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Winemaker meets fellow BlogHers at SF Conference

Monday, July 28th, 2008

 San Francisco Heart

Imagine my delight when I found a familiar face in the crowd during a recent BlogHer party.  I’d spotted Debra Mathy pouring her luscious Zinfandel at an exclusive gathering.  Hours earlier I had arrived at San Francisco’s St. Francis hotel for the 2008 BlogHer conference.  Learning that the three-day conference was taking place in my own backyard, I hopped on a BART train and began the round of pre-conference parties. 


As a former sorority girl I thought I was up to the challenge of mingling with 1,000 plus female bloggers, along with the random male thrown in the mix.  As I entered the hotel lobby, I spotted a woman walking the corridor with an Alltop party sign. 

“Are you looking for the Alltop bus?” chirped the friendly gal sporting her plaque much like the limo drivers who troll the airport baggage claim terminals looking for designated VIP’s.

“My blog’s on the Alltop travel list, but I wasn’t invited,” I lamented.  Mind you, I’m years away from the sorority rush experience, yet I was feeling like the co-ed who didn’t receive her bid invitation into the elite sorority. 

Mommy Needs a Glass of Wine

 Mommy Needs a Glass of Wine T-shirt courtesy of Baby


“Get on the bus,” she said with a wink.  “It’s gonna be a great party at Guy’s house.”  For those of you who don’t know Guy Kawasaki, he is the man behind Alltop, an entrepreneur and a twitter maniac.  I board the shuttle and am immediately surrounded my Mommy bloggers chatting up a storm with their seatmates.  I learned quite a lot about blogging from Kristen Hammond of Mommy Needs a Cocktail fame.   She is not only hilarious, she’s quite the marketer, handing out cocktail shakers sporting her blog at the BlogHer conference.

After a few mis-adventures in downtown Atherton, we arrived at the Kawasaki household.  Our poor driver had scribbled down directions to the party location and finally checked his male ego, parked the bus and asked for directions.  Needless to say, every blogger on the bus with a GPS in their cellphone was frantically waving  smartphones in the air asking anyone who would listen, “what cross street is that?”


While it’s not quite couch surfing with complete stangers, I felt that I had crashed a party and sheepishly shook hands with the host as he welcomed me into his backyard.  I ambled over to the wine table and was delighted to find Debra Mathy pouring her wares from Dry Creek Valley’s Dutcher Crossing Winery.  Another savvy marketer, Debra writes about Dry Creek on her blog.


 I learned about the Wine Bloggers Conference taking place in Sonoma County, October 24-26, 2008 from Debra.  Put on by OpenWine Consortium (OWC) the group is a non-profit wine industry association fully embracing bloggers, twitters and web 2.0 users.  If you’ll be in the Santa Rosa area during these dates, register for the conference and prepare to meet America’s new wine media.

I’ll be attending the Wine Bloggers Conference.  Will you be there?

Go fish – it’s not always in the cards

Thursday, July 17th, 2008

North Umpqua River

 Fly fishing is a sport for patient people requiring wide spaces, fresh flowing water and lots of time.  There is an art to fly fishing.  Indeed, the true fly fisherman or woman needs to know how to tie a fly and possess the proper fly pole.  However, if you are not patient and don’t like to fish, I still think you will enjoy the article that I recently wrote for the Contra Costa Times Lamorinda Sun.

As the car winds along southern Oregon’s scenic highway 138 the vibrant North Umpqua River comes into view.  Arriving at the Steamboat Inn, fishermen sprawl at long wooden tables sorting their paraphernalia as they prep for the season.  A Paul O’Neil quote from 1965 describes the quintessential fly fisherman,

There he stands, draped in more equipment than a telephone lineman, trying to outwit an organism with a brain no bigger than a breadcrumb, and getting licked in the process.”  

Whether you are a fisherman or daydreamer, if you are looking to unplug from the electronic world and re-connect with nature, Steamboat Inn is a place to relax and unwind or, wind up and fish.  The only blackberries you’ll find at the Steamboat come from the kitchen in the form of a pie or cobbler.  There is no cell reception here, although there is internet access.

