Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Travelers: Check out this event


Mystery Writers in the Mausoleum
(by candlelight inside the park's 100-year-old mausoleum)
7-9 p.m. Wednesday, October 22, 2014
1900 Franklin Avenue, Santa Rosa

Santa Rosa Memorial Park is hosting the second annual Mystery Writers in the Mausoleum 7 p.m. on Wednesday, October 22. The free event takes places in the park's 100-year-old mausoleum. Still without electricity the Odd Fellows mausoleum is located at 1900 Franklin Avenue in Santa Rosa.
Juried mystery writers and dramatists will share stories of suspense, mystery, magic and the supernatural by candlelight. Selections will be read by Redwood Writers’ authors, Sisters in Crime NorCal and FolkHeart Press writers. The evening will also include two dramatic readings by Connie Petty and David Gonzalez. Event highlights also include a Meet/Greet session with authors in the Rose Corridor following the reading.

“This event is a natural for us and for local writers. It’s a great way to showcase some of Sonoma County’s talented mystery writers,” said Laura Neisius, general manger. The mausoleum, she added, will be the perfect setting for spine tingling tales.

The program is scheduled last from 7 p.m. -9 p.m.  Warm wear is advised. For details about this free event, visit www.srmp.org.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Travelers: Quick Tips

Many publications and online travel sites offer tips to make your next trip more fun, easier, safer...and on and on.

Periodically I offer quick tips that have worked for me or ones that others send to me.

Here are just a few:

When renting a car, check for any damage to bumpers or doors. Look at the windshield for damage as well. If you see any dings or issues, take photos immediately. Even if you rent from a brand name company, issues can occur. Last summer in Boston we rented from Hertz. When we went to the rental car, there were several issues with it from dings, to a bumper dent, to an odd smell inside. We took photos and then decided to talk to the on site supervisor about the car. They apologized and gave us an upgrade. Hertz employees showed exemplary customer service and made sure we were happy with the new rental. It pays to talk to them and not just accept a car with obvious problems.

Wear loose fitting shoes on flights, especially long ones. The pressure change in the cabin can cause your feet to swell, making your shoes tight. Plus, it's easier going through security if your shoes come off easily.

Noise cancelling headphones can make all the difference on flights. They reduce fatigue and shut out noises, allowing you to sleep.

Bring a small toothbrush and toothpaste in your carry on, especially on long flights.

Bring a small flashlight in your carry on as well. You never know when you may need it in flight, at night in the hotel, or at a dark restaurant.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Travelers: Great Food Event to Check Out


(Yountville, CA, September 24th 2014) -- The Jessup Cellars 2014 TasteMaker Speaker Series goes wild on Saturday, October 11th at its Yountville Tasting Gallery with with renowned forager Connie Green and Executive Chef and Owner Sean O'Toole of TORC, one of Napa’s hottest new dining destinations. The forum and tasting’s subject, Foraging ~ Ancient & Modern Flavors from the Untamable World, will explore this delicious culinary adventure on Saturday, October 11th from 6:30pm to 9:00pm
 at the Jessup Cellars Tasting Gallery in Yountville, California.
While Green will showcase a selection of freshly harvested wild ingredients, Chef O’Toole will feature his Chanterelle Mushroom “HUMMUS” with Autumn Tomato and Dill, and House Eurasian “BOAR HAM” Crostini with Wild Mushroom Tartare and Huckleberry paired with select Jessup Cellars wines. The evening also opens resident artist Cynthia Carey’s Foraged & Found Sculpture exhibiton. Tickets are $75 each and available online at CellarPass.com. Ticket includes interactive forum, meet-and-greet, and wine and foraged food tasting.
“Far, far outside tidy human civilization and agriculture, culinary treasures like porcini, chanterelles, and truffles destined for the French Laundry or NOMA come only from wild places and foragers like me,” says Connie Green, owner ofWine Forest Wild Foods and co-author of The Wild Table. “This ancient craft lingers in our hearts as a legacy from our ancestors and pulls greats chefs like my side-kick Sean O’Toole out of his kitchen at TORC to forage in our great forests.”
Green has been foraging mushrooms, berries, greens and other wild foods for thirty years. As founder of one of the first and one of the largest wild foods businesses in the United States, she has sold ingredients to most of the top chefs in California and around the country including Thomas Keller, Daniel Patterson, Traci des Jardins, Gary Danko, Michael Chiarello, Cindy Pawlcyn, Stuart Brioza and many more.
O’Toole is chef and owner of the recently opened and highly acclaimed TORC in downtown Napa. He has spent more than fifteen years in some of the most noteworthy restaurants in the United States and Europe. At TORC, O’Toole focuses on the region’s bountiful selection of fresh products and his relationships with the people that produce, forage, and glean them. Green has been his foraged food purveyor for nearly twenty years.
About The TasteMaker Series
The TasteMaker Series presents thought leadership forums staged in the Jessup Cellars Tasting Gallery in Napa Valley’s village of Yountville, just a block north of the famed The French Laundry. Each event is integrated with the launch of a thematic art exhibition, bringing together Jessup Cellars wines, food, art and people into fully realized sensory forums. Jessup Cellars Tasting Gallery is located at 6740 Washington St., Yountville, California. To learn more about Jessup Cellars and the TasteMaker Speaker Series visit Jessup Cellars or call 707.944.8523.

