Road Trips: Whitewater rafting

I haven’t taken a ton of road trips lately, so I’m handing the mic off to one of my team members, Jeremy. He recently went on a trip down to Mariposa to raft the Merced River for a friend’s bachelor party. Take it away, Jeremy:

This winter, California got a record amount of snowfall. Hopefully all you skiers and snowboarders took advantage! A heavy winter like that has huge ramifications for the spring and summer, too. We learned that the fun way in Mariposa recently.

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The town of Mariposa itself is a quirky, charming place with a small downtown and a nice public park with live music. It’s near a Yosemite entrance, so if you were lucky enough to get camping reservations there, you can tie both trips into one!

If you’re up for some wild, fast whitewater (the guides told us the river was flowing 3-4 times faster than usual because of all the snow!), you can jump on a trip with any outfitter that does the Merced or Tuolumne Rivers in that area. We went with All-Outdoors Whitewater Rafting, which is a company based in Walnut Creek!

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You can’t beat a day of splashy waves and Class IV rapids (the highest is Class V), especially on a day like we had where the weather was perfect. If you’re in Mariposa and looking for something that’s not outdoorsy, good luck. But if you enjoy hiking, kayaking, rafting, or anything else of that nature, I’d highly recommend checking it out!

Road Trips: Farmer’s Markets

Okay, so I’m cheating a little bit here. Most farmer’s markets aren’t going to take you on an actual road trip. But there are so many good ones around the Bay Area, that it feels like you could totally spend half a weekend day visiting a few different ones and getting lots fresh fruits and vegetables!

Check out some of the main spots you can find markets in our area:

This doesn’t even account for San Francisco, Berkeley, Oakland and other Bay Area places that are known for having awesome farmer’s markets. And since we’re on the events angle, let’s throw in this cool Art & Wine Festival happening at Heather Farm right NOW! It continues tomorrow, too. So don’t worry.

If you’re reading this in time, Parkmead is having their annual garage sale until about 12 p.m. today. Not your traditional road trips, but still a fun day out nonetheless!

Road Trips: Bottlerock

Music festivals are all the rage these days. Chances are that if you know a few people under the age of 40, at least one has been to OutsideLands, Coachella, or EDC. Bottlerock is the adult version!

I love going to Bottlerock. It’s a 3-day festival in Napa that offers a small camping option (about 20 minutes from the grounds), but is a close enough drive that you can sleep in your own bed each night, as long as you’re willing to brave traffic on the way in. Fridays are my favorite day because the crowds are smaller and the traffic lighter. This year I am again going on Friday, because I love Imagine Dragons and One Republic.

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Credit: JamBase

This year, they’ve announced the lineup and it looks pretty good again. They usually attract big names to the headliner’s stage, and they pair it with a unique Chef’s Stage experience that brings out the biggest celebrity names! It takes place May 24-26 this year. Last year, Shaun White was on the Culinary Stage with his mom (see attached video) and the cooking was a snow theme, they threw out snowballs – those Hostess cupcakes you had as a kid – and did some crazy stuff with cotton candy. Always interesting. This year, I think Alice Cooper will be a fun experience.

One really awesome thing about BottleRock is that, being in Napa Valley, the food and drink options are unbelievable. You’ll spend a little bit extra on your meals, but you’re getting legitimately delicious food instead of your typical festival fare and a place to sit down and eat it.

I’d highly recommend trying to snag last-minute tickets if any are still available. If not, make plans for next year! It’s always around Memorial Day weekend. If you are going on Friday, let me know! Maybe we’ll see each other there.

Road Trips: SUP Yoga!

As the long, successful winter melts into Spring around the Bay Area, it’s time to get off the mountain and onto the water! Last year, I went on an unforgettable day trip to Alameda, that you simply must try.

I took a sunset, full moon SUP Yoga class with Lilly Manderville from Yoga Treat Fitness Studio who collaborates with Mike’s Paddle Boards in Alameda. First, we paddled through the waterway and homes into the bay and back into the cove where we proceeded to take a yoga class on the board.

It was awesome! We had wetsuits, beautiful views and a full moon, not to mention a really good yoga class. Of course, I pushed the envelope and fell into the water. I hopped back on the board and finished the poses! A picture says a thousand words and with the weather getting warmer now is a good time to look into doing a class or getting a group to try it.

Check with Mike’s Paddle Boards to see what classes are coming up or call me if you want Lilly’s info to schedule a full moon class with her.

