Hot Spots


You KNOW I love Canada – through and through, tried and true. But sometimes I have to lay my horn aside, stop tooting it, and take a sneaky trip to warmer climes….not often enough to question my allegiance, obviously, but maybe to remember warmth and sunshine? When winter kicks us a little too hard, as it does from time to time, and we need to recover? When we’re feeling nostalgic to see our summer birds which flew south? Doesn’t matter why. Sometimes I’ve been known to head south for a few days or weeks – not for quite a while mind you – but I’m guilty.

My first real southern trip was to Florida many years ago, between Christmas and New Year’s, to Tampa, a place and a trip, I’ll always remember.  My husband, myself and our daughter drove down with friends, who conveniently had a baby-sitting-aged daughter for when the adults wanted to roam. On the way down we stopped at Marineland in St.Augustine, and the up-close-and-personal dolphins delighted us. Then it was on to Orlando, Tampa, Clearwater and St. Petersburg.


We stayed at beautiful villa-style units across the street from the ocean, with a gate to a backyard filled with poinsettia “trees” for want of a better description, and a ton of sunshine.  We went to an orange grove and picked our own oranges – some outsized ones which we squeezed to make pitcherfuls of juice every day.


Most of the time was spent outdoors, but the two-bedroom, kitchen, living room unit was very comfortable and spacious, so sometimes we just lounged around. Days walking the beaches, or sitting under the partial shade of a palm tree, watching our daughter gather shells and make castles in the sand, were treasured times.



Mostly we just lay and soaked in the sun.



This is also where we got our first view of Spanish Moss, hanging dreamily down from the trees.

Sunrise through the Spanish Moss on Live Oak trees. Bradenton, Florida by jamee at WunderPhotos

Sunrise through the Spanish Moss on Live Oak trees. Bradenton, Florida by jamee at WunderPhotos

A memorable and unique part of the trip came when we decided to spend New Year’s Eve at an unusual bar on the beach.  Posh and elegant, we had noticed it before, and we took a chance that they would have room for four more that night.  When we walked in, the Maitr’d rushed over to us, and started apologizing that he had placed someone at our table, because we had been an hour late in arriving.  He asked if they should move the couple, and we said, “If there’s room for all of us at the table, don’t disturb them, it’s fine with us.”  Great – except we had made no reservation.  Well – that was a signal for free drinks from the couple at the table who were so grateful to be allowed to stay in a fully-booked house.


Needless to say, we strained to play the part of magnanimous hosts, always with an over-the-shoulder look at the door should the real table-reserved patrons show up.  But they didn’t, and the whole place thought we were special celebrities; we were treated deferentially, royally almost, all evening.  Great food, great company, a wonderful memory.  Who’s to say it wasn’t meant to be? Always wondered who the no-shows were, but couldn’t ask, could we?

Bob Heilman's Beachcomber, Clearwater, Florida

Bob Heilman’s Beachcomber, Clearwater, Florida

Our second southern journey was to Arizona, to Tucson, where  we joined my Mom and Dad in their mobile home and motored out in their Caddy every day to explore every inch of that beautiful state.  We were supposed to fly, but because I had an inner ear problem, decided to take Amtrak instead.  That was an adventure in itself, which I’ll save for another day. We landed in Flagstaff to see eight-foot snowbanks at the sides of the roads, much higher than what we had left behind in Ontario.

Winter Snow Flagstaff Arizona

Winter Snow Flagstaff Arizona

Mom and Dad picked us up at the station and because a train delay made us late, we decided to stay overnight at a charming motel which had kitchen facilities. Of course, my wonderful Mom, a great cook, whomped up a great late-night meal for us.  In the morning, we began to drive south.  When we passed through Oak Creek Canyon country, we stopped and checked it out a little, in particular, a ranch on a river with beautiful horses prettying up the landscape.  Saw mine entrances up in the mountains.


West Fork of Oak Creek Canyon, Arizona

West Fork of Oak Creek Canyon, Arizona

We had a sumptuous lunch in Sedona, and decided we wanted to put it on our itinerary to revisit, because we fell in love with the countryside.  We heard that Sedona has the perfect year-round temperature in the USA, and I was won over when I saw the turquoise sky and the red rock.

Cathedral Rock, Red Rock Crossing, Sedona, Arizona

Cathedral Rock, Red Rock Crossing, Sedona, Arizona

From there we kept on traveling until we saw the first saguaro cacti start to appear, knowing then that we were glimpsing the beginning of the desert.

Saguaros, Arizona

We were able to add lots of new birds to our permanent lists, that we would never have seen in Ontario. We realized that Arizona is like a microcosm of Canada, from the north to the south, with the same temperature ranges, and similar landscape, including desert and cacti (which we do have, people, in British Columbia and the Hoo-doo lands in Alberta). My cop husband looked and felt at home in that desert.


