Redding, CA: Shape Up In Shasta Cascade

The breathtaking Shasta Cascade region offers world-class rivers, lakes and trails making it the perfect location to shape up with a plethora of outdoor activities....

Long Beach CA: Hotel Maya

Paying homage to this mysterious culture stands the Hotel Maya along the harbor in Long Beach. Complete with the unique and spectacular architectural style of the stepped pyramids, Hotel Maya welcomes guests into their "village" of modern structures assembled to create this luxurious seaside resort.

Murphys, CA: Murphys Haunted Hotel

When you arrive in the authentic town of Murphys, nestled in the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas, the locals will ask about where you are staying. If your response is Murphys Historic Hotel, expect the response to be, Haunted! That hotel is haunted!

San Diego, CA: The Keating Hotel

Southern California. Italian design. Ferrari. Stainless steel. Maserati. Bang and Olufsen. Rain showerheads. Just one of these by itself is damn sexy. Put them all together, add a king-sized bed, and you have the uber sexy Keating Hotel.

Arrowhead, CA: Mountain Swimming Hole

Nothing beckons the old days of hiking up the mountains to a nearby waterfall and jumping into the water feet first. Local photographer Sam Katz brings us back to those old memories with a look back.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Redding, CA: Shape Up in Shasta Cascade

The breathtaking Shasta Cascade region offers world-class rivers, lakes and trails making it the perfect location to shape up with a plethora of outdoor activities. Covering an area roughly the size of the state of Ohio, the Shasta Cascade has a vast, unspoiled, landscape of stunning vistas, towering volcanoes, alpine ranges, glaciers, waterfalls, whitewater, lush forests and pristine lakes and rivers, creating the perfect backdrop for a workout no matter your fitness level. California's Shasta Cascade contains seven national forests, eight national and state parks, the Trinity Alps, the northern Sierra Nevada and the California Cascade range.

The Sacramento River
California's Sacramento River is a major player for all of today's popular paddle sports. There are other rivers and lakes in the area where paddle enthusiasts can get their fix while burning calories. A few hours spent paddling down a river or around a lake can do wonders for your health:

Paddleboarding burns an average of 600 calories per hour
Kayaking burns between 360-950 calories an hour
Canoeing comes in at approximately 400 calories per hour
River Rafting burns at least 230 calories per hour
Explore Shasta Cascade's National Forests
The eight National Forests and numerous wilderness areas in the Shasta Cascade Region offer brilliant settings perfect for getting fit. The amount of calories burned hiking depends on how much you weigh:

130 pound person will burn 413 calories per hour
155 pound person will burn 493 calories per hour
180 pound person will burn 572 calories per hour
205 pound person will burn 651 calories per hour
The sport of Mountain Biking is also popular in this part of the planet. The varied terrain of the National Forests offers endless opportunities for mountain bikers. The trail from Shasta Dam to Sundial Bridge inRedding, called the Sacramento River National Recreation Trail, is 17.4 miles and has been recognized as the 7th best trail in California by Rails to Trails magazine. Even walking in this majestic location can burn calories.

For more information visit and

View Larger Map

Friday, November 22, 2013

San Diego, CA: Beer and Cheese Pairings in North Park

If your idea of cheese and beer is Cheetos and Bud at a football game, think again.

Such a pairing of carefully curdled delicacies and hops has gotten much more sophisticated, as I learned at Thorn Street Brewery in North Park, which recently put on an event with Venissimo Cheese.

I was skeptical because, as I’ve admitted before, I’m not a fan of brews (yes, strike me dead for liking Corona with lime). Couldn’t I just eat the cheese? But I was intrigued, and heck, I had to wash down the cheese with something.

Turns out, I came away pleasantly surprised, because when the flavors worked together, I found beer more palatable than ever before.

We tried five Thorn Street beers: a hefeweizen, a Belgian blond ale, an extra special bitter, an IPA, and an imperial Russian stout. The cheeses, on the other hand, came from all over the world and offered their own complexity – both in texture and taste.

We savored a silky soft Brunet goat cheese from Italy (a nice match with the hef), a super stinky French Munster, a Vermont cheddar, a Minnesota ghouda, a Delice de Bourgogne triple cream from France (a hit with the IPA), a Blue cheese from New York, and an aged ghouda from the Netherlands.

Beer and Cheese??

For each pairing, Rob Graff from Venissimo offered us a slice of a different cheese, sometimes two different cheeses. Our initial impulse, before listening to instruction, was to pop the whole chunk in our mouths, because when you’re offered a delicious cheese, why put on the brakes?

Because, like a first date, a good date, anyway, it’s better to take it slow. So we followed Rob’s direction: first taste the cheese (swallow), next sip the beer (swallow), then taste the cheese again, and while it is still dancing on your tongue and flirting with your taste buds, chase it with beer.

Did I really like that extra special bitter? Me? Yes, the cheese made it palatable. Who knew?

To finish off the evening, Rob served us a dessert cheese – a sweet, droopy mango-ginger stilton from England. That we ate on its own, without beer.

I would love to see such an event in South Park. Where do you think it might work? Hamilton’s? Alchemy? Eclipse?

Photos and article courtesy of Bonnie Nicholls, the South Park Scribe, your expert on all things in South Park San Diego!

