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May 2009

Art and naturalist workshops in Hetch Hetchy and Yosemite Valley May 15-18, 2009

Y explore Yosemite Adventures Announces 2009 Yosemite Twin Valleys Waterfall Workshops

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Y Explore Plein Air Event at Hetch Hetchy James McGrew is the painter with the green cap Credit John DeGrazio small On May 15-18, Y explore Yosemite Adventures will lead painting and photography workshops along with birding walks and other naturalist hikes throughout the twin valleys of Yosemite National Park. John Muir once called Hetch Hetchy a “wonderfully exact counterpart” to Yosemite Valley, and the Yosemite Twin Valleys Waterfall Workshops offers artists, naturalists, and photographers unique opportunities to compare and contrast features of these grand landscapes through their own interpretive expressions.

James McGrew, award-winning artist, returns for the third consecutive year as the leader of the four-day event, joined by several local Yosemite naturalists and professional photography guides.  On May 15, James and David Lukas will each lead an interpretive hike to launch the proceedings.  A two-day Plein Air painting workshop will begin on the 16th, conducted by McGrew.  Alternately, several options of morning and evening light photo field sessions are available May 16-18 conducted by well-known Yosemite photographers.  Central to all programs will be a focus on the spectacular waterfalls during their peak season. 

Waterfalls in Hetch Hetchy Christine Loberg Also returning from the 2008 experience are Evan Russel and Christine White Loberg. Evan will lead introductory photography courses in each twin valley, and Christine will continue to energize participants of her Hetch Hetchy seminars. Walter Flint, a 25-year Yosemite veteran, will guide daily sessions ‘Behind the Lens’, and National Geographic photographer, Phil Schermeister will be directing his acclaimed Abstracts in Nature class from Yosemite Valley.  Robb Hirsch will share elements of composition with aspiring photographers in Hetch Hetchy, and Joshua Cripps will also return with his insightful instruction.  David Lukas will lend his expert knowledge of birds and Sierra ecology with outdoor enthusiasts who wish to discover the natural world of Yosemite.  Steven Thaw, Mike Warner, and other naturalist guides will be on hand to share countless discoveries from a different perspective.

In partnership with Y explore, Yosemite View Lodge will provide preferred lodging and serve as the center for free evening programs. Slide show presentations and a photographic symposium will be hosted at the lodge and its adjoining restaurant.  A portion of the proceeds for these workshops will benefit the Central Sierra Arts Council of Tuolumne County.

Y explore Yosemite Adventures provides professionally guided hiking tours and workshops in Yosemite National Park. Y explore encourages park visitors to connect with Yosemite through outdoor experiences that offer unique photographic opportunities and lasting memories.

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Big Pine California Celebrates Artist Carroll Thomas' Big Birthday

Carroll's 99th Birthday is Truly Reason for Everyone to Celebrate 
Story & Photos by Barbara L. Steinberg©   

Carrol Thomas at 96 credit Barbara Steinberg 2006

We first had the great pleasure of meeting Carroll Thomas as he celebrated the opening of his Big Pine gallery on Hwy. 395. There was much to celebrate as Carroll had just blown-out the candles (figuratively speaking) on his 96th birthday. Our wide-eyed response to both of these amazing feats, "No! Way!" He was the spriest 96-year-old we had ever met. And I'm thinking, "C'mon now. You can't be a day over 80." (Photo of Carroll at 96,  April 2006.)

What incredible luck. Enjoying our favorite road trip along the Eastern Sierra...and spending time basking in the artistic glow of a true California treasure in the form of Carroll Thomas.  

The time to celebrate and honor this California classic really is now. I recently spoke to Carroll's partner of 30+ years. She said he has had a few health issues this past year, but still paints almost every day. Mr. Thomas is the oldest living American Painter, still creating worksCarroll Thomas Gallery Big Pine Open 1 of art, while personally operating and maintaining his own gallery located in Big Pine, California. Another double whopper. Seems appropriate that he should be living and working along side the oldest living things on Earth...the ancient bristlecone pines. We are so blessed in California to have to many of the oldest, tallest, onliest, largest things on the planet. This, of course includes Carroll Thomas.

