Category: Recommended

A Driving Vacation to Red Rock Canyon, Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon and Sedona

If you ever want to feel small while delving in to nature –   drive to the many outrageously big canyons that grace our national parks. Including the Red Rock Canyon National Park  in Nevada. There is where Hubby and I started a week long vacation to visit the Red Rocks of Nevada followed by many places, including the Grand Canyon and Sedona, in Arizona.  

And, because I am often best telling a story through a lens versus the printed word, I offer you many a photo.

DAY 1

The excitement of the trip began days before we even packed when I was diagnosed with bronchitis and tonsillitis.  Should we go? Should we stay home? Well, I hate to be told I CAN’T do something, so we packed and went anyway.  By the time we hit the Nevada border I was glad I had stopped at my doctors for much needed prescriptions, including an inhaler. That little medication literally saved me later on in the journey. 

When you drive in to Nevada from California it is hard to not notice the billboards for Vegas hot spots  and note the lack of announcements for much of anything else. Yet after we found some quick bites to eat we  wandered in to the Red Rock Canyon National Park.  WOW! A mere 30 minute drive from downtown Las Vegas, it is a delightful place to spend an afternoon.

Tip #1 - When traveling with a cold be sure to bring all your "must have" sniffle supplies! Purchasing them on the road can be a hassle and also expensive!

 After I had seen about as many red rocks as I could handle, we ventured in to Las Vegas and parked for the night at the Westgate Resort and Casino.   This well appointed room was found on TripAdvisor who then connected me with one of their recommended third party sources. Easy as pie! Plus, I made some ‘dough” on both the cost of the room and  thanks to a quick trip to  the Quick Hits slot machine at this location. 

Bonus: A Youtube video to explain Quick Hits 

 

DAY 2

I never heard of Williams, Arizona before. But, it seemed like a place to stop given two factors, 1) The signs for Route 66 2) There was a Dairy Queen located in the town.  Now neither of those may be compelling reasons for you to want to stop. But, for me – it was worth it as Dairy Queen’s are not common in our part of California.  And, I am a sucker for any store with Route 66 tchatchkes. I loved meeting the local people,  many who gave us tips about visiting the Grand Canyon and Sedona.  

Tip #2: Sometimes the best photo is found off the highway.

Day 3

The majestic Grand Canyon!  Despite my feeling like a ton of red rocks were resting on my chest – I managed to still enjoy the mighty Grand Canyon.  (But, warning… it is up high! Like 7 thousand feet above  sea level. )  All the photos uploaded on this blog were snapped on my iPhone 8 plus.  They are unfiltered and uploaded as is. 

Tip #3: And, sometimes the best photo is found in the quiet of a canyon. But, remember to pack water to stay hydrated as you hike, snap photos and enjoy the vistas all around you.

Bright Angels - Grand Canyon
Mohave Point at sunset
Tip #4 - Spend at least two days or more in Sedona, Arizona. There is way too much to see and enjoy in a single day

DAYS 4 & 5

Sedona is like no place I have ever seen.  We entered this hamlet from a road that was recommended to us by a new “friend” from Williams.  He said to take this longer trek  to truly enjoy the scenery and be wooed by the mountains.  By the time we hit our hotel – The Bell Rock Inn – I was in love with this area. The rocks formations are like no other ones I had seen on this trip.  They seemed to be humongous towers from a movie set standing tall among the village. They were a backdrop to the town, the residences, the parks and schools. These mountains aptly called by appearance – The Cathedral, The Bell Rock,  Snoopy, etc. – were to this part of the southwest like the Pacific Ocean is to Southern California – the grande dame! 

When you visit Sedona be sure to go to the visitor center. There are several and each one is chocked full of great information.  Sedona itself is known for its’ artist colony, healers and diversity. Among the maps and tourist info I even found guides   for LGBTQ travelers and residents.