Thorn Street Brewery
3176 Thorn Street
San Diego, CA 92104

View Larger Map

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Arrowhead, CA: Swimming Hole

California Scenes courtesy of Sam Katz Photography

Monday, November 18, 2013

San Diego, CA: Food Truck Tuesdays in South Park

Every Tuesday evening you’ll find a mini food fair in South Park. Food trucks roll up to the Gala Foods parking lot at the corner of Grape and Fern Streets and offer all types of cuisine. You'll find a vast array of menu options such as grilled cheese sandwiches, ravioli, fish tacos, crepes, sliders, vegan meals, even patty melts from Corvette Diner. So is the food any good? Depends on what you order.

Possible options are the “Hi-So” slider from The Slider House. This little 2-ounce beef burger comes topped with prosciutto, arugula, gruyere cheese and garlic-lime aioli. Yum! It is about $4, which seems reasonable. The Green Truck, specializes in organic, sustainable food and one of it's offerings is pumpkin tacos, made with Suzie’s Farm heirloom pumpkin, caramelized onion, garlic crema, cherry tomato and onion sprouts. The cashier described them as “Christmas in your mouth,” and that’s accurate, because they tasted like pumpkin pie. Possibly too sweet for dinner, obviously depending upon your taste. Those two tacos cost about $8.

Another possibility is Italian food from Mangia Mangia Mobile: the catch of the day fish sandwich, the mushroom ravioli in a white sauce, and garlic fries. Reviews by attendees are mixed: fish sandwich wasn’t that flavorful, ravioli stuffing was good, but the white sauce was too dense, and the fries were OK. Price for that meal: $27. You can't beat the festive atmosphere, however. Frank Sinatra songs from Mangia Mangia’s speakers glided through the air as people mill about, looking at menus, and chatting with each other as they eat at the little tables. You can even shop for clothes from a mobile clothing boutique.

Other trucks that were there included: Grilled Cheese Gastrotruck, Ms. Patty Melt Food Truck, French
Crepes, and Mariscos Nine Seas (which is parked at Gala every day). Apparently the selection of food trucks changes weekly. Come to South Park and see what tickles your palette--every Tuesday from 5:30 to 8:30, Gala Foods parking lot, corner of Grape and Fern Streets.

Photos and article courtesy of South Park Scribe, your expert on all things in South Park San Diego!

Gala Foods
3030 Grape Street
(between 31st St & Fern St)
San Diego, CA 92102

View Larger Map

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

22nd Annual International Indio Tamale Festival, Indio, CA, Dec. 6, 7 & 8

The 22nd annual Indio International Tamale Festival will once again overtake Old Town Indio to kick off the holiday season in the Coachella Valley. Admission into the Festival is FREE, and family-friendly activities, arts and crafts booths, and live entertainment are geared for all ages and community interests. The Festival has been ranked as one of the top ten "All-American Food Festivals" in the nation by Food Network-TV. Guinness World Records awarded the Festival as having The World's Largest Tamale--over 1 foot in diameter and 40 feet in length, Dec. 4, 1999, and The World's Largest Tamale Festival--with 120,000 in attendance, Dec. 2-3, 2000. The traditional competition for best tamale recipe will be held, and there will also be a tamale eating contest. At least 125,000 people are expected to attend the two day celebration this year which begins with a parade on Saturday morning. Performances will be featured on four stages.

Indio Mayor Elaine Holmes said, “As a business owner, resident, and Mayor of the City of Indio, I’m always very excited to attend our Annual Tamale Festival. It’s an event where visitors from around the world can enjoy a one of a kind cultural experience only Indio can offer. This is a tradition we’re very proud of, where families, foodies, and anyone wanting to taste one of the many adventures Indio has to offer can come together for great food and fun. Admission is free, so join us for some of the best tamales you ever had, in traditional and new ways you never imagined.”

 New attractions this year include an Inaugural Car Show, an Art and Wine Garden, and Food Truck Alley. And, as always, in addition to the parade and live entertainment, there will be the Best Tamale Contest, a Tamale Eating Contest, Kiddieland, and Carnival Rides. Recipes from all over the southwest feature pumpkin with Jamaican rum tamale, bourbon pork tamale, chocolate cherry tamale, and hundreds more.

Complete information for the Tamale Festival can be found here.
Friday, December 6, 2013 -- 5:00pm – 10:00pm (Carnival only this day)
Saturday, December 7, 2013 – 10:00am – 6:00pm (Carnival open until 10:00pm)
Sunday, December 8, 2013 -- 10:00am – 6:00pm (Carnival open until 10:00pm)

The Festival is located at Old Town Indio between Highway 111 and Indio Boulevard; it occupies the streets of Miles, Towne, Smurr and Requa.

 Free parking is available at Riverside County’s Administration Building at the Larson Justice Center on the corner of Highway 111 and Oasis Street. Public parking is also available on various streets around downtown Indio. Free shuttle services are provided by Lin Lines to all festival visitors from the Larson Justice Center. SunLine Transit bus routes include stops close to the Festival grounds. For more parking or bus route information can be found here.

The Festival is produced by KevaWorks, Inc., in partnership with the City of Indio. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino will serve as the official presenting sponsor, as they have since 1999.