant window displays

Hogs Breath in Patio Seating with a large mural painted on the wall

Carmel by the Sea park, just off Ocean Avenue

Gallery and store for Thomas Kinkade paintings was found by following another alley. Disney painting of Minnie & Mickey was on display. As well as others. A very peaceful setting to see the art.

The last stop on the walking tour was getting glimpses of some of the storybook cottages that are famous in Carmel By the Sea. Now, most are private homes so they are fairly hidden behind fences and plants.
A beautiful cottage that is easily seen
One of the original cottages, very well hidden
Storybook Cottage Stacked stone walls and entry area on a cottage. These cottages are protected and can be repaired but not significantly changed or enlarged.
h We arrived so late on Sunday that we didn’t get to spend the afternoon in Monterey as planned. We spent Monday afternoon in Monterey exploring the Wharf, Cannery Row and the beautiful walking area near Lovers Point in Pacific Grove. This was old home area for me. Over 40 years ago, my husband and I had spent every weekend for 2 years, except Easter and Christmas holidays, taking SCUBA diving classes out at all the local dive spots here. I told Rachel about what was the same and how so much had changed along Cannery Row and about the wonderful dive spots.
A section of the Monterey Wharf for taking a whale watching boat
Private boats along the wharf
Pleasure craft with access from the Wharf
This beautiful, warm weather brought out the paddle boarders and kayakers
Sea Wolf, one of the Whale Watching boats
Cute houseboat, wouldn’t that be a nice place to hide away?
We walked to Cannery Row by way of the Monterey State Historic Park. Another place we need to go back and explore when it is open. The buildings and gardens were beautiful!
Monterey State Historic Park
Beautiful spring flowers at the garden
Garden near some of the park buildings
Fish Hopper is built on a pier over Monterey Bay
Cannery Row Monument Author John Steinbeck anchors the monument at the top of the rock with friend and marine biologist Ed Ricketts towards the bottom. Several other characters represent those who once worked in the bustling canning industry on the row including Chinese fishermen
We did not go to the Monterey Bay Aquarium this time but if you are going to Monterey, I highly recommend visiting this wonderful Aquarium. You can even have a virtual tour by visiting their website. The next morning we headed out early to drive the Big Sur Coast and stop wherever we wanted! This area is similar to views from Jenner, CA to Mendocino except the mountains are higher, the population density is much less and it seems so wild. It really would be the perfect romantic get-a-way for couples staying at any of inns or high end resorts or for hikers that want to tackle the highs and lows to reach the peaks and the beaches.
The iconic Bixby Bridge
Rachel, my travel buddy, look far below the Bixby Bridge to see a beautiful beach!
Lots of state and national park land for hiking. The Big Sur Visitor Guide may help you plan your stay. I think we stopped at every sign of civilization, each pull out along the highway and went into both Pfeiffer State Park and Andrew Molera State Park. February and March are the slow season, so visitor centers and museums were not open on a Tuesday. We loved the views, river walks and just being in such extraordinary scenery!
Big Sur River Inn The Big Sur River Inn and General Store was a great spot! The guests have a pool and a beautiful spot to relax by the river.
River beach area at Big Sur Little River Inn
A big highlight of the day was lunch at Nepenthe Restaurant! We scored a ridge overlook table and it was a beautiful sunny day. During lunch we watched many groups of whales out at sea. Nepenthe Restaurant was recommended to both of us.
Garden path with steps from the parking lot to the Nepenthe Restaurant
Nepenthe Restaurant has been in business for over 70 years. The staff was very friendly and the food did not disappoint. What a treat! The building is beautiful and its history is told on the website. They have a very unique gift shop called Phoenix and another restaurant, Cafe Kevah which is an outdoor terrace.
Redwood Phoenix At the top of the steps you are greeted at the terrace by a large, beautifully carved redwood Phoenix.
The view from our lunch. During lunch we saw many birds and whale spouts!
Cafe Kevah below Nepenthe Directly below the rail where we had lunch, we could peek at the Cafe Kevah Terrace restaurant
Inside Nepenthe From their website, “Working with Rowan Maiden, a student of Frank Lloyd Wright, they sketched out their vision. Legendary Big Sur builders, Frank and Walter Trotter built the structure using native materials; redwood, hewn from the canyons and adobe bricks…”
The timber frame building is a just beautiful and so unique
The Phoenix Gift Shop has a delightful collection of gifts, books and artistic pieces
Wherever you stop, the views are breathtaking!
On our way back, we even drove up to Ventana Big Sur, a resort, just to see the place we had heard about for years. We had planned to go the Henry Miller Library but it was closed. So we have a few places to check out when we talk our husbands into going to to Big Sur. This will be a two part post. Next post will cover our time at Monastery Beach, Point Lobos, the 17 Mile Drive and the Tuck Box in Carmel.
Until the next time – be adventurous and enjoy this short life! Vicki Start Hyw 89 series | Start Peru series | Start Galapagos series | Start Remodel series | Please add your email to ‘Follow this Blog‘ for updates. We never share your email. Interested in a vacation in Hawaii? Check out the units at SurfCondo.com

