December 31, 2008
December 29, 2008
Another great resource in the Bay Area are Wag Hotels for dogs and cats! They offer wonderful boarding and pet care in an environment that is healthy for your best friend and little buddy.
December 25, 2008
December 24, 2008
December 20, 2008
I have taken my writing to a more grassroots level and am now writing regularly for Uptake.com - a travel site that aims to make the process of booking travel online easier.
Uptake has the largest database of US hotels and activities - over 400,000 of them - from more than 1,000 different travel sites.
Check out my scintillating piece from the other day about the fabulous Pat Kuleto owned steakhouse Epic...and read about a romantic night out in San Francisco during the holidays.
Don't "they" always say that you are suppose to find your passion and make a living from that? I'm half way there. I love to travel and take photos - to get out and about - and I love to share my finds with friends and really almost anyone who basically asks me.
With Uptake, I get to write about restaurants and vacation ideas and everything in between - and share this information with anyone who clicks on my pages or subscribes to my RSS Feed - how easy!
I will be writing at Uptake every week since they really value my perspective - I hope you will come visit me there.
December 18, 2008
In their latest newsletter I read all about an important petition that I think we can all get behind. I did and I hope you will consider joining your voice to this good cause:
Inspired by Michael Pollan's New York Times Op-ed, Farmer in Chief, sustainable food advocates — including Alice Waters, Dan Barber, Wendell Berry and Marion Nestle — have all signed this crucial online petition. Today, over 34 thousand advocates have urged president-elect Obama to choose a Secretary of Agriculture with "a significant grassroots background in promoting sustainable agriculture to create a prosperous future for rural America and a healthy future for all of America’s citizens."
Food Democracy Now! is a grassroots movement initiated by farmers, writers, chefs, eaters and policy advocates who recognize the profound sense of urgency in creating a new food system that is capable of meeting the changing needs of American society as it relates to food, health, animal welfare and the environment.
December 17, 2008
I've written on these pages about my love for the Hawaiian Islands before but with the world melting and the financial markets melting, the reasons to go this year are crystal clear. And going to Kauai isn't just about rejuvenation, it is about perspective.
For me, visiting this particular island always changes my perspective on the world and on my life. I appreciate what goes into creating the beautiful landscape as soon as I walk off of the plane. Walk almost anywhere on the island and you can find a spot to sit and contemplate the years of lava flow that creates each individual island. Looking at the growth of the valleys and the amount of animal and plant life - how can you not feel small and insignificant?
Whenever I go to Kauai, I love to rent an apartment along Hanalei Bay rather than stay in a hotel. I've found this team has the weekly range for a 2 bedroom-2 bath condo is $1100-$2500 which seems about right if you want a view and walking distance to the ocean. The Princeville and Hanalei side feels a little slower, if that is possible but I love it. Hawaii and its aloha spirit offers the traveler more than you can imagine - if you have yet to go, consider a week this winter in Kauai.
December 16, 2008
When I lived overseas I also returned home stateside in time for Christmas, except for one year. It still is one of my most bittersweet memories. How could I complain about not being home for Christmas when I had this wonderful opportunity and life set up in another country?
I had a lot to be grateful for that year - on the return to my overseas home I had a free first class flight to the island of Kauai. Though I tried not to complain and look on the bright side that year, I will admit to playing I left my heart in San Francisco about a hundred times - and tearing up almost every time it played.
Watch and listen to this and tell me you don't feel that tug on your heart - especially if you are far away from home and your home is San Francisco...
Music and a song's lyrics can create a touch point in our memories. When I travel on trains, planes and automobiles I like to listen to music - like most of us - and when you add a holiday like Christmas to the mix, look out. Do you have a favorite song attached to a journey home? Tony Bennett sings this favorite Christmas song of mine:
I'll be home for Christmas
You can plan on me
Please have snow and mistletoe
And presents under the tree
Christmas Eve will find me
Where the love light gleams
I'll be home for Christmas
If only in my dreams
December 15, 2008
The Presidential Inaugural Committee announced Monday that Mr. Obama and his family will board a train in Philadelphia bound for Washington on Saturday, January 17. They will stop in Wilmington, Delaware to pick up Vice President-elect Joe Biden and his family. The group will then travel together, stopping in Baltimore, before arriving in Washington’s Union Station.
