“Between every two pines is a doorway to a new world.” John Muir (C) Sonne

 

Between every two pines is a doorway to a new world.”  John Muir

If you are craving portals to beauty, the Magnificent Mountain Loop (MML) of three California National Parks offers travelers uncountable “doors.” In one trip you can enjoy the tree giants of Sequoia National Park, the adjoining wonders of Kings Canyon National Park and the iconic delights of Yosemite.

This year, Yosemite shares the riches of nature and history with a 150th anniversary. President Abraham Lincoln signed the Yosemite Land Grant 150 years ago, creating “the first protected wild land for all time” and the “first state park in the world” according to the National Parks website.

Below are some quotes by past famous Yosemite visitors Ralph Waldo Emerson, John Muir, Ansel Adams, and President Teddy Roosevelt to inspire your own visit. There are also some tips to add luxury to your travel.

Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where Nature may heal and cheer and give strength to body and soul alike.” John Muir

 

 

EMERSON & MUIR TRANSCEND

According to the National Parks Services website: “In 1871, John Muir, and Ralph Waldo Emerson, American Poet, and Transcendentalist visited the Mariposa Grove of trees in Yosemite and Muir said to Emerson in the grove: ‘You are yourself a sequoia. Stop and get acquainted with your big brethren.’ ”

Emerson called Muir a “new kind of Thoreau” who gazed at sequoias of the Sierra instead of scrub oaks of Concord.”

Grandeurs of granite walls in Yosemite.

In Yosemite, Grandeur of these mountains perhaps unmatched on the Globe; for here they strip themselves like Athletes for exhibition, & stand perpendicular granite walls, showing their entire height, & wearing a liberty cap of snow on their head.” From Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Journal.

PRESIDENTIAL AGAIN

In 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt requested to meet with Muir in Yosemite, and Muir encouraged him to sleep under the stars- a night that led the protected area to be expanded and transformed into a National Park.

It was like lying in a great solemn cathedral, far vaster and more beautiful than any built by the hand of man.”- Roosevelt

Sleeping under the stars like Muir and Roosevelt may be the richest way to enjoy the nature of the park 24/7, but if you are looking for more pampering nurture in your visit, the Tenaya Lodge offers lovely luxury rooms, concierge services, the Embers restaurant and the Ascent Spa with signature organic treatments. The Ahwahnee Lodge’s legacy dining room is worth at least one memorable meal.  Yosemite Lodge inside the Park affords window views of the Yosemite Falls, and great access to the park’s sites, trails and shuttle system.

 

Yosemite Riches- your outdoor museum. Sonne

Tenaya Lodge, Fish Camp, near Yosemite

 Yosemite Lodge at the Falls,

Wuksachi Lodge, Sequoia National Park

John Muir Lodge, Kings Canyon National Park

For those that want to celebrate the resiliency of nature with some personal rushes, OARS is now offering river rafting in the Tuolome River.  (I haven’t yet tried their river trips but hear good things.)

It’s the images of Ansel Adams that have put Yosemite in people’s imaginations for decades, but his words are also an inspiration for how to enjoy Yosemite:   “Life is your art. An open, aware heart is your camera. A oneness with your world is your film. Your bright eyes and easy smile is your museum.

                                     -Photos and text by Lisa TE Sonne, Luxury Travel Mavens

Cheers to “Beet Cancer” Recipe in the article below.

October in the United States is now providing a different kind of “medical travel” — pink travel. October is National Breast Cancer Awareness, or BCA, and pink is touted to promote awareness. Various travel venues are “tickled pink” to donate some of their revenue in October to related nonprofits.

Two destination stand-outs are Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and San Diego, California (the W, Hard Rock and Hyatt Hotels) according to J Public Relations, which offers the content below, including a cocktail recipe.

If you know of other travel-for-a-cause opportunities, please share them in the comments section below. Please also let us know what you think of these.