A few wintry days in Lucerne, Switzerland

Lucerne (Luzern) in Winter!
After skiing in Davos for two weeks we took the train back to Zurich and then to Lucerne to visit another good friend. We arrived to cold, damp weather but still enjoyed our visit!

We stayed at Ameron Hotel Flora Luzern, we booked through Booking.com and the hotel was perfect!  Beautiful rooms, great staff and close to old town, the Rosengart Museum, great restaurants, the main train station and buses.  As in Davos, we received a free Visitors card with our hotel which allowed us to take all the Zone 10 buses and trains for free.

Since the weather was rather gray, this post will be a lot of links and information with fewer pictures than most of my posts.


Upon arrival our friend, Margrit, met us and we walked across the Chapel Bridge (Kapellbrucke) into Old Town. She showed us some of her favorite sights and gave us some ideas for the next day. The town is located on Lake Lucerne and the Reuss River flows out of the lake.


Margrit and Bob


We took a delightful detour over the Spreuer Bridge (Speuerbrucke), past the Jesuit Church and into town thru a pedestrian walkway with many shops and restaurants back to the main street, Pilatus Strasse. We stopped into La Vie en Rose to warm up.  This is a grand coffee house and reminded me of a Vienna Cafe that was modernized. We loved it!  This also brought us back into the main town and Margrit was able to show us easily how to find our hotel, the larger bus stops and pointed out where we were in relationship to the train station.  From their we took a bus into the Lucerne suburbs to pick up Margrit’s car and drive out into countryside to her sisters flat.  They made us a wonderful Raclette dinner and we had a wonderful time visiting with her sisters.


Margrit and her sisters

A guided Walking Tour

A large visitors center is located in the Train Station. We signed up for a 9:30 am walking tour. It was great and gave us a nice orientation and history of Lucerne.  We started at the train station, heard about the Convention Center, then were shown the Ferry piers and then to the Chapel Bridge.  Our guide discussed the history of the bridge and water tower and the fire of 1993 which did so much damage to the bridge and paintings.  Then we walked into the Old Town to see the beautiful painted buildings and hear their history.


Beautiful building


Painted building that was a Jewelry makers


Ornate signs in Old Town


Another beautiful old sign

In Old Town, many buildings have ornate signs hanging that identified the business to those that passed by.


Needle Dam

Believed to be the only working Needle Dam (Nedelwehr) still in existence. Installed in 1859/60 it still regulates the water flowing into the river.  However, it is not the only dam.  Each ‘needle’ is a pole.  The workers go out on a very narrow walkway and remove the needles to let more water flow and add more needles to slow the flow.  Very interesting.

Jesuit Church


Jesuit Church, across the river from Old Town


Inside Jesuit Church

The Jesuit Church (Jesuitenkirche) was established around 1666.  It is still in use and just beautiful.


The Jesuit Church at night


Easter window displays


The Easter displays in various windows were so pretty!

Town Walls and Towers (Museggmauer & Turme)

We got as close to the walls and towers as we could with the weather. The wall built between 1350 and 1408 has nine different towers. The Zyt tower has one of Lucene’s oldest clocks and it still works!  If you go in Spring or Summer, you can walk a trail along the walls and go up some of the towers.  Definitely, we have to go back!


The old town wall coming up from the river.  The first tower looks like a castle tower and the next a steeple


Another view showing more of the towers along the wall.  Each tower is different.



