Monday, November 30, 2009

Monterey Coast

Pelicans flying overhead in formation.

Waves along the Monterey Coast were higher than normal Friday, due to off shore storms several days prior.

You can tell the day was overcast with grey seas. Cold salt spray stung as it hit your face.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Rosso Pizzaria

Just ran across a restaurant I can't wait to try...

If you are ever in Santa Rosa, California...check out Rosso Pizzeria and Wine Bar. Located at 53 Montgomery Drive their philosophy of the slow food movement of Italy is one I remember from an Italian trip.

They say they are passionate about food, wine and soccer. Cant' wait to see if they are right!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Just ran across these quotes and wanted to share them with you.

How can we miss you if you won't go away?

Assume that the bags you check and everything in them could disappear forever.

The point is yesterday it was Tuesday and today it's Friday and I don't know what happened in between.

Curiosity never killed anyone.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Holiday Travel

Did you know that there will be over 5 million travelers this holiday season...starting with Thanksgiving and going right through Christmas and New Years?

According to Budget Travel, 930,000 travelers will be going through Denver's airport during the Thanksgiving holiday. And over 125,000 through Phoenix on just Wednesday.

Did you also know that the Wednesday prior to Thanksgiving and the Sunday after are the busiest days of the year?

With those statistics in mind, don't forget to confirm your flights and their times, arrive at the airport extra early, don't wrap your gifts and be prepared to stand in line. Should be fun...

Friday, November 20, 2009

Traveling and Short on Time?

Short or week-end trips are sometimes the best. But how do you make the most of your time?

These are my suggestions...

Stick to one or two stops and explore them well.

Be flexible. If you are flying and Spain is too far...try Santa Fe, New Mexico or San Miguel, Mexico.

If you are driving, explore different areas close to home. You can always do what my dad did...figure out how many miles you want to go, get out a map, draw a circle with that number of miles and decide what to see within that distance. Always worked for him. And sometimes those close to home trips give you a new perspective on your neighborhood, so to speak.

Do some research in advance. Familiarize yourself with a map or your GPS. Take just the necessary guide book pages or maps you will need. No need to waste time looking through a bunch at your destination just to find the one you want.

Your ultimate decision will depend on how much time you have and how much you want to spend. Whatever it is...enjoy the journey.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Sometimes You Just Have to Complain

We've all been there...something just doesn't go right when you are traveling. If it's something that needs to be fixed or something someone needs to know about...keep these tips in mind.

When it happens, act quickly.
If you are in a hotel and the air conditioning doesn't work or your non-smoking room smells like the front desk immediately. If the hotel representative doesn't fix the situation, call the 800 number or your frequent guest rewards phone number.

Be polite.
I have found that when complaining about a situation, I get further when I am polite and not aggressive.

Keep track of all information about the situation.
This includes who you talked to, dates, names and documentation of the situation. If the company asks, you have the right info. This works for both problems and resolutions. It doesn't hurt to compliment a staff person with their company if they resolved the situation for you.

Mention you are a rewards member.
It is a good idea to mention that, especially when talking to a corporate person. By doing so, you are letting them know you frequent their hotel, airline or etc. It means something to them as well as to you.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Random Thoughts

Although these thoughts have little to do with travel...they might make you laugh. They were forwarded to me today...and I did laugh.

Don't you think that part of a best friend's job should be to immediately clear your computer history if you die?

I totally take back all those times I didn't want to nap when I was younger.

Just how do you fold a fitted sheet?

What happens if you run over a Ninja?

You never know when it will strike, but there comes a moment at work when you know you just aren't going to do anything productive for the rest of the day.

Did you laugh?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Mount St. Helena Hike

Mount St. Helena, just north of Calistoga, CA, is the highest peak in northern California. Saturday was a beautiful day to hike it, with sunshine, temps in the upper 60's and clear blue sky. Several times different people told me it was a moderate five mile hike to the top. Great...I can do five miles of walking, sometimes even uphill.

Climbing over rocks and boulders, up a fairly steep rocky path at times and then over more legs about gave up after the first .8 miles. This was the moderate hike? More like a lesson in climbing over a rocky path.
Yes...not even one of the five miles down and more to go. Just when my legs were protesting we came to a road. A wide gravel road.

Guess they forgot about the "forest service road" that winds gently up the mountain. Oh well. What's a hike without climbing over rocks?

This view of the valley floor, vineyards, and trees is about 1/4 of the way up. Leaves are changing colors on the grape vines, creating a patchwork of greens, golds, and reds.

Along the way one giant rocky wall provides practice and great sport for rock climbers. The natural "holes" offer hand holds for the climbers, although they are not always in the right spots, I'm told.

This face is a climb of 5.9, or so the climbers explained to me.

Stretched to their limits, literally, these guys made it to the top in just minutes. Very impressive to watch them get ready and then climb.

Aahhh...the reward of coming back down the five miles. A picnic in the forest...complete with chicken, couscous, apple tart, raspberry brownies, spring rolls, potato salad, white wine, red wine and champagne. Pavlov had nothing over on us.

Trees covered in moss stood guard over our picnic tables. Sort of made us think we were somewhere other than California.

At the top. In case you're wondering...I did not make it to the top. But it was worth the effort to get as far as I did.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Kids Traveling Alone

World Ventures has some good tips if you or someone you know have children that need to fly alone this Holiday Season.

While your child may view such an adventure as awesome, you begin to worry as soon as the ticket is purchased, racking yourself with questions.

