A Yoga Retreat 🧘🏻‍♀️, and I am the Caterer👩🏻‍🍳 😬

That’s a scary thought huh?! You might be wondering how this happened, I know I was!

Last January we went Mexico to attend a yoga retreat. I did a few posts on that trip. This was the same location as the previous yoga retreat, which we loved! Our yoga instructor, Lisa Shifler for both of those retreats, recently moved to Twisp, WA, 4 hours east of our home in Redmond. She told us that she was building a “yoga Shalla” on her property and would be holding retreats this summer.

We were all sitting at breakfast, talking about her plans when she said she was looking for someone to do the cooking for two weekends in June, during the women’s only yoga retreats. I blurted out “I will do it!” And she said “great!” 😳

What was I thinking!! After my head stopped spinning, I realized that this would be a great challenge and experience for me. And, with the first one in the books, I can honestly say it was a blast!

I had never been to Twisp before, which is located in the Methow Valley. I have heard great things about the area so I was excited to see the area. It is as advertised!

This is the Methow River, and it is so relaxing and I love the sounds of the water flowing along.

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I drank a lot of coffee sitting next to this beautiful scenery💕

And all the blooms were out. 🌼🌸🌹It is sunny on this side of the mountains, as they get less rain than the Seattle side.

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Lisa’s yoga Shalla was so cute and inviting!

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Lisa decorated with articles from her two trips to India

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And, bought Mexican blankets, a nod to our other retreats .

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But I had a job to do! I made two desserts, both gluten free, dairy free as one of the ladies has Celiacs. Friday night we had a chocolate cake with bruleed bananas. Saturday’s dessert was this angle food cake with triple berry sauce and ice cream (for the dairy folks). Some of you may remember these from instagram, as I have been recipe testing for the last few weeks.

Then I had two brunches to prepare, both had gluten free options as well.

Our first morning we had crustless quiche, one with cream cheese and one without. There was also fruit salad, mango-orange Greek yogurt, gluten free granola, breakfast potatoes (not shown), cranberry & pistachio biscotti and sourdough bread that I had made a few days earlier.

Sunday’s brunch also included the yogurt and granola option, along with a French toast bake, gluten free pancakes and bacon.

Lisa also made some gluten free steel cut oatmeal both days and I never got to taste it! Hopefully I will next time😊.

I am happy and proud to report that no one got sick!! That was my biggest fear, and we all were pleasantly full for the weekend.

The weekend wasn’t all about yoga, we had some creative time. We painted inspirational rocks from the river. I have a couple weeks to think about the next design and am hoping to come up with a better idea for my second rock!

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We also went into the town of Winthrop to do some shopping. I had never been there before, and found it to be a cute town. I have travel blogged about Leavenworth, a nearby town that has a Bavarian theme. Winthrop is fashioned after an old western town.

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This dude was in front of the Putt Putt Golf Course.

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Like most tourist towns, there were plenty of ice cream and coffee shops. I love the mottos and sayings of these two in particular!

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The weekend was a success! The 8 of us had a great time shopping, eating and stretching!

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The Yogis, relaxing and shopping

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Lisa, (left) is our instructor and Teena (right) also teaches in the Seattle area.

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And I am now thinking about what to prepare for the last week in June, when I will head back for the next, and final, retreat. Any suggestions??

 

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Spelunking in Colossal Cave

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Most of you already know that we are a rock climbing family. We tend to spend a lot of time going up, when we are outside. So, when I told them that I wanted to go under the rocks, I was met with “why?” from the kids and “uh, how deep?” from the hubby.

Our kids would never choose to spend their precious down time exploring caves with mom, when they could be hanging off the side of a mountain instead. And hubby, well he is not super excited about the close quarters that are 80 feet below the surface. To be fair, he is not always happy with how far above the earth we take him either, but he is getting better with the heights!

Colossal Cave is located in Vail, which is about an hour south of our home in Tucson. I was not able to get the kids there, but I did managed to talk my husband into it!

There are three tours to choose from, the regular tour which is an hour, the ladder tour that goes for 1 1/2 hours and the wild cave experience that is 3 1/2 tour. Knowing that I was already pushing the boundaries of my marriage, I stuck to the shorter hike that did not require belly crawling through small openings.

It was a cold day, by Arizona standards, when we decided to visit the park. The site is dedicated to preserving the old mining history of the area. We were greeted by a statue and sluice used for separating the sediment from the desired minerals, mostly crystals at this site.