Last year Amtrak partnered with GrandLuxe Rail Journeys, which are definitely on my vacation wish list!
Photo credit to krikit
December 11, 2008
I suppose we all have our price points and a value we place for what is most important to us when we travel. Most lean towards the value of food on their flight or free drinks. My choices differ based on whether I am flying domestic or international.
I have not done it but I am sure I can find one friend who has bought a TSA - scanned retina and thumb print - pass to accelerate their way through security at the airport.
This discussion came up a couple of weeks ago in the Wall Street Journal, here is a bit from the story for our thread:
British Airways serves regular meals in its premium-economy cabin and boards premium-economy passengers with coach customers. Virgin offers a separate check-in area for premium-economy passengers, boards them along with business-class customers and offers food service that is upgraded from coach, but is nowhere near as elaborate as its "Upper Class" business cabin. Both airlines have separate toilets reserved for premium-economy customers, but on recent flights coach customers were using them, too.
Air France says its premium-economy cabin, which will start flying in October or November next year, will include a seat that pivots on the bottom like a movie-theater seat so that the person in front of you doesn't recline into your lap. Two rows of premium-economy seats will take up the same space as three rows of economy seats, and on wide-body jets with nine seats across each row in coach, premium economy will have eight seats across.
- Has the surcharge for bags affected your travel plans?
- How much is comfort worth to you?
With ski season here, will you pay the extra fees for your boots and other equipment - or skip the airline and ship them to your destination?
Photo credits sfcphotography.com
December 9, 2008
I love this area of California and I love taking Sunday drives along the coast. Each time we do, there is always something new to discover. We have visited little seaside towns along Highway 1 and made lots of new friends along the way.
Of course many of my discoveries include new places to eat - love that our Garmin GPS includes restaurants!
A recent coastal gem we explored was Pescadero, south of Half Moon Bay on Highway 1 and north of Santa Cruz. More on that experience soon, I have a great spot to highlight, Duarte's Tavern! We're going there for a 'noggin soon and some crab.
December 7, 2008
Given the drop in gas prices lately and the fact that after five years our car is still getting over 40 miles a gallon, I say we made the right decision to skip the airports this winter.
However that doesn't mean we are missing out because California has some great places to get to by car. I'm talking the greenest museum and aquarium, world class ski resorts and breathtaking national parks.
Getting out on the road this winter will be an adventure and one that I plan to start preparing for now with a winter roadside kit with water, map, blanket, flares and a flashlight. I probably will order something from a place like this.
December 5, 2008
December 4, 2008
Joe's Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab was such a great place to go out for a nice old school dinner in this crazy city. Since I don't gamble - except with my diet - my only sin (besides bargains) is spending too much on dinners out. I was in Las Vegas to hang out with family before heading to the Grand Canyon, and though I didn't shop, I wish I had this scoop because I might have scored some outlet bargains. Next time.
December 2, 2008
I absolutely loved the Grand Canyon! Seeing for the first time this national landmark was awe-inspiring.
This western landscape invokes all the old Gene Autry movies of Saturday mornings. If you have the time then I have to recommend going to the south rim of the canyon during these winter months. [Having many friends with children I know it is easier for trips like this to be in the summer during school breaks, but maybe a winter break would work?] My trip was just a couple weeks ago and the sky could not have been more blue. The temperature was mild during the day and crisp at night.
When you go, I highly recommend taking one of the awesome helicopter trips around the canyon. This is the best use of your time for the amount of landscape you get to take in at once.
I did hear from a guest at our hotel that there are some outfits that have huge issues with their scheduling (he was bumped for his allotted time then was sitting around waiting). He also said to avoid Papillon Grand Canyon Helicopters, because their helicopters had some seats facing backwards. There are only three outfits at the South Rim.
