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Grover Hot Springs is one of those places I kind of don’t want to publicize. It’s so “old skool” and perfect as is, and we have enjoyed delightful hot mineral water soaks and plunges in every season. In the scorching summer sun, the cold pool is divine. In autumn, the changing colors encircle the complex and it feels nice to warm up in the hot pool. In springtime, the meadow is often wet and boggy, but wildflowers dot the landscape and snow can still be seen on the peaks in the distance. In winter, it’s just the best after a day on the slopes or cross country/snowshoe trails.

Set on a plateau in the High Sierra near the Nevada border in Alpine County, just outside of Markleeville, CA, this campground, swimming pool and hot spring public facility is popular already; particularly with cultures that cherish a good soak. Russian and Japanese conversations often waft through the air, mingling with with steam, and this visit was no different. Rosy faced corpulent men—each with their own perrier bottle—kibitzed in one corner; families frolicked—alternating between hot and cold—and others just gave in to feeling like cooked spaghetti.

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When I’m sitting in traffic, driving the carpool or taking out the mulch I dig deep and try recall the joyous and cleansing feeling I had spending five days in the snowy wilderness of the High Sierra. Between Christmas and New Year’s, my family joined another for a winter adventure that I replay often in my head; it really was just what the doctor ordered.

This is the first year in a long while the snow has been this deep and this good. The drought in California has taken a toll, and although hardly the most important problem caused by low, or no precipitation, the lack of snow has been hard for winter sports enthusiasts.

Thanks to Global Warming and/or El Nino, this year is different! The weather report seemed perfect. Clear skies for travel days, fresh snow upon arrival and one day of flurries. We packed our backpacks, pre-cooked our beef stew, waxed our cross country skis and prayed our old car could manage the mountainous trip.

It was cold, maybe 10-15 degrees when we arrived. The kids donned snowshoes, my husband I the skis and we tried to balance the weight in our packs. Our friend pulled the sled with much of the food. In the summer you can drive in to the house but in the winter the journey is part of the adventure. It’s only about a mile but you feel you’ve really earned it! Continue reading »

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When I lived in London during the downtrodden Thatcher era, the local pub was a sanctuary, a respite from the cold, foggy, dismal daily life, a life I now look back at fondly. I’m not much of a beer drinker, I much prefer wine, but who wouldn’t love the cozy warmth, the expected smoky haze and the watering hole atmosphere? Sure, it was more of a guys’ scene, I remember the blokes I lived with counting their pints, squeezing in a fifth one before last call, as I nursed my shandy: a disgusting combo of beer and “lemonade” (British 7-Up). They used to stagger home, while I fretted about who would make it without face-planting into a neighbor’s yard. OK, so the scene did get old after the novelty wore off, but I never tired of the yummy pub-grub and the feeling of camaraderie. Continue reading »

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Getting around Paris is fun. The metro is so easy to figure out, on time and goes nearly everywhere. In summer it can be hot and a bit stinky, but it’s almost a game using the maps or a Plan de Paris (a little book that has every neighborhood and metro stop, every street and bus line cross referenced and easy to find if you have your eye-glasses handy) to map out your trip. When I was a student in Paris I loved to jump on the metro, pick a random stop and then get out and explore. It’s pretty hard to get lost with a Plan de Paris, and I suggest all visitors buy one upon arrival.

Once you’ve traveled by metro it’s also great to get above ground. One of my favorite things to do is take the bus… any bus. Continue reading »

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