Capella Lodge

While we didn’t get the chance to stay here, Capella was kind enough to extend the offer to us to join them for lunch and a site inspection of their property. We greatly thank Libby, their manager, and James Baillie, the owner, for extending this experience to us.

Entrance to Capella

There are places you find on the Web that the view looks too good to be true, but at Capella, upon arrival at their lodge, the view is the same as what is depicted online, if not far better. We entered the lodge through their arbor and then into the living area, which opened into a sitting area near a fireplace, a large dining area and the bar. In front of us was a magnificent view of both Mt. Lidgbird and Mt. Gower rising out of the ocean to a surreal height of almost 3,000 feet.

The view

Despite the luxuriousness of this place, Blake and I never felt like we were out of our comfort realm. All the furniture had the feel of a really nice beach house. Capella made us feel relaxed, especially as their friendly staff catered to us. In fact, the lodge totes itself as being Lord Howe’s luxury beach house.

Dining area

Each day at Capella the menu changes for all meals. However they offer a classics menu that doesn’t change in case you’re in the mood for something a bit more the norm. Included in the tariff here are a gourmet breakfast, sunset drinks and canapés, a three-course dinner with selected wines and all non-alcoholic beverages. Lunch is not included but is available at the restaurant or as a picnic or a BBQ to enjoy somewhere on the island.

For lunch, I enjoyed the beef tenderloin burger with Brie, sundried tomato, caramelized onion and a side of hand cut chips. The burger was huge, and the meat I found to be a little tough as I ended up cutting it all up with a knife and fork since it was so big. But the chips were quite good. Blake enjoyed the local fish special of kingfish, which came with polenta. It was also very tasty, mainly because the fish is so fresh on the island. They also brought out a small serving of their gnocchi with provincial vegetables, toasted almonds and curd to try. Neither one of us had had gnocchi quite that good before; the cheesiness of them was delicious. They also served us wine with lunch and tea afterwards.

Beef tenderloin sandwich

Kingfish and polenta

When we finished lunch, we started our tour of the lodge. Capella consists of nine different rooms. We were shown two different rooms, as guests occupied the others. The first room we saw was the Capella Suite. The views were just as stunning as they were in the dining area. A one-level room, the suite has a nice bathroom with an oversized shower. Outside is an expansive private deck with a cozy day bed and sun lounge. The other room was the Lagoon Loft, a two-level room with a living area downstairs and a sleeping area upstairs. Again, amazing views, private decks on both levels and a bathroom with a rainshower.

Lagoon Loft view

We continued on our tour to the spa. The spa was a very nice, but small, space with one treatment room and a small locker room with a bathroom. The spa will be expanded upon in the coming year to include a bigger treatment area. The bathroom with the shower is nice for guests who need to check out early, but still would like to explore the island more before being transported to the airport to catch their flight. Go snorkeling in the morning, come back for a shower and on to the airport! They also have a small hot tub outside, near the spa, that reminded me a bit of a deep wine barrel. The stars at night from there are supposed to be amazing.

Back to the dining area and up a small flight of stairs is another lounge area with a fireplace and more amazing views of the lagoon and the deck below with a small plunge pool off the dining room. Enjoy sunset cocktails there later in the day, snuggle up with a good book or just relax and watch the waves.

Upper lounge area

Libby was kind enough to take us back to where we were staying, but extended another visit for the next day to come back to join her for cocktails. We couldn’t resist the offer! The very next day, Libby picked us up at our resort and took us back to Capella. Each day they have a specialty cocktail to enjoy during sunset. Ours was muddled grapes and was quite delicious. The canapés consisted of lamb belly with coriander flowers on a small square of toast, and kingfish belly with mandarin served on a spoon. Both were absolutely delightful.

Monty Python sunset

We watched the sunset, which Libby said sometimes is a bit Monty Python-ish with the clouds, enjoyed our cocktails and found it a bit hard to leave.