We walked up many streets outside of the wall, this is as close as we could get to the wall and a tower.

Lion Monument

The Lion Monument (Lowendenkmal) is north of Lowenplatz. A short walk from old town and free to walk up and explore. Designed in 1820, the monument commemorates the death of many Swiss Guard troops killed during the French Revolution in 1792.


Lion Monument

Ferry and Transportation Museum

We took a water ferry from Pier 1, just in front of the Train Station on the lake, to Lidostrasse to visit the Swiss Transport Museum (Verkehrshaus der Schweiz).  We took the bus back and choose to take the Ferry just to get out on the lake. This museum is fantastic! I love transportation and the Swiss have some of the most efficient transportation systems we have encountered in all our travels. This museum has a gigantic space. It has more trains, train simulators and exhibits than I Have ever seen at a train museum. In addition it has separate indoor and outdoor exhibits of planes, boats/ships and space. It has numerous hands on activities. Definitely can fill a day!

The ferry stop and ferry.  The ferry was not part of our pass, but it was so nice to be on the water.


Sample of train displays;  many simulators, trains and wonderful history of Gotthard Base Tunnel which opened in 2016.


Road Transport building.




This looks like a ‘Matchbox Car’ display, but this is full size cars, 7 stories tall.  They bring a car out mechanically about every year and tell about its history.




British Woody

Navigation and Tourism building.  Sorry, no indoor pictures.  It was very interesting.


Part of the outdoor exhibit plus a full exhibition hall

Aviation and Space Travel exhibits were outdoor and in another large building.  This area is huge, almost overwhelming with the amount of air craft in the building, plus simulators and space travel section.


After the Transport Museum, Margrit and I went to visit some more of her family.  We ate at a wonderful restaurant outside of Lucerne, Wirtschaft Trumf-Buur.

We were only in Lucerne from Saturday afternoon until Wednesday afternoon.  We packed a lot in but have much more to see in this beautiful part of Switzerland. Below are scenes of the countryside.  Our friend drove us out to some of her favorite places.


We also went to Burgenstock Resort to see the views.  What a lovely area.  I can only imagine how magnificent the views would be on a clear day.  You don’t have to stay at the resort to visit.  You can take the ferry and then take the funicular up and back.  The Burgenstock Mountain is what gives this area its name.



Burgenstock Mountain, Lake Lucerne and more of the Alps across the lake

After a long day of sight seeing and driving for Margrit, we went to dinner at a lovely Thai Restaurant near the university area in Lucerne.  Margrit headed home and we went back to pack for leaving the next morning.  Overall a great time!

Our parting view of Lucerne as the snow fell softly as we headed to the train station for Zurich.  This was March 21, 2018.


In Zurich, we stayed at the Welcome Inn which has shuttle service directly to and from the Zurich Airport.  We took the train directly to Zurich Airport on Wednesday afternoon, had a relaxing dinner nearby and took the early shuttle back to the airport.

A nice surprise, we were flying on a Airbus 8380.  This plane has four jet-ways to load and currently is the largest passenger jet flying.  It has two stories of passenger seating.  It was our first time on this plane.


Airbus 8380, with 3 of the four jet-ways showing.


Until the next time – be adventurous and enjoy this short life! Vicki and Bob

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Switzerland in Winter! Beautiful!

Winter came very late to Truckee/Lake Tahoe area. We had very little snow during January and February. Luckily due to snow making, the ski season was not a bust. In March, we had made plans to go to Davos, Switzerland to ski with dear, longtime friends. Of course, it started snowing in Truckee/Lake Tahoe area the moment we left town. Hopefully, for those in California they enjoyed the new snow and lovely powder. We enjoyed new snow in Davos and some brilliant days.


Starting point for skiing from the Joch Restaurant on Parsenn

Snow can be a lucky omen. While the snow at home was much appreciated, even more so we appreciated escaping the East Coast just hours before a ‘nor’easter‘ arrived to shut down most of the eastern USA. We traveled from San Francisco, CA via Newark, NJ to Zurich, Switzerland so we were very lucky to make our flights. While we were gone, the east coast had two more huge storms and delayed many flights when we planned to come home too. Again, luckily we had booked a Zurich-London-San Francisco flight and left a day after the last big east coast storm.


