California Dreamin'

The more than 670 inches of snow that has accumulated this winter in Squaw Valley and the Lake Tahoe region is hard to imagine -- but it is equivalent to a five-and-a-half story building. And more is on the way. Reportedly some homes across the Lake Tahoe region are nearly buried. So what does that look like anyway? We found one view... From the San Francisco area, Squaw Valley is a popular day trip -- a drive of 2.5-3 hours, and everyone is taking advantage of it. Rainstorms having been bugging us for weeks, actually months, in the Bay Area; that translates to tons of snowstorms in the Sierra mountains. The auto tire chain rules are strict, and blizzards fueled by high winds can throttle the mountain passes, and I hear from friends that the chain enforcers are truly weary. Two Christmases ago my son and I spent Christmas at... Read more →

Another clear cool morning and the Northern California tsunami watch continues on this Saturday. The greatest danger is for harbors and bays, with swells 1 to 2 meters above normal, according to the U.S. Weather Service. Yesterday was a tsunami-watching day in Santa Cruz Harbor. Read more →

If you can visit the the spectacular Shanghai exhibit at San Francisco's Asian Art Museum before it closes on September 5, it's a must-do. I finally stopped by in the nick of time this week and was fully absorbed by the exotic and complex beauty of Shanghai, as seen through its art in many forms. For more than a century Shanghai artists have been documenting its images and its changes through ink and oil paintings, Shanghai Deco furniture, revolutionary posters, silk fashion and more. The cross-cultural influences and tugs between Western and Eastern culture are dramatically illustrated in the visuals and the story -- and provide important insights to the historical influences on today's East-West relations. The exhibit is relatively compact in four large rooms and you can travel through time in an hour; the free personal audio guide also brings more depth to the tour. Having never been to... Read more →

Who doesn't love a train? The Golden Gate Railroad Museum poses that question in its 2010 guidebook, noting there's something "truly amazing" about trains -- and we couldn't agree more. We took the inaugural 2010 "Spring Steam Weekend" excursion through Niles Canyon, about 45 minutes east of San Francisco. Now's your chance to participate in this exclusive ride on a steam engine-powered train on the new two exclusive outingsthis year -- Memorial Day Weekend (on May 29 and 31) or Labor Day Weekend (on September 5 and 7). It takes quite an effort to make this happen by some tremendously dedicated volunteers, so it doesn't happen every day. The train was built in 1914 and restored in 1940 the first time, then again just last year. Its last service occurred in the early 1960s, before the train was retired to become a tasting room at the Charles Krug winery in... Read more →

Hot, Affordable San Francisco Dining

For San Francisco dining, add these to your palate/palette of the best but exceptional and affordable San Francisco dining. Let's face it, the embarrassment of riches in San Francisco makes it easy to settle for less. Here are some of our recent top pix where from an insider's view you'll do far better than the ordinary. Read more →

Carmel, California, is not what it used to be -- but it is still Carmel (or its proper name, Carmel-by-the-Sea). After all, Clint Eastwood was mayor for a while and he is nothing if Mr. Integrity. Just because I knew it one way (back when) doesn't mean that you can't make it your own now. Read more →