Woodland a dining destination: Restaurant Week 2017 and beyond

Sunflowers WoodlandIn California, every season is splendid and bountiful along Yolo County's back roads. Part of the Central Valley, this agricultural heartland is situated between coastal foothills and the western slope of the Sierra Nevada. Rolling hills, verdant valleys and mountains overflow with a profusion of vineyards, orchards, pastured livestock and row crops. All the best, the finest and most delicious ingredients take center stage at local restaurants and cafes.

Taste of YoloVisit Yolo is way ahead of the "foodie" curve and I will cease to refer to use that descriptor here and now! They are inventing their own culinary fiefdom. Nowhere is this more evident than historic Woodland, your new gourmand destination.
Historic Woodland
’s up-and-coming restaurant scene is skyrocketing! Just remember you heard it here! Culinary stars are creating locavore magic showcasing regional meats, fish, nuts, honey, olive oil, organic produce and local wines and craft beer. Beyond the creative and tasty offerings, I was most impressed by a true sense of family throughout the Woodland community. There’s no happier way to dine than with family and friends. Are You That Woman Tip: Housed in historic buildings, Woodland pairs dining with extraordinary architecture.

Lamb Loin Chops Celery Root Gratin seasonal Veg of the day (Capay Organic) featuring Frantoio EVO from Buckeye CreekFather Paddy’s Public House
435 Main Street, Woodland, CA
(530) 668-1044
While approaches may vary, at Father Paddy’s house recipes are a true collaboration.  Owner Pat Redmond and Executive Chef Justin Severson have created a fresh, honest, common sense approach. “Comfort food with a flare!” said Pat. Less than a year on Main Street, Justin and Pat found what works between their flavors. During Restaurant Week, your taste buds will understand why! Paddy’s red carpet presentation includes local Lamb Loin Chops with Buckeye Creek Blueberry Balsamic Reduction, Celery Root Potato Gratin, and seasonal veggies. Take a deep breath, Pastry Chef Anya Redmond reinvents eat, drink and be merry. Dessert is an Irish Toddy-inspired parfait of Meyer Lemon Cake, Tullamore DEW (legendary triple distilled Irish whiskey) and Henry’s Bullfrog Bees Honey Mousse. Are You That Woman Tip: Savor Whiskey tastings and Father Paddy’s primer in the Whiskey Vault!

Maria's Cantina Chef William's Cochintia PibilMaria’s Cantina
306 – 6th Street

Woodland, California
(530) 402-1540
Kellie Morgan dipped her toe in the restaurant world. She’d never owned a restaurant. “I had a concept and wanted to bring it to life. Good food. Good ambiance – a fun place,” she says. “Hiring Executive Chef John Gamboni was the final key.” Maria’s Cantina clearly hit the mark. Feeling lucky to be in the center of fresh agriculture, Head Chef William Jeffries utilizes as much local product as possible. For Restaurant Week, a traditional Mexican slow-roasted pork dish from the Yucatán Peninsula, Cochinita Pibil with an Achiote Glaze served over Poblano Jícama slaw with Cilantro Vinaigrette, garnished pickled red onions and micro cilantro. Plenty of Cantina chips and salsa beside a “damn good” house margarita, it’s a palate fiesta! Are You That Woman Tip: The fine art of sipping tequila spoken here. A tequila menu sports more than 30!

Chef de Cuisine Benjy, Braised Boneless Beef Short Ribs with oven roasted marble potatoes with honey glazed parsnips, turnips, and rainbow baby carrotsMorgan’s on Main
614 Main Street
Woodland, California
(530) 402-1275
The dynamic duo of Morgan and Gamboni wanted to bring something different to Woodland. “It wasn’t a big jump from Mexican to Morgan’s,” Kellie remarked. So they successfully made that leap of faith and delivered a great steak house! Originally the historic Cranston Hardware, the restaurant and the new “Big Bar” are Uber chic. Chef de Cuisine Benjy Head celebrates the feast of Yolo’s Restaurant Week with SunFed Ranch Braised, Boneless Short Ribs with oven roasted Marble Potatoes, Honey (Del Rio Farms) glazed Parsnips, Turnips and Rainbow Baby Carrots (Capay Organics). “Timing is unique for the season. Root vegetables are more bountiful, so we selected what’s available,” says Benjy. 
Are You That Woman Tip:  Shared plates included Pull Apart Bread and Bowl of Bacon a combination of candied lardons and spicy chicharrón con carne. Yes, everything’s better with bacon!

Mojo CocktailMojo’s/Kitchen428
428 – 1st Street

Woodland, California
 (530) 661-0428
“People are rediscovering Woodland,” Christy Hayes says with pride. “It’s a family vibe, local vibe—easy to make a connection.” And people are connecting at Mojo’s/Kitchen428. Kismet came calling to help Christy reinvent the historic Jackson Building once home to local landmark Morrison’s Restaurant and where she once tended bar.  Casual Mojo’s Lounge and stylish Kitchen428 share the same farm-to-fork philosophy under Executive Chef Efrain Hernandez’s culinary prowess. “The art of food fascinates me,” said Efrain. “I especially love working with seafood—in my region of Mexico I grew-up with fresh fish.” Christy and Efrain combine efforts crafting changing menus.  Come restaurant week, they celebrate Yolo and Sacramento counties winter harvest featuring Sacramento Grilled Sturgeon, Capay Organic Roasted Rainbow Carrots and Sautéed Swiss Chard, and Dragon Gourmet Oyster Mushrooms Beurre Blanc. Are You That Woman Tip: Ask about monthly Cocktail for the Cause. Proceeds (50%) from in-house crafty potions are donated to local charities.