Coming down the mountain in the Parsenn Bahn with Davos below.

The Davos-Klosters valley area is rimmed with mountain ski and boarding resorts which are all accessible with one Regional Ski Pass called a ‘Rega’. The Rega also gives the holder access to trains and buses between the ski towns and within the towns. So once you reach Zurich, you don’t need a car for anything! To get to the region we bought round-trip train tickets from Zurich Airport Railway (just downstairs from baggage claim) to Davos. Then we used our Rega and Hotel Bus Pass for transportation all over the region.

See Adobe PDF maps of the overall ski area:
Parsenn and Madrisa:
Jakobshorn and Rinerhorn and Pisha
You can review the mountains and more information about the area here:
On this website, you can see the ski pass fees and the Regional Pass which you can purchase for consecutive days.  Don’t worry that you may not ski or board one day. There are plenty of gondolas and lifts that take you around the mountains with just your walking snow shoes. You still generally come out ahead with this access plus being able to ride the local trains and buses.

If you are making your own accommodation bookings, recommend that you take a look at these two websites:

Often these hotels will offer some free additions such as regional ski pass or breakfast along with accommodation. It is worth checking and asking for any special promotions.

Booking.com, hotwire.com and other traditional web accommodation sites can also be used to price compare.

We stayed at the Gemsli, a small pension.  This hotel has rooms and guests share the facilities.  A few blocks walk from the Davos Dorf Train Station.


The Gemsli; Italian Restaurant and Pension where we stayed during our two week visit

Davos (yes, the same town where the World Economic Forum is held yearly) is constantly in flux.  Some old building remain, many modern structures from the last 40 years are regularly torn down and modern structures are added.  But the town still retains a small town feel and has many quaint features.


Old house, along the main road with owls carved into logs.  Most likely to protect the garden.


Weber’s Bakery window, Davos Dorf


Just before Easter, beautiful window displays

We generally start out the trip with a day to rent skis and poles, get our regional passes and take a walk around Lake Davos, ‘Davoser See’.  The lake is partially drained at the start of winter.  Often freezes enough to walk on and has a beautiful walking trail away from traffic.

Below are some pictures from different ski areas.

Rinerhorn, probably the least crowded of the mountains.  It has one main gondola with a run back down to the gondola entrance and many runs reached by T-bar lifts.  It also has great sledding tracks.


Bob and Vicki, cold but beautiful morning

Jakobshorn, is another great mountain.  It has great skiing, restaurants, activities and walking trails.  We skied there two days, but one day was lots of snow and the other was skiing so not many pictures.


One of the beautiful restaurants on the mountain

A few of us decided to just go for a walk on Jakobshorn and it was a beautiful walk.  We took the chair lift up to meet the group at the restaurant for lunch and then walked down to Cavadel and then took the bus back to town.

Another day when it was snowing a lot, we took the train from Davos Dorf to Klosters and walked around then took the train back to Davos Dorf.  Train pass was included with our ski and bus pass.

We also took a bus out to Madrisa ski area to look around.  You can either ski down to Klosters from Parsenn runs and then take the bus to Madrisa and ski or just take the train and bus to the Madrisa ski area.  Unfortunately, it was snowing so hard that we didn’t see too much on the gondola ride up and down.  Our group did not make it back to that area to ski another day so I don’t have pictures.

Parsenn ski area is the largest area and has the most runs.  It seems like the runs go on forever and it has many mountains to cover.  Parsenn is reached by either the Parsenn Bahn which is a funicular railway in Davos Dorf or by the Gotschna Cable Car from Klosters.  We skied here many days.  If you are not skiing, you can see much of the mountain and get to many mountain restaurants by taking the Parsenhutte Cable Car or the Schifer Cable Car.

Views around the top of the Parsennbahn:

Views from taking the run down to the Parsennhutte Tram:


Restaurant just past the entrance to the Meierhoffer run


Parsennhutte restaurant and tram entrance

View of the Schifer Gondola and restaurants within walking distance of the gondola:

A friend and I took this trip on the Schifer without skis and had a lovely day!

A few pictures of the run from Parsenn to Klosters, a beautiful long run.