Additionally there is a map. The regular tour centered around the “sink hole” formation on the left. The more advanced tours head into the middle and right sections of the cave, which is still being developed today.

Although the temperature outside was in the high 50Fs that day, the cave is always around 70F, with fairly high humidity. It was quite comfortable! And there was plenty of room to accommodate the entire group. Perfect conditions for my hubby!

The cave is dark and picture taking was not always easy, but I did mange to get a few shots that show a small fraction of the beauty found here.

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There were plenty of stalactite and stalagmite formations to impress us.

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The guide was great! He was funny and provided a wonderful historical perspective as we moved from one cavern to the next. Along the way we were told about the life of the average cave worker, back in those early days.

One of the corridors contained display cases, which contained clothing and tools utilized by the laborers, hard to believe this was the “state of the art” equipment back then.

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Do you see the “head lamp” above? This cloth cap was attached to an open flame that was used for light and visibility,  in the dark cave. Imagine walking around, in pitch black, with a 6 inch open, blue flame emanating from your forehead. That is a cloth hat!! And, all the rope and clothing were cotton, yikes.

 

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There were no power tools, and no explosives were used to excavate the cave. Just hand tools and muscle.

Two of my favorite features are depicted below.

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This column formed when a stalagmite and stalactite fused together.

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This is a picture of “cave ice”. Remember, its 70F or more in the cave all year long. So, this ice is really a unique structure that forms from a particular combination of minerals, which came into contact with slowly dripping water for an extended period of time (like eons). It is white due to the crystal structure and it is slippery, much like the surrounding limestone found in all the rock climbing areas! I know this from trying to climb in the nearby Cochise Stronghold Area. It is hard to climb a bar of soap🤨!

My hubby was happy that the tour was ending and we went for a short hike, out in the wide open spaces.

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He is definitely happier out here! You can see the stone structure behind him, which is the cave entrance and visitor center.

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So I finally got my cave adventure😊 I will be going back in late April for one of the more extensive tours, and can’t wait to see the other areas of the cave. I will be doing that one solo as hubby has said “NO!” but that’s ok. I totally understand 💕

Yoga Retreat, One More Time

Last January I let my hubby talk me into attending a yoga retreat. He is a big yogi and his instructor told him about a retreat she was holding just north of Manzanillo. I was skeptical. I don’t love Mexican food, we had been to Mexico many times and it was always way too hot for me and I only do yoga when I can’t rock climb or run. So, how much fun could I possibly have?

The answer: So Much!!

Our goal last year was to meet fun people and do some yoga. We greatly exceeded those expectations, so much so that we signed up to go again this year. We even hosted a reunion last summer at our house. My blog posts from last time Good Morning from Manzanillo!, Exploring Bara de NavidadHappy Hour,Snorkeling and Lunch in Santiago Bay! and Our Yoga Retreat Wrap Up! are full of pictures and images that we were privy to this time around as well. So, for this year’s post, I tried to focus more on what was different.

Bill and Susan, our hosts, were once again, fabulous! They made most of our meals and they both are great cooks! Additionally, they would take us to places that no other tourists go-we had day trips to Colima and Comala and they chose restaurants that the locals frequent. They are a big reason why we chose to repeat this experience. Of course Lisa, our yoga teacher, was another big draw to the event! Once again we met wonderful people and had even more adventures. We did repeat the snorkeling trip but otherwise the experience was unique.

We began each day with meditation at the nearby beach then morning yoga, at Bill and Susan’s home. Look at these views!

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The infinity pool at the lower house

 

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View from the lower house

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Another angle from the lower house

We did all our yoga at the upper house, under the palapa. You can see the pool at the upper house as well

We had morning and evening yoga sessions. This year Lisa challenged us with partner yoga poses. She would give us a pose and then we had to interpret that pose in a creative way. For example, Dennis and I did a “moon pose” on the beach.

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And, Janet and Annie did this interpretation of the fish pose, in the pool

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So these were more creative poses than the traditional forms. It was fun to see what everyone would come up with for their assignment.

In between all the yoga were the adventures. Snorkeling, hiking, museum visits and lots of shopping.

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And the food! Oh my god, did we eat!! If Bill and Susan weren’t cooking then we were at some amazing restaurants! I have a few images, many of which were on Instagram, of some of the cuisine we were fortunate to enjoy.

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Breakfast was wonderful! Bill’s granola and yogurt, with local fruit was a fan favorite. And with this sunrise, hard to beat!