Savory Cafe Housemade FettuciniSavory Café
722 Main Street
Woodland, California
(530) 668-4009
When it comes to family and farm-fresh, Juan and Toby Barajas embrace the mantra at Savory Café.  The brothers inherited their culinary acumen from their mother and grandmother along with an appreciation for sourcing local products. After navigating the family’s Knights Landing restaurant, Las Maracas, they wanted something different and, in 2015, acquired Savory Café. In slower winter months, they break from regular dinner service Thursday-Saturday. During Restaurant Week, their triple-threat lunch specials include a 10-ounce Grilled New York Steak with Brown Butter Sauce, Riverdog Farm Frites, Del Rio Botanical Greens and Citrus Vinaigrette; a Chicken Piccata with Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Riverdog Farm Bloomsdale Heirloom Spinach and roasted Nantes Carrots; and house-made Pasta with Fried Brussels Sprouts, Roasted Butternut Squash, Brown Butter and garnish of Pomegranate Seeds, Pecorino Cheese and aged Balsamic Vinegar.  A graduate of Le Cordon Bleu, Chef Toby proudly admits, “I’ve always loved cooking!” Clearly, it shows! Are You That Woman Tip: Not to be missed, Sunday’s Brunch spotlight Frittata with Lacinato Kale, Leeks, Chicken Apple Sausage, Potatoes and Toby’s Salsa Verde.

Are You That Woman Final Tip:  When it comes to local, Woodland’s dining establishments also feature local and regional wines and craft beers. Cheers!

 

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Mecca for Outdoor Enthusiasts Visit Redding and Shasta Cascade

Web sizeThink alfresco!  From small executive retreats to company-wide conferences, the meeting planner team at Visit Redding can help design and implement outdoor fun for any group and offers an array of complimentary services including event planning, site negotiations and familiarization tours.

 “Our team is at the ready to help with all the meeting and event details. We are focused on the needs of your group and offer rejuvenating, educational and inspirational outdoor ideas to make your meeting a memorable one,” explains Jennifer Fontana, Industry Relations /Group Coordinator at Visit Redding. Give them a call, their priorities are in order: kayaking, hiking, boating and more.

Get Wet
Is your corporate retreat all wet? It could be! Trinity River Rafting offers groups tours. Collaboration and On water Yoga Courtesty of On Water Yogacoordination is the name of the game as teams paddle together through white-water rapids.  Redding Jet Boat Tours  depart from the famous Sundial Bridge, taking groups on a scenic ride down the Sacramento River aboard a custom-built 26-foot jet boat. At Headwaters Adventure Company, experienced paddlers demonstrate all the right moves to help you enjoy your kayaking and paddleboarding experience on Whiskeytown Lake.  Shuttle Service is available for groups, nine or fewer. Ranger-led tours are offered for small groups by special request through Whiskeytown National Recreation Area.  Or just breathe with Audrey Delong’s On Water Yoga. The Zen of paddleboarding, outings are tailored for private events.

Lake Shaata Caverns Courtsey of Visit ReddingGo Back in Time
Enjoy a scenic 10-minute catamaran cruise to Lake Shasta Caverns National Natural Landmark and one-hour tour of what some geologists consider one of the most beautiful limestone caves in America. Then there’s the Lava Beds National Monument. This land of turmoil, both geological and historical, will make problem solving back at the office seem like a piece of cake. More than 700 caves, Native American rock art sites, historic battlefields and campsites, and high desert wilderness experiences await your group.

ManaBall Courtesy of Visit RedgingWild and Crazy
Redding’s newest contact sport revolutionizes team building experiences. ManaBall provides more than 30 customized and coordinated extreme bubble-ball games. An exciting twist on traditional sports, team players are wrapped in a giant, soft inflatable Bubble Ball with shoulder harnesses and handles inside! Bonding has never been more hilarious.

Sundial Bridge Courtesy of Visit ReddingBefore and After Hours
Located at Turtle Bay Exploration Park, the Sundial Bridge is an architectural and artistic marvel and one of the largest working sundials in the world. Silhouetted above the Sacramento River, the glass-decked pedestrian bridge is illuminated at night. A memorable way for groups to gather, the Bridge Amphitheater and North Plaza offer unique settings for outdoor parties, ceremonies, and receptions.

Wildcard Brewing Courtesy of Visit ReddingDowntown Redding is ready to fulfill all your after-hour needs to shop, dine, and enjoy live music and other entertainment. Savor everything from casual to fine dining, as well as wine tasting rooms, craft beer bars, and dance clubs for after-hours merriment. The Redding Civic Auditorium, convention hotels, and local vineyards also welcome groups of all sizes.

Redding Transportation
Redding Municipal Airport provides commercial airline passenger service via United, with direct flights to San Francisco, and Pen Air offers direct flights to Portland. If you prefer to charter your own plane, aviation services and aircraft hangar facilities are available to make your trip memorable. Car rentals, Amtrak and Greyhound service, buses, taxis, limousines, bicycle rentals, and even pedicabs are another way to see the sites and get around. Shuttle service and group ice breaker from Sacramento International sets an upbeat tone. 

Redding is located at the northern end of the Sacramento Valley, two hours north of Sacramento and three hours northeast of San Francisco.  With more than 300 days of sunshine, Redding is truly your year-round outdoor destination. Nearby scenic lakes, rivers, national forests, state and national parks – Shasta State Historic Park, Whiskeytown National Recreation Area and Lassen Volcanic National Park – make Redding a fantastic base-camp. Redding is conveniently located at the crossroads of Interstate-5 and California state routes 299 and 44.

Roughly the size of Ireland, the Shasta Cascade region is the perfect place to get back to nature, relax and enjoy the great outdoors. Comprised of eight rural counties, this majestic Northern California region is dotted with lakes, rivers and mountains and includes three national parks, six national forests and 12 California state parks.