Also included in a stay at Capella is island airport transfers, daily housekeeping and evening turndown service, beach towels, bath robes, pillow selection, premium brand toiletries, backpacks, snorkeling gear, lagoon canoes, movies, books and games, internet kiosk, and adult mountain bikes. Capella will help set up tours for you with local tour companies and transport you around the island as they are a bit far south. If you are lucky enough to say in the Makambo Loft you can enjoy a private deck plunge spa. Even luckier to stay in the Lidgbird Pavilion, your stay will include a complimentary electric golf buggy, an in-suite bar and a private plunge pool.

We definitely plan on returning to Lord Howe some day and will highly consider basking in the peaceful luxury of Capella.

Enjoying life

 

Capella Lodge

Lagoon Road

Lord Howe Island, NSW 2898

Phone (North America): 931-924-5253

Website: http://lordhowe.com

 

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World Heritage Site: Lord Howe Island

Lord Howe Island View

I can’t imagine there are many places on Earth quite as magical as Lord Howe Island (LHI). On our flight to Sydney from Los Angeles, we were the only two people making the connecting flight to LHI. Most Americans have never heard of the island, and most Australians outside of New South Wales haven’t either. Only 350 people live on the island and only 400 tourists can be there at time. At times, you can have a whole beach to yourself.

There are very few cars on the island and most people get around by bike. It’s a carefree way to live. After eating breakfast every day, we’d get our bathing suits on, put on our sunscreen and bike helmets and away we’d go for the day to go explore. And that’s truly what you do on this island is explore.

The first day we tackled Ned’s Beach (and every day after that) to go feed the fish. I’m not quite sure what I was expecting, but there were swarms of fish at the beach. There were colorful wrasses and parrotfish, sand mullets, kingfish and double headers. Two days in a row we saw a Galapagos reef shark, one of the fastest fish I’ve ever seen. For a $1 AUD you can buy fish feed out of the machine and hand feed the fish. We went to the south end of the beach to where the rocks were to find more colorful fish hiding under the reef rocks.

Swarms of fish

Ned's Beach

 

This is Ned, our parrotfish

We spent some time at Old Settlement Beach at high tide to try to find the sea turtles that come in. There was one paddling around by some snorkelers. I waded out into the water to go view first hand and be able to say I swam with a sea turtle. They are quite graceful, occasionally coming up for air with a pfffff sound as he exhales and inhales before sinking back down again.

Old Settlement Beach - people near the turtle

Our second day, we rode our bikes to the Middle Beach trailhead and took the trek through the trees, past the cows and down the cliff side to find ourselves standing over Middle Beach. Again, another pretty secluded beach full of coral, different types of shells and sea glass! I reminded Blake at the time something that my mom has told me to do when you find yourself in a beautiful place. Stop, bask in the beautiful place you are, and remind yourself that you are currently the only person on Earth taking in this view right now and experiencing it. It is an amazing thing to do.

Middle Beach

Another view of Middle Beach

We took our bikes at dusk one evening to go sit at Blinky Beach and drink our honeymooners’ champagne at ironically the beach with what the locals on the Lord Howe website call “champagne surf.” The sooty terns were nesting on the dune below our bench with their chicks; the parents occasionally flying high into the sky. The smell of the birds was a bit overwhelming on the walk down to the beach, but not so bad from above them on top of the dune.  As we drank our champagne, in front of us appeared the most amazing full rainbow I’ve ever seen, and behind us a sunset for the record books. The rainbow reached from the edge of the ocean all the way over to the cliff to our left.

Blinky Beach

A Lord Howe Island sunset

On another bike ride we found ourselves at Lovers Bay, clearly at high tide with a forceful wind that made my hair stand up straight. We sat on the rocks watching two kite surfers whipping over the waves. Once back on our bikes we went to the airstrip and watched a QantasLink airplane take off. This might sound mundane, but you’ll quickly learn that planes taking off and landing on the island is quite a spectacle as there is no air traffic control and the airstrip is only a kilometer long.

Lovers Bay

We hiked half way up Malabar trail one morning before only getting about half way and turning around. With Blake’s fear of heights, it was a bit close to the cliff edge, and with it being a bit “blowy” we decided to turn around. My goal was to be able to see the edge of island on the south end where Mt. Gower rises up out of the ocean and I was able to do that from only half way up.

