We slipped through a portal to the past in the magical New Orleans French Quarter

We were stumbling along on a stifling hot steamy day in the heart of the historic French Quarter in New Orleans. Despite the miserable conditions, the magical old place had us held tight in its grip and we just couldn’t get enough.

On this particular day, we were exploring near the corner of Conti (pronounced by locals Kontī) and Chartres when we discovered a little courtyard style alley. It was a shady brick space with shops and SHADE!

We meandered up a little ways and found some inviting open French doors on our right. There were two gentleman in a workshop that looked as if it were teleported from many years ago. They were crafting copper gas lanterns using some more traditional looking simple tool methods and some modern conveniences like a power drill.

a portal to the past

a portal to the past in the form of some french doors off a passageway in historic New Orleans

simple tool

simple tool

simple beauty

simple beauty

craftsman 2 bending the petals

craftsman 2 bending the petals

craftsman 1 drilling the frames

craftsman 1 drilling the frames

not finished yet but already beautiful It was so much fun to watch. The room could accommodate quite an audience but we were the only two there. When we’d seen enough, we walked deeper into the building and discovered their galleries displaying all of the various styles available. So very beautiful.

like a museum

like a museum

bevolo gas and electric lightsThis is a great free cultural activity with a real French Quarter flair.

 In my opinion, it’s likely to please most any age and makes a great travel tip for anyone coming to visit beautiful New Orleans where Southern Hospitality is alive and well.  

Unexpected Thrill Tepee Camping in Coram MT

Last night we took the opportunity to reconnect with some of Ryan’s high school friends. We had absolutely no idea what an amazing reality they are living. As caretaker/managers of a 147 acre mountain paradise the lodge is the main event but they put us up in one of the properties incredible authentic tepees. Some of the best adventures you just don’t see coming.

We’ve been marked. That means the clock starts ticking.

As conscientious citizens it’s important to us that we are respectful of local ordinances. We did our research and know that most places in California have a 72 hour allowance (unless marked otherwise). When you see this mark that’s when you know you better be keeping track because someone else is.

We just ran into our new “Neighbor”, Willow and her son Banyon, in the neighborhood grocery store and let her know we’re moving. She was so cute and instantly questioned if someone had complained. We explained that we did not know but would never want to make anyone uncomfortable so it was all good and we so appreciated her welcoming attitude.

No worries, we’ve already found a new spot just a couple blocks away by the civic center here in Seaside. The added plus. The Baptist Church across the street has open Wi-Fi. Sure appreciate that too.

California still has lots of good vibe vibe, good vibrations.

Motorcycles like these Mountains Some pics of a little motorcycle shop outside Ojai CA

I’ve been in Ojai CA for about 2 weeks now.  It’s become apparent that it’s primarily a place where the wealthy come to live and escape.

There are some other elements like tourists coming through for a peek, those on spiritual journeys who find many special mystical places to meditate and learn and then there’s the bikers.  They seem to love it.  It’s not like there are herds of them roaring through but you definitely see them about in their leather and style.  You also see the small businesses about to service their needs.  Once such establishment is right near my bus stop just outside of Ojai and here’s a couple of pictures I took to share…

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Learning to be a bolder photographer at the Deer Lodge in Ojai

The Ojai Deer Lodge is quite iconic with the locals.  A bit farther out, for me it involves a ride on Trolley B, a trek down a neighborhood street then a short hike up Hwy 33 then there it is.

Day hours will often find bikers and hikers lounging in groups on the sunny patio equipped for brisk days with several towering heaters.  There seems to always be a night scene as well with diners eating everything from wild boar to steaks to lentil loaf for those of us going for the green.  The staff appears eager to please if not necessarily well trained in the details of the higher end experience.  They make up for it in friendliness.

It’s a bit spendy, as they say here, but not more than seems typical for the area.  The vouchers I received as pay for the photo shoot were worth $15 ea and I had no trouble finding something good both times that fit within that budget.  Once I had stuffed mushrooms and French onion soup and another a lentil loaf sandwich on marbled rye with a salad.  All tasty and fresh.  Well drinks were $5. Beer $4. There’s a wine list and you can buy California’s pride by the bottle or glass.

The place has a spacious, earthy rough and tumble feel to it.  The napkins are crisp and white.  The walls are stout supporting a heavy frame with beams and the like.  There’s a sense of lots of rough stone and wood.  The locals describe it as a road house.  A place that saw a lot rowdier scene “back in the day”.  A place where hunters and fisherman liked to come wet their whistle and let their hair down.  Some get almost teary eyed when they harken back to the wilder days.

But most of Ojai seems quite happy to have the Deer Lodge of today.  A place where they can get with friends and linger over a good meal, watch live entertainment several nights a week or sit outside with their pets and relax on the patio gazing at the mountains with the sounds of fun and music in the background.

