Difficult Roads Often Lead to Beautiful Destinations. Time for a Getaway?

Conduct your own training session in the Tehachapi. Embrace your solitude and immerse yourself in a lush green wilderness. Keep a wary eye open for bears on a food run. Soak up ice cold exhilaration in moss-covered swimming holes.

All aboard for a weekend escape to Tehachapi

Folks might want me to say that the famed train loop is the thing. And it is stirring to see: long, noisy trains emerging from the tunnel, lumbering, then “spiraling” or “lapping” upon themselves. The costumed guides at the Tehachapi Depot Museum helped explain this engineering marvel of the 1800s. But I was equally entranced by the self-guided wind-farm driving tour. At the start, the smallish wind towers are early models, then the tour progresses to spinning behemoths dotting the hillsides.” Los Angeles Times · Sara Lessley

This Olympic National Park Rainforest is one of the quietest places on Earth

Olympic National Park—in particular the Hoh Rainforest, one of the emerald gems of the U.S. national park system. The Hoh Rainforest is tucked deep within a glacial river valley less than 50 miles from the Pacific Ocean. It sits in the shadow of Mount Olympus, the 7,980-foot peak that gives the park its name, and is a solid half-day drive from bustling Seattle. In addition to the lush biodiversity you’d expect from a temperate rainforest, that remote quality makes Hoh one of the quietest places anywhere on Earth, almost completely free of any human noise pollution. Immersing yourself in this lush, green world can be a peaceful forest bathing experience or a challenging excursion into the wilderness. However you choose to enjoy it, you’ll find peace and quiet abounds.” The Dyrt

Curated by Steve Howard for the “High Country Eagles” digital magazine.

Take the plunge in these California swimming holes to keep your cool

Natural Bridges is a swimming hole in the Sierra foothills. This summertime hot spot near the Tuolumne-Calaveras county line rewards hikers with a swim in ice-cold Coyote Creek through a moss-covered cave. The Natural Bridges parking area is between Columbia State Historic Park and the wineries of Murphys. The round-trip hike is about two miles but make sure to pack plenty of water because the return back to the car is all uphill. Info: Natural Bridges, bit.ly/natrualbridges” By MIKE MORRIS

Drivers Should Keep an Eye Out for Bears on Tahoe Roads

Lake Tahoe’s thriving bear population is very active and many of them are getting hit by cars. Bears have been out looking for food following their winter slumber. It is also mating season and the time when juvenile bears are venturing off on their own for the first time. All of this activity can put them in the path of moving cars and these collisions are not uncommon. ‘Some years it just spikes up to the point where there’s 50 or 60. Some years, more normal would be maybe 25,’ said Ann Bryant, the executive director of the BEAR League.” Dennis Shanahan

North America’s best national parks day hikes

If you have limited time in the Grand Canyon, you can’t do much better than this beautiful hike. The wide and well-maintained corridor trail offers shady rest-houses and stretches along a delightful creek. At the trailhead, the canyon beckons in all its glory. If you suffer vertigo, look to the left for a while – the first five minutes are the hardest. Highlights include two tunnels, Native American pictographs and the visual reward of the dramatically broad Tonto Platform. Continuing down the Bright Angel adds difficulty but brings you to the shady oasis of Indian Garden. For an even more challenging and very exposed hike to expansive views of the inner gorge, cross Tonto Platform along a spur trail to reach Plateau Point. It’s a popular destination for strong day hikers, but the long, exposed stretch can be searingly hot.” Lonely Planet Michele Falzone / Getty Images

Western Adventures Just Waiting For You

We are disappointed but given the success they have had and their recent investments into the resort, we respect that this is the right time for them to move in a different direction.


Gusty winds during a recent storm broke a branch of the famous cypress tree on California’s northern coast.

Curated Highlights and Headlines

Explore the Pacific Coast in the Northwest region beginning in Curry County and traveling northbound. Or snorkel in Emerald Bay finding sunken treasure, or strap on boards or skis and check-off 49 other things to do in Lake Tahoe. If you’re in Surf City stop by legendary Jack’s Surfboards. Or, hit the road on one of Montana’s three unforgettable routes for winding roads and breathtaking vistas that won’t disappoint.  The choice is yours. Enjoy!

Best West Road Trips

Region: Pacific Northwest

Most people associate the Pacific Northwest with a lush region that receives large amounts of rain during the winter months, with wonderful summer days. But the Northwest has a variety of climate regions, from the Pacific Coast to the valley and, once over the mountains, a desert region — all within a few hours drive of each other. There is enough to keep the outdoor enthusiast busy.” Map – Wikitravel


Region: Pacific Northwest

Southern Oregon Coast, Curry County, Port Orford.

Humbug Mountain State Park
“The park and campground are dominated by Humbug Mountain (elevation 1,756 feet) and surrounded by forested hills. The campground enjoys some of the warmest weather on the Oregon coast as the surrounding mountains offer protection from cool ocean breezes.” Photo – Oregon State Parks


Region: Sierra Nevada Mountains, Lake Tahoe

Sunken ships revealed at Tahoe’s new underwater trail

A new state park designated underwater trail at Emerald Bay State Park at Lake Tahoe includes the largest collection of sunken boats in America. California State Parks will open an underwater trail to four sites in Emerald Bay that will lead visitors to a boat graveyard from the 1920s and ’30s — and provide those in boats with a chance to peer down into the lake for a glimpse. State park divers have found two large barges and 12 recreational boats, including a vintage 27-foot launch, said Denise Jaffe, associate state archaeologist with the California State Parks and a scuba diver who helped develop the project. This collection is the largest, most diverse group of sunken small watercraft of their type, in their original location, known to exist in the nation, Jaffe said. The underwater shipwreck route will be named the “Emerald Bay Maritime Heritage Trail.”Tom Stienstra sfchronicle.com  Photo: Mylana Haydu, Center for Underwater Science, Indiana University

