Tag Archives: travel

The Best Chocolate Banana Bread Pudding Recipe Ever.


As you know each year I take  a trip up to one of the most beautiful places in all of the United States,  a lovely little place in the Cape called Wellfleet, Massachusetts.   We stay at a place that is beyond description in many ways, its one of the most amazing homes I have ever stayed in and it happens to have been built by Captain Lorenzo Dow Baker, also known as The Banana King for being the first importer of bananas to the US.  In light of this, each time we visit I always make a point to make a banana dessert to pay tribute to the Banana King and banana’s foster is usually the dessert of choice. This year I made a Chocolate Banana Bread Pudding that totally knocked my socks off and had me making several 2 am trips to the fridge that week to grab just a few more bites of what was definitely the best Chocolate Banana Bread Pudding I had ever tasted.  Here is the recipe I followed that I found on AllRecipes.com, happy baking!

Ingredients, Serves 8
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 4 cups cubed French bread
  • 2 bananas, sliced
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, mix eggs, milk, sugar, and vanilla until smooth. Stir in bread, bananas, and chocolate chips, and let rest 5 minutes for bread to soak. Pour into prepared pan.
  3. Line a roasting pan with a damp kitchen towel. Place loaf pan on towel inside roasting pan, and place roasting pan on oven rack. Fill roasting pan with water to reach halfway up the sides of the loaf pan. Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.


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West Coast Love Trip: Mt. Rainier-Silver Falls

On July 3rd we awoke at the Seasons Motel, located at the base of Mount Rainier, ready to hit the trails and do some hiking.  I decided it might be a good idea to check the trail conditions before heading up the mountain as I had heard that the  unseasonably cold winter, followed by a mild summer had led to slow melt off of the snow on the mountain resulting in quite a bit of washout on the hiking trails.  Well, you can imagine my surprise when I not only discovered the trail I wanted to hike that day, Comet Falls, was closed, it was closed because of SNOW!!  SNOW in JULY, I was in shock and terribly disappointed (although we did make the best of it with a quick snowball fight on our way up the mountain:))   I always believed the Comet Falls hike to be one of the most romantic and magical hikes I have ever been on and I so badly wanted to share it with John that day.

Not to be deterred by a little bump in the road I began investigating what trails we could actually hike that day without the need of snow shoes and it turned out there were very few options for us to chose from. I decided we would settle on hiking a trail I had never been on before that was at a low enough elevation we would not be trekking through snow, named Silver Falls.  When we arrived at the trail head of Silver Falls it began to rain so we popped into the visitor center for a quick peek at their displays and to grab a trail map before starting out on our woodland adventure.

We headed outside to the trail-head and it took about a whole two seconds for me to forget all about us not being able to hike to Comet Falls, suddenly overcome by the unmatchable beauty of the Pacific North West.  As John and I proceeded down the trail we stumbled upon a natural hot spring (which turned out to be his very first encounter with one) and then continued deeper and deeper into the forest, making our way along the Silver Falls trail.  I felt as though the farther into the woods we went the younger I felt, with memories of the many days I spent in my youth hiking the trails of Mt. Rainier with my family and friends, suddenly rushing back incited by the fresh smell of pine and mossy ground beneath our feet.  Although it was still raining a little as we hiked that day we stayed mostly dry, sheltered by the majestic and towering pine trees above us.  After about an hour of hiking I was a child again, jumping over fallen branches, investigating every curiosity we came across, fearlessly running down steep embankments, catching raindrops with my tongue, it was awesome.

On our way to Silver Falls we came across many creeks and rivers, including the Laughingwater Creek and as we approached the half way mark of our hike we could hear in the distance the unmistakable roar of the Ohanapecosh River tumbling over Silver Falls.  As we rounded the corner to the first viewing point, the site of Silver Falls literally took our breath away. We stood there, mesmerized by the rushing water, the cool aqua green color of the river, the overwhelming sound of the water crashing over the falls.  As we made our way down the embankment, exploring the many viewing areas around the falls time stood still, the world melted away, and for that moment it was just us and the mountain and a feeling a peace came over me that I had not felt in a very long time.

