Category Archives: Beauty of Nature

Mother Nature performs miracles all around us. If we don’t pay attention, we miss them. But I don’t think she cares. Her Majesty doesn’t play for an audience. She performs for her own enjoyment.

Butchart Gardens, Victoria, Canada

On the last stop of our cruise, Victoria, Canada, we took a tour of the Butchart Gardens. What an amazing place.  The acreage was sectioned off into…..outdoor rooms really, furnished with every variety of tree, bush and flower.  The combinations of colors and textures were stunning. Sometimes the progression of the shapes beckoned so enticingly around the next corner or through the next archway opening out into another utterly charming setting.  Wow!  What a rush!


55 acres is a lot of ground to cover so we accepted the offer of a wheelchair at the ticket office.  We were glad we did.  We didn’t want to miss seeing the whole exquisite display. There was the Italian Garden, the French, the Rose, the Mediterranean, the Japanese and the Sunken Garden replete with fountains, streams, ponds and beautiful winding walkways.  We took turns pushing each other, oohing and aahing at the colors and textures, all over the place.  Yes, It was so much fun!

The Japanese Garden was captivating.  The paths wound around and intertwined with each other forming vignettes with statues, benches and bridges.  Every setting was so inviting, I had to sit and admire to take in as much as possible.  It was sensory overload. The raindrops glistening on everything created a sparkling wonderland.

We sat, rested (55 acres is huge), ate gelato and savored the moment.  Happy Anniversary to us!


Third stop.  Skagway.

We jumped on the White Pass and Yukon Train and rode from Skagway up to  the White Pass Summit.  It was a scenic photographer’s dream, exhilarating to look down from the train at the sheer drop off above and below us.  The mountains were so steep and we saw evidence of glaciers carving through them everywhere.

The train was built to replace the Chilkoot Trail (1898-1900) during the Klondike Gold Rush and climbs 3,000 ft. in just 20 miles.  Just looking at the rugged terrain, I’m amazed that it only took two years to build.

We heard many stories about the Chilkoot Trail and the 30,000 men, women, children and horses that climbed it in search of gold.  If they made it to the Canadian border, Yukon Territory, and they didn’t have a ton of supplies to sustain them for a year, the Canadian North West Mounted Police turned them back.  Those who made it survived brutal weather, grueling hiking/walking conditions and constant fatigue.


Looking down into the Lynn Canal just south of town where the ship was docked, we could see that beautiful glacial  blue water again and all of the waterfalls and rivers spilling out of the mountains were that same color.  Surreal!

The town of Skagway looks so much like Main Street Park City, Utah,  I felt right at home.  After hearing many stories of the Red Onion Saloon, I had to go in and take a look.  So much fun!  It was packed.  I was so glad to be there in 2016 and not 1897.  Today it is a restaurant/bar with a bordello spirit instead of a bordello in a lawless gold rush town.


It was an experience we won’t forget.  Happy Anniversary to us!

No Roads Lead To Juneau

Second stop:  Juneau, Alaska.

I love the idea that you can’t drive to Juneau, Alaska.  You can fly.  Juneau has an airport and you can take a seaplane and land on water…..what a rush.  You can take a boat, ship, ferry or cruiser.  And…..if you really want your car with you so you can drive on the roads in Juneau, you can take the ferry and bring it along.

We took the Goldbelt Roberts Tramway from the cruise ship docks, up through the rainforest to the Mountain House at 1,800 ft.  The view of the Gastineau Channel below was gorgeous. I didn’t expect to see the colors of aqua and turquoise that I usually associate with tropical waters. It was stunning.   Even when we can’t see a glacier, their presence is evident everywhere there’s water.

The trees and underbrush were so thick, the mountainside looked sort of feathery with a jillian different greens sparkling, reflecting through the raindrops.  Magical.  A feast for the senses.  Happy Anniversary to us!

Dawson Glacier

Our approach to the Dawson Glacier was slow and methodical, weaving in and out of icebergs. Because of the density of the compacted glacial ice compared to water, only about 1/10th of an iceberg is seen above the surface. We didn’t see one as big as the one that sunk the titanic; but, we showed them a lot of respect anyway.

Dawson-Lambton glacier was named by British expedition leader, Ernest Shackleton, just over a hundred years ago.  He named it for Elizabeth Dawson-Lambton, a financial backer of his expeditions.  Seeing this rugged country, I tried to imagine what it must have been like to be an explorer around 1900, travelling by ship.   I really enjoyed being on a luxury liner holding a camera, hot chocolate and coffee and knowing that when I got too cold, my fabulous breakfast was waiting inside in a beautiful, warm restaurant.

The blue colors we captured with our camera were so exciting and so unexpected.  Sometimes the whole area was a brilliant turquoise and other times the translucent blues appeared out of  murky grey-green water.

I had to know:  why are glaciers blue?  Well…..the ice is so dense it absorbs every other color of the spectrum but blue.  So blue is what we see.  The crystalline structure strongly scatters blue light so we see a myriad of blues.  They were spectacular.


