RMW: the blog

Roslyn's photography, art, cats, exploring, writing, life


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Japanese garden reopens

The Japanese Garden at the Huntington Library and Gardens reopened recently after a year-long renovation so a friend and I paid a visit.

And I always enjoy sauntering around the gardens finding little miscellaneous scenes to photograph.

Another brilliant day at the Huntington ends with an equally brilliant lunch… the Mexican chop salad:

 

 


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Santa Barbara – part two – by evening’s light

After freshening up at the hotel in Montecito (stay tuned for Part Three) we drove to the beach area. To be accurate, BG did all the driving. Thanks BG. As we strolled along Cabrillo Blvd we noticed this lovely restaurant patio. The menu looked good so decision made.

We ate dinner at Due Lune Ristorante-Bar. I ordered the Garden Party salad accompanied by the house red wine which was pretty decent. BG chose a pasta dish which looked very pretty in bright green.

We could easily have been in Sorrento, Italy! There was a nice view of Stearns Wharf, the beach and people passing by.

I love taking these Southern California getaways. We have so much to do and see in our own back yard!

It was such a gorgeous evening. The few occasions over the years when I’ve been in Santa Barbara as the sun is going down I have always been struck by the golden light as the mountains are bathed in a pink and purple glow.

Click on an image below to start the slide show:

On the walk back to the car this quirky abandoned mail box on the street caught my attention… I couldn’t just leave it standing there without taking a photograph!

 


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Santa Barbara – part one – a saunter through Lotusland


A friend and I drove up to Santa Barbara last week partly to visit Lotusland, which has been on my bucket list for a while, and partly to enjoy the city. Lotusland is actually located in Montecito, an affluent unincorporated community in Santa Barbara County, California, east of the City of Santa Barbara.


I first heard of Lotusland while visiting Santa Barbara for the Summer Solstice Festival in June, 2017. That was quite a different scene with thousands of people thronging the streets. Click here to view my blog post of that event.

Lotusland sits on 37 acres and unless you are a member you must walk through it on a tour with a docent.

It is billed as one of the top ten most beautiful gardens in the entire world. Well, it is very nice and I enjoyed the visit but I’m not sure I would go that far. Maybe we are spoiled for lovely gardens in Southern California but other gardens in other parts of the world spring to mind. Top 100 might be more realistic although I haven’t traveled enough to back that up! But it was worth seeing, for sure.


I took 240 photos during the walk and it was very hard to decide which ones to display… I could easily have included 100 in this post… but I decided to spare you and cut it down to a mere 56 with as much variety as possible… which means some of my favorites hit the cutting room floor… that hurt!

This turquoise glass slag lines the pathways… a very effective and beautiful border.

Lotusland contains about 21 different garden areas with more than 3,000 different plants from around the world. Please click on an image below to begin the slide show.

I’ll be uploading a couple more posts of our trip to the Santa Barbara area so stay tuned!


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Ventura Adventure

ventura city hall

Ventura City Hall

Ten of us adventurous souls met in Ventura for another exciting day. Seven of us took Amtrak from Los Angeles Union Station. The other three met us in Ventura.

Father Junipero Serra

I was out of bed at 3:45 to meet my friend at the bus stop at 6:15. The Expo Line was down for upgrading so we were stuck with the Metro #733 bus.

Father Junipero Serra looking out on the city of Ventura

It takes me two hours to get out of the house these days. Cleaning out the cat litter boxes, making the cat’s breakfast, watering my crops of tomatoes, lettuce, herbs, parsley, etc, making coffee, cooking breakfast, getting dressed, wandering around in a fog… it all takes time.

Ventura Botanical Gardens

I was ready to walk to the bus top by 5:45. It was beautiful walking through Culver City at that hour of the morning with only a couple of people walking their dogs and barely any traffic. So peaceful.

We arrived at Union Station with time to spare. I always like to be early instead of running at the last minute. As I always say, I would rather be two hours early than two minutes too late!

The Amtrak train left at 7:50am and we arrived in Ventura about 9:30. I LOVE traveling by train and Amtrak is soooooooo comfortable. It’s lovely to see the scenery go by from the top deck.