From J Public Relations:

“San Diego- Hard Rock “Pinktober”

“Pinktober 2013 at Hard Rock Hotel San Diego | San Diego, CA

Hard Rock goes a bit pink in October to help Breast Cancer Awareness in San Diego Photo from Hard Rock Website

“Stay – Hard Rock Hotel San Diego will outfit select guestrooms with special Pink Sheets, and a percentage of the room proceeds during October will benefit the campaign. The Sleep Like a Rock® bedding features the signature embroidered guitar pillowcases and plush bedding.  Guests of “Pink Sheets rooms” will also receive Hard Rock’s 2013 PINKTOBER guitar pin featuring pink rhinestones. In addition, hotel guests can opt to add a donation of any level to their guestroom bill during their stay.

 “Sip – The property’s retro-chic diner, Maryjane’s, will serve a limited-time cocktail. The restaurant team will wear pink shirts and pink gear every Sunday to promote awareness. They will hand out pink frosted guitar cookies to our hotel guests to promote awareness. They will also offer the cookies to outside guests for a donation.

 “Hard Rock Hotel’s 207 and Float bars will be offering specialty cocktails Flamingo Margaritas, Pink Floyds and Pink Dolphins with 25 percent of proceeds benefitting Hard Rock’s PINKTOBER™ 2013 campaign.

 “Savor – Rock Spa will offer an invigorating 50-minute Pink Sugar Whip body scrub to benefit PINKTOBER™.  To book a spa treatment, guests may call Rock Spa at (619) 764-6930.

 “Shop – Located lobby-level at the hotel, the boutique will feature a variety of PINKTOBER™ merchandise to benefit the cause including PINKTOBER pins, t-shirts, Pink Sheets and more.

 “W San DiegoIn honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the W San Diego is offering a ‘Drink Pink (for a cause)‘ cocktail where 50 percent of the proceeds from October will be donated to the Keep A Breast foundation.  The Drink Pink cocktail is made with Svedka colada vodka, triple sec, lime and cranberry juice.  

“In conjunction with National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the W will also be turning it’s ‘W’ logo outside PINK to honor the month and help further spread awareness. Inspiring, iconic,and influential, the W San Diego offers a unique mix of cutting-edge design and passions around fashion, music and entertainment.  

 “Jackson Hole, Wyoming

The beauties of Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Photo from the Hotel Terra Jackson Hole website.

“Spur Restaurant & Bar at Teton Mountain Lodge & Spa Hotel | Jackson Hole, WY

 “Throughout the month of October, a portion of Spur Restaurant & Bar’s ‘Beet Cancer’ cocktail will be donated to the Women’s Healthcare Fund at St. John’s Hospital in Jackson Hole.  The ‘Beet Cancer’ cocktail includes:

  • Beet ginger infused gin
  • St. Germaine elderflower liqueur
  • Lemon juice
  • House made ginger syrup
  • 1 egg white
  • Shaken and served up

“CHILL SPA at Hotel Terra Jackson Hole | Jackson Hole, WY

 “Chill for a Cause

 “Join forces with Chill Spa this October for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  Book a Chill for a Cause treatment and 10% of the proceeds will be donated to the Breast Cancer division of Saint John’s Women’s Healthcare Fund

“PINK Awareness Pink Grapefruit Facial | 50 Minutes $129; 80 Minutes $179: Bring life and vitality to your complexion with a vitamin-rich burst of pink grapefruit and other Eminence Organics Skincare products focusing on hydration.

“Fight Like a Girl Facial | 50 Minutes $129; 80 Minutes $179, Fight bacteria with a deeply purifying facial at Chill Spa.

“Live. Love. And get a Massage | 50 Minutes $129; 80 Minutes $179: Pink out your massage by choosing our specialty treatment this October.  The Live, Love massage is available in Deep Tissue or Swedish massage techniques.”

(End of quoted information from J Public Relations about pink destinations to help Breast Cancer Awareness in October. )

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If you know of other luxury venues and destinations that are donating proceeds to Breast Cancer nonprofits, please share the information in comments below.  Do you think these kinds of efforts are a good way to reduce Breast Cancer?

