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My last 48 hours in the USA. . .

My last 48 hours perfectly epitomized the 8 wonderful weeks of my holiday — lots of fun, lots of action and most importantly, lots of family!  Leisa and Bruce arrived to spend a little time with us in Idyllwild and drive us back to Los Angeles.  Here we are outside the cabins.

We took off for a drive around the winding alpine streets of Idyllwild.  Talk about a constrast in architecture compared with DC, New York and Michgan! What I found fascinating was the fact that all the homes blended in so perfectly with the surroundings — even though they were quite different — ranging from Swiss cottages,  bungalows and A-frames to large modern homes.

Then it was time to show Leisa and Bruce the town!  Idyllwild village that is,  but it happened to be one of the most happening times of the year — Halloween! While we waited for the action to begin, we popped into some of the galleries. All the art is created by local artists and it is quite stunning.

As we waited for everyone to show up in their Halloween customes we spied  this colorful Macaw parrot. His wings weren’t clipped but his owner said that he had no interest in flying away because he likes people too much!

And then the fun began. Have a look at some of these super creative Halloween costumes!

We ate at a local restaurant before retiring to our cabin to watch a movie then hit the hay.  The next morning, sadly, it was time to say good bye to our mountain retreat.

Bruce and Leisa packed up the car and we began winding down the mountain road heading back to Los Angeles.  On the way down we pulled over to a viewing bay and enjoyed the glorious vista before us.

My flight was not till the evening so we did some more sightseeing.  Leisa and Bruce took us to an area of LA called Pasadena.  It is a beautiful city and is especially famous for its Arts & Crafts architecture. This home below was designed by the Green Brothers, who are well known pioneers of the movement in the USA.  It’s called Gamble House, named after Mr & Mrs Gamble (of Procter & Gamble) who hired the Greens to create their  special “summer house”.  The beautiful stained glass tree pattern that you see as part of the front doors has come to represent the Arts & Craft movement as well as Pasadena itself.

Of course the day would not have been complete without trying out a new cafe. This one was called  “Intelligentsia”  and I took this “cool shot” as we sat outside in lovely sunny weather.

Then it was onto the Pasadena Church of Scientology, which recently became a brand new ideal organization.  It is situated in a lovely historic building in the heart of Old Town Pasadena and is absolutely gorgeous. And note the Arts & Craft motif that can be seen throughout.

And finally… it was time to head to LA International Airport and confront the 15 hour trip back home.

So there you have it, my last 48 hours is the USA!  I have really loved keeping you updated through my travel blog.  Thank you so much for sharing these amazing experiences with me!    Love Melva


Another Happy Reunion!

After many years it was wonderful to meet up with my niece Fleur.  She was back from the UK and caught up with her mother and I.  We showed her the sights of Idyllwild,  including making friends with a baby racoon.

And Fleur took us to where she and her two sisters work and live,  Golden Era Productions. We were fortunate enough to be given an extensive tour. Their huge film and sound studios are second to none. At the time, they were shooting scenes in a spaceship where you can see Eunice and I getting ready for take off.  It is an amazing complex set in beautiful grounds. We met one of the main chefs who is also an awesome cake maker and we were treated to a delicious afternoon snack.  Night had set in by the time we came to leave and it was all quite magical.

During this last week we further explored the village. Temperatures have dropped and along with this a beautiful morning mist has appeared.  So out
came our warm clothes that up until now had not seen the light of day.

In past years I have made and shipped (at great expense) Xmas cakes to the family in the US so I decided this was a golden opportunity to make it here. Not an easy task in a holiday cabin kitchen but Kiwi ingenuity is alive and well and we and together Eunice and I produced a beautiful cake.

Also, Eunice had been longing for an open fire, so when the temperature dropped to almost zero one night we purchased the required bundle of wood
along with an ingenious firelighter. This will be a piece of cake I thought, being that  I’m an experienced firemaker…but not so. The ancient, enormous,
woodburner/open fire soon sprang into life and Eunice settled into the rocking
chair happily gazing into the flames.

Next thing the peace and quiet was  shattered by the smoke alarm going off!  Not once, but TWICE.

Each time we lept into action, furiously opening all doors and windows, which of course allowed the cold air to rush back in. To add insult to injury, when we got up next morning, everything was covered in a layer of black ash!

My next and last “Farewell USA” blog posting will cover Halloween in Idyllwild and a day in LA with Leisa and Bruce (they are coming to pick up us) before heading to the airport.   Love Melva

Palm Springs, Bikies and Cable Car in the Sky. . .

Darnelle and Dave were back to pick us up the next day and this time we headed into the mountains on the way to Palm Springs, a popular oasis in the high desert, for the rich and famous. On the way we passed through a more modern and up-market Palm Desert. What a beautiful sprawling city, true to it’s name, with endless towering palms and tasteful architecture, in various shades of teracotta… and NO high rise buildings. 


When we arrived in Palm Springs City there were thousands of bikies  — mainly veteran — attending the Hot American Motorcycle Weekend. Mostly state-of-the-art Harley Davisons lined the streets, both sides, as far as the eye could see. (I’m sure Paul W. will appreciate these photos.) Needless to say, cafes, bars and restaurants were pumping and doing a roaring trade with everyone having a great time.