Region: Sierra Nevada Mountains, Lake Tahoe

50 Things to Do in Lake Tahoe This Winter

“Tahoe just got a truckload of fresh powder—tis the season for snowmobile treks, chilly swims, mountain-view skydiving, spicy coffees, and icy seafood.
Here are 50 of the best things to do in Lake Tahoe this winter.
6. Explore the night during moonlight snowshoe hikes and star tours at Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows and The Ritz Carlton, Lake Tahoe. // tahoestartours.com
7. Ski during sunset at the Last Tracks beer and wine events at Diamond Peak. // diamondpeak.com
8. Enjoy wood fired sa’atar chicken and an Oaxacan Old Fashioned at Pioneer Cocktail Club. // pcctahoe.com”
Christina Nellemann 7×7.com Photo Courtesy of Resort at Squaw Creek

California Coast: Tip to Tip

Region: Central Coast, Monterey

Famed Lone Cypress tree damaged by recent storms
The famed Lone Cypress on the 17-Mile Drive in Monterey was damaged by California storms in Feb. 2019. Gusty winds during a recent storm broke a branch of the famous cypress tree on California’s northern coast. The Pebble Beach Company said Friday that despite the damage, an arborist has recently examined the Lone Cypress and confirmed it’s “healthy and remains secure on its rocky perch.” The tree, believed to be more than 250 years old, draws many visitors to the scenic 17-Mile Drive on the Monterey Peninsula to take photographs of it. The owner of the Pebble Beach golf links and resort registered a drawing of the tree as the company’s trademark in 1919.
Associated Press. sfchronicle.com Photo: KSBW

Region: South Coast, Orange County Beach Towns, Huntington Beach

Jack’s Surfboards
“For over 50 years, Jack’s Surfboards has been an Orange County icon and Southern California favorite for surfboards, wetsuits, clothing, footwear and accessories. Being voted as Orange County’s #1 surf shop year after year is a testament to Jack’s dedication to offering the largest and newest selections for men, women and children. Jack’s Surfboards flagship store in Huntington Beach is a destination spot for surfers and surf fans from all over the world. The huge 10,000 square foot surf shop is located just steps away from the Huntington Beach pier on the corner of Pacific Coast Highway and Main Street.  Jack’s Surfboards also has six other coastal Orange County locations that offers the same extensive selection and excellent customer service.” Visit Huntington Beach – Surf City USA.

High Country Eagles

Rocky Mountain Region, Northwestern Colorado Region

Vail Resorts and Arapahoe Basin to End Pass Partnership
For Vail Resorts’ part, the new-for-2019-20 Keystone Plus Pass replaces the Keystone A-Basin Pass and offers unlimited holiday-restricted skiing at Keystone, unlimited late-season days at Breckenridge (after April 1), five holiday-restricted days at Crested Butte, and 10 (up from six) Buddy Tickets when purchased prior to the April deadline for $369, $259 for kids. Kirsten Lynch, chief marketing officer for Vail Resorts, said that while they’re pleased to offer an option for skiing from mid-October through Memorial Day at a great price, “we want to thank Arapahoe Basin for their partnership for over 20 years. We are disappointed but given the success they have had and their recent investments into the resort, we respect that this is the right time for them to move in a different direction.
Samantha Berman. skimag.com Ski Resort Life Photo credit: Keri Bascetta

Rocky Mountain Region, Glacier Country, Yellowstone Country, Montana

3 Awe-Inspiring Montana Road Trips

There’s a reason Montana has been considered an ultimate road trip destination since the first highways were built: You can drive all day and encounter everything you need for a perfect road trip — breathtaking vistas, winding roads, welcoming locals, incredible food, and small-town culture. With over 147,000 square miles to traverse, you can experience the wonders of nature without leaving the comforts of your car. Start by charting a trip on these unforgettable routes.
Northwest Glacier: The Road to the Clouds
Highway 89 Loop: A Tour of Montana Life
Highway 89: Gateway to Yellowstone

Head to Lake Tahoe for the Holidays

The stunning cobalt blue of the water in Lake Tahoe is one of those rare natural phenomena that’s even more breathtaking in person

The Ikon has unlimited skiing and free days at 35 resorts — including Squaw Valley, Alpine Meadows and Mammoth Mountain — in 12 states, Canada and Japan. But there are many more options.

Curated Highlights and Headlines

10 Reasons to Visit Lake Tahoe in the Fall

Why wait for ski season to experience everything this gorgeous destination has to offer? The stunning cobalt blue of the water in Lake Tahoe is one of those rare natural phenomena that’s even more breathtaking in person than on Instagram, and fall is the perfect time for appreciating its otherworldly beauty amidst the vivid foliage along the Sierra Nevada mountains.” Brit+Co  brit.co Katherine Parker-Magyar

8 Best Hiking Trails near South Lake Tahoe

On the shores and mountains that ring the sparkling blue waters and turquoise bays of Lake Tahoe, hiking trails lead to peaks, waterfalls, inland lakes, meadows, and lookouts. Views over the lake on a sunny day are astounding. In the spring, the snow-capped peaks stand out sharply on the horizon; in the summer, the wildflowers light up the trails; and in the fall, the leaves glow a brilliant yellow, contrasting with the deep green of the pines.thestepinsider.com 

South Lake Tahoe ballot measure would ban most vacation-home rentals

“Many of the homes that are listed on websites including Airbnb and VRBO are on the water and have private docks. But the growth of online rental agencies has created a bitter rift in the city between those who like vacation renters and the dollars they bring, and those who say they are disrupting neighborhoods and making it hard for full-time residents — many of whom work in lower-wage restaurant, hotel and ski resort jobs — to find affordable housing.” SFGate  Kathleen Pender Photo: Photos By Jessica Christian / The Chronicle

Cute vintage 1950s Tahoe cabin on large lot listed for $375K

Vacation in Tahoe doesn’t have to be so pricey– this 1950s cabin is $375K and you can also snap up the lot next door for another $60K. Built in 1953, the one-bedroom, one-bathroom abode (that sleeps more than its one-bedroom designation might indicate) has had only a handful of owners. Its current sellers have enjoyed vacations here for over 20 years. There are 680 square feet, all of it restored and preserved to celebrate the original intent of the cabin.” SFGate Anna Marie Erwert Photo: Dan Thrift

Which ski pass is best for you? Here’s our 2018-2019 Tahoe Ski Pass Guide.

