kayaking on Loch Leven near Glencoe, Scotland, 2018

kayaking on Loch Leven near Glencoe, Scotland, 2018

Friday, February 26, 2016

Petals, Posies, and a Palette of Desert Color

People may imagine the desert to be drab, dusty, and colorless. But the desert is actually home to many wildflowers, as I discovered recently at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, Arizona.

A yucca plant in bloom

Pineland Acacia

Desert Bluebell


Pink Penstamon

Red Hot Poker or Torch Lily


Next up . . . sailing over Phoenix in a hot air balloon!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

A Thousand Different Ways to Say "Cactus"

Bob and I recently vacationed near Phoenix, Arizona. Because we love gardens of any kind, we visited the Desert Botanical Garden. The Sonoran Desert is beautiful in its own way. LOTS of cacti! What is so surprising is the myriad of different varieties of cacti. In this post, I'll simply share several photos from our adventure. Cacti speak for themselves.

Don't touch!

I thought this cacti looked like an octopus. Indeed, that's what it is called!

Photo op!

This quirky cactus is a rare crested saguaro.

Up next . . . wildflowers of the desert!

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Experiencing Mardi Gras from the Vantage Point of a Parade Float

Early February has not historically been the most interesting time to have a birthday. It’s the dead of winter, usually cold and dreary. But there have been some notable birthdays. Like in 2006 when the Steelers won the Super Bowl on my birthday. That was exciting.

 This year, the peak of Mardi Gras festivities happened to fall on my birthday weekend. As I have said numerous times, one of the greatest revelations upon moving to Louisiana was learning that Mardi Gras is not a day but a season, lasting a month or two, depending on the date of Easter. I have been fascinated by the mystery and traditions of Mardi Gras since I arrived in Louisiana. I’ve been to all the various parades, the gumbo cook-offs, even a Mardi Gras ball. I've eaten more king cake than I care to admit. But until this past Friday, on my birthday, I’d never ridden on a Mardi Gras float.

Let's get this party started!

I was privileged to embark on my maiden Mardi Gras float experience with the Southwest Louisiana Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) for the Lake Charles Merchants’ Parade. They ride a float painted with a big green alligator motif.

Me and Megan Hartman, my contact at the CVB

Participating in a Mardi Gras parade from a float is a completely different experience than being a spectator. It’s a different perspective, looking down at the throngs of revelers who call out, dance, and wave their hands in hopes of catching beads and trinkets. "Hey, throw me somethin', mister!" I have no way of knowing exactly, but I must have tossed a thousand strands of glittering green, gold, and purple beads.

 I’m all about experiencing Louisiana from as many different angles as I can. This weekend, from atop a Mardi Gras float, I added one more to my list.