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  • Writer's pictureVeronica Cline Barton

Veronica's #WritersDiary: Holiday Treks!

“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.”

Henry Miller

Well, hello December! It's that most wonderful time of year once again and I am all in to see the sights of Christmas! The OH and I have begun our holiday trekkin' with a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend that started with family fun in Paso Robles. We stayed once again at the Allegretto resort, bedecked with Christmas finery and an oenophile flair. Red and white wine teased the tastebuds---the perfect accompaniment to the spreads of tasty foods.

From Paso, we travelled west to the shores of Cambria. It's a quaint beach town filled with art galleries, antique stores, and oh-so-yummy bakeries. Our hotel was just across the road from the ocean. We had miles of wooden walking paths to stroll along the coast and see the waves roll in. The weather was California awesome, sunshine and 60s (F), giving views that took your breath away.

I was super excited for our visit just up the PCH to San Simeon, to once again enjoy the Hearst Castle Holiday Tour. Due to Covid lockdowns and PCH construction issues, the castle was closed to visitors from March of 2020 to April of this year. We were able to get tickets for the grand opening of the holiday tour, and boy what a beautiful evening it was!

Let's start with the sunset... #WOW

The iconic pool area was simply stunning...

The stately house looked so grand, and here's another sunset view from the main patio.

Christmas in the main room, where your one cocktail of the evening was allowed...

Then on to the dining hall for a feast...

After dinner, there were billiards and movies 'til one or two a.m. But for the more adventurous at heart, a swim or dalliance in the Roman pool until the wee hours....

Just think of the Hollywood stars who bathed in this gold-leafed watering hole...

What a grand Thanksgiving weekend it was! If you are in the central California area in December, I highly recommend the holiday twilight tour at Hearst Castle. You'll travel back in time in stately fashion and be treated to an evening of luxurious living. You can find out more details here:

Now, as some of you might have guessed from the blog feature pic and the one above, our next holiday trek is to the Fairmont Castle in Banff Springs! I truly think this spot nestled in the majestic Canadian Rockies is one of my favorite places to visit.

My snow boots are doing a happy dance--I can't wait to roam the halls and hills and enjoy the sights. Time to get my Christmas chill on! #HoHoHo

The OH and I are so thrilled to close out this rather bizarre year with some great treks to enjoy in the lead-up to Christmas. Do you have some December trips planned? Here's to a wonderful holiday season!

It's Wednesday, time for #DearDiary:

Get the Ghost Story behind the Ghost Story...

Huge thank you to author Bibiana Krall and her Winter Ghosts Spotify podcast for having me as a guest! We talked all things paranormal during our chat and had a few giggles thrown in as I dove into the story of my own supernatural happenings that came about when we started writing The Haunted Series. You'll hear all about my little ghost girl, Star, and her antics here at the humble abode. She's a force to be reckoned with and she inspired the story, Star of Noel in my Christmas mystery short-story collection, A Novel Noel. I'll be interested to hear what you think... If you have a ghost story to tell, give Bibiana a holler! Have a listen to Parts 1 & 2 of our chat here:

Baby fun and mystery this week from the writers of X...

Author Cathleen Maza, Mama Christmas Rose, 5

The Christmas hijinks are in full swing when Carolyn, her daughter, and mother go to visit their holiday obsessed Cousin Rose. As always, expect the unexpected with this family reunion--Rose is due to have a baby at any moment, and the purchase of a holiday hotel could change everyone's Christmas routine. Sprinkle in romance under the mistletoe, and you're sure to have a holiday to remember!

Author Maza once again gifts us with laughs and smiles this holiday season with the third book in this heartwarming series. You'll love the characters and shake your head when everything doesn't go quite as planned. This series is a Christmas treat--sit back, relax by the fire, and enjoy the quirky family fun and magic of the season!

Author Rhys Bowen, The Proof of the Pudding, 5

Lady Georgie and her honorable husband, Darcy are preparing for big changes at the Eynsleigh estate. Their firstborn is due within weeks, and they are eagerly awaiting the arrival of their Parisian chef to up the standard of culinary offerings served at the house. A dinner party is planned, Georgie's first. Will the chef live up to his talents? Or will this inaugural dinner be not-so-bon?

The chef arrives, his proper attire acquired, and faithful servant and sometime cook, Queenie's ruffled feathers are smoothed. When one of the guests asks to borrow Georgie's chef for an upcoming event, she agrees, although somewhat reluctantly. She doesn't want her newly found chef whisked away to the gothic author's kitchen. He's known for his fabulous garden, which includes poisonous plants of all varieties. The evening of his event is a success, until a few of the guests take deathly ill. When one dies of poisoning, suspicion falls on Georgie's new chef. Will she and Darcy solve who might have poisoned the pudding?

Author Bowen once again delights fan of her A Royal Spyness Mystery series with this clever whodunnit. The characters are a delight and the run-up to Georgie's delivery has everyone on pins and needles. An entertaining story, sure to delight cozy mystery fans!

Next up:

Side trip to Lake Louise!

During our visit to Banff, we'll be traveling over to another Fairmont hotel set on the majestic, icy shores of Lake Louise. The setting is stunning and I'm hoping to see the spectacular ice carvings like those done in previous years. Can't wait to bundle up and walk around this winter wonderland!

Welcome to my world. Until next time, have a good one!

Crowns and Kisses,


P.S. The OH and I are headed to Dana Point this week to see Christmas lights at the marina. This is definitely our favorite time of year, LOL. Wishing you a blessed #HappyDecember!

Gemma and Rikkhe approve 🎀❄️👠

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Dec 06, 2023

Wow...beautiful photos, Veronica; thanks for sharing! Very excited to see another book featured by Rhys Bowen, so I'll definitely have to look into that. Also, thanks so much for your festive review of "Mama Christmas Rose"!

Veronica Cline Barton
Veronica Cline Barton
Dec 06, 2023
Replying to

You're so welcome, Cathy and happiest of holidays to you! Have a wonderful week! xo 🎀👑


Dec 06, 2023

Beautiful photos, Veronica! Twinkly lights are one of my favorite parts of the holiday season, and you saw some gorgeous ones! Hearst Castle is now firmly on my lifelong to-do list. What an amazing experience that must be. Thanks for taking us on a virtual tour. Great reviews of Cathy Maza's and Rhys Bowen's books. I've got Cathy's on my TBR, as well as Cynthia's. I'm immersed in research right now and that seems to take up most of my reading, but I look forward to settling in with both books very soon.

Have a great week. Much love to you! ☃️👢

Veronica Cline Barton
Veronica Cline Barton
Dec 06, 2023
Replying to

Thank you kindly, Amy! We've loved the trips so far--can't wait to get back to Banff too. This is definitely our fav time of year for traveling and reading. Enjoy your week! xoxo 🎀👑


Dec 06, 2023

What an incredible trip! Hearst Castle is fascinating and so gorgeous. Congrats to Cathy Maza on her wonderful Christmas story and kudos to Cynthia Raleigh on her new cookbook as well. I read both books and am happy to say I’m ready for the holidays now!

It was fabulous to have you on the podcast and an honor to talk about Star. She may be a ghost, but she’s inspired a wonderful book and truly feels like the spirit of Christmas. Happy holidays Veronica And to all reading this. 🤩✨🎄🥂❄️

Veronica Cline Barton
Veronica Cline Barton
Dec 06, 2023
Replying to

We're having loads of holiday fun, UberHappy! Thank you so much for hosting us on your podcast and letting the story of our little ghost girl be told. Have a fabulous week and holiday season! xoxo 🎀👑

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