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Anacapa Island Who Says it's Not for Kids

Anacapa Boarding the boat for our trip to Anacapa Island – part of the Channel Islands National Park – we could hear an infant crying.  Certainly most everyone was thinking, “Oh, great! A baby on a 12-mile boat trip!  Are you nuts?”  The Island Packers' boat, Vanguard, began its slow journey through the calm waters of Channel Islands Harbor in Oxnard. Out into the open sea, we started to rock and bob – the infant was asleep within seconds.  The rest of us faced forward, eyes wide open, awaiting a glimpse of the elusive Anacapa Island.  Those of us beyond the rhythmic lullabies of babies could take solace in the postcard-perfect weather – light breeze, blue skies, and warm sun – as we embarked on our half-day journey to a land nearly forgotten by time. 

When considering boarding a 68-foot-long boat to take a 12-mile trip out into open seas, traveling with children under the age of five probably doesn’t come to mind.  However, our group included families with children of all ages and an infant.  With just two miles of trails, Anacapa’s landscape is easy hiking and perfect for younger visitors – even parents packing a baby.  The visitor’s center provides welcome shade and picnic tables for a lunchtime break. The center also has great interpretive displays and houses the original crystal and brass Fresnel lens from the island lighthouse.  The landing cove offers great opportunities for snorkeling, swimming and kayaking – even for the younger set.  The water temperatures are warmest during the summer months, topping out at around 65°. It’s a good idea to monitor exposure to the water or come equipped with dive suits.

Kids and parents will enjoy a thrilling below-water view through Anacapa’s underwater video program. Viewed by television from the island’s landing dock at or the mainland visitor center, this unique program features an interpretive dive through one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world, the kelp forest.  Kids can talk directly to the ranger interpreter and ask questions about the watery world below.  This amazing program is available Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays in the landing cove of Anacapa Island. It is open to the public free of charge and occurs at 2:00 p.m from Memorial Day through Labor Day.  

Off-shore, California sea lions and harbor seals are frequently seen and heard barking up a storm at overlooks Cathedral Cove and Pinniped Point.  They are often seen during the Channel crossing – bobbing along and seemingly waving as you pass.  Several varieties of whales and dolphins are spotted year-round on trips to Anacapa – and with luck you may find a pod of orca or common dolphin playing in the boat’s wake.

Despite obvious signs of human habitation, Anacapa retains much of its natural rugged beauty.  Anacapa consists of three small islets, East, Middle and West, which are inaccessible from each other except by boat.  Visitation is limited to the East islet and Frenchy’s Cove on the West islet.   Most of island is primarily wilderness set aside for nesting Western gulls and the endangered California brown pelican.   In the spring, kids and adults marvel at the throng of nesting gulls. Later in the season, downy baby gulls wait quietly, or not, for doting parents to feed them.  And undulating brown pelicans soar overhead or line the cliffs overlooking the landing cove on East Anacapa. 

In general, the island has a Mediterranean climate but the weather can be most unforgiving and dense fog is common during late spring.  Calm winds and seas are more frequent at summer’s end.  Consider seasonal changes when planning a trip to Anacapa or any of the Channel Islands.

The closest of the five islands that make-up the national park, Anacapa is only a ½-mile wide, about 5 miles long, with 200-foot cliffs.  Though fairly stark in its natural state, non-native ice plant, a brilliant red, now blankets much of the island.  Originally planted to prevent erosion, the creeping, mat-forming succulent is being removed as part of an environmental rehabilitation of the island.  In the spring, forests of giant yellow coreopsis seem other-worldly.  Other wildflowers – pale pink island mallow, vivid red paintbrush, and tiny island morning glories – create an eye-catching palette of colors across the island.

It’s fitting that Anacapa is the only one of the five Channel Islands to retain its American Indian name "Eneepah,” derived from a Chumach word meaning island of deception or mirage.  I can tell you, this island is no mirage.  It’s a dream come true for kids of all ages – grown-ups too!

When traveling to Anacapa or any of the Channel Islands, remember: 

> Sunscreen, sunglasses, sunhat
> Seasickness Medicine (If you’re at all concerned or sensitive)
> Dress in layers
> Take plenty of water as there is no fresh water on the island
> Pack lunches and snacks
> Comfortable walking shoes
> Camera and binoculars
> Day-trippers can leave items at the Visitor Center but its best to travel light.
> Walk with care
> Take photos not flowers, rocks, shells, or other items found on the island…except trash.
> If you pack it in, pack it out

For families looking for the complete family escape with all the requisite amenities, the Embassy Suites Mandalay Bay Beach Resort is conveniently located near Channel Islands Harbor.  All-suite rooms offer the luxury and comforts of home:  living room, two televisions, two full baths, one king or two queen beds, and sleeper sofas, a refrigerator, microwave oven, coffee maker, and a well-lit dining table.  Translation:  Plenty of room for everyone to spread out and relax.  A deep blue swimming pool, Jacuzzis, ping pong, non-motorized bikes of all kinds to ride along the beach promenade and miles of the most pristine beach just scream “family friendly!” Tons of Family Fun Packages the entire family will enjoy!

Forget the breakfast buffets; mornings at Embassy Suites are a real food fest!  Besides an over-the-top expanded continental featuring fresh fruits and yogurts, full-cooked breakfasts include eggs, bacon, sausage, omelets, waffles, pancakes and more.  And Embassy Suites may have the happiest “hour” on the planet.  The two-hour soiree includes a variety of munchies from chips and salsa and trail mix to fresh vegetables and dip plus a full bar for parents…and kids!  The Surf Room at Mandalay Bay features kid- and adult-friendly game area with pool table, foosball, big screen TV, or you can simply relax on the patio:  The swaying palm trees and blue lagoons will keep you and the kids dreaming of Paradise.