Starting above the tree line


Skiing pass the Parsenhutte run and over to a lift to get you up the next mountain


Following the trail around to the back of the mountain


Coming around the mountain to see Klosters valley


A run along the mountainside


Steep drop off, below is Klosters


Down into the trees and past farm houses


More of the run in the trees


Stopping point to go to the restaurant


Klosters Schwendi


Following the trail down to town, then to the railroad station.

The run to Klosters is always a highlight of this trip as you get to ski so much different terrain and have so many beautiful views.  Part of the group took the Gotschna Cable Car back up to the mountain to continue skiing and others took the train back to town.  From Parsenn you can also ski down Wolfgang and take a bus to Davos or ski down to Davos from the Rapid ski run at the top of the bahn.  These runs are definitely advanced intermediate or expert depending on your definition.

Another place to see great views is to take the Parsennbahn down the mountain in the front car.  The trains meet along the route and on a clear day the views are amazing.


The Parsenn bahn coming up the hill


Another view as the bahn approaches


From the front car going down the tracks


The approaching uphill bahn


Close passing


Looks like the train will drop off to Davos below

I hope this gives you a taste of the beauty and vastness of skiing from Davos, Switzerland.  My next post will be of the last few days of our trip in Lucerne, Switzerland.

Until the next time – be adventurous and enjoy this short life! Vicki and Bob

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Idaho, a quick trip

We have good friends that moved to Burley, Idaho a few years ago.  Life seemed to keep getting in the way and delayed our visit. Finally, the timing was right.  Southwest Airlines had some great fares and we decided to go visit them last week.  So glad that the weather cooperated too. It was clear and crisp and perfect for flying from Oakland, CA to Boise, ID then renting a car for our visit.  It has been at least 20 years since we have been to Idaho.  I’d forgot about the driving distances.  Luckily with good friends, good roads and good weather we enjoyed the trip.

Southern Idaho is high desert.  Lots of open space, beautiful skies and large gorges created by the Snake River. We spent a few nights with our friends.


Steve and Karen in front of their remodeled house in Burley, ID

A big thank you to Karen and Steve for having us.  Thank you for your hosting us and for a great visit.

Then two nights in Twin Falls at the Fairfield Inn and Suites.  A nice location, quiet and good service.

We had a nice dinner in Rupert, ID at Henry’s at the Drift Inn.  While in Twin Falls, ID we went to Elevation 486 for dinner and highly recommend it.  Go early, and you can have beautiful views of the Perrine Bridge and gorge.

Here are photos of the highlights:


Beautiful evening sky, Burley, ID


Bright morning sky, Burley, ID

Hansen Memorial Bridge, pioneer builders.


Hanson Memorial Bridge


Snake River gorge under Hanson Bridge

Shoshone Falls, near Twin Falls, ID.  We were happily surprised at the amount of water at the falls.  We had been warned that sometimes after June, the water slows dramatically.  But the heavy rains last winter really have helped with the water flows.


Bob and Vicki


Perrine Bridge, the gateway into Twin Falls from the major highways.  The bridge is almost 486 feet above the canyon and spans 993 feet across the gorge.


Perrine Bridge

Base jumpers jump from this bridge regularly.  It is quite interesting to watch.


They jump from the top


They hope to land in this clearing

Driving Highway 84 towards Boise, we stopped at Malad Gorge State Park.  Here, right next to the highway is a state park and large gorge that cannot be seen from the highway but is right next to it.


Follow this trail to the gorge


The landscape hides the gorge


One side of the bridge over the gorge


The other side over the gorge

Driving up Highway 75 via Highway 93 from Twin Falls we made our way to Sun Valley.  Being skiers and so close, we had to see it!  The route crosses more high desert, small river gorges and large sections of volcanic rock.


Volcanic rock drifts in the landscape


Highway 75 with the snow capped Sawtooth Mountains in the background

We went first to Ketchum as Bob’s great-grandparents had had a cabin there along Trail Creek which he was hoping to find.  Unfortunately, he was last at the two story log cabin in the 1960’s and didn’t have an address.  We covered all the roads near the creek but everything appears to be much newer than a cabin that he had been told was built before 1900.  But we saw some beautiful homes and enjoyed seeing how much Ketchum had grown.

Sun Valley Lodge and area was built in 1936.  The lodge is beautiful and the inside is even more exquisite.

