Friday, July 20, 2018

World class musicians open doors for young players at Tippet Rise

Elliana Broscious, eight, had never touched a cello, but was making a pleasant sound by the end of an impromptu lesson. 


Violinist Krista Bennion Feeney played "Somewhere Over the Rainbow"
after showing aspiring violinists a few points at Tippet Rise this week.

TIME SPENT with a brilliant musician can be life-altering for a child with a song in her heart.
Such is the case at the Tippet Rise Art Center family concerts, when world class musicians take children under wing to teach instrument basics and encourage curious kids to study music.
New York cellist Myron Lutzke, shows young students how
to properly hold the bow at an "Instrument Petting Zoo." 
We took my great-niece, Elliana Broscious, and her brother Connor to a recent concert at this inspiring multi-million-dollar venue near Fishtail, Montana. In blending art and music with nature, Tippet Rise is gaining an international reputation for originality, excellence, beauty and daring.
Elliana, 8, hadn't decided on her instrument of choice yet.  Her older brother, Connor, 13, is studying both piano and trumpet.
So on a lovely sunlit Sunday, we strolled from the Center's cafe to the Tiara acoustic shell to see if Elliana might choose her instrument at the "instrument petting zoo." Enter, the cello!
Add caption Stewart Rose of New York City Opera Orchestra and St. Luke's
Chamber Ensemble, both in New York, took time to encourage youngsters.
THE FREE FAMILY concerts are designed to showcase Tippet Rise guest artists in an informal venue. Musicians work with children,  sharing their love of their instruments, telling anecdotes, performing short pieces to hold the attention of young, fertile, fast-moving minds.
ELLIANA FIRST spent a half hour with amiable cellist Myron Lutzke, who joined other players from New York's renowned St. Luke's Chamber Ensemble.
  Pianist Pedja Muzijevic, violinist Krista Bennion Feeny, French hornist
Stewart Rose and cellist Myron Lutzke share stories and music tips for families
Lutzke, a soft-spoken middle-aged man who adores his 18th Century instrument, showed Elli and other aspiring musicians how to hold their pint-size cellos.  Gently, he  instructed them on positioning their hands on bow and strings. "Not too far up," he urged.  "Keep the bow near the bridge for the best sound -- to avoid a scratchy tone."  As he worked with the children, they listened and improved, learning how to make sounds more vibrant, stationing the bow near the bridge, moving the bow "down" and "up."
"Look how quickly Elliana is picking it up," beamed Lutzke. "She has potential." When told the day could be life-altering for her, he smiled, "That's the goal."
Elliana's mother, Aurora Pierson-Cosgriffe, said the experience "ignited a joy in Elliana for the cello. I see an eagerness to learn. It fueled her passion for music."
Professional players instructed youngsters on proper
positioning of hands, and how to hold the bow.
MEANWHILE, Pedja Muzijevic, pianist with St. Luke's, encouraged children to try their luck on the keyboard, while violinist Krista Bennion Feeney played a playful "Twinkle
Twinkle Little Star" to enraptured ears, and Stewart Rose instructed youngsters on holding the French horn in place, pursing the lips and making a sound. He later played cuttings from famous movie themes -- "Star Wars" and "Indiana Jones" -- to illustrate to the sold-out house how music delights us and permeates our lives.
AFTER THE "Zoo" closed, acclaimed pianist Muzijevic and colleagues kept the action lively, performing excerpts from Bach, Scarlatti and Brahms. The sold-out concert included a nod to  movies, when Feeney played "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," by Harold Arlen and Yip Harburg,
Vintage photo of the writer
(Christene "Cookie" Meyers)
playing saxophone, age 9,
framed by her beloved piano.
beloved song from "The Wizard of Oz."
 My own musical exposure began as a 15-month old when I was assisted up onto a piano seat to plunk a tune. Music surrounded me. Both my classically trained mother and her mother played beautiful piano. Daddy played trumpet, and piano on black keys by ear, like Irving Berlin. While I learned classical music, my exposure included other genres: ragtime, jazz, show tunes, folk and gospel. I segued from piano to organ, saxophone, clarinet, flute, guitar and violin. My sister Peny, played several instruments, too, including piano, viola and trombone. Other siblings studied; ours was a house of music.
THE MUSICAL PETTING Zoo at Tippet Rise is part of an extraordinary artistic endeavor on a working ranch near Fishtail, in Stillwater County. Tippet Rise Art Center is in its third season of concerts by world-renowned musicians. Tours of its sculptures are available. The center is open through Sept. 8, on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Tickets are available for the next family concert, Aug. 15. Reservations are required to visit. More at
Friday jazz at the Handlery's 950 Lounge is always a packed house.

