Friday, November 30, 2018

Torrey Pines: perfect retreat with spectacular trees, ocean view

The magnificent Torrey Pine stands bent and endangered, but still glorious in Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve. 
Torrey Pines Reserve is a much loved part of the state.
The "Coaster" hugs the shore below one of the bluffs.
Below, another option for sport above the Pacific.




THE SPECTACULAR trees called Torrey Pines are located in a wild stretch of land in southern California appropriately named Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve.
Surfing is popular Torrey Pines
where the waves can be perfect.

Tourists and locals alike enjoy the sunsets at Torrey Pines.
It's become one of my favorite haunts, and I make almost daily visits with Nick and Nora, my aging but still sprightly Yorkshire terriers. We spend an hour or so each morning after I dance at Jazzercise in a nearby venue in DelMar. Then we have a snack and walk on this beautiful reserve located within San Diego city limits, yet a vast, wild stretch of land.
SETTLED centuries ago by the Kumeyaay people, this acreage achieved natural reserve status because of its importance in the plant and animal world.  It contains threatened plants, animals, habitats, and unique geological formations. Mostly, it is home to the rare and endangered Torrey Pine. So it is a protected area,  targeted for conservation.

Because of the efforts and foresight of the people here, this beautiful 1,500 acres of land is maintained much as it was before San Diego was developed — including the maritime chaparral, the rare Torrey pine tree, miles of unspoiled beaches, and a lagoon that is vital to migrating seabirds.
Cookie, Nick and Nora enjoy the coast line near home.
The world's largest Torrey Pine was
planted in 1888 and resides in
Carpinteria, California.

ONE CAN imagine what California must have looked like to the early settlers, or to the Spanish explorers, or even to the first California. No pine trees then -- but native chaparral and brush.
  All the trails here are all well maintained and I see hikers enjoying it daily.  A team of dedicated volunteers offers free guided tours at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. The tour guides give a brief, interesting history of the area and toss in some geology and biology lessons.
My native San Diegan partner loves the pines and has told me that they are unique to the area and not found anywhere else in the world. It’s also rumored that Dr Seuss (Theodore Geisel, San Diego resident for many years) frequented the area and found it an inspiration for the drawings in his books.
After a day at the beach, these two enjoy the sunset.
THE TORREY Pine exists in another place in the state: Carpinteria.  The largest one in the world was brought from Santa Rosa Island in 1888.  Landowner Judge Thomas Ward planted it on his lawn, and when he passed, his widow, Florence, took meticulous care of it, watering and maintaining it every day. Once she realized how much bigger it was getting than the others in the area, she proposed making it an official landmark and eventually the tree received state protection. In 1968 the tree became Carpinteria's first official landmark and celebrated its centennial in 1988.

UP NEXT: The internationally known Oregon Shakespeare Festival recently ended an ambitious, near sell-out 2018
 season and plans are drawn for the spectacular  2019 season. It's been chosen and it is world class, following the tradition established by OSF's enterprising and determined 
founder Angus Bowmer in 1935.  What makes Ashland, Oregon, so special? Take a look at the town with us, and plan your 2019 visit.  The next season opens in March and extends through late October.

(photo at right, Cookie and Keller outside the
Allen Elizabethan Theatre, Ashland, Oregon.)

Friday, November 23, 2018

Thanksgiving transplant tale: joyfully marking 18th month post-miracle

Keller and Cookie
10 days post-transplant
at SeaWorld's media day.

New Yorker Dr. Jonathan Fisher was chief surgeon for the transplantation for Bruce Keller, right. The Columbia University trained physician said all went extraordinarily well.  Keller did not need the customary ventilator to leave OR for the ICU.


This daunting hike near Malaga was 
accomplished with joy by Keller & Cookie.
Editor's Note: By request, as we mark the 18th month post-transplant, we offer an update on photographer Bruce Keller's remarkable recovery from liver transplantation in May of 2017. Scripps Green Hospital physicians, nurses and transplant team helped us through a trying time.  We are grateful and celebrate this Thanksgiving with new appreciation.

Leaving Scripps a record
three days after transplantation.
Dr. Randolph Schaffer who assisted with the transplant
conferred with Keller along with the other liver specialists.

TWO YEARS AGO, we were in Europe, moving up the transplant list for major surgery at Scripps Green Hospital in La Jolla, Calif.
We knew it would be our last big international foray for a while. As we dealt Transplant's first few days
with Keller's liver disease and need for transplantation, we continued our arts driven life on the road.
The couple has made several international
 trips  since the transplant. Good news.