Please also share other opportunities luxury travelers can enjoy while helping causes.

 

Here Comes the Sun-Protection

I’m packing for the US tropical islands for Spring Break. Not the Hawaiian Islands this time, but the Caribbean. The US Virgin Islands don’t require a passport and the average water temperature is about 80 degrees .  The Saints are waiting (as in the islands of St Thomas, St Croix and St. John)  Sun and sea here I come!

Solumbra

Ready for a day of sunshine. SPF clothes for protection by Solumbra.

The #1 item for packing? Sun protection, and I don’t mean sunblock. Yes, I will pack my favorite, but I can also buy it there and not worry about 3 ounce maximums for carry-on. I mean my clothes. I specifically mean clothes designed for sun protection made by a company called Sun Precaution– a line by Solumbra and referred to as SPF Clothing.  I do not want my vacation to be a race to cancer or aging skin! I do want “safe” clothes for outdoor adventure, and sun  lounging.

Most people now know that the sun’s rays can penetrate t-shirts and go through windows and do damage, and that we rarely apply sun block thoroughly and often enough to fully work.  Do you know how many ounces you could go through in a vacation outdoors if you fully followed the instructions?

Shaun Hughes needed sun protection so he invented a wearable “medical solution.”

 “Medical Solution” Fashion

When Shaun Hughes got melanoma skin cancer in his 20s, he got inventive too. He created and patented what he calls a “medical solution” — a tightly woven cloth that is tested to be SPF (sun protection factor) of 100. And then he developed a line of clothing other people would wear too. He has made improvements over the last 20 years based on research and fashion.

There are Sun Protection stores now on the West Coast (Santa Monica and San Diego in California, and Seattle, Washington), but I liked perusing the goods online, organized by item or by activity.

For my last trip to Nicaragua, I took three long-sleeved shirts, two pairs of long pants and two hats to give them a real test (me). They were very lightweight and took up little room, so I could still fly carry-on for an 8 day adventure trip, if I wore my hiking boots and jacket on the plane ( I did.)

The complimentary colors allowed mixing and matching for many outfits. I added jewelry and scarves for accessorizing. The extras also dressed up the outfit and detracted from any sense of Safari motif.

Horseback Riding in Solumbra duds, Nicaragua above Morgan’s Beach

I also supplemented my traveling wardrobe with a skirt, a little black dress,  and two Scottevest items that were also on trial  (a long jacket with hidden pockets and their cargo pants with pockets.  These clothes are not designed for sun protection, but with multiple pockets to free up hands and eliminate the need for a shoulder bag. ) Verdict: Keepers for travel and home. The long -hanging lightweight jacket dressed up my other shirts, travelled wrinkle free and gave me the extra warmth needed in the evenings. It’s flowing lines attracted compliments too.

Solumbra Lessons on the Road

Here’s some of what I learned about my “SPF Clothing” during the active experiment in Nicaragua;

*I was the only one in a group of intrepid wonderful travelers on the Austin-Lehman trip that did not have some part of me get sunburned at some point during full days of city and nature activity.

*The ventilated shirts were well-engineered and breezy, so I didn’t get hot and sweaty the way I would of in jeans and a t-shirt.

*The hats were flexible enough for me to bend back the rim when I needed to for photography. The chin strap saved the windy day when others were chasing after their hats.

Zip-lining in Nicaragua with Solumbra shirt, Scottevest pants, local red hibiscus and helmet on an Austin-Lehman Adventure

*I didn’t suffer from any bug bites either (I had sprayed everything with Sawyer’s Clothing insect repellent before the trip- “good for six weeks protection against ticks chigger, mites and mosquitos”)

*The clothes are versatile and hardy. They (sans hat) worked:

  • upside down while I was ziplining,
  • under the thick overalls worn for ash-boarding down a volcano,
  • after getting splashed in kayaking (they dried quickly),
  • during horseback riding in the jungle under monkeys and on the gorgeous beach of Morgan’s Rock.

