California


10 CITIES TRAVELERS LOVE TO HATE

Every good traveler should have, and is entitled too, his or her own unique opinion about what makes a certain place good or bad, likable or repulsive, worthwhile or overrated. Opinions are fun. I like hearing them as much as I like giving my own.

Some of my own opinions are atypical:

I have never enjoyed the Thai islands
I have not left my heart in San Francisco, even after visiting hundreds of times
I am not moved by high, jagged mountain ranges
Nebraska has the best landscapes of any American state
Chongqing, China- a polluted, hazy mess of a city- is spectacularly gorgeous and worth returning to again and again (I miss it as I type…)
I have a hard time finding a good meal in Italy

Throughout the globe, when groups of travelers meet up to discuss travel, opinions and superlatives often come out (I hate…..I … Read More »



EXPLORING THE CALIFORNIA DELTA ON 1850cc

Posted on October 23rd, by Steven in California, United States. 2 comments

“Manmade deltas and concrete rivers. The south takes what the north delivers.”

-Pavement, Unfair (1996)

In the fall of 2007, Bill and I were working and living in Berkeley, California. The environment of rose gardens, soy lattes and meatless pizzas was a far cry from our Midwestern hometowns. On weekends, we needed a break from Berkeley’s froufrou.

Plunging headfirst into a mid-20s crisis, we both bought motorcycles. Bill – a purple Harley Sportster 1200cc; and myself – a cherry red Yamaha V-Star 650cc.

Riding our motorcycles in the city didn’t quite satisfy us. Going west was impossible, due to an ocean. North and south too hair-raising; so we often headed east, regressing back into true American farmland, across the Coastal mountains and into the pastoral California Delta; the Midwest of the West.

 

 

The journey would begin in Berkeley with 24 miles of freeway to get out of … Read More »



RENTING A BEACH HOUSE IN MENDOCINO, CALIFORNIA (2006-2007)

Posted on August 25th, by Steven in California, United States. 3 comments

I’ve never had much desire to be financially rich. The simple luxuries that I enjoy are generally limited to the proletarian chic and rainy mornings with no obligations. Six bedrooms, a Dodge Viper, anything first-class/VIP, a young second wife, a doorman, toothy children with middle initials- those things just don’t interest me much.

However, no river long enough doesn’t contain a bend. My lifelong fiscal complacence was rocked in February of 2006, when I first stepped foot into what my friends and I still refer to as simply ‘The House’. The House that Philosophy Built. One day it will be mine.

It was a rainy February in the San Francisco Bay Area. Most Bay Area Februaries are. The late winter may be gloomy and damp, but as a result, the surrounding California countryside ripens from its summertime brown into a spectrum of electric … Read More »



EXPLORING 10 GREAT CITIES THROUGH ICONIC MUSIC VIDEOS

Generally clocking in between three and five minutes, a good music video is a wonderful little escape from wherever we’re sitting. Many videos just feature bouncing cars, bouncing women and sleeveless drummers. However, some take us on fun journeys around the world. Let’s take a look:

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CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA:
Solange, Losing You (2012)

The city as fashion. Inspired by the colors and textures of Cape Town’s townships, Solange and her video-friends are looking like beautiful curtains while bouncing around at the pool, the tailor, a barbershop and other ramshackle Cape Town locales. They explore local transportation in a taxi van and from atop the handlebars of a bicycle. Looks fun, eh?

The video was filmed around the neighborhood of Langa in Cape Town. Langa was established in the 1920s as a designated black African community and is today both poverty-stricken and colorful, as seen in the … Read More »



ROAD TRIP USA: LOS ANGELES to LAS VEGAS via MOJAVE DESERT BACKROADS

Posted on September 17th, by Steven in California, Nevada, Travel, United States. 4 comments

For tourists to the USA, one of the most often-traveled routes is Los Angeles to Las Vegas. We have seen it in countless movies, including The Hangover, Very Bad Things and Swingers. I have spoken to many international tourists who have made this drive. Almost always, they travel straight along Interstate 15, making the 4+ hour drive as fast as they can, seeing power lines, billboards and truck stops along the way.

However, if you take a full day and the initiative to push your car off the restrictions of the 4-lane Interstate and into the depths of the desert, you will find a rewarding journey filled with surreal desertscapes and highway ruins, exposing layers of forgotten Americana that few international travelers can experience in American cities. Additional time may allow for some exploration of Joshua Tree National Park, famous for … Read More »



GOODBYE, GOD. I’M GOING TO BODIE

Posted on September 16th, by Steven in California, Nevada, tips, Travel, Uncategorized, United States. No Comments

“Goodbye god, I’m going to Bodie” – diary entry of a little girl moving from San Francisco to Bodie

My favorite California destination to come back to again and again, Bodie is an eerie ghost town that once housed 7,000 residents and is now home to a few helpful park rangers and some squirrels. Located 8,000 feet in elevation, near the California / Nevada border, about 75 short American miles (120km) southeast of Lake Tahoe, Bodie is a perfect tie-in to any trip to the more-famous lake. Getting there is half the fun, as you drive south through some canyons and finally veer off onto a hairy 13-mile dirt road into the heart of the high desert landscape.

Bodie thrived in the 1870s, when prospectors predicted it would bring enormous amounts of gold. While the town did produce some gold, production quickly declined. At … Read More »



THE EPHEMERAL MAGIC CARPET: VISITING CALIFORNIA’S SPRINGTIME WILDFLOWERS

Posted on September 16th, by Steven in California, tips, Travel, Uncategorized, United States. No Comments

California’s nickname, The Golden State, comes not only from the gold rush of 1849, but is also inspired from the autumnal golden and yellow hue of the fields and hills, and the springtime poppy blast that rewards residents for surviving the soggy winter rains. This annual flower explosion could only be described by The Insane Clown Posse as a “miracle”.

You should visit; and, first things first: it’s all about timing. The bloom will only last a few weeks and often peak unexpectedly, depending on the amount of rain received in the weeks and days before the flower season. The impressiveness of the flowers is different each season, but the flowers do tend to consistently gather in the same locations each year.

I have two favorite places that I return to each spring season when I am in California:

Death Valley – The flowers … Read More »



EXPLORING DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES: AMERICA’S FORGOTTEN URBAN FRONTIER

Posted on August 6th, by Steven in California, Travel, United States. No Comments

Los Angeles is a big valley full of mystery. Most Americans have grown to view Los Angeles as an uncomfortable patchwork of suburbs and expressways. Images of riots, earthquakes, and endless traffic have given the city a notorious reputation throughout the states. Tourists unfamiliar with the city’s physical dysfunction will often make overambitious itineraries and then quickly find that getting around is half the schedule. So, how can you simplify your visit and make the most of LA’s complexities?

One great place to start is downtown Los Angeles, as it is compact, walkable, fascinating, and regularly overlooked in guidebooks and discussion of LA.

Some history:
As Eastern and Midwestern Americans flocked west to Los Angeles in the early 20th Century, they built the young new city to resemble what they had back home: tight, organized urban grids with well-defined sidewalks, street trees, squares … Read More »





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