Maple Ridge Suite

   Steamboat Inn Maple Ridge Suite     

Couples will enjoy the streamside cabins; while families opt for the Hideaway cottages situated a half mile up river.  The cozy Maple Ridge Suite offers a soaking tub, large living room and private deck steps from the river.  In addition to gourmet dining, guests can hike to waterfalls or venture to nearby Crater Lake.  If you have children along, drive through the Wildlife Safari Park in Winston.     

While fly fishing in Oregon takes skill, fishing in Alaska brings its own set of challenges.  The river was very high and muddy this year so the king salmon were not biting. “We did a lot of fly fishing from the bank,” said Jeffrey Lefcourt of Lafayette.  Paul , along with his 12-year-old son, Jeffrey, took a float plane to Riversong Lodge on the Yentna River and caught some trout and grayling.  What better way to spend Father’s Day than fishing with your son? 

 “It was easier to fly fish in Alaska because it wasn’t windy like in California,” notes Jeffrey.  “We saw a lot of bald eagles.  I got a ton of mosquito bites, but it was worth it and certainly better than hanging out in a tent. Riversong Lodge made it easy.  I would go again every single year. ” 

 While fishing lodges are not appropriate for toddlers, parents need not put off global travel until the kids have grown.  If you are traveling with little ones in tow, Ciao Bambino! reviews family friendly vacation properties with age appropriate ratings. 

“We deal with four categories; hotels, villas, resorts and apartments,” says Founder Amie O’Shaughnessy.  The Oakland-based company gives its seal of approval from baby ready to toddler safe rooms.  

 Speaking of seals of approval; Lafayette’s Deborah Simmons, along with Matt Chaney and family, will be competing in the Ride for a Cure on July 19 in San Luis Obispo to raise funds to defeat ALS.  Chaney has been battling ALS for eight years and is very active with the organization.  The bike ride begins at Avila Beach and features four, world-class routes, including a 25k Fun Ride  and 25 mile Winery Tour Ride.  

“Matt will be riding his recumbent bike in the 100 mile Century.  I’m riding the less grueling 100k route, but a challenge, nonetheless,” laughs Simmons. 

Register now or contribute to the cause by donating to RideToDefeatALS.

 Located on the blue Pacific equidistant from Los Angeles and San Francisco, Avila Beach has recovered from the 1990’s petroleum contamination and has been rebuilt into a thriving beachfront community.  From the historic Madonna Inn to fish taco stands, the town offers Sunday art on the beach, championship golf, pier fishing, the Bob Jones bike trail and a Friday Farmer’s Market.

San Louis Obispo or SLO town, as the locals call it, is home to Cal Poly.  If you are visiting the area stop by for Swing Night at the Madonna Inn.  Every Monday from 8:00 p.m.-11:00 p.m. locals and out-of-towners kick up their heels and swing dance at the Inn.  Best of all; it’s free!

Where are your favorite places to fly fish, beach comb, bike ride or swing dance?

27 new UNESCO World Heritage sites

Monday, July 14th, 2008
 Preah Vihear Temple  900-year-old Preah Vihear temple on Cambodian border On July 8 in Quebec City, Canada, UNESCO, (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) announced 27 new additions to the organization’s list ... [Continue reading this entry]

Does the travel industry care about changing climate?

Thursday, July 10th, 2008
 Earth I wrote a post on taking issue with Darren Cronian's recent comment on his blog, Travel Rants.  Cronian attempts to fan the flames in the travel blog world when he ... [Continue reading this entry]

Where’s Wendy Perrin? She has landed in San Francisco

Monday, July 7th, 2008
 Wendy Perrin Wendy Perrin likes to beat the system, find the best travel deals and share all of her insider secrets with her readers.  I recently caught up with Conde Nast Traveler's Consumer News Editor ... [Continue reading this entry]

Say yes to airport layover in San Francisco

Tuesday, July 1st, 2008
 Golden Gate Bridge  Photo credit San Francisco Convention & Visitors Bureau I know it may sound crazy, but an airport layover might not be such a bad thing afterall.  Why not briefly touch on the highlights of a city ... [Continue reading this entry]