Category: Northern California

Who wouldn’t want to hike a trail with such a reputation? Where might this place be? Favorite hikes of mine include Nepal’s Mt. Everest Base Camp and Kala Patthar trek via Namche Bazaar; the network of trails around Switzerland’s Lauterbrunnen Valley and Grindelwald; backpacking trails in California’s Marble Mountain Wilderness, the Sierra Nevada, and Yosemite.

Others might choose the Inca Trail in Peru; the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela in Spain; pub-to-pub walking in the Cotswolds of England; the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine.

I’ve been tempted by the Overland Track in Tasmania. But Robert D. Hershey Jr. extols the virtues of the Milford Track in New Zealand in a recent story in The New York Times. As far back as 1908 this 33.5-mile trail was called the finest walk in the world and many hikers feel it’s true today.

After reading Hershey’s story I’m ready to start planning a trip south. How about you?

2 Comments | Filed Under Adventure Travel, Asia, Australia, California, Camping, England, Europe, Feature, France, Hike/Backpack, Nepal, New Zealand, Northern California, Peru, South America, Spain, Switzerland, Tasmania, United Kingdom, United States

You have to rally when it is a good friend’s 40th birthday. I almost didn’t. I was feeling overwhelmed with work and family obligations, but I knew it would do me good to get away.

My friend’s birthday fell on Inauguration Day so she really wanted to celebrate this year for many reasons. The weather was so glorious and we were headed to this resort called Seascape in Aptos, California. Just a few minutes south of Santa Cruz, this lovely spot is a great respite from the frantic city life I call my existence.

Five moms were headed to this condo to celebrate our good friend’s momentous birthday. The trip started out like some AbFab meets Sex in the City moment with three of us in a Volvo in heels, driving down Highway 1 at 10 p.m. It was pitch black and we were jabbering away about the economy when I thought I heard a plane crashing (the USAIR flight crash landing on the Hudson River fresh in my mind). Turns out, the front tire blew. It was terrifying…. Continue reading »

Leave a Comment | Filed Under Adventure Travel, Books, California, Cruises, Family Travel, Feature, Northern California, Santa Cruz, South America, Spa/ Resort, United States, Yoga

The savvy among us have always known that many of the best travel experiences occur within a 50-mile radius of home. For some of us, however, it’s a discovery we need to make again and again.

For years my wife and I have talked about spending a night or two in a local hostel, but until this weekend we didn’t find the time to do so. But a pre-New Year’s hike in the Marin Headlands just north of San Francisco, where we live, took Paula into the hostel to see what was available and voila, we were booked for two nights in early January. Continue reading »

Leave a Comment | Filed Under Birdwatching, California, Eco Friendly Travel, Family Travel, Feature, Hike/Backpack, Hostels, Marin County, North America, San Francisco, Travel, United States

Every year in December, my husband and I have the discussion about a tree. I have this vision, as a young girl, of going to New Jersey to cut one down every year. This was quite a trek from Manhattan and made for great memories. It’s a bit of a Laura Ingalls Wilder fantasy but, hey, could be worse. So we argue about “killing a tree” for Christmas, something that didn’t occur to me in the twentieth century.

I understand and share the concern for the planet but I also love the whole ritual of setting up the fresh tree. As a compromise, for the last few years we’ve bought a live tree in a pot and put it outside for the rest of the year, the idea being we would re-use it again the next year. Well, for the first time in four years, our tree survived the year and is resplendent in our living room trimmed and beautiful. So, when I suggested we go to this fabulous Christmas tree farm for a day of fun, giant swings, wreath-making, picnic, tractor ride, bonfire and marshmallows, like every year I got the same grumpy answer.  I persevered.

Continue reading »

Leave a Comment | Filed Under Budget Travel, Christmas Tree Farm, Eco Friendly Travel, Family Travel, Feature, Northern California, San Francisco

I live in San Francisco, so when I think about skiing my thoughts never stray far beyond Lake Tahoe. After all, I can get there in three hours (if I time my departure to avoid heavy traffic), resorts such as Squaw Valley, Alpine Meadows, Heavenly Valley, Northstar, and others offer slopes and facilities as appealing as just about anywhere (Squaw Valley, certainly, is recognized around the world as a great ski resort), and I have friends there to visit.