We drove back to Twin Falls for a dip in the pool and hot tub, went to a great dinner and got ready to head back to Boise for our flight Monday evening.

On the way we stopped at Three Island Crossing State Park near Glenn’s Ferry exit.  This park has many amenities for today and shares an important history of settling the west.


Idaho historic marker for the Ferry Crossing and state park


Statue to honor all the pioneers


Wagon display with history descriptions near the Interpretive Center


Conestoga Wagon, restored. This is in front of the interpretive center which was closed for winter.

Glenn’s Ferry was built upriver  from the Three Crossing site.  The Snake River surrounding areas vary widely across Idaho.  Here and near Burley there are many easy access points and other areas just the deep, steep gorges.


Replica of Glenn’s Ferry, set near the river where it would be dragged into the river.  Across the river, the Oregon Trail is worn into the mountain side and clearly seen.


A better view of the trail across the river


One of the ends of the Ferry anchor, another can be seen across the river.


Beautiful Snake River area

We made our way into Boise and went to the UP Train Depot.  It was restored about 20 years ago.  It is no longer used as a train station but is set up as a museum and event center.  We were happy to find it open on Mondays for visitors.  Even if it wasn’t a Southern Pacific Depot, Bob knew I would want to stop!


Boise Depot, UP Railroad


Inside the beautifully restored depot. Many small RR displays with full descriptions.

Outside the have a steam engine, displays and lovely gardens.


Engine 2295


Information Display


History of trains on the route

We drove around the Idaho State Capitol Building and the old part of town.  Then we went to the Bittercreek Alehouse for a hearty lunch before our early evening flight back to Oakland.  Great restaurant, excellent service and interesting building in old town Boise.

Overall, a great quick trip.  Love being able to pick up good fares on Southwest Airlines and escape to someplace completely different!

Until the next time – be adventurous and enjoy this short life! Vicki and Bob

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Autumn, goes so fast!

Fall slips up on us just when we think Summer is perfect.  Soon the warm days and evenings turn to the chilly mornings and cool evenings.  The colors and lack of crowds are nice, so here’s to October and great escapes!

Pacific Crest Trail near Sugar Bowl and Truckee

Our friends suggested that we try out the PCT trail section  from Sugar Bowl (Old Highway 40) to Boreal Ridge (Highway 80) by leaving a car at each end which is about 8 miles.  We just had one car with us so we started from near Sugar Bowl Academy and hiked in for a few miles and then back.  Beautiful scenery and lovely fall colors.


Looking down on Donner Lake, CA

Being a Tourist in San Francisco & Monterey Area

We had friends visit from Switzerland and Australia in October.  So we had a great time playing tourists with our friends.  We spent two days seeing the San Francisco sights, one day using BART and public transit and the other day driving.

First in San Francisco, we took a walking tour with Emperor Norton’s Walking Tours that started at Union Square and ended at St. Mary’s Cathedral.  About 3 hours, great fun and wonderful guide.  Highly recommend this or one of their other tours!


One of the many SF Heart Sculptures, this in Union Square, painted by Tony Bennett


Emperor Norton at the Clock at the Westin, St. Francis, San Francisco

After our tour we visited St. Mary’s and then walked up to North Beach.  We stopped for a snack at The Stinking Rose.  We sat at the bar with model trains above the bar.  We also took a look at the Chianti Room which is reserved for groups and has many signed photos and empty Chianti wine bottles.

Washington Square in North Beach was full of beautiful sunshine and everyone seemed to be enjoying the clear skies.

Just the day before the sky was filled with smoke from all the Northern California fires before the wind changed.  Our hearts go out to all those affected by the fires.  Our other visitor from Australia was with friends in Clear Lake and had also been evacuated but luckily they were able to return home safely.


Beach Blanket Babylon show-this way

We ended the day attending the evening production of Beach Blanket Babylon.  The longest running musical revue in San Francisco which changes every season and is truly a delightful show.
We had dinner at a lovely restaurant in North Beach, Trattoria Contadina

More San Francisco sights

Another day we drove so that we could come up from Pacifica, CA along the Pacific Coast Highway to visit Ocean Beach, the Cliff House, Sutro Baths, Golden Gate Park, the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco.  Then drive across the Golden Gate Bridge to Fort Baker at Horseshoe Cove in Marin County.  The day was foggy along the coast but beautiful sunshine in parts of  Golden Gate Park and at Fort Baker.