PLAYS, CONCERTS,  sailing, museums, weekend trips and close-by "staycations" were a balm as we waited for a donor.  We couldn't be more than two hours from the hospital, in case we
got "the call."  So this big trip to our beloved southern Spain was important.
Torrey Pines Reserve near Scripps became a regular
hiking ritual for the Yorkies and the recovering couple.
IT WAS a fabulous trip -- we have never had a bad one in our nearly 11 years together.  And less than five months after our return, we did get "the call." It was nearly 10 p.m. Friday, in Adjusting to transplant challenges
May of 2017. (Lucky Friday the 13th, and we'd just enjoyed dinner and the beach on our Friday date night.)   Surgery was performed at 4 a.m. May 14 by a brilliant team led by highly regarded specialists in transplantation.
The award-winning Scripps Green Hospital in La Jolla, Calif.
DR. CHRISTOPHER MARSH is head of the
Nick and Nora and Montana are part of the healing process.
team and his highly ranked associates take turns being on call for transplantation.  Chief surgeon for our early-morning transplant was Dr. Jonathan Fisher, a New Yorker from Columbia Medical School. When he met me shortly before 11 
 a.m.  that next morning, he told me everything had gone smoothly.
THE GOOD luck continued the next couple days.  Keller moved quickly from ICU to the regular wing of the hospital and on the third day, got his walking papers.  This shocked me because the literature had indicated nine or ten days in hospital would not be unusual.  Adjusting to transplant takes time 
Keller was back in the water 
to pursue his beloved scuba diving.
Five days would mean he was recovering with speed. A support group helped me through those first trying weeks and in less than two months we got the green light from our primary hepatologist to travel out-of-state. That late June trip included our niece's wedding on the Oregon coast and a dozen plays at Oregon Shakespeare Festival.
Keller and his chief hepatologist,
head of Scripps liver transplantation
team, Dr. Catherine Frenette.
We even stopped at a casino for a couple nights to give me a gambling fix. (Non-smoking room for Keller and a little blackjack.)     
There are scans every three months, and the daily doses of anti-rejection drugs.  The blood work must happen every two weeks.  But we are able to travel, dance, sail, resume our life of theater, work and live music.
we both have life, and we live it fully.

Proud sentinel of the southern California coastline is the stately Torey pine.
UP NEXT:  The revered Torrey pine, whose name comes from its botanical reference, is a stately but endangered part of the southern California coastline.  Find out about its history and precarious future, and how it has graced some of our favorite times during our treasured outings near San Diego. Meanwhile, remember to explore, learn and live, and catch us Fridays for a novel look at travel, the arts, nature, family, pets and general fun.  

Friday, November 16, 2018

Hitting the highlights of European cities is a delight off-season

Here in late November, Paris streets are not jam-packed as in the summer.  Here, the boulevard by Notre Dame Cathedral is sparsely occupied with plenty of breathing room. Farther south in
Malaga, Lisbon and other cities in Spain, Portugal and France, weather is a bit warmer.  


Boulevards are less crowded off-season, as this pretty street
in Toulon, France, attests.  Air is crisp, you can set your pace.

Planning an off-season trip
is a great idea and can be
a time and money-saver.
TUNE IN, TURN on to off-season travel.
If you don't mind wearing a sweater and preparing for the occasional chill, you'll find better prices and far fewer tourists to contend with if you travel off season.
Restaurants are less crowded,
and your calamari arrives hot!
The cache and glamour of famous cities is still there, but particularly in southern Europe, you'll still enjoy sun and pleasant temperatures.
SOUTHERN EUROPE in particular has much to offer off-season-- and we're hitting some of our favorite spots off-season this year, including Malaga, Madrid, Rome, Venice and Barcelona.
Now's the time we love southern Europe -- when the crowds are gone and the natives are reclaiming their sunny, leisurely autumn.
In travel-industry jargon, the year is divided into three seasons: peak season (roughly mid-June through August), shoulder season (April through mid-June and September through October), and off-season (November through March).
Cookie and Keller have made
a 10-year tradition of late-
autumn travel in Europe. 
Tuscany off-season can be warm and lovely.
Malaga is famously sunny off-season, too. 
Much of Europe's southern cities have history dating before  1,000 BC when the Romans were exploring and building their famous aqueducts and theaters.  Archeological research reveals evidence of human life in the Neolithic and the Iron age.  So there's plenty to see -- and having the leisure and space that off-season provides is a bonus.
We've also had wonderful trips to Iceland and Scandinavia in autumn -- with only a jacket necessary, not heavy boots and snow gear.
Lisbon is sunny much of the year, here in early
December with a rainbow.
Vineyards and
 meadows bask
in sunshine,
here October

Keller and Cookie have made a decade-long tradition of
traveling to southern Europe in late autumn, here Tarragona.