Malabar Trail

Lord Howe is like no other place. With very few cars, and mainly bikes on the road, you start to recognize people as you travel around and have the urge to wave at everyone. As there is no crime on the island, there are no keys to the resort room doors, and the sheriff’s main job is to make sure you’re wearing your bike helmet. We wished we could have spent more time here experiencing the magic of it all as there were more beaches to see and more trails to hike. We will be back some day, and next time we’ll be there for a longer stay.

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Wow, this really happened?

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the econom

View more of this story on NBC News.

I can’t believe after the government shut down all the parks that a Congressman would actually walk up to a park ranger and tell her she should be ashamed of herself.

The LA Times yesterday gave people a few ideas if you’re on vacation and find yourself locked out of a National Park. Visit the LA Times to see their ideas. Although, I’d highly suggest avoiding the casino idea, as that has nothing to do with nature or culture.

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Government Shut Down

It is a sad, sad time that all the National Parks have now closed due to the Government Shutdown. It is a shame that the people we have “hired” to run this country can’t seem to work together in order to make things works smoothly for the country. I hope for all the people traveling now to see the National Parks, that they will open up soon for you so you can see the wonder that they are. I know many of them are “bucket list” places to see. This is a beautiful time of year to be traveling to see all of the parks. Fingers crossed that they will once again, open up soon.

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Sesame Street and the National Parks

Love that Sesame Street finally partnered with the National Park System to push getting kids outside to enjoy the National Parks and the outdoors.  More kids to need to get outside and enjoy nature!

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Yosemite Nature Notes – One Day in Yosemite Video

This is one of the most beautiful videos I have ever seen done on Yosemite National Park. I love how they have everyone part of the video from the kitchen staff and waiters, to the tram driver, to the hard core hikers, artists and families. The father and son climbing duo even brought tears to my eyes near the end. Also the woman in the video had it spot on about the Redwood trees.

This is definitely on my list of places to go in the future.

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Spooky B&Bs!

Happy Halloween from Parks & Pancakes! Just in time for Halloween is a list of spooky B&Bs that would give you the creeps if you stayed there. I stayed at the Heceta Head Lighthouse B&B supposedly haunted by the ghost, Rue. And let me tell you, it was a little hard to fall asleep that night. (I didn’t know it was haunted until AFTER we made the reservations.)

Ghosts are fascinating, I just don’t know if I could really stay in a haunted bed and breakfast. It would just give me the creeps. I want to be able to relax at night, not be up thinking I hear and see things!

Huffington Post lists their haunted bed and breakfasts.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch lists their haunted picks.

Both news sources were pulling their haunted spots from B&B Finder’s list of haunted B&Bs.

More B&Bs from Huffington Post. I’m sorry, but if a ghost kept taking the blankets and sheets off of me in the middle of the night, I would probably lose my mind.

 

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Bed and Breakfasts for fall colors

Are you looking to take a little adventure this fall and travel out East, or anywhere for that matter, to experience the colors? Don’t go without checking out the following 10 bed and breakfasts that the Huffington Post labeled as places to leaf peep from the porch.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bnbfindercom/taking-the-laidback-appro_b_1909706.html#slide=more252493

I wouldn’t mind kicking back at the Wildberry Lodge in North Carolina right about now or the ECCE Bed and Breakfast in New York. Both look gorgeous.

 

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C.H. Bailey House Bed and Breakfast

CH Bailey Sign

Located in Roseburg, Oregon, C.H. Bailey sits in the quaint countryside of the state. The area is known for its wineries, similar to Newberg in the Willamette Valley. It is serene and quiet and you could spend hours in the backyard lounging in the Adirondack chairs and gazing off into the distant hills and the old Christmas tree farm that the property sits on.

Relaxing in the peaceful surroundings.

When you arrive at C.H. Bailey, a greeting committee of two meets you in the gravel driveway. Guinness, a black lab, and Murphy, a shaggy-looking dog straight out of a Disney movie. The gardens are lovely and vibrant with color. There is even a hot tub on the back deck.

