When traveling to a new part of the country or looking for a week-end day trip, search out small interesting spots.
Locke, CA, is one of those spots. Many years ago this Chinese town was just a wide spot off the delta. Today, it's still a wide spot off the delta. But people, from bikers to tourists, search it out and head to Al the Wops for a steak sandwich. And it's worth the side trip.
With Earth Day only a day behind us, think about these recycled fashionable totes. Then think about the weight of your suitcase you are using now.
Seattle cyclist Eli Reich decided to make stylish waterproof packs out of a material he knew well...recycled bike tire inner tubes. Check out http://www.alchemygoods.com/ for his haversack, selling for $98.
Remember Virgin Atlantic Airlines? A British design firm has taken coach class upholstery, stripped it, dry cleaned it and then turned it into limited edition bags. Take a look at the Lydia purse for $94 at thwww.wornagain.co.uk.
Vinyl exhibition banners from Barcelona are turned into chic totes by a trio of eco conscious Colombian designers. The Marbella bag at $90 can be found at http://www.demano.net/.
What does this have to do with traveling? Well, if each passenger carried a suitcase that was just 5 pounds lighter every aircraft in the sky would save 18,000 gallons of fuel annually. Think about it.
Saturday started hazy with a marine layer over Napa...good for the start of a 5 mile hike.
Lake Marie Road wound through peaceful grasses, trees, and remnants of old stone buildings. Supposedly there is a fig tree that is over 100 years old. The somewhat rocky trail offered a moderate hike with sun and shade, as the day quickly warmed up.
Sharing the trail with mountain bikers and horses poses a small problem on some of the steeper curves. Patiently waiting for us to pass, the horses eyed our snacks of apples.
California wildflowers are abundant along the trail.
The final destination of Lake Marie. For a slightly different view on our return trip, we followed the Marie Creek Trail. Bushier and more narrow in spots, it's still a moderate work out.
If you're in the Napa area this is a good park with plenty of trails of varying lengths and terrain. There is a $6 park fee.
More streams, birds, and photo shots were available on our return trip. This was a great way to spend a Saturday morning.
Did you know about this castle in Ione, California?
The "Castle," built in 1890-1894, is the most significant example of Romanesque Revival architecture in the Mother Lode. It was built to house the Preston School of Industry, established by the State Legislature as a progressive action toward rehabilitating, rather than simply imprisoning, juvenile offenders. Doors of the 120 room "Castle" closed in 1960 after new facilities were completed.
I'm working on an Ebook (to be out soon) about traveling this summer. Tips for families, traveling smart in this economy, useful packing tips, week-end trips tips, and a whole lot more will be included in this guide. If you want to share any tips you may have...please let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org. Stay tuned...
The national parks of southern Utah each have their own bragging points. And the best time to visit them is May. Bryce Canyon is loaded with photogenic spires known as hoodoos; Zion offers imposing cliffs and lush hanging gardens; Capitol Reef has brilliant, colorful canyons and odd rock formations; Canyonlands wins in terms of overall size; and it's pretty obvious what Arches is offers.
Much of Bryce Canyon is more than 8,000 feet high, and in early spring you'll probably have to deal with snow and mud. Tourists flock to southern Utah in summer, so May is a good bet for smaller crowds, drier terrain, and more predictable weather.
One of the prettiest and most popular trails at Bryce combines parts of the Navajo Loop and Queens Garden trails (2.9 miles total) for great photo ops of delicately eroded hoodoos. You're more likely to spot mule deer, elk, and dozens of bird species in the forest on the 8.5-mile Riggs Spring Loop. At one point the trail opens to spectacular views of the Pink Cliffs on the southern edge of the park. Hiking doesn't have to stop when darkness falls; the sky is clear enough for full-moon walks, sans flashlight.
The terrain over at Zion is varied, with soaring cliffs, narrow canyons, and emerald pools. While it's warm in May (often in the high 80s), you won't encounter the three-digit temps of midsummer. To cool off, scamper up to Weeping Rock—the quarter-mile trail is shady, but steep in spots. In a grotto area, water continuously "weeps" down tall sandstone walls that are overgrown with hanging gardens. Real adventurers can take on the Zion Narrows, hiking in and along the Virgin River in a 1,000-foot crevasse. The water should be gushing and extra chilly in May; ask a ranger about flash flood dangers and water conditions beforehand.
When planning your trip for May...consider one or all of our National Parks in the Southwest.
When looking for a unique wine tasting experience, look no further than Del Dotto Caves and Winery at 1055 Atlas Peak Road in Napa.
In 1885 Chinese laborers hand dug a 350 feet of wine caves with picks and shovels. Today those limestone walls protect these great wines. Humidity and temperature keep the barrels of wine at their best.
Wander through caves filled with barrels. Better yet...taste wines from those barrels. You won't find any dump buckets on this "tour". If (and it's hard to believe) you need to dump your wine, just throw it on the floor in between the barrels. You won't hurt the walls.