Travelers: Sites to See

Let's face it...when you visit a place for the first time, you probably won't see it all. Unless, of course, you plan on an extended stay. Even then, you might not see it all.

So, how do you decide what to see and do?

Read some guidebooks, talk to people who love the city where you are going, and think about your likes and dislikes. If you really don't like art galleries, but the city is famous for art galleries...do you want to spend time touring an art gallery? You might love wandering through gardens and this place has dozens of gardens. If churches are on your 'must see' list, check out what each one is famous for and whether it is something you want to visit.

With that in mind, make a list of your top 10 things to do and see. Then, whittle that down to three if you can. These are the three you definitely want to schedule. Look at the best times to visit these, including days and times. Purchase your tickets online ahead of time to avoid standing in lines. After all, if these are sites you really want to see...working out a scheduled visit will make your trip more enjoyable. No sense being disappointed because the lines were too long or you missed the window to purchase tickets.

Once your top three are scheduled, you have time to see things and go places that pop up or that look interesting as you walk through a neighborhood. You can be spontaneous with the rest of the day.

Happy traveling...

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Travelers: Oktoberfest in Vacaville

Oktoberfest Returns To Downtown Vacaville!

Vacaville, CA – The 8th Annual Oktoberfest, which is being hosted by the Pure Grain Bakery and the Downtown Vacaville Business Improvement District, is happening on Saturday September 27th from 10 am to 9 pm. Come visit Town Square and enjoy a day of German heritage and fun. Music will be provided by Tony Raymann’s Edelweiss Band and East Bay Mudd that evening. There will also be plenty of German food (bratwurst, currywurst and schnitzel), beers and wines. The event is free to attend.

If you have any questions please call the Downtown Vacaville Business Improvement District office at (707) 451-2100 or visit the web site at www.downtownvacaville.com.

There’s always plenty to do in Downtown Vacaville, “The Heart Of The City”!

Travelers: Have a Great Trip

Some questions for you as you plan your next trip...

What do you do your first day in a new place? Do you leave that day open or do you schedule activities for that day?

Have you looked at maps to know where your hotel or apartment is in relation to sites you want to see?

Are you going to take a guided tour? Or, are you going to do it yourself?

Do you know where the best views in the city are located?

Have you made a list of 'must see' attractions or sites?

Do you know the ticketing procedures?

Did you purchase your tickets ahead of time?

Do you know when the most popular and crowded times and days are at places you want to visit?

Are you too scheduled for your time frame?

Have you left your last day open?

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Travelers: Food Safety Tips

Depending on the country where you will be traveling, food could be an issue. No one wants to get sick at home, let alone in an unfamiliar city.