Here are some guidelines to follow to ensure that your tiny traveler arrives to his or her destination without experiencing any emotional turbulence.

Quick Glance at the Rules
Many airlines, including all of the major U.S. airlines, allow unaccompanied minors as young as five to travel alone. Your child will be escorted by an airline employee from the moment they are checked in by you or a guardian and until they are picked up by an authorized individual at their destination. You will have to pay the normal adult fare for their seat, along with an escort fee—generally between $75 - $100.

Book Nonstop When Possible
Since it would be difficult for the airline to monitor the child overnight if a late connection is missed, it’s recommended that you book nonstop tickets when possible. If a connection is unavoidable, try to schedule it at a smaller airport that would not intimidate the child as much as, say, O’Hare.

Spending Time at the Airport
Arrive at the airport early, so you don’t have to rush the boarding process. You can also request a gate pass to get through security, so you can stay with your child until he boards and the flight has left the gate. Once you’re at the gate, introduce your child to the lead flight attendant, who may allow you to escort him to his seat.

Information and Money
Make sure your child carries proper identification and an emergency contact sheet with phone numbers and addresses of not just you, but also the person picking him up and other relatives. Also, it’s wise to leave your child with enough cash to use in an emergency, or at least to buy snacks on the plane.

Charged Up & Ready to Go
Be sure to charge up your child’s various electronic gadgets (iPod, cell phone, portable DVD player, handheld game) as well as pack extra batteries in his carry-on. If your kid does not have a cell phone, then teach him how to contact you from a pay phone using a calling card or by calling collect.

The Pickup Person
Whoever will be picking up your child should have all the details about the flights along with photo identification that matches the information you supplied the airline. The pickup person should arrive early, for he or she will need to obtain a gate pass and pass through security before meeting your child at the gate.

Talk about the Trip
The most important step you can take to help your child enjoy her flight is to talk to her about it. Describe each step of the journey in detail, from the security check, tarmac delays and take-off to the in-flight movies, baggage claim and who will be collecting her on the other side. Also discuss what is proper in-flight behavior, including what to talk about with other passengers and what to do if a passenger acts inappropriately. They less your child is surprised about, the better she will enjoy the flight.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Would you buy wine from...

I think it's a good thing to call your winery Storybook Mountain instead of the Grimm about you?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Shackford's Kitchen Store

How can a destination be a kitchen store, you ask?????

Well, when it's Shackford's Kitchen Store & More...the & More says it all. Located in Napa, CA, this store is not just the plain vanilla kitchen store you find in every mall.

The window is loaded with unique ceramic kitchen stuff...from gaudy painted chickens to mostly attractive kitchen critters. Don't that those fool you.

Walk inside...through the narrow aisles...slowly so you don't miss anything. What ever you are looking for or didn't even realize you were looking will find it here. Don't see it? Ask and a knowledgeable friendly staff person will find it for you. Chances are it's located right next to some other kitchen utensil you always needed!

This in itself is a destination. It could take you hours to wander around. Happy snooping.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Storybook Mountain Vineyards

Storybook Mountain Vineyards were first planted in 1883 by Adam and Jacob Grimm, German winegrowers. Three tunnels were dug 100 feet into the volcanic rock and established Grimm's Vineyards and Wine Vaults.

In 1964 a devastating wildfire destroyed the Grimm's winery and vineyards. In 1976 Jerry and Sigrid Seps bought and renamed the property Storybook Mountain Vineyards.

Planting Zinfandel grapes at that time, the first wines were released in 1983. Since that time those Zins have been winning awards all over the world.

In 2003 Wine and Spirits includes Storybook among the top 100 wineries in the world.

The hills showed their colors this past weekend...golds, reds, oranges, and greens.

One of the tunnels dug by Chinese workers through volcanic rock.

This grove of Redwoods withstood the devastating fire and stands strong. As typical of a Redwood grove, temps were cool among the giant trees.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Stanford Women's Soccer Last Game

Sunday was another beautiful soccer day, with sunshine and a light breeze at times.
The flag is at half staff, honoring those who died at Ft. Hood, Texas.

Good soccer played by both Standford and Cal.

The Cal Keeper was busy all afternoon.

Great skills shown by all the players.

More Keeper action.

The final score of 4 to 1 was impressive enough. But with 27 shots on goal by Stanford to 5 shots on goal by Cal, this was a Win in many ways.

Not only did Stanford keep their #1 women's soccer ranking but they will now have home field advantage for the tournament. Way to go, ladies.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Come Out and Play

Perhaps this was a day trip for the squirrel. At any rate, he seemed to enjoy tormenting Luna.
If only there wasn't a screen on this window...

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Stanford Women's Soccer

Last Sunday was the perfect day to watch the #1 Women's College Soccer Team in action. Stanford hosted Arizona. It's easy to see why Stanford is #1. These women play as a team, all have super foot and control skills, they play smart and they can run.

It didn't hurt that the temps were in the high 70's to low 80's, sunny with no wind. Plus Stanford is a beautiful university. The finals start this weekend and Stanford is ranked #1 for those as well. If you are around, head to Palo Alto to see a great game this Sunday. Game time is 1:00.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Auberge du Soleil

Auberge du Soleil in Napa Valley, with its terraced accommodations sits nestled in along and down the hill side. You sort of see the cottages, maison rooms and main guest house as you wind up the driveway.

If you are in the area and don't have an extra $500 to $4500 to spend on a night, stop by the terraced bar for a drink. Go prior to sunset for views worthy of photographs and paintings. Watch as the sun changes the hills from greens to grays to pinks.