They were loose enough for working the press, one of many steps in making Don Elba cigars

* They served well too as good city-tour clothes and kept me comfortable (culturally and physically) when we visited the cathedrals, restaurants and museums of Leon and Granada.

*They are easily hand-washable and so thin they dry relatively quickly. I tested this out after sitting in a wet field to get a better angle for a photo of a volcano, and after getting chocolate spread on the pants accidentally when I went for a chocolate massage (another story for another time.)

*The clothing is so soft that I felt sometimes like I was wearing pajamas. I now like wearing them at home and around town for errands.

 And in conclusion…

So, in conclusion, it’s all going with me to the Caribbean too. I just wish I had thought to get the “skirted sea leggings” and “swim top” and maybe surf jacket for all the time I plan to spend in the water!  Snorkeling, paddle boarding, swimming, maybe the new jetpacks.  How wonderful not to worry about going back to shore and re-lathering legs and arms and back, and trying to do it without acting like a glue-magnet for sand.

Now, where’s my swimsuit? And what books should I bring ?

Lisa TE  Sonne,  Luxury Travel Mavens

Photo of Shaun Hughes from Sun Precautions Website as well as first story image

Feature image of St Croix provided by US Virgin Islands Tourism

others taken on  Austin -Lehman Adventures Nicaragua trip

Museum musings in Morocco

Have you ever wanted to create a destination with-in a destination? Places that both spark and sate curiosity?  Museums and gardens that restore and motivate the human spirit?

In the midst of Marekkesh, Morocco, Yves Saint-Laurent, helped create an artistic oasis that now offers visitors a wonderful Museum of Berber culture, the restored gardens of Majorelle, and a restful café . In the 1920s and 30s,  Jacques Majorelle a French artist, landscaped the gardens as canvases.

He also used blues and yellows and oranges in buildings for contrast, and the vivid cobalt like blue is named after him- Majorelle bleu.  In the 1980s, fashion designer Saint-Laurent and his partner Pierre Berge  restored the place and now visitors can walk peaceful paths between cacti, palms, coconut trees, bamboo and fountains as well as immerse in authentic Berber artifacts in the museum.  There’s even a YSL gallery that includes the “love” cards he made each year for friends as holiday greetings.

This eclectic destination within the great destination of Marrakesh was one of many memorable places we visited as part of my recent, wonder- filled  Access Trips culinary journey of Morocco, and it prompted many musings while I meant to be writing about the delightful  riads of the royal kingdom of Morocco. Good travels tend to stir dreams, memories, and ideas for new mixes.

FAMOUS MAGNETS

I grew up exploring the Huntington Library and Gardens in San Marino, California just a few miles from the Pasadena Rose parade route.  Thanks to Henry E. Huntington, and the transformation of his former home, the Gutenberg Bible, Gainsborough’s Blue Boy painting, the Shakespeare Gardens, an imaginative range of growing fauna, and the big bell in the Japanese gardens were a part of my childhood and are available to the many thousands who visit the peaceful grounds and rich repositories of knowledge and beauty.

Getty Museum, Los Angeles

The Getty Museum, thanks J.P Getty, is another visual feast inside and out in Southern California.  Perched on a mountain top over freeways and high-rises with far reaching views outside and extensive art inside, it’s one of my favorite spots to meet friends and family for a meal, shared walks in the gardens and some satiating gawking in galleries.

Thanks also to Solomon R. Guggenheim whose eponymous spiraled museum in New York is a lovely respite from the intensities of New York city streets.  The Guggenheims also sponsored public museums in Venice, Berlin, and Bilbao, Spain.

Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao

The Bilbao, designed by Frank Gehry, inspired the transformation of a whole region of the Basque Country for locals and tourism. Who knows how many visitors the artful destination has sparked?

 YOUR OWN

Many travelers I know, have places in their homes that are aesthetic sanctuaries with goodies culled from the globe, integrated domestic shrines to the wonders of the world. But those places are only available to friends.

What cultural public oasis would you love to leave that others could enjoy?

