Stay the night in Visit Woodland in Yolo County on the road again

Fairfield Inn Suites  Sacramento  Airport Woodland  Credit Are You  That WomanYes, very much on the road again and loving it! Just minutes from historic downtown Woodland  and Sacramento, I couldn't be happier. While not usually the chain hotel traveler, these brands are working hard to please their mostly business clientele, but everyone will feel at home here. 

This newly-opened (March 2016) Fairfield Inn & Suites Sacramento Airport Woodland (a mouthful) is freeway close! However, inside the cocooned comfort of my king-room, the world was quiet and peaceful. Love the work space. Yes, always working. From the street, you wouldn't expect to find this uber-cool mid-century modern interior. Kudos to the design team. Sleek and colorful. I could live here. Wait! I've already moved in. I only wish these decor classics would fit into my own MCM abode. 

All the amenities for business travel including free WiFi with both PC and Apple computers in the lobby, complimentary breakfast, in-room microwave, mini-fridge and coffeemaker, and FREE shuttle to Sacramento International Airport with 24-hour advance notice. Outdoor pool and whirlpool -- yet to be explored. Of course, a fitness center where, yes, I actually worked out! Hey, long days of wining and dining require I squeeze in a short cardio program at the crack of dawn. There are electrical outlets galore in sleeping and breakfast room(s). You won't have to search or move furniture to find them. Brilliant!

Love, love, love the bathroom. Also, very modern and spacious; thank you very much! The walk-in shower is HUGE! So far, my only ding would be to say they need plusher towels. Also, reminders to conserve water should be an absolute requirement even with abundant winter rains.

Visit woodlandFor leisure and business travelers, proximity to historic downtown Woodland means local dining and wining. Don't let the small town moniker fool you. Woodland is up and coming plus (remember) Yolo County back roads and great adventures to other local wineries, breweries, and agricultural bounty. Slowly working my way down the list, Morgan's on Main, Savory Cafe, Father Paddy's - it's exhausting work but I'm just the Are You That Woman to get the job done. Catch your breath and drop by Woodland's new wine bar, Uvaggio, for a little pre- or post-dining wine, cheese, and dessert. Yum!

Dashing off now. Visit Yolo adventures await.


Are You That Woman Road tripping with Subaru

Yuba and Sutter counties define food, festivals, fun

Yuba Sutter Pumpkin FarmPlan your taste of Yuba-Sutter during autumn when harvests and seasonal festivals are abundant. 
Highways and country roads link Yuba and Sutter counties to history-rich communities. A short drive from Sacramento, Gold Rush-era towns and multi-generational farmlands overlap in a most delicious way.  From the Central Valley -- California’s agricultural heartland – to Sierra Nevada foothills, Yuba and Sutter’s proverbial plate overflows with both farm-to-fork and cultural and outdoor recreation delights!

Stop by Visit Yuba-Sutter’s visitor center for regional maps and brochures including the North Yuba Grown farm trail map, a guiding light to farm stands, wineries, and locavore shops north of Marysville. Soil, Cordi Winery Live Oak 2015 Credit Barbara L Steinberg4topography and climate inspire hand-crafted wines from Renaissance, Lucero and Clos Saron – Cabernet, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir – and olive oils from Apollo and Athena’s Grove do the region proud. A feast for your senses, explore local art and seasonal fare at Yuba Harvest.  The crème de la crèmeof tasty must-dos, the North Yuba Harvest Festival features more than 50 vendors.

Along Highway 99 in Sutter County, the striped awning above Stephen’s Farmhouse beckons. Farm-fresh pies and cookies, jellies and jams, pickled veggies of all kinds, and seasonal produce and walnuts will tempt the most discerning palate. Your favorite pooch will love the homemade Snicker Poodles.