  UP NEXT:  On another musical note, the Handlery Hotel in San Diego is home to a wonderful tradition:  Friday night jazz. We take you inside this family run hotel, which offers delightful free Friday concerts with some of Southern California's finest jazz musicians.  Comfy seats, intimate concert space and great prices on happy hour drinks and appetizers await.  Remember to explore, learn and live and catch us Fridays when we post for each weekend, a novel look at travel, art, adventure, nature and family.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Shakespeare in the Parks offers the Bard's best on five-state grand tour

The ladies take revenge on their fickle paramours as the action heats up in "Love's Labour's Lost," playing in repertory
with "Othello," as Shakespeare in the Parks continues its 61 stops in a five-state region. 


Back stage, on the lawn of Fishtail Family Park, actors make quick changes.


FOR NEARLY a half century of summers, Montana's Shakespeare in the Parks has been bringing quality professional theater to thousands of people in rural areas of the Rocky Mountains.
In city parks, on football fields, pastures and school yards, the beloved troupe presents a remarkable six dozen shows during its summer season.
 Jordan Pettis plays Don Adriano de Armado, a fantastical
Spaniard. The actor's character keeps the action exciting. 
What makes the undertaking noteworthy is that in a single day, the company transforms an empty space into a believable theatrical stage -- complete with balcony, set and costumes. The feat is remarkable when one considers it is done day after day with little time off.
On their way to "maturity," the high-stepping quartet of young men cavort.
 WHEN I FIRST INTERVIEWED the founder of Montana's Shakespeare in the Parks, Joel Jahnke said the touring troupe's mission was to serve rural areas and people who might not normally be able to afford or have access to quality theater. My first of many interviews with Jahnke was in 1973, the year the company organized on a bare bones budget. The energetic longtime faculty member at Montana State University retired a few years ago, but his influence and goals are still felt and perpetuated in the company's 46th season.
This year, the ensemble is producing 76 performances in 61 communities across Montana, northern Wyoming, eastern Idaho, western North Dakota and eastern Washington. Theater lovers of all ages in five states enjoy polished productions of "Othello" and "Love's Labour's Lost" in a variety of venues ranging from fairgounds and parking lots to memorial pavilions, barns, amphitheaters and the occasional nursing home.
THE COMPANY features
Before the Fishtail show this week, workers began assembling the stage,
and by mid- afternoon, townsfolk began arriving with their chairs.
ten professional actors, selected by national auditions, and 25 more talents in the production company -- sound and lighting designers, carpenters, costumers, prop master, set designer, directors, choreographer and more. The range of towns is primarily rural, but includes the troupe's hometown, Bozeman, and Billings, another college town.  The company hails from a range of U.S. states -- Kentucky, New York, Michigan,California, Tennessee, Texas and beyond. They gather at MSU and the season kicks off in mid-June in the MSU Grove, then tours through Labor Day. The run ends on home turf: Livingston, Bozeman, Belgrade and Manhattan.
Christene "Cookie" Meyers, who has written about
Shakespeare in the Parks for decades, tips a pre-show glass.
WE TOOK IN a delightful "Love's Labour's Lost" this week at Fishtail Family Park, where several hundred people enjoyed the spirited story of  a quartet of gentlemen who try in vain to swear off the favors of the fair sex.
 The men evolve as they struggle to reach maturity -- delighting the crowd with the Bard's oft-used themes of mistaken identity, disguises, and "good for the goose, good for the gander" theatrics. Modern music enhances.
By the tour's end, more than 35,000 people will have been treated to the pair of plays. By tradition, the company chooses two works each season to illustrate the broad range of the playwright's genius.
Standing ovation this week in Fishtail, for a bravura performance.

