Board the ferry from New Orlean’s French Quarter to Historic Algiers Point for affordable adventure

On a hot muggy Sunday afternoon in New Orleans, finding a refreshing adventure can be challenging!  Lucky us, locals had recommended this authentic experience as an affordable treat and the moment felt right.  All Aboard!

this ferry crosses the Mississippi for just $2pp each way to historic Algiers Point

this ferry crosses the Mississippi for just $2pp each way to historic Algiers Point

We fearlessly hopped aboard the ferry that soon arrived.  Watched the attendant expertly stuff our $2 each down into a see through box with jaws and a handle that helped it progress down its metal throat.  The ferry’s interior seated area was significantly cooler than the steamy reality we had just come out of.

famous muddy water

famous muddy water churning as we quickly rumble away from the French Quarter

But unable to resist the view, I scurried across the lobby and exited out onto the deck, watching and listening in awe to the groaning heaviness pulling away from the dock surrounded by deep churning brownness.

The endless action on and in the powerful Mississippi seen all around us bordered by stunning sky lines; the ride was over way too soon.

you can ride inside or on the deck- it's a quick trip

you can ride inside or on the deck- it’s a quick trip

you'll see lots Mississippi River action

you’ll see lots Mississippi River action

With no sense of our destination when boarding we were deposited at the edge of Historic Algiers Point.  What a treat.  A lovely riverside village with its own history and independent spirit, it’s a community well worth visiting.  I suggest allowing a few hours at least to stroll the lovely neighborhoods and visit some of the scattered local hangs.

As you exit the ferry in Algiers, watch for a big walking tour sign on the wall straight ahead.  It’ll give you a good feel of which way to head out.  We laced all in and out around the town and enjoyed all of it.

arriving on the Algiers side

arriving on the Algiers side

easy walk from the ferry to neighborhood hangs

easy walk from the ferry to neighborhood hangs

edge of neighborhood very near ferry landing

edge of neighborhood very near ferry landing

Algiers Point sign

Robert E Nims Jazz walk of fame is right near the ferry landing

Robert E Nims Jazz walk of fame is also quite near the ferry landing- just up a ways to your right along the river

stuff to see along the Algiers Point side of the Mississippi

stuff to see along the Algiers Point side of the Mississippi

beauty every way you turn- hard to go wrong

beauty every way you turn- hard to go wrong

strolling through the neighborhoods of Algiers Point

strolling through the neighborhoods of Algiers Point be ready for color

beautiful Algiers Point

the king is loved

the king is loved

we just followed the trail of sweet sweet shade

we just followed the trail of sweet sweet shade

view of New Orleans from Algiers Point across the Mississippi

view of New Orleans from Algiers Point across the Mississippi

the Algiers Point ferry landing

the Algiers Point ferry landing

sunset over the Mississippi Algiers Point

sunset over the Mississippi Algiers Point

Remember…check the ferry schedule before you go…http://www.friendsoftheferry.org/

If you do mess up by chance and miss the return ferry, the uber solution ended up costing us about $20 to get back to the French Quarter.  There were really no walking options as it’s illegal to walk across the bridge.

check the ferry schedule or you'll have to uber it back like us

check the ferry schedule or you’ll have to uber it back like us

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.  

America’s Magical Soaks: #1 in a series of articles about our adventures finding natural hot springs

A Hot Soak in a Crashing Waterfall!  Are you kidding me?  

This wonderful place is just straight up on another level.

 

An easy hike with an exciting reward!

An easy hike with an exciting reward!

 

The scene is a beautiful cascading waterfall

crashing down on series of small falls and pools at the base of a red rock canyon in Utah.

Yesterday I had the peak life experience of sitting comfortably nestled in a tumble of rocks, slightly reclined with my eyes closed and only my nose and mouth exposed to the delicious mountain air.

Perfect, soothing, hot mineral waters cascaded over me enveloping me in the most incredible embrace.  The light danced through my eyelids.  My nose was filled with strange and comforting smells coming from the water.  The wet magic not only rained down on us from the falls, but was joined by hot rushing springs at the face of the waterfall creating a thermal blend as it found its way down to us.  My left arm experienced a steady cascade of brisk cool mountain stream as my right enjoyed a nearly too hot light liquid pounding.

