There are few places on this earth that leave me speechless. Lake Louise is one of them. The water is my favorite color- teal blue. On the day we arrived, the sky was overcast and then turned to a brilliant blue – with hardly any clouds. There is a walk from the parking lot and Fairmont Hotel around the lake to a “beach” and then a bit further to an area called the “Tea House”. Most of the terrain is smooth and paved, however, the further you walk the more likely you will encounter some bumps along the road- literally.
A Canada Park Pass is required to visit, as is either a bus fare or a parking fee for your car. There are ample bathrooms at the lake and a few miles from this area awaits cafes and shops for tourists to visit.
The only sour note I have to share is being declined from dining at the Fairmont’s breakfast establishment (the sitdown restaurant vs. the quick grab-and-go cafe.)
The restaurant at the Fairmont at Lake Louise is apparently for guests only unless you hit it at a lull. We tried to have breakfast at the restaurant and were told to come back several hours later. I still am confused why we were turned away from having a quick breakfast at 7:15 a.m. from an empty restaurant. It had always been a dream of mine to eat at sunrise on the shores of Lake Louise. Well, I guess not every dream comes true!
So the lesson is to pack a meal and drinks and enjoy a picnic at one of the most loveliest places to dine – on the banks of Lake Louise!
For those of you who are yearning for a bit more outdoorsy activities – there is a gondola and other activities and attractions near Lake Louise. Also, there are other area lakes that are stunning in beauty and worth a visit. Sadly, these many were “off-season” and closed when we visited.
This past week hubby and I arrived in Banff, Canada to take in the area sights. I had always wanted to visit the Canadian Rockies, including Banff and my namesake body of water- LAKE LOUISE! This blog will focus on the attractions and parks within Banff – including the Sulphur Summit, the Cave and Basin, the downtown region, and the Bow River waterfalls and trails.
Before you venture out – check out the Park Pass requirements for Banff and all parks within Canada.
Downtown Banff has a feel to it similar to Lake Placid, New York or Park City, Utah. It is a small town that caters to the needs of tourists. From their very efficient transportation system (ROAM) to the helpful visitor center. Museums, parks, stores, and lots of restaurants help to create Banff’s amazing vibe. Plus, it is bordered by magnificent mountain ranges. However, the true “secret” to Banff is its wonderfully kind and generous residents.
Below I listed my favorite places that we visited in Banff. While they are in no particular order – I will say that the gondola ride was indeed a huge highlight of our trip!
Bow River Falls
The Bow River Falls can be easily accessed from the downtown main street – Banff Avenue. There are also entrances near some of the hotels on the perimeter of the park. It is a lovely place for a walk and to get acclimated to the elevation of Banff before venturing to even higher elevations – such as at the Sulphur Summit. This attraction is FREE! A little preview video I created is below.
Banff Sulphur Mountain Gondola and
The Banff Sulphur Mountain is home to a spectacular gondola, viewing platform, small educational center, theater, and restaurants. Nextdoor you will find the Sulphur Mountain Hot Springs. Both are worth taking the ROAM #1 bus to visit and spend quality time relaxing, learning about the Banff National Park, and enjoying the vistas!
The Hot Springs was a ton of fun and thankfully not much of that “rotten eggy smell” – common among natural springs. Phew! Instead we found a very pleasant place to relax and meet people from all over the globe! The hot springs has bathing suits and towels for rent along with lockers and showers.
A few things to know about this area: 1) When you go to the Hot Springs bring sandals as it is a communal locker room and is a bit slippery 2) The ticket to the Hot Springs has an add-on option that is worth the few extra dollars – entry to the Cave and Basin (across town). 3) When riding the gondola know that it is steep and if you are afraid of heights you may wish to reconsider. However, I felt totally safe and never scared. It was an exhilarating ride up and down the mountain. If you wish to take the Sulphur Mountain trails know that bear spray is required and for obvious reasons- bears are the owners of the mountain and people are simply guests!
Once atop the summit, you will find paths to go even higher! But, these paths require walking up and down wooden steps and on ground that can be uneven. Thus, not conducive for a person with special mobility needs – such as a wheelchair.
Note: We did not eat at any of the restaurants at the summit. But, people do say that the Sky Bistro is extra special and the buffet at the Northern Lights offers a wide selection of food.
