Chairman Bao is a Shih Tzu. We travel a lot. I drive. He watches. We've logged at least 10,000 miles and he's never once said, Sweetheart, don't you think you should stop and ask someone?

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Checking Out a Sedona Art Gallery

Bao likes art galleries, especially the ones like this where they hang the paintings low and stack them against the walls where he can see them. As far as I can tell, he's partial to landscapes.
We got as far as the Hillside Shops, but they're doing massive road work in Sedona and as there is only one road into town, closing most of it created a five-mile-long traffic jam.
After an hour (in which we progressed less than a mile) we gave up and stopped for lunch. Gotta have lunch! Also, a Margarita. The traffic was still bad, a motionless snake of cars full of hot, frustrated, would-be shoppers. Why were they doing this on a Saturday?
From our vantage point on the hill, we watched as one motorist after another gave up, made a U-turn and headed back.
And after we checked out the hillside galleries, so did we.
Traffic notwithstanding, the red rock country is magnificent. And look at all the money we saved!

Friday, July 25, 2008

A Gondola Ride on the Grand Canal

This was amazing. This was incredible. Honest to God, it was just like Venice -- the building facades, the skyline, the canal, everything except the smell and the gangs of gypsy children.
We spent the day at the Venetian and adjacent Pallazzo hotels, both of which are totally enclosed environments the size of an inner-Sydney suburb. Or bigger. There's a massive San Marcos Square (without the pigeons) and an entry area which recreates the Sistine Chapel. And shops, and a great restaurant called Canelleto where we had artichokes stuffed with crabmeat for lunch.
I've travelled the world but I have to say I've never seen anything like this, and neither has Bao.
What an amazing place!

Venice In Las Vagas

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Not Hot to Trot

Las Vegas is just too much for Bao. Too much noise, too many flashing lights, too many people. And too hot!
The last time I was here was 45 years ago, when I got married and thus made the first of the three biggest mistakes of my life. Happily, the place has changed beyond recognition.
Hotels as big as airports. Life-size recreations of everything from Trevi Fountain to Luxor. It's Disneyland for grownups, the wonders of the world as a theme park, with slot machines instead of rides.
King Arthur's Court next to New York and across the street from Paris and Hawaii. Amazing, really.
If only it wasn't so hot!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Bakersfield Was Bao's Kind of Place

Nothing to do. Nothing to see. A longish drive from Carmel to Bakersfield in an air-conditioned car to a quiet, air- conditioned room. Definitely, Bao's kind of day.
I always try to discover something interesting about the places I visit, but Bakersfield defeated me. Points of interest included two convention centers, a pizza place and something called Vallitix that nobody at the front desk had ever heard of. And it was hot. Seriously hot.
Bakersfield is where you break the trip between Carmel and Las Vegas. End of story.
The best we could do for dinner was carry-out from the adjacent IHOP. Bao loved it.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Monterey Movie Tour

Okay, so this is what I'd look like if I gained 100 pounds. Would Bao still love me?
We're doing the Monterey Movie Tour, seeing all the places where they filmed the scenes while watching film clips. It's windy and overcast, and my clothes are billowing. Honest!
Did you know that National Velvet was filmed on the Pebble Beach Golf Course? And that the kiss in From Here to Eternity took place in Monterey, not Oahu?

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Bubbly Fish at Carmel

Would you believe a 3-course, doggie gourmet dining experience? Yes, there's a special Dog Lunch. First course is Gazpoocho: Bao lapped it up. Then, Meatloaf. He scoffed that, too. He finished off with a dog biscuit.
They do a great lunch for people, too. Pate tastings. Cavier tastings. Wine in 2 oz. Servings, so you can try several varieties.
As you can see, a good time was had by all!
I once saw a Carte du Chien in Paris, but this is an American first for us. And guess what? Bao's lunch was free.
Bubbly Fish, in Carmel. Definitely a keeper -- unlike Carmel Walks, which is a shocking rip-off and to be avoided. But don't get me started!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Amazing Downtown Petaluma