We enjoyed an excellent Mexican lunch before hitting the road again.

Then up we climbed to the San Jacinto Mountain Tramway. Scenery on the way was magnificent but not to be compared with actually going up in the cable car, between huge cliffs, to 8,500ft!! As we ascended, the floor of the car revolved giving everyone breathtaking vistas while at the same coming extremely close to the rock face. Close enough to touch I’m sure and every time the car went through a junction it rocked alarmingly. Yikes! At the top were viewing platforms and more photo opportunities… all in all a wonderful experience!

Stay tuned for my next update… our last week in Idyllwild and the Halloween Grand Finale! 

Wish you all were here too…   Love Melva

Entering Another World….

Talk about contrasts!  A little more than 24 hours after driving back from New York through beautiful, lush, autumn-toned countryside and cool temperatures, I was in Los Angeles travelling with my sister Eunice through the Californian desert in temperatures of 105F (40C)! Our transport was a rather elderly Corolla with next to no AC in which we were jammed with all our luggage. After 1:30 mins of dry rocky terrain, we started to climb. At this point some green vegetation finally showed itself. We eventually arrived at our “mile high” destination, Idyllwild Village, nestled in an aromatic pine forest.  We found Knotty Pine Cabins and our own Cosy Cabin and settled in. 

There was more excitement the next day when my niece Darnelle and her husband Dave (who many of you will know) arrived for a big reunion after more than twenty years…although once we were together it only seemed like a couple of years!

 After a village lunch we headed back out over the desert to Cabazon, an amazing 230, high-end store outlet complex with terrific bargains…like my $60 leather wallet for $20! If I lived here it would be my favorite place to visit.

Nearby is an Indian Reservation with a majestic casino, Morongo, which had every conceivable type of gambling. We chose to just observe. We ended with a lovely seafood dinner at the 26th-floor restaurant…aren’t we spoilt! This was followed by a lively African American band. We even did a spot of dancing!

Then it was home to bed to prepare ourselves for the next high adventure day! 

Love Melva


New York, New York!!!!!!

Being that we only had one day to spend in New York we were lucky to be able to stay fairly close by at the home of Bruce’s sister, Cara and her family, husband Jeff and their lovely girls Ashleigh and Samantha.  They live in Allentown Pennsylvania. Talk about enthusiastic sightseers….we got up at 4am to make it into New York before rush hour. I took this photo of Bruce and Leisa from the back seat as we drove in. Leisa is being “chief navigator” using GPS on her phone.

Here I am in Time Square at 7.30 am!!!  This was taken within the first five minutes of us arriving. As  you can see I was pretty excited!

It was pretty cool watching New York come alive and seeing the early morning sun highlighting the buildings that loomed above us.

Being that Leisa was already familiar with New York, she had a full schedule worked out to maximize our time.  Mostly we walked everywhere otherwise we simply hailed a yellow cab — and there were tons of them!  (Reasonably priced as well.)

We walked down famous 5th Avenue and drooled over the high end fashions (well Leisa and I did at least), I marvelled at the amazing architectual details and noted that there were impressive cathedrals and churches wedged among the skyscrapers.

We went to Central Park which was really beautiful. It is huge and once you enter the park, in just a few hundred feet, you can’t see the buildings anymore and it is hard to believe you are still in New York.  I took these shots near the edge of the park so you could see the contrast of steel and concrete with the greenery of the park.

You can hire a ride in one of these horse drawn carriages. They take you through the winding roads of the park or you can venture out into the traffic and go to a show in Time Square if you want!

Then it was onto Pier 83 for a two hour cruise on the Hudson Bay River to see the sights of the city! It was perfect weather for it. We saw the city skyline, the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty and the Brooklyn Bridge among other things.

I would like to say that this is the limo that came to pick us up to take us to our car at the end of the day… but alas it had pulled up outside one of the Broadway theatres…. we had to walk!

Next you will hear from me from the other coast, California.  Hope you enjoyed my tour of New York as much as I did!  Love Melva





Halloween and the colours of Autumn

Halloween is approaching here in the US and I couldn’t resist catching some of the action right here in Alexandria!  Being that Halloween falls at the beginning of Autumn the two events go hand in hand  and include golden colored flowers and scarecrows (that can be purchased in the shops) and of course huge pumpkins on doorsteps (not for eating though.)  Kids especially love Halloween, not just the “Trick & Treating” on the night but they really get into helping create scarey things in their front yards.

And talking of the colours of Autumn, there are a couple of beautiful scenes of the Pennsylvania countryside from our trip to New York.

Bye for now. Get ready for the grand finale from the east coast of the US,  New York!!!!  love Melva

The sights of Washington DC

In DC there are a series of museums as part of the Smithsonian which are just incredible. Unbelievably, entry is free!   One starts at the DC Mall which runs right up the middle of downtown DC. At one end is the Capital Building and the other end is the George Washington Monument.

We started at the info center for the Smithsonian which is called “The Castle”.

My favorite museum was the Native American one — very informative as well as aesthetic, both inside and out.

We walked through the “Art Garden”….

… and ended the day by watching the sunet at the beautiful Thomas Jefferson memorial which is right on the harbor.

I hope you have enjoyed my quick tour of DC! Love Melva