Banff Cave and Basin
The Cave and Basintruly was the biggest surprise of our trip. I was expecting a rather drippy, dark, and damp cave. It was not at all! And we went on a rainy day! Instead, we found a super accessible and inclusive attraction that was very interesting and great for all ages! I want to give a shoutout to the gift shop buyer- the items at their store were very unique and reasonably priced!
To get to the cave take the ROAM #4 bus from the Banff downtown main hub.
Recommendations & Tips
Banff restaurants represent cuisine from around the world. While we sampled many of the local establishments – one made our “we would come back” list!
This eatery is fabulous! And, I must not be the only person who thinks so – because there was a long wait if you didn’t have a reservation. Hubby and I circumvented the line by eating at the bar. Here we met bartender, Derek G. He is a prime example of the nice, kind, and helpful Banff residents! I saw many traditional Greek dishes being served and each looked AMAZING. We opted for the Greek Bowl. It was exceptional and if I had more time in Banff, I would have returned – again and again!
This place was filled with great finds. I scored three wool scarves (new!) for only $5 each. Books, home goods, and much more filled this store located at the end of Banff Avenue (and close to the trail for the Bow Water Falls).
I feel compelled to give a few random travel tips.
The busy season starts in late May/ early June. Plan accordingly as there are only so many buses and hotels in this area.
Check out Lake Louise and other main attractions EARLY in the day – before the hordes of people arrive. We arrived by 7 am and it was very busy by 11 am.
Bring Canadian money if traveling from outside of Canada. There were some places that did not take credit cards or non-Canadian money.
Dress in layers. The weather seemed to change every hour! The morning in late May was quite chilly only to be 40 degrees warmer by lunchtime! Rain was on and off throughout our week in the Alberta province.
If you are flying WESTJET know that the international terminal for this airline is not the same as the national gates. We spent an hour online to check in bags only to find out we were at the wrong part of the airport. A 15-minute walk got us to the right place – but all could have been avoided if there was better signage from the rental car return building.
Visit other places en route to Banff- such as Canmore ( a charming town about 20 minutes away) and of course, Calgary. In this city, you will find the home of the 1988 Olympics. Also, the Calgary Stampede happens every summer in this little city- so plan your trip with care if you don’t want to be in the thick of huge crowds!
I Love Utah! In all honesty I love most of the Southwest of the United States. From the vastness of the Grand Canyon to the small state parks sprinkled throughout the area. But, in all honestly, it is Southern Utah that is one of my “happy places” on this planet. First – it is GORGEOUS. Just when you think you have seen the most amazing formations of rocks you drive around a bend and there is one even more stunning!
If you have only a few days to spend in Southern Utah then I recommend the following as a route that is family-friendly and full of adventure. Please keep in mind to do your due diligence before venturing out as parts of Utah are at a pretty high altitude and some of the trails that I may mention are not for the novice hiker.
Start your adventure in St. George and Ivins
St. George ,Utah is a very charming city just a few miles north of the Arizona border and about 75 minutes from the Las Vegas airport. It has something for everyone! From adorable vintage, antique, and thrift shops to outdoor sports to please nearly everyone. One of my favorite places to stay is actually a wee bit north of St. George at the Red Mountain Resort. This place is not your typical hotel (and adults only)- but rather a resort that insists you relax and unwind. There are just so many spa treatments to indulge yourself in, healthy eating, and a pool and several spas to help you rejuvenate. While it is not cheap- it is worth every penny.
When you are in the area of Ivins- drive over to the Snow Canyon State Park. It will take you less than 10 minutes to get there. The price of entry to the park is $15 per carload. We stopped at nearly every area that had trails of mild to moderate degrees. My favorite is Jenny’s Canyon. Oh gosh, this place was amazing. Hubby really loved the Sand Dunes. And the area known as Lava Flow was very popular – especially with kids hopping the lava rocks. Johnson Canyon also was popular. The walk was not extreme, but pleasant. Sadly, very little of this park is wheelchair accessible. There are some paved areas near Johnson Canyon – but not much more than that. Two areas for restrooms are available and park rangers are in the visitor’s center to assist you.
