Sonoma County is a land of sprawling beauty. Vineyards and wineries abound, as do secret, forested hideaways with pot farms. It is a place of rivers and redwoods, mountains and warm inland valleys, and a rocky, rugged coastline where cool fog and winds blow in from the Pacific.
The view from Viansa Sonoma, at the gateway to the Sonoma Valley.
Less than an hour from San Francisco, it boasts a number of charming small towns of rural flavor—Sonoma itself, Glen Ellen, Petaluma, Sebastopol, Healdsburg, Bodega Bay—each with its own unique history and virtues. There are Michelin-starred restaurants, sidewalk cafés, hipster bistros, tasting rooms, brewpubs, organic fruit and flower marts, gardens galore, oak-laden parks, and lots of cute shopping streets filled with boutiques of every kind.
It’s an awesome place to spend a day, or a week, or however long you have. Here is a quick peek at a few of Sonoma’s many pleasures: Continue reading
For sheer excitement and travel adventure, it is hard to top motorcycle riding. And if you’re looking for the best deals on parts, gear, accessories and tires for your next bike trip, the place to go is BikeBandit.com.
BikeBandit, headquartered in sunny San Diego, California, offers an eye-popping eight million products on its easy-to-negotiate website, making it the biggest power sports store on the web.
And when we say “power sports,” we mean it. BikeBandit’s mega-sized inventory has everything you need for powerhouse street bikes, cruisers, dirt bikes, ATVs, UTVs, dual sport bikes, as well as quick and nimble scooters. Continue reading
BY KEVIN NELSON
Here we are, in a darkened dungeon deep underground, watching as our tour guide shines a flashlight on various torture devices and explains how they were used to spike, stretch, suffocate and inflict pain on sufferers in the Middle Ages. Not your typical Napa Valley winery tour, I’ll say.
Then again there is nothing typical or ho-hum about Castello di Amorosa, a spectacular $40 million Calistoga winery built in the style of a medieval Tuscan castle. Besides the dungeon it has 106 other rooms, a chapel, church, farmhouse, dry moat, drawbridge, hidden passageways, courtyards, massive stone walls and towers that rise in the center of picturesque hills and acres of grapevines.
It is not mandatory to take a tour of the castle when you go, if you go, although there are so many wonders and curiosities about the place you really don’t want to miss any of them. We are there as part of the Napa Valley Wine Train’s “Castle Winery Tour,” and our guide greets us in the chapel with an introduction you don’t hear every day.
“Hi,” he says. “I’m Mark. I’ll be your tour guide and bartender.” Continue reading
By Kevin Nelson
My editors at Examiner.com reminded me the other day that I had been writing for the site for two years, and during that time I’ve met some wonderful people and gone on some extraordinary adventures. Here are a few of those adventures, all recommended:
A bagpipes player at the start of the Rockies trip.
• Rocky Mountaineer train trip across the Canadian Rockies. Starting in the wonderful British Columbia city of Vancouver and ending in the spectacular mountain village of Banff, this was a two-day ride through ridiculously beautiful scenery with tasty food and wine included. Those Canadians are nice people, too. Continue reading
The other day my son and I went ziplining in the coastal redwood country of Sonoma County. That is yours truly pictured to the left, on one of the smaller “flights,” as they call them, nearing the end of the 2 1/2 hour tour.
It’s a fun and exhilarating experience that’s worth doing, in my view, especially if you’re in the market for a family activity or something a little different than the usual wine country pastimes of wine tasting and dining. But it’s not an either-or proposition; you can go ziplining and then go have a glass of wine and a nosh. I wrote an article about the tour for Examiner.com and you can click here to see it.—Kevin Nelson
By Jennifer Martin
Do you love driving on the beach? If you do, and you’re traveling in Australia, there is an abundance of 4 wheel driving adventures available to travelers on the beaches of Perth, the capital of the state of Western Australia and a major business and recreational hub of the country.
Perth offers plenty of 4WD tracks in its close vicinity. However, if you are craving for a unique blend of adventure and fun at the waterside, there are three must-go destinations for those who love going four by four: Continue reading
By Kevin Nelson
The Rocky Mountaineer is the best train experience in North America. Along with Asia’s fabled Orient Express, it is among the very best in the world. This year marks the Canadian company’s 25th anniversary, and last month I rode the train from Vancouver across the Rocky Mountains to Banff Hot Springs. It was an extraordinary two days. Here are my top 10 moments from the trip:
1. The bagpipe man
The morning we left, the scene at the Rocky Mountaineer station in Vancouver resembled a movie, with hundreds of passengers excitedly clutching their boarding passes, stirred by the promise of things to come. Near the center of things was an unexpected sight: a bagpipe man, in traditional Scottish garb, playing us on as we stepped up into our car.
2. Children waving
As we left the station, dozens of sharp-dressed Rocky Mountaineer employees lined up to wave goodbye to us—a thoughtful and surprisingly uplifting gesture that they do for all departing trains. But nothing quite stirred me like the children of Kamloops, who greeted us when we entered their town at the end of our first day. The railroad tracks pass along homes and yards in the small British Columbia farming town. Our appearance was a cause for spontaneous joy among the kids, who stopped what they were doing and waved and ran after us. Continue reading
By Teena Moore
Say hello to summer! It is that time of year again when you can enjoy the outdoors and revel in the sunny weather. One of the most exciting summer activities is river rafting with families and friends.