Sunday, January 31, 2010

Today's Trip

First Myron ventured outside. After all the birds were singing in the bush a few feet away.

Next came Mable...after checking things out carefully. These are brave cats...yeah right.

Point is...your next adventurous trip may be just outside your door.

Friday, January 29, 2010

More Fun Wine Facts

Rain continues to come to northern California...and the grapes are glad it does this time of year. Napa Now has provided some more wine trivia...

There are anywhere from 500 to 1300 vines per acre.
Eight to 12 pounds of grapes are produced by one vine.

About 120 gallons of wine will come from a ton of grapes. And barrels per acre...13.5.

You will get about 4 to 6 bottles per vine, 500 to 700 bottles per ton, 4,000 bottles per acre. That equates to 16,000 glasses per acre. And there is no fat in a 5 ounce glass of dry wine.

There are approximately 400 wineries in Napa Valley. 1838 was the first year grapes were planted in Napa Valley with the first large winery built after Prohibition by Robert Mondavi.

What was the biggest Napa Valley crop before grapes? Prunes.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Flight Info

I just read about a site that allows users to scan an entire month for airfares to find the least expensive rate. Haven't tried it yet, but I did look at it and it appears easy to use.

Go to and log in as a guest. You have to actually book your flights on a site of your choice, but it is interesting to see if certain days could be cheaper for you.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Non Stop Caribbean

When looking to get away to the Caribbean this winter, think about some of these great escapes.

Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao: Just 18 miles off the coast of Venezuela these islands are outside the hurricane belt. Hike the trails in Aruba's Arikok National Park. Dive one of the island's 86 dive sites off the western shore of Bonaire. Marvel at the vibrant Dutch architecture and have fun shopping on Curacao.

Cayman Islands: Grand Cayman provides divers with a glimpse of the Cayman Trench, an underwater canyon that plunges nearly 25,000 feet deep. Or snorkel with the rays at Stingray City, a string of sandbars in the North Sound.

Barbados: Even though Barbados is an independent nation, the British flavor is still present. Cars drive on the left and cricket is the national sport.

Grenada: This island has a law stating that buildings cannot be taller than a coconut palm tree! Take a hike through the rain forest in Grand Etang Forest Reserve...then swim in one of the cascade pools at Concord Falls.

Guadeloupe: This archipelago has a land area of more than 580 square miles, all on adjoining islands. Plant lovers should not miss the Jardin Botanique de Deshaies with more than 900 plant species.

St. Lucia: Boasting long stretches of beaches with white, golden and volcanic sand this island's verdant interior has some of the best hiking in the region. Pitons, St. Lucia's twin volcanic peaks, overlook Soufriere harbor. You can climb to Gros Piton.

Many flights are now non-stop to these destinations. Be aware when booking your flight that "direct flights" are not the same as "non stop flights". Check more than just the flight number.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Rainy Day

Grey skies overhead doesn't have to limit your photos, as my professional photographer daughter-in-law will tell you. Sometimes no sun gives an interesting quality to your photos.

Now if it would just stop raining long enough to take more shots...

I know...I know...we need the rain. And the Robins are here, flowers are starting to bloom and I've been talking to my favorite garden nursery lady. Not a bad way to start Spring 2010.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Ski Vacations

Pack your skis and hit the slopes.

Did you know that adult day passes range from $34 at Lost Trail Powder Mountain, Montana to $97 at Vail, Colorado? This might make a difference which resort you head off to. Check with local grocery store chains or ski rental places for discounts.

Many times the best discounts are on packs of four or more tickets. Online check out, and for other discounted tickets.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Rain Tip

Ever travel or prepare to travel during rainy season? Umbrellas are great to travel with but I like my raincoat that folds up into its own pocket. Its hood also folds into its own space. And it is long enough to cover my shoulder strap purse. Plus it doesn't take up much room in my carry-on or in my suitcase. Best of all, it doesn't wrinkle when I unfold it!

What do you use?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Wine Trivia

According to Napa Now here are some fun wine facts...

Vines are around 3 years old before they begin producing useful grapes.

Vines will be 5 years old before they are at full production.

The productive lifetime of a vine is 30 to 35 years. The quality can remain good after that but the yield begins to decrease.

more you can't wait

Monday, January 18, 2010

Travel Question

If you could name five places you want to visit this year...what would they be?

They don't have to be far away...unless you want them to be. They don't even have to be new places...just ones you want to visit.

My list starts with...Yosemite and Disneyland and goes on from there. I'll fill you in later. What are yours?

