Huntington Library, Art, and Gardens by da-AL

da-AL at The Huntington, sitting on a bench in rose garden

What better way is there to celebrate a special occasion than with an all-day excursion of gorgeous weather, strolling an array of gardens that span rainforest to desert and Japanese to Australian to more, seeing the worlds’s stinkiest (and amusingly phallic) plant, eating international fare, admiring fine art museums, and ending it all with a high tea?

My honey and I spent our special day at The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens (a collections-based educational and research institution) located in San Marino, California. Tap photos for captions…

da-AL and her honey having high tea at The Huntington

What’s your favorite way to celebrate a special day?

Enchanting Espelette, France, by da-AL

After a weekend of beautiful Barcelona, we drove towards French Basque country. We lunched in wonderful Huesca and overnighted in pretty Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port.

The sun shone and we were back on the road. What better way to relax than to stop in the enchanting Basque town of Espelette?

We sipped hot chocolate at a sidewalk cafe…

We shopped for edible gifts from a kindly shopkeeper, including the special not-too-hot red pepper power the city is known for…

da-AL and her honey shopping in Espelette, France

And we strolled, admiring the town’s typically red-accented white buildings…

Everything, everyone, the weather — it was all so charming, that I could easily have stayed for a nap…

…but we had more places to visit! We were headed further into phenomenal French Basque Country (Saint-Jean-de-Luz, Bayonne, and Biarritz).

Then, back in Spain (after all, my upcoming novel is titled “Flamenco & the Sitting Cat”), we’d marvel at the food and seaside dogs of San Sebastián, Spain and breathtaking Bilbao

Portland, Oregon: Wonderful in Unexpected Ways by da-AL

Do all Portland lambs hike with their people?
Do all Portland lambs hike with their people?

Over a recent long holiday weekend, I visited Portland, Oregon for my first time. The weather was warm, with blue skies and no rain in sight.

Book lovers rejoice! It’s home to Powell’s Books, where book goodness spreads over four generous floors!

Powells Books, Portland, Oregon
4 floors of book goodness

Mouthwatering food abounds! Cafes, bakeries, restaurants, chocolatiers, and even their many food trucks (aka food carts) here are delicious and gourmet.

Sheep taking a hike with its peopleWhere else could one see a lamb hiking with its people and dogs to a waterfall?

Lan Su Chinese Garden, Portland, Oregon
Lan Su Chinese Garden, Portland, Oregon

Portland’s Lan Su Chinese Garden features authentic architecture, landscaping, Koi at Lan Su Gardenkoi, and a fine tea house …

Tea at Lan Su Garden, Portland, Oregon

Jetboat excursions begin at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, speed under Willamette River’s many bridges,

Willamette River, Portland, Oregon
Willamette River, Portland, Oregon

and turn around at —- waterfalls (who knew?)

waterfalls in Portland, Oregon

Their International Rose Test Garden goes on and on with sweet smelling colorful flowers …

da-AL enjoying Portland's Rose Test Garden
Wishing I smelled like a rose at Portland’s Rose Test Garden

Please tell us — do your sheep enjoy hiking?