Chugach National Forest, Turnagain Arm, and Portage Glacier

The earliest sights the lovely Robin and I saw on our recent trip to Alaska were in the Chugach National Forest, an unimaginably vast area of glaciers, mountains, rainforest, and coastline.
We learned about the huge Turnagain Arm of Cook Inlet, and its unique bore tide, the only bore tide in the world that occurs in the far north and the only one bordered by mountains (a bore tide is a rush of seawater that returns to a shallow and narrowing inlet from a broad bay). It occurs after extreme minus low tides created by the full or new moon along a forty-to-fifty-mile length of Cook Inlet. And the Turnagain Arm is so named because when Captain Cook sailed this body of water, thinking it would lead him further inland, he had to "turn again" when it didn't.

Located in Southcentral Alaska, the Chugach is the U.S.A.'s most northerly national forest. It is the size of New Hampshire, and one of the few places where glaciers are still carving valleys from the rock of the earth.
The Portage Glacier, above, is so called because it is on an old portage route between Prince William Sound and Turnagain Arm.
A third of the Chugach is bare rock and ice, but the rest is a diverse tapestry of land, water, animals, and plants, such as the fireweed (above), which by its growth announces the approach of the first snowfall every year.

Aqui Cal-Mex

On our recent sojourn in Northern California, our kids Aaron and Nina took us to Campbell (see the related posts here and here), where we enjoyed an after-church brunch here at Aqui (see what I did there?). This Cal-Mex restaurant, one of four locations, was created by a renowned chef and an experienced fast food operator who wanted to create a fast, hassle-free fine dining experience using the flavors of the Southwest, Asia, California and Latin America.
We opted for adjacent tables on the patio. The lovely Robin and I got to sit with our grandchildren, Miles and Mia.
The food wasn't cheap (it's California, after all) but it was served quickly, and was awful good, from the taters to the pancakes to the chicken.
More information about Aqui is available at the website:

1 Infinite Loop

My recent visit to California with the lovely Robin included a couple stops at Apple's Cupertino headquarters, the Mother Ship of our family's Mac addiction. Mixed metaphors, I know, but you get the idea. Oh yeah, and my son's workplace.
We browsed "The Company Store," the Apple store on site.
We also shared a delicious lunch in Mac's Cafe with Aaron, Nina, Miles, and Mia (I'd tell you all about it but then I'd have to kill you. Seriously, Aaron couldn't show us his office because it's in a super-secret section; we couldn't even take pictures once we entered the building).
And we sorta saw the site where Apple is building its new spaceship-like HQ (of which we also saw a model in the lobby at 1 Infinite Loop). I'm pretty sure it was cool but can't really say since our memories were erased upon leaving.


It's a good week when you visit three new local bookstores.

BookSmart, in Morgan Hill, California, is a delightful book-toy-art supplies-coffee-and-more store. A bit off the beaten track, it seems nonetheless well supported and tremendously active in the community.

I was especially interested in the book groups and Spanish classes the store offers. I wish I could find something like that at home.

BookSmart was the last stop on a fun afternoon visit to the lovely Morgan Hill community.

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Bob Books

A stray cat named Bob was taken in by the owners of the Recycle Bookstore in Campbell, California. We sorta met him on our visit there last Sunday. So they also keep a small selection of "cat named Bob" books by the register. Not the same cat, but Bob Appeal is universal.

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Recycle Bookstore

When I travel, I love to discover local and unique bookstores.
Recycle Bookstore in Campbell, California, is one of those. It is a well-organized general used bookstore with a great selection.
They have been in business for forty years, buying, selling, and trading used books.

Robin bought a book on Jung and Christianity, and Nina bought a copy of The Help. I refrained, but not without great effort.

More about the bookstore is available at

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The FishHopper

On our visit to Monterey last Saturday, the lovely Robin, Nina, Aaron, Miles, Mia, and I had dinner together at The Fish Hopper in Cannery Row.
It was a memorable meal in a memorable place.
I loved that the restaurant's owners are recipients of The Salvation Army's "Others" Award!
We were seated by the windows and visited by Scuttle, the seagull from The Little Mermaid. Pretty sure it was him. And we were also treated to a show--an otter who frolicked back and forth in the surf outside our window!
The food was delicious and the service was very friendly and helpful.

Austino's Patisserie

After our visit to the Monterey Bay Aquarium last Saturday, the lovely Robin and I (with our California family) stopped in to Austino's Patisserie, located in a building immortalized in John Steinbeck's Cannery Row (see below).
We enjoyed our coffees, caramel apple (sliced six ways, I think), and other good things.

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Psycho Donuts

Aaron and Nina took us to Psycho Donuts in San Jose on the way home last evening. We bought donuts to have for breakfast this morning.

I won "Psycho of the Month " while there.

And the massive cinnamon roll (Miles and his donut are included for scale) was crazy delicious. Hey, maybe that's why....

