Category: Northern California

I don’t know about you, but unless you have a streamlined, super business traveler routine for trip preparation and packing, (a la George Clooney in the film Up in the Air) you often wind up at the airport with slight back spasms.

I always travel with my yoga mat and often head to the back of the plane in-flight to stretch out and realign. Now you can actually use all that post check-in extra time at the San Francisco Airport to center yourself and work out the travel kinks. The City by the Bay has opened a yoga room in terminal two. If you don’t carry your own mat, mats are provided in the 150-square-foot room.

So, rather than kicking back with a cocktail why not salute the sun or invert a bit before your long or short haul flight? Let’s hope it’s a trend that catches on.

Leave a Comment | Filed Under Air Travel, California, California, Northern California, San Francisco, Travel, Travel Tips, Yoga

As I once again dig through bins of snow gear to prepare for a trek to the Sierras, I think about growing up on the East Coast. My mom hails from Upstate New York. That fact, combined with the brutal winters and my family’s enthusiasm for all things ski, skate and sled related, has shaped my winter wanderlust.

We are headed to a house, inaccessible by road in winter. Set on 100 acres of land, the generosity of the owners allows us to live out my alpine fantasies.  We snowshoe or ski one mile into the house, carrying backpacks and pulling a sled full of all our gear, food and an occasional small child. Continue reading »

Leave a Comment | Filed Under Adventure Travel, Books, California, California, Cross Country Skiing, Eco Friendly Travel, Family Travel, Feature, Hike/Backpack, Lake Tahoe, Northern California, Olympics, Winter Fun

We drove through Yosemite a few weekends ago. It was packed with summer travelers and waterfall gawkers. The major falls are glorious, and fuller than they have been in years. New, smaller falls have even appeared much to the delight of park goers.

As we drove through the park, out past Mono Lake, we were stunned by the high water levels and snowy peaks in early July. We laughed, thinking that we could even cross-country ski in some spots above 7000 feet.

Record snowfalls this winter and heavy unseasonable rain in summer have made conditions epic for nature lovers but also hazardous.

Continue reading »

Leave a Comment | Filed Under Adventure Travel, Budget Travel, California, Canoe/Kayak, Cross Country Skiing, Cruises, Eco Friendly Travel, Family Travel, Food, Hike/Backpack, Lake Tahoe, Mountain Biking, Northern California, Travel Safety, Yosemite, wildlife

The first time a friend suggested a trip to Sea Ranch, I had visions of seahorse cowboys and underwater rodeos. I soon discovered it to be anything but a SpongeBob SquarePants circus. It proved to be one of the most restful places I’ve ever been.

100 miles north of San Francisco, the drive takes a good three hours if you take time to gawk at the Oscar winning coastline. We often stop in Bodega Bay for a fish and chips or clam chowder lunch to break up the drive. This time, my seven-year-old discovered he gets carsick, and if you are prone to motion sickness this drive will surely bring it on.

Sea Ranch was a pioneering eco-community begun in the late ’60s and early ’70s. The connection between the landscape and the architecture is beautiful and certainly contributes to the serenity of the place. I dislike gated communities or housing developments in general, but this place really has captured the benefits of a uniform style with strong community ethos. The sometimes simple, sometimes elaborate wood-frame structures were inspired by the local ranches and are designed to cope with the weather and integrate well with the topography. Continue reading »

Leave a Comment | Filed Under Books, Driving Trips, Eco Friendly Travel, Family Travel, Food, Hike/Backpack, Mountain Biking, Northern California, Spa/ Resort, Yoga, wildlife

Ski season in the West is really cranking up with another big storm that dumped eight feet of snow on Lake Tahoe and other parts of the Sierra Nevada. Turns out it’s the snowiest November in a decade, with all the major resorts opening for Thanksgiving with top-to-bottom runs operating.

Big Sky in Montana has twice its usual snowpack for Thanksgiving’s opening day and is launching a twin zipline as well so you can zoom 1500 feet alongside your sweetheart or best buddy.

And if you’ve made your way to Yosemite National Park, the Curry Village Ice Rink opens on Thanksgiving as well.

There are so many choices but one thing’s for sure: winter is here.

Leave a Comment | Filed Under California, Lake Tahoe, Montana, Northern California, Skiing, Travel, United States, Winter Fun

Cue the Deliverance Music.

There are many popular canoeing rivers in Northern California. The Sacramento River, from Red Bluff, 30 miles downriver in the shadows of Mount Shasta, to Woodson Bridge, is not one of them.