Backers and donors keep the performances free, another unusual feature. Civic groups and arts organizations sponsor -- our Fishtail show was presented by Absaroka Fine Arts.
DONATIONS are welcome and the website shows you where to catch the next show. The company's outreach extends beyond Shakespeare in the Parks to a school program and other fund-raisers and presentations.
The troupe is in Silvergate, Big Timber, Powell, Cody and Worland Wyoming, Roundup and Townsend this week.

Hands on coaching comes to aspiring cellist Elliana Broscious,
from New York based cellist Myron Lutzke at Tippet Rise Art Center.
UP NEXT:   Tippet Rise Art Center near Fishtail, Montana, imports world class musicians to entertain in a summer concert season.  The creative enterprise also introduces youngsters to the music with a novel "Instrument Petting Zoo."  We take you there, with our great niece, Elliana, who had her first cello lesson from a noted New York cellist. Remember to explore, learn and live and catch us Fridays when we post for each weekend, a novel look at travel, art, adventure, nature and family.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Spectacular Yellowstone Park delights foreign guests in high season

And they're off! British guests John and Sue Speight, left and second from right, visited Christene "Cookie" Meyers, Bruce
Keller and Nick and Nora recently, for a week of travel through south-central Montana and into Yellowstone National Park.
Thumbs up to Yellowstone Lake and the historic Lake Hotel from our
English visitors, John and Sue Speight, of Yorkshire, with Bruce Keller.
They enjoyed our "off the beaten path" tour of our corner of Montana.



YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK is best shared with friends -- and most pleasantly, with chums from another country.
We showed off the nation's oldest national park recently to our friends, John and Sue Speight, an adventuresome English couple we met a few years ago on a Southeast Asia cruise.
Stellar view from Lake Hotel, the park's oldest accommodation.
A few years ago, we hit it off at our table on Celebrity's Millennium, traveling together to Thailand, Singapore, Hong Kong and Vietnam. We share a love of travel, nature and the outdoors -- they own a farm and bed and breakfast in Yorkshire and we spend part of the year in the rural Northern Rockies. We all love to read and enjoy music.
So when we discovered Yellowstone was on their bucket list, we offered ourselves as tour guides, and they accepted with pleasure.  Next year, we'll visit them in Yorkshire and they'll show us the sights of this lively, lovely and historic part of the United Kingdom.
Up the Sioux Charley trail near Nye, Montana, a prelude to several days
in Yellowstone National Park.  Here John and Sue Speight and Christene.
THE TWO flew from their home to Denver and spent two days driving through Colorado and Wyoming to our Montana place not far from Red Lodge.  We knew they would be tired before tackling the park, so we began our week together with short jaunts to Red Lodge, Roscoe and a hike up the Stillwater Gorge towards Lake Sioux Charley.
They were amazed at the vastness of the American West.  They're accustomed to driving through a country or two in a day on the Continent, and can be at their vacation home in southern Spain in hours -- from door to door.
Sue and John Speight joined tourists estimated to reach near 4 million this
year, in their visit to Yellowstone National Park, here at the Lower Falls.
SO TAKING into account the expanse of Yellowstone -- and our limited time together -- we decided to tailor a tour to their desires and interests.
They'd never seen a wolf or bear outside of the Discovery Channel, and we knew we hadn't much of a chance of spotting either critter on the parks busy summer roads. So we decided to take them to the wonderful Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center in West Yellowstone.  
Stop and smell the roses -- and taste the cappuccino, here
at the charming Piccola Cucina in Red Lodge.
WE'D WRITTEN about this delightful place before, where birds and animals that cannot be returned to the wilderness are cared for.  Exhibits, films and demonstrations delighted our friends and the four of us spent a lovely afternoon there after a fun lunch at Bullwinkle's.  That was most of one of three full YP days, which included driving from our Lake Hotel base to places  which we knew would be less crowded. The area around Norris fascinated them with its geysers, hot pots and well designed boardwalk.  
Bison in the fields and on the roads were a highlight
for our guests from Yorkshire, England.
BECAUSE WE KNOW what high summer season means in terms of crowds,lines and slow-moving traffic, we asked them to prioritize. "You're in charge," said Sue. "You know your park and the highlights -- and we appreciate avoiding crowds as much as possible."
We studied Yellowstone's main road, the Grand Loop, and decided we could not tackle the entire loop -- even in the three days we had with them. Our "scenic tour" actually began before the park, because we'd driven into Yellowstone via Bozeman, Big Sky and the beautiful Gallatin Canyon, on US Highway 191.  We'd also spent two days exploring the Red Lodge, Roscoe and Stillwater areas, so our guests already had an introduction to the wonders of Montana's back roads. We decided to skip the places we knew would be crowded. That included the most visited attraction of the park, Old Faithful, the Old Faithful Inn and the pools on the walking paths. Fine with our fellow crowd-avoiders.  
A visit to Lake Hotel is a must, even if you're not staying there.
The beautiful lobby features live music and the restaurant is tops.
OUR BRITS enjoyed what we chose instead -- the hot pots, petrified sequoia and a colorful exit through Mammoth and Gardiner where they posed by Teddy Roosevelt's arch. We also nixed the Grand Canyon's Artist Point view of the Lower Falls, the most traditional stopping off point.  Because it was backed up with cars and campers, and Uncle Tom's was under construction, we took our guests instead to Lookout Point, a stunning vista of the falls, closer to Canyon Village with an active osprey nest. They also enjoyed a hike into Fountain Pots near day's end, when the crowds thinned. And they saw geysers at Norris Junction, without the crushing Old Faithful crowds. Early morning and late afternoon are the best times to see the wonders and we also saw bison aplenty.
WE AVERAGED 35 or 40 miles an hour in our guests' car, taking our time, stopping as bison meandered across the roads and into the fields to graze. A few times we were at a standstill.
It's 142 miles around Yellowstone's main loop, which doesn't sound like much, but with stops and starts, it can be at least five to seven hours. Most people split it into at least two days.
You may not see a grizzly bear in Yellowstone, but you can enjoy friendly
service and fine Montana fare at the Grizzly Bar in Roscoe.
Our best advice for delivering a thumbs-up tour for guests -- foreign or domestic -- is to give them something unusual.  If they want to avoid crowds, as our Brit pals did, and wish to soak up a few spectacular parts of your area, take them to favorite local places. Once in the park, there are plenty of mud pots, geysers and pools aside from the most famous ones. 
OUR GUESTS were thrilled that they did get to see a grizzly -- up close. We took them to a delightful dinner at the friendly Grizzly Bar in Roscoe. Complete with tasty, grass-fed Montana burgers.

Four gentlemen decide to give up women and other "distractions" in
"Love's Labour's Lost" -- here on stage at Fishtail Family Park.
UP NEXT: Montana's beloved Shakespeare in the Parks has been delighting people in five states for 46 years.  We take you on the road with the troupe, presenting two of the Bard's classic works in 61 venues with nearly 80 performances.  We enjoyed "Love's Labour's Lost" this week at the Fishtail Family Park. We'll let you know how to catch the company for "Love's Labour's Lost" and "Othello."  Meanwhile, remember to explore, learn and live and catch us Fridays when we post each week, a fresh twist on the arts, travel, nature, family and more.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Gay Men's Chorus delights with concerts, projects, community spirit

The San Diego Gay Men's Chorus is known for three energetic sell-out concerts a year and dedicated community service.
Artistic director RC Haus gives a spirited introduction
to the numbers and puts the audience in a good mood.