Carroll Thomas First Painting Hangs in his Big Pine Studio Credit Barbara Steinberg Carroll has been painting landscapes and wildlife most of his life...well, at least 90 years! The first painting he ever created still hangs in his studio in Big Pine, California. He attended the School of Fine Arts in Minneapolis, MN in 1928. But times were hard -- that pesky old Depression -- and, in his late teens/early 20s, he hopped a freight train from Colorado to find work in California.  He lived in the mountains with a friend where they hunted and fished to feed themselves. (Carroll's first painting hanging on the wall of his studio.)
His first gallery - which he opened in 1978 -- was near Lake Tahoe. This lasted a few years before he began traveling and searching for a place to really "settle down." That place was Big Pine.  Carroll had been traveling his whole life -- painting the beautiful landscapes and wildlife images that hang in the gallery today.
His works evolved from watercolors to oils. Personally, I prefer the soft liquid feeling of the watercolors. But oil painting was more practical, Carroll explained to me. Oils or watercolors, there is strength in his paintings and a clear love for nature and wild places.
Carroll Thomas 98 and Barbara Steinberg 52 August 2008 Big Pine GalleryLast year, we specifically journeyed down this favorite stretch of Hwy. 395 to deliver belated birthday greetings to Carroll at 98 years old. Carroll, along with family and friends, will gather to mark his 99th birthday April 25, 2009...though the actual date is the 29th. I live 300 miles away and gave serious consideration to attending this auspicious occasion. However, I will have to settle on being with him in spirit, on both days. (Photo of Carroll & Barbara 2008)
Next year, come Hell or high water, I will be there to watch Carroll blow out the candles on his centennial birthday. Plan ahead and get your name on the invite list!
Story & Photos Available for Reprint. Contact:

Shop for vegan shoes and locally-designed handbags in East Sacramento

The Pink House in East Sacramento Will Make You Think About Shopping Local

What's pink and pink and pink all over? Why The Pink House, of course! I had seen their sign numerous times on trips up and down Folsom Boulevard in East Sacramento's "shopping and dining district."  Across the road from the very popular 33rd Street Bistro, around the corner from the This 'n' That Thrift & Gift where I frequently donate gently-used goods, and nearby Western Feed well-loved by all my many pets. So I have driven by a fair number of times always saying to myself, "I should stop." Okay, maybe next time.

Well this week, next time came. And let me say it is just the sweetest thing ever. But oh-so glam and trendy. Me? I am not much into shopping or retail in general. But I appreciate great shoes and creative merchandising. The Pink House is all that and more.

Fabulous shoes, great handbags, just a smattering of jewels, and few odds and ends in the way of clothing. It's darling. If you love the Italian stylings of Donald Pliner or some eco-friendly J-41 (vegan-friendly too) this the place. The chic handbags from local-designer ADA Handbags will have you wondering how you missed all this pretty and Pink! Owner, Erin Allen, opened The Pink House in 2008. The house is open Tuesday-Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Sunday, 11 a.m. t0 5 p.m. The Pink House is also available for private parties. 


Lucky 25 Will Win Explore California Passports Each Valued at $17,000


San Francisco (April 16, 2009) – This Memorial Day, Joie de Vivre – California’s largest boutique hotel collection – will kick off summer by giving away 25 Explore California Passports each valued at more than $17,000.  Every one of the 25 no-strings-attached Explore California Passports features a two-night stay at each of Joie de Vivre’s 35 hotels (70 room nights), with two-year validity, transferability to friends and family, and no blackout dates.


To register to win one of the 25 Explore California Passports, U.S. residents can sign up between April 16 and May 20, 2009 on  Everyone who visit;s the website will receive a free tip sheet featuring 100 affordable things to do in California and a $25 credit for each room night booked on  The 25 sweepstakes winners will be announced via a video posted to the website on Monday, May 25, 2009.


Joie de Vivre’s Summer California website is designed to make planning affordable summer travel easy, with hotels categorized by rates from $59 to $199 and $200 and up. Guests can use the $25 credit to enjoy amenities such as room service, restaurant dining, spa services and parking at their selected hotel.  Specially designed packages for families, surfers, dog owners, architecture buffs, and arts aficionados are also available on


“Joie de Vivre is giving away almost half a million dollars in hotel stays to kick off summer in a big way and let Americans know they can find affordable, close-to-home summer vacations right here in California,” said Chip Conley, Joie de Vivre’s CEO and founder.  “We're celebrating the magic of the summer vacation and making it easier with for vacationers to enjoy a state that offers an amazing variety of wonderful experiences.”


Joie de Vivre’s 35 uniquely California boutique hotels range from the revitalizing Hotel Vitale to the family friendly Americania Hotel in San Francisco; from the hip Hotel Angeleno in Los Angeles to the sexy-surfer-chic Shorebreak Hotel in Huntington Beach, from the idyllic Ventana Inn & Spa in Big Sur to the oceanfront Santa Cruz Dream Inn.