Fall in Love with Zion National Park (ZNP)
Arizona may have Sedona and the Grand Canyon – but Utah wins the beauty contest in my book with Bryce and Zion. There are trails to hike at both places, but in the snow it is a bit dangerous and necessary equipment is needed for safety. Frankly, I was lucky to have my winter coat during this last trip.
There is something about Zion that makes it indescribable. I have been three times and each time I fall more in love with this park. Maybe because it appears differently each time I visit. This past trip the park was slightly dusted with snow. It was magnificent. I have written about Zion before and you can read more here.
To enter Zion NP you either need to take a shuttle bus from the various spots along the main route leading to the park in the town of Springdale or pay $30 and up to drive through. There is a third option for those who wish to drive through the park and that is to have the America the Beatiful National Park Pass. This pass allows you entry into the 2,000 federally owned recreation sites, such as national parks in Utah! The park opens early – 8 am. Be there when it opens to maximize the grand effect it will have on you with the quiet and stillness of the early morning. The River Walk is for novice hikers and accessible for wheelchairs. There are many more adventurous areas to explore such as Angel’s Landing. (not for the faint of heart or this writer.) A list of the trails, their ratings, and when they are open (some are closed due to weather, etc.) may be on this up-to-date website.
Below is a picture that hubby snapped while we were driving through the twists and turns of Zion.
We stopped to snap this lovely mountainside. Sadly, my shot doesn’t quite capture the grandness of this area.
Make sure to stop at the Visitor’s Center in Zion NP and also if you drive all the way out the east exit – keep going. There are so many wonderful little shops and places to visit within a few miles of the park. PLUS… it is the back route to Bryce Canyon National Park – a “short” 90 or so miles from Zion NP!
BRYCE CANYON – So much to say – so little time!
When you enter Bryce you may think it will be a nice little drive through a wooded area. But, then you are nearly gob-smacked with the awesomeness that surprises you around each and every corner. This is the majesticness of Bryce Canyon National Park!
I prefer visiting this park using a system that my family calls the Disneyland method! Start at the end and work your way to the front of the park. The drive from the entrance gate to the end is about 20 miles. Be sure to stop at the visitors center on your right-hand side right after passing through the gate. The price is pretty much as Zion – so getting that America Beautiful Pass is really worth it! At the center there is a preview movie about the area and a nice walk-through set of exhibits. The gift shop is really filled with practical items – like sunscreen and water bottles.
My favorite area is called the Rainbow Bridge. It is a marvel to look at. Hubby really enjoyed exploring the region call The Apitheater – and it truly does look like one!
While it is possible to cover both Zion and Bryce in a day- I don’t recommend it. You made it this far to visit two of the most beautiful parks in the world – why rush it? Stay a few days and enjoy!
And, meander around the local area as well. There is the town of La Verkin that has the River Rock Roasting Company – a must for those who love to eat! This place has awesome pizzas, quiches, and of course – COFFEE! Springdale also has numerous shops and restaurants for most palates. Hurricane, “known as the gateway to the parks” – is great to stock up on supplies and explore some antique shops.
Need more convincing as to why you should travel to Southern Utah? Well, I just happen to have a few more photos to show you! Enjoy and Happy Travels!
The Big Island of Hawaii is known for volcanos, lush land of the east bordering the desert of the western side. Small towns and villages with coffee that is AMAZING! But, to really enjoy this island one must either experience it in person or take a view through the lens of another.
Below you will find a few different groupings of photos and a video. The first is a slideshow of the Kona area, including the coffee farms and “shacks” that make it extra special.
Next you will see a carousel from the Volcano National Park- yes there are ACTIVE volcanos on the Big Island.
Historical sites are throughout the island, but many are in the upper west and north quadrant. Don’t miss them. Enjoy this carousel feature, too.
Charming is how I would describe Hilo! Small town vibe with excellent beaches, shops, and restaurants. Don’t miss this part of the island or the photos in the last carousel.
The Rainbow Falls are highlighted in a serene video below. All photos and video are property of moi- Louise Sattler and not for duplication or “snatching”. Thanks!
KONA, The Big Island’s home to tourists and coffee!
THE BIG ISLAND – VOLCANO TIME!