It was July 4th weekend so we were expecting crowds, and save for a few kayakers and boat enthusiasts, we pretty much had the river to ourselves.  We had planned a moderate backpacking trip but when one in our party had abrupt knee surgery in April, we opted to paddle to our campsite instead of forcing the kids to hike with packs a la the Bataan Death March.  The preparations were similar to a backpacking trip, but we could bring comfy pads and a cooler. I was concerned about tipping the canoe, but my friend hails from Minnesota and has done this sort of thing before.

Continue reading »

1 Comment | Filed Under Adventure Travel, Birdwatching, Budget Travel, Camping, Canoe/Kayak, Eco Friendly Travel, Family Travel, Fishing, Northern California, Soccer, Sports

Every time an expression with “Kool Aid” is used, I think about that unimaginable time in Jonestown, Guyana. It is both horrifying and fascinating.

As a young student, I remember being so haunted by the pictures and stories. Later, when I moved to California and worked in TV, I met a few folks who had covered the story, a personal tragedy for many in the San Francisco Bay Area. So it was with shock and intrigue that I read a recent article in the New York Times discussing the possibility that the ghostly jungle compound, where 900 people lost their lives, could become a tourist attraction. Visions of Dollywood, souvenir kiosks and, gasp, People’s Temple T-shirts made me read on.

Guyana is lush and the only English speaking country in South America, in desperate need to diversify its economy. The sacred land that is now overgrown by jungle is remote, part of the original appeal for Reverend Jim Jones and his followers. Is it disrespectful?  Would a research center to study cults be more appropriate? Or, should the jungle just do its thing and continue to smother the memory of the horrors there?

Leave a Comment | Filed Under Food, Guyana, Northern California, South America, Travel, United States

Summer vacation for my kids this year was a whopping 14 weeks; something about an early end to school in June and a late Labor Day. Whatever the reason it meant a ton of scrambling for summer activities for my kids. A group of parents decided to do a sort of ‘Family Camp’, where the week is split up so that one set of parents watches the group each day. The kids have fun and parents don’t have to pay for so many day camps and can at least get some work done. I have to say the kids made out like bandits; they went to a water park, swimming pools, museums, parks and one day a trip to Stinson Beach. Continue reading »

2 Comments | Filed Under Adventure Travel, Budget Travel, California, Day Trips, Family Travel, Marin County, Northern California, San Francisco, Surfing

Now is the time. The crowds are gone, the days are clear and warm and the nights are cool to cold. Mosquitoes and just about every other flying insect have bedded down for the winter or perished in the chill. Campsites are available. And Yosemite’s vaunted Tuolumne Meadows is as beautiful in the fall as ever.

I spent the 4th of July holiday weekend there, my first visit in 25 years, which told me a couple of things: just how quickly time can pass and a quarter of a lifetime can slip beneath your feet; and how short-sighted I’d been to allow so many years to drift away without making the simple four-hour-plus drive up from San Francisco. I swam in Tenaya Lake, fished the pools and streams that fed into it, got some strikes in the Tuolumne River as it wound through the meadows, and later, at Cathedral Lake, saw a trout with a head as big as my fist emerge from the depths to strike my lure repeatedly before losing interest, too smart to be caught by an occasional fisherman like me. Continue reading »

3 Comments | Filed Under Adventure Travel, California, Camping, Eco Friendly Travel, Family Travel, Feature, Fishing, Hike/Backpack, North America, Northern California, Travel, United States, Yosemite, wildlife

It was a hot summer day and I had promised my youngest son I would take him and his best friend, one of my best friend’s daughters, canoeing on the Russian River. We left early and drove up to Guerneville, a small town along the river in Sonoma County. I wasn’t sure what two almost six year olds would make of the adventure, but I was excited. I have fond memories of canoeing on the East Coast from my childhood and did it a few times on the Russian River in the early nineties. Visions of swimming and frolicking in the river, picnicking on a sandbar and most of all enjoying the day with my husband and the two kidlets got me revved for the escapade. We did some research and found a company named Burke’s Canoe Trips that does half day adventures. This sounded great, but not with the wee ones; maybe with my ten year old and a buddy though.  We found Johnson’s Beach, a really quaint spot, where you could rent canoes by the hour; perfect for our questionable passengers. When we arrived we found a sweet little beach spot which reminded me of spots in NY I visited as a kid in the 70’s; really low tech, really friendly and family run. It wasn’t fancy but I liked it like that. You could rent an umbrella and a buff dude would come over and pound it into the sand for you. The snack bar served soft serve for a dollar and you could rent inner tubes to float along if you didn’t want to paddle. The changing room was a wooden structure with hand-made curtains; loved it! Continue reading »

Leave a Comment | Filed Under Budget Travel, California, Canoe/Kayak, Day Trips, Family Travel, Feature, Northern California