For more information visit:  www.NPS.gov/chis  or www.IslandPackers.com


Whale-Watching California: Gray Whales Put on a Show

CAWW - Douglas Croft_Big Sur Gray Whale

Have a Whale of a Good Time by Barbara L. Steinberg

Each winter California welcomes the return of its official marine mammal, the gray whale.
The annual migration of more than 18,000 gray whales begins high in Alaskan waters.  The giants then travel southward along California's coastline en route to their breeding and birthing waters in the bays and lagoons of  Baja California.  These majestic mammals hug California's shoreline at Point Reyes National Seashore, past the Farallon Islands, travel through Half Moon Bay and Monterey Bay, then follow the coastline past Southern California before reaching Mexico.

The whales travel 70 to 80 miles per day at a rate of three to five miles per hour.  A spout of vaporized water, at times reaching 12 feet, becomes visible to watchers as the whales surface every three to five minutes to breathe.  Their 12,000-mile round-trip trek is the longest known distance any mammal migrates on an annual basis.  During the migration, the whales will travel in small groups and stay fairly close Whalewatching_on_the_Condor Courtesy of Santa Barbara Conference and Visitors Bureauto the shoreline for protection from predators, such as killer whales.  By mid-February, the migration pattern reverses as the whales lead their new-born calves back to the chilly Arctic waters of the Bering Sea in Alaska.

Gray whales—the only whale species to fully recover its pre-whaling population levels—may reach up to 50 feet in length and weigh up to 45 tons.  Named for their gray coloring, the whales have mottled gray skin due to both natural pigmentation, and whale lice barnacle colonies.  When swimming or hovering just below the surface, the whales may appear uniformly white or slate blue.  One of the gray's more distinctive traits is its lack of a dorsal fin.  Instead, a low hump is followed by a series of bumps down the back. 


The initial sighting of the gray whale is exhilarating. The blow—a  puff of steam standing up to 12 feet off the water—will appear; where there is one blow, others are sure to follow as whales tend to travel in groups of two to six. An amazing maneuver the whales perform is spyhoppingA whale may stick its head above water one or more times consecutively—it is believed that the whale is either getting its bearings or using gravity to help swallow.  The most dramatic and exciting behavior observed is breaching.  The whale will leap out of the water and fall to its side or back making a spectacular splash.  This behavior can be perceived as a form of communication to other whales in the area Ventura California Mother and Daughter enjoy Island packers Channel Islands Credit Barbara Steinberg or means of “back scratching” to release the numerous parasites from the whales' hides.


The four-month period from December through March is a celebration for aficionados of marine and coastal biology life as various festivals, cruises and events are planned in conjunction with the gray whale's yearly migratory pattern.

FOR LANDLUBBERS

Point Reyes National Seashore, home of the picturesque Point Reyes Lighthouse in Marin County, has one of the best viewing locations.  In addition, naturalist talks ,”Journey of the Whale,” are offered weekends and holidays during the season, 1:30 p.m.  The Lighthouse Visitor Center is open from 10:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., Thursday through Monday.  The Point Reyes Lighthouse Observation Deck is a great place to watch for California gray whales as they migrate past Point Reyes Courtesy of National Park ServiceParking is very limited and weekends can be crowded.  Th winter shuttle service runs December 31 through late March or mid-April, operating on weekends and holidays, weather permitting during whale-watching season.  For details on the talks and shuttles, call the Bear Valley Visitor Center (415) 464-5100; open seven days a week. Checkout their Facebook page for updates on sightings.

Ricochet Ridge Ranch, across from MacKerricher State Park on the Mendocino Coast at Fort Bragg, offers horseback riding along the beach where riders often see gray whales and harbor seals.

Cabrillo National Monument on Point Loma in San Diego is home to a glassed-in whale-watching observatory featuring whale exhibits and a taped narration, is being renovated but should re-open soon.  The center is open daily 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Interpretive programs are available, call for information. 

Other areas for active viewing include (counties listed from north to south):

Del Norte County:
Klamath River Overlook.  Approximately four miles off U.S. 101 on Requa Road at the top of the mountain that overlooks the mouth of the Klamath River and Pacific Ocean.

Endert’s Beach Overlook.  Approximately three  miles off U.S. 101 on Endert’s Beach Road to the parking lot and viewing area which is a redwood deck built on top of a rock.

Battery Point.  This is accessible only at low tide from the parking area at the foot of “A” Street in Crescent City.

Brother Jonathan Vista Point.  Located on Pebble Beach Drive at Ninth Street in Crescent City.  Viewing area is about 10 feet above the surface of the ocean.

Point St. George.  Located about three miles northwest of Crescent City at the west end of Washington  Boulevard.

Castle Rock, near Crescent City.  The best location for viewing this island is along Pebble Beach Drive north of the Brother Jonathan Vista Point, south of Point St. George.

Humboldt CountyDry Lagoon, Humboldt Lagoons State Park, Freshwater Lagoon,
Redwood National & State Parks near Orick, Gold Bluffs Beach in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park,
McKinleyville Vista Point off  U.S. 101, Palmer’s Point and Wedding Rock,
Patrick’s Point State Park, Trinidad, Scenic drive, south of Trinidad offers a number of spectacular vista points as well as access to beaches such as Luffenholtz Beach.

Shelter Cove
. Take the Garberville/Redway exit off U.S. 101 to the Lost Coast.


Table Bluff. South spit of Humboldt Bay Trinidad Head at Trinidad Harbor, Trinidad.