For more information, visit

Coupons for Fun Vacation Savings in California and Nationwide


New in 2009, is a national attractions website where families and friends can download vacation saving coupons to cultural and family attractions. And it's FREE! currently offers 30 California attraction coupons, with savings in Florida, Hawaii, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, South Carolina and Texas, too. Nearly 100 opportunities to save nationwide.

No registration is required. Select by destination or attraction theme, choose the attraction coupon, and print the coupon to present at the attraction ticket window. Print coupons from home or from your hotel when you arrive at your destination.  There's no pre-paying for tickets and no charge for coupons. It's just that easy!

California Coupon At, there are Fun travel savings of all kinds. From over-the-top theme parks—like California's Great America and Six Flags Magic Mountain— to vintage train rides at Roaring Camp Railroads and Fillmore & Western Railway Co. Cultural activities that include fine arts, science, themed and just-plain-odd museums to Hollywood studios’ behind-the-scenes tours and world-famous zoos and aquariums—and you can even catch a basketball game for less.

Save at big attractions like Universal Studios Hollywood, San Diego Zoo and Monterey Bay Aquarium in California or save on a catamaran dinner cruise in Hawaii, or at the Space Center Houston in Texas. In Coupon Monterey Florida you can rumble through the Everglades on a Swamp Buggy Eco-Tour at Billie Swamp Safari, stroll through giant screened butterfly aviaries at Butterfly World or explore the secrets of the sea at Mote Aquarium. Vacationers can save at many more fun things to do for kids, and kids at heart.

When planning for summer vacations, check for updates and new attractions. More vacation saving coupons are being added all the time.

Dining in Midtown Sacramento Just Got Fresher

Locavore Magpie Market & Cafe on Sacramento R Street corridor the New Hot Spot Story 

The sign of good things to come is already here at the new Magpie Caterers Market & Cafe along the R Street Corridor in Midtown Sacramento. The owners, Janel and Ed, have been faithful followers of the locavore- and sustainable- style of cooking for many years. Both Sacramento natives and locals -- they live nearby in Midtown -- their catering gigs and culinary professions have taken them around the state and across the borders.



California Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta is Great Getaway

Seven Crown Resorts is the Way to Go Story & Photos by Barbara L. Steinberg©  

Paradise Point Marina Seven Crown Resorts Houseboat Delta 2008 Barbara Steinberg Yes, the Delta. No, not the Mississippi Delta. The California Delta! Some of you know of where I speak. Stretching from Sacramento to the San Francisco Bay and passing diverse Delta towns like Walnut Grove, Ryde, Rio Vista, Antioch, Isleton, Brentwood, Stockton, and Pittsburg. But many of you out there have no idea that this magical landscape – thousands of watery miles, hundreds of islands, wildlife, expeditions galore, recreational wonderland – is out there waiting…for YOU!

It’s my great good fortune to have been exploring the California Delta many years. My first encounter, sometime in the late ‘70s, left this East Coast native in complete awe. I had never seen or experienced anything like it. We drove for what seemed like many miles to a Delta marina. Because I was unfamiliar with the region, I had/have no idea where we were. I just remember the many drawbridges, the topography, tiny river towns, and winding levee roads that brought us to our final destination: a sunset Delta cruise. I fell in love. With the Delta, of course!  

For the past 33 years, the Delta love-affair has grown stronger. By some standards I am a layperson. As much as I have seen, it’s an immense area of specialty. Just like my pursuit of all things California, it’s just a drop in the Delta bucket. But each time I venture out I come away with something new…something more…something special. And that’s the thrill of this Delta oasis. Even those who have made this a lifetime pursuit will say the same. There’s always more to learn.

So on a recent Delta adventure, I was most blessed. A view of the sun rising over Venice Island and me Seven Crown Resorts Logo from my Seven Crown Resorts houseboat outpost. It was my first Delta houseboat and what an experience it was! From our soggy berth we saw and heard Canada geese, coots, cormorants, great and lesser egrets, great blue heron, night heron, raccoon, kestrel, red-tail hawks, ducks, and sandhill crane. Under the cloak of darkness, we could not identify the land mammals swimming past our floating home, but watched with glee as their trail was lit by a two-thirds moon. Each was a thrill. Binoculars and camera close-at-hand, I ran from stem to stern at the mere suggestion of wildlife.

When we first departed Paradise Point Marina near Stockton, I was a little apprehensive.  What if we get lost? What Delta Paradise Point Marina Seven Crown Resorts Credit Barbara Steinberg if we damage the boat? I even asked, “So you just give us the keys and let complete amateurs lose out there?” Well, I’m sure you can guess the answer. But pretty hardy folks, we were well-equipped with proper maps and a brief introductory lesson from Seven Crown Resorts/Paradise Point Marina staff. Luckily on this early morning, we have the most perfect weather. A few billowy clouds, blue sky, a small breeze, and all that Delta stretched out before us. So we departed on our houseboat voyage.