Historic Sites (north and west shore)
Small town of Kohala
King Kamemahame in Kohala
The local dish of Loco Loco
Pu‘ukoholā Heiau National Historic Site, Hawaiʻi, Kamuela, United States
Pu‘ukoholā Heiau National Historic Site, Hawaiʻi, Kamuela, United States
Pu‘ukoholā Heiau National Historic Site, Hawaiʻi, Kamuela, United States
Confession. Our recent trip to Paso Robles was the first vacation with our 65 pound dog that entailed staying in a hotel. Our adventure was a four- hour drive along the California coastline to Paso Robles – aka “Wine Country of the central California region”.
First off, Paso Robles is extremely dog friendly. And, thanks to BringFido.com we were able to download a list of attractions, restaurants, and hotels that were open to dog guests. After much consideration (and due to pup size limits at some hotels) – we decided to stay at the La Quinta – located a few minutes from downtown Paso Robles. The room was spacious, lots of areas to walk our dog, and there was NO extra charge for a dog that left the room in the same condition when entered. The people were very friendly and accommodating. Our unit had a kitchen and a large sitting area – so we had plenty of space. Bonus- we backed up to a small petting zoo with cows, sheep, and a few emu that provided endless hours of entertainment for humans and pups, alike!
Of course we didn’t drive all that distance to stay in the hotel. So explore we did!
While there are many restaurants that we visited – these establishments were found to be very dog friendly and we would give them high marks for both food/ wine and flexibility.
Blast and Brew– right in the heart of the Paso Robles main square. The food (salads and pizza) were very tasty. The “pour your own brew” feature was a winner with hubby. Bayla loved the ongoing attention and treats!
The Hearst Ranch Winery – If you take a side trip to the lesser explored areas surrounding Paso Robles I hope you stumble upon the Hearst Ranch Winery. Here you will find delicious wines and cheeses. Dog friendly, quiet, comfortable, and staffed with super kind and knowledgable people. Ranay, our designated staff member, was extremely helpful with educating hubby and I about the area, wines, and history of the ranch. A ” must do” if you are “winery hopping”. Plus, dogs are welcome and spoiled here!
The Backyard at Thirteenth. This is an open air restaurant that does not provide indoor seating. So, come prepared if it is very hot or looks like rain. The food was good as I thoroughly enjoyed my veggie burger with a spicy sauce. The fries were standard. Several dogs were in the area – all leashed – so there was peace in the “backyard”.
Dog Friendly things to do in Paso Robles
Wineries. There are a reported 200 plus wineries and tasting rooms with a short distance of Paso Robles or within the town itself. Pace yourself.Click here for information.
Urban Adventure Quest – A scavenger hunt that takes you around key areas in the downtown area of Paso Robles. Both family and fido friendly. We had a blast. All three of us!
Antique shopping. Depending on the store and if there is an outside shopping area – Dogs are sometimes welcome.
Visiting theMission of San Miguel. We kept our Bayla confined to outside areas only – out of respect and also we believe it is a rule.
Visiting Morro Bay – a must! This place at sunset is simply gorgeous.
Recommended Resource: BringFido.com is invaluable as a resource for where “Fido” is welcome when traveling
Before I ever visited Palm Springs, California I had envisioned it to be stuck in the 1960’s. I had thoughts of old cars with “fins” riding up and down the palm tree-lined streets. I assumed that every home was painted pink or neon green (or both). And, that the sounds of Frank Sinatra or Dean Martin were heard on stereos everywhere you turned.
You know what? I wasn’t that far off with my “visions”. You see Palm Springs is a quirky city. Parts of it are hipster 2022 while much of it seems stuck in the decade of Marilyn Monroe. In fact, the streets are often named after presidents who lived or vacationed in the area or mega-watt celebrities of past eras. And… I love it!
If you decide to visit Palm Springs (or are returning) – here are some tips on how to maximize the fun factor.
We stayed at the Shadow Ridge Resort in the Palm Desert/ Rancho Mirage area, a Marriott property. This is a timeshare resort that offers apartments, when available. You can always trust that a Marriott will be top-notch with quality amenities – like golf, pool, spa, and more. For more information go here.
(Plus, many more suggestions below)
This place is actually 45 minutes or so outside of Palm Springs. Known for being an old movie set converted to part artist colony and part honky tonk village – Pioneertown is sure to please most people. Please note that there is a lot of sand in Pioneertown. This will make mobility carts/ wheelchairs tough to get around. But, you can access the fun and delicious Pappy and Harriet’s restaurant without any problem. This place is reason alone to go to the high desert. Plus, you are very close to Joshua Tree – so consider that a bonus to your visit!