Find the “Great Pumpkin” of your dreams at Bishop’s Pumpkin Farm in Wheatland. Old-fashioned hayrides and u-pick pumpkins, a historic carousel and fresh-baked cookies are just the beginning. Nearby, Salle Orchards offers more tastes of Yuba-Sutter year-round. Autumn means persimmons, pomegranates, pumpkins and 27 varieties of apples. 

Sutter Buttes HikeDrive, hike or bike the Sutter Buttes, the world’s smallest mountain range. Ancient volcanic soils and cool breezes breathe life into Cordi Winery’s grapes and award-winning wines.  Bring a picnic and enjoy the view. Continue on scenic back roads to Sutter and the Sutter Buttes Natural & Artisan Foods. Bring an appetite for olive oils, infused vinegars, gourmet mustards, and dipping sauces. Among many award-winning products, their Blood-Orange Brownie Kit brought home Sofi gold at the 2015 New York Fancy Food Show. You can bring it home, too! In late November, look for Moody’s Middle Mountain Mandarins self-serve farm stand.

Lose yourself at the Sikh Festival, possibly the largest cultural event in California. The first Sunday in November, it’s a cacophony of color and aromas. Each November, harvested rice fields attract migrating Swan Festival  Credit David Rosenwildlife. Along with thousands of tundra swans, nature enthusiasts arrive to celebrate at the annual California Swan Festival. Guided tours include Gray Lodge Wildlife Refuge and Sutter Buttes.  An unparalleled experience, the Buttes’ privately owned lands are accessible only through Middle Mountain Interpretive Hikes. 

Birding and hiking is a hungry business. Yelp reviewers love AJ’s Sandwiches, an easy stroll from Swan Festival H.Q.  Chow down on Farmers Hand BlackBerries Yuba Suttergourmet burgers and specialty sandwiches with a side of pesto frips!  Where, oh where to taste more? In Yuba City and Marysville, The Cookie Tree and The Candy Box are sweets central.  GPS yourself to New Earth Market, Oregon House Grocery & Deli, and The Crave. Among scrumptious treats you’ll find J▪Heier Farms blackberry jams, Sunsweet prunes, North Yuba Bread, and POM pomegranate to satiate locavore retail therapy. Breakfast, lunch and dinner, Dancing Tomato Caffé’s daily mantra is farm-to-table.

With so many tasty options, make Yuba-Sutter a play and stay getaway. Many tasting rooms, country stores, and farms are Yuba Sutter Logo seasonal or open weekends only. Always call ahead for days and hours of operation.







Stockton Chinese New Year Parade came in like a Lion

Stockton Chinese New Year's Festival 2015 Credit Barbara L Steinberg 0109Under blue skies and sunshine, the 37th Annual Stockton Chinese New Year Parade was pure celebration! Year of the Ram was greeted by young and old -- including 95-year-old Blanche Chin Ah Tye Grand Marshall and CCSS Citizen of the Year.  Honor guard, dignitaries, vintage cars, and Lion Dancers paraded past Stockton Memorial Civic Auditorium.

The traditional Lion Dancers were the most exciting and colorful part of the day-long event. A tradition in China since 619 A.D. and the Tong Dynasty, Kung Fu is the foundation of this beautiful art form. Lion Dancers develop their stances and conditioning based on this martial art.

Following the parade, the festival included a vendors, food, and more Lion Dancing. Join us in Celebrating Stockton.

California Rice is good for the region, the world, and wildlife

We don’t want to bore you, but the statistics are staggering! They validate why the Sacramento Valley (and all of California) reigns as the heart of America’s Farm-to-Fork movement. The region claims more than 7,200 farms and 150 unique crops. Just over 1.4 million acres of  the region’s six-county land base are devoted to agricultural production with about 20 commissions and 40 marketing and promotion boards working to support and market the growers they represent.

Rice harvesting in Robbins, Sutter County. Photo courtesy California Rice Commission 2One such organization, the California Rice Commission, helped elevate the presence of sweet rice locally and throughout the world.  Our region’s history is deliciously plentiful – agriculturally and culturally.