Our first stop was the Ventura Botanical Gardens.

The area was totally burned out in the Thomas fire of December 2017. But the gardens are being replanted and coming back quickly. You can still see the extent of the burned out areas.

The gardens are built on a hill with the option of switchback trails or stairs. I opted for the switchback. Whichever you chose there are some lovely views.

Plants are resilient and manage to grow in any situation.

Click on the first image below for a slide show:

After the hike up the hill we walked back through town towards the pier and lunch, always my favorite activity!

We ate at Beach House Fish. I ordered the wild snapper with mashed potatoes. I am a potato junkie… the way it is…

I thought this image represented the beach at Ventura!

Eating!

What a view as you eat your seafood lunch. Life is good.

After my delicious lunch I took a stroll along the pier. It’s a fishing pier.

Click on an image below for photos of the pier and views from the pier:

What a beautiful day we had with great friends!

Waiting for the Amtrak train back to Los Angeles.

 

 

 


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Countdown: my favorite dozen 2018 photos and a bonus

life is a canvas

San Gabriel Mountains from my roof deck in Culver City.

As if I don’t have enough to do, I decided to set myself the task of coming up with my twelve favorite photos for the year… one for each month. Some months I had fifty favorites and some months I wouldn’t have picked one for my top twelve… nevertheless I had to stick to my rule of one from each month. This exercise was a great lesson for me as I realized some months in 2018 I didn’t get out and about enough with my camera and I really struggled to find a photo. I need to be more consistent.

The above photo was taken from my roof deck on Christmas Day and is my New Year’s card to you all. One of my favorite quotes just happened to be floating around in the sky! Note the airplane just left of top center.

So here we go.

JANUARY

sunrise

Sunrise with resident crows from my roof deck, Culver City, California

FEBRUARY

Yosemite Upper Falls framed by tree branch. Yosemite National Park, California

MARCH

Huntington Library

Desert Garden at Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, Los Angeles County, California

APRIL

Freddie and Frankie

A little out of focus but this photo really shows their true personalities. Frankie looking disdainful and obviously planning the next mischievous caper while Freddie is wide-eyed and innocent, ready to be splat in the middle of Frankie’s next big idea!

MAY

worthing seafront

Worthing Seafront, Sussex, England. The last place my parents and I lived before they decided to emigrate to the US.

JUNE

butterfly pavilion

Butterfly Pavilion at the Los Angeles County Natural History Museum

JULY

deck sunset

Sunset from my deck looking out on to downtown Culver City and Sony Studios

AUGUST

canadian rockies

Moraine Lake, Alberta, Canadian Rockies

SEPTEMBER

william s hart

The William S. Hart Park and Museum, Newhall, California. Detail of wall

OCTOBER

 

Los Angeles Flower mart

Succulents at Los Angeles Flower Mart, downtown

NOVEMBER

City Hall Christmas Eve

An early Christmas present to the people of LA as the tree at Grand Park mirrors Los Angeles City Hall.

DECEMBER

View from Baldwin Overlook

View of downtown Los Angeles and snow on the mountains from the highest point in Culver City, Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook (a California State Park).

I haven’t been on WordPress very much lately. I haven’t given up but I made a big decision and it’s going to be taking up a lot of my time. I probably won’t be posting much here but I will make the effort to go look at your posts to keep up with what you are doing. In the meantime, you can join me on my personal page on Facebook (Roslyn M Wilkins in Culver City). If you send me a friend request and I recognize who you are, I will respond. Or join me on my photo page by clicking on the Roslyn’s Photoart image in the right hand column.

Best wishes for a happy and healthy 2019!

 


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Canadian Rockies – Day Six – Banff to Jasper

Moraine Lake

On the sixth morning we left Banff to move on to Jasper. We visited two beautiful lakes. First was Moraine Lake in the Valley of the Ten Peaks.

Next on the agenda was Lake Louise, filled with turquoise colored water from Victoria Glacier. Click on image below for slide show:

We bought a salad and sandwich at the Fairmont Chateau than found a bench along the Lakeshore Trail to sit and eat lunch taking in this magnificent view.

