Secret Gardens of the California Gold Country

Go Explore! Oakwilde Ranch & Sculpture by Barbara L. Steinberg

You'll need all your best navigational devices to find this most secret art garden. Take Highway 99 south and enjoy some comfort food – breakfast or lunch – at the very local Woodlon Diner, Jahant Road exit in Acampo and then head towards Highway 26. If you know the back roads, you'll exit at Liberty Road and breath deep as you cruise into the foothills.  Clements Ridge produce stand at highways 88 and 12 is a must! The very best homemade pies, local fruits and veggies, and more, more, more! Check online for seasonal hours.
Melanie Pickrell – Antioch, CA Oakwilde Ranch & Sculpture Nov 2011 Credit
Hunger sated, continue east towards Valley Springs. Ready yourself for scenic vistas. Two-lane country roads framed by orchards, vineyards, and small towns are visually soothing.  On 52 acres in Calaveras County, owners/artists Denise Mayfield and Kresimir Luckars are cultivating art and relationships along groomed trails and undulating hillsides. The winding road delivers sculptures, hospitality, wine tasting, spring wildflowers, and beautiful views. Ranch hikes are an adventure in search of art installations and views of Gold Country foothills from the “Top of the World.” Call ahead for an appointment and detailed directions.

If you have time on your return, Lodi wineries are plentiful and freeway-close.

Oakwilde Ranch & Sculpture
7111 South Burson Road
Valley Springs, CA  95252



If my Subaru can't get me there, 
that's a good reason not to go!

Subaru logo

Make/Do Sacramento is more in historic Oak Park neighborhood

Old Sew tote made from vintage rice bag.
Old Sew tote made from vintage rice bag.
Make/Do Sacramento new vintage store
Rating: Star!Star!Star!Star!Star!

Not too late for a little "sumpin sumpin" for that Valentine's Day, or any day, someone special. A new addition to historic Oak Park, Make/Do Sacramento is all about that perfect gift. With a focus on local artisans, you're almost assured it's one-of-a-kind, handmade, and yes, very local!

Make/Do Sacramento is shop local, made local, owned local. Vintage clothing, fabrics, handmade bags and jewelery.

Handmade jewelry and stylish purses and totes are sure to please. Vintage clothing, home decor, and fabrics, buttons, and notions are trendy again. And beautifully displayed. This diminutive boutique delivers on shop small, shop local mantra. Daughter and mother team, Lori and Linda, are the driving force. Mom Linda creates her Old Sew must-have handbags and totes from recycled fabrics including vintage rice bags! Sacramento-made Backyard Soapsmith soaps are made in small batches -- and vegan! Kitschy favorite is the Chandewheel by Kevin Greenberg the "up-cycled-bike-wheel-license-plate chandelier that you never knew you wanted..or needed!"

Anticipation! Make/Do Sacramento is only open Friday and Saturday, 10am to 4pm and by appointment. More hours coming soon, I hope. Meanwhile, this will definitely Make/Do!

Make/Do Sacramento
2901 35th Street
Sacramento, CA 95817

California romantic getaways this Valentine's Day or whenever

Romancing the Soul 100 Miles More or Less from Sacramento: Urban Urbane,  Bayside Bliss, and Brookside Gold

#1 rule this Valentine’s Day/Month: Your California romantic getaway begins by leaving day-to-day worries behind – embrace the call to loving escapades. Every journey begins with some urban highway or interstate miles. Whenever possible, this insider recommends the roads less-traveled.

P1260703There are country byways to inspire and lift your spirits as if the journey's end weren't reason enough. Stupefying scenic roads are the only access to Nick's Cove. Pick one off Highway 101 South – Lucas Valley, Shoreline Highway, Point Reyes-Petaluma Road – don't rush this romantic odyssey. The stimulus of lush landscapes, rolling hills, valleys, craggy canyons and (eventually) bay and ocean views is visual foreplay.

