Category Archives: Travel

Santa Barbara & LaFond Winery BBQ

Winemaker Bruce McGuire

Today, Gastil and I drove along the coast, through the Gaviota tunnel into the picturesque Santa Rita Hills ava. Many vineyards and wineries along Santa Rosa Road including the LaFond Vineyards. Their Annual Thank You BBQ for wine club members is a treat. Such a sweet gathering of people, food and wine (yes, plenty of wine). A lovely day with deep, crystal blue skies, row upon row of promising vines and special offerings from the cellars. 

Yes, we plan to return next year.


I Madonnari 2019

Featured artist: Sharyn Chan

The Santa Barbara Mission and the Children’s Creative Project hosted another fabulous 3-day street painting event. These photos are from the beginning of the third day (Monday). Plenty of festival veteran artists as well as newcomers. Stunning work. Sharyn Chan was this year’s featured artist…congratulations, Sharyn.


Stolpman Vineyards Hike

cluster of early summer grapes

In June Gastil and I took a hike of the Stolpman Vineyards and learned of their mission, strategies and passion to do things the right way. Way too many stories and lessons to share but I was taken by their efforts to develop most of their own root stock as well as experiment with “self” rooting which Syrah seems to be the best candidate for extensive success.

They give these guided hikes monthly so check out the web site for details. Highly recommended.

After the hike we sampled a selection of their fine wines at the Los Olivos Tasting Room. Yes, purchases were made in the name of further research.


Annual Wine Club BBQ & Tastings

Winemaker Bruce McGuire sharing treasures from the cellar.

LaFond Vineyards and Santa Barbara Winery (in the Santa Rita Hills AVA) hosted a lovely BBQ Saturday to thank their wine club members. Good food, fun music, gracious hosts, grateful guests and wide range of magnificent wines to explore and savor. Winemaker, Bruce McGuire, rummaged the cellar depths to find interesting wines to share. A delightful day in the valley. See ya’ll next year…or when my wine supply becomes uncomfortably low.


The Henry Ford Museum

Wonderful World of Charles & Ray Eames

On my July 2018 Michigan visit we went to The Henry Ford several times. On the 3rd we enjoyed a pleasant evening listening to the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and the U.S. Army Field Band & Soldiers’ Chorus. The fireworks display began as Tchaikovsky’s Ouverture Solennelle 1812 was concluding. Accompanying canon fire provided by 19th century field pieces [some authentic, others reproductions, but even those are over 100 years old]. That is always a great time to spend with family and friends and a few thousand potential friends.

Tea time at Cotswold Cottage

The museum featured THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF CHARLES & RAY EAMES as well as the usual wide-ranging exhibits and samples of (mostly) American life over the years.

Strolling Greenfield Village is always a treat on my Michigan visits. Below are a number of images from this year’s visits.


Tortuga Bay, 2006

Palm trees, white sand beaches and turquoise sea

Tortuga Bay Hotel, endowed with miles of stunning, white-sand beaches on the eastern shores of the Dominican Republic, is poised to become a favored retreat for those seeking the truly exceptional. Their commitment to service begins when you arrive at Punta Cana Airport, the world’s only privately built and owned international airport, where you are greeted, whisked through immigration, your bags are collected and you are on a private shuttle. Ten minutes later your personal villa manager is helping you settle in. Responsible for just two villas, he remains just a page away. The attractive staff is genuine and generous with their time and attention, a reflection of the dedication and vision of co-founder and president, Frank Rainieri. His love affair with this land and his devotion to responsible stewardship is manifested throughout the 15,000 acres under his watch.

Frank Rainieri and Tom Buhl at La Yola

While impressive development continues, guests can feel the care taken to do it the right way rather rampant building for the sake of having rooms to fill. Creating their own international airport, partnering with Cornell University on a 1,500-acre ecological research park and providing a K through 12th grade bi-lingual school are just a few symbols of the thought and consideration at work here. Characteristically, the school’s tuition is based on salary, so that sons and daughters of housekeeping attend classes with the founder’s grandchildren.

Oscar de la Renta designed living space

We loved the Oscar de la Renta-designed stylish and spacious villas. A two-bedroom configuration is over 3,000 square feet. The layout is equally comfortable for a quiet evening with family or for hosting a formal reception. Each bedroom suite has its own coralline stone bathroom featuring Jacuzzi bath and glass-enclosed shower, walk-in closet and double French doors opening to the large, ocean-view patio. With only fifteen villas gracing this lovely setting, privacy and security are ensured. Visit and use the Tortuga Bay Hotel link.

Faces of New Orleans, 2007

This colorful character seemed to be everywhere. Later Gastil and I used this image for our I Madonnari Italian Street Painting Festival chalk art.

I attended the 7th Annual Satchmo Summerfest in New Orleans [August, 2007].  Staying at Harrah’s near the French Quarter, I savored the sounds, sights and people. A jazz mass at historic St. Augustine’s was followed by a second line parade to a multi-stage festival venue that swung all day and into the evening. Great fun.