“Today, the Epic Pass price tag is $949 and, thanks to strategic alliances, partnerships and acquisitions, it offers unlimited skiing at 65 resorts in eight states, Canada, Europe, Australia and Japan. But the Epic is just one of many options out there. Take the Ikon Pass, which launched this year as the first true rival to the Epic. The Ikon has unlimited skiing and free days at 35 resorts — including Squaw Valley, Alpine Meadows and Mammoth Mountain — in 12 states, Canada and Japan. But there are many more options.” sfchronicle.com Julie Brown Photo: KiwiKamera.com / Homewood Mountain Resort

Tram Up to a Mountain Feast, at Lake Tahoe

Spend Christmas Eve evening at a higher elevation, at High Camp, while feasting in honor of the holiday. HIGH CAMP: It’s the Beyond Merry Wonderland Christmas Eve Holiday dinner, and it will spread out, with lavish pomp, at High Camp’s Terrace Room. The meal itself? Think “… local, fresh, traditional holiday dinner,” the sort of supper to keep you fortified while you gaze out upon the snowy peaks of Squaw Valley and the Tahoe region. The time to enjoy this up-the-hill, tram-tastic to-do? The single seating is at 5 o’clock, so you can be back down the mountain for any further Christmas Eve plans you might have, later in the night.” www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local/ Alysia Gray Painter

6 holiday festivals at Tahoe and Mammoth

“Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows’ Merry Days and Holly Nights delivers plenty of cheer each December. Ski runs and slaloms draw powderhounds to the slopes each winter. But those in the Sierra sparkle with more than simple snowflakes: Here are six holiday festivals to warm your spirits.” The Mercury News  LISA HERENDEEN Squaw Valley Resort

Rain, Mud and Despair

From drought to flood, from fire to mud, California bakes, burns and floats, always on the brink of calamity.

She tried to hold onto the door frame, but the force was overwhelming. He was thrown against a fence and pinned there, buried in mud up to his neck.

Central Coast Region

Act One:

Massive Landslide Isolates Big Sur

Rock Slides in Big Sur and Mudslides in Santa Barbara Block Pacific Coast Travel

Big Sur suffers another round of weather woes

More Big Sur Rock Slides

Rock slides from heavy rainfall have CLOSED #Hwy1 overnight south of Big Sur at Mile Marker 42 near Coast Gallery,” Stan Russell wrote late Monday on TheBigSurBlog. “Crews will assess damage & begin clean-up at dawn. Be safe out there!” 


What To Know Before A Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip…

Iconic Bixby Bridge in Big Sur

“The Bixby Bridge is just south of Carmel, meaning you’ll have to pull a U-turn after viewing. But it’s completely worth it. In our opinion, it’s one of the most pristinely beautiful and inspiring places on earth. Anywhere – literally, anywhere. Try to time your trip for early morning or late afternoon, while the sun is still out, giving yourself ample time to make it back onto main roads before dark.” 

Act Two:  

Drought, Wind and Fire

Rob Lowe Fights Wildfire, Feeds Firefighters

Rob Lowe Instagram

Rob’s home was spared even though it looked like the blaze was knocking at his front door early Sunday morning. The Thomas Fire‘s been raging for 2 weeks now and has made its way to Santa Barbara where Rob, Oprah, Ellen and Katy Perry’s folks have had to evacuate their homes. 

Act Three:

Rain, Mud and Boulders

Tracking a path of destruction from Montecito’s mountains to the ocean

San Ysidro Creek cut a path of destruction through the center of Montecito early Tuesday morning when intense rain released a deluge of debris from the Santa Ynez Mountains, which were burned by the Thomas fire. 

Family Members Frantically Search for Loved Ones Missing in Montecito Mudslide

Below, in blue, was scrawled “Augie & Karen Johnson,” with a question mark in front of their names. Below and next to it were other names, also with question marks, as people searched for loved ones. One name at the top had been crossed out, with “He is OK” scrawled next to it.  and ,

Mud, darkness and destruction turned Montecito into death trap

“But the rain was heavy enough that she woke up at 3 and watched it with her boyfriend, Norm Borgatello. They stepped out the front door to look, her family described later, and a cold sludge of gravel and mud and boulders picked them up. She tried to hold onto the door frame, but the force was overwhelming. He was thrown against a fence and pinned there, buried in mud up to his neck. She was swept away. “Josie!” he called out, over the roaring river. “Josie!”” 

Photos Of California Mudslides Show How Much Damage It’s Caused

“I came around the house and heard a deep rumbling, an ominous sound I knew was … boulders moving as the mud was rising,” resident Thomas Tighe told CBS SFBayArea. “I saw two other vehicles moving slowly sideways down the middle of the street in a river of mud.” 