CH Bailey Gardens

The beautiful gardens

Sherry, the owner, greeted us at the front door with a smile and asked us to leave our shoes by the door. Growing up having to always take my shoes off at the door, I felt right at home. She gave us a tour of the sitting room and dining room where tea and coffee are always available because of the Keurig machine.

The stairs leading upstairs split off at one point to lead to Sherry and her family’s personal home. The other way leads to the guest quarters. In the hallway is a refrigerator available to guests, which includes wine and pop and there are baked treats on top in the afternoon.

Sherry gave us the choice of three rooms since only us and one other couple were staying there. While the other two rooms were gorgeous, we stayed in the room we had originally chosen – The Umpqua Room.

Umpqua Room

The Umpqua Room

The Umpqua Room consisted of a queen bed and a little work desk with local guides to the area. We also had a little sitting room that looked out over the front of the house. The bathroom was bright and clean and had a stand-up shower.

We spent a few hours on the front porch our first day talking with the two other guests and comparing travel stories before Blake and I ordered a pizza from Abby’s. Even the delivery guy was friendly and interested in our trip! We sat on the back deck eating our dinner with Guinness at our feet. To our surprise, Sherry came out with fresh baked brownies for us for dessert. It was such a sweet gesture!

After we finished our pizza, we were in for another special treat. Jay, Sherry’s husband, arrived home from work with a tray of chocolate covered strawberries. He popped open a bottle of red wine and we all sat out on the porch indulging in the wine and strawberries. Never have we had an experience at a B&B where we were able to get to know the other guests so well and the hosts. Sherry and Jay claimed this wasn’t technically the norm for them, but we thoroughly enjoyed the special treatment. Later in the night, Jay took us over to their barn to show us where they keep their pool table, foosball table, and a keg in the fridge with a built-in tap in the door.

CH Bailey House

The front porch

In the morning, Blake and I experienced our first breakfast at C.H. Bailey. We started with small bowls of organic strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries with a dollop of yogurt on top. This was followed by a course of poached eggs with our yolks cooked laid over polenta, spinach and a corn salsa. To finish with something sweet we had banana bran muffins.

Our first breakfast of poached eggs and corn salsa

The following morning breakfast consisted of a fruit medley with a little but of mint and then a Belgian waffle with peaches, strawberries and yogurt on top and a side of California bacon.

Our second breakfast of Belgian waffles

Our fun at C.H. Bailey was cut short by an unfortunate run-in with a skunk the night before we left. Our day at Crater Lake was a bummer as it was fogged over, and then we had a run-in with a skunk on the road, leaving our rental car a stinky mess for days and ruining Sherry and Jay’s dinner party in the barn when we arrived back from dinner in town with a God-awful smelling car. (We are still really sorry about that!)

I hope this never happens to you

However, if you’re looking for a nice Italian dinner in Old Town Roseburg, I would suggest going to Dino’s Ristorante. They wanted nothing but to please their guests while we were there. Because we were waiting for our food, Dino brought out his wife’s specialty of garlic soup for us to try. They also brought us an extra glass of pinot grigio to try and at the end of the meal, a sipping port that neither of us tried. By the end of the meal, we were stuffed and I think feeling the altitude a little bit. Blake tried the gnocchi with spicy sausage and I had the spaghetti Bolognese.

Blake and I will definitely be back here in the future. We have unfinished business with Crater Lake and must go back when we can actually see it. Plus, we’d love to see the waterfalls on the scenic byway that we missed. We look forward to seeing Sherry and Jay on our next trip.

Blake saying goodbye to the awesome view

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Yosemite National Park Time Lapse

It took 19 days and two photographers to capture this very stunning time lapse video of Yosemite. They captured all angles of the park including waterfalls (I really love the last scene of watching the fall move back and forth in the distance) and the people hiking up the side of the mountain with those rope trails (where is that?).  The footage of the night sky and the shooting stars is just beautiful.

Yosemite time lapse

 

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