Salzburg, Austria

Salzburg Austria: A Most Extraordinary City

I spent only a couple of days in Salzburg, but it was long enough to realize that Salzburg is a most extraordinary city.  It’s a fantastic mix of ancient architecture and modern-day cosmopolitan conveniences. The food is delicious and the people extremely friendly. Honestly, there is nothing I didn’t like about the city, except for…

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The view from Neuschwanstein Castle

Bier, Brats, and Beauty in Munich Germany

I only spent two days in Munich, but it left a lasting impression on me. The grander of the Alps, the many shades of green, the opulent castles, the delicious food, and helpful people, all left me wishing I could stay longer. It may have only been a stop-over on my way to Austria, but the bier, brats and beauty of Munich Germany will bring me back.

The Alps

It took us about an hour until we were outside of the city and passing beautiful green farm fields, giant windmills and starting to see glimpses of spectacular mountains poking through the mist in the distance.  The closer we got to the mountains, the more excited I got. My heart was racing as I took picture after picture of the grand mountain peaks towering above charming Bavarian villages.

 

Dreamy Castles

I signed up for a day tour to visit two fairy-tale looking castles. The first stop was Linderhof, the smallest of the three royal castles built in the 19th century by King Ludwig II, who was known for being quite eccentric. He was never married and died a suspicious death at the age of 41. The palace was built in the French Rococo style and is surrounded by perfectly groomed gardens and picturesque landscaping. A large white swan swam elegantly around the glassy pond and colorful flowers lined the shore. Outside the palace was a gorgeous fountain that shot high into the air every half hour. The inside of the castle was even more impressive. Every nook and cranny was gleaming with gold plate atop extraordinary designs. The walls and ceilings were covered in murals honoring various legends or religious figures.  The color and detail was incredible! The king’s bed was especially lavish, covered in blue velvet and silk with real gold embroidery and accessories. I stared in awe and couldn’t help but wonder what it must have been like to live as royalty in such a beautiful palace.

The rain forest of Kauai

Kayaking, Hiking and Adventure with Kayak Wailua

Standing next to the 100-foot waterfall, feeling the water spraying over me, the sound was deafening. It was the day before Mother’s Day, and I couldn’t help but feel blessed with the beauty of our dear Mother Nature, and the Kayak Wailua tour is a great way to see her at her finest.

What to expect

The day began with a meet and greet with the cheerful staff at Kayak Wailua. I was excited that my daughter, Jamie, would be our guide for the day.  She explained to our group what to expect on our expedition. The tour would take about 5 hours total and would include about 5 miles of kayaking through the Wailua River and an easy one mile hike (in both directions) up to Secret Falls, called Uluwehi by the Hawaiian people.

Kayaking

The only other people in our group was a family of four from Santa Cruz with two young energetic boys. We all loaded into the shuttle and headed for the marina. While our driver unloaded the kayaks, we received some last-minute paddling instructions from Jamie and loaded up our gear. Soon we were on our way up the river. The Wailua, which means Spirit in Hawaiian, is surrounded by beautiful jungle, with tropical trees, colorful flowers and lots of interesting birds. We paddled past the Sleeping Giant, known as NouNou Mountain and Mouna Kapu, then into a narrow and overgrown area where we disembarked and began our foot excursion.

Mount St. Helens

Mount St. Helens: Majesty of my Youth

The eruption

I was 13 years old on May 18th, 1980, when Mount. St. Helens erupted. I was at church, and when we came out to leave there were funny looking clouds in the sky. They looked a bit like storm clouds, but were different, darker and much more concentrated. Many of us stopped and stared at those strange clouds in wonder.

My mom said to my dad, “Look, I bet Mt. St. Helens just blew”.

“Don’t be ridiculous”, was his response. Turns out, it wasn’t ridiculous at all.  Mt. St. Helens had indeed erupted, and she took the lives of 57 people with her. For days and weeks after the eruption, ash fell from the sky. Our little town of Vancouver, Washington, only got a few inches total, while places like Yakima were covered for weeks in ash and ran out of places to put it. She blew almost 3,000 feet off the top of what once was an almost perfectly round dome, changing the landscape of our lives forever.