Road Trips: Squaw Valley

Come on, how could I not do one more road trip to Tahoe with how this winter is going? It has been dumping record-breaking levels of snow on the resorts up there, and I’ve been lucky enough to go skiing a few times within it.



Besides Mt. Rose, one of my favorite places to ski is Squaw Valley (ideally not on a weekend). The mountain itself is amazing, especially as I get to know the terrain more intimately. The village is great, and the surrounding areas are also nice, but I come to ski Head Wall, Siberia and Granite Chief.

My most recent trip on the 24th did not disappoint. We took the scenic route around the lake (I was staying in South Reno) – check out all the snow on Mt. Rose Highway and the image with Tahoe in the background. So beautiful!

When we got to Squaw, Head Wall, Granite Chief and the Tram were closed due to wind. Not to be discouraged, we headed to Siberia and took a few runs and then checked out Shirley Lake and the bowl. The snow was fantastic and there were no crowds; I think with the coming storm and the wind, all the California folks headed home to our delight! The bowl protected us from the wind and we made run after run.

Around 1, we headed in for lunch and when we went back out the sun had come out and we went back to Siberia for a couple more runs and finished off the day again at Shirley! Awesome day with great friends – one who had never been to Squaw and now he has the perfect first experience to want to return.

Road Trip: Fifty Fifty Brewery in Truckee

As you well know by now, I love to go up to Truckee and Tahoe to ski in the winters. Especially when we have snow like we have this winter! But there are a lot of other places to check out that are off the mountain.

For example, there’s Fifty-Fifty Brewery in Truckee. It’s bound to be packed these days since everyone should be going up to take advantage of all the snow we’ve been getting. I recently was recommended to try it out on a stay at Northstar with my son and a family friend, who are in these photos with me.

My son got an Eclipse which is a whiskey Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout that was over 11% and cost a whopping $22 for a big bottle (he purchased one after the glass I bought), ohhh but it was really smooth and tasty! They also have burgers and other food there, and it’s a really great place to stop on your way home from skiing or to enjoy while staying at Squaw or Northstar.

It has a cozy atmosphere with twinkle lights tucked off the main road in Old Town Truckee at 1197 Brockway Rd. It gives another option for an quick meal and a good beer other than Bar America or some of the more touristy places on the main street of Old Town Truckee! Enjoy!

Road Trips: Half Moon Bay

New year, new road trip! I went down to Half Moon Bay (HMB) to grab some pumpkins, eat seafood and have a drink at the Ritz-Carlton while enjoying the sunset. This blog is specifically about happy hour at the Ritz to enjoy the bagpipes. It was a wonderful experience, but pricey – just to park is $40.  We ordered a tea, Shirley Temple and a margarita for $35.  You are paying for the ambiance and the bagpipes.  If you haven’t been to HMB before, it’s such an easy trip down from the East Bay, and I can’t recommend it highly enough.


Obviously, the view is wonderful, but there are also a lot of parks and bars and restaurants to see. There are distilleries, breweries, wineries and of course, golf. Half Moon Bay is also known for its pumpkin festival; we went down a couple of weekends before the big event – fewer crowds.

This was a little “treat yourself” day trip for me and a couple of friends, as we wound down the day with views of the golf course and a cold drink by the outdoor fireplace. Bagpipes serenaded the crowd from the golf course as an incredible sunset descended over the beach. It was just what the soul needed!

Whether you’re doing a day trip like I did, or going to HMB to enjoy the beaches and restaurant scene for a few days, make sure to fully appreciate how great this little slice of California’s central coast is!

Road Trips: South Lake Tahoe (redo)

I’ve touched on South Lake Tahoe (and Tahoe/Reno in general) a few times in this feature, but I had a whole new experience last time I visited Tahoe and I wanted to share with you all! I went for a summer hike in South Lake that was about 3.5 miles one way and had some of the most beautiful views ever!  I was with another friend and heading back home and they were staying, so we had two cars.  We parked one at DL Bliss and one at Emerald Bay.  Then we proceeded to walk down to Vikingsholm and follow the trail back to DL Bliss.

Vikingsholm was closed for the season, so unfortunately I have still never been inside.  It was one of the first summer homes at Lake Tahoe. Ben Holiday, stagecoach magnate and early-day transportation king, constructed a home there in the late 1860s. His land was eventually sold to Paul Kirby in 1880. The Kirbys built a number of cabins, intended for resort use. The William Henry Armstrong family acquired the property in 1892 and they used the cabins as their summer residence for over 32 years. In 1928, Mrs. Lora Josephine Knight bought the Armstrong’s land with the desire to build a summer home that would complement the magnificent natural surroundings.