POSSIBILITATOR PARK
If I were to write a mega best seller or win some stupendous lottery so I had a surplus of funds, I would love to create “Possibilitator Park”  with a library full of eclectic inspiring works from around the world and different times , and gardens full of places to sit and think or stroll and muse. Trees that are symbolic and literal parts of stories would be spaciously placed so people could picnic or nap or sketch the lyrical branches.  It worked for Buddha and Newton… There would also be conserved wilderness with running water, and open spaces for cloud watching, and, and.. well I have more than a few ideas gathered over the year while thinking about such a place.

Place to reflect and revel in the Santa Monica Mountains

Right now I imagine this sanctuary and stimulus on some mountain top acreage in the Santa Monica Mountains with a view of the Pacific Ocean, but places along the Hudson River in New York also come to mind—some gorgeous natural setting not far from an urban center, accessible to locals and travelers.  The library would make available (via latest technology) all kinds of exemplary stories, quotes, art, social history,  and research about creation and invention and “dreams turned deeds”—tales of true “Possibilitators”  both the famous and the unsung.

On our first date, hours into our conversational meandering, I told this attractive, intelligent man named Victor that I wanted to resurrect a word I had found in the OED (Oxford English Dictionary)– the verb “possibilitate” meaning “to render possible.”  “How could the American language have lost the active use of a verb conveying such a great concept?” I asked him.

He leaned over the wooden table at the Miracle Grill in New York and said,  “Why don’t you and I be Possibilitators?”  He made it a noun, and a loving challenge.  I had written in a journal weeks earlier “I want to meet a man who is a victor not a victim.” Now I had met him. We were married five months later- the first marriage for both of us. We will enjoy our 15th wedding anniversary this Friday, 12/21/12 on the Solstice.  And I smile deeply thinking how fortunate I am to be in love with the person I am married to, a man who inspires musings and is amusing.

MUSE CENTERS

Musings

Whether any of us go to a museum, library or garden within our home town or seek them out in exotic locales or create our own mini-versions in our homes and yards to share, they can be places for us to both escape and ignite, to empty out and then better fuel the best parts of ourselves.

Wouldn’t a park and museum that helped you contemplate and manifest what you want “to render possible” be wonderful?

What are your favorite incubators for musings? For possibilitatings? What do you want to possibilitate in the New Year?

-Lisa TE Sonne for LuxuryTravelMavens.com

Photographs by Lisa TE Sonne

Gale Anne Hurd produces hit action movies & great dives.

As her professional reputation shoots even higher in the entertainment stratosphere, what does producer Gale Anne Hurd do to relax when she has time? She plunges into the ocean with mask and tank for luxurious exploration.

This month alone, Hurd’s meg- hit television series WALKING DEAD broke all cable records, her movie VERY GOOD GIRLS is in post-production, and her star was placed on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame (between Buster Keaton and Peter Lorre).

At the event, director and explorer James Cameron extolled the intelligence of the Phi Beta Kappa Stanford grad and lauded her talents as one of the “biggest producers in the business.” She helped discover his directing talent when they both worked with Roger Corman.

Part of Hurd’s smarts includes knowing how to do things well, whether she is producing box

Diver Gale Anne Hurd with the star of The Walking Dead, Andrew Lincoln, and her own Star for the Hollywood Walk of Fame

office hits, overseeing a television series, owning and operating a wine bistro, promoting ocean conservation, or enjoying luxury diving.

The action producer of other worldly hits including THE TERMINATOR movies, the HULK, THE ABYSS and ALIENS shares a passion in her personal life.

Why do you love diving?

To me, scuba diving is the closest I can get to a different universe without leaving planet earth.

How long have you been diving ? Where have you dove? 

I’ve been diving since 1987, when I became certified in advance of producing THE ABYSS.  I’ve completed over 300 dives in the Pacific Ocean, both North and South (from California to Micronesia and Hawaii, Fiji and Indonesia, Tahiti, etc), the Coral Sea off of Australia and Papua New Guinea, the Atlantic off of Florida and the Bahamas, as well as most areas of the Caribbean, including remote areas off of Saba, Dominica, St. Kitts, Barbuda, Belize, Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao, the Cayman Islands, St. Barths, St Martin, and  Anguilla

Do you have an extraordinary moment that stands out in your diving memory?