I could not take a bad photo from the window of our Maverick's Helicopter, they were out of this world. Our family with us bought the DVD made of the ride, set to cool music and including some interior shots of them sitting inside (so try not to grimace when the helicopter suddenly drops into the canyon).
We took the Canyon Spirit tour that 45 minutes (ours was 47 min) includes the Eastern Canyon, Northern Rim and Dragon Corridor It was about $220 each and totally worth it. Considering we were there only a day, this was a perfect first time visit when we added in a nice brunch at the El Tovar Hotel at the rim.
We drove from Las Vegas after a couple of days hanging out there and eating great meals. We had some great steak and definitely will consider Tao next time. I think it was a great trip over all but next time I might consider flying into the Grand Canyon fron Vegas rather than driving....we'll see.
Photo credits to sfcphotography.com
November 29, 2008
I love Hawaii and have visited almost every island in the chain at least once. About five years ago I spent two weeks on the Big Island and loved the parks there. Having previously been on Kauai which is one of the oldest islands, the Big Island was truly a "baby" in comparison.
The amount of volcanic activity clearly showed how the island is growing all the time. Loving photography the way I do, this photo here is one that I took at Akaka Falls on the Big Island (having just driven from Hilo and a big lunch).
Merry Christmas to me, because I was asked to allow a travel guide to include my photo in their new edition. You can see in the sixth edition of the Schmap Hawaii Guide, my photo here from the Akaka Falls State Park.
If you have an iPhone or iPod Touch they have the vision of my photo here...
November 26, 2008
So I am still on the fence here about this topic that is gaining ground for domestic and international travel, the issue of baggage and US airlines looking for revenue by charging for luggage. Recently the Wall Street Journal even had a story about the cost to fly your luggage.
I'm still undecided about this because I have experienced charges for checked bags in Europe for years now. It wasn't terribly expensive and it only encouraged me to pack light. I also understood that the smaller the plane, the smaller the compartments. Also Americans were known for being larger and therefore carried more stuff because we were consumers.
I have also have lived in Japan where they are pros when it comes to packing and shipping anything domestically. When we skied it was common practice to ship your ski equipment ahead to the hotel. When you bought a big piece of furniture such as a tansu chest (Japanese chest of drawers) or a big recliner massage chair, they automatically offered to deliver and set it up at your home. Of course it cost, but it was never unreasonable and the freedom it gave you to either just get on your train or get in your car and go to the resort, or go home and know that your furniture would arrive the next day was incredible. I got used it quickly.
The concept being discussed now is familiar but in the US, I am not so confident we are there yet. When you check into a hotel, do you really feel confident that the staff will accept the luggage of someone they have never met, don't know because they are not famous and have had eight years of a president telling them to fear domestic terrorism? When you check your luggage do you really feel you are getting value for your airfare?
I say if you really want to use a delivery service such as Sports Express to ship your skis or golf clubs, then do it. This increase in fees from the airlines stinks to me and looks like they are dressing up something that is simply another way to make up for the fact that they are running inefficient operations. What do you think?
Photo credit to geisha boy
November 22, 2008
Have you heard the song by Nat King Cole? He has such a smooth voice. I'm much more familiar with that version than the Chuck Berry styling. And the Rolling Stone cover version, wow!
Well if you ever plan to motor west,
Just take my way , that's the highway that's the best.
Get your kicks on Route sixty-six.
Well it winds from Chicago to LA
More than two-thousand miles all the way.
Get your kicks on Route sixty-six.
Well it goes through St. Louie down to Missouri
Oklahoma City looks oh so pretty.
You'll see Amarillo, Gallup, New Mexico
Flagstaff, Arizona, don't forget Winona,
Kingsman, Barstow, San Bernardino.
Won't you get hip to this timely tip
And think you'll take that California trip.
Get your kicks on route sixty-six.