A wide range of ages, professions and backgrounds
composes one of the country's most successful gay choruses.

and courtesy SDGMC staff
The Balboa Theatre in downtown San Diego hosts the San Diego Gay Men's Chorus shows.

BACK IN THE  darkness of the 1980s, when the AIDS crisis was at its peak, the San Diego Gay Men's Chorus formed.
The intent was to help break down prejudice, lessen discrimination and give gay men with singing talent a place to bond and be proud.
The result is one of the nation's most successful and oldest running gay men's choral groups, known not only for rousing concerts but for community service.
SEVERAL TIMES a year, the group shows off the talents of 200 singers, dancers and musicians.  Another 100 supporters -- both men and women, all volunteers -- work behind the scene with props, publicity, costumes,  technical production and more.
NEXT  SHOW is "ABBA's Greatest Hits," Saturday and Sunday, July 28 and 29, with  Saturday's show at 8 p.m. and a Sunday matinee at 3 p.m., both in the beloved and historic Balboa Theatre in downtown San Diego. Auditions are held three times a year and rehearsals for the ABBA show began in April, after a few weeks off from the wildly successful holiday sell-out production.
IF YOU ARE a closet tenor, baritone, bass, dancer or behind-the-scenes theater buff, SDGMC welcomes you. Both admiring audiences and members are on a natural high after the show applause subsides.  Our last SDGMC concert featured an instant standing ovation for a fast-paced salute to the movies.
Image may contain: 1 person, smiling
SDGMC president Bob Lehman's enthusiasm is contagious, members say.
He is a booster not only of the group's music but many volunteer efforts.
The wide-ranging group branches out from the Balboa, too.  It performed "Carmina Burana" with the La Jolla Symphony and has sung with youth chorales and for sports events, including singing the National Anthem before Padres baseball games at  Petco Park. Members also contribute financially -- $75 per show is asked. But if someone can't pay, that's okay, says Lehman, "We never turn anyone away for financial reasons. We're all a  proud part of the community." The community showed its gratitude, as the Greater San Diego Business Association named SDGMC "non-profit of the year."
Image may contain: 21 people, people smiling, people standing and outdoor
President Bob Lehman is proud of the sell-out musical productions
and the group's community service, here for a neighborhood watch rally.
The San Diego Gay Men's Chorus and a lively pit orchestra earn standing ovations at every sell-out show.
ONE OF group's worthy achievements is its community outreach program. The Chorus raises money and volunteers time to a wide range of non-profits. Pet projects help LGBT youth, a Mother Adolescent Child Program for youth living with HIV/AIDS, Stepping Stone San Diego, San Diego High School and Southwestern College. For tickets or to participate:

Friday, June 22, 2018

King Tut's Tomb: California Science Center celebrates 100th anniversary of the discovery

The treasures of Tutankhamen's Tomb include the gold inner mummy case, on loan from the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.
Trumpets of gold would have announced Tut's arrival to state events.


Bruce Keller at California Science Center in Los Angeles
which hosts the extensive 
King Tut treasures tour. Ten
cities will enjoy the stunning exhibit leading up to the
 100-year anniversary in 2022 of the tomb's discovery. 

Beautiful lighting and high-tech enhancements bring to life
the world of a wealthy civilization of 3,000 years ago. 


