I Always Wanted to Visit Cabot Cove, Maine

JB Fletchers House

Blair House aka J.B. Fletcher’s House from Murder She Wrote

And now I’m getting to do it! We’re in Mendocino, California which was the stand in for Cabot Cove in the television series Murder She Wrote, with Angela Lansbury. Loved that series. Mendocino really does look like the images from the series!  It is something of an art community and has a lot of tourists, and therefore a lot of B&Bs and cottages.

We’re staying at the Alegria Inn and have our very own A-frame cottage with a private garden. It is small but not too small – cozy really is the best word for it. There’s a kitchen and dining table for eating in, a living room and television. And a wood stove for those cold nights when the wind comes in over the water. The bedroom is a loft and ADORABLE. The description says the space has a “playhouse feel” and I couldn’t agree more, complete with that childhood sense of excitement.


Alegria Cottage


Alegria Dining and Living Area with Windows Looking Out on to Private Garden

There’s wonderful nutritious breakfast and a breath-taking dining room view over a garden and trail down to the water. (We could also have breakfast delivered to our cottage if we wanted). And the owners and operators are so nice!

We even got a welcome note!


Postcard with view of garden and trail to the beach, and Welcome Note that says: “Best wishes for a fun and relaxing time together here at Alegria and around Mendocino! -Elaine & Eric and all the staff

And just because it’s fitting, I’ll close with an episode of…Murder She Wrote! (1997’s South by Southwest)

The Lost City of Matildaville

Matildaville Sign

The sign is a little beat up but you can almost read it.

One of the things Renee and I like to do occasionally is have an “adventure.”  Usually it involves trying something new or visiting an area where we haven’t been, so nothing too wild and crazy. (Sorry to disappoint all you thrill-seekers).  One of the places we discovered recently that really ended up being a great history lesson and a fun casual day-trip was Matildaville, Virginia.

What?  You say you’ve never heard of Matildaville?  That would be because it doesn’t exist anymore.  This “lost town” actually has a really interesting story attached to it.  It all starts in 1785 with the creation of the Patowmack Company by a gentleman named George Washington.  You may have heard of him.

Anyway, if you look at the date, the United States of America is still a VERY young country, only recently independent and not yet embroiled in the War of 1812.  There are 13 colonies but people are pushing ever westward and  George Washington worried about the tenuous connection between the more “civilized” eastern states and the western frontier, fearing a break of the union between states.  (As we all know, that happened much later and along north-south lines, rather than east-west.) George Washington’s idea was to connect the east coast to the Ohio River Valley through a waterway – the Potomac.  His vision was to “bind those people to us by a chain which never can be broken.”  Pretty clever, yes?

The Great Falls

We took several picture of the Great Falls and it's quite pretty but I will also say that we noticed that the scenic overlook that we took the shots from is much better on the Virginia side than on the Maryland side. We saw the poor folk on the other side crowded together trying to see.

However, as great an idea as that is in theory, there were a few technical difficulties with the creation of a Potomac river east-west waterway.  One of the amazing sights we saw and what would become one of the biggest obstacles for Washington is Great Falls where in just one mile, the river drops 80 feet.  The only way to get barges up and down the river was to bypass the waterfalls completely by building a canal with several locks to raise and lower the boats, like a giant staircase.  That’d be difficult enough to do today, now consider cutting into rock and earth and building a stone-walled canal in 1785!


Remains of Superintendant's House and Boarding House

The remains of the Superintendent's house and the Boarding house. The area was so green and beautiful...

Information from the local historical society and the Park Service gave us some more details – Matildaville came into being really as a result of the construction of the canal – a “construction town” built around the laborers and travellers. The town was named Matildaville for the wife of one of the founders, Harry Lee (who for you history buffs was the father of Robert E. Lee). Matildaville grew to include markets, gristmill, sawmill, foundry, inn, ice house, workers’ barracks, boarding houses, and small homes.

Matildaville Springhouse

The old springhouse had us both fascinated and I had Renee almost convinced to crawl down in the hole and take a look. FYI it ended a couple of feet in. But if we'd been smarter we would have realized...isn't that a great place for snakes to rest. Eeep!