I felt as though I had become part of the waterfall.

Just move around the pools until you find the perfect soak for you.  Ry likes to start out in the hottest he can take then cool down gradually.

The spot just above Ryan is where I sat for the longest time.  If you want to totally relax, just move around the pools until you find the perfect soak for you.  They vary from make you hot enough to make pink quick to brrrrrrr. Ry likes to start out in the hottest he can take then cool down gradually.

 

While there was no steam, as it was a fairly warm day, there were other visual clues as to where the hot waters joined in and this special spot had several of them as well as several spots built up with rocks to create soaking heavens of different temperatures and depths.  Incredible.

These visual clues are primarily in the form of sediment of minerals and the various alien looking forms possibly mosses that apparently prefer these hot waters and gather around the openings.  There was a great rainbow of buildups here that leads me to believe that these springs may be richer in minerals than the others we’ve found.

I’ve always loved to float in the ocean on a warm calm day (like you find on the sound side of Pensacola Beach where I grew up).  Leaning back into these warm spring waters brought back those happy memories of buoyancy.  All you have to do is close your eyes and breathe deeply and slowly.  The mineral rich water does the rest.  Weightlessness feels so wonderful and healing.

Our daughter Vail and her boyfriend Blake who joined us on this and several other adventures.  They also brought along the delightful pair of 4 month old puppies, Melon and Bear.

Our daughter Vail and her boyfriend Blake who joined us on this and several other adventures. They also brought along the delightful pair of 4 month old puppies, Melon and Bear.

 

The hike to get to this delightful

soaking paradise was easy and short.

Easy mostly shady hike along a beautiful waterway.

Easy mostly shady hike along a beautiful waterway.

This great spot is a short drive from Salt Lake City followed by a gentle hike speckled in shade and banked by the babbling waters of the Diamond Fork in the Uinta National Forest. It was recommended to us by a local but for actual written out directions and more info check out this link: http://www.utah.com/hike/fifth-water-waterfalls-and-hot-spring-trail

Looking forward to coming here many more times in the future.

Next time I’d like to go at sundown and bring a bunch of votive candles.  There are little waxy puddles about on the rocks and I can just imagine how incredible it must be to soak the night away by the light of candles and starlight.

Aaaaaaaah.  Lucky Utah. 

 

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This place was recommended to us by a local but for actual written out directions and more info check out this link: http://bit.ly/1ldm1XU

This is where you're going in the Uinta National Forest.

This is where you’re going in the Uinta National Forest.

 

 

This Adventure Blew My Mind!

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Forgive the distortion- this shot was taken from a long ways off but shortly before we met the sculptor and heard her story

If you ever happen to be driving North on the PCH (that’s code for Pacific Coast Hwy-wink) and you’re just about to come into the downtown Ventura area (that’s just a bit North of LA), look up to your right and watch the cliffs.  There you’ll see this lovely creature.

I don’t remember all the details that I learned about her but I can tell you that she is staggeringly immense. Standing in someone’s backyard and stunningly beautiful.

My story begins with a Valentine’s day hike in Ventura (approximately 10 miles west and directly on the coast- about an hour north of LA).

It had been several weeks that Ojai CA had been the main agenda and when sweethearts’ day rolled around, Ry and I decided to take a drive and find some new adventure.  So we hopped in the Big Boy and made the short drive.  Found a comfortable place to park a bit tucked into a neighborhood sandwiched between main street and the coast line a few blocks away.

He asked what I would like to do for the day and it could be whatever I’d like.  He mentioned the tour bus we passed, and some other sites we’d noticed rolling in.

My answer was that if we just hopped out and started walking I thought that the adventure we found would be perfect.

Oh, how right I was.

It was a day wrought with emotion.  I’d recently gotten the call that Hospice had been brought in for 24hr care with my mom who was dying of Alzheimers in Orlando.  The end was clearly very near.