Sidenote: I always am curious as to the housing market in areas we visit. Compared to Southern California, most are cheaper than we are used to seeing. But, Sedona does present itself with a wide array of price points for housing, much of it pricey and some more affordable.  I can see why many retire to this state. Although I may need a lot more convincing knowing the heat index is well over 90 degrees much of the year.  

The food is also a mixture of Tex-Mex and “eclectic coffee house”.  Don’t expect to see a Starbucks on every corner – they are few and far between. But, do wander in to the several local coffee establishments that will gladly serve you a very fine espresso or latte. 

Without further adieu, I present you the sights of enchanting Sedona, Arizona…

Thanks for taking this journey with me. Oh, and in case you are wondering.. I am feeling much better! 🙂 

Pebbles in the Pond (Review)

51Hit3GCYyL._AC_UL320_SR214,320_Are you stuck? Looking for the magic pill or words that will help you overcome a failed relationship, deal with unexpected changes in employment or cope with a loss of a loved one?

Are you looking for a way to find some meaning and purpose as to why your life might be topsy – turvy? Why yesterday made sense, but today it does not? Everyone at one time or another experiences a tidal wave of self – doubt, grief or apprehension.

Confession: The week I felt stuck. 

Yet, despite feeling a bit “stuck” in situations that I thought I had no control, I found solace and hope in a series of books written by Christine Kloser and featuring a consortium of excellent contributors. I had started reading them earlier this year, but really delved in to them this week.  Pebbles in the Pond (2014), shows that behind every life changing event there is a purpose.  It also demonstrated that beyond a shadow of doubt that the human spirit is resilient beyond measure.

Each chapter talks about situation that serves as a catalyst. Something that prompted the author to change or shift their thinking. While many of the stories resonated with me there were a few that I believe stood out the most.

One story, Transforming My Aging Script, by Sharon Matthias, talked about the personal passages one faces when turning 65.  How life seems to shift mentally when you are deemed “too old” to be employable.  Everywhere you look there are people or organizations that  tell you that “65 or older” you should take this pill for this ailment or it is time for retirement. Yet, this author convinced me that 65 is not to be feared but simply an age where you re-invent yourself – again. Thanks, Sharon!

What would you do if you were faced with a life and death situation? One author , Carin Rockind, discussed just that as she wrote  From “Perfect” to Purpose,  how she  changed her life course when she became face to face with a predator holding a gun to her head. She eloquently described how her biggest fear moments earlier was her bad choice in blind dates. Now as she bargained with God for her life, she realized that if she survived this personal assault that her priorities would need to change.  Heck of a way to find out what path you should be on – but Rockind did survive and now leads a life that gives her a more purpose, grace and meaning.

Then there is the poignant story by Tiffany Kane, who I know personally from our association with  the Beach Cities Breakfast Club.  I have heard Tiffany speak before, but wow, I was unprepared for her deep sole searching following a series of tragedies that was eloquently written in the chapter simply titled, “Inner Power Parenting”.  Tiffany describes how one can find the tools you need to grieve and turn a life that seems “stuck” into a productive one.  I admire Tiffany for her candor and willingness to help others who are “only parenting”.  Tiffany is also the founder of Widows with Kids, an organization well worth checking out. Please do.

I could write much more about the golden “nuggets” of wisdom throughout Pebbles in the Pond. Instead, I will invite you to read them and enjoy them on your own time.

Also recommended: Cultivating Joy and Choosing Happiness, featuring chapters by Tiffany Kane, as well. All books are available on AMAZON.

Note: I received nothing more than the books for this review. The books will be donated to a local Los Angeles library.

 

 

 

Aside

Today I spent the morning at the LA GADGET EXPO in downtown Los Angeles.  I was expecting an exposition chocked full of entrepreneurs showing their newest creations and devices.  The reality was more an intimate gathering of students with cool ideas and small businesses showing their unique gadgets.

While smaller than expected, the LA GADGET EXPO  did offer a few very impressive companies that I felt was worth mentioning for consideration for the upcoming holiday season.