In the afternoon we drove along Icefields Parkway to Jasper. On the way we stopped to look at waterfalls, Wolf Lake and the Athabasca Glacier. Click below to start slideshow:

At the end of the journey we entered Jasper Park, Canada’s largest national Park at 4,200 square miles (1,622 sq km). We checked into Jasper House Bungalows on the shore of the Athabasca River, my favorite hotel of the entire trip. We were there for two nights but I could have stayed there for a week!

Unfortunately, the amber-colored trees were the result of pine beetle.

We fell asleep listening to the river outside our window, ready for another adventure the next day.

 


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Canadian Rockies – Day Five – Banff and the Bow River

canadian rockies

Overnight there was just enough rain to clear the skies a little. Still a lot of smoke but we could see some details. Why couldn’t this have happened the day before? Well, we had to be grateful for this gift at least.

canadian rockies
In the morning we drove along the shores of Lake Minnewanka and Two Jack Lake. Click image below for slideshow:

 

Next we visited Cascade Gardens near the grounds of the Banff Park Administration Building. Click image below for slideshow:

The big event of the day was a raft trip floating along the Bow River. I didn’t position myself very well as I was seated directly opposite my friends so I had to dodge around their heads to get a clear shot. In the raft you can’t move around too much without everybody going overboard! And my camera is not waterproof…

Our guide on the river, like all the guides we encountered on the trip, was very knowledgeable and personable. I believe this young man was from New Zealand. As a member of the British Commonwealth, apparently you can spend two years in each Commonwealth Country (including New Zealand, Canada, Australia, South Africa, and of course, the UK) on a work Visa so most of the guides we encountered were from those countries. Wish I had known that when I was younger!

Click image below for slideshow:

 

At the beginning of the float trip I accidentally changed the picture style to black and white and didn’t realize this until we disembarked. I was ready to jump into the cold waters I was so mad at myself. But when we got back into town we found a camera store and the young man showed me how to change it back to color. I’ve never seen this B&W setting before! I was mortified. Luckily I always shoot in RAW and JPEG and he assured me the setting didn’t affect the RAW files… saved! Well, I learned something…

canadian rockies

We ate lunch at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel. You can see it in the slideshow above.

And this is what the town of Banff looks like when the smoke clears. Not too shabby!

candadian rockies

 

 


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Canadian Rockies – Day Four – the road to Banff

canadian rockies

Percheron horses at the Ranch-Bar-U

It’s hard to keep track of the days when you are on a tour, but I know day four was Sunday. We left Waterton heading for Banff through the Kananaskis Valley.

We stopped at the Bar U Ranch National Historic Site to admire the Percheron horses.canadian rockies

It was a very smoky day and we had 236 miles (380km) to travel. A lot of the scenery looked like this with bales of hay scattered around fields.

canadian rockies

As we came nearer to Banff the scenery changed to more mountainous views. But still extremely smoky. Only with RAW images and Lightroom was I able to see any kind of detail and color in the photos.

canadian rockies

canadian rockies

We didn’t make a lot of stops so these were taken through the bus window which is why the foregrounds are fuzzy.

canadian rockies

But you get the general idea of how rugged the territory was.

canadian rockies

We rode the Banff Gondola to the top of Sulphur Mountain. The summit is 7486 feet (2281m) above sea level. The highest point in Los Angeles County is Mount Baldy (Mount San Antonio) at 10,064 feet (3,068 m). So I wasn’t too impressed but a good height nevertheless.

canadian rockies

Too bad there was no view. I had to work really hard in Lightroom to get any kind of details to show.

10,064 ft (3,068 m)

But this gentleman seemed to be enjoying the view of the smoke!

We watched a 15-minute video that showed us the spectacular scenery we SHOULD have been seeing!

canadian rockies

There was a nice wooden trail out to the next peak but I wasn’t about to test the limits of my vertigo to see smoke and more smoke.

canadian rockies

Our hotel for the next two nights was nothing spectacular but we were centrally located in the town of Banff. canadian rockies

For me this was the most disappointing day. It reminded me of the 70s and 80s in LA when the smog was so bad in the summer I couldn’t even drive. I didn’t need to pay good money to be reminded of that.