Romantic...OMG! Twelve luscious cottages tucked away overlooking Tomales Bay. Through sunshine and fog, draped in natural beauty. Breathtaking views. The first encounter will leave you giddy. No detail has been ignored. Plush beds, cozy sitting areas, music, mini-fridge with drinks, and the most 2 Nick's Cove Bandits' Bungalow credit ©2012 frankenyimages.comfantastic bathrooms. Deliciously prepared food, much of it local! Breakfast is delivered to your cottage -- juice, fresh fruit, homemade pastries, and coffee are included or for an additional charge -- buttermilk waffles, crab Benedict, steel cut oatmeal, bacon -- you decide. As if by magic, barbecued oysters appear upon arrival! You know what they say about oysters? Wink! Wink!

Dine at Nick's Cove Restaurant where menus change frequently and are a locavore's dream. Chocolate is an aphrodisiac! So they say. Savor gourmet s'mores fused fireside. Sensuous and finger licking good! “Nick’s Loves Love” package is available throughout February, Sunday - Thursday. Be sure to ask for details.

This corner of California abounds in beautiful scenery. Take in the Tomales Bay views from decks, docks, or a kayak built for two.

Downton Abbey fans, embrace romantic times gone by at the Berkeley City Club. Designed and built by Julia Morgan (of Hearst Castle fame), the Moorish “Little Castle” is classic Julia. If architecture and ambiance is what you seek, the Julia Morgan-inspired Berkeley City Club is the key to your 8 Berkeley CC Mezzsweetheart sanctuary.  All the genteel grace of the post-Edwardian era – you can imagine this amorous tryst!  If your heart's desire is to live like kings or queens, you will love the Berkeley City Club – a romantic kingdom. 

Originally a women-only club, it’s been painstakingly restored and is part of Historic Hotels of America. Not today's boutique, the BCC is all about quiet elegance of bygone times. Affectionately known as "The Little Castle," it's the closest you'll ever come to a night at Julia’s legendary Hearst Castle. Only members and guests can indulge in the indoor heated swimming pool, reminiscent of the bigger castle's famous Roman Pool. A late-night swim is sublime as you may be the only ones luxuriating in the heated pool.

Guestrooms are TV-free – remember the operative  word here is “romance”. Common areas beckon you to unwind and garden courtyards offer secluded spaces to gaze long and lovingly. A quiet loge has games of all kinds. Check online for special events and theatrical productions performed at the Club. The rate includes a sumptuous expanded continental breakfast!  Just blocks from Shattuck, Telegraph, and UC Berkeley campus BCC is an ideal location to dine, but consider lunch or dinner and the cocktail hour at Julia’s. Coffee and tea are available in the lobby throughout the day. We know it’s hard to resist the WiFi, but try.

This is a one-of-a-kind. Leave your notions of modern hotels behind. There are some larger suites but hotel rooms are of the era – smaller. Julia never intended you to spend all your time in the room, but they are still plenty cozy. It’s all about the public spaces and gardens. The exquisite tile work in bathrooms, architectural details throughout, the pool, garden courtyards – sensory overload.

Park and walk Berkeley’s urbane landscape. Valentine’s chocolates are a must from Chocolatier Blue (two nearby locations) so perfectly paired with a sake tasting at Takara Sake.

17  Cottages at La Honda Park  Murphys California Credit Barbara L Steinberg 2011 112For a tranquil and romantic retreat, The Cottages at La Honda Park is a fantastic antidote. Located in Calaveras County, the five cottages, barn and main house, once ramshackle and rickety,  are a tribute to recycling. Beautifully restored and utilizing many cast-offs, each of the themed rooms is comfort supreme. Cottages are equipped with a kitchenette and wood-burning stove. Front porches beckon to those in love. The restored barn built from many of the original materials, is a cozy recreation area with fireplace, pool table, foosball, darts, and board games. The original barn doors open onto the creek. The Park sits on the edge of Angels Creek and an old weir – the sound of cascading water is spellbinding – Mother Nature’s own brand of romantic background music. With six secluded acres, the natural setting is home to many birds and wildlife. TV-free, there is free WiFi – maybe Netflix your favorite romantic flick.

This quiet and romantic respite is just one-mile from the bustle of Main Street and Historic Murphys’ wine and culinary delights. More than 20 wine tasting rooms are just that close.  Best cocktails are imbibed at V Restaurant, Bar & Bistro and something very special The Spice Tin will, yes, will spice up your love’s life.