How about the Johnny Cash classic, "I've been everywhere man"? This one I love to listen to and try to sing along with, though I am not terribly good at it - but definitely a good choice for a car ride! Watch the video below and tell me what you think.....
Route 66 is clearly a part of the American story, and now that I've been on a segment of it I am definitely going to try and put a road trip together where I can travel it east...from San Bernardino all the way to Chicago!
November 18, 2008
November 16, 2008
The seed of Wafrica was planted earlier this year when Serge Mouangue, a Tokyo-based concept- car designer for Nissan, decided to explore mixing the two cultural landscapes in the form of one of the most iconic symbols of Japan: the kimono.
"They may appear different on the surface but they do share some cultural similarities," the 35-year-old says. "Both societies are very tribal and have a respect for hierarchy and an appreciation of the power of silence.
"And then there are the differences. In Japan there is no improvisation. Here, improvisation can mean trouble, shame, difficulties. But in Africa, it means life, renewal, health and spirit."
November 15, 2008
November 13, 2008
It is an exciting time in the
We just elected a president that has a huge chance to alter the course of our country in a positive way that will be felt for decades. I am excited because this also means that for us travelers and global citizens, we again can begin our journeys exploring the world around us without fear. The U.S. has been low on the list of pleasant countries to be a citizen of for many years now, so having a president that is viewed by the world as a leader and positive game changer is wonderful. U.S.
I am looking forward for the first time in a long while to getting outside the
again and engaged in friendly conversations with other world citizens, at airports and cafes alike. There is something so exhilarating when you find yourself in the middle of a trip simultaneously delighting in the newness of your environment and engaging in a lively conversation with a fellow traveler. I've felt this way while sitting with my feet buried in the sand at an outdoor café in Bali and across the world, while sipping a glass of wine in U.S. savoring the sight of the sun setting over La Giudecca. If there ever was a time to get your passport dusted off, it has arrived. The world is again, all about travel. Venice
Peace and happy trails.
November 12, 2008
November 10, 2008
It certainly ranks as one of my favorites (similar to My Life in France) and I'm warning all of my friends now that when it gets loaned out, it better be returned! Click here to order your own...and stop over here at the LA Times to read a sweet post about how this book touched someone.
November 7, 2008
Having watched dozens of National Geographic special episodes on Sunday nights as a kid, I am scared my actual experience won't meet my expectations. Has that happened to you? I admit that this kind of happened to me and Disneyland. The first time I went there I was eight years old and the second and last time, I was twenty years old. Not a good idea.
I promise to post pictures of my adventure and any good recommendations I find. While I am out and about, and distracted from posting, do send me any questions you have about Las Vegas and its surrounding areas. I will try and do some on the ground research for you. Happy Trails.
November 5, 2008
Recently Mrs. Meyers brought her line of products to the Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival, all displayed perfectly in a vintage camper trailer. Think Mayberry and the Andy Griffith Show. Her camper was so cool looking, you could actually imagine it being pulled behind an old Mercury station wagon during a summer trip to the Grand Canyon. To add to this vision, her camper had a miniature clothesline on the roof with dish towels pinned to it. What a great way to market your brand and share your story! I stood for several minutes and listened (and sampled the lotions) while she shared cleaning tips and her vision of simple and pure ingredients, a la Heloise.
If you want to try this line for yourself, Mollie Stones sells these great products or click here to find the store near you. Mrs. Meyers is sold across the US.
Get out and enjoy these fall festivals because you never know who you might meet or what you might discover!
November 3, 2008
Recently Mona completed a new mural in Noe Valley, on the outside walls of apartment buildings on either side of a parking lot along 24th Street. This parking lot is owned by the Noe Valley Ministry and hosts a small but well attended year-round farmers market every Saturday. From 8:00 am you can bring children (you’ll always find lots of kid friendly music & sidewalk chalk) and with a cup of Martha’s Brothers Coffee, stroll by dozens of stands filled with fresh bread, apple cider, and local produce [Happy Boy salad greens are a favorite!]. Mona's murals depicting beautiful warm images of this same locally sourced produce adds richness to this converted parking lot that is unique. I highly recommend taking public transportation (i.e. J Church) the first Saturday you have free.
