Visit Las Vegas While It’s Cool!

Vacation in Las Vegas at Polo Towers February 23-March 1, 2020

3745 Las Vegas Boulevard South, Las Vegas, NV 89109 USA

Vince said, “Cut the price in half!”

One-bedroom suite $1,022  for a week! So here you go! $511 for one WEEK in Vegas!

Polo Towers Resort Las Vegas
Polo Tower Suites right on the Las Vegas Strip

We have the perfect opportunity for you to relax and enjoy the Las Vegas Strip, or get out and enjoy the excitement – either works!

Las Vegas Strip outside of Polo Towers.

This beautiful 602 square foot one-bedroom suite with a full kitchen is located on the Las Vegas Strip within walking distance from all the huge casinos. It conveniently comes with a free parking pass. 

Situated between the Miracle Mile of Shops and a strip mall which includes Ross, ABC, CVS makes your stay very comfortable and economical. The resort boasts two pools, a BBQ area, business center services, fitness center, laundry facilities, free WiFi, and local phone calls.

Las Vegas Rental Polo Towers

The view out of our Polo Towers suite on the Las Vegas Strip across from the Aria.

Showing that week are the Cirque du Soleil O, Michael Jackson One by Cirque du Soleil, Zoomanity, Penn and Teller, Blue Man Group and David Copperfield, and Chris Angel.

If you want to sightsee try Hoover Dam – 1 hour, Valley of Fire – 1 hour, Grand Canyon 4.5 hours, or Zion National Park 2.5 hours, Bryce Canyon National Park – 4 hours, and the other three National Parks within 7 hours of Las Vegas.

Polo Towers

Las Vegas Polo Tower Suites February 21-March 1, 2020

This beautiful 602 square foot one-bedroom suite with a full kitchen is located on the Las Vegas Strip within walking distance from all the huge casinos. It conveniently comes with a free parking pass.

$511.00

Welcome to Sequoia Country, Travelers

Summer is here and it’s time to take off for parts known or unknown – cooler, warmer, more remote, more culture something new and different, or familiar. Where are you going this summer?

Kings Canyon National Park in 2018

Central California may be hot, but there are plenty of cool places to hang out to escape the heat. The Sequoia, Yosemite and Kings Canyon National Parks are all within a few hours driving distances from Visalia, Fresno and each other. Everyone knows Yosemite, but have you been to Kings Canyon and Sequoia?

That’s not all. Kaweah Lake in the heart of the Sierra Nevada Foothills is a sporting destination on the way to the Sequoia National Park. If you get to Three Rivers, CA, you passed it. You can’t miss over one hundred acre-feet of water, though.

Have You Tried Kayaking?

Kayaking on Kaweah Lake

Last year my adorable neighbors, Diane and Selena, treated me to a fabulous day at Lake Kaweah, less than thirty minutes from where I live. Lake Kaweah serves as a reservoir for irrigation, flood control, electric power source, and fishing and boating destination

If you are like me and used to seeing the land only, you might try a different perspective this year and hop into a kayak. Getting into and out of the kayak is a bit tricky, but once you get in, time melts away as the water laps up against the side of the boat.

See my paddle keeping me from going in circles?

The temperature on July sixth was a cool 9o degrees by late morning, so we wore plenty of sunscreen, but didn’t feel the heat. It’s a large body of water, so we had room to roam. Selena took off leaving us in her wake, circling back to check on her mother and me every so often to make sure that I didn’t spend all my time going in circles.

We Could Have Been Explorers

We could have been explorers.

There were so few people on the water when we arrived that we could have been explorers from another era seeing the mountains and foothills for the first time. If you know the history of the area, though, you would know that this lake never existed until Terminus Dam was completed in 1961. Before the Corps of Engineers built the dam, floods devastated the downstream communities. The most one-hundred-year flood in recent history occurred in 1955.

Kaweah Lake Water Levels Fluctuate

Water levels in the lake fluctuate.

You can see the water levels marked clearly on this foothill. There are many levels below what you see here. What you don’t see are the whole trees and parking lots buried under the water.