KING TUT is surely the world's most celebrated young ruler. He was unremarkable in life, and died young -- probably clubbed in the head by a jealous member of the court. In death, the ill-fated pharaoh has become world famous. Why?  Because the contents of Tut's exquisite tomb include a staggering array of jewelry, furniture, his elaborately cloaked mummy, gorgeous stone sarcophagus and other magnificent antiques of incalculable value.
Cookie and Keller at the Pyramids of Giza. Scarcely a single pyramid
escaped plunder but several lucky elements kept Tut's tomb intact.
TO CELEBRATE the upcoming 100-year anniversary of the 1922 discovery of King Tutankhamun’s tomb, the California Science Center presents the world premiere of "KingTut: Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh." We spent a fascinating afternoon, admiring with thousands of other Egypt history lovers 150 authentic artifacts from King Tut’s astonishing tomb. We'd seen some of the treasures in Seattle in 1977, when Steve Martin's "Saturday Night Live" Tut sketch was a hit. Later, we saw others of the artifacts at Cairo's Egyptian Museum. Now, it is thrilling to view the show here --  with 60 items on their first journey outside of Egypt.
THE DRAMA of the discovery by Lord Carnavon and Howard Carter is enhanced
After the exhibition: a happy
Cookie reflects at dinner.
One of King Tut's chairs was among treasures in his tomb,
perhaps to offer him a comfortable place to sit in the afterlife.
The show explains how each item assisted the king in death.
by a dazzling, high-tech multimedia show taking us on an immersive journey of the culture's quest for immortality. We were up close with exquisite rings found on the pharaoh's fingers, opulent jewelry adorning his slender body, and gold sandals placed on his small feet when he was finally buried, nine months after his death. It took that long to prepare the body of the now 3,300-year-old ruler for his immortal journey.
Besides offering insights into what was likely the wealthiest society on Earth, the fascinating show explains how Tut's mummy has revealed data about his health and lineage. Cutting-edge technology has even discovered new tombs.

WHAT INTRIGUES most is that in a day of rampant grave-robbing, Tut's tomb was undisturbed. Again, why? How did it escape the cemetery ghouls who made their living climbing the pyramids and Nile cliffs to plunder.
"KV62" is the standard Egyptological designation for the tomb of the young pharaoh in the Valley of the Kings.  Remarkably, architects of Ramses VI's tomb ordered workmen to throw their waste limestone chips down the slope where the earlier Tut was buried.  That, and Tut's small place in Egyptian history, kept the tomb covered for 3,000 years.
THE SHOW debuted in L.A. in March and spends 10 months in the U.S. before moving on to Europe and nine more cities, culminating in the centenary year of discovery, 2022.
The blockbuster tour ends at its new home, the Grand Egyptian Museum, now under construction near the Pyramids of Giza.
Get tour tickets and parking on line:

UP NEXT: Among San Diego's vast array of wonders is the San Diego Gay Men's Chorus.
San Diego's Gay Men's Chorus celebrates 33 seasons
with a salute to the songs of ABBA coming soon.

It is one of the country's oldest and most
successful gay choruses, founded in the days
of the AIDS crisis as a place to offer solace,
fun and a safe haven from the disease and
the stigma. The lively and welcoming group
presents three shows a year, always sell-outs.
We two fans preview the upcoming salute to the songs of ABBA and the group's proud heritage. Remember to explore, learn and live and catch us each Friday for travel, art, nature and more.

Friday, June 15, 2018

'Hotel Del' greets the present with old-fashioned, genteel welcome

The Hotel del Coronado is a landmark in southern California, known around the globe. It was built in 1888.