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Used Travel Guides

Ever bought a travel guide, used it once and then it sat and sat on your book shelf? Now you can do something about that...
Travelers Can Now Sell Used Guidebooks on

Buy, travel, then sell again - travel bookstore offers free, quick and easy listings for used travel guidebooks

Singapore, January 13, 2010 - GuideGecko, the innovative publishing platform and bookstore for travel guides, from today on enables travelers from around the world to sell their used travel guidebooks on

Travelers can list their guidebooks free of charge, and the process takes less than 20 seconds. The seller decides on the price and sets the shipping costs on a domestic, continent and worldwide level. Titles are listed immediately, and are available to customers worldwide. Once sold, GuideGecko collects the customer payment and sends an email with the shipping details to the seller. Sellers receive 85% of what the customer pays, and are paid using a variety of options, including PayPal, cheque or bank transfer. There are no costs for listing or removing titles.

"We are happy to launch this functionality just in time for the post New Year holiday season," says Daniel Quadt, Founder and Managing Director of GuideGecko. "We know there are lots of used guidebooks that have done their job for their current owners, and are now gathering dust on the bookshelf. What better way to earn some extra money towards your next trip than by selling them to other travelers looking forward to their own trip?"

GuideGecko's travel bookstore at offers guidebooks for more than 70 categories and 169 countries, including all well-known series such Lonely Planet, Rough Guides and Insight Guides, along with a large variety of less conventional titles such as Hedonist's Guides and Trailblazer, amongst many others.

Please visit for more information and to list guidebooks for sale.

Abouut GuideGecko

GuideGecko is an innovative publishing platform and travel bookstore for travel, lifestyle and entertainment guides. GuideGecko currently offers more than 2600 guides on 169 countries and 270 cities and regions around the world. All well-known series are available, including Lonely Planet, Rough Guides and Insight Guides, along with a large variety of less conventional titles such as Hedonist's Guides and Trailblazer, amongst many others.

GuideGecko invites casual writers, bloggers and established authors to publish and sell their own guides on GuideGecko makes such guides available as PDF downloads and as printed books/booklets. Publishing is free and authors earn 50-75% on every copy sold. Become a writer and get published on GuideGecko!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Trip Plans

What do you do when you over think or over plan your trip...and things still go awry?

For me some of these provide the best stories or the most fun memories. How about you?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Vineyards in January

Looking out over the terrace at Round Pond Estate Winery.

Along the rows of vines at O'Brien Winery.

Ornamental cabbage

The mustard has started in between the rows. Must mean the Mustard Festival can't be far behind.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Carry On Luggage Tips

As airlines keep hiking their checked-bag fees, there's more incentive than ever to carry bags onto the plane with you. And there are good ways to do this. Just don't be a jerk, follow a few simple etiquette rules, and everything should work out fine, travel experts say.

Experienced airline travelers, bloggers and travel Web sites generally agree on practices for handling carry-on bags to keep clutter, confusion and conflict to a minimum. Here are their top 10 tips:

• Obey government and airline rules on the size and number of items.

You can use the template at the gate, but it's better to know your items comply before you get there.

Dimension limits can vary, so what works on one airline may not work on another. Be sure to check with your specific carrier's Web site, and get out your tape measure.

• Don't attempt to bring prohibited items such as sharp objects or bottles of liquids.

The Transportation Security Administration sets these rules, and it's not fooling around. Don't even think about trying to sneak something through; in the current security climate, straying from the rules is likely to delay you and everyone in line behind you.

• Stow your bag in the overhead bin with the wheels in first.

This leaves the handle where you and others can grab it to reposition the bag to make room for more stuff in the bin.

• Don't put bags in lengthwise.

More bags will fit in the bin if they are all positioned perpendicular to the aisle, preferably standing on edge. If your bag is too large to fit that way, it should be checked. And remember: smaller jets mean smaller bins.

• Put your larger item up top, your smaller item at your feet.

This reduces the clutter at your feet, allowing you and others in your row to ride more comfortably and get in and out more easily.

• Use the bin directly over your head, or as close as possible.

Letting your bag squat in someone else's bin is just uncool. It robs others of space that is rightfully theirs and singles you out as a self-serving boor. It also isn't likely to speed your egress from the plane, as the aisle is going to be jammed after landing no matter where your bag is stowed.

• Don't commandeer another passenger's under-seat space.

You are entitled to the space under the seat directly in front of you, and that's it.

• Make sure your bag is light enough to lift over your head yourself.

