Sunday, April 24, 2011

Incredible Crater Lake Covered with Snow

Chris painted me in his own words a picture of Crater Lake with immeasurable beauty, a deep, pure lake, so blue in color; sheer surrounding cliffs, almost two thousand feet high above the sea level, two picturesque islands; and a violent volcanic past...So we could not wait to pay her a visit.

Crater Lake in snowCrater Lake in snow

Chris and I have successfully managed to keep our tradition of travel. Regardless of the efforts to follow with the weather forecast and the detailed trip planning, we are bound to experience the full range of temperatures from summer to winter within one single trip.

Crater Lake in snowCrater Lake in snow

This time was not an exception either. We started from wearing short-sleeve t-shirt in Sunnyvale, CA, watched the beautiful fall colors on the way to Bend, and showed up at the snowy Crater Lake totally unprepared. Fortunately the lodge at the Crater Lake has a gigantic fire place and tasty chili soup to warm us up.

Crater Lake in snowCrater Lake in snow

The Cute and Relaxing Walk Around Towntown Bend Oregon

The old downtown Bend is rather small and yet neat, cozy and thriving. The lake at the downtown is great for a afternoon walk with a warm cup of coffee in hand. We went to a little soup and sandwich shop at downtown for lunch for a couple of times.

lake at bendbend oregon

Apparently Bend has had some influence from California, so it does offer a couple of hip and trendy restaurants. The Deschutes Brewery located at the downtown offers a cozy and down-to-the-earth pub atmosphere and great micro-brewed beer. I tried their tasting menu of 8 different beer, they are all yummy and flavorful. Oh, well, there are really tasty beer out there rather than the Bud Lite. The roasted portabella mushroom sandwich with cornbread, with a hint of roasted hazelnut and goat cheese, was out of the world. The sweet and spicy baked mac and cheese, creamy spicy source with a touch of sweetness from cranberries, totally took us for a pleasant surprise. Who would ever think mac and cheese can be such a gourmet?

bend oregon

Saturday, April 23, 2011

To see and to be seen - Trendy Lincoln Rd, Espanol

Lincoln Road

Lincoln road is very pleasant for a stroll at a sunny afternoon and a nice glass of white wine besides a water fountain. The funny thing is that there are two starbucks coffee located across the street from each other, which reminds you a scene in “Shrek II”. When invaded by unfriendly forced, people can run from One starbucks shop to the other one just cross the street.

Restaurants are located one after another on both sides of the street, which reminds me of Champs Elysees in Paris. It’s a place for people to enjoy the sun, a glass of chilled white wine, the people-watching, and a leisure afternoon.

And, of course, I got to do something silly to spice things up. :)


Espanola supposes to have hosted some colorful characters throughout the years, including Al Capone and the crew from Miami Vice. Tim and I found the place is a pleasant but over-rated two-block with a few of restaurants. The restaurant at the center of Espanola does serve interesting cock-tails though. Have you ever tried or even heard of pineapple, mango and pepper? Here you go… It has a perfect blend of sweetness from tropical fruit juice and coconut rum. The hint of spice gives you an extra kick for a sunny afternoon.

Ocean Drive

South Beach Miami is a typical beach town for parties, drinks and going crazy. when the sun lights gradually goes away and people receding from the beach, the restaurants along the Ocean Drive would entice you with their party music or jazz, beatutiful girls wears as little as possible, the mouth-watering food display on the street and mixed flavor of grilled lobster and cigar.


Restaurants at Lincoln street or Ocean Drive are mostly tourist-oriented. For better food, you might want to go a couple of blocks away/off from the crazy party people.

Key lime pie is a must-have in Miami. It supposes to taste uniquely because of the little limes only growing in Key West.

Back to Lincoln Road at Night

Lincoln road has a couple really trendy bars. Just walk long the street, you won’t miss them! I like to order a drink with sexy and trendy name with seductive colors.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Key West - The Magical Land In Florida

More than 3 friends of mine highly recommended Key West. Apparently, it’s one of the must-go places if you’re anywhere remotely close to Miami. The development manager I work with said the best part of visiting Key West is the drive along the coast. So, anxious for the magic place to unveil its beauty, I embarked on the 4 hour drive down to Key West in the early morning.

The first 2 hours were spent fighting the traffic to get out of the Miami downtown, so there was nothing interesting to see except urban areas and other cars. With the beach views on both sides of the road, the drive of the next 2 hours was more endurable but awfully slow.

The route offers absolutely stunning beach views that can be found in the “paradise” screen savers. However, after 2 hours of looking at the perfect ocean with hardly any changes, it gets old and much less exciting.

Yes, you will ride through the famous 7-mile-bridge in “True Lies” where Swartzenegger heroically saved his wife. However, it looks much smaller than in the movie and not much different from the “San Mateo” bridge in the Bay Area.

The road stretched on and on.

Finally, I arrived. It’s a typical beach town. Flip-flops are a part of the official uniform. Bikinis and shorts are considered formal wear, and there are no short of cheesy shops up and down the street. However, there are some regional differences. For example, if you ‘re looking for a Cuban cigar or a tattoo or a yoga place, Key West has a shop on every corner.

The travel guide claimed that the nightlife and interesting bars were on the famous Duval Street. It’s half of the truth. There are bars on the street, but not that great. Don’t imagine that Key West has see-and-be-seen bars like those in Santana Row or San Francisco downtown. They are more like the bars for a bunch of beach boys and girls to hang out, drink beers, eat pizza, and listen to rock-and-roll or country music.

Please note I am kind of from California, full of sunshine and a couple of the most dynamic and exciting beach towns in the country, so that we are a bit skeptical of the experience of Key West. I mean, if you have never been to a beach town, it is interesting and might be really fun, depending on what you like. But, you might as well skip it if you have been to San Diego or Laguna Beach in Southern California.

Another option to enjoy the town better is to stay in one of the bed-and-breakfast inns so that you don’t feel pressured or exhausted by the 8-hour drive to enjoy some water activities, such as a boat ride at the harbor or snorkeling. However, I think Maui is a better place for this kind of activities.

There is one restaurant, Louie’s, is worth going for the view over the ocean, but reservations are needed, because that might be the only decent restaurant in the island.