After fire and mudslides, Montecito struggles; Ventura and Santa Barbara counties rebound

Montecito Inn – Huffington Post

The Montecito Inn has been evacuated and closed indefinitely. The Four Seasons Resort the Biltmore Santa Barbara, a 22-acre beachfront luxury hotel, is closed indefinitely amid substantial flood damage, a representative said. The San Ysidro Ranch resort, which shut for “an extensive cleaning” after the fire, remains closed indefinitely. Santa Barbara: Visit Santa Barbara spokeswoman Karna Hughes said most attractions are open, including the Santa Barbara Zoo, Old Mission Santa Barbara and the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden. – LA Times

The California deal: Accepting the calamity along with the splendor

“Yes, we have summer and at times a bit of winter, but the cycles in California follow a different calendar. From drought to flood, from fire to mud, California bakes, burns and floats, always on the brink of calamity. We are here by the millions in defiance of reason, lured to a bountiful garden that at times seems unfit for human habitation.” 

Rain, rain, don’t go away. It’s good for this old soul

“Out here, disasters often prey on hillside castles overlooking the sea. If that seems fair or just, try sweeping three feet of muck out of your child’s closet some time. There is nothing fair about any of this. Heartache is heartache. Precious photos are precious photos. No one owns the exclusive rights to hard luck. We can’t take a hint though. This has been going on for decades, and we rebuild in vulnerable areas, because they bring us nearer to nature and soothe our jangled souls. “It’s worth the risk,” we say. “Ever seen our sunsets?”” 

Train service to Santa Barbara restored; 101 Freeway open as far as Carpinteria

“For many travelers, Amtrak trains may be the best way to get from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara for the foreseeable future. Caltrans said late Friday that the 101 Freeway would not reopen Monday, as originally thought.” 

101 Freeway, overwhelmed by Montecito mudslide, to remain closed indefinitely

“U.S. Highway 101, a major north-south artery that carries 100,000 vehicles through the Central Coast each day, was initially expected to open Monday, but officials said cleaning up one part of the freeway was proving more difficult than imagined. In a section of the road near Olive Mill Road — one of the lowest points in the city — there was 2 feet of standing water and storm drains were clogged, Jones said. Once all the mud and debris is removed, the pavement and overpasses must be evaluated for structural safety, and then signs and guardrails reinstalled and lines repainted.” 


Drought, Wind and Fire 

Tens of thousands of people evacuated their homes in Ventura; 150 buildings burned and thousands more along the hillside and into downtown are threatened.


Official Map of the Thomas Fire
The number of horses killed at a thoroughbred training facility during North County’s Lilac wildfire has risen to 46
Second Time In a Month

California burns in wildfires driven by wind and drought. For the second time in two months, wind-driven fires are tearing through California communities. So far, rows of homes and a psychiatric hospital lie in ruins and tens of thousands of people have fled for their lives. (dw.com/Reuters)

North Coast Region

Artists for Recovery Victims

Sonoma County.  Artists draw together at Schulz Museum for North Bay fire relief. Some of the Bay Area’s most hailed graphic novelists, cartoonists and authors — including Dave Eggers, Raina Telgemeier and Stephan Pastis — are converging at Santa Rosa’s Charles M. Schulz Museum on Saturday, Dec. 9, to raise money to support victims of the recent wildfires in Sonoma County. – (Photo: Santiago Mejia, Special To The Chronicle)

Not the Smoke You Want

Wildfires devastate California pot farmers, who must rebuild without banks or insurance. “She was among hundreds of growers — big and small, fully permitted, semi-legal and pure outlaw — devastated by the fires in Sonoma, Napa and Mendocino counties. Their losses illustrate how, despite new laws to make the industry legal in California, many farmers remain uninsured and trapped in a cash economy that leaves them vulnerable to natural disasters.” – (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

Central Coast

Massive Thomas Fire

California’s Thomas Fire Has Burned an Area the Size of New York. Thomas Fire in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, has reportedly scorched an area the size of New York City. As of Sunday evening the fire has burned 230,000 acres since it began, and is the fifth largest fire in recorded state history. – (Photo: CAL Fire)

Ellen and Montecito Celebrities Forced to Evacuate

Ellen DeGeneres Evacuates as California Wildfires Spread Through Santa Barbara County. DeGeneres and her wife Portia de Rossi live in Montecito, an area where many celebrities own homes, including Patrick Stewart, Jane Seymour, Oprah Winfrey, Jeff Bridges and former Vice President Al Gore. Residents there were told to evacuate as the Thomas Fire, which has burned 170,000 acres, has threatened homes in the area. The fire, which began in Ventura County, has pushed into Santa Barbara county. – (SF Gate)

South Coast Region

Ojai Neighbors Brace for the Worst

Ventura County. Ojai, Calif., Ringed by Flames, Is an Ash-Covered Shangri-La. Ojai, about 90 miles northwest of Los Angeles, has long been a haven for nature lovers, spiritual seekers, artists, stressed-out urban exiles and Hollywood celebrities, all of whom felt protected by the pleasant valley surroundings and pure air. But for the last few days, Ojai has been at the center of the largest of several wildfires ravaging Southern California. The Thomas Fire, which has resulted in at least one death, has chewed through more than 140,000 acres in Ventura County, fanned by unpredictable winds that have battered coastal areas and inland communities like Ojai. (Credit Hilary Swift for The New York Time)

Not Quite Miller Time, Yet

In Ojai, people stock up on gas, water and beer. Many residents in the town of 7,500 had already fled by Tuesday afternoon, worried that the few highways out would be choked with traffic if the flames got closer. Some who stayed were preparing for the worst. (SF Gate)


Ventura Hillside Homes Threatened

The Firestorm This Time: Why Los Angeles Burns. Tens of thousands of people evacuated their homes in Ventura; 150 buildings burned and thousands more along the hillside and into downtown are threatened. (wired.com)