time touring Cannes, perhaps the loveliest and most pricy city on the French Riviera. But we love southern Spain as much -- Malaga is a delight. Portugal is pretty off season.  It's friendly, less expensive and equally beautiful. Many cities offer hotels for as much as half-less than in high season.
And you'll have better options for air and cruises. We always recommend a half-day city tour to orient yourself, and those are lovely in autumn and early spring, when the bus lines aren't long and the vehicles aren't jam-packed.
No lines for souvenirs and artwork
if you travel off season.
This Roman theatre in southern Spain, near
Barcelona, is open and uncrowded in November. 
The lovely streets and winding alleys are all yours off season.  We visited a 12th Century village on our way to Figueres in Spain, to see the Dali Museum, and had it virtually to ourselves.  We thought the restaurant was closed -- but there was just no one there, so the proprietor greeted us warmly.
YOU'LL STILL find sandy beaches, upmarket boutiques and palatial hotels off season.  You'll also find quiet little B&Bs and flea markets where you can stretch your dollar.
And there's nothing like visiting a Roman amphitheater with only a half-dozen others!
More information: Each city has a tourist bureau. Google the city and "tourism" and you'll get a raft of references and websites.

Dr. Catherine Frenette, left, chief hepatologist at Scripps Green Hospital,
with her "poster boy" patient, Bruce Keller, looking at one of his scans.

UP NEXT: As Thanksgiving approaches, we celebrate 18 months post-transplant
for Bruce William Keller.
  His remarkable recovery from a May 14, 2017,  liver transplant at Scripps Green Hospital in La Jolla, Calif., has set
records at this internationally known medical center. The miracle has thrilled Cookie and cheered Keller's many other loved ones all over the world.  Meanwhile, remember to explore, learn and live
and catch us Fridays for a novel look at travel, the arts, nature, family, fitness, fun.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Star of India takes to the high seas for gala two-day celebration

With her sails unfurled, the world's oldest still functioning sailing vessel will soon take to San Diego Bay.



The beautifully maintained Star of India at sea.

FOR AS LONG as I've been a part-time San Diegan, the Star of India has been a beacon on the waterfront. She's a beautiful sight to behold, built in 1863 on the Isle of Man, and with many miles around the world under her majestic sails.
The mint-condition, full-rigged iron windjammer will make a sail in San Diego Bay and out around Point Loma. "Royal" is the operative word, for the Star of India is truly sailing-ship royalty.
She spent the first of a many-decades career transiting the sometimes rocky seas from Great Britain to India and New Zealand, hauling freight and whatever else was trading. Years later, she became a salmon hauler on the route from Alaska to California.
With her sails unfurled, Star of India is
a gorgeous sight to behold on San Diego Bay.
THE STAR of India was built in 1863 at Ramsey in the Isle of Man as Euterpe, a full-rigged iron windjammer ship. Sometime in the last century it was sold for a pittance to San Diego and languished in the harbor until 1957 when activists launched a movement to save her from further neglect.
For the past decades she has sailed sometimes as often as once a year, with a crew of 60 and no more than 150 passengers.
California recalls sailing's glory days
 Five years have elapsed since the last time Star of India sailed, so the opportunity to join her under sail this November makes for a unique experience
 Star of India is a lovely sight at night.
On two days, Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 17 and 18, the Star of India sailing celebration takes place, including the rare opportunity to view the world's oldest active sailing vessel from aboard three other legendary sailing vessels. The trio of escort ships will join "Star" on the historic occasion as she sails through San Diego Bay and heads out off Point Loma. Guests may reserve tickets aboard the other vessels visitors find at the Maritime Museum for passage on:
Keller was delighted to help keep the Californian
sailing, since he has sailed for all his life and loves it!

• Californian, the official tall ship of the state.
• San Salvador, the 1542 Spanish galleon replica built in San Diego by staff and volunteers.
• America, a replica of the historic yacht which won the America’s Cup in 1851.
Tickets are $249 per person for all ages and includes a catered breakfast, lunch, drinks, and celebratory champagne. Each ship will carry an on-board historian to enhance guests’ understanding of Star of India, the history behind all vessels and the city's world famous Maritime Museum. Check-in is at 9 a.m. and ships will return to the Museum at 5 p.m.
The San Diego skyline is the backdrop for the Maritime Museum.
The museum sponsors many other activities and educational events throughout the year, including school tours and concerts.  The Hausmann String Quartet is on tap Nov. 11, the weekend before the Star of India companion sail.  The San Diego based quartet will play Haydn aboard the Berkeley, an
San Diego's Hausmann Quartet is on tap, too.
1898 steam ferryboat which operated for 60 years on San Francisco Bay.  It -- like the Star of India and Berkeley -- is a national landmark, also part of the city's proud Maritime Museum fleet kept largely afloat by a devoted group of sailing enthusiasts and volunteers.
Space is limited and includes admission to the Maritime Museum.  Haydn, known as the father of the string quartet, is an ideal choice for a pleasing afternoon in San Diego harbor.
For more on the concert or Star of India sail, go to