 

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Bill and Susan always served dessert-This is a Poncho Villa. Amazing!

 

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Lunch in Colima, these crepes could have been from Paris

 

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Bill and Susan selected this restaurant near Colima. So glad they did!

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Many of you know about my coffee “issues”, This Sunday brunch spot, Los Portales de Suchitlan, was a true highlight. A young girl served as our translator as this was a local place, no tourists around!

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And then this…A Swiss restaurant (?) in Comala, Mexico! Piccolo Suizo was spectacular!

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You can see why we are trying to eat lighter after coming back to Tucson! We ate constantly on this retreat, and it was worth it! So good 🙂

We had another wonderful experience this year, just like last time. One of the tasks I undertook was to organize a slide show for the final night, I was the only one who brought a computer (what a nerd, right?). I took the partner poses and some fun images of our experience to attempt to capture the feel of the week. It is short, only 2.5 minutes and our yogi buddies wanted to see it again. I thought I would post it here for anyone who wants to see a few more images.

 

So what is next for Dennis and I? We need to spend some time on the homes for now, no trips planned right now, but you never know!

Road Trip, First Stop: Eugene, Oregon

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We are heading back to Tucson for a month of sun and our next half marathon. This time we are driving down with a very full car. Our goal is to bring a few things, ok a lot of things, from our house in Washington and we want to have our own car while we are in Arizona.

You might be wondering why we stopped in Oregon on the first leg of the drive, since Eugene is only about 5 hours from Redmond, Washington. This is a legitimate question as we have 20 more hours to go! We stayed overnight in Eugene because my husband has a presentation at the local office this morning.

We have never been to Eugene before. We have spent a lot of time in Portland over the years. Our daughter was a competitive gymnast and son was a competitive rock climber, so they both had many meets or competitions all around Oregon. Eugene is beautiful! Perhaps it is just the fact that our hotel is along the Willamette River, or that fall leaves make every place pretty. Either way, we are impressed!

After 5 hours in the car we were eager to stretch our legs. We started out for walk along the river path.

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It was a sunny day here, which makes everything better!

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I just love this bridge with the clouds behind it

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All of Oregon is biking and walking friendly. This is just one of many pathways used by numerous pedestrians 

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Near this bridge is McMenamins Restaurant. We had never heard of this chain before, but they are all over the Oregon area, there is even near us in Bothell, Washington which we will have to visit when we get back. This chain also includes hotels, breweries, and wineries as well as the restaurants. Ours was specifically McMenamins North Bank Restaurant. We weren’t sure what to expect but what a pleasant surprise!

It was set right on the shore of the Willamette River, with an incredible view! It must be truly stunning in the summer!

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We made it in time for happy hour, of course 🙂 So, I started with a blueberry infused vodka cocktail and the hubby went with a craft beer of some sort (mine was so tasty I forgot what he had!)

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We were starving, so I went with the goat cheese, pesto and sun dried tomato torta. This came with four perfectly toasted crostini and balsamic vinegar- I loved this!

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My entree was the salmon topped with coffee-bacon jam! Unique and delicious!

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By now we were getting quite full so I chose to drink my dessert! I had this seasonal pumpkin infused cocktail. It was like a pumpkin milkshake. Just amazing!

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We ended the evening strolling back along the river to our hotel. I took one last shot of the sunset. There were quite a few clouds, but it was pretty nonetheless!

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Today we have 10 hours in the car to Fresno California-wish us luck!

 

Hiking, Sailing and Drinking our way through Kauai

This was our first trip to Kauai. We have been lucky enough to visit Maui many times when our kids were young. Hawaii in general is a great spot to take young kids with the beaches, the ocean, swimming pools… its just so casual and fun for the whole family. This time it was just the two of us and we decided to do some serious exploring.

Of course we were treated to some of the Hawaiian Island iconic images right away!

What is with the feral chicken population? They are pretty aggressive pan handlers!

 

We first arrived just in time to check out the sunset and plan our first hike for the following day.

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We got a fairly early start, thanks to the three hour time difference, and drove an hour to Waimea and Kokee State Park where the trail head for the Canyon Trail begins. This hike is not too strenuous (~3miles round trip) and ends at the Waipoo falls. The canyon itself if quite impressive! The colors are vibrant and there was some serious depth to the canyon.

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A scenic overlook before the hike 

 

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I just love the color of this volcanic, red clay

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Waipoo falls marks the end and turn around point of this hike.