The captain described calving to us over the intercom system. It seemed everyone on board the ship was holding their breath, cameras at the ready, watching for the birth of an iceberg to happen right before our eyes.  We didn’t see one…..but it was so awe-inspiring just being that close to the glacier, we didn’t really care.

Happy Anniversary to us!


The first stop on our Alaskan Cruise was Ketchikan.  It reminded me of Yellowstone Park 40 years ago.  It’s so remote and quiet. I felt so content just to be, while I was there.  There was plenty of time to do anything we wanted to do.  No rush.

We went to the Village of Saxman to see the totem poles and one of the workshops where they are being carved today.  There was a small booth, a hair bigger than a telephone booth (if you remember what telephone booths looked like), with a man sitting at a window selling totem pole stories for $1.00.  Those stories told about the spirit guardians represented by the figures on the poles.  They were used to pass on morals and wisdom to the next generation.

I posted a picture of the raven totem pole, (above left) on instagram and quickly received a comment from one or Donny Varnell’s friends telling me that he had carved it and a little about him.  Donny’s works can be seen all over the world. Isn’t Instagram fun?!!!  It connects all of us from all over the planet in little short bursts and lets us share our experiences, interests and information.  I love it!


We tourists couldn’t get enough of the Tlingit Plank House behind me (above) and the totem poles.  I loved the red, black and turquoise colors used to paint everything.  Just like all of the cultures peopling this earth, they used symbols to represent their Gods and all of the forces of the universe.  We really are all one.


Logging is a big part of Alaska’s history. We went to the Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show to see the loggers demonstrate their skills.  Amazing.  It was so much fun to see them in this setting.  I can’t imagine what it must be like to work as a lumberjack out in the mountains.


Back to the ship…..what a great way to travel.  On to Juneau. Happy Anniversary to us!

Canal City Hakata, Fukuoka

Looking up at this gorgeous building, Canal City Hakata, Fukuoka, was impressive enough but imagine at the same time a symphony concert synced with the fountains.  It’s one of those goosebump moments when everything comes together just for your pleasure.  It’s sight and sound and the whoosh of water spray.

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Straight ahead, through those doors is the lobby of the Hyatt Regency, Fukuoka.  That’s where I first experienced iced coffee.  I’m an espresso girl.  Don’t try to talk me into cold coffee. But, I was urged “just try a sip, you’re going to love it”.  I tasted it, and okay, it’s okay.  “But wait, we haven’t put the cream in yet.”  Oh My Gosh!  Who knew iced coffee was so great?!!!

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Walking out of the Washington Hotel where I was staying in this massive complex, past the shops, restaurants, theatre, cinemas, and fountains to the Hyatt Regency entrance, there was so much to see.  It was a little more complicated and confusing because of all of the Japanese characters.  I’m so glad that pictures are a universal language all their own.

I couldn’t take my eyes off of the water in the canal.  It danced.  Undulated.  Swirled. Then the fountains stopped spraying and the water became calm.  Until, a soft breeze rippled across the mirrored surface in the most intriguing shapes and reconfigured them again and again.

These reflections look more like paintings to me than photos of water.  Well, actually they do look like photos of water.  But they are definitely inspiration for paintings.

Don’t you love going somewhere you’re never been before. Everything is new.  It’s as if your eyes were seeing for the first time and your ears had the volume turned up.  Maybe it’s an alertness…..all of your senses are enlivened…..that comes with being out of your comfort zone and in an excitement zone. “I love being in the SherrieZone.”

Red Sprite

Lightning is such a fascinating phenomenon.  I live on a mountainside where, as storms approach, I can watch them come across the valley to the west bringing their towering clouds and lightning with them.  The bolts are often bright, jagged and searing…..very dramatic as they light up the clouds above them and attack the ground below.

At the same time that we are able to see lighting below clouds during a storm,  there are sometimes massive, but weak, luminous flashes above the clouds.  They are described as large scale electrical discharges high above cumulonimbus, normally reddish-orange or greenish-blue with hanging tendrils below and arching branches above.

The first photos of sprites were obtained by accident in 1989. Since then, thousands of photos have been taken from the space shuttle and aircraft.   Early research referred to them as “upward lightning” or “cloud-to-ionosphere discharges”.  Now because of their whimsical, fleeting nature, they are simply called sprites.  I think it’s so much fun that “scientists” would give what sounds so serious, a Transient Luminous Event or TLE, a wonderful, full of personality and life name.  I imagine them dancing around above storms sometimes singly and sometimes in groups like nymphs in the moonlight.

There are some subjects and ideas that just grab a hold of me and I want to know as much about them as I can.  I love living in the day of the computer.  So much is being discovered and shared…’s so exciting!  I kept thinking about these red sprites and decided to bring them to life with my paint and brush first with small studies and then a large painting.

When I imagine our world, our universe, I imagine life… from the smallest particle to the largest expanse… that composes the air we breathe, life that forms our sun and stars and the life responsible for and embodied in the red sprites that dance above our storms.

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Cropped photo of Red Sprite 34″x51″.

