Fall in Love with Oahu: Doris Duke's Shangri La

doris duke's shangri la
the view from Shangri La looking down at the guest house

A diminutive estate at the end of a residential drive, Shangri La sits unannounced. Here, Doris Duke, tobacco-heir turned philanthropist, created her Hawaiian home. She not only created a home for herself, but for her growing collection of Islamic art. Duke carefully curated and created a tiny jewel box full of color, lines and expressions of a culture world's away from the island of Oahu. Odd, beautiful, but out of place? It might seem so at first, but I quickly discovered that Shangri La is uniquely Hawaiian.

Tasting Oahu: Satisfying Your Sweet Tooth


You don't have to look very hard to satisfy your sweet tooth on Oahu, but the array of choices may overwhelm you. Never fear, I've done some of the sampling for you and present to you my incomplete list of some of my favorite sweet treats from around the island. The shave ice, smoothies and favorite baked treats that follow may induce hunger pains and an unexplained need for a plane ticket to Honolulu. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Photo Tour of Oregon Coast

downtown astoria
downtown astoria

Got a bad case of wanderlust today? Take a peek at some shots of a road trip I took last September down the Oregon Coast. We had views, sand, seafood and even sea lions. If you're itching for a roadtrip today, you may want to wait til it warms up a bit if you're looking for some sunshine. But I assure you, the coast is just as fun in the fog and rain.

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sea lions astoria
sea lions in astoria

Culture Fix: Byodo-in Temple in Hawaii

byodo-in temple hawaii

On the windward side of Oahu (that's the east side for the uninitiated island folks) lies a hidden cultural treasure, the Byodo-in Temple. Built in 1968 to commemorate the first Japanese immigrants to Hawaii, the temple is a replica of one in Uji, Japan built nearly 1,000 years earlier. Even those who haven't been to Japan may recognize the temple, as it was the filming location for several Lost episodes, including the wedding of Sun and Jin in Korea. I stopped by recently for a quick tour and found myself enthralled with its beauty and serenity.

Photo Tour of Dominican Republic


palm trees

palms in puerto plata

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to tour the northern coast of the Dominican Republic on behalf of its tourism board. I fell in love with the colors, flavors, and the warm, kind people of the Dominican Republic. Hop on your virtual scooter (the transit of choice for many Dominicans) and take a ride across the coast with me for a sampling of what I experienced.

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Weekend Escapes: Maryhill Winery and the Columbia River Gorge

columbia river gorge view

We recently spent a crisp, fall weekend in the Columbia River Gorge, which lies on the border between Washington and Oregon. As we took in the stunning views, tasting wine and peeking behind the scenes of Maryhill Winery, we quickly realized that a winery might just be the perfect activity to discover the essence of a place. Wine, after all, is more than just crushed grapes. It is the warm sun that ripens, the earth that influences its flavors, and the many hands of the people who harvest and tinker with the grapes until it reaches the final product, a bottle of wine. And while you're at its source, you might as well take a taste. And taste we did, and as we discovered which wines suited us, we also discovered the place from which they came.

Weekend Escapes: Iron Springs Resort in Copalis Beach, Washington

Iron Springs Resort Sunset

What does it mean to go to the beach? As you move across the globe a trip to the beach can conjure up many types of memories. Deserted ones in Hawaii, boardwalks and caloric snacks on Coney Island, Caribbean resorts with rum drinks just steps from the ocean, and well groomed Italian beaches where you pay for your own cordoned off section to bronze.

Regardless of their incarnation, my favorite beach experiences, however, are those where the context remains. Where my experience feels just as similar as those who have come years before to get away, to hear the ocean, smell the salt air, and enjoy the natural beauty that surrounds them. In the Pacific Northwest, I recently discovered Iron Springs Resort, a place that allows you to experience a trip to the coast in the way it has been done for decades. Where you can retreat into nature and enjoy the relaxed Pacific Northwest spirit.

Will Travel For Food: Pacific Northwest Cherries

cherry on tree

Juicy, sweet, delicious. A ripe cherry can be a foodies dream. For eight to ten weeks in the summer, Eastern Washington abounds with them. From dark, sumptuous Bings to sun-kissed Rainiers and countless other lesser-known varieties, there is a cherry for everyone. If you're someone who travels for food and are a fan of the cherry, you may want to plan your next trip to Seattle and it's environs. Just make sure it's between June and August, and you'll be sure to find your cherry bliss.