Travel, Canoeing & Introspection

My daughter had this interesting set of comments about traveling. Normally I think of traveling for a purpose such as business or sightseeing. For those of you who are old enough, there was a movie when I was a kid called “If Its Tuesday, It Must Be Belgium” about the hectic pace set by vacationers and sightseers. She takes a different direction for traveling, slowing down, chilling out and introspecting. And she also had some fun while canoeing. Here is what she has to say.

I went on a 4-day canoe trip when I was younger and the two camp counselors dropped us off on a remote piece of land for a morning with a pencil and a notebook. We were supposed to reflect and have a deep introspection. When they first mentioned it I was extremely skeptical but it was a very moving experience. Not enough people take the time to sit down in nature and really reflect on themselves and figure out what they want in life. We tend to be too busy and too connected. Even today I look back and try to do something similar once a year, maybe in a kayak so I don’t need another person to maneuver. It is key to bring an old-fashioned pen and paper so you can sort out your thoughts and feelings. Anyway back to the canoeing. Make sure to go with a partner who doesn’t annoy you. On a hot day it is also fun to jump out and go swimming and then jump back in (without flipping the canoe) and dry off in the sun. If you are adventurous and your stuff is in waterproof bags and not likely to float away, you can try flipping the canoe on purpose and duck under and come up inside the canoe. Oh and if you don’t want to be miserable sunscreen is key! I didn’t reapply one of the days and was very burnt and uncomfortable the next day. Also when you choose your direction. Or destination think about which way the water flow is going so you aren’t working harder than necessary. Also you can stop paddling all together and drift. Basically there is nothing like floating down a river in a canoe with no destination in mind. If you ever get a chance to go canoeing, take it.

Arm Chair Traveling

The show Antiques Roadshow is like going on a trip to multiple places around the world. Roadshow can be addicting, waiting to see if the painting that someone bought for $50 is actually worth $50,000. Then they immediately scan to the next objet d’art or piece of memorabilia or furniture and you are hooked all over again, wondering what are the details, how much is it worth and how much did they pay for it.

It is almost like smoking. They say smoking is so addicting because each time you take a puff, the nicotine affects the brain almost instantly and so you are constantly getting little mini highs with each puff. Each new item on the show brings its own little high.

The show is also educational. You find out so much about certain styles or periods of paintings, ceramics, glass, toys, musical instruments, silver, jewelry, posters, sports memorabilia and other objects. Along with that you usually pick interesting tidbits about different periods of history. It is also useful if you plan on doing any antique shopping because they point out forgeries and knock offs. Also, what can decrease the value of a piece, whether it be a scratch or a piece missing. It all makes traveling more interesting because you are understanding more about what your are seeing when you do travel.

The backstories for many of the objects is also fascinating. A sword was given to their great grandfather by Ulysses Grant and things like that. Oops, the sword wasn’t made until after Grant’s death. Sometimes the stories pan out and add great value to the object or add interest at the least. You feel bad for the person on the occasions that they find out they don’t have what they think they have.

Then you have all the different locations. Not only around the US, but also in England. It is fascinating how the location makes a difference in what people bring in. In another way, it is also amazing how location doesn’t make a difference. Wherever the show is being filmed, someone will have something from England, France, Germany that may be several hundred years old. It is rather amazing how these objects, whether it is furniture or jewelry or paintings have moved all over the world and become somewhat homogenized in their distribution.

Pasadena Dining

Pasadena Restaurants

We were very pleased with the restaurants in Pasadena and we spent most of our time in Old Pasadena. There are a number packed into a cute little area of alleys. Running in between Union St. and W. Colorado Boulevard are Smith and Miller Alleys. Running across them is Hugus Alley which runs into DeLacey Avenue.

Sushi Roku

This one is my wife’s favorite. The decor is modern, simple, Japanese of course as well. We have eaten there several times. Our first night there we had a wonderful young waiter who suggested a number of dishes to try. Most were excellent. It has been too long ago to remember exactly what we had but it was a really wonderful meal.

Il Fornaio

A few feet across the courtyard from Sushi Roku is Il Fornaio. Turns out it is a chain that is primarily in California but has locations across the country. Whether you get pizza or one of the dinners you can’t go wrong. The food is consistently good. The pollo Toscano is very good and a friend had the grigliata di pesce misto which was a mix of seafood and got good reviews.

Cafe Santorini

Once again, a few feet from the first two restaurants. It focuses on Greek dishes. There are pizzas which are quite good. Try the stuffed grape leaves, they are excellent. You could do a kebob or moussaka but there pasta dishes are quite tasty as well. The penne con pollo is pan roated breast of chicken with shiitake mushrooms, leeks, tomatoes, arugula and creamy garlic white wine sauce.

Kings Row Gastropub

This is on E. Colorado on the other side of Fair Oaks from the first 3. It has a fun casual atmosphere and usually has live music. It has sort of a Tapas flair since the portions are small and not that expensive so you can try a number of different dishes. As a family we tried a number of different things and had a wonderful time. They also have good wines and beers.

Rocket Fizz Soda Pop and Candy Shop 

They have almost every type of candy you can imagine. They had candy from my childhood that I didn’t think was made anymore. They have a huge selection of salt water taffy and you can pick and choose which ones you want. There are also a wide variety of sodas. I was intriqued to find out that root beer is a mixture of birch beer and sasparilla.

Green Street

There are a number of restaurants on Green Street and we have eaten at a couple of them. One I believe was the Green Street Tavern.

Cheesecake Factory

We have fond memories of this not so much because of the food but the experience. I think we had just gotten back from Los Angeles and it was late and we ate here, possibly because it was the only place open? I can’t remember for sure. The food was good. But what was great was that we had a window seat and it was Halloween and we had our own private show watching all the people in costume walking by outside on Fair Oaks Avenue. There were some great costumes.