Shortening Cycle of Disasters

Los Angeles County. Doom Season in Los Angeles. Californians live in an increasingly precarious balance with the flora and fauna that surround us. Last winter’s rains brought brush and hillside grasses back to life, but they didn’t resurrect the more than 102 million trees killed by five years of drought; each one becomes kindling for future blazes. Meanwhile, new subdivisions keep being built in traditional fire corridors. The fire season after a wet winter is always an especially dangerous time in Southern California. As the brush grows thicker it can feed powerful flames; they sweep down the same routes in the San Gabriel and Santa Monica Mountains that packs of coyotes follow to prey on our dogs and cats. We’ve pushed the landscape to the limits of human habitation. (Credit- Hilary Swift for The New York Times)

Creek Fire Prompts Prayers

Wildfires Rage Across Southern California, 200K Evacuate. Firefighters battle to save one of many homes burning in an early-morning Creek Fire that broke out in the Kagel Canyon area in the San Fernando Valley north of Los Angeles, in Sylmar, California, U.S., December 5, 2017. (The Daily Beast)

Raw Power of the Lilac Fire

San Diego County. Lilac Fire Pictures And Videos Show Blaze Near San Diego California. A fast-moving wildfire broke out in San Diego County Thursday, quickly consuming 2,500 acres, officials said. The Lilac Fire was zero percent contained late Thursday afternoon and had destroyed 20 structures. Another 1,000 were threatened. The fire began along Interstate 15 and State Route 76. Photos and videos from the scene showed flames nearing the highway as smoke billowed throughout the region. (ibtimes.com)

Bewildered Thoroughbreds Scatter In North County

Thoroughbred death toll rises to 46 from wildfire. The number of horses killed at a thoroughbred training facility during North County’s Lilac wildfire has risen to 46, a spokesman for the California Horse Racing Board said Saturday morning. Many horses from San Luis Rey Downs are among several hundred living temporarily at the Del Mar Fairgrounds after fleeing the wildfire. (sandiegouniontribune.com)

What You Missed in November

 Newport Beach is a picture-perfect place to visit any time of year for its stunning coastline, dramatic yacht-dotted harbor and aesthetically inclined locals.”

“Here’s Johnny’s” Malibu Mansion
Wineries across both Napa and Sonoma are open and pouring their best vintages – except Signorello Estate, which burned to the ground on the Silverado Trail in Napa during the October fires.


Who are Millbillies? When did Brett Harte move to Arcata? What makes Carlsbad a “walkable town” and Newport Beach a “shop ’til you drop” destination? How much is Johnny Carson’s Malibu mansion on the market for?  And where did Hollywood celebrities “from Clark Gable to Renée Zellwegger” hang out when they were, well, not in Hollywood?

Find out answers to these burning questions (with apologies to Sonoma and Napa valley residents and wineries) with this month’s Baker’s Dozen.

Highlights and Headlines: November 2017

South Coast Region

Floating Concrete House

San Diego. ‘Floating’ concrete house wins top architecture award. “The (awards) jury felt the project was an excellent example of great architecture that is also carbon neutral and energy neutral,” the five-member selection panel said. “The simple clean lines of the architecture reminded the jury of the quality work of (modernist architect Rudolph) Schindler.” Called “The Cresta,” the three-story house sits on a 5,000-square-foot lot, a fraction of the size of nearby sites, Segal said in his nomination form. (Film by Jeff Durkin, Architecture by Jonathan & Matthew Segal. (Courtesy of Bread Truck Films)

Walking Wine Tour

North County. Carlsbad is a lovely ocean-side community just north of San Diego, and directly adjacent to the aptly named town of Oceanside. It offers year-around amazing weather, scenic beaches, dozens of quaint restaurants, and two wineries. Carlsbad is a very walkable town, at least for tourists like us, so we parked our car when we arrived and pretty much walked everywhere we wanted to go! https://winetastingbliss.com/2017/10/wine-carlsbad/#

Lido Marina Village in Newport Beach

Orange County Beach TownsNewport Beach is a picture-perfect place to visit any time of year for its stunning coastline, dramatic yacht-dotted harbor and aesthetically inclined locals. And now—thanks to a tasteful, modern-day reincarnation of a vintage favorite—this Orange County haunt is also a sensational place to shop ‘til you drop. Lido Marina Village (3434 Via Lido, Newport Beach) was first developed in 1971, originally conceived as a small and charming pedestrian- friendly shopping center. It was only last year that private equity investment firm” Hauteliving.com

Long Beach Development Plans

Naples to Palos Verdes Peninsula. Long Beach. “The 1,500 square-foot area is roughly bounded by Seventh Street, Marine Stadium and Orange County. It includes single and multifamily residential neighborhoods and several large shopping centers, such as Marina Pacifica, the Marketplace and Marina Shores.” Long Beach Press-Telegram

“Here’s Johnny’s” Malibu Mansion

South Bay. Malibu. “For the first time in a decade, the lifelong home of comedy legend Johnny Carson has hit the market. Listed by Coldwell Banker, the five-bedroom, four-bathroom Malibu residence can be your new home away from home for a cool $81.5 million dollars.” JUSTLUXE: LUXURY NEWS AND REVIEWS

Ojai Valley Inn & Spa

Ventura County. Ojai.  “But for those in the know, a historic property 35 miles south of Santa Barbara is the perfect spot for a pleasing respite. Ojai Valley Inn & Spa in Ojai, California, has long been the go-to vacation spot for the Hollywood elite, from Clark Gable to Renée Zellwegger.” PURSUITIST

Avalon on Santa Catalina Island

Islands along the Pacific Coast. Catalina Island. A modern estate perched on a hillside in Avalon has sold for $4.6 million, making it the most expensive home sold on Santa Catalina Island since 2013. Built in 2007, the red-hued home is a confluence of contemporary and Balinese style. Los Angeles Times

Central Coast Region

Montecito Estate in Santa Barbara County

Santa Barbara. CONSTANTIA is an estate of unparalleled quality located in the heart of Montecito. Juxtaposed between the mountains and the sea, this Cape Dutch Colonial masterpiece harkens back to a more elegant time, but with the conveniences of a 21st Century home. Hauteresidence.com


Peninsula Region

A rancher’s cows relax at the new La Honda Creek Open Space Preserve in La Honda, California,

La Honda Creek Open Space Preserve. Huge new Bay Area open space preserve opens to public. For the past 175 years, it’s been a Mexican land grant, a dairy farm, a hideout for members of Jesse James’ outlaw gang, an oil field, a redwood logging mill, a cattle ranch and a retreat for heirs to the Weyerhaeuser lumber and Folgers coffee fortunes. The Mercury News.