Scenes from Pioneertown
#2 The PALM SPRINGS TRAMWAY!
I absolutely love this tramway! The people are exceptionally nice and knowledgable. (A Shout-Out to a staff member – Gil!) The ten-minute tramway ride takes you to over 8 thousand feet above sea level. There are two restaurants at the top building. Plus, you can see miles and miles from the balconies and the building. The gift shop is really chocked full of fun and interesting items for all ages. And, the tramway is accessible for people who need mobility equipment. On the way down to the base building, our tramway conductor put on music, and collectively the riders sang to Neil Diamond’s, Sweet Caroline!
The Living Desert combines a wonderful eco-friendly zoo with lovely botanical gardens. It is small enough to visit in just a few hours or discover in small bites. We went with friends when it opened because the Palm Springs afternoons can be brutally hot. Easy access and multi-lingual information is available. Great for couples, families, or solo travelers! Visit their website here.
It has been more than four years since I sat with my friend Roxanne Messina Captor at the Yellow Vase in Redondo Beach to discuss a possible extension of her short film – A Couple of White Chicks at the Hairdresser. This older film with the not so politically correct title, told the story of the comings and goings of “frenemies” who routinely met at their upscale hair salon. Loosley based on Roxanne’s own experiences, the film became popular and award nominated. Fans of of principle actor, Harry Shearer loved it. Fast forward a few years to when Roxanne was being urged by her friends to continue the “chicks” storyline. With much consideration and more than a few cups of coffee- the ideas for “The Salon” began to percolate (oh come’on it was too easy to make that pun).
For me, meeting that day with Roxanne was my baptism into how one creates a digital series. This week, I found out that the arc of digital series making also can be a like a rainbow- with a pot of gold at the end. For on April 7th The Salon won the Indie Series Award for Best Ensemble – Comedy.
I have a confession. I didn’t expect us to win. The competition was fierce! In fact, I was so lackadaisical about us winning that a few minutes into the ceremony I took off my shoes. Only minutes before our category was announced by Jason Stuart and Mitch Hara did I think to put back on my shoes. That was a good call.
“And the winner for Best Ensemble – Comedy goes to … The Salon! “, announced Stuart and Hara
I couldn’t believe it! With aching feet, but exhilerated, I joined Roxanne and members of the cast, Kate Linder, Luis Jose Lopez, and Akende Munalula to receive the award on stage. When we hopped on the stage we were met with lots of cheers from the audience. Roxanne began her eloquent speech that touched on how important inclusion was to her for this project. She told the attentive audience about how she used humor juxtapose with pathos in The Salon. She added her admiration to the ensemble cast who she remarked brilliantly brought the characters they played to life. She thanked the cast and crew – who worked for SAG deferment – and gave a shout-out to all who took this journey with her.
What a night! WOW oh WOW!
What next? Well, now we are on to the next chapter for The Salon.
When an award is given as a recognition of the caliber of a project- it is the hopes of the creators that there is a “something next”. In this case, the hopes are that The Salon finds a permanent home on a streaming network in order for a large audience to enjoy it and for the story to continue with a Season 2.
I hope I piqued your curiosity. And before ending this article let me give my own thanks to all who were involved – most of all the visionary – Roxanne Messina Captor.
Here are related links followed by photos from the Indie Series Awards and behind the scenes.
Looking for a get-away vacation? Perhaps a place to rest your weary head when traveling along the coastal highways of California? Look no further than the quaint, culturally rich, proud Danish town of Solvang.
The first time I visited Solvang, a hamlet about 40 miles north of Santa Barbara nestled in the San Inez area of California, was before my college years. The second time I was pushing a baby buggy. So, obviously, it has been a long while and I was overdue. The Solvang I remembered has grown, but still kept the charm I recalled. Ready to be enticed to visit with a Top 5 list of things to do when visiting Solvang? I hope so!
Here are my TOP 5 things to do while visiting Solvang.