Last year the water level was high because of the enormous amount of rain we had during the 2017-18 rainy season. In wet years, even though the lake is full in July, the Corps of Engineers makes sure that the dam doesn’t break by releasing water all summer. By September the water levels decrease significantly, although boats still dot the surface. You can see that the water level was near record level last year.

Near record level water in the summer of 2018

During the 2018-19 season, Central California had about eight inches of participation. That’s below the average of ten inches, but not a bad number. I haven’t been up to the lake for a while to take pictures this year, but when the lake is full they let out a lot of water for most of the summer to control for melting snow coming from the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Our canals, which farmers rely on for irrigation, are full this year.

Relaxing Before Disaster Strikes

Watch out! I can’t steer this thing!

Don’t overlook the simple outdoor pleasures near you this summer. Learning and trying new things broadens and enriches your life and keeps you young. However, I’m glad you didn’t see me Selena trying to get me out of the kayak. 🙂

You’re right, I didn’t help much. Thanks to Diane and Selena who made this trip possible.

Tell me what you have planned for this summer.

2019: Where Are the Unknown Super Blooms in California?

The desert super blooms in California attracted thousands of tourists this year to the desert for the second time in three years. Some blooms get lots of publicity, “like the explosive color along the Fresno County Blossom Trail—and there’s more to come. From late winter through May, the blossoms will span across the coast and foothills, and by June and July, flowers will festoon the state’s highest mountains.

Here’s how to plan your prime flower-viewing this spring, listed in order of appearance. To track the latest on blooms, check updates from the Theodore Payne Foundation Wildflower website or the California State Parks wildflowers page.” from Visit California

Boyd’s Grade Super Bloom

On the back way to the Sequoia National Park, through a small community named Elderwood, up the hill to Badger, just past the Rodeo Grounds is a little known road called Boyd’s Grade. It winds down the foothills to the small Valley town of Cutler-Orosi. My husband and I chose this as our destination last week to check out the local super blooms.

One large patch of poppies waved from the side of the hill.

The afternoon skies sparkled with wispy clouds and the cool breezes keep the flowers from wilting in the warm spring sun. In the foothills around Woodlake and towards Three Rivers, you will happen on many delights as you round the corners of the lonely country roads.

Boyd’s Grade view

Bellavista Super Blooms


In spite of the pleasant drive, Boyd’s Grade disappointed me. We only found one strong display of wildflowers. Maybe we were too late to enjoy the poppies.

When we moved to Elderwood twenty years ago, Vince named our home Bellavista, Italian for a beautiful view. I’m obviously prejudiced but our display of larger blossoms at home spoiled me. Many private homes in the Central Valley foothill communities have stunning poppy displays in their yards. March blooms were still thin but in the cool spring temperatures they continued to reseed and grow.

Our kitty Porsche loves to hunt for bugs in the flower garden.

April found the poppies at home out in full bloom. The snapdragons wintered over from last spring and must have reseeded. That has never happened to us. Our cat Scardy enjoyed a cool place to sleep. He’s been guarding the garden for seventeen years, and it’s worn him out.

Dry Creek Road Super Blooms

Several friends recommended a drive up Dry Creek Road on the east side of Woodlake. I’ve been excited to drive up there before the hot weather sets in and wilts all the wildflowers. For those of you who don’t live near Woodlake, it is a town of about 7,000 people situated in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains about thirty minutes from Sequoia National Park.

Wicky-Up view from the parking lot.

My friend Monica grew up here, then did what most people do – she left and then returned to her ancestral home, Wicky-Up Ranch. She and her husband turned it into Woodlake’s only Bed and Breakfast. It is between Woodlake and Highway 198, the main road to Sequoia National Park.

Wicky-Up Ranch Bed and Breakfast – her 100+-year-old ancestral home. Enjoy this picture as a free puzzle.

Monica and I started at Wicky-Up and ventured on a photography shoot of Dry Creek Road. The last road before you turn left on Highway 198 to go to Sequoia National Park is Dry Creek Road. Turn left off Naranjo and prepare to be transported to a fairyland of beauty.