Our region’s present is inextricably linked to its past. In 1849, the Gold Rush brought thousands of Chinese to the region. Growing rice to meet the demand was unsuccessful for 50 years. The problem? Farmers were trying to grow long grain rice to meet the demand for rice consumption. It’s great for the tropics, but not Sacramento Valley’s Mediterranean climate. Enter 1908 and the introduction of Japonica rice. It thrived in our temperate climate. “They struck gold twice!” exclaimed Tim Johnson, President/CEO, California Rice Commission. “The first successful crops were centered just south of Chico – Biggs and Fruitvale – the climate and heavy clay soils were perfect!” The combination led to an industry that produced 550,000 acres of rice in 2013 with 97 percent of the state’s rice crop grown in the Sacramento Valley.  All the sushi rice – a Japonica – used in the USA is grown here and exported all over the world. Now that’s an OMG! factoid.

Rice has healthCalfiornia Rice Commissionful benefits of vitamins and minerals, too.  However, it also enriches our environment and lives in a very special way. Mostly gone are the days when rice straw was burned after harvest – reducing our air quality. Today, grain harvesters disk 350 pounds of grain per acre after which most rice paddies are flooded.  This attracts insects and creates about 700 pounds of food per acre attracting wildlife -- waterfowl and shorebirds -- along the Pacific Flyway.  “This was a new revelation – we didn’t know how important the rice fields are to them.” Thousands of birds descend each year inundating the fields. Wildlife and nature tourism provides a secondary boost to local economies. Numerous wildlife festivals have been created encouraging everyone – with a special emphasis on children – to get outdoors and engage. The benefits are huge. Healthy minds are healthy bodies.


Happy New Year Stockton: Again!

Year of the Ram Goat 2015Stockton is culturally diverse. Beautifully and deliciously so! The impending Chinese and Vietnamese New Years are a perfect indicator of this fact.  A lunar celebration – parade and feasts will take place within two months of the Western Gregorian/solar calendar.  More reasons for merriment and festivities I always say. Can’t get enough of a good thing.

In the Vietnamese tradition, 2015 is the Year of the Goat – one of the 12 Eastern zodiac animals.  The Vietnamese zodiac also incorporates five elements: Metal, Wood, Wind, Water, Fire and Earth. The coming celebration is actually Ất Mùiwhich means Wood Goat

People born under the sign of “goat” are said to be hard-working and determined. I’m not sure if the owners of Saigon Vietnamese Restaurant are born under this sign, but they are incredibly hard-working and determined. There’s a wonderful “My Stockton” story that supports that thought, but for now the focus is the upcoming Tet – Vietnamese Lunar New Year.

Saigon Vietnamese Restaurant has a long history on Pacific Avenue. The current owners took over in 2001.  Annually, Saigon Vietnamese celebrates with a prix fixe dinner and lots of traditional fanfare. Firecrackers, martial arts demonstrations, dragon dancers, friends and family pack the restaurant, and Belly Buddha another good luck sign, he’s always laughing. 

Chúc Mừng Nǎm Mới The restaurant's celebration is February 21st – reservations should be made ASAP for the $36 per-person party – it’s nearly sold out! Appetizers, salad, special New Year’s eggroll, Nem a traditional Vietnamese sausage just for the celebration, and dessert – of course!

恭禧發財Following close on its heels, Stockton’s 37th Annual Chinese New Year CelebrationChinese New Year Courtesy of Stockton Chinese New Year Festival March 1, 2015; 11am to 5:30pm marks the Year of the Ram.  A great community and cultural event it attracts more than 3,000 attendees.  City-sponsored, this one-day parade and festival is family-friendly and it’s all FREE!  The parade begins at 10:00am rain or shine! You don’t want to miss the Lion Dance Troupes!