But the canal was never really profitable.  Actually it was a downright failure. Construction costs had been high, and the Potomac route wasn’t useable much of the year because of water levels. The company went bankrupt and the canal was abandoned in 1830. Matildaville followed soon after.  Over time the woods reclaimed the town.  Now it is part of Great Falls Park and the Patowmack Canal has been declared a National Historic Landmark.

Renee in Lock #1 of the Canal










You can find out more about Matildaville and its fascinating history here:

I hope to post more of our photos from the day soon!

Qua Baths and Spa at Caesar’s Palace (Pre-Wedding Relaxation)

A little piece of heaven; THAT is what Qua baths are. To be frank, I’ve never been to a spa before so did not know what to expect. I was pleasantly suprised by the luxury of the Qua Baths and Spa. When I was in elementary school we learned all about the Roman baths, the Tepidarium with its body-temperature water, the Calderium – the steaming hot bath, and the Frigidarium, with its icy cold refreshing waters. As an ardent lover of all things “history” I never forgot that portion of my childhood schooling, but I never expected to actually be able to experience it.

The website described Qua as: Bathed in natural light, accented by smooth stone flooring, dark woods and cascading waterfalls, Qua is the ideal atmosphere for “Social Spa-ing” allowing with family and friends to mingle as they unwind and relax. Our Signature Roman Rituals are at the heart of the Qua experience, bringing the traditions of the glorious baths of ancient Rome to modern times. Our Roman Baths consist of three distinct pools varying in both temperature and size.

The baths consist of three distinct pools, varying in temperature and size. Your experience begins in the largest of the pools, the Tepidarium, with warm mineral-enriched waters to help restore natural elements of your body’s skin. You can then alternate between two smaller pools, the Caldarium and the Frigidarium. The hot waters of the Caldarium ease daily tension and soothe tired muscles, while a quick plunge into the cold waters of the Frigidarium invigorates your body.

The website was absolutely true and my hat is off to the Maid/Matron of Honor for coming up with this idea as a way for the bride and all of her female friends and family to relax before the afternoon wedding, kind of like a water-borne bridal shower. There were almost a dozen of us who spent three wonderful hours together relaxing and indulging in girl-talk.

There is so much more to the spa including a sauna (which I wasn’t too excited about), a Laconium (think warm steamy wet sauna with waterfall and scented with herbs and lavender), and the coolest thing ever…an arctic room. It was 55 degrees with heated benches and floor, and inside, it SNOWS. And of course the “Tea Room” in between where you can sit back and have their “tea sommelier” serve you one of a variety of soothing teas. Considering all of this was under $50, I would call this perhaps the best deal (and potentitally experience) in Ceasars in Las Vegas.

We loved it so much we almost missed the wedding! No joke, by the time we got out and dressed, we made it into the chapel less than 5 minutes before the bride entered.

Cabana Day at the Luxor

Today, we rented a cabana at the Luxor.  Wow!  They advertize it as an oasis and they aren’t kidding.  It is our own little cabin tent with fan and misters.  We lay on the padded lounges (there were four of them) and had water misted on us.  And there’s more – towel service, stereo, flat screen TV, small dining table w/ 4 chairs, a fully stocked complimentary refrigerator, a gigantic bowl of fresh fruit, and 2 rafts.  We also had cabana-boy Chris and waitress-Jess to take care of us.   Their service was magnificent, complete with, on their own initative, getting a whole bucket of ice for Veni (making her their adoring, slobbering, happy puppy for ever).  Veni even got a cool towel in the afternoon when we did!  Well worth it.  And the view was amazing. 

 Any complaints?  Only that the pool itself is only 3ft deep and it closes at 7pm!!!!!  This is Las Vegas and it is HOT.  I don’t understand how a 3 ft. pool that closes early could be beneficial to a hotel.  I’d sit out there all night!  Hmm, maybe that’s the problem.  We’d all be out by the pool instead of in the casinos!


View from Cabana #5 by the Luxors pool

View from Cabana #5 by the Luxor's pool