If it’s Nordic skiing I want rather than alpine, the Tahoe Cross Country Ski Area near Tahoe City on the north shore has 40 miles of groomed trails, fabulous views of the lake, trailside warming huts, and everything you’d expect in facilities. Many of the downhill resorts also have cross-country options, so why would I go anywhere else? Continue reading »

Leave a Comment | Filed Under California, Cross Country Skiing, Feature, Lake Tahoe, Northern California, Oregon, Pacific Northwest, Skiing, Snowboarding, Travel

I woke up this morning to find out our six-year-old, Abyssinian Guinea Pig , Felix, was on his way out.  At six, he was considered “frail elderly” and I knew he wasn’t long for this world.  He died this morning in my eldest son’s arms and we wrapped him in a shroud and placed him in a doll cradle. We lit candles and incense and both boys bawled until giant tears and snot trails rolled down their faces.

It’s Veteran’s Day and I’d had all the good intentions of taking a walk through a military cemetery in San Francisco’s Presidio, a stone’s throw from our office. It is a wonderful and moving experience any time of year, with great views of the Golden Gate Bridge and Marin Headlands. Continue reading »

Leave a Comment | Filed Under Budget Travel, Eco Friendly Travel, Family Travel, Hike/Backpack, Northern California, Presidio, San Francisco

As I sit here writing, my mind wanders to the U.S. election, and I wonder how it will turn out. It’s been a stressful few weeks and my stomach is in knots.  What will be our itinerary for the next four to eight years?

When I think of all that has happened of late, there is very little that seems positive. Perhaps, though, there are a few things to cheer.  High gas prices have made staycations popular and trips closer to home a necessity.  Folks are driving less, car-pooling and looking with fresh eyes at Public Transportation, something we have sorely neglected in this country.

Train travel, a staple of my youth and commonplace in Europe and other parts of the world, is having a bit of a renaissance according to a recent New York Times article. Amtrak ridership is up 11% this year alone and the trend is increasing.  Continue reading »

Leave a Comment | Filed Under California, Eco Friendly Travel, Family Travel, New England, North America, Northern California, San Francisco, Train Travel, Travel, United States

The California Academy of Sciences opens its doors to the public on September 27th, 2008 after many years at a cramped, temporary location. This new gem, situated in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park across from the new De Young Museum, is a must see for any visitor to the Bay Area. The Academy is the only place in the world with an aquarium, a planetarium and a natural history museum all under one living roof. The architect, Renzo Piano, also helped design the Centre Pompidou in Paris; possibly the most groundbreaking structure of its time.

I visited the new Academy of Sciences with my five-year-old yesterday, enjoying a preview visit for new members. It was stunning. The building is spectacular; it is open and airy, without the dingy 19th century feel of many Natural History Museums. The living roof is truly extraordinary, with views of the park and city. Flowers grow, apparently animals make homes; my son was in awe. He kept reiterating how the living roof was keeping the building cool. We will surely return to see the evolution of the roof ecosystem. Continue reading »

Leave a Comment | Filed Under California, Family Travel, Feature, Museums, San Francisco, United States

On a scorching hot day in San Francisco I took my kids to the free Power to the Peaceful Concert in Golden Gate Park. My boys love Michael Franti’s music and my older son is good friends with his son. Last year we got back-stage passes. This year it was a blast, but hard work keeping the boys hydrated and tough trying to explain why so many people concerned with the health of our country and planet were smoking so much. We enjoyed the music and entire scene. We danced, sang, ate a picnic and took in the scene and message of the day. It was a huge crowd, primarily bikini-clad young women and shirtless young bucks. My boys wanted to take their shirts off. I let them for one song, but was so worried about heatstroke, I made them put them back on and keep their hats on. Although alcohol was not sold, I feared for many folks, who I’m sure would suffer from the heat that night. Continue reading »

Leave a Comment | Filed Under California, Concert, France, Paris, San Francisco, United States

Over lunch recently my good friend John Flinn and I were comparing notes about backpacking trails in California’s Sierra Nevada because we both wanted to get back to the mountains. I was planning my first mountain backpacking trip with my two daughters aged 10 and 8 and intended to take them up a trail my wife and I used to love—before the children arrived, of course. John knew the trail, starting at the Lyons Creek Trailhead off Highway 50 just past Kyburz.

“It’s flat all the way to Lake Sylvia,” he recalled.

“That’s what I remember, too,” I said, “but I found my old topo map last night and it shows a 1500-foot climb over five miles to Sylvia.”

“What?”

I nodded. I couldn’t believe it either. My memory was that the trail to Lake Sylvia was essentially flat, but if you wanted to go up to Lyons Lake, which Paula and I always used to do, it was a torturous climb straight up for a half mile at the end. Continue reading »

12 Comments | Filed Under California, Camping, Family Travel, Feature, Hike/Backpack, Northern California, United States