Winchester Mansion

This afternoon we enjoyed an eye-opening, mind-boggling tour of the 160-room Winchester Mystery House in San Jose.
Constantly constructed and remodeled from 1884-1922 according to the instructions of Sarah Winchester, heir to the Winchester Firearms fortune, it is a dizzying warren of halls and rooms.

Though we weren't allowed to take photos inside the mansion, we took plenty from our self-guided tour of the grounds after the informative 65-minute guided tour inside.
More information about this unique landmark is available at

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He Can Be Such a Problem

From the Recycled Books store in Campbell, California.

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Campbell (CA) Farmers Market

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Saturday with our California family (Aaron, Nina, Miles, and Mia) the lovely Robin and I visited the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

What a glorious collection of displays and amenities! We oohed and aahed our way through, but only managed to visit a few of the exhibits.

We were all entertained--mesmerized, even--from youngest to oldest.

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Cannery Row

Yesterday our California kids and grandkids treated us to a day trip to Cannery Row, a beautiful and historic part of the seaside town of Monterey.

Cannery Row was made famous by John Steinbeck's novel of the same name, and there are many tributes to him there.

We loved the shops and scenery, the ambiance and activity, but most of all the company.

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Book Buyers Monterey

I take it as a sign of God's approval that our first stop Saturday (and an unplanned stop at that) on our day trip to Cannery Row in Monterey, California, was Book Buyers, a used and new bookstore.

I love stores like this, with books in every nook and cranny, forming a warren of words for young and old.

As you might expect, the store had a shelf devoted to the Nobel-winning local hero, John Steinbeck, whose novel Cannery Row was set in this location. Astoundingly, however, that volume was not to be found in the store! I would have bought it if I could have located a copy.

Still, I loved our visit and recommend Book Buyers Monterey to anyone visiting Cannery Row. It's a pleasure and a prize, located at 600 Lighthouse Street in Monterey. Their website is

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Hampton Inn, East Knoxville

Our overnight stop on the drive home from Myrtle Beach last night was the Hampton east of Knoxville, just off I-40.

Other than the first four room keys not working, we had a good stay.

The grandkids enjoyed swimming for a bit this morning before getting on the road for the last five hours of the trip.

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Key West Grill

For our last evening in Myrtle Beach, we made our way to the Key West Grill at Broadway at the Beach.

We expected a wait, but were seated immediately (at 6 p.m.).

I had a grilled chicken and mixed green salad. It was good, if not great. The other meals we ordered were likewise good.

The grandkids, of course, were entertained by the live lobsters, which were on the menu, and the live macaw, which was not.

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Crabby Mike's

The lovely Robin and I experienced Myrtle Beach favorite Crabby Mike's for the first time last evening.

We arrived just after 5 p.m. and still had a seventy minute wait. The place was absolutely packed.

Most folks come to Crabby Mike's for the crab legs. But we didn't. Robin would have liked more non-fried options but I enjoyed the catfish, rotisserie chicken, and prime rib. Not enough to justify the price (even with a coupon), in my opinion, but we weren't hungry when we left.

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Hopsewee Plantation

The lovely Robin and I set out yesterday morning with Aubrey, Kevin, Calleigh, and Ryder, for Hopsewee Plantation, south of Georgetown, South Carolina. It seemed like a reasonable activity on a day when Tropical Storm Arthur came rolling past the area.
Hopsewee, a National Historic Landmark on the shore of the North Santee River amid an elegant lawn of moss-hung trees, is an eighteenth-century indigo and (later) rice plantation that has been preserved rather than restored, and is a private residence--not a museum--to this day. It was once the home of Thomas Lynch, Jr., a signer of the Declaration of Independence.
We arrived just in time for the 1 p.m. guided tour, and were so glad we did. We were not allowed to take photos inside the plantation house but some can be viewed at 
The guided tour took us through the entire house, top to bottom, from the cellar to the attic (the above photo was taken on the second-floor balcony, facing the river, which is the front of the house, as most visitors in the eighteenth century approached the house from the river). So fascinating. Only five families have owned the house, although it was built almost forty years before the Revolutionary War. Though not the sort of house most people associate with the antebellum South, it is a typical low country rice plantation dwelling of the early eighteenth century with four rooms opening into a wide center hall on each floor. Though it was looted during the Civil War, it was not burned as many other plantation houses were, and thus retains the original black cypress construction, hand carved "candlelight" molding in each room, and heart pine floors.
The above view is from the back of the house constructed on a brick foundation covered by scored tabby (a plaster formed from crushed shells, sand, and water). The house has been furnished by the current owner, who graciously fawned over our grandson Ryder outside the tea room adjacent to the house. 
Two of the original slave quarters remain on the grounds; they were inhabited by the descendants of slaves who stayed on and farmed the plantation into the 1950s.

It was such an enjoyable, memorable experience, and we were so lovingly led through the tour by our tour guide. I couldn't more highly recommend it.

Hopsewee Plantation is located at 494 Hopsewee Road, Georgetown, SC 29440. Extensive information is available on the website.