There will be exceptions, of course, in cases of age, infirmity or injury. Kind fellow passengers often will be willing to help, but you should not count on it -- and certainly not demand it.

• Get your stuff before takeoff.

Before settling into your seat, retrieve from your bag any items you're likely to need during the flight -- book, pen, medicine, PDA -- so you won't have to stand up and rummage through the overhead bin during the flight.

• Wait until everyone's bags are stowed, then lay your coat on top.

Bags take priority in the overhead bin. Ask a flight attendant if there's space in a forward closet for your coat. If not, hold it in your lap until all bags are stowed, then get up and try to jam it in on top. If there's no room, drape it over your seat and sit on it.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Bridges of San Francisco on Sunday...Golden Gate

Crossing the Golden Gate

Bay Bridge

Monday, January 11, 2010

Traveling Lemon

In the back yard by the pool is a Meyer Lemon tree...a very small tree in a pot. I planted it in hopes of harvesting a Meyer Lemon crop one day. This lonely, but deliciously sweet, lemon is (was) my harvest this year. It was picked Saturday.

It joined some friends in my fruit bowl for a day. Once it acclimated to the did what it was meant to do.

It became part of a tasty sauce for our grilled shrimp. This lemon traveled happily to our plates.

Friday, January 8, 2010


Don't throw away those disposable shower caps that some hotels give. Use them to keep shoes from getting scuffed or from getting the rest of your clothes dirty from the soles. Wrap them up before packing them in your suitcase.

You can also use those shower caps for packing moist items.

Or use them to keep a camera dry when out and about.

Anyone know what these plants are?

Thursday, January 7, 2010

More Travel Resolutions 2010

Up in the's a's a ?? Any guesses?

Here are some more travel resolutions you could aim for in 2010.

Relax... Maybe you are one of those vacationers who is up at the crack of dawn for a full day of activities. All well and good if you need to get somewhere early. But how about taking one day to sleep in, people watch, have a glass of wine at lunch or get a massage?

Take better photos... Learn to master some of the settings and functions on your camera this year and you will come back with photos that do justice to your travel memories.

Sample a new delicacy... Even if it's close to home, try something that you have never eaten before. Seek out the local street food cart with the longest line or ask the waiter for the house specialty.

Strike up a conversation... Make an extra effort to talk to your taxi driver, your waiter or the hotel staff. Ask about their favorites in the city or country you are visiting. You might find more interesting information and things to see than you would get from your guide book.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Travel Resolutions

How many of us make New Year's Resolutions...and then totally forget about them? Or maybe you think you'll make some this year...and all of a sudden it's February.

Well here's a few you may be able to make...and keep this year. After all they relate to travel. So how hard should this be?

Get a passport. If you don't have one, now would be a great time to apply for one. Canada, Mexico and much of the Caribbean now require a passport. If you have one, check to see if yours is close to expiring. Some countries won't let you travel to them or back to the US if it expires within six months of your travel date.

Learn 10 phrases. A few simple phrases can make your life easier and earn you a smile. Grab a pocket sized phrase book and practice a few like "thank you", "please",or "excuse me".

Upgrade your travel gear. Get a new piece of luggage and learn to pack it lightly. Look for some of the new light weight ones and maybe try a color other than black.

More you can't wait.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

More Christmas Photos

This lovely dinosaur had to go to Denver on a plane...Southwest flight attendant made a big deal of having a "roboraptor dinosaur" on his plane. Quite the thrill for all the passengers.

Lights around the pool.

Christmas Day by Vacaville.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Superstitions Around the World

Just found these fun superstition facts on Budget Travel...

Japan: traditional funeral rites dictate that bodies be laid out with the head to the north. Hotels often position beds to point east, south or west so the afterworld doesn't get the wrong idea.

UK: it's lucky to cross paths with a black cat. Steer clear of crows or ravens, though.

East Asia: the number 4 is avoided in hotel floors and office buildings as it sounds like the word for "death" in Japanese and Mandarin.

Italy: the number 17 is unlucky here. As a courtesy to passengers from Italy and countries where the number 13 is unlucky, Lufthansa Airlines has removed rows 13 and 17 from its planes.

Ireland: a four leaf clover brings luck...but you must carry it about on you and never give it away or your luck will run away.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Random Christmas Photos

It was a little steamy in the hot tub for Philip.

Glorious colors at Solano Lake County Park.

Guarding the just never know when those cats will come out.

Reflections at Lake Solano.

Red leaves on a Laurel Tree.