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After Christmas Sunset 2017

Every year, on December 26, I've taken photos of the sun rising from my front door. I woke up late this year and missed it but I was lucky enough to see the sunset from my favorite spot in Central California. 


"May every sunrise hold more promise And every sunset hold more peace."  Anonymous
I hope everyone had a happy Christmas day.
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Images by TravelswithCharie

Urban Light

Halloween 2016

The one bright spot today was the Pumpkin Patch of Uesugi Farms in San Martin near Gilroy, California. The marigolds were so blinding that despite rain clouds, I needed sunglasses. This is the first year in business for this particular pumpkin patch and the little ones were having the time of their lives with the choo choo train and tractor rides through corn mazes.

Yosemite National Park

“Yosemite Valley, to me, is always a sunrise, a glitter of green and golden wonder in a vast edifice of stone and space.”  Ansel Adams The photographs of Ansel Adams have always been my guide to Yosemite National Park. We recently visited Yosemite and took many images of it in color but I'm posting black and white photos here for that singular Ansel Adams effect. I still have that frog in my throat whenever I behold the wonders of Yosemite Valley.
Bridal Veil Falls
“Sometimes I do get to places just when God's ready to have somebody click the shutter.” A. Adams
North Dome and Royal Arches
“Landscape photography is the supreme test of the photographer - and often the supreme disappointment.” A. Adams
Yosemite Valley from Tunnel View
“Both the grand and the intimate aspects of nature can be revealed in the expressive photograph. Both can stir enduring affirmations and discoveries, and can surely help the spectator in his search for identification with the vast world of natural be…

California Central Coast

Sunrise on Pismo Beach
California's Central Coast has some of the most breathtaking views in the world. Driving south on 101 from the San Francisco Bay Area, I passed rich farmlands and vineyards crawling up the hillsides. And halfway down to Santa Barbara, the beach towns of San Luis Obispo County are the hottest spots for sun worshippers.

The outdoor tables at the Marisol at the Cliffs Resort on Pismo Beach offer premium seats for watching the fiery descent of the sun into the Pacific Ocean. Yes, it calls for a toast!

It's always a treat to eat breakfast at Stearn's Wharf in Santa Barbara. Seacraft of all sizes ply the Channel in the early morning hours. A walk on the pier is a must with a full stomach. Camera at the ready, I spied a sailboat coming into the harbor. Ahhh, beautiful mornings are made of these.

Santa Barbara Channel from Stearn's Wharf
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Images by Charie

Christmastime in The City

Union Square
An overnight stay in San Francisco is a welcome treat, especially during the holidays. The streets are abuzz with visitors during the day and there are many bargain finds for the hardy shopper. A stroll around Union Square enchants with decorated display windows vying for attention. And when evening descends upon the City by the Bay, thousands of Christmas lights illuminate the night sky.

Neiman Marcus Atrium
One of my favorite stops is Nieman Marcus. Their Christmas tree is a floor to ceiling giant barely scraping the beautiful stained glass dome. There's at least an hour wait if you decide to eat lunch at the Rotunda restaurant on the fourth floor with a view of Union Square. Best to make a reservation. An alternative would be the food court at The Cellar inside Macy's. It's crowded but there's usually a table or two. I ordered handrolled crab cakes from SC Asian. It came with a salad. It was all surprisingly good. There are also other restaurants to cho…

The Best Roadtrip

Going home is my favorite roadtrip. Home is sweet, as the saying goes, but even more so when the road home passes through fruit orchards, vineyards, cornfields, roadside fruitstands, and you're following tomato or garlic trucks.  It's always a temptation to veer off the road to take a peek at bell peppers, strawberries, and pick up a basket of cherries for $1.00 or a bag of oranges for $3.00.

Highway 152, Gilroy, California
Then the season changes and the green corn stalks turn golden and the harvest begins. Cotton replaces corn and vendange arrives before you know it. The fruit trees hibernate and the fields are barren for a time. Just when I'm beginning to despair with the bleakness of it all, the blossoming almond trees announce the advent of spring and the fields turn green once more. It's an incredible cycle of life to behold and it never fails to amaze me.

I'm lucky and grateful to have as many reasons to go home.

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Images by Charie

Weekday at the Beach

The beach at Half Moon Bay
It's a great day when you're able to take off from work on a weekday and drive to the beach. No crowds to speak of. It's all yours - the sun, the big, wide ocean and the gift of serenity that washes over you as you stare out to sea.

Half Moon Bay is a short ride from the Peninsula but a world away. The narrow and winding two lane road to get there is best taken when everyone is at work or else the stress of traffic will devour your chi

Fish taco
At the Miramar Beach Restaurant on Mirada Road, off of Highway 1, we dined on fish tacos and shrimp and avocado sandwiches while watching Pacific waves caress the shore below. We also tried the crab cake appetizer, which came solo with cole slaw, so we divided it into two halves to share. The main entrées were served in more generous portions. It was a total dining experience.