Fairytale Wedding

I’ve listened to many couples talk about just what they envision for their wedding experience.  Those dreams are as varied as the individuals involved.  But when I began to hear about the plans for this wedding from the Mother of the Groom, it was obvious to me  that this couple had made a conscious choice to listen to their hearts and their hearts dictated fun, travel and magic.

I believe looking for fun is the natural God-given state-of-being we are born into as enfants.  It’s probably the most important state to which we could aspire.  But it often appears to some as a state of selfishness or childishness… which I say…..Hey!  Hey!  (to get your attention)  We all want happiness.  No one can give it to you.  You have to take it…..that’s what looking for fun is all about.  And, once you have it, it spreads to everyone lucky enough to be around you.

I believe travelling is so exciting because it takes us out of our comfortable routines.  Just seeing new places and people and adjusting to new experiences opens our eyes a little wider to the beauty that surrounds us, sharpens our ears to take in new sounds, expands our ability to love and be loved and increases our zest for life.

I believe in magic!  I see it everyday!  I experienced magic in a concentrated dose over several days spending time with the family and friends of two talented, genius visionaries as they pledged their love and began their lives together.

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The spanish moss hanging from the huge oak trees created the perfect backdrop for the ceremony.  The late afternoon sunlight added the perfect, soft, magical atmosphere.  The Jekyll Island Club Hotel provided it all.  Everyone there was bathed in gold and we basked in every delicious moment.

That’s how it was in Georgia…..a fun, extraordinary, magical experience.   I love knowing that it wasn’t an accident.  They planned it that way.   I’m sending out my love and appreciation to everyone involved and especially to the newlyweds!


Punta Cana

Our last stop in the Dominican Republic was Punta Cana.  Knowing we were going there, I googled it and saw plenty of beautiful pictures of the resorts and beaches in the area.  But pictures do not do justice to real life sand and sea.

When we walked in to the lobby of the Barcelo Bavaro Palace, I was mesmerized by these larger than life ceramic mosaic figures.  I took a lot of pictures of them and the many others around the grounds.

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Punta Cana is for tourists.  We were told the Europeans discovered it years before the Americans did.  There was evidence of this everywhere we went.  We did hear a lot of English spoken along with Russian, lots of Russian, Spanish, Italian and a smattering of lots of other languages.

The white sand, the layers of blue, turquoise and aqua of the water and the breeze coming off the ocean were stunning.  Beautiful.  This is where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Caribbean Sea.  We actually saw the line drawn across the water where the division occurs.  LOL.  But, loved the idea.  And now I have proof.  I really am an angel.


We left Santiago thinking we were taking the new highway to Puerto Plata.  We were told it would be a 55 mile, 40 minute drive through a beautiful agricultural area passing amber mines, an organic coffee growing region, sugarcane plantations, and roadside stands with naturally grown produce, pasture fed meats and dairy products.  But, somehow…..Siri (our GPS navigator) said turn right onto the Carretera Touristica that wound around the mountain tops for 22 miles and three hours later delivered us to the beach.

The road was paved most of the way but was dotted with pot holes and caved-in portions in flood areas.  At one rough area, a little boy,  who looked to be about 7 or 8 years old, had placed a gallon can at the side of the road with a string attached.  He held the other end of the string and stood bravely right in our path.  We paid the toll and went on our way utterly charmed by his smile and entrepreneurship.  I was so car sick I didn’t have the presence of mind to snap his picture.  The winding curves of the road and the bumpety up and down of the pot holes combined for a good case of nausea.

Many of the houses along the highway are vacation homes for people wanting to get out of the cities.  There are many mercados, very small markets, where you can buy locally grown fruits and vegetables, a cup of sugar, a teaspoon of salt and soda pop.  There are also many bancas.  I thought they might be small banks…..nope.  Bancas are betting houses where  you can bet on most sports and buy lottery tickets.

There are so many activities in these mountains:  hiking, horseback riding and zip lining.  Waterfalls and rivers were nestled into the lush, green trees, vines and blooming shrubbery.

We eventually arrived at Puerto Plata and discovered the Playa Chaparral.  We were so glad we did.  We were so hungry and anxious to hit the beach.  We walked through a large parking lot and a large vendor area and were directed to a restaurant on the beach.  That’s how we met Giorgio.

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Giorgio  moved to Puerto Plata from Quebec, Canada.  He settled in and opened two restaurants on the Playa Chaparral:  The Hispaniola Restaurant and Bar for lunch and snacks and next door Le Petit Francoise for dinner.

We had octopus and squid appetizers,  whole fried fish and fries, shrimp in a spicy sauce with rice,  mango and pineapple cocktails, Presidente beer (the favorite local beer) and margaritas all with our feet in the sand.  Right there…..that’s my definition of heaven!  I’ve been coerced into eating octopus and squid before.  It’s always been rubbery and coated with breading and deep fried.  This was fresh-fresh and tender-tender.

Giorgio has created a wonderful life for himself there in Puerto Plata.  His philosophy, food and attentive waiters were worth the ordeal we went through to get there.  He invited us to look at houses along the beach and stay awhile.  We were so tempted.

Again, I was reminded, that seeing new places and having new experiences is so much fun, but the people you meet along the way are life enriching