Drinking water can pose a big problem when traveling. It's obvious you don't want to drink the water in many countries. But, what about countries where you thought it was safe to drink the water? Before you go, research your destination. Is safe water an issue? If you're not sure, drink only bottled water. Ask your hotel to recommend a brand that is a known safe one. Along those same lines, if you're unsure...don't brush your teeth with tap water and keep your mouth shut when taking a shower. Also, avoid ice cubes in drinks.

What about eating street food? If you aren't sure about the cleanliness of it...avoid it. If you see lots of flies hanging around the food...avoid it. If the food vendor looks like he has unclean hands...avoid it. You might want to stay away from food that's been sitting in the sun for hours also.

If you're still unsure about the water...avoid foods that were washed in local water. Salads, fruits, and vegetables might be good ones to avoid. If you can peel it or cook it...you're probably okay to eat it.

Travelers: Exciting Workshop

Check out this unique workshop...

10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday October 25 or Sunday October 26
Pepperwood Preserve/ 3450 Franz Valley Rd, Santa Rosa, CA 95472
Enrollment is limited/pre-registration required.

Master Weavers from California tribes will share stories of their journeys as basketry artists and their unique relationship with the natural environment at Tending the Wild – The Workshop at Pepperwood Preserve in Sonoma County. The one day presentation runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and will be offered on Saturday October 25 or Sunday October 26.

The event is designed to provide insights into this one of California’s oldest art traditions. Presenters will discuss the concept of Indigenous Stewardship Methods (ISM) that reflects traditional Native perspectives of land management, including the advantages of periodic burning.

Workshop participants will have an opportunity to learn about and work with the plant fibers California Indian basket weavers use. Attendees will identify, clean, trim and split fibers from juncas, sedge, willow, bracken fern root and redbud. They will also be introduced to special instruments that can analyze historic hand-crafted baskets.

Highlights include presentations by M. Kat Anderson, ethno-botanist and author of the book “Tending the Wild”. Ben Benson, Native Studies educator and Pepperwood Preserve’s Cultural Resources Manager will also participate in the day long program.

The non-profit California Basketweavers’ Association (CIBA), established in 1992 has approximately 1,000 members statewide and provides opportunities for weavers to convene, learn, exchange information and showcase their work.  

Advance registration is required as enrollment is limited. Saturday or Sunday tickets (includes lunch): $60 general, $50 CIBA members, or $40 students currently enrolled at a local university or college. Registration details: www.http://ciba.org.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Travelers: Camera Tips

When you travel do you pack an extra memory card? If you do, it will save time trying to find a place to buy one in an unfamiliar city.

Do you pack an extra battery or your battery charger? Again, a good idea to have.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Travelers: Simple Travel Tips

You've probably read that it's a good idea to learn a few words and phrases if you're going to a foreign country. Please is a good one to learn and so is Thank You. Do You Speak English is one that might come in handy. One more that you might want to learn is No Thank You.

Take a couple of extra plastic bags along. They don't take up room in your suitcase and are so useful in many ways from dirty clothes to wet swimsuits to seashells to muddy shoes. The uses are almost endless.

If you are getting a taxi from your hotel to a restaurant or attraction, be sure to take a business card from the front desk. That way you can show it to the taxi driver when you want to come back to your hotel. Before you leave the hotel, ask the concierge or front desk what the approximate rate will be.

If you bring a hard copy of the city's map, you can save your phone battery for other uses.

Ask the locals for advice on restaurants, etc.

Do you know where the embassy is located? Is it in the same city as you? It would be a good idea to write down the phone number and address. You never know when this may come in handy.

Scan your passport and travel documents and send one copy to yourself and one to a family member.

Check out the airports on line ahead of time. This might save you some time to know the general direction of the rental car companies, the different terminals, rest rooms, etc.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Travelers: Smooth Flying

We all know flying can be stressful. We also know taking a trip requires some planning. Check out these easy-to-do tips as you plan your next trip. Plan ahead and make your trip enjoyable.

Pack your essentials in your carry on bag. In case your checked luggage is delayed...you will have what you need with you.

Make sure your quart size bag with your liquids in it is within easy reach. You don't want to be the one standing, holding up the line in security, looking for your bag that has somehow found its way to the depths of your carry on. Keep it handy.