Sutro Baths near the Cliff House

Golden Gate Park


Wind Mill at Golden Gate Park, Maggi, Vicki & Chrissy


Conservatory of Flowers, Golden Gate Park


Dahlia Garden in Golden Gate Park

Flowers in the Conservatory

The Butterfly Exhibit was open and we were able to see many different butterflies emerge and fly in the exhibit.



Palace of Fine Arts.

A lovely part of San Francisco to walk around.  You can see the nicest houses near the Palace of Fine Arts.


Palace of Fine Arts

We drove over the Golden Gate Bridge in complete fog but were rewarded with some nice views from Fort Baker.


The Golden Gate Bridge


The fog moving in from the coast to Fort Baker

On to Monterey Bay…

We had the luxury of staying at a friends condo in Capitola, CA so we had time to visit Santa Cruz, Monterey, and Carmel before our friends headed home.  We drove Highway 1 from Half Moon Bay to Santa Cruz.  On our way we stopped in at Duarte’s in Pescadero, CA.

In Santa Cruz we walked the beautiful walkway along the ocean and enjoyed watching the surfers.  The Boardwalk amusements were quiet since it was a week day and late October.


Seagull with Santa Cruz Boardwalk in background


Natural Bridges State Park, near Santa Cruz

Both Santa Cruz and Monterey are on Monterey Bay, which is a very large bay.  While Santa Cruz is know for beaches and the Boardwalk, Monterey is steeped in California history.  It has a large pier area, beaches, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Cannery Row and a lot to keep you busy.


Monterey Bay Piers

We had lunch at the Fish Hopper which is the restaurant below.  Back when we did SCUBA diving in Monterey regularly it was called the Outrigger.  Still great food and even better views.  We watched the sea otters all during lunch.


Monterey Bay

Capitola, a beautiful town that keeps the quaint seaside village feel near the beach and offers upscale shopping and dining in town.


Capitola Houses near the beach


Capitola Art Deco apartments

Don’t miss Gayles Bakery if you go to Capitola; it has the most wonderful cakes, pastries and sweets!

Back to Truckee

We love the coast, but we also took our friends to two new hiking areas near us that were just beautiful with the fall colors.

Weber Lake was recently opened to the public in June 2017 by the Truckee Donner Land Trust.  A beautiful natural lake that offers camping, hiking trails and boating on the lake during the summer months.  We hiked the Lacey Meadow trail and then up onto the forest service road to have a view of the lake on the way back.


Lacey Meadows


Weber Lake thru the trees

Independence Lake is another recently opened area that is just beautiful.  We hiked the South Side trail and it was filled with fall foliage and views of the lake.  An easy hike with a picnic table at the lookout point to enjoy lunch.  The map looks like you can go all the way around the lake but they prefer that you don’t as it is a fish breeding area for Lahontan cutthroat trout and crossing the creek can disturb the hatchery.

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View as you enter lake area

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Trail views of lake


Fall leaves

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Independence Lake

So, as you can see, we have had a busy fall.  Loved having our friends choose to visit us from opposite ends of the globe and share time with us.

Until the next time – be adventurous and enjoy this short life! Vicki and Bob

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Australia’s Bibbulmum Trail

Here is the link to this blog


The Bibbulmun Blog by Ian K. Brown is a beautiful and informative blog about hiking the Bibbulmun Trail in Australia. I’m a day hiker so I really appreciate this perspective of someone willing to backpack a trail like this!

We are on the trail. The two of us kicked off from Kalamunda , the Northern terminus of the Bibbulmun . There should be a straight pathway that leads us 1008km in a generaly Southern direction , and we are hoping to be walking for about 50ish days .We were like a pair of kids […]

via Day 1 Km 1 — The Bibbulmun

If you scroll all the way to the bottom there are previous and next buttons to just continue reading (after the comments section).

They are up to day 25 and many posts cover multiple days so you can catch up quickly and then sign up for updates. Beautiful descriptions and pictures in his blogs.

Last year he did a blog about the Pacific Crest Trail along the ridges of the US West Coast and published a book with amazing pictures.

Here is the Amazon link

Until the next time – be adventurous and enjoy this short life! Vicki and Bob

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