San Francisco Region

San Francisco

From bread bowls to Karl the Fog to our indisputable holy object, the Golden Gate Bridge, scroll through the above gallery for a list of things San Franciscans consider sacred. SF Gate



North Bay Region

An informal Millbilly gathering

Mill Valley. “An informal Millbilly gathering on a Friday night at the Depot Plaza. From left, Gary Scheuenstuhl, a local drummer and owner of Mill Valley Music; Jesse Lee Kincaid, a local guitarist; and Eric Meade of Fairfax. Says Scheuenstuhl: “The ’60s and ’70s were the golden era here. A lot of my high school friends had to leave.” (Photo by Mary Ann Hogan)” Marin Independent Journal

North Coast Region

Wine Country Rebound

Sonoma and Napa Wine CountryWineries across both Napa and Sonoma are open and pouring their best vintages – except Signorello Estate, which burned to the ground on the Silverado Trail in Napa during the October fires, and a few others that suffered damage. But the classics are still at the top of their games, with favorites like the award-winning Shafer Vineyards (whose Relentless 2008 bottling took home the world’s number one wine prize from Wine Spectator in 2012) unscathed and taking reservations for during-the-week tastings. http://ncwineguys.com/

Bret Harte in North Coast Region

Arcata.(Bret) Harte moved to California in 1853, later working there in a number of capacities, including miner, teacher, messenger, and journalist. He spent part of his life in the northern California coastal town of Union (now Arcata). The 1860 massacre of between 80 and 200 Wiyots at the village of Tuluwat was well documented historically and was reported in San Francisco and New York by Harte. When serving as assistant editor for the Northern Californian.” Wikipedia

Falling for “The American Riviera”

“Inspiration Point rewards hikers with stunning views of the greater Santa Barbara area, including the northern Channel Islands.”

Escape to Santa Barbara Along California’s Central Coast.
The focal point of any trip to Santa Barbara is the downtown area, characterized by unique shopping, great food and distinctive architecture.

Santa Barbara, on California’s Central Coast Region, lies between the foothills of the Santa Ynez Mountains and the beaches on the Pacific Ocean.

As a reminder of the city’s founding in 1786 Mission Santa Barbara sits on a hill as a home to Franciscan friars and a museum.

Mediterranean-style white stucco buildings with red-tile roofs

“Mediterranean-style white stucco buildings with red-tile roofs” keep the Spanish colonial heritage alive.

And, then there is State Street.

Home to one-of-a-kind boutiques. World class restaurants. Intimate wine tasting rooms. “And local seasonal fare.”

Highlights and Headlines: November 2017


Not just for college seniors and senior citizens

“If Santa Barbara makes you think of retirees and college kids, you’re not technically wrong: those contingents still thrive here. But thanks to a few new boutique hotels and a budding restaurant scene, the city is now an ultra-chill and just-hip-enough place to hang by the beach for a few days. Here’s your game plan.” Santa Barbara Is the LA Road Trip You Need to Be Taking – gq.com


Fancy Sports, Fancy Places

“Unlike other areas of the US and the world, sporting events with dress codes and signature cocktails aren’t really a thing in California. But the people behind the SB Polo and Wine fest are here to change that, and not just for the sake of getting fancy for a night.” Interview: Grab your Fancy Hat for The Santa Barbara Polo & Wine Fest – culturecollide.com


Historic Stearn’s Wharf

“When completed In 1872, it became the longest deep-water Wharf between San Pedro and San Francisco. Named for its builder, local lumberman John P. Stearns, the wharf served the passenger and freight shipping needs of California’s South Coast for over a quarter century.” Stearn’s Wharf – Visit Santa Barbara


Artistic Millennials with Boutique Ambitions

““Over the past few decades, this district, which spans the area between the ocean and Highway 101 and is adjacent to the Amtrak station, has enjoyed an upswell of boutique tasting rooms, cafes, galleries, and shops that cater to Santa Barbara’s contemporary side.” The Funk Zone – Visit Santa Barbara


Inspiration Point by way of the Tunnel Trail

““For a usually warm, usually busy, always beautiful half-day hike in Santa Barbara, Inspiration Point by way of the Tunnel Trail, is a great bet. Not to be confused with the Inspiration Point offshore on Anacapa Island or the hike to Inspiration Point in the San Gabriel Mountains by way of Echo Mountain, this Inspiration Point rewards hikers with stunning views of the greater Santa Barbara area, including the northern Channel Islands.” Inspiration Point – outdoorproject.com


Santa Barbara, Shops on State Street in the city of Santa Barbara in southern California

““The focal point of any trip to Santa Barbara is the downtown area, characterized by unique shopping, great food and distinctive architecture. Whether it’s your first visit or your fifth, you’re sure to find something you’ll love here.” Downtown Santa Barbara – Visit Santa Barbara



Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians

“The House Committee on Natural Resources passed H.R.1491, the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians Land Affirmation Act, at a markup session last month. The bill ratifies a Bureau of Indian Affairs decision to place the land, known as Camp 4, in trust.” Chumash Tribe still willing to negotiate into land-into-trust agreement with county –  indianz.com


Ritzy Bacara Santa Barbara

“It appears that Bacara Santa Barbara will soon become a Ritz-Carlton as the hotel is currently going through some ownership changes and with the new buyer comes a new management contract for the resort. Currently Bacara Santa Barbara is part of the Meritage Collection.  Is Bacara Santa Barbara Becoming a Ritz-Carlton? – Points Miles & Martinis


Hidden Hillside Montecito Mansions

“Hillside homes in this Santa Barbara, California, area have to-die-for views and lots of space for running around” Montecito: A Celebrity Paradise That’s Surprisingly Under the Radar – Mansion Global

Ellen Degeneres in Carpinteria

Carpinteria, a beach town situated in-between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara on the central coast of California. The stylish beachfront property sits right on the sand and has four bedrooms and four-and-a-half bathrooms with floor to ceiling windows providing breathtaking ocean views. Sold! Ellen Degeneres snaps up a stylish beachfront property – dailymail.co.uk



Babcock Winery & Vineyards

“His offerings include an entire portfolio of stunning “Terroir Extraordinaire” Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays. At the winery, one can also find beautiful estate grown renderings of Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc, along with Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon that are selected from some of Santa Barbara County’s most stunning vineyards.” Babcock Winery & Vineyards – Visit Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara Wine Collective

“Adjacent to the Santa Barbara Wine Collective is sister property, and newly opened Helena Avenue Bakery. This artisan bakery offers rustic, wholesome breads and handmade seasonal pastries. Helena Avenue Bakery also specializes in hand-crafted, made from scratch, baked sweet and savory treats.” Santa Barbara Wine Collective – Visit Santa Barbara

Peninsula Region’s Highlights and Headlines

Martin’s Beach has been ground zero for beach access activists, surfers and those on the Coastside with fond memories of walking or driving the path from Highway 1 to the relatively small and protected beach.

Maverick’s Extreme Waves
For more than a decade, Coastsiders and visitors have satisfied their kitchen cravings at the Main Street store.
Peninsula Region lies south of San Francisco and north of Santa Cruz on the California coast.

The Peninsula region lies immediately south of San Francisco in San Mateo County. While many residents in Daly City, Half Moon Bay, Moss Beach, Pacifica and Pescadero work and play to the north or south, the Peninsula has its attractions, including some beautiful wilderness areas. The Santa Cruz Mountains divide the region in half north-south, with a large wilderness area that’s great for hiking and mountain biking.

Highlights and Headlines.

Martin’s Beach – Ongoing Story Beginning in 1918

Vinod Khosla’s granting of partial access to Martins Beach called ‘insufficient’

Vinod Khosla Billionaire Denies Beach Access

Although Khosla said he planned to open the gate, he did not do so until Wednesday, two days after lawyers for the Surfrider Foundation filed papers urging the First District Court of Appeal in San Francisco to enforce its August ruling that Khosla could not block access to Martins Beach without a permit. The Surfrider Foundation sued Khosla in 2013, arguing that the shoreline had been open to all comers since at least 1918 and belonged to the public.


Billionaires don’t get to decide when and how Californians reach the beach

Martin’s Beach Access Challenged by Surfrider Foundation

But last week, the gates suddenly opened. Had Khosla finally done the right thing and restored access to Martins Beach? Not exactly. His representatives told Coastal Commission officials that they would open the gates from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., provided someone on the property was available to do so. Sorry, but that’s not the “maximum access” the law requires, as Coastal Commission officials have rightly pointed out.

Appellate court reaffirms access for Martin’s Beach

Martin’s Beach has been ground zero for beach access activists, surfers and those on the Coastside with fond memories of walking or driving the path from Highway 1 to the relatively small and protected beach. Khosla bought the property from a Coastside family in 2008. A year later, the new owner closed the gate and painted over a billboard that once advertised access to the beach.

Sea Otters Grabbing Beach Time

Ana Nuevo State Park

Año Nuevo offers intense volunteer experience

“Docents work hard at Año Nuevo State Park, but they say the work is rewarding.”

Half Moon Bay

Domoic Acid and Sea Otter

Recovering Sea Otter

“Yankee Doodle munches on a snack at the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito. The sea otter was recently rescued in Half Moon Bay after becoming sickened by an exposure to domoic acid. Photo courtesy Bill Hunnewell / Marine Mammal Center”

Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival 2017: Your guide to food, events

They changed the name of this long-running festival some years back to the Half Moon Bay Art and Pumpkin Festival, but let’s face it: If you loathe pumpkin, you’re not the most likely candidate to make the trek to the coast.

Professional pumpkin carver Mike Valladao, aka Farmer Mike, leaves his mark on gigantic orange gourds at the Half Moon Bay Arts & Pumpkin Festival in Half Moon Bay, Calif., on Sunday, Oct. 19, 2014. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)

Big Wave Competition at Mavericks

High Flying Mavericks Surfer

Mavericks sale to World Surf League hits a snag

“A surfer takes advantage of big waves at the Maverick’s surf break near Half Moon Bay in January. The sale of the permits to the World Surf League to host a contest at the break may have hit a snag after a company filed an objection to the sale Wednesday. (Patrick Tehan/Bay Area News Group)”

WSL paddles into choppy Mavericks waters

Mavericks Big Surf Lineup

In a 95-page “motion to sell” submitted to the court on Wednesday, the former surf contest organizers detailed their wishes to turn over the reins to the World Surf League.