Keep your hotel information handy. If your bag is lost and airline wants to deliver it to you...you need to know the address. Or when you rent a car or give a taxi driver your hotel...be sure to give the correct one.

Keep your boarding pass until you return from your trip. You can use it to make sure you receive the correct air miles on your frequent flyer plan.

Make sure you can recognize your bag on the sea of black bags going around and around the baggage carousel. Put a colored piece of tape on the handles or use a sticker from an attraction on the back side of your bag. You can see it much easier and much quicker as it makes its way onto the carousel.

Remember your flight number. Looking at the departure sign with dozens of flights to San Diego or multiple flights to Paris...if you know your number, it makes things easier. If the sign appears in another language first and then your language...knowing your flight number is definitely quicker.

Leave a little extra time to get to the airport. It may be only 30 minutes away...but leave some extra time for that unexpected accident blocking your highway or the downpour you just encountered or the slow moving traffic. There's no point in making yourself all stressed out before you get on that plane. This is vacation...right?

Once you're at the airport parking lot and have your luggage sitting beside you, double check your car. Do you have all your luggage? Who wants to run back for that small piece still sitting in the back seat? Are all the interior lights in your car off? No sense coming back to a dead battery. Did you lock it? Check.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Travelers: Product Reviews

New travel products and apps seem to be developed faster and faster all the time. I'm always reading about a new app to help plan your trip or a new travel product to make your travel life easier. Do they work, are they better than what I'm already using, are they worth the money, would I tell my travel friends, can I wait to try them out on my next trip...

Here at Travels and Escapes, I am adding a new feature. I will start reviewing products. This means I will actually use them. I'll install a new app and try it around here. If it's worth it, I tell you about it. As for new products, I will look carefully at them and might buy them. If that product is an improvement over what I'm using...I'll let you know. If it isn't, I will tell you that as well.

Then, when I go on a trip, I'll report back on using the new app or the new product. You will get a genuinely tested review.

If you know of a product or app that is new, or is being developed, or one you absolutely love...let me know. I would love to give it a try.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Travelers: TSA Screening

Did you know that passengers leave a variety of items behind once they go through the TSA screening process?

TSA tries to reconnect those passengers with their items, but sometimes they can't find them. So, the items go to lost and found. Keys, laptops, jewelry, belts, large items, stuffed animals, bags, money clips, eyeglasses, pens, wallets, and so much more.

One thing you may want to do is keep your valuables in a small bag in your carry on bag. Put anything that you may have to remove in the bag ahead of time. That way you won't have to put it in the bowl or bin to go through the security scanner by itself.

If you have a large bracelet that you need to remove at the last minute, you don't want to place it in a bowl that might not make it through the scanner until after you're already gone from the screening area. Or, maybe you think you need to remove all jewelry. If it's already in your carry on bag...no worries.

Less danger of forgetting to grab everything.

If you do forget something, contact lost and found immediately. The web page tsa.gov has phone numbers for every airport.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Travelers: Disasters

I know you don't plan on being in a disaster when you travel. But, things happen.

FEMA has a free app with tips on how to prepare and deal with disasters, including earthquakes, severe weather, terrorism, volcanoes, hurricanes, and wildfires. Check your smart phone to install it.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Travelers: Do You Pack These Items?

Disasters can come at any time, as was evident in the recent earthquake in northern California. Here are some things that may be worth packing when you travel. Even if you don't plan on being in an earthquake, hurricane, tornado, or fire...these items don't take up much room. And, you just never know when they might come in handy.

Whistle: Get a whistle without the cork pea in int as it is more durable. If need be, rescuers can find you easier. Plus, it's a good idea to have when walking in a strange city.

Space blanket: This light, stowable blanket can be used to keep warm or can be used at the beach to keep sand out of your lunch.

First aid kit: Good to have for blister repair, bug bites, and so much more.

Flashlight: Small ones that fit on a key chain are easy to pack. LED ones have long battery life.

Dust mask: Just a basic, easy to pack one can come in handy.

Food and Water: Pack a couple of protein or high energy bars and some extra water.

Solar charger: If there's no electricity, a solar charger will save the day for your phone or tablet.