We made two trips to Arizona in back-to-back years, (the second time by air) and felt we still had tons to explore. We were very, very tempted to live there. Loved the rodeos, the mountains, the people, the desert zoo, the movie sets,

"Old Tucson" Arizona

“Old Tucson” Arizona

Dining and shopping at Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village in Sedona,

Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village, Sedona, Arizona

Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village, Sedona, Arizona

the mines, the parks, the turquoise crafts, everything. My husband looked like an Irish Wyatt Earp, in his beautiful cowboy boots, bolo tie, and big Stetson hat, sporting a beard.  Another story for another time.


We spent lovely, warm days exploring The Grand Canyon, the Sonora Desert Museum, the Petrified Forest, Monument Valley, Mount Lemmon and so much more. Arizona is definitely a state I would enjoy visiting again.

There were many other southern spots we visited in the States, and we loved them all. Perhaps I’ll record details of what we saw and what we did in a future blog, but until then, here are some of the cities.

Dallas, Texas had, and still has, for me a special allure in the beautiful downtown buildings, where Texas love of freedom and expansive expression were obvious.


Loved Fort Worth too,


and Atlanta, Georgia,


Charlotte, North Carolina,


Charleston, South Carolina,


Nashville, Tennessee,

RNashville Bridge_Full

Lexington and Louisville, Kentucky,



Las Vegas, Nevada…


One year we boarded a Cruise ship stopping at the Bahamas, Cozumel, Ocho Rios.


Another trip took us to Los Angeles.  Visited some stores, a fast walk through a wild park, a wonderful meal in a chic restaurant…


San Diego, California. Where I first had a good look at the Pacific Ocean. Where I first saw beautiful naval ships docked, looking tough, graceful, powerful, sleek, purposeful, and streets full of good looking sailors, fit, loyal, patriotic.

San Diego Naval Shipyards

San Diego Naval Shipyards

Many other visits to other places in the States.  I see I left out Louisiana, – hot, and hot spots, good jazz.  Memphis, Tennessee too.  Other Florida cities.  Other Texas cities.  Hoover Dam. Other California sites like Big Sur… Haven’t even touched on the northern, western, and eastern states.  Visited all but 3 – Hawaii, Alaska, and for some unknown reason, the state of Washington – all on my ToDoList.

By the way — since you’re wondering — it’s a sunshiny, clear sky day here in Toronto, which I am truly enjoying.  No need to escape for now.


7821765-black-silhouettes-of-microphones-on-an-orange-background1It’s been said…….

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The Times Of Love

I remember young love, oh yes, I do.
It filled me up, to the brim.
It bubbled out and over,
All of it around my lover.
Forever love, and pure as gold,
Into every atom of my being.

I remember middle love, oh yes, I do.
Milder or smoother or surer;
All-encompassing, nevertheless.
Tossing out flotsam and jetsam,
Leaving the fullness of true love,
But deeper, wider, and more than before.

Today I fill up with all the love,
Of all the yesterdays;
Remembering each and every moment of it,
Young, middle and old.
Even though all of it surrounds me,
Abounds in me,
Teems through every pore,
Every atom,
Every cell,
I am not filled up.
I keep on building more and more love
Every day –
Because I have so much room now.
Now that you’re not here.
I really know how love took hold of me
And stayed the course.

E Joyce Finn/Collie ©

I’ll Take The Fantasy

It is my desire to fantasize
I am lying in a hammock with you
under a tropical sky
air filled with sun-scented blossoms
soft breezes ruffling our hair
eyes deeply locked on each other
a glass of wine on a shaded terrace
thoughts of love tumbling over us
joyful “I love you”s

Why are we cursed with reason
with our roots deeply embedded into reality?

E Joyce Finn/Collie ©


Hello. I’m keeping it short ‘n’ sweet for my music contribution to Mom’s blog this time. I give you one song, “Kokomo”, by The Beach Boys. It was released in 1988, was featured in the Tom Cruise movie “Cocktail” and was one of many #1 hits over the decades for the band. Kokomo was a fictional tropical paradise off of the Florida Keys, but since the release of this song, many places have added Kokomo to their name!

Key West, Florida

Key West, Florida

Here’s “Kokomo” by The Beach Boys to put you in that easy-going, laid-back, warm, vacation kind of mood! For the rest of you lucky people who reside in these wonderful places, please appreciate your daily bounty! (h/t Dr.Arrogant)


Red White and Blue paws-for-awhile


Magnificent photo by Elena Shumilova

Magnificent photo by Elena Shumilova

THIS is definitely a hot spot in a cold environment. Love brings great heat.

‘Bye for now!


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