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West Coast Love Trip: The Oregon Vortex and House of Mystery

Although John and I would have loved to spend another day in Ashland, Oregon  I had planned for us to make a special stop on our way to Portland which unfortunately meant we had to hit the road. .  Our next destination required us to take a little detour off I-5, winding through the gravel roads that snaked back and fourth through the hills of Southern Oregon.  After a few wrong turns and creative detours we finally came upon a large sign pointing us toward our destination, a place I had been meaning to visit for years, The House of Mystery! The House of Mystery is every bit as cool as it sounds and originally was an old gold assay office built in the early 1900’s, right, smack dab in the middle of the Oregon Vortex .

The Oregon Vortex is one of a few vortex’s around the world that claims to be a place where some of the rules of the natural world, such as gravity for instance, change because the latitude and longitude of its location is said to create strong and strange magnetic forces in the area.  Now I say claims because like most supernatural and awesomely strange places, the Oregon Vortex and House of Mystery have their fare share of skeptics.  A few of the experiences people have when they are there include watching objects, in our case a glass jar, roll uphill, a broom stand on it’s own and unexplainable height changes meaning depending on where you are standing in the vortex you may find yourself suddenly much shorter or much taller then you were just a few feet before, a sort of Alice and Wonderland effect if you will.

Now skeptics will say that these unexplainable and mysterious occurrences are the result of optical illusions instead of mysterious magnetic forces.  These optical illusions skeptics claim are created by the natural landscape in the location and the angles of the structures built upon it, creating distorted backgrounds which in turn lead to people experiencing a forced perspective, or in simpler terms, a manipulation of a person’s visual perception.  However legend has it that long ago Native Americans deemed the Oregon Vortex as a sort of sacred ground as their horses refused to ever enter the vortex area.  On the day we visited the vortex one of the first things I noticed was how many insects were flying around and then I realized why for as we proceeded into the wooded area of the vortex, there was not a single bird in the trees above us and in fact we didn’t see or hear any animals in the vortex area during our tour that day.  Whether the vortex is real or just an illusion is ultimately for you to decide, all I can offer to you is an account of our experience at the vortex that fateful, hot afternoon in July which indeed was quite mysterious.

The experience of the House of Mystery is a guided tour through the vortex area which is a small circular area located in the middle of nowhere in southern Oregon.  There is plenty of literature and pictures displayed in the waiting area where the tour commences, accounts of the many mysteries of the vortex reported over the years.  It is said that many feel very dizzy when they first enter the vortex, some so dizzy that they are unable to even take the short walking tour around the property.  I did feel a little strange at first but I was pretty convinced it was all in my head and John assured me that he felt no different then before entering the property.  Now there are two parts to this tour, the experience of being in the vortex area itself AND exploring the House of Mystery.  Our guide was great as she led us from location to location, often pulling out one of the many bubble levelers that were tucked away in numerous locations on the tour.  Her repetitive use of the levelers was to prove that we were indeed standing on level ground while demonstrating the change in height phenomenon that occurs in the vortex.  I was lucky enough to be called to participate three times in the demonstrations, including one with John where we stood back to back and then switched places, and sure enough the change in our heights was, well astounding.  Another demonstration was conducted in the front of the property where I stood with my back against a measuring pole facing a man, much taller then I was, also with his back against another measuring pole directly across from mine.  Both poles were cemented in the ground, each were measured prior to the demonstration to prove everything was the same size and on a completely level surface. Holding a wooden plank on top of our heads to show the obvious initial height difference we then switched places, turning to face each other again placing the plank on our heads and once again the change in our heights was plain as day.  Our height change was not only obvious because of the change in level of the plank on our heads but also by measuring the change in our heights with the poles behind us.

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