Mendocino Headlands Whale Watching Credit Barbara Steinberg Mendocino County: Laguna Point at MacKerricher State Park, Jughandle State Reserve, Mendocino Headlands, Point Cabrillo Lightstation Preserve, Russian Gulch State Park, Todd’s Point

Sonoma County: Stillwater Cove County Park and Bodega Head

Santa Cruz County:  Pigeon Point, Greyhound Rock and Davenport Coastline

Monterey County: Monterey Peninsula, Big Sur

San Luis Obispo County:  Montaña de Oro State Park, Pismo State Beach, Morro Strand State Beach, Cayucos State Beach, San Simeon State Beach, and Moonstone Beach Drive

Santa Barbara County:  Santa Barbara Coastline, Channel Islands National Park, and Shoreline Park

Los Angeles CountyCatalina Island, and Korean Friendship Bell and Point Fermin Lighthouse, San Pedro

Orange County: Dana Point

Anacapa Island Packers Credit Barbara SteinbergVentura CountyChannel Islands National Park
Island Packers - The 3‐3½ hour non‐landing narrated whale-watching trips are offered from both Ventura Harbor and Channel Islands Harbor in Oxnard. Trips depart almost daily at 9:30 a.m. or 1:30 p.m. All‐day trips with landing are also available on Anacapa or Santa Cruz islands. Camping is also available on all five islands. Advance reservations are advised and can be made by calling (805) 642‐1393. 

California State Beaches also offer a number of programs and locations for viewing migrating whales.  For details on what programs are offered, contact the state park listed below or visit www.Parks.ca.gov for general information on all state parks. 

Fort Ross State Historic Park - (707) 847-3286
Garrapata State Park - (831) 624-4909
MacKerricher State Park - (707) 937-5804
Manchester State Beach - (707) 937-5804
Mendocino Headlands State Park - (707) 937-5804
Montaña de Oro State Park - (805) 528-0513
Morro Bay State Park Museum of Natural History - (805) 772-2694
Patrick's Point State Park - (707) 677-3570
Point Lobos State Natural Reserve - (831) 624-4904
Point Sal State Beach - (805) 733-3713
Point Sur State Historic Park - (831) 625-4419
Salt Point State Park - (707) 847-3221
Sonoma Coast State Beach - (707) 875-3483
Silver Strand State Beach - (619) 435-5184

California Festivals Celebrate Gray Whales

Whalefest MontereyWelcome the grays at Monterey Bay, Point Lobos and Big Sur.  Take part in this two-week celebration with whale-themed art shows, natural history exhibits, and children’s programs at dozens of cultural and natural history organizations, including the Monterey Bay Aquarium.  For more information and a schedule of events, visit.

Intertidal Festival Courtesy of Cabrilio National MonumentWhale Fiesta, San PedroSpecial speakers and presentations are included in weekend festivities at the enclosed whale-watching station at the end of Point Loma in San Diego.  Weekend date to be determined by November. 
For more information, call:  (619) 557-5450.

Oxnard’s Celebration of the Whales - Taking place at Channel Islands Harbor, the celebration will include entertainment and exhibits highlighting the offshore migration of the gray whale.  The event also includes island trips, speakers, and arts and crafts.  

Sponsore by See California
Find more whale festivals at www.SeeCalifornia.com

Dana Point’s Festival of Whales - After an opening ceremony at La Plaza Park with a two-day street faire, this spectacular event will kick-off with a grand display of tallships at the Dana Point harbor.  The Orange County Marine Institute will sponsor a “Whaling & Art of the Sailor” exhibition, and the last weekend will finish with a “wag-a-thon” plus much more.  For more information, call: (888) 440-4309 or (949) 472-7888.  

Mendocino Whale Festival.  Celebrate in the village's galleries and shops with premium wines from Mendocino's top vintners.  Other highlights include chowder tasting, marine art exhibits, music and whale-watching walks on the headlands.  For more information.

Fort Bragg Whale Festival.  Along with dozens of microbrews provided by the Fort Bragg Rotary Club, the area’s top chefs will produce their favorite chowders. A marine mammal art exhibit and crafts fair are also part of the two-day Whale Watching Courtesy of Visit Long Beachfestival. Experience the excitement of whales in motion with a boat excursion at Noyo Harbor.  For more information. 


Little River Whale Festival.
  Savor bites from the kitchens of the town's noted chefs, sips from Mendocino County
vintners, history and birding walks in Van Damme State Park, artist studio tours, fireside talks with local historians.  


Long Beach Whale Watching. Explore the Pacific Ocean and enjoy an up-close and personal experience with the world's largest mammals. Special whale-watching packages offered by the Aquarium of the Pacific. and tours and cruises by Harbor Breeze Whale-Watching Cruises, and Pieroint Landing.
 

Morro Bay Whale Watching is waiting. The Dos Osos is an open-deck pontoon boat, so dress with additional layers. A seasoned crew and interpretive staff provide background and safety instructions. Gray whales visit middle of December through May. Sightings are virtually guaranteed. Other commonly seen marine life includes blue whales, minke whales, fin whales and Pacific white-sided dolphins.


Social networking from California: A Letter

Seeking Dana Smith by Barbara Steinberg

I have shared this story again and again, here it is one more time. This letter was originally published on February 26, 2010. My hopes for 2017, other then the usual: health, happiness, and world peace....would be an answer to this letter. Of course, I have passed another birthday and rounded the corner to 60 and the 42nd anniversary of Dana's supportive words. Maybe 2017 will be the magic year when the answer comes.

Dear Mrs. Smith –

May I call you Dana? Now that I am nearly 60 years old it seems appropriate. I don’t know if you will remember me…though I believe you will. You were my English teacher (freshman and senior years [1970-1971 & 1973-1974]) at W. T. Woodson High School.  This is not the first letter I have written you.  I wrote to you after I graduated from high school and thanked you for coming into my life!  Here I am again.