Here are some of the people I met and things I saw at the Deer Lodge.  Some of the pics were part of the room and board trade I had worked out with the owner, Tom Doody.  A good photographer in his own right (there’s a large dramatic horse scene prominently displayed in the restaurant that’s his work), I was honored that he provided me this opportunity.  At one point the singer asked me if I was with the LA Times hahah  I’ve learned that I do have to be bold and assertive to get good candid or posed shots.  It’s given me a great excuse to meet people; like I really needed one!  haha

Hope you enjoy…

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Attention SO CA Travelers! my pics of Paradise found: BEAUTY * LUXURY * SUPERB SERVICE! The Emerald and Blue Iguana Resorts in Ojai California

the Emerald and Blue Iguana ResortsImageImage

Ready to have your breath taken away?

Either of these resorts located in the charming village of

Ojai California will not disappoint.

Stunning architecture, original art throughout, superb craftsmanship, careful attention to detail, wonderful touches of luxury, tremendous dedication to impeccable service with a smile.  Both are locally owned and operated.  The staff attributes their great rapport with clients to great leadership and I would agree.

But how to choose?

The “Blue” is just slightly out of town with easy access to public transportation (bus or trolley) or you can rent a bike in town and make use of the trails that are all about, with a primary vein going directly from this resort straight to town.  It may be a little less expensive because of being a little removed.

The “Emerald” on the other hand, is right in the heart of things (just a few blocks off the main street which is the centerpiece) but nestled in such a way that you’d never know it was there unless you were looking for it.  Quiet and private tropical splendor.  The rooms here are named in charming themes such as leaf, cricket and acorn.  Definitely a treat for the nature and art lover.

Both have delightful pool areas with hot tubs and serve a beautiful continental breakfast in comfortable and relaxing surroundings.

You can learn more about services and rates at their website: http://iguanainnsofojai.com/

(They’re going to be rolling a new one out soon and using several of my photos.  Exciting!)

What a delight it was for me to get to stay a total of 5 days and nights on these properties.  A decadent and memorable treat. I’ve posted some preview pictures before that this is a more comprehensive collection.  All together I provided them with about 900 edited images.  A lot of work but an awful lot of fun.

BATCH ONE THE EMERALD IGUANA

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My beautiful bed in the “Acorn Suite”. There were arches throughout that had this same outline.

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Even the office area is gorgeous at the Emerald Iguana

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the grounds at the Emerald Iguana in January!

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The Emerald Iguana himself, herself?

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This room looks great in person but for pictures it really needed some staging to do it justice. I raided the gardens and the breakfast buffet bringing in all the natural color. Notice the fruit bowl and giant bird of paradise arrangement that I created and added. Plus the succulent garden I borrowed from by the pool.Image

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When I staged properties professionally in Orlando, I would bring many baskets of props with me so I would have lots to choose from. Here I had the go ahead to pull items from around the property. So many beautiful things to choose from made this a lot of fun. The rooms are perfectly stunning as is when you walk in but photographs also benefit from elements of composition and sometimes for a shot to feel balanced with color, contrast and texture, the addition and or removal of existing decor elements can make a really big difference. This resort owner was very generous with me so I went the extra mile putting in considerable time with extra staging effort for some of the shots. It really paid off. She was impressed, delighted and appreciative. That’s what it’s all about 🙂

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THIS NEXT BATCH IS THE BLUE IGUANA

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the view at sunset from the second floor at the Blue Iguana in Ojai CA

As I said, the service here is so great.  Was even happy to take a pic of me celebrating my birthday by heading down to the hot tub.  This big guy is art right up by the front office at the Blue Iguana.

As I said, the service here is so great. Was even happy to take a pic of me celebrating my birthday by heading down to the hot tub. This big guy is art right up by the front office at the Blue Iguana.

DSC_0476ImageWonderful place to make friends or relax solo and gently start your day.

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luxurious attention to detail- delicious body treatments plus comfy robes.  They also offer massage services.

luxurious attention to detail- delicious body treatments plus comfy robes. They also offer massage services.

lots of options for different sized groups and different type stays- this part is like an actual home with a wonderful private patio area

lots of options for different sized groups and different type stays- this part is like an actual home with a wonderful private patio area

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I hope your life journey brings you at some point to Ojai where there are those who come from all over the world and where those who know come to escape, at least for a respite, the excitement and buzz of LA.  And if come in from the West as many do, watch right as you come close, just a few miles out on your right hand at the intersection of Loma and there you’ll find a big blue lizard hiding behind a concealing understated wall marked with the sign Blue Iguana Inn.  Stop in and at least ask to see the grounds of this beautiful property with its beautiful art and beautiful people.  Ojai knows it’s special and I’m glad of that.  oh, and ps… ask them about the Taft Botanical Gardens