Whatever you choose this romance season – or any season – always remember to ask about seasonal and mid-week rates and AAA and AARP discounts. Oh, and pet-friendliness, too!

USA Today 10Best make Sacramento #1


The clock is ticking down towards the January 5, 2015 deadline to vote Sacramento #1. Don't let us down! You can still vote three more times starting right now!

Sacramento has been nominated as one of 20 travel-worthy State Capitals in the United States by readers of USA TODAY and 10Best. California’s capital city is currently in 4th place behind Carson City, Nevada, Juneau, Alaska, and Boise, Idaho! How can this be? We can’t let any of those cities beat us!

Please show your support for Sacramento by casting your vote daily. Voting is open until January 5, 2015 at 11:59 EST. Share this with your email lists, Facebook, Twitter and other social media and networking options. Keep voting until we get the job done.

Sacramento, California, is honored to be one of 20! But at the end of the day, we should be #1!

Channeling Jackie O’ and Marilyn at La Fem Sophistique

La Fem Sophistique 2012 Credit Barbara L Steinberg1

Out-of-towners know something about Sacramento’s vintage and secondhand retail scene.  “Some of the best stores,” according to one rabid Bay Area reuse consumer. La Fem Sophistique has raised the bar on Sacramento seconds.

Mavens of women’s ’50s and ‘60s haute couture drool over fashion designers – Bob Mackie, Valentino, Lucie Ann and others – who designed for the stars including Eva Gabor, Cher, and Marilyn Monroe. Diehard vintage devotees and curious looky-loos spend hours perusing displays of classic business, garden party, or glamorous holiday apparel. Women should know that a ‘50s or ‘60s size 1 La Fem Sophistique Credit Barbara L Steinberg24 is today’s size 8. Owners Sandy and Suzen educate shoppers about preservation and reuse. And now you can shop them online!

La Fem Sophistiqué
3241 Folsom Boulevard; 916/455-4199
Specializing in women's couture, vintage and designer fashions from private collections.

Covered Bridges of California Counties

Eleven Bridges and Holding

When it comes to covered bridges, California can brag with the best of them.  "What!?" You thought only Honey Run Covered Bridge Credit Robert HolmesNew England claimed ownership of those marvelous portals to the past.  Not true!  What California lacks in quantity, it certainly makes-up for in quality.  Californian's can flaunt the uniqueness of their covered bridges:  the tallest; the only one with three distinct roof lines; the only covered bridge installed backwards and the longest covered bridge.

Just a few miles southeast of Eureka in Humboldt County, off Hwy. 101 on Elk Rd., are Berta's Ranch and Zane's Ranch covered bridges.  Built in 1936 over the Elk River, Berta's Ranch is the most westerly covered bridge in the United States and the oldest covered bridge in the county.  Almost an exact twin, the Zane's Ranch bridge, built a quarter-mile up-river, is the second most westerly covered bridge in the country.  Both bridges are 52-feet long and built of native Redwood which was inexpensive and plentiful at the time.

For many years, Zane's Ranch bridge had the distinction of being the last covered bridge built in the state.  Then in 1967, the Jacoby Creek bridge was built.  Located just six-miles north of Eureka, the bridge leads into the plush Brookwood housing development.  Built primarily for aesthetic reasons, the 68-foot Jacoby Creek is a gentle reminder of by-gone days.  To reach Jacoby Creek, take the Samoa Blvd./ Arcata exit off Hwy. 101.  Turn left and drive 1.3 miles to the bridge.

Eight miles east of Chico in Butte County, Honey Run Covered Bridge is the only covered bridge in the nation with three distinctive roof lines.  Severely damaged by a truck in 1965, the county decided to tear the bridge down.  It was rescued when the Honey Run Covered Bridge Association held a pancake breakfast and raised $7,000 for repairs.  The annual pancake breakfast is still held the first Sunday in June.  This year, the association will celebrate the 103rd birthday of the Honey Run Covered Bridge.  Honey Run and Butte Creek offer an idyllic setting for picnicking, sunbathing and fishing.

