BootsnAll Travel Network

Archive for the 'Alaska' Category

« Home

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?

San Sebastian; A culinary quest

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2007


 I’ve never been asked to be a mule before. For you law-abiding citizens, a mule is a person who carries drugs for someone. In this case, I was asked to be a cheese mule. This was not your run-of-the-mill, Whole Foods, Manchego cheese mind you. I was on a quest for Idiazabal, the Basque word for sheep’s milk cheese.

A friend from the San Francisco Bay area with Basque roots salivates when I share my plans of 10 days in Barcelona and San Sebastian, Spain. “Oh the cheese,” she moans. “You have to bring back the cheese.”

And so my quest began. I was also told to taste the Iberian ham. My Alaskan friend, Kirsten Dixon, a culinary genius and owner of Within The Wild Adventure Company,, had recommended that I taste the salt-cured Iberian ham. These acorn fed, free-range piggies are as pampered as the Kobe beef cattle. At roughly $160 per pound, I was keeping my bacon in my pocketbook.

Before our departure to Pamplona, we were lectured on Ernest Hemingway and the significance of “The Sun Also Rises” as it releates to the region of Pamplona and San Sebastian. Our personable lecturer, Gabriella Ranelli De Aguirre,, an ex-patriot and culinary guide steered me to Aitor Lasa,, on Calle Aldamar. “I take this cheese to the states with me all the time,” she shares. “They’ll vaccum seal it for you.”

So in between layers of clothes, I dutifully tuck in my shrink wrapped wedges of cheese; my nuggets of gold. I’m bound for my home state of California where our advertisements boast that happy cows make happy cheese. I am one happy camper!

Lodge mixes nature and comfort

Friday, August 31st, 2007
"What cruise ship are you sailing?" That's the question I'm asked when I say we're Alaska bound. This is our third year landing on the Yentna River at Riversong Lodge, Accessible only by float plane or boat, the ... [Continue reading this entry]