ON APPROACH, the stately Hotel Del Coronado looks like a setting for "Masterpiece Theatre." It has that lofty look of an important location. Built in 1888 -- the largest wooden structure of its day --
Tourists pause to take a few photos of "the Del" and enjoy the view.
it is know affectionately as "the Del" by legions of fans and return guests around the world. The hotel has history, mystery and a VIP guest list to accentuate its elegance.
A proud landmark of San Diego, the hotel's history is inextricably linked to that of Coronado, referred to as "the island," by natives, but actually connected to mainland California.
When built, the hotel drew attention for its opulence and size.  Designed as a Victorian seaside resort, it was large, impressive, grand.
Marilyn Monroe on the beach at the del
in 1957, filming "Some Like It Hot." 
PLAYGROUND of the rich and famous, the Del has hosted crews and stars for the making of several movies.  The most famous is the 1958 comedy "Some Like It Hot," the Billy Wilder classic.  It starred Marilyn Monroe as the sultry but innocent member of an all-girl touring band. Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon masquerade as women to escape the mob and -- suspend disbelief here -- the girls buy that they are female.
The setting is supposed to be Florida, but this southern California landmark stood in.
The Del's opulence includes ornate chandeliers.[
The Del's beauty and allure remain, a century plus.
Frank Baum loved the Hotel Del, here relaxing
with his family on the grounds.
JFK and daughter Caroline checking in.
At left below, the traditional winter ice rink.
Since its opening, "The Del" has been the place to stay for  diplomats, actors, wealthy tourists, military brass. Frank Sinatra joined its centennial celebration in 1988. Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, Ernest Hemingway and Burt Lancaster bunked there. In recent years, Ellen DeGeneres, Jack Nicholson and Oprah Winfrey checked in. Guests range from JFK and Ronald Reagan to royalty, inventors and rock stars.
Liberace is said to have been discovered playing piano in the lounge. Frank Baum, author of "The Wizard of Oz," spent months at the hotel, writing and reading to children. He designed the chandeliers still in the Crown Room, basing them on the crown worn by his "Oz" lion.   The Del's most infamous guest is Kate Morgan, who registered under an alias on Thanksgiving in 1892, staying a few days.  She killed herself on the steps near the ocean.  Was she ill?  Heartbroken over an ill-fated romance? Her third-floor room is often requested. People claim to see ghosts and apparitions there and in the gift shop and stairs.

PRICES HAVE gone up since the hotel opened, charging $2.50 for a room, meals included. The hotel cost only $1 million to build with various types of wood, using wooden pegs rather than nails. Today, a room can run upwards from $363 to a plush grand suite for over $1,000.
The property was part of a land grant, originally gifted to a  Mexican family who sold it for thousands. The Blackstone Group  sold its 63 per cent stake in the hotel for $210 million a few years ago.  If you've a yen to get hitched at the Del, and invite 100 friends, figure to spend between $32,000 and $45,000 -- that's for ceremony and reception.
On the National Historic Register since 1977, the Del has become "the talk of the western world" as its founders envisioned.  Elisha Babcock Jr. and Hampton L. Story dreamed that the hotel would become famous. So it has.

Michael Lewis Cusimano and Caitie Grady shine in "Once" at Lamb's
Players. Others in the stand-out cast include Manny Fernandes as Billy.
BEST BET: "Once," at Lambs Players Theater, is a terrific rendition of the popular movie. An unlikely couple finds romance through their mutual love of music. Set in an Irish pub, the always lively Lamb's Theatre company puts its all into creating a believable musical world where destiny may not mean being together forever. Wonderful ensemble work, spirited choreography, fine music and engaging characters make a wonderful theater experience.

The King Tut exhibition at California Science Center in Los Angeles
is a delightful and fascinating trip back in time -- 3,300 years ago.
UP NEXT: A wonderful show of artifacts found in the chamber of King Tut's tomb -- including the mummy of Tut himself -- is at California Science Center in Los Angeles. The marvels of the discovery are shared on the 100th anniversary of the discovery of the tomb in Egypt. Of 150 artifacts, 60 have never been outside Egypt. We take you there -- on a journey into a wealthy, flourishing society of 3,300 years ago. Remember to explore, learn and live and check out whereiscookie each Friday when we post a fresh new look at travel, the arts, nature, family and whatever else strikes our fancy.