You and I bumped heads that first year, 1970.  Diagramming sentences and all those English technicalities drove me crazy; I was so bored.  You may have suffered some of the same boredom. 

D. Smith My senior year (1973-1974) with you included media/marketing and writing courses.  What an eye-opener for me!  Those experiences would eventually figure into my professional life in so many ways.  In my senior yearbook you wrote, “I expect to be buying your books soon,” Good Luck, D. Smith.  That was the most powerful and memorable thing anyone had ever said to me.

After graduating, I told you all of this in a letter.After moving to California, I stopped by to say ‘hello’ and let you know what was going on in my life.  You told me that you and your husband (whom I never met) were moving to Kentucky.  I believe you said he was a photographer and planned to open a studio.  Again, this is what I think was said.  I don’t remember if you said where in Kentucky or (specifically) when you were going.

I don’t recall if we spoke again, but I have thought of you often.

I have been looking for you for a long time.  I stopped by and called WTW – the English department, the principal – no one responded.  I contacted the teachers association.  Each time I explained, but no one seemed interested.  I have looked online.Searched through www.WhitePages.com, Google searches, and people-finder websites. Someone from my graduating class knows someone who is currently on staff in the English Department. They were going to do some asking on my behalf, but then I never heard anything more.

I posted the following on Facebook believing that this ‘six degrees of separation’ Mecca would find someone out there who recognized you. Or maybe even find you!

Barbara imageI am still hoping to find Dana Smith who taught English at W.T. Woodson back in the '70s. She was still in Fairfax the last
time I saw her but she said planning to move to Kentucky. Her husband was a photographer (I think this is what I remember).
 December 13, 2009 at 8:38pm

Why is it so important that I find you?  Because I want to thank you…again!  Thank you for seeing something in me when I was only 17-years-old. Something no one else had noticed or nurtured. My life took many paths, all of them leading to my life as a writer and editor.Though I have been writing my whole life, I wasn't professionally published until my mid 30s. For 16 years I was the director of publications for Visit California. Since 2006, I have been a freelance travel writer and marketing California as a travel destination -- passionate about the subject!

I have often talked about what you taught me about the power of marketing. And, ironically, one of the first places I visited in California was the Hearst Castle…all because you had us watch "Citizen Kane" our senior year in a media class you taught.That’s true!  And from time-to-time, I take out my yearbook just to re-read your message.There are a couple of books I want to write, but finding the time is a major stumbling block.Your words of support may bring that to fruition someday. 

I hope this letter reaches you!  I want you to know that after 42 years I still remember and thank you from the bottom of my heart. In the meantime, others will know about the power of few well-placed words. Years later I still remember.


Love - Barbara

PS – Just before my senior year I visited a friend in the UK. Her mother, Joan, was a travel writer. When she explained this concept to me I said, “That’s a job?! I want that job.” I was just 17 years old and was just getting ready to begin my senior year in your class. The Universe and D. Smith saw the writing on the wall.   


Travel the world through Sacramento's international markets

One of the most culturally diverse cities in America, the 2015 US Census reported more than 100 languages are spoken in Sacramento County.  Small portions of a historic Chinatown and Japantown remain within the central city. In South Sacramento, Little Saigon is a profusion of Vietnamese markets and restaurants. Large Asian, Russian, and Middle Eastern communities settled throughout Sacramento bringing cultural riches beyond your wildest dreams. This fusion of cultures translates into a wide array of delicious specialty markets and eateries. You can experience the world in Sacramento one bite at a time. Made-from-scratch goods are fresh and easy on the pocket.

Babylon City Market 2016 Credit Are You That Woman10Babylon City Market
1745 Watt Avenue, Sacramento; (916) 486-777

Six years young, this Mediterranean specialty market, bakery and café features halal meats, dairy, produce, spices, and traditional Iraqi breads prepared right before your eyes. You’ll swoon over fresh-baked samoon stuffed with chicken shawarma, pickled onions, garlic and tomatoes. Kabobs, falafel, chicken tikka, and hummus are all available to eat-in or takeout.  Ask about the anise cookies.

KP International 2016 Credit Are You That WomanKP International Market
10971 Olson Drive, Rancho Cordova; (916) 853-8000

A map and tour guide might help you navigate this 80,000-square foot gastronomic trip around the world.   A food court, bakery, and a dizzying assortment of culinary delights from America and Asia to Jamaica and Russia.  Come hungry! Temptations include steaming seafood ramen, plump piroshki, and Korean barbecue. Bring your passport! The Disneyland of ethnic markets, this is an all day affair. Afternoons and into the wee hours, a patio bar is all part of the voyage.

La Esperanza 2016 Creidt Are You  That Woman1La Esperanza Bakery & Market 
5028 Franklin Boulevard, Sacramento; (916) 455-0234
Expect a line, especially on holidays. Family owned and operated, generations of locals queue-up for fresh tamales, carnitas, salsa, bolliolos, très leches cake, churros and colorful conchas. Fresh tortillas are still warm and a screaming $1.30 for two dozen. The ceviche—shrimp, tomato, cilantro, lemon and jalapeño —is to die for. There’s a full takeout menu at the deli market and all the fixings for tamales. Brightly colored piñatas adorn the ceilings of this Sacramento favorite, open 365 days a year!

New World Bakery Fortune Cookies 2016 Credit Are You That Woman1New World Bakery
1713 - 10th Street, Sacramento;  (916) 446-9472

Good fortunes are found here. For 26 years, the sweet aroma of Sacramento’s best fortune cookies has greeted customers. Prepared fresh Monday-Friday, three dozen cookies are only $2 a bag from this closet-sized factory.  Watch as the cookies—one-by-one—move along, drop, fortune follows, and cookie magically folded. Now that’s some good fortune. Trivia:  Fortune cookies were invented in San Francisco!