Emerald Bay reminded her of fjords she had seen on numerous travels to Scandinavia. She commissioned her nephew by marriage, Lennart Palme, a Swedish architect, to design the home. Vikingsholm was completed in the fall of 1929. In 1945, the estate was sold to Lawrence Holland, a rancher from Nevada. He subsequently sold it to Harvey West, a lumberman from Placerville, California. In the early 1950s, Mr. West, a noted philanthropist, negotiated with the State of California and said he would donate one-half of the appraised value of the land and the Vikingsholm outright, if the State would pay him the other half of the land value. These terms were agreed upon, and in 1953 the house and property were acquired by the state.  This landmark home is now a park and can be enjoyed by all and not developed.

This trail is part of the famed Tahoe Rim Trail, which is exactly as epic as it sounds. We came across a small waterfall still flowing in October and the views were truly spectacular. It is an easy hike, even if you do it round trip, as long as you have good weather, it could be a fun date idea or family adventure.  When we were parking one car at DL Bliss, two guys were running down the hill at a good pace.  As we started on the trail at Emerald Bay, here came the same two runners, making great time, but they still had a big hill to climb up.



This hike is mesmerizing! It is called the Rubicon Trail, primarily running along the water’s edge and afforded breathtaking views of Lake Tahoe, the pictures say more than a thousand words. On my way home I stopped at  Camp Davidson for some food. They are known for their rum runners and summer parties on the beach with live bands – but that will have to be another blog. Next time you head up to Tahoe, definitely give this hike a try; in summer months the parking is tough. October is the perfect month: not too crowded and before the snow hits and 89 closes.

Road Trips: A hike up Mt. Rose

Ah, Reno. One of my favorite places to visit in every season! My son was attending school UNR so I had many more opportunities (and reasons!) to visit, but you can find me up at Tahoe for skiing in the winter, or on a hike like the one I recently took. No complaints either way from me!

On one of my recent trips to Reno I took a drive back home via Mt. Rose and Lake Tahoe.  At the top of Mt. Rose summit, is a trail head for various hikes. The path taken this day was a 2.5-mile trail in and out of a beautiful waterfall. It’s amazing to see what these majestic Tahoe mountains have to offer us when they aren’t covered in snow or recently dusted after a storm – check out the difference!

After the hike, my friend drove back to Reno and I continued on home via a stop at Char Burger. Since it was Labor Day weekend, and the last of summer vacations, it was crowded and a line was way out the door, but the wait was worth it.

Even though this might be a long way to go for a day trip, it is something you might consider on to a longer vacation to the area and a nice tidbit of information.  I personally always feel rejuvenated after time spent in Tahoe and the surrounding mountains by taking advantage of this little slice of heaven.  On another blog, I will highlight more details about Reno where I grew up and am one day looking forward to where I will retire, me and everybody else from California!

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Road Trips: Burma Superstar

I have a super tasty, local road trip for you all this week! It’s really a restaurant review, but I was able to go do a couple other things in the vicinity that made it more into a day trip that ended up being a blast! You may have heard of the restaurant: Burma Superstar! I went for the first time to the Alameda location (there is one in San Francisco and Oakland, too), and it was really good!

Honestly, I was a little bit disappointed in the spicy shrimp noodles, as they were a little too sweet, and I would have liked a little more spice. It was more like a pad thai dish than I was expecting. I had a chili cocktail, which was essentially beer, ginger, and squeezed lemon. That was really tasty and offset the spicy chili beef. They also had phenomenal coconut rice!  The fermented tea leaf salad was a burst of many flavors and definitely worth trying.

We also stopped into a cute little shop next to Burma Superstar called Daisie. It is perfectly situated because Burma Superstar tends to have lines and while people are waiting outside, they meander into Daisie’s homes goods/gift shop. I really enjoyed wandering through and found a cool vase. And, lastly, we were hoping to get into a little local theater production company but we couldn’t get there in time and they would not let us in because the stage was a circle you would have to walk over. We moved the reservation to September.

It was a great day out in Alameda. I finally got a taste of a popular restaurant, got to explore the local shops, and at least got to see the local theater company, even if we weren’t on time for the show itself. I’d highly recommend checking out Alameda, which is an often-overlooked part of the East Bay.