October 31, 2008
I love REI because not only do they have excellent brands of yoga gear, running clothes, ski helmets and camp stoves but they also have a great house brand. And they give back. I just love going there even if I just get a new toy or new piece of gear for my dog.
So I was saying, we've finally started to get our rains this week and "very quickly" I realized I needed a pair of shoes that would hold up to the rain. [By very quickly I mean the pair of shoes I had on yesterday were ruined by the unexpected down pour I had to stand in while I waited for my bus.]
I hustled up the stairs today to the shoe wall and though I slowed down to check out the yoga pants (always looking for the perfect pair), my feet found their way to the pair of shoes that you see here. And for the first time I posted a review...check it out below. And yes, my dog really did give these Ahnu shoes the once over with her nose when I got home.
Out to find comfortable, casual shoes to fit your active lifestyle? Look no further than these Ahnu Alameda slip-ons.
Super fit, stylish and comfort
Sizing: Feels true to size
Width: Feels true to width
Pros: Comfortable, Versatile
Best Uses: Casual Wear, Travel
Describe Yourself: Comfort Driven
My job allows me to wear casual clothes often during the week so these are perfect shoes. Comfortable but very stylish. And I love that they are waterproof.
October 25, 2008
As for the color of pumpkin, it is very flattering, warm and bright. Reminds me of certain sunsets here in California. I can't tell you how many pretty coastal photos I have taken that are bathed in an almost pumpkin-like color.
And did you get out to this past weekend's annual pumpkin festival here in Northern California? There were lots of wonderful crafts and cover bands and smoked turkey drumsticks. Dee-lish-us. If you missed it, don't worry because you can still find lots of pumpkins along Highway 1 at many of the family run farms.
October 21, 2008
Here are some of my all-time favorite movies, available on Netflix and sometimes your local television. I've included some older movies that I've caught on a Sunday afternoon too, like The Four Seasons. This classic movie that I've seen several times is about couples that go away on vacation together over four seasons. Not only did I love the location shots but the experiences of the couples together are priceless! The Year of Living Dangerously is high on my list because it was the first movie I felt first-hand when I living overseas and traveled to Bali in Indonesia. The music of the Balinese so clearly was the backdrop to this exotic time and location. Again, the perfect soundtrack to my own life at the time.
Like Water for Chocolate not only had my stomach growling, but the background of the Mexican Independence and Pancho Villa, had me seriously motivated to learn more about Mexican food and cooking. The distinct regions of Mexico with their unique flavors were highlighted in this movie [in Spanish only] and I will tell you after seeing the movie, I immediately went out and bought Mexican Hot Chocolate!
And finally, I've included a bonus suggestion A Room with a View, the most lush movie that brought to life the English countryside and Firenze, Italy. I probably saw that movie a dozen times and each time, fell in love with Florence a little more. I remember thinking that I would have gladly lived in a corset, had frizzy hair, even give of my 21st century lifespan - if it meant I could travel to Florence and live there for all those months in such style.
Enjoy the list, and next I will give you a list of the best soundtracks to travel with!
Ten Movies to Inspire You to Travel
October 19, 2008
It is that time of year again....too bad I'll never look like this image, even at my best. And good thing helmets are popular on the slopes.
October 16, 2008
Enjoy this short video of nature and fire! I get inspired when I see footage like this because I always imagine what is happening underwater when I visit Hawaii and when I contemplate learning how to scuba! Two minutes in you will begin to see dragons....
October 13, 2008
I recently discovered [thank you Teri @ WSJ.com] a very cool website with chic and very well-priced chains to hold your glasses. They sell other stylish items but I was immediately taken by how cute the chains are! I'm loving that they include a little mini face at the bottom of each screen to show you which chains work best with the shape of your face.
Don't tell because I'm looking at these for some stocking stuffers this year, but the animal print eyeglass cases are cute and what a bargain!