There are several stories concerning how the Honey Run got its name--including one about a bee's nest in a nearby ridge.  The most humorous story involves a young couple who, while strolling near the bridge were confronted by a bear.  The young man was heard to shout, "Run, Honey! Run!"  And thus, the name.  Contact:  Chico Chamber of Commerce, (800) 852-8570

Not far from Honey Run is a most recent and charming addition to California's covered bridges, the little known Oregon City Covered Bridge.  Built in 1984, Oregon City can claim it as the newest covered bridge in California.  The 50-foot, barn-red bridge welcomes visitors to Oregon City, CA, State Historical Landmark #807.  Travelers to Oregon City are rewarded with panoramic views of the vast Central Valley as they wind their way up and over Table Mountain.  Contact:  Oroville Area Chamber of Commerce, (530) 538-2542 or (800) 655-GOLD.

Built in 1860 with hand-hewn local timber, Oregon Creek (or Freeman's Crossing) is the oldest covered bridge and possibly the oldest bridge of any type in California.  Oregon Creek boldly boasts it is the only covered bridge in the United States installed backwards.  Washed away by a flood, a team of oxen towed it back to a convenient crossing and it was reinstalled backwards.  Oregon Creek is north of Nevada City in Yuba County, off scenic Hwy. 49.  Drive across the bridge and enjoy a picnic or swimming on the other side.  Contact:  Nevada City Chamber of Commerce, (530) 265-2692 or (800) 655-6569.

Eight miles away off Pleasant Valley Rd., north of Grass Valley, is the Bridgeport Covered Bridge, "the longest single-span covered bridge in existence."  Portal to portal it measures 233 feet, but the clear span -- the distance between piers -- is 208 feet.  Constructed in 1862, the shake-covered arch spans the South Yuba River and was part of the Virginia Turnpike Company toll road connecting the Nevada County mines with the Comstock Mines.  It is State Historical Landmark #390. Previously, there was a controversy that the Blendheim Bridge in New York was the longest single-span covered bridge. An official measuring in 1938 concluded that Bridgeport was two-feet shorter then the Old Blenheim Bridge.   The Bridgeport Covered Bridge had the longest roof line. Sadly, the Blenheim Covered Bridge was destroyed in 2011 by Hurricane Irene. So, proudly, Bridgeport can reign supreme.  Contact:  Grass Valley/Nevada County Chamber of Commerce, (530) 273-4667 or (800) 655-4667.

At 355 feet, Knights Ferry is the longest covered bridge in California; the ninth longest in the nation; and the longest authentic covered bridge west of the Mississippi.  The bridge replaced a ferry service established in 1848 by Dr. William Knight.  Built in 1864, the bridge crosses the river at the site of the ruins of the old Locke grist mill.  Not far from the bridge, Native American Indians ground their corn in mortar holes in the rocks. 

Weakened by an overweight truck, the bridge was closed to vehicular traffic in 1981.  Restored by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, it has been incorporated into the Knights Ferry Recreation Area on the Stanislaus River.  You may want to pack a picnic and spend the afternoon sunbathing on a large river rock; camping facilities are nearby.  Contact:  Stanislaus River Park (209) 881-3517 or (800) 829-7238.

The 130-foot Wawona Covered Bridge in Yosemite National Park, is the only covered bridge in the National Park System.  At an elevation of 4,000 feet, the Wawona Covered Bridge is also the highest covered bridge in the nation.  Built in 1878, the bridge crosses the south fork of the Merced River and leads to an 1880s pioneer village.  Dignitaries and stars said to have visited the bridge, include:  Ulysses S. Grant, Theodore Roosevelt and Lily Langtry.  Contact:  Yosemite/Mariposa County Tourism Bureau, (209) 742-4567.

Bridges were covered to protect the wooden timbers from the elements.  For this reason, Santa Cruz County covered an existing bridge -- now the Felton Covered Bridge.  Thirty-four-feet high to the peak of the roof makes the Felton Covered Bridge the tallest in the United States.  One explanation for the extraordinary height is that it had to be tall enough to accommodate a fully loaded lumber wagon.  Built in 1892 from local timber, it was the last of the Redwood spans.  Damaged in a storm, the bridge was completely renovated in the late 1980s and its centennial was celebrated in 1992.  In 1973 the bridge was designated as California Historical Landmark #583.  The 186-foot bridge crosses the San Lorenzo River just east of Felton.