True confessions, after the disappointing Sheraton Petaluma, we weren't expecting much. But I thought, We'll never stay here again, so we might as well have a look.
Wow! But that's the thing about travel, you just never know. Wonderful antique stores, impressive art galleries (bought a painting -- in Petluma!) restaurants and a little River Walk. (Well, it's just a little river)
Lunch was coconut shrimp with mango and papaya salsa -- even Bao was impressed.
We highly recommend Grafitti Restaurant and downtown Petauma. Visit by all means, but avoid the local Sheraton.
On to Carmel.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

So here's what happened -- by Bao

We were doing our morning walk outside the Sheraton Petaluma. She was planning the email she was going to send the Manager, because they said we weren't "Preferred Customers" and couldn't use the Sheraton Club. I was doing what dogs do.
Suddenly, her feet got tangled in a loop of rusty wire and she fell. Her chin hit the concrete border, hard. She just lay there. I was so scared. There was blood everywhere. She called, Help! And I barked. But there was nobody around. Finally we made it back to the lobby. They called an ambulance and we went to the Emergency Room. It was just like going to the vet, except it was her who got the needles. She needed stitches. I watched. It was interesting.
Afterwards, they said we could use the Sheraton Club, to make up for the inconvience.
I think she should sue them. I mean, she sprained her knee, too. She's limping. But it hasn't stopped her. We did four wineries, yesterday. Here I am, resting. I'm just a little dog, and four wineries is a lot.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Bored with Bordeaux

More wine? Oh, God. Does the woman never stop?
Bao notwithstanding, Domaine Carneros is definitely a keeper. They do a range of Pinot Noirs that is to die for -- and they present them in a sit-down restaurant ambience, partnered with little plates of cheese, smoked fish or caviar. (The caviar was $72 and I'm sure it was superb, but I had the smoked salmon. Which was excellent.)
It has finally cooled off. And we got upraded to Preferred Guest status at the Sonoma Sheraron. Bloodily. Yep, I mean bodily fluids. Read all about it tomorrow.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Wending our way through the wineries

A stretch limousine with an open champagne bar and eight congenial fellow tourists is a fabulous way to tour the Napa Valley.
Bao liked the soft leather seats, and the air conditioning. He has also figured out what we're all doing in the wineries and demands his share -- he licks a few drops off my finger! He seems partial to reds.
We visited 5 wineries, which is a lot if you're serious about wine, which I am. This was only possible because someone else was driving.
That's the only downside -- the main road is one lane each way, the tourists are searching uncertainly for a particular winery and the locals are impatient and unforgiving. They need a better people-moving system!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Chew your wine!

That's right, chew it. Take a sip and hold it there in your mouth and chew on it for a few seconds. Why? To let it wash over all the taste buds on top of your tongue and in the front of your mouth. If you just gulp it down it goes straight to the taste buds at the back of your mouth, and tastes "bitter" -- which may be why some people don't like wine.
We're at Turnbull Wineries, where they make the affordable big reds I love. Bao likes to lick wine off my fingers.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Please tell me we're not going out again!

Palm Springs is hot. Not "hot" as in trendy, but hot as in hot. Hotter than Tuscon. Hot as hell.
It's so hot that they have an emergency veternary service for dogs who burn the pads of their feet while walking on the pavements. Local shops sell sets of leather doggie booties.
Thank goodness for the pram -- and air conditioning!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Waiting for the Monsoon

First of all, it is not a monsoon. They just call it a monsoon. It's a Tucson thing. The monsoon is thunderstorms.
That having been said, waiting for it -- or them -- is a drag. It's too hot to go outside. Everyone with sense has gone away, already. Even the rattlesnakes take cover at noon. I've got cabin fever. Bao's got cabin fever.
Talk to me, somebody!