Marriott Moments: Luxury at The Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay

This screams wealth – no surprise, at a base cost of high $600s to $800-$900s. Note that this does not include valet parking ($49 for overnight guests) or resort fee ($35/night) which covers the below:

Downtown Half Moon Bay kitchen ware closes

Downtown Retail Shop Closing

“For more than a decade, Coastsiders and visitors have satisfied their kitchen cravings at the Main Street store where they could find a pour-over coffee kettle from San Francisco, cutting-edge stainless steel knives from Japan, clay cookware from Colombia and even fine linens from France.”


Crumbling Romeo Pier in County Harbor

Romeo Pier demolition to cost $2.3 million

“The San Mateo County Harbor District put out a bid for demolition of the beloved but crumbling Romeo Pier, but received only one bidder. That bid came in at nearly double the $1.5 million the district envisioned.”

Hiking Pacifica at Mori Point in San Mateo County

Hiking San Mateo – Golden Gate National Recreation Area (U.S. National Park Service)

“The main entrance to Mori Point is located at Bradford Way in Pacifica. At this entrance you will find two accessible parking spaces and an accessible restroom. There is an accessible entrance to the left of the trailhead gate. Old Mori Road is relatively flat which makes for a nice, leisurely stroll. You will encounter lots of native vegetation and wildlife. The surface material is a compacted natural material. After about a ¼ mile to your left will be the entrance to the Lishumsha trail. You may choose to take this route which will provide more of a strenuous hike or you may choose to continue on Old Mori which becomes an elevated boardwalk.”

Hiking Elevations


Goin’ Coastal

“California Regions – the last leg of your journey. From the desert and the mountains to the sea. Ending In Santa Monica at the Pier. It’s all there if you dare!”

Seemingly Endless Southern California Beaches
And, when standing at the end of the pier you look at the beaches to your left and right, you realize your next road trip adventure calls you with its siren song.

You want rugged?


You want mysterious deserts?


You want Redwood coastal wilderness?


In California the travel regions vary greatly, ranging from  the rugged interior mountains to the harsh southern desert to the forested northern coastal regions.

California’s 10 travel regions are broken down into:

California’s Ten Travel Regions
  • Southern California
  • Desert
  • Central Coast
  • San Joaquin Valley
  • Sacramento Valley
  • Sierra Nevada
  • Gold Country
  • Bay Area
  • North Coast
  • Shasta Cascades

If you’re interested in the Desert and part of the Southern California region, you may enjoy the “California Regions” edition of “Best West Road Trips – Route 66

Get Your Kicks on Route 66

“California Regions – the last leg of your journey. From the desert and the mountains to the sea. Ending In Santa Monica at the Pier. It’s all there if you dare!”

The Mother Road ends at the Santa Monica Pier.

Well, not exactly, but the attraction more than makes up for historical inaccuracy.

You can’t drive any further west unless you plan to plunge into the Pacific Ocean.

Here’s my recommendation.


Stroll out onto the pier and take a selfie at the End of the Trail sign.

Near the intersection of Route 66 and Pacific Coast Highway

Then go for it.

Make your way past the crowds and attractions to as far as you can walk.

Then standing there at the end of the pier look at the beaches to your left and right.

Turn around and look back to where you came.

That’s when you realize your next road trip adventure calls you with its siren song.

The iconic, and more breath-taking scenic road trip on Pacific Coast Highway.

That’s what we did.

World Famous Hotel Del Coronado

We invite you to retrace our coastal steps.

We begin in the South Coast Region with the historic beach Hotel del Coronado in San Diego.

Then we head north with the ocean on our drivers side.  

Always on our drivers side.

We hug the coast, not necessarily always on PCH, but  traveling through Southern California beach towns to the laid back Central Coast, into the Bay Area and finally to the North Coast before terminating at Pacific Northwest towns and destinations like Tumwater and Port Angeles, Washington.

Mapping Out Your Best West Road Trips

We’re taking our time.

Exploring everything we can on  a road trip in sequence.

One town after another up the Pacific Coast.

Vacation beach towns, missions, piers and light houses.

And so much more.

More for road trippers, vacationers and more for anyone who wouldn’t mind moving to a resort community.

Fall in love on vacation, stay for a lifetime.


Life Along the Central Coast

Every morning before work and school locals surf their favorite spots like Pico Creek.

The Captivating Pull of the Sea in Cambria
Cambria celebrates visitors (and locals) with their own unique sense of style.

If you’re looking for a fun, unique, vacation or are planning to add Cambria to your Central Coast bucket list of best places to live, here’s a quick snapshot.

Cambria — where the pines meet the sea.

Cambria Architecture
  • Antique and Art Shops,
  • Boutique Restaurants.
  • Farmers Market.
  • Beautiful Vistas.
  • Beach-front Boardwalks.
Stroll Along the Boardwalk

What’s like living in such a beautiful place?

Every morning before work and school locals surf their favorite spots like Pico Creek.

Before Work or Schools

Cambria celebrates visitors (and locals) with their own unique sense of style.


  • With specialty gift shops.
  • With apparel shops
  • With one-of-a-kind stores offering uniques treasures to suit your lifestyle.

Chain stores?


Only an eclectic array of stores to stimulate your tastes.

Leisurely Stroll

You never know what you might discover when you explore the town.

That’s not all.

Live music at a dozen venues attracts a variety of artists playing rock, pop, funk, folk, and jazz.

But, that’s still not all.

There’s the Pacific Coast Wine Trail stretching 28 miles along the coast between Morro Bay and San Simeon (home of Hearst Castle), just north of Cambria on Highway 1.

What will you find?

Cayucos Cellars in well, Cayucus to Hearst Ranch Winery in San Simeon.

Traveling from Paso Robles?

Highway 46 West from 101 connects you to Highway 1 and Cambria and Hearst Castle.

From San Luis Obispo?

Travel north Highway 1.

For more stories and resources visit us on the Central Coast Region digital magazine.