A night dive from shore off Madang, PNG to the wreck of the Coral Queen and watching thousands of flashlight fish swarm around us right after sunset, all blinking in unison.  It was like being surrounded by 10,000 Tinkerbells!

“Diving is as close as I’ll come to leaving this world.”

What is a favorite luxury dive experience from a land base?

I made some fantastic dives from the Aman Resort in Moyo Island, Indonesia a number of years ago.  It’s a tented luxury resort on a VERY remote island.  They had an underwater nature trail there that was fantastic.

What  are your favorite live aboard dive trip experiences??

As a former owner of the Palau and Truk Aggressors, I’m a big fan of the Aggressor boats around the world.  They are all fantastic ships in great locations for diving.  I also very much enjoyed the Tiata off of Papua New Guinea, which when I was on board traveled from Kavieng, New Ireland to Rabaul New Britain.  The fish life and invertebrates are beyond compare, and the local tribespeople are fantastic, which makes the experience wonderful on a socio-cultural level as well.

What makes it a “luxury dive” for you ?

To me, safety comes first, a great, well-maintained boats kitted out for divers, and the ability and guest-friendly nature of the crew.  Being ecologically sound by tying up to buoys rather than dropping anchor on coral reefs is essential.  Having comfortable staterooms and good food is important too.

Hurd dives with Sting Rays.

Any tips for other divers to make diving more luxurious?

Buy your own equipment and keep it well serviced; after all, it really is your life support and should be treated as such.  Make sure you have the proper dive skin or wetsuit for the water temperatures you’ll be encountering.

Is there any diving you haven’t done yet, that is still on your bucket list? Where and why?

One day I’d love to dive the Galapagos and also Borneo.  Both are remote areas with sea life I haven’t encountered before — and of course, the Red Sea.  I had hoped to dive the latter when I visited Jordan a few years ago, but I came down with a terrible virus and was unable to dive.

 Why do you think it’s important that we protect the oceans?

We are the Water Planet, and if the oceans become even more unhealthy, all life on the planet will suffer.  It’s a very delicate balance now, and we must take action.

You are on the advisory boards of Heal the Bay and Reef Check. How are they helping our seas?

 Heal the Bay focuses on the health of the beaches and oceans off of Southern California, and monitors the water quality of the local beaches, scoring the safety and health of each one.  Reef Check monitors the quality of seas and sea life in over 90 countries around the world and trains local people who are stakeholders (fishermen, etc.) to dive and monitor their seas, so that they can take the lead in protecting their own seas and beaches.

Hurd at her Vertical Wine Bistro in Pasadena, California

You founded one of the most wonderful gathering places in Pasadena, California–  VerticalWineBistro. Is there any consciousness to how fish fits in the menu because of your diving? 

We do focus on sustainably caught seafood because of my interest in protecting the seas.  We use the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood list, which is easy to access on line.  I recommend it to everyone!

In pressure filled arenas, you are very successful in your life including producing innovative Oscar-winning films, and developing and heading up the record-breaking television series WALKING DEAD.  Does diving help your professional success?

It’s a great way to relax and escape for me.  When you’re diving, you are completely engrossed in the undersea world and not thinking about work.

 Has diving helped your personal life?

My daughter and I have dived together around the world, and it’s something we love to share.  She was certified on the island of Culebrita, in the US Spanish Virgin Islands, another wonderful and rarely dived site just off of Puerto Rico.  So many of my friends dive, and it’s wonderful to take dive trips with them as well.

 Lisa TE Sonne for Luxury Travel Mavens

 Photographs provided by Hurd’s company Valhalla Entertainmnent.

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Do you have any favorite luxury dives, Hurd movies, or Walking Dead episodes to share? Please add your comments below!