Cookie, left, and one
Of  Rome's top guides, Lucilla Favino.
UP NEXT: Southern Europe beckons now that summer is over and it's off season. Come enjoy Rome and other wonders when the air is crisp, the streets are not crowded and the monuments are open and welcoming. Remember to explore, learn and live and catch us Fridays for a novel look on art, travel, music, theater, nature and family.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Children allowed: enhance your travel by including a lively bright child

Ready for Legoland: springing into fun are Penelope Margaret and James Brian Ganner, Cookie's great-niece and nephew.

Amarylla Ganner, left, with Cookie and
Amarylla's children Peny and James.



WHENEVER WE have a chance to spend a couple days with select, smart little people, we're never sorry.
At left, Bruce Keller, Rick Cosgriffe, Cookie and Elliana
Broscious take in the geysers in Yellowstone Park.
Traveling with a bright child enhances your world, opens new doors, gives balance and perspective.
Our mother took us out of school for concerts, plays and trips, so I'm carrying on that tradition with my family -- my siblings and their children.  Now their kids -- the next tier -- are part of the fun -- my great nieces and nephews.
So here are a few tips to encourage you to take a kid along.  I recommend it -- so if you don't have one, borrow one.
  •  When traveling with kids, get an early start. If you're flying, book tickets for as early in the day as possible. It's your best chance to avoid delays at takeoff and landing. If you're driving, get out on the road early, too.
    Thumbs up for chocolate chip pancakes before Legoland.
  • When dressing little people for the road -- plane, train or car -- do layers and skip laces. Avoid buttons and use pull-ups for the littles.  
  • * Minimize baggage and equipment. If your little people are still in the stroller or car-seat stage, consider renting or borrowing as light as possible. My San Francisco niece and I confer before they fly and I borrow car seats. Saves her lugging bulky stuff on the plane. 
At Tippet Rise near Fishtail, Montana, world-class musicians
teach youngsters instrument basics, here the cello.
    * On a plane, make sure kids are seated on the windows, not the aisles. They love to look out the window and have fewer distractions.
    * Beware of germs. I use disinfectant wipes and teach the kids, too.
  • Bring surprises. Healthy treats are fun. Puzzles and a colorful book.
  • * Keep your composure. It's your best chance to avoid delays whether driving or flying. Young attention spans are best served by being airborne or on the road early in the day. In cars, sing songs.

 Cookie and grandson Rowan Jones at the Musical
Instrument Museum in Phoenix, Arizona a few
years ago.  Rowan became an accomplished drummer. 

      * We took my niece and her husband and their three kids to a snow lodge last winter near Truckee, Calif. It was so much fun.  
    * Multi-generation travel can advance brain development in children while stimulating adults. It's true. We had three generations on this family holiday and it was delightful -- fixing meals together, making snow angels, playing chess, building fires, taking in a historic home decorated for the holidays.
  • Did you know that on a family holiday you are exercising two genetically ingrained systems deep in the brain’s limbic area, which can all too easily be “unexercised” in the home. Since my parents believed in education outside the traditional classroom,  I've seen my own brain and my siblings' exercised by concerts and plays in New York City, trips to the ocean in Massachusetts and California, even lounging and reading poolside.
    Elliana zeroes in on scenery in Yellowstone Park.
  • The brain's "play" system is exercised every time you bury a child’s feet in the sand, tickle him on the pool lounger, or take them for a ride on your back, as my brother Rick has long done with his kids and now grandkids.
    Involve a child in your day-to-day
    activity on the road.  Here, Peny
    helps Keller with his meds.

  • The brain’s "seeking" system is exercised each time you go exploring together: the forest, the beach, a hidden gem of a village, a new park or museum.
  •  * Involve kids in your life -- let them help you choose a concert,  play, hotel, park, zoo, outing or camping spot. 

The Star of India will again be in full sail Nov. 16 and 17. 
UP NEXT: The world's oldest active sailing ship, The Star Of India, has sailed the world and had many roles before her retirement as the star of San Diego's Maritime Museum, where you'll also see a Russian submarine and many other vessels that make this southern California port city such a welcoming place for sailors and sailing.  The 1863 vessel will be sailing for two fund-raising days later this month, and you can book passage.  Meanwhile, remember to enjoy, learn and live.