Oto's Market 2016 Credit Are You That WomanOto’s Marketplace
4990 Freeport Boulevard, Sacramento; (916) 424-2398

If you’re craving Asian squid salad, Wagyu beef or seasoned octopus this is the place. For nearly 60 years, Oto’s has specialized in Japanese and Asian foods. Sushi Master Ray Yamamoto whips out Futomaki and Inari Combos and Dice-K Rolls. Available to eat in or takeaway, sushi and bento boxes vanish quickly.  The tchotchke selection of cups, bowls, cookware and utensils is fabulous. The market features local produce.

 

Sidebar:
Neroe’s Bakery – Traditional Russian and European bakery.
6451 Fair Oaks Boulevard, Carmichael.
Mahoroba Japanese Bakery –Japanese pastries and bread. Heaven on earth.
4900 Freeport Boulevard, Sacramento.
Mei Mei Noodle Factory - Made fresh daily udon, won ton, chow mein, stir fry. The best!
1715- 10th Street, Sacramento.

Morantz  Old Fashioned Sausage Kitchen – Hand-crafted European sausages.
5001 Franklin Boulevard, Sacramento
Sampino’s Towne Foods – Old-world Italian deli and market.
1607 F Street, Sacramento


California pumpkin patches are open for business

Bishop Pumpkin Farm Credit Are You That WomanBishop's Pumpkin Farm - Wheatland:  Plan your visit carefully. This an all-day affair. Three-acre corn maze, u-pick pumpkins; petting zoo, train rides, food, hayrides, carousel, pony rides, sunflower labyrinth, pie, fudge, and more! These great pumpkins lives on Pumpkin Lane. 
(530) 633-2568

Historic Hawes Farm - Anderson:  Long before the corn maze was even dreamed about, Hawes Farms was growing pumpkins. They have shipped these little round orange balls all over California from Redding to San Diego, from Eureka to San Luis Obispo! They raise morethan 30 varieties, always searching for the best characteristics. Bring your friends and family to the 10-acre corn maze and GET LOST together!!! Two miles of trails!
(530) 365-8488 • Toll Free: (800) 54 HAWES

Earthbound Organic Farm - Carmel Valley:  Corn Crazy marks the opening of Carmel Valley’s only organic corn maze. In October, the Farm Stand transforms into a pumpkin-filled playground for Harvest Festival, their biggest celebration of the year. (831) 625-6219

Moore's Pumpkin Patch - Castro Valley: Children can use our provided "Pumpkin Patch Travelers" otherwise known as red wagons to transport their "perfect pumpkins". Then on to the carnival rides you'll see the popular "Super Slide" and various children's rides. (510) 886-6015

 
 The Rest of the California Pumpkin Patch Story.... 


Bird Watcher Paradise -Sandhill Cranes Visit Sacramento River Delta


Day Trip to Woodbridge Ecological Reserve by Barbara L. Steinberg

Sunset at Woodbridge Ecological Reserve Credit Barbara L SteinbergSaturday was winding down. A perfect December day in the Sacramento Valley and along the Sacramento River Delta (or California Delta depending who you ask). Dry weather brings balmy days and very cold nights. It also means clear skies and stunning sunsets for birders who venture to the Woodbridge Ecological Reserve/Phil & Marilyn Eisenberg Sandhill Crane Reserve during the winter bird migration. A major stop along the Pacific Flyway, it's especially popular with the B-52s of birds, the sandhill cranes. Their annual visitation attracts birdwatching enthusiasts from around the region and world. And reason to celebrate the 20th annual Sandhill Crane Festival in nearby Lodi, California. 

Thousands of sandhill cranes along with similar numbers of geese, swans, Sandhill cranes 2 Woodbridge Ecological Reserve Credit Barbara L Steinberg
ducks, and various shorebirds spend fall and winter months in flooded farm fields along Woodbridge Road off Interstate 5. Each day at sundown -- yes, you can set your clock -- the spectacle begins. And then there are those rare days where sunsets are matched by a full-moon rise. The sounds and sights are breathtaking. In the fading light, the cranes appear ghostly in the shallow water. They will spend the night feeding, resting and courting. Their frenzied dance -- jumping and wings spread -- is part of the display.


Self-guided visitations occur daily. The reserve, property of the California Department of Fish & Wildlife, also has docent-led tours.These tours fill-up fast, so book ahead.

But whatever you do, don't miss this annual event -- migration and festival. I've been many times -- the wow factor is always the same. This video from 2011 tells the whole story. If you're really dedicated, morning visits can net you some spectacular views. Thank you to James D. Simon for this incredible YouTube video

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California Rambling: Worth of Water: The Problem by John Poimiroo

This is the first in a series on the Sierra Nevada watershed which originally appeared in the Mountain Democrat, California's oldest newspaper, established in 1851. Two additional articles explore solutions and describe benefits for El Dorado County.

 “We never know the worth of water till the well is dry.”
-- Thomas Fuller, 1732


California’s well is drying up. After four years of drought, the Sierra Nevada watershed has been damaged by forest fires and bark beetle infestations (Beetles 101, Property Owners Take Note, Dawn Hodson, Mountain Democrat, June 24, 2016). And, if more isn’t done to restore the Sierra Nevada watershed soon, all Californians will truly know the worth of water.

California’s Sierra Nevada watershed provides over two-thirds of the water used by Californians and irrigates some 750,000 acres of farml Rim Fire North Fork of the Tuolumne River Creidt Sierra Nevada Conservancyand. It is essential to our populace, economy and way of life.