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It took us an hour and half to hike down and 45 minutes to make our way back up! Not too bad. We made our way back to the Sheraton Resort, where we stayed for the 5 night vacation, cleaned up and headed out to the Beach House Restaurant for a very  nice dinner!

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The Beach House version of a Mai Tai

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My hubby loves his Manhattans!

 

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After the drinks and appetizer we enjoyed a delicious dinner! Of course we were also treated to a glorious Hawaiian sunset!

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The next morning we relaxed by the beach for awhile.

 

We had a sunset dinner cruise scheduled for the evening so we set out for Blue Dolphin Charters to meet our boat. This was a 4 hour cruise that took us past the north shore area of  Na Pali coast.

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We had beautiful weather (to start with anyway!)

 

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The colors were impressive to say the least! Notice those clouds moving in!

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The prehistoric look of the rock was stunning, there is no question as to why so many movies are filmed here. Of course there was a sunset!

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Despite the light rain, and the not so light seasickness experienced by some on the cruise, it was another great day in paradise!

The next day was the big test! We planned to hike the Kalalau trail to Hanakapi’ai Falls. This was going to be an all day affair to remember!!

We drove an hour and half north to Kee beach to pick up the trail head.

This hike was going to take the majority of the day. 8 miles round trip! The first 2 miles would lead us to a Hanakapi’ai beach. This portion of the hike was not too bad and we were rewarded with this view!

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the view from the beach back toward the hills

There were quite a few folks at this point, and many stayed here to play in the surf, have lunch and then return to the trail head. We decided to push on the next two miles to the waterfall. These next 2 miles were tougher, steeper and slippery from the periodic rainfall. It was slow going, but the scenery was spectacular. My favorite portion of this trail was the bamboo forest.

 

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After a couple tough hours we were rewarded with this! Hanakāpīʻai falls is ~300 feet long, and worth the hike!

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There were people everywhere, even though it looks like we were alone in my pictures. Many were swimming in the water and playing in the falls. It looked so refreshing but we did not want to hike back the 4 miles with wet feet. We stayed a little while, but knowing how difficult the terrain was, we started back soon after seeing the falls. We definitely wanted to get back to the car before dark or, more likely, before the afternoon showers!

We were really wiped out after that hike! Our feet, legs, knees, ankles…you get the idea! All we had the energy for was dinner! We got back, cleaned up and went to Keoki’s Paradise for dinner and more drinks! I really liked this spot, and the live music helped relax us after a really busy day.

 

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This brings us to the final day, where we just wanted to stroll along the beach and take in the beautiful sites one last time.

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We spent time at the ocean, by the pool and lounging around in a cabana, hiding from the heat.

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We truly loved Kauai and recommend all the restaurants and hikes in this post. We will be back!

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Critters of Kauai

This is a Roda inspired post, to be sure! I was trying to keep up with her, but who can? She is so disciplined and takes such great shots of everything! We have been in Kauai for 5 days and here are a few of the local “cuties” we have come across.

Anyone who has been to one of the Hawaiian Islands knows about the chickens! They are everywhere. Parking lots, the sides of the road, squashed in the road….you get the idea. This was one the scenes at the rental car lot near the airport. There were actually around 30 chickens roaming around.

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And then we ran into them again at the parking lot near one of our hikes. They come in packs begging for food. Of course we didn’t have anything that we thought they would want to eat but my husband threw down a small piece of banana just to see what would happen. They were all over it!

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There are baby chicks everywhere as well since there are plenty of roosters to make sure the hens are occupied!

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We stayed at the Sheraton Resort which, like most Hawaiian resorts, has plenty of ponds filled with fish. Some of these get quite large and attract cranes. This is a shot from our balcony which was on the fourth floor, so it is a bit blurry, sorry!

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Here is the crane from a closer distance.

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Tourists can’t help but feed the fish and this very smart crane stakes out the area. While the fish are in a feeding frenzy, and not paying attention, it swoops in and has a sushi lunch!

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Other honorable mentions that are ubiquitous in the Islands are… the cute lizards all over the property.

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And, the small birds hoping around when anyone is eating in the area. This little fellow is  waiting for my hubby to drop his raspberry scone.

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We did see dolphins on our sunset dinner cruise but I never got a clean photo of one of those, too fast for me!

That’s all the fauna we saw, of course there was significantly more on the flora count, and I hope to incorporate those shots in future posts. Aloha for now!