“The Valley of Dry Creek in Tulare County is better known and protected due to rare biotope – sycamore alluvial woodland community. In total there are only 17 such woodlands known in California and the one in Dry Creek is third largest and considered to be healthy. The area contains many species of rare plants.” Dry Creek Wildflower Meadows. Some of these flowers we could identify and some we couldn’t. I got help from two Facebook Groups, Plant Ident 101, and California Wildflower Tipline. They caused a flurry of debate. If you know what they are, please let me know.

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Travel Opportunities

If you are interested in travel, here in our Central Valley, or have someplace else on your bucket list, for a limited time I may be able to help you. We have a timeshare with more points than we can use. Contact me if you are interested in using our points to travel at a discount with no high-pressure sales pitch.

Ten Things to Do During Rose Season in Woodlake, California

Welcome to Woodlake Rose Garden

Manuel and Olga Jimenez transformed an abandoned railroad right-of-way and a weedy dam levee into a beautiful and unique garden more than twenty years ago. Now Kiwanis of Woodlake, Homegrown, Master Gardeners, and other non-profit organizations partner to help the City of Woodlake to maintain western section up to the gate to the Botanical Gardens now dubbed the Woodlake Rose Garden.

There is nothing quite like this collection of around 2,000 roses in all of the Central Valley and indeed, all of California. The question is how can you delight in and preserve such a treasure?

purple rose
Breathe deeply

#1 Smell the Roses

The first most obvious thing to do is to stop and smell the roses. Even though it is only a one-mile walk from the beginning of the rose garden all the way through to the back of the Woodlake Botanical Gardens, it will take a while to sniff over 2,000 roses. Take your time.

pink tinged yellow centered rose
Can you name this rose?

#2 Bring Friends

Bring your friends, dog on a leash, kids, or grandparents with you to walk or sit and enjoy a pleasant visit as you smell the roses. It’s romantic. It makes you think pleasant thoughts. Unwind, relax, and spend and make some “scents” out of life. 🙂

visitors enjoy the Woodlake Rose Garden
People of all ages find something to adore at the Woodlake Rose Garden.

#3 Take Photos and Videos

Bring your camera, phone, video recorder and take pictures. With over 2,000 roses and 134 varieties to savor, you don’t want to miss a shot. The gardens will look different the next time you come. Some of the roses change colors as they age.

Post your pictures in our new Facebook Group, Woodlake Rose Garden.

mixed color roses on the same bush
Yellow roses on a mixed rose bush

#4 Picnic at the Garden

Enjoy a picnic. Find a cool spot. Watch out for insects. Don’t forget to pick up your trash. There are trash cans at the gardens, but they fill up fast, so bring a trash bag and take it home with you to toss.

spider enjoying a yellow rose
Watch out for insects.

#5 Enjoy Bravo Lake

Walk, ride a bike or a horse, or run around the Bravo Lake, the secret lake behind the levees. Used mostly for irrigation purposes, it’s about three miles around the perimeter of Bravo Lake. If you feel ambitious, do it twice. Smile and say hi to everyone you see. Woodlake is the town with true western hospitality.

walkers at Bravo Lake
Path at Bravo Lake

#6 Pick Up Trash

Speaking of trash, it happens. If you see someone littering, point out that they dropped something. If you didn’t see it happen, take a trash bag and beautify the garden yourself. Bending is an effective exercise for flattening your tummy and burning off your picnic lunch. (Unless you use trash pinchers.)

kids pick up trash
Here is the Kiwanis/Builders Club de-trashers standing in the Botanical Gardens.

#7 Help Weed

Bring a spade and stop and dig weeds for a while. While the City of Woodlake owns and is responsible for Garden maintenance, it’s much too much work for their small staff. Each area of the garden is maintained by different non-profit groups. Weeds grow faster than all of the groups can get rid of them. So don’t be afraid to pull crabgrass, johnsongrass, and morning glory. If you get close to the rose bushes it helps to have long leather gloves or sleeves to protect your arms.

tea rose with weeds
Pull those weeds.