The weather could not have been more splendid.  Warm not hot.  Breezy not windy.  Sunny.  Clear.  Just right.

So we hopped out of the Big Boy and took off on foot in the direction of the ocean. We ambled through a beautiful coastal neighborhood of smallish older homes with the common foliage here of palms, succulents of all sizes and shapes, heavily blooming birds of paradise and many plants yet unknown to me but becoming increasingly familiar.  Despite the record setting drought the area is enduring there are many plants in bloom and trying to push out new growth even in mid February.

The road came to what was essentially a deadend which surprised me as it had felt so much like we were going in the “right” direction (in more of a spiritual sense than a tourist one to be honest).  A gentleman came around the corner of the building directly in front of us and I asked him if he had a suggestion of where we could take an interesting path with no specific destination.  He pointed out a hole in the fence that led down to the railroad tracks running between us and the ocean and suggested we follow down that way but to be careful.  Now I had the sense of “I thought so”, this feels right.  We did just that and soon came to a place where we stepped through some weedy growth and out onto a much higher scale neighborhood street.

Here, the yards were of a different mood.  The plants had been disciplined to follow the lines and do as they were told.  The fences were high and solid ensuring that no one, except the owner paying the bills could catch a glimpse of the sparkle of ocean that laid just beyond.  These homes enjoy the incredible view from high on a cliff.  Still some distance from the water with the Pacific Coast Highway between, you can look up at them from below on the other side as you drive past.

Ryan and I walked along talking and wondering how expensive these homes might be and if the owners were able to enjoy their acquisition.  Wondering how many of the owners may be toiling at tasks and feeling tied to work that they found tedious and unsatisfying.  Were they able to lean back into the magic of the atmosphere.  How many were bound by the golden handcuffs so to speak.

They were quite nice, obviously very expensive.  Yet did not feel inviting, not warm, somehow not like homes.

Of course the high fences and abundant security signs added that certain “get your ass out of here” ambiance.

Couldn’t get to me though as we strolled down the publicly owned street that I knew we had every right to be on.  This was no gated community.  I was enjoying nature and the beauty of the day with an almost lighter than air sense of being in the right place even if I couldn’t see the view that I knew was there.  Then suddenly the scene changed.  Abruptly a giant piece of art jumped into view.  Not the one in the picture above.  That came much later, after the adventure.  No this one did not strike me as much with its beauty.  It struck me with its boldness.  Its artistic defiance.  Its personality.  I later learned from the artist herself the many things it symbolized and my heart sang.

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this is the piece that initially peaked my interest and led us to meet two amazing sculptors

here's the "totem pole" base up close

here’s the “totem pole” base up close

it's a "she" at the very top adorned with massive plumage and sitting on a dolphin because that is the animal spirit of the Chumash Indians.  This specific spot was a very spiritual place for them.  The story goes something like…  They started on a channel island and came to land by a rainbow.  Not able to make it all the way across were plunged into the sea where God converted them to dolphins. There is considerable reference to the Chumash all in this area although there are apparently not many of them left.

it’s a “she” at the very top adorned with massive plumage and sitting on a dolphin because that is the animal spirit of the Chumash Indians. This specific spot was a very spiritual place for them. The story goes something like… They started on a channel island and came to land by a rainbow. Not able to make it all the way across were plunged into the sea where God converted them to dolphins. There is considerable reference to the Chumash all in this area although there are apparently not many of them left.

As we approached this house with the giant and bold totem pole, other details started to emerge and everything about the place was different and enchanting.  Directly across the street, down toiling on the ground were a couple paying us little mind as they fought back the ice plants that covered the ground and grow so beautifully and abundantly here.  A type of succulent that blooms in different colors, it’s a wise and popular landscaping choice as it requires very little water and is not a plant that readily burns.  A very real consideration in such a dry area with frequent wild fire concerns.

