Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Escape to Elk Update

Two years ago, "Rick's Tips," Blue Heron's free, quarterly newsletter of fun things to do in the Bay Area, focused on Elk, California. Elk is located about three hours north of San Francisco and overlooks a spectacular cove on the California Coast.

Recently we returned to Elk and found many things unchanged, along with a few changes. The spot is still lovely -- we had sunny skies and 70 degree weather. There is still little to do in town other than walk on the beach and sit on a chair overlooking the cove and watch the waves crash. Ledford House in Albion still breaks the rule that the better the view, the worse the view. Lisa Geer's food is still delicious. Service is friendly. Watching the sun slowly set while nursing a glass of wine is an experience that can't be beat.

Sandpiper House Inn appears to have gone out of business, at least temporarily house. Griffin House Inn has remodeled its cottages.

Mendocino, the coastside village about 30 minutes north of Elk, still has some interesting shops and galleries. There were a few newcomers, but many of the shops have been there for as long as we can remember.

The Point Cabrillo Lighthouse, 2 miles north of Mendocino, has been restored and is open to the public daily from 11:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. A bed and breakfast will open any day in one of the restored lightkeeper houses.

If you are interested in a custom-designed vacation along the spectacular Sonoma and Mendocino coasts, call (866) 326-4237 (toll free). I would be pleased to work with you to plan a vacation that you are sure to enjoy.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Summer in San Francisco

When I woke up this morning the heat was on, the sky was gray, and the fog was blowing. Just an ordinary summer's day in San Francisco.

I'm consistently amazed how many visitors are shocked to find that San Francisco is cold in the summer. Every guidebook warns about our summer fog and advises to dress in layers. Of course, the many sweatshirt vendors are most pleased that tourists fail to prepare for our nippy summers.

The average low temperatures for the months of June, July, and August are 53, 55, and 56 degrees respectively. The average highs are 70, 71, and 72 degrees. The spring and fall usually have the nicest weather in San Francisco as these seasons have little summer fog or winter rain.

If you want a little warmth during your summer visit to San Francisco, just head to wine country. The average high temperatures in St. Helena -- in the heart of the Napa Valley -- are 86 degrees in June, 89 in July, and 88 in August. Fortunately, the low temperatures are in the low 50s. If it wasn't for the overnight cooling, the grapes would not develop enough acid and the wines would be flabby. Nobody wants any flabby wines!

The Bay Area is full of microclimates. Drive a few miles and the temperature will change. Take a custom, private tour with Blue Heron and experience this unusual weather phenomena. Book a tour by calling (866) 326-4237 (toll free) or by clicking here to send an e-mail.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Telegraph Hill and Coit Tower

Continuing with the vista theme from the last posting, I want to encourage visitors and locals to head for the top of Telegraph Hill. Here you will get a great view of the northern edge of San Francisco as well as the Bay from the Golden Gate to the Bay Bridge. Telegraph Hill is one of the City's 43 hills and is named for the telegraph station that was on the top of the hill in the 19th century.

Atop the hill is Coit Tower, which is named after Lillie Hitchcock Coit. Many people say the tower is a memorial to San Francisco's firefighters, but this is not true. Lillie Coit was a great supporter of San Francisco's fire department. She bequeathed one third of her estate (approximately $100,000) to beautify the city. In response, the city decided to build a firefighter memorial in Washington Square and this observation tower in honor of Lillie.

The tower is open daily from 10:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. One can take an elevator to the top of Coit Tower for an even more spectacular view of the city and bay. On the first floor of the tower are murals painted in 1933 and 1934 that depict Californians at work. When completed the murals were not immediately opened to the public as the city fathers considered them too leftist. They were worried that San Franciscans' morals would be compromised by seeing depictions of known communist Charley Chaplin and communist newspapers. Cooler heads prevailed and, after a six-month delay, the murals were opened to visitors.

Descending the hill by either the Filbert or Greenwich Street steps provides a walk through beautiful gardens maintained by Telegraph Hill residents. Some of the houses you will walk by are only accessible by these steps. Perhaps you will also get a glimpse of the wild parrots of Telegraph Hill during your descent.

Avoid the parking hassles atop Telegraph Hill by letting me take you on a tour of San Francisco. I can drop you at the top of the hill, so you can enjoy the vista, and then meet you at the bottom while you take a walk down either the Filbert of Greenwich steps. If you want to take a private tour of San Francisco, call me at (866) 326-4237 (toll free) or e-mail me by clicking here.