Off Hwy. 9 northeast of  Santa Cruz , in a privately owned Masonic Park, is Paradise-Masonic Covered Bridge.  The bridge was built in 1872 to serve a gunpowder works.  The large white covered bridge is unique in several ways:  the five-foot overhanging portals distinguish it from all other covered bridges in the state; it has the only remaining examples of once-popular diamond-shaped windows; and no steel tie rods (metal tension rod that supplements wooden posts and diagonals) were used in its construction.  The park is closed to the public, but special arrangements to see the bridge can be made through Paradise-Masonic Park.

California may not have the longest bridge, but it does have the shortest.  At 36 feet, Roaring Camp Covered Bridge is the shortest in the United States.  Located in Santa Cruz County at the entrance to Roaring Camp and Big Trees Narrow Gauge Railroad , the 32-year-old bridge crosses a small mill pond and stream. 

The award for best kept covered bridge secret goes to the village of Aptos.  Built in 1974, the 100-foot Aptos Creek Covered Bridge originally was not covered.  Situated on Soquel Drive at the entrance to Redwood Village, an early 1900s motor-court, the bridge was "capped" to add charm to the village.  Originally open to traffic, the bridge has been used for antique shows and even an occasional wedding.  Aptos is located seven-miles south of Santa Cruz.  For information on Santa Cruz County covered bridges, contact:  Santa Cruz County Conference & Visitors Council, (831) 425-1234 or (800) 833-3494.

If you aren't already a covered bridge enthusiast, you need only cross through one portal to fall in love.  You can learn more about covered bridges in The Covered Bridges of California by Sylvanus Morley (1938); Covered Bridges of the West by Kramer A. Adams (1963); or Historic Highway Bridges of California, California Dept. of Transportation (916) 445-3520.


Sacramento California Everthing Old is New

Along the Waterfront In Old Sacramento by Barbara L. Steinberg© 

Looking for something to wile away the hours on a quiet afternoon or evening? Or a romantic getaway to surprise Old Sacramento California Historic Tower Bridge Gateway to the City Credit Barbara Steinberg 2009 that someone special? Let me just say two words...Old Sacramento! Okay, I know you’re thinking, “That old place!” Until recently, I would have agreed. Then I was asked to write an insider’s exposé—put a new spin on an old topic. 

Not unlike many Sacramento natives, I rarely look to this historic destination for my local entertainment. Sometimes, when guests need to kill a few hours we wander down to the waterfront. Otherwise, frankly, it’s off the radar. Some in-depth research was necessary to prime my creative juices. Hoping for the best, I headed off to immerse myself in the subject. Little did I know this would lead to many great discoveries and the knowledge that Old Sacramento defines the adage, “Everything old is new again.”

Follow along for more:

Hawaiian Chieftan at Sunset Old Sacramento Tower Bridge In the years preceding the California gold discovery, the settlement at Sutter’s Fort was forsaken and life began anew on the nearby Sacramento waterfront. The world rushed to New Helvetia--as it was once known--and the bustling community along the Sacramento River became the economic engine of the region, as it is today.  The Rest of the Story...

   Old Sacramento isn’t just about grabbing a quick bite on the run. Although, for those on a tight schedule, there’s more than enough places to dine and dash. Personally, I never considered it a dining destination. What a mistake! My list of 1,000 places I must eat before I die just increased! The Rest of the Story...
Old Sacramento Brooks Novelty Neon Credit Barbara Steinberg The list of things to see and do really took me by surprise. Of course, I was well-aware that Old Sacramento is part of a 28-acre California State Historic Park, a California Historical Landmark, and National Historic Landmark; so this tells you it’s something pretty special. The Rest of the Story....
Delta King Courtesy of Delta KingLess is more when it comes to lodging in Old Sacramento; in this case, the two alternatives offer incredible diversity. The historic Delta King and the contemporary Embassy Suites both deliver stellar river views and memorable dining possibilities. The Rest of the Story....