Hopeful that we had found someone who likely could tell me more about the novel towering totem, I interrupted them and asked.  Their openness and friendly response was touching as they gladly explained that they were both sculptors and that the home and its grounds had been a labor of love for many years.  They introduced themselves as David and Linda Elder.  We learned that they had met at I believe the University of CA in Santa Barbara.  He had been her art teacher.  They had fallen in love in the 70’s and had been partners in art ever since.

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the entry way into the studio where Linda gives sculpting lessons- she made the amazing ornamentations

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the studio off the corner of their house in their front yard where you can take sculpting classes on the weekends from LindaDSC_0767

We chatted with them a few minutes street side then David asked Linda if she’d like to take us on the 50¢ tour.  I’m pretty sure I let out an audible squeal.  As she led us towards the house she explained some of their combined inspirations as the source of some of the details.  A key one that I remember is the emulation of waves on the roof, a Chumash reference that had been brought to life by their son, a skilled roofer that they paid top dollar for the effect.

She also explained how most of the large pieces that we were looking at were her works and that her husband, while very diverse, had for several years taken to sculpting ladies clothing out of wood, as though it’s hanging on a hanger, and painting it in life like detail.

We could never have imagined the visual treats in store for us as we entered.

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where we entered

Right away we begin to see David’s  clothing sculptures.  They were everywhere.  Each individual.  Each stunning.

The entire house was filled with art and curiosities.

The home itself was of beautiful and delightful design very warm and inviting and with, of course, a view of the Venture coast that took your breath away.

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what you first see as you come in the front door

yes, this wooden kimono is standing in the bath tub

yes, this wooden kimono is standing in the bath tub

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and more and more and more

As Linda walked us through her home, the sheer volume of the art was mind boggling.  The collective hours spent.  The obvious love of the craft.  She showed us many pieces of different sizes and materials that she had done over the years.  Beautiful and perfect nudes were a common theme.  She shared how she had more recently gotten away from what she described as “Barbie doll” like perfection and was now excited to be working in a more free form way with acrylic.  An unexpected side benefit had been how the sunlight radiates through it and creates playful images with light all around it.  She was delighted by how as she added more material that would cause bubbles that she needed to remove, the form would change making it less perfect perhaps but continuously more beautiful.  This is a material I am more familiar with than most of the others she had described because we use it in dentistry.  As a long time hygienist, I’ve watched many denture repairs and have cleaned and polished a lot of acrylic.  How fun to see it used in this way and to hear the artist so excitedly describe the discoveries she was making as she plays with it.

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this piece is actually out of polymer clay and finished to look like metal

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Here’s Linda describing the magic of discovery while working with acrylic and seeing it play with light. This window looks across the garden that they eat from and out to the Pacific. The Pacific Coast Hwy runs between them and the water. You have to watch closely as you drive through Ventura but if you’re observant you’ll see their sculptures at this magical home on the cliff.

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wow so so beautiful

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the harpoon on the left of this piece was made by David as a dream catcher for catching really big dreams

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I wish this were a better picture of her. Here, Linda is leading us through their gardens. The ocean is to her back. She is explaining how a tree used to be where the water woman sculpture is and it was a very sacred Chumash spot. Her sculpture is to commemorate the space.

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this is a collaborative piece- David had made the wings and Linda put them to use. Absolutely incredible and gorgeous

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Thanks the Linda and David Elder for an adventure we’ll never forget.

Her parting words to me were

“Live Big”

Will do!

If you’re interested in being schooled in the art of sculpture:  Linda Elder, Crystal Hawk Studio  elder-crystal-hawk@msn.com  their site: www.crystalhawkstudio.com

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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You Knead to Stop Here for that crunchy bread you’re craving! Ojai California Bakery Treat

Wonderful quickie lunch yesterday at the Knead Baking Company in Ojai CA.  The friendly employee helped me find something small and affordable so I could check out their great product.  Cute gifts, great menu. A local favorite spot.  Wonderful feeling outdoor seating and some fun places inside to park, nibble and watch. ImageImageImageImageImageImageImage 

 I had a simple lunch of a fresh baked sour dough roll with butter and a small portion of arugula tossed in olive oil and lemon juice.  Fantastic!