While the sun shone brightly, it was breezy. But we managed to take a few shots of the beach, deftly holding on to our cameras so w…

Oxbow Public Market

Kara's Cupcakes
Exploring markets can be great fun if only I can control myself from rich temptations. Take for instance this beautifully presented Kara’s cupcakes which are individually created by hand. My cousin (who is one of the most generous people I know) gave me two. I should only have eaten one but there they were – a passion fruit cupcake with a pink heart and a “healthy” carrot cupcake with a sliver of nuts. I ate them on separate days so I was able to stretch my calorie intake over 48 hours. Small comfort because I couldn’t resist a crêpe du sucre from a French crêperie, no less.
It was hard to pass by Annette’s Chocolates without buying any. A photo of their chocolates will have to suffice. Yum yum!
Annette's Chocolates
A real find was The Olive Press where we tried their Verde hand lotion. This moisturizing lotion is not only soothing to the skin, it also has a pleasing fragrance.
The Olive Press
Next door to The Olive Press is Tillerman Tea. How beautiful their…

Celebrating Christmas in San Francisco

San Francisco is all decked out for the holidays.
Under the tree at Nieman Marcus

Victoria Secret "Give Her Sexy"

Outdoor florist
Macy's window
Macy's window
On Union Square
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Photos by Charie

"My Life is My Message" - Mahatma Gandhi

Behind the Ferry Building in San Francisco is a promenade with tremendous views of the bay. It's especially inviting on a warm day when you can sit outside and begin to relax while listening to the sound of water lapping against the pier. In the midst of this outdoor setting, there's a statue of Mahatma Gandhi. The inscription beneath his thin frame dressed only in a skimpy robe and aided by a walking stick reads: "Non violence is the greatest force at the disposal of Mankind.
It is the supreme law. By it alone can mankind be saved."

And right below his name and vital records is this quote:
"My Life is My Message".
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Photos by Charie

The Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco

The view of the Museum from Mission Street reveals only the brick façade of the former Jesse Street Power Substation. Hidden behind the neo Gothic cathedral of St. Patrick's is the startling extension to the Museum which is in the shape of a gigantic cube designed by Daniel Libeskind. Libeskind's idea of melding distinctive architectural styles translates into the successful fusion of the old substation in the Classical Revival style and the bold and contemporary blue metallic steel cube extension. View from Yerba Buena LaneThe museum is located at 736 Mission Street (between 3rd and 4th), San Francisco, CA 94103 . It is a short walk from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. http://www.thecjm.org/Hours: Daily 11 AM–5 PM, Thursday 1–8 PM, Closed Wednesday.* * *Photos by Charie

"Survivor Package" in San Diego Resort Hotel

In beautiful and sunny San Diego, a four-star resort offers rooms for $19.00 a night. Great rate? There's no bed, no electricity, no toiletries included at this price. Bring your own tent and sleep on the floor. Oh, and don't forgot your flashlight and toilet paper. For more on this story click on the link below:

http://marketplace.publicradio.org/display/web/2009/09/11/mm-hotelamenities/

Field of Colors

For the last month I've been passing through this field of colors in Gilroy on my way to work. Last Monday I could no longer resist the view so I finally stopped to take this picture. Thank goodness this field has not withered under scorching temperatures but the sunflowers down the road sure did. I took too long to take a shot of that. Time takes it toll.

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Image by Charie

Chalk Art

Outside Santa Barbara Mission (the "Queen of California Missions"), we were treated recently to a riot of colors. An outdoor gallery of chalk art graced the grounds in front of the church. There were copies of Renaissance paintings, Van Gogh's Starry Night, Winslow Homer's Boys in a Pasture and scores of original art. With no rain in sight (and no erasers), this exhibition could stick around to delight visitors. * * * Image by Rosario Charie Albar

Solvang

Few cities in the U.S. can claim it is truly unique. There's Santa Barbara with its distinct Spanish architecture, Santa Fe with its adobe buildings, San Francisco has its hills lined with Victorian houses and there's the Danish community of Solvang, in the shadow of the Santa Ynez mountains. A visit here is a trip to the old country of Denmark where thatched roofs crown half timbered buildings. And of course, there are many bakeries offering Danish pastries. What a way to cap off a leisurely stroll around town.

Best Eats - Santa Barbara

24 hours in Santa Barbara and we found two terrific restaurants to talk about. Yesterday we ate dinner at Arigato Sushi on 1225 State Street and were treated to new and memorable dishes including Mrs. Ebilyn, a shrimp gyoza, Locals Only, a mix of scallops and minced crabmeat served in a shell, wikiwiki roll, sushi with crab and avocado, and yellowtail kama (collarbone). The staff, of young people were very nice. And I learned to say "cheers" in Japanese. Kampai!
Today we had lunch at the Harbor Restaurant at Stearn's Wharf. What a view of the beach and Pacific waters! For starters we had the Santa Barbara Roll, a wrap with chicken, avocado, tomatoes and lettuce served with chips, salsa and guacamole. For my main entrée, I ordered crabcakes with steamed vegetables and my sister and niece shared the mixed seafood dish with mahimahi, calamari, breaded shrimp, maui onion rings and vegetables. The portions were generous and we had food leftover "to take out".

We enjo…