Sacramento's exotic destination at 24th and K

Travel Insider HeadersAncient Future Brings New Color to Midtown Sacramento by Barbara L. Steinberg

If you missed today's event at Ancient Future --  My Gypsy Market -- you really missed something!

The Gypsy Market Ancient FutureSomething amazing! Something delicious! Something extraordinary! Something visual! Something tactile! Something the likes of which you have never seen in Sacramento. The old church at 24th & K streets has been reclaimed and recreated as a true destination, Ancient Future Urban Sanctuary.

Today's special event featured regional artists -- textiles, crystals, jewelry, paintings, paper maiche -- and whirling gypsy dancers! Just the beginning great things to come.

At Ancient Future prepare your senses to be whisked away! The sanctuary feels like something out of the Arabian Nights. Brilliant reds, light pouring through stained glass windows, cushioned benches beckon you to recline. Today, this haven was a cacophony sights and sounds. A collection of local artists
gathered to display their wares and bring new life to 24th & K.

The Gypsy Market is just a sampling of the treasures inside. The sanctuary is the perfect gathering place for meetings or special events.

The artisan gift shop includes many locally-made items. The foyer invites you to relax, enjoy coffee or P1250742tea and possibly something sumptuous from the 24K Chocolate Café! There is so much to discover. Through the doors you’ll find an interior courtyard garden. Fountains and art – recline if the weather permits. Holistic practitioners, artists, and healers dwell within. The menu of offerings is vast and will continue to evolve.

Now, back to the 24K Chocolate Café – descend into the belly of Ancient Future to unearth this bit of gold. Bathed in light from street-level windows, tea candles, and just the right amount of overhead mood lighting you enter a foreign land of sensory overload. The perimeter is lined with interesting cabinets and tables bedecked with a variety of teas, chocolates, and accessories. You will want to explore before, during or after.  

Small plates of food are artfully presented – delicious to the eye and palate. House-made crepes, frittata, and salads – carnivore, veggie-head or vegan – all are welcome. Quench your thirst with “spa water” infused (perhaps) with fresh cantaloupe. Then finish up with something sweet. Seasonal fruits, a special poached pear tart, or maybe some chocolate pudding with bacon. How often have I said that everything’s better with bacon?

Platters of handmade truffles are conveniently placed around the room. The moniker of “chocolate café” should have given something away. The owner, Teresa Flint, is passionate about the ancient roots of chocolate. Indulge and be educated.

This insider was blown away by the depth of Ancient Future. Applaud Teresa Flint for daring to envision and execute this magic in today's economy. All comers beware -- she raised the bar.


PS - Check out the tables made from recycled doors salvaged from the building. Hinges still attached to hang whatever.



Ancient Future Sacramento's New Destination Slideshow: Barbara’s trip to Sacramento was created with TripAdvisor TripWow!

California Artists Put on Incredible Show at Oakwilde Ranch Exhibition

The Puppet By Hijiri Yahagi South San Francisco 2Best of Show is Amazing Life-sized Ceramic Puppet
by Barbara L. Steinberg

Fresh in off the road from Oakwilde Ranch & Sculpture and a most amazing event. In time I will write more and post all the photos, but for the moment...the incredible Best of Show winner of the 2012 Spring Sculpture Exhibition was an incredibly talented young woman, Hijiri Yahagi.

One of three in the life-sized series "I Am Puppet".

The exhibition, juried by Scott Shields, Chief Curator of Crocker Art Museum, is open by appointment only for the next six weeks. "I would have selected any one of the three for Best of Show," Scott said!

Contact Oakwilde Ranch & Sculpture in Valley Springs -- Calaveras County, in case you're wondering.

Sacramento California Greets Hawaiian Chieftain

Website logo
Nautical Past Sailed into Sacramento's Present

This artifact from our nautical past, sailed up the Sacramento River in regal style on October 12th and will be here on the waterfront in Old Sacramento through December 15th. 

Hawaiian Chieftain will also open for walk-on tours to the general public. Most tours are scheduled for Tuesday through Friday, 4 p.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. A $3 donation per person is appreciated.

 Hawaiian Chieftan Ties up in Old Sacramento Credit Barbara Steinberg Here's the Rest of the Story about the Visiting Hawaiian Chieftain....