Located on a side street, but close to town, is the charming Elverhoj Museum. Partly a historical homage to the city of Solvang and part art gallery, this museum was once was the home of Viggo Brandt-Erichsen and his wife, Martha Mott. Both Viggo and Martha were renowned artisans. Together they built a sensational home/art gallery packed full of photos and art but nailing together boards the “old fashioned way” – one peg at a time. The building is a testimony to the heritage of Danish culture and the history of Solvang. Well worth your time and guess what – it is FREE (but donations are welcome!)
Discovering and Creating Solvang …
When you enter the Elverhoj museum take time to chat with the uber knowledgeable docents, Linda and Kirsten. They relay and weave many that may you feel as if you are being transported in time. After you have completed touring the rooms – be sure to stop in the art gallery. Currently, they have an exhibit titled Fables, Foibles, and Fairy Tales by Susan Read Cronin. These whimsical sculptures just add to the charm of this lovely experience!
The Old Mission of Santa Ynes is a lovely place to go and visit a true California relic. However, due to Covid 19, it would seem that the mission has restricted tour hours. But, the grounds are open and they welcome guests walking about.
The Solvang Visitor Center offers a variety of tours throughout the year. The walking tours are under two hours and stop at a variety of “hot” spots (Most stops are yummy bakeries and candy shops – my kind of tour!).
Along the way, you can spot the Hans Christian Anderson bookstore, see the horse-drawn trolleys, and visit the Water Tower. (Langauge aficionados will want to try to read the various inscriptions on the side of the tower – representing a variety of cultures). Oh, guess what?! Kirsten (from the Elverhoj) and her dad, Dean, were our tour guides!
Wineries and taverns with tastings are throughout this area. From small bistros downtown to the large vineyards that adorn the perimeter of the towns – you will find a wine for nearly every palate. Many establishments serve small bites – while others are minimalistic. Prices vary. Ask around. The local folks have their favorites!
Solvang is known for being a town with top-notch restaurants- including the First and Oak – a restaurant with a Michelin star. And you can’t miss the smell of sweet delights that waft the streets from morning through the day due to the local bakeshops. Yes, the bakeries are filled with creamy this and bready that… all delicious. (Rumor has it that the Danish elves remove all the calories!?!)
Despite the Danish bakeries and great local fare restaurants, our favorite place to eat was Ramen Kotori a noodle shop nestled on a side street. This place knows how to “heat things up” – so be sure to order the Thai Tea, too!
In closing, Solvang is a great place to relax, eat delicious food, and learn about Danish culture. But, most of all – it is about the people. And for that reason alone- we will be back!
Did you know that there is awesomeness in your own backyard? Really! Some of the most interesting places to visit may be within 30 minutes of your home. You don’t need to travel far to have a “mini-vacation” or a “staycation”! And if you are in the Los Angeles area – check out the venues Hubby and I recently have visited- the Descanso Gardens (La Canada) and the South Coast Botanical Gardens (Rolling Hills).
These two places have a rotating set of exhibits. Recently, they offered a walk-through of the parks with holiday/winter-themed exhibits. Of course, we went and I took this as an opportunity to check out the night mode on my iPhone 11 Max camera.
I have learned through much trial and error that some of the best shots can be taken without a flash and/or when the lighting of the moon is “just right”. Here are some of my recent favorites. Enjoy!
GLOBE. GLOBE. globe. globe.
This first photo was taken at Descanso’s Gardens winter exhibit known as ENCHANTED. Nine individual-themed sections of this botanical garden created nine opportunities to explore and dream that you were in faraway lands. I decided with the image belowL that I wanted the tall trees to frame the image in an upside-down V formation. The globes are illuminated as part of the display.
A SciFi Movie Set?
Again taken at Descanso Gardens with purple and blue lights hitting the tall trees. Photographed after sunset and when the garden staff employed a subtle fog machine to create the “smokey” look. How did I get this shot? Well quite frankly – it was simply by luck. I raised my camera phone and took this photo – “blindly”. The result is what some of my friends are calling my “Twilight Zone” / “X-Files” pictures!
A year ago I photographed these trees at the South Coast Botanical Gardens. I virtually stood in the same area but changed the setting on my iPhone. Do you have a favorite?
The Simplicity of Illuminated Trees
Trees that are illuminated with lights can produce some awesome photos. Don’t be afraid to look beyond the trees – you may just spot something spectacular – like a full moon!