But I did enjoy a wonderful Louisiana catfish dinner at Tooloulou’s restaurant in downtown Banff. That was the highlight for me. I don’t think my friends were that excited.

 

 

 


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Canadian Rockies – Day Three – Going-to-the-Sun Road

going to the sun highway

Day three of our trip to the smoke-filled Canadian Rockies our motor coach took us to St. Mary Lodge and Resort on the US side of the border. We boarded Red Jammers, restored vintage touring coaches from the 1930s. We traveled on Going-to-the-Sun Road which is closed during the winter because of snow. But this year it was closed half way along because of fires. So our journey ended at Logan Pass Visitor Center in Montana.

At Logan Pass Visitor Center we had time to roam around. I always enjoy an opportunity to get out and stretch my legs. We were close enough to the mountains that it was possible to see some details.

Then back on the Red Jammers. Originally built for sightseeing in the US National Park System, these 25-foot long touring coaches with individual doors for each row, were restored in 2000 by the Ford Motor Company and are the only remaining buses of their kind in operation today. Just touring in the coaches was fun in itself.

We returned to our hotel in Waterton, Alberta, a very sweet little tourist town that I could see visiting again. We decided to eat at the same restaurant with a river view where we had enjoyed dinner the night before, Bayshore Lakeside Chophouse, attached to the hotel.


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Canadian Rockies, Day Two

Prince of Wales Hotel

Prince of Wales Hotel

What happened to Day One? Well, that was getting there. My alarm went off at 2:00am. I called for my taxi at 4:21am and arrived at LAX ready for the 7;25am flight. We landed in Calgary around 1:20pm after a change of planes in Salt Lake City. That evening my three friends and I met our tour guide and the other 40 people on the Caravan tour.

 

Waterton Lakes National ParkIn the morning we left Calgary for Waterton Lakes National Park. The trip there was well, let’s just say it was hazy!

Waterton Lakes National Park

Looking down at the town of Waterton

Thank goodness for photographing in RAW format and photo processing in Lightroom with the “dehaze” function and some other tweaking!

Waterton Lakes National Park

This is what the scene above actually looked like!

Waterton Lakes National Park

Another view of the Prince of Wales Hotel

I was told there were approximately 500 wildfires raging across Canada.

Waterton Lakes National ParkThe smoke was so thick I heard it was like smoking two packs of cigarettes a day.

Waterton Lakes National Park

Flower bouquets at our hotel

 

Once settled in our hotel, we embarked on a cruise of Waterton Lake.Waterton Lakes National Park
The world’s first International Peace Park, formed in 1932 by combining Waterton Lakes Park in Canada with Glacier Park in Montana. These two parks form Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, a celebration of friendship between Canada and the US. Let’s hope!

Waterton Lakes National Park

Waterton  Waterton Lakes National Park

Even though it was very hazy I made the decision I was going to keep snapping away and hope I could bring out some of the details in Lightroom when I got home. That turned out to be a great decision.

Waterton Lakes National Park

The cruise was very peaceful and just what I needed after the frenzied day before running for flight connections and getting to the hotel in Calgary. And previously that day we had a long, very boring bus trip from Calgary to Waterton. Compared to all that, this was truly blissful.

Click on an image below for images of the lake cruise

You’re not seeing double, I just wanted to show this image again to point out this photo of the line cut to demark the border of the US and Canada.

Waterton Lakes National Park

Waterton Lakes National Park

I liked this photo showing the “Thumbs Up” Canadian flag!

Waterton Lakes National Park

I always love reflections on the water.

Waterton Lakes National Park

We arrived at our destination on the Montana side of the lake. We were able to stretch our legs for a while. Click on an image below.

Then back on the boat to Canada!

We enjoyed a delicious dinner with a beautiful view. Then back to our hotel room.

Waterton Lakes National Park

Our patio furniture

Lovely view of lake from our room

View of the lake from our room. We sat outside for a while in the evening, sucking it all in.

And last, the three lovely ladies who made my trip so enjoyable!