 

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ALLOCACOC –  POWER CUBE  @Allocacoc 

Let’s start with my FAVORITE of all the gadgets at this show.  FINALLY, someone has solved the problem of the power strip that is cumbersome.  Meet ALLOCACOC – an award winning idea that is a  multi- prong power cube!  Offers USB, international and US standard plugs. I LOVED IT! Simple and sleek.  The cubes can be singular or connect to stack! The enables people, like myself, who have a ton of technology in their office much needed versatility and helps to solve the  problem of “Is there another outlet?”

I can envision these at airports, restaurants and hotels! Not to mention when social media correspondents gather for events!

Price point is VERY reasonable at $12.95 for the basic cube.


 Muku Labs Camera Shutter  @MukuLabs  

IMG_0081Muku Labs made a very nice camera shutter that is used with iOS and Android devices.  A standard bluetooth mechanism, it is perfect for taking group or selfie photos without having to hold on to a phone.  Must say that the streamlined look, feel and ease of use is much preferred over others I have tried.

Retail: $39.99  Link to purchase



DOTT – SMART DOG TAG  @DottSmartDog

DOTT- Smart Dog Tag is an VERY intriguing device that is well worth a look. Imagine letting FIDO off leash at a dog park.  This multi-function dog tag has dual purposes. First it  helps signal the dog, through a small dog tag worn on your dog’s collar, to return back to you. Secondly,  the technology allows owners to locate a dog that has wandered off. As a bonus, the tag is paired with an app that offers ancillary services, such as community alerts to find a missing animal.

From their website is this excellent description:

DOTT provides with you digital tracking of latest technology. DOTT tag sets up a virtual leash, connects your pet to your mobile phone. If it wanders off, DOTT will let you know immediately. And, our social GPS network actively tells you the last seen location and help locate it continuously.

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I couldn’t help but think that this technology would also be good to interface with other community based apps such as BOP  or  ROVER.com.

Dog rescues and veterinary services should give DOTT some consideration.  Price point is a very easy $30 online


MY OPEN ROAD  @MyOpenRoad

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Two companies offered  eco friendly ideas. The first is My Open Road – an app for both IOS and Adroid that allows users to document how they are reducing their  carbon imprint on the world by  taking alternate forms of transportation – such as walking, riding a bike or carpooling. I love to see companies that are eco- friendly and even their t-shirts were made with eco-sustainable products.  They also had a coveted spot at the expo and were a joy to speak with!

Their motto:  Tiny Changes- Big Rewards is very clever.


URB-E – ELECTRIC BIKE that FOLDS UP!  @URBErides

URB-E is a very clever eco-friendly bike – motor scooter.  I can imagine this being a huge hit on college campuses, for urban dwellers and even those who want to explore large cities but not on foot.  Their price point was far more than others at this fair, starting at $1699.

URB- E gets my personal kudos for having the best online marketing, however!

They have a decent social media presence for a start-up but excelled over others with the most CLEVER holiday campaign!   Check out their video for the 21 days of URB- E Christmas (and if you enter their contest you may win one of their bikes!)

 


 

I should also mention a few other gadgets that caught my attention. Sound Brake was an interesting device to help alert headphone users of environmental noises, such as a doorbell ringing.  Here is my periscope interview  with the founder.  And, MOTI app is a healthy – lifestyle application for iOS and Android to help people register their level of exercise, healthy habits (such as water consumption), etc.

Final thoughts: I really enjoyed speaking to these creative minds who invented fun and functional products.  However a word of wisdom to those who are vendors/ displayers at booths that are seeking investors, distributors or publicity – have a PR KIT FOR YOUR PRODUCT!  Only a handful of the gadgets had any information about their product. Some had postcards with their websites. Others had only business cards.  A PR kit for press, etc. with information, easy to find social media “411” and if possible a sample would be FABULOUS!

Do you have a gadget that you can recommend or created? Feel free to add your information in the comment section below!

 

Disclaimer:  No renumeration was received for any of these products.  These are reviews based on observation and interviews.

 

 

 

 

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