Before long, the marina is far away and we are alone on the water. It’s mid-week, and so there are fewer boats along the way. Other quick-moving vessels are the hare to our slow-plodding turtle. But we don’t care. This is not about winning the race, but enjoying life at a slow and peaceful pace.  And enjoying life the way it use to be…so much of California Delta life is a trip back in time. Keep your eyes open for the local transit system of ferries transporting trucks and cars from island to island.

We found our way to the recommended anchorage and in the company of what can best be described as an island of coots. There was already a small gathering, but they continued to come and spent the night as one large floating mass. Then came the cormorants. The two communities floated close to each other, but remained separate. An unwelcome fishing boat sent the cormorants scurrying; the sound of their wings filled the air. Those silly mud hens (coots) just paddled away. By morning the cormorants were nowhere to be seen, but our neighborly coots remained.

Alpen Glow on the Delta Credit Barbara Steinberg 2008The most magical time came during and after sunset. At the recommendation of Paradise Point Marina GM, Brian Healy, we anchored along Venice Cut just south of the Deep Water Channel. From this protected berth, we watched the on-set of an Alpen-glow over Mt. Diablo – that way-off in the distance 3,849-foot mountain in the Bay Area. That’s how clear and wonderful the views can be. And as the dark settled around us, the sounds of nature and the gentle lapping of water were all the lullaby we needed.

Delta Freighter Deep Water Channel Seven Crown Resorts Credit Barbara SteinbergAnd speaking of the Deep Water Channel...there's nothing quite so thrilling as rocking in the wake of some giant freighter, passing silently on its way to or from Stockton or Sacramento. Be sure to look both way before crossing!

This houseboating excursion was also a painful reminder of the delicate balance necessary to protect the California Delta.  Invaders – natural and man-made – threaten the health of the Delta. Invasive Delta Egeria densa Seven Crown Resorts Trip credit Barbara Steinberg water hyacinths, quagga mussels, mitten crabs, and a kelp-like forest of Egeria densa(a popular aquarium plant) grows thick all around. Many intruders were brought innocently to this delicate eco-system as hitchhikers aboard freighters and boats that ply this labyrinth of waterways. Some, deliberately, by human hands.  Either way, we must work to protect this Delta gift, which is (literally) the watery lifeblood for most of California.

Too soon we turn and make our way back to the marina.  We spy a den of river otters along the way…and I know I am truly blessed.

Get Thee Down to the California Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta! If you don't have a copy of Hal Schell's Delta is the best! Hal was the "king" of the California Delta. You can purchase one at Paradise Point Marina. There are plenty of places to tie-up and disembark along the way. We chose to live aboard for our entire trip and relish every moment.

Delta Heron Seven Crown Resorts Trip Credit Barbara Steinberg Img_3937 Delta Bruce on Board Seven Crown Credit Barbara Steinberg Delta Fishing Seven Crown Resorts Credit Barbara SteinbergDelta Seven Crown Resorts Credit Barbara Steinberg Delta Seven Crown Resorts Delta Freighter Deep Water Channel Seven Crown Resorts Credit Barbara Steinberg


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Sacramento California here we come

Redding California Bald Eaglets are Feathering Out Along with Leaves on the Tree

Route 44 eagles - Caltrans Eagle Cam


 Time is flying (pardon the pun) and the eaglets are growing strong. But Nature is stronger and wiser. Soon, the explosion of new green leaves will obscure the view of our newborns. We have been privileged to enjoy this wonder and, selfishly, hoped to see them take flight...their first steps.

The bald eagle parents, Patriot & Liberty, are to be applauded for working so hard to raise this next generation of bald eagles.  And their offspring -- Freedom, Hope & Spirit -- should be an inspiration to us all. Despite the odds, they survived and persevered. And for as long as Nature allows, we continue to watch their progress and wish them well as they grow into fledgling-hood...the crazy teen years.

For more information on Redding bald eagles and bald eagles throughout California:
Redding Convention & Visitors Bureau
Turtle Bay Exploration Park
Catalina Island Eagle Cam
Channel Islands Eagle Cam
Hancock Wildlife Channel

Web cam courtesy of California Department of Fish & Game and Caltrans

California Watchable Wildlife is a wonderful source of information and locations for other wildlife viewing opportunities. 



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