The festival at Stockton Memorial Civic Auditorium features continuous stage entertainment from 11:30am to 3:30pm and includes the Stockton Chinese Ladies Dance Troupe, Bayland Dancing, Capitol Chinese Orchestra and the Stockton Bukkyo Taiko Group. This year’s festival features a KidZone with carnival games and Paul Buethe “The Yo-yo Man” – he’s very cool and Uber across the pond, so I'm told! Not to be forgotten, lots of food – chow mein, sweet & sour pork, Dim Sum, sesame balls and the usual festival food – come famished. 

Proceeds from the festival benefit cultural programs and scholarships for local youth through the Chinese Cultural Society of Stockton.  

Travel adventures for New Year 2015 begin with Stockton

On air Channel 10 Sac & Co for Visit Stockton 2014Wow, 2014 flew by.  On several flights of fancy, I found myself exploring, enjoying, and smiling my way through Stockton and San Joaquin County. New experiences and friends (truly) made it a year to remember. And feeling very gratified for a myriad of opportunities to write about and share online, on television, and face-to-face OMG! Stockton moments.

I love all things California! You may be wondering how I chose to Visit Stockton? Like so many destinations, Stockton chose me! Well, almost. Two years ago, January 20, 2013, on a random outing at Cosumnes River Preserve, I fell in love with a little girl wearing gold-sparkly Tom’s. She and her parents were exploring this nearby Stockton neighbor.  Stella, the future star, caught my eye and I asked if I could take her picture.  They said, “Yes!” I did.

Stella at Cosumnes Credit Barbara L Steinberg Are You That WomanThe parents and founders of The Tuleburg Group, Jason and Becky, invited me to discover their insider perspective of Stockton. I did again! The rest, as they say, is history. It’s not that I had never visited Stockton before, but they opened my eyes to all that I did not know.  I have been thanking them ever since. For a non-Stocktonian, I am their biggest fan and likely know more about the city than most natives or locals! When I embrace something it’s always 120%.

Overtime, Visit Stockton and I engaged in a win-win arrangement.  Actually, I genuinely believe I’m the big winner here. Ask all of my new Stockton friends who know me as a sometimes local.

There are so many stories that haven’t made their way to the websites, blogs and Facebook yet, but I vocally spread good news about Stockton to anyone who says “It ain’t so!” Looking forward to a year filled with exploration -- California and beyond.

Back to the concept of a random outing – nothing is random.  Stella and I were on a collision course that day two years ago. When in my Facebook posting I said, “I see great things ahead for Stella,” the reality is that great things were destined for me as well.

Stockton Restaurant week Courtesy of Visit StocktonFind me on Facebook. Find me in Stockton. Just find me and bring me your stories. Say hello! This weekend I’ll be around for Stockton Restaurant Week. Too much fun and not nearly enough time.

Chow babies!

Facebook quote that got this whole Stockton obsession rolling:  “Okay...drum roll. The next candidate for Are You That Woman? Presenting.... Stella. Out with parents, Becky & Jason, Stella was a perfect Cosumnes River ambassador. Proudly showing off her sparkling Toms shoes, offering to share her Swedish Gummy Fish, and completely fascinated by every little thing. I see great things ahead for Stella. 1/20/2013”


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Across the USA by horse and wheelchair

Challenging the Limits of Disability - Harnessing Hope & Healing by Access Adventure

The Caravan, a Transcontinental Horsedrawn Journey, began November 1, 2014 in Murrieta, California and will travel all the way to Weirsdale, Florida by March, 2015.   Led by World Champion  carriage driver aCaravannd aspiring Paralympian Michael Muir and renowned horseman Gerard Paagman of the Netherlands and Canada, the Caravan serves to promote equestrian sport and accessible outdoor recreation for people with disabilities.

Access Adventure is launching Operation Welcome Home!.  This new initiative is designed to serve newly injured and recovering veterans and other people who have suffered catastrophic injuries or disabling illnesses and are struggling to adapt to a different way of life.

