Monday, February 29, 2016

2015 Winter Sun Fix

Our home base on the Olympic Peninsula is unique to western Washington; it has a very little rain with an annual average of 16 inches. (Although, this year was record-breaking with rain.)  However, very little rain does not mean we have endless sunny days in the winter.  The three-month period of mid-November through mid-February can be dreary.  If we can travel to a warm location for a few weeks during this time, we do!

This past December we had an invitation to visit friends, Tom and Kate, in Puerto Vallarta at their timeshare, Costa Sur, on the south side of the city.  We did visit PV 30+ years ago at the beginning of their tourist explosion in the early 1980s.  In our 20s and not much money to spend on a vacation, we took advantage of an economic downturn in Mexico in 1982, the peso was devalued and Puerto Vallarta became a bargain destination for us and the friends traveling with us.  Really, really good time.

And it was fun to go there again in 2015.  Tom and Kate have been wintering in PV for 15 years, we were able to take advantage of their local knowledge of the best shops, restaurants/bars, and attractions.  The timeshare/hotel has nice pool area and well-stocked bar plus a protected little beach to find seashells--nice way to spend the warm, tropical day.  But, by far, this time around, it was the restaurants we enjoyed most (of course 30 years ago, it was all about the bars!--see photo above right).  Some restaurants we visited were upscale with stunning ocean views, others quirky, and a few with quaint little flowered courtyards--the food was all fresh, prepared perfectly, and priced beyond reasonable.  I ordered the shrimp over and over again.

With temperatures in the mid-80 degrees and cloudless days, we got our sun fix.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016


Our trip last summer to Scotland left an impression in several ways.  At the top of that list was the pride of the Scottish people in their re-telling history and carrying on traditions.  One of my favorite traditions is the Ceilidh (pronounced kay’lee).  A traditional Gaelic social gathering, which usually involves playing Gaelic folk music and dancing.  We had a taste of it one evening with the visit of several young musicians sharing the traditional music true to its roots and with a modern twist.  Along the Caledonia Canal as we passed small villages you would see banners advertising the upcoming weekend Ceilidh.

“On long, dark winter nights it is still the custom in small villages for friends to collect in a house and hold what they call a “ceilidh”. Young and old are entertained by the reciters of old poems and legendary stories which deal with ancient beliefs, the doings of traditional heroes and heroines, and so on. Some sing old and new songs set to old music or new music composed in the manner of the old.”
Mackenzie, Donald A., Wonder tales from Scottish myth and legend, 1917

Our tour guide, Paul, described a recent birthday party for his nephew.  Attended by young teenagers and parents, the gathering started with rap and hip-hop music to the dismay of all the adults.  But, the parents figured it was the kids’ party and they would support whatever they wanted; although Paul had made up his mind to make a short evening.   Without any prompting about 30 minutes in, the kids pulled out an assortment of fiddles, accordions, drums and guitars and began playing the traditional Scottish tunes.  Everyone joined in with the singing and dancing.  The party became an spontaneous Ceilidh and no one left until dawn.
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