Healthy watersheds do more than supply water. They support healthy forests, meadows, rivers, streams, lakes and ecosystems. They nourish plant and animal life, collect and filter water, store carbon (which helps regulate climate and improve air quality). And, the Sierra Nevada watershed is an essential source of forest products, recreation and tourism.

Considering how vital the Sierra Nevada watershed is to California, one would think the State would be doing all it can to maintain the watershed and restore it, but that isn’t happening.

In 2014, California voters approved $7.5 billion in general obligation bonds (Proposition 1) to increase water storage, water quality, flood protection and watershed protection and restoration. In comparison, they have approved $64 to $98 billion for a bullet train that will, once it is completed, serve a small fraction of those who depend upon the Sierra Nevada watershed.

Where will we go on that train, if there’s no water at the other end of the line?

Considering the importance of a clean and abundant water supply for a growing population, industry and agriculture, the restoration of the Sierra Nevada watershed should be a priority, though it doesn’t appear to be.

The Sierra Nevada Conservancy (SNC), a state agency, states, “Right now, the Sierra Nevada region is at a critical point. A century of fire suppression, a shortage of restoration efforts, and years of drought have placed Sierra forests, lakes, meadows and streams at incredible risk.”

Last year alone, more than 29 million trees in California died as a result of drought, insects and disease, up from 3.3 million the previous year. Eighty percent of those trees were in the Sierra Nevada, and a dead tree does little to prevent erosion.

Sierra Nevada Conservancy Wildfires are becoming larger and more severe, as well. SNC reports that between 1984 and 2010, the number of wildfire acres that burned at high intensity rose by 50%. The 2013 Rim and 2014 King fires continued that trend with about half of the acreage burning at high intensity.

These high-intensity burn areas experience runoff and erosion rates five to ten times greater than low or moderate-intensity burn areas, resulting in sediment that degrades water quality, damages hydro-power infrastructure, fills reservoirs, prevents fish eggs from hatching and reduces storage capacity.

The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) estimated following the King fire that during a five-year storm event, the equivalent of 226,000 dump trucks full of sediment can be expected to enter the Rubicon River watershed.

Similarly, Pine Flat Reservoir, downstream from the 2015 Rough fire, is vulnerable. SNC predicts that should a ten-year storm event occur, upwards of 2,000-acre-feet of sediment could get deposited in the lake, displacing enough water to supply 2,000 families for a year.

Those trees are not just essential to preventing sediment from being deposited in the watershed, but also to cleaning the air by absorbing carbon dioxide. Almost half of the carbon absorbed by California’s forests is stored by Sierra Nevada forests, enough to offset the annual emissions of more than 1,000 coal-fired power plants.

Sierra Nevada meadows are as threatened as are reservoirs; they’re important to capturing snow-melt and releasing it slowly through dry months. Meadows also filter sediment and pollutants, contributing to higher quality drinking water. However, many Sierra meadows have become degraded by wildfires and dead forests, diminishing their capacity to filter and store water.

The USFS regional forester estimated in 2011 that 500,000 acres need to be restored each year to improve forest health and watershed reliability.  However, that’s two to three times greater than what’s being restored today.

Funding has been the primary barrier to increasing the pace and scale of restoration across the Sierra, though other challenges exist. Among them, the Sierra Nevada Watershed Improvement Program lists: improving coordination between federal, state and local agencies, adjusting air quality regulations to allow controlled burns that help thin forests susceptible to holocaustic wildfires, dedicating funds to restoration so that they are not used for other purposes, faster processing of environmental assessments, and establishing mills and plants necessary to process the timber and create new profitable and sustainable markets and uses for it.

What Thomas Fuller wrote 284 years ago, has never been truer. Let’s not wait till the well is dry to know the worth of water. 

California Rambling: Worth of Water: The Solutions by John Poimiroo

California Rambling: Worth of Water: The Benefits by John Poimiroo

 

As originally published in the Mountain Democrat by John Poimiroo


Mtn Demo logo
Logo watershed


Sierra Nevada Watershed Improvement Program
Restoring California’s primary watershed

 



 


Bites on Broadway Southeast Comfort in Skagway Alaska

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Rating: Star*Star*Star*Star*Star*

Southeast Alaska is giving the Deep South a run for its culinary money and gives southern cooking a whole new meaning.  Two guys from Mississippi have graced Skagway’s main street – Broadway -- with comfort foods. I should know, my Virginia southern roots told me so. I grew up eating grits and mustard greens with vinegar.

Wander past Broadway’s "we serve Starbucks" crowd and find yourself at Bites on Broadway. Lucky me, to find them just across the road from my lodging at Historic Skagway Inn. In the morning, I could peek out to see the lights were on and wander across the street for fresh-brewed coffee before the sunrise. That's saying something when it's July in Alaska. The owners, Nils and Skipper, learned the fine art of southern cooking Bites on Broadway Cheese biscuit with sweet potato butter Credit Are You That Womanfrom their mothers -- and they were excellent students. It was the plain cake doughnut that caught my eye on the first visit. And while munching away, spotted the cheese biscuit and something about sweet potato butter (instead of apple). OMG! Not ashamed to say I wolfed this down and still dreaming of that delightful moment. Hey, can I try a little of the Alaskan Salmon Chowder? Another taste bud celebration.

There weren't enough days or hours to eat everything on the menu. Clearly the locals have embraced this breakfast and lunch destination. So did I, more than once! Still dreaming about this down south in Northern California, y'all!

 

Alaska's Gateway City

Bites on Broadway Sweet Potato Butter Credit Are You That WomanShop online for delicious sweet potato butter and more!