We are here to prove by example that disability does not mean inability.  Nature is healing.  The horses are the bridge that compensates for our lost function.  Despite living with significant disability, our lives are full and rich with experience.  We want to share this gift. You Can Help!

Please contribute any amount to support our life-changing work.  Every dollar you give provides outreach and services to help an injured veteran, a person with special needs or a disabled child.  Everyone at Access Adventure is an unpaid volunteer and all our programs are free.

Forward this message to your friends and encourage them to share. Together, we can help to rebuild shattered lives. We are harnessing hope and healing.  Each time we challenge the limits of our disability, we gain strength, confidence and courage. Please help us to carry this important message across our nation.

Thank you for your support - Michael Muir & Access Adventure

Alex Ross comic book art fans superheroes await at The Haggin Museum in Stockton

Pow! Zappo! Bam! Superheros & villains are highlighted in this world-class exhibit of comic book art by Alex Ross. The Joker by Alex Ross currently on display at The Haggin Museum in Stockton California
Photos: Are You That Woman@California Travel Insider

Rating: Star!Star!Star!Star!Star!

Pow! Boppo! Boom! The callouts of your favorite superheroes! Pardon the cliché, but The Haggin Museum’s temporary exhibit Heroes & Villains, The Comic Book Art of Alex Ross is fun for all ages.

Alex Ross is the caped crusader of comic book art. His feats of fancy began as a young child – early drawings and construction paper creations were clear indicators of his future talents. At 23, he was hired by Marvel Comics as an illustrator – Bam! Zap! Zowee! – the rest is legendary superhero history.

The Haggin and Alex Ross share symbiotic and devoted relationships with illustrator J.C. Leyendecker. How many among us know thatLeyendecker was the nation’s most popular and successful commercial artist – gracing the covers of Collier’s magazine and the Saturday Evening Post, yes, way back in the day. The connection here? The Haggin Museum’s collection of more than 50 original Leyendecker works is the largest held by any other museum. Side-by-side, Leyendecker and Ross share a spotlight in this current exhibit which features more than 130 works from Ross’ personal collection.

Heroes & Villains runs until January 18, 2015. Don’t miss the 1st & 3rd Thursdays with Food & Drink – November 6th features art scholar Alice B. Carter and November 20th, comic book artist Ramon Villalobos. 2nd Saturdays for Families with art activities for children ages 5-12 specially-designed to complement the temporary exhibitions on display

“The Haggin Museum is a hidden gem,” says publicity coordinator Meredith Lange. “People are amazed at the major works of art. Other museums know what we have and are very interested in our collections.” Exactly why The Andy Warhol Museum (located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) contacted The Haggin and borrowed two Leyendecker pieces for the first Heroes & Villains show which took place at the museum in 2011.

An art and history museum, The Haggin is world-renown and does Stockton proud. Othermajor works include 19th- and early 20th-century American and European artists Jean Béraud, Rosa Bonheur, William Bouguereau, Jean-Léon Gérôme, Paul Gauguin, George Inness and Pierre-Auguste Renoir.

Landscapes of Yosemite Valley by American painter Albert Bierstadt are awe-inspiring. The Haggin has the largest museum collection of major Bierstadt works.

Holy artwork Batman, lots of super(latives) for Stockton!

The Haggin Museum
1201 N. Pershing Ave.
Stockton, CA 95203-1699
12:00-5:00 p.m. - Saturdays-Sundays
1:30-5:00 p.m. - Wednesdays-Fridays
1:30-9:00 p.m. - 1st & 3rd Thursdays

Agricultural bounty San Joaquin County and Stockton earn high marks

Asian Farmers MarketTo-may-to or to-mah-to, San Joaquin County earns high scores when it comes to California commodities and promoting healthy eating through local farm stands and farmers markets. We’re #1 according to the California Department of Food & Agriculture (CDFA) in berries, blueberries, apples, asparagus (no surprises there), watermelon, English walnuts, and cherries. And in the Top 5 – San Joaquin is holding strong with fresh tomatoes, potatoes, olives and sweet corn.  Okay, enough with the mind-numbing stats, but just in case it comes up in’ll be prepared.

