A Visit to Santa Cruz Island of the Channel Islands National Park

As the largest of the Channel Islands off the coast of Southern California, Santa Cruz is the perfect destination for those who want to combine kayaking and hiking for a day (or two) of adventure surrounded by pristine, natural beauty. Continue reading

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Volunteering at Phuket Elephant Sanctuary

Phuket Elephant Sanctuary

Call me crazy, but this past February I used a week of my vacation time to travel half way around the world . . . to work! Granted I was on the beautiful tropical island of Phuket in southern Thailand, but still, I was not lounging on the beach and partying into the wee hours as many do at this popular tourist destination. (Ok, I did get half a day at Nai Yang Beach, plus an amazing Thai massage!) Instead, I was volunteering at Phuket’s first ethical sanctuary for elephants, Phuket Elephant Sanctuary (PES). Continue reading

Nevada City: Weekend Getaway in Gold Country

Nevada CityNevada City is one of those “I can’t believe I’ve lived in Northern California for almost 20 years and haven’t been here yet” places. After passing by the Nevada City/Rte. 49 exit off I-80 countless times on trips to Lake Tahoe, my husband and I finally made the turn off to check out the historic gold mining town that is fast becoming a popular spot for San Francisco Bay Area transplants. Continue reading

Weekend Hike: Rockville Hills Regional Park in Fairfield

Rockville Hills lakeI found hiking nirvana. Rockville Hills Regional Park, which is about 2-1/2 miles off  I-80 in Fairfield, CA, is the full package for nature lovers – broad grasslands draped by oak trees, and in the spring, carpeted with purple and yellow wildflowers; sweeping vistas that surprise from narrow, mangrove-crowned paths; and trails with names like “Devil’s Backbone” and Wild Turkey Run” that make this park a favorite among mountain bikers and trail runners. Continue reading

Saint Lucia: Beach Meets Rainforest in the Caribbean

Sugar Beach Saint Lucia

The southwestern coast of Saint Lucia is dominated by the magnificent Piton peaks.

If someone blindfolded you and put you on a plane to Saint Lucia, you might think you were in the South Pacific upon landing. Much more than the clear blue waters and powdery beaches commonly associated with the Caribbean, Saint Lucia is a land of striking diversity. Only 27 by 14 miles, this gem of an island has verdant mountains, lush rain forests, and even a dormant volcano with skin-smoothing sulfur mud baths. And yes there are lovely beaches, but they share the stage equally with these other attractions. It’s the perfect destination for anyone looking for more than water sports and sunbathing from their Caribbean vacation. Continue reading