October 10, 2008
The San Francisco Bay this weekend is the place to be if your favorite movie was Top Gun or for the older crowd, Cinderella Liberty.
Fleet Week is in town and later today is another show of the world famous Blue Angels warming up for the big weekend display.
Cruising on the bay is going to be best spot to view the jets as they fly over our fair city. If you can't get to the pier in time, here are other top spots to watch with all free except for the posh Carnelian Room/Bankers Club:
- Mount Sutro
- De Young Museum Copper Tower (free to the public)
- Bankers Club in the Bank of America Building (though need a membership to book lunch)
- Marina Green
- Great Meadow at Fort Mason
- Chrissy Field
October 8, 2008
Everyone knows I love to pack light. That is the best reward when I travel. Capturing a few solid photos and wearing every single item in my bags. One of the top items I love to take along is a trench coat or as the Brits call them, macs or mackintosh.
The image here is of a young actress on Gossip Girl, a new version of teen angst melodrama. It is nice to see that the classic style of a trench is still popular with young people today.
My favorite is Burberry and given that we just had London Fashion Week, you should check out this great site for ideas of finding your own!
October 6, 2008
..here is a clip from episode one from the new season:
October 5, 2008
Clean energy now! I don't believe the slogans or commercials about oil drilling off our coasts and nuclear power being viable alternatives to increase energy sources.
I like windmills, and I would really like to see an increase in solar power. Those seem to be under-funded energy alternatives for me. I'd also like to see more community college level classes related to jobs in these areas.
October 4, 2008
Half Moon Bay is gearing up for its famous art and pumpkin festival [Oct 18-19]. Though the area may not have as big of a showing of leaves changing colors as you may get in New England, you will get a sweet crisp air temperature and lots of crafts to satisfy your Christmas list needs.
If you decide to drive down Highway 1 from the city, this beautiful coastline is what you can expect.
The Moss Beach Distillery after you pick out your pumpkin is a great place to grab a bite to eat. Or like me, enjoy a nice cocktail while sitting outside under a blanket.
October 2, 2008
Spark the Dream! I just encountered this couple and their great display at a recent street fair. I loved the photos and definitely put their book on my Amazon Wish List.
Spark your Dream is a true story of personal inspiration that explores the inconveniences and the solutions that are presented at the beginning of a dream. Through this incredible journey the reader will live the risk, the sensation of freedom, the passion, the pain of a death, the birth of a son, frustration, life, and success.
Candelaria and Herman Zapp were selling their book and entertaining folks with their story at the Pacific Coast Fog Fest...read more about it here.
September 30, 2008
Street fairs bring out the most creative sorts, don't you think? I just went to the Pacific Coast Fog Fest in Pacifica, California. That had a different sort of creativity, like in the types of tattoos people were sporting!
On the weekend following Columbus Day is the 38th Annual Half Moon Bay Art and Pumpkin Festival...and then Thanksgiving! Am I scaring you with the rush of holidays looming? That to me is what happens when Labor Day comes and the street fairs turn into festivals...
September 28, 2008
Hells Angels selling t-shirts, local music, tattooed parents, Half Moon Bay micro-brews, San Mateo County libraries fundraising and kettle corn are the highlights of this year's festival.
There is still time if you are in town...vroom, vroom.
Here is a photo from my brother-in-law's iPhone! I can't believe I missed this exhibit.....did you see any of this incredible glass artwork?
Chihuly at the de Young is an exploration of the groundbreaking artwork of Dale Chihuly. From the Mille Fiori (a 56-foot garden of glass) to the Saffron Tower (a 30-foot neon sculpture), this exhibition challenges convention with a feast of bold color, dramatic forms and extraordinary composition.
Chihuly at the de Young is Dale Chihuly’s first major exhibition in San Francisco, and includes eleven galleries of new and archival works representing the breadth and scope of the artist’s creative vision over the last four decades. The de Young Museum is the only venue for this exhibition.