#8 Identify Roses

Help identify the roses. We don’t know what all of the 130 varieties are. Send your identification ideas to woodlakekiwanis@gmail.com or Message Kiwanis of Woodlake on Facebook. or post a picture in our Woodlake Rose Garden Group.

pink roses
Cluster of pink roses Enjoy an online puzzle of this picture. April Rose Garden 110 puzzle on TheJigsawPuzzles.com

#9 Donate

Remember the Woodlake Rose Garden. Make a donation to Kiwanis of Woodlake or Woodlake Pride to maintain or build up the gardens.

blooming cactus
Don’t be like these prickly turkeys. Stick your neck you and donate.

#10 Remember Your Visit

Turn your pictures into gifts, or purchase a Traveling and Blogging gift to remember the garden. Puzzles, Playing Cards, or other gifts made from photos.

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One Last Thing Before You Go!

Didn’t you love the roses? You might not get to visit Woodlake Rose Garden but the ten ideas work almost anywhere you go, so I hope you try at least one of them.

Before you go, drop me a line, and let me know you’re still alive. Leave me a like and/or a comment, Like my Facebook Page, Always Write. It’s always fantastic to hear from you. 🙂

Are Your Vacations Chill?

Three Ways to Ensure that Your Vacations Are Stress-Free

Go Constantly or Smell the Flowers?

Smell the frangipanis.

One thing my husband hates when we travel is someone who wants to go-go-go the entire time we are on the road because there are so many things we MUST see. Driving in strange places can be stressful. If he plans one or two excursions per day, he stays calm. Other people like to plan excursions, fortunately, I’m not one of them. I can adapt pretty well to what makes others happy. No one has asked me to climb Yosemite with no ropes, so I’m good.

If you have the opposite kind of personality, then it’s nice to be in a group so that the take-it-easy folks have company while they relax, and you and the kids (of any age) have someone to have a great time with until everyone winds down.

Plan for Down Time

We love to travel with friends who play cards at night. We can take our entertainment somewhere there is music and lots of people, or enjoy a game in our spacious room. Some people pack books, others watch television, others love to walk. It’s great to be close to what you enjoy doing. Some of our friends golf, our son hikes, and bikes. Our resort in Sedona, AZ is perfect for both of them. Do you love to cook with friends? That’s why we love our timeshare. All the units have kitchens and usually a place to barbeque. You can enjoy the ambiance of the location and the comfort of home at the same time.

Don’t take selfies at the Grand Canyon. It will give the people in your party heart attacks. Two people died that way the week we visited Sedona. I couldn’t sleep that night and I didn’t know them.

Research and Discuss Your Ideas of Fun with Your Companions Ahead of Time

Have some ideas about what you want to do and see in the area even if you don’t get to do it. My husband had to wait for a couple of trips before we finally took a helicopter ride over Maui because the people with us did not want to go. When we finally took the plunge, the woman in the backseat of the helicopter was like I was on horseback – in tears the entire ride. We didn’t know her, but it’s stressful for everyone when someone doesn’t speak up about their fears.

Escape the Heat
Pier at Newport, OR

My brother and I took a very calm boat excursion. He never mentioned that he would get as deathly seasick as he did. He could not walk! He wanted me to have a good time and I was excited about going. I wasn’t prepared, but someone else on the boat gave him a Dramamine, and he calmed down somewhat.

A Traveling and Blogging Near and Far Puzzle

Want to Make the Most of Your Vacation Memories?

Turn your images into playing cards or puzzles. Here is a link to set of playing cards I made of a trip to Kings Canyon National Park.
As a gift, they are no more expensive than buying a trinket that doesn’t have much meaning to you and your companions, but if you have a photograph that you love, turn it into something fun rather than just a book. Check out Traveling & Blogging puzzles. Make one of your own, or buy one of ours.

Book a Discounted Vacation Through Traveling & Blogging Near & Far

We have some extra points with Diamond Resorts that we are not going to use this year. I have one vacation to Hawaii already booked, which I can’t use. Check it out! But I still have points that I have to use this year. I can’t bank them all, so YOU can use them! Where would you love to go? I may be able to book you a beautiful suite for much less than the cost of a hotel room.