Year-round and seasonally, a variety of local farmers markets serve Stockton and the region. Stockton’s Asian Farmer’s Market (circa 1979) is considered one of the best according to Saveur magazine. They included it in their 2007 list of Top 100 Places – pretty high praise if you don’t already know! Years later, the market continues to draw thousands of consumers every Saturday beginning at Stockton Asian farmers market5:30am – these shoppers are serious. It’s not the latest marketing frenzy of Farm-to-Fork (F2F) that lures them. It’s the history of Stockton’s Asian community which began arriving during the Gold Rush and continued to grow bringing a wealth of culture and goods to the Stockton and, eventually, the markets and heart of San Joaquin County.

Downtown Farmers Market - Stockton Certified Farmers Market Association. Open year-round every Saturday - 5:30 am until 11:00am (or sold out). Under the cross-town freeway between El Dorado and San Joaquin streets across from St. Mary's Church. 

Stockton lOgoPS – It’s freeway close; no pun intended!

More great stories in Stockton


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Weird Stockton is blowing in the wind

Medina Wildmill Ranch 2014 Credit Barbara L Steinberg32There’s some pretty peculiar stuff in California. No disrespect. I worship those quirky, roadside attractions. There are books – Weird California – and websites – Roadside America – touting all that is weird in the Golden State. And other destinations, too.  Happily, there are peculiar reasons to Visit Stockton! Who knew this could be a good thing? I live for the weird and wonderful and was giddy when I pulled into a Stockton roadside oddity. Included in one, but not both, of the aforementioned authorities on the subject. The Windmill Ranch will blow you away.

People collect stuff. How and why is anyone’s guess. In the case of Stocktonian Frank Jay Medina, the addiction was windmills.  “He always liked windmills and it started from there,” according to son Gary Medina. Frank retired early from the hay business and started looking around for something to do. Voila! He started collecting windmills from ranches throughout the region. Go figure.

The original collection passed the 200 mark according to Gary. About 40 remain with Aermotor being the prevailing brand. The “Cadillac” of windmills, Aermotor began manufacturing in 1888 selling 24 windmills that first year and is still in business today. One of the original Aermotor windmills lives at the ranch, along with the ranch’s largest windmill – 20 feet across – and the smallest – six feet across. The Windmill Ranch attracts visitors from around the globe and it’s easy to see why.  One windmill claims an “OK Corral Livery” moniker. There are more than a few bullet holes in the windmill tails, but that’s all part of the beauty. Possibly my favorite “mill” is the stunning red and white, wooden Dempster seemingly unchanged with time.

None of the windmills are operational. A piece of Americana – I consider them public art. Other antique farm equipment and objets d’art litters the ranch property – kitschy, yes! And Stockton wouldn’t want it any other way. Oh, wait, the kitsch doesn’t end here. Frank Medina made an appearance on To Tell The Truth and Ripley's acknowledged him as the "oldest man in the world with all his teeth who has never had a cavity.”  Insert laughter here. 

Stockton lOgoA 2008 visit by Huell Howser shined a light on local attractions and Stocktonians; somehow he missed the Windmill Ranch. We all know that Huell would agree Windmill Ranch is another fine example of California’s Gold.

Are You That Woman is not new to this whole weirdness thing. Author Jan Friedman, Eccentric California (2005), kindly acknowledged my assistance in researching her book. Yes, I have a few more California oddities up my sleeve and more to uncover.  Any other Stockton/San Joaquin curiosities you want us to explore, then by all means:

FYI – Enjoy the weirdness of the Windmill Ranch An Evening with John Covert, September 20, 2014.

Get out and discover Stockton!