It seems like most days there is a huge cruise ship anchored in the bay at Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. While there are days without a ship, they are becoming fewer.
In 2018, the port at Cabo San Lucas saw just more than 431,000 cruise ship passengers. This compares to five years earlier when the number was just less than 186,000.
Some of the ships having Cabo as a port of call include Royal Princess, Carnival Miracle, Seabourn Soujourn, MS Eurodam, Disney Wonder and Norwegian Bliss.
The ships are big money for this sector of Baja California Sur.
“For the entire 2014-15 cruise year, the estimated 211,410 cruise passengers who visited Cabo San Lucas spent a total of $18.2 million (U.S.) in Cabo San Lucas,” according to Business Research & Economic Advisors. That same year the 41,100 crewmembers who visited Cabo spent about $2 million.
Business Research & Economic Advisors conducted surveys of passengers and crew to ascertain the data for various cruise locations. While Cabo is growing in popularity with the cruising public, the Caribbean remains the No. 1 destination in the world.
The firm studied 35 ports in 2014-15, discovering that “cruise tourism generated $3.16 billion in direct expenditures, 75,050 jobs and $976 million in employee wages.” The report goes on to say, “The $22.4 million in total cruise tourism expenditures in Cabo San Lucas generated direct employment of 373 residents of Cabo San Lucas paying $2.5 million in annual wages.”
The area benefits from cruise ships paying port fees, taxes, needing navigation services, utilities and supplies. Collectively, the ships in 2014-15 spent $2.2 million in Cabo.
Those opting for a ship with a stop in Cabo are mostly from the United States, United Kingdom and Canada; with the average age being 59, and more than half being older than 65. Average income is $104,500. This is all data from Business Research & Economic Advisors for the 2014-15 season.
Passengers in Cabo must take a tender to shore. There is no cruise terminal at the dock, as is common in other locales. Passengers come out at the marina where they are confronted by an array of entrepreneurs hawking their wares or offering excursions.
Ninety percent of the passengers and 33 percent of crewmembers in 2014-15 got off the ship in Cabo to visit the area. The study found that they spent $22.4 million on “cruise tourism expenditures.” Most of the money was spent on shore excursions, food and beverages, watches and jewelry, and clothing. Most of the excursions are in the Los Cabos area, but some ships offer bus trips to Todos Santos for the day. While there are organized outings by the ships like scuba diving, plenty of people put together their own excursions.
Screaming. It’s what riding a roller coaster is all about. That exhilaration when it drops suddenly as though it’s in a free fall, or turns upside down again and again making it impossible to know where the sky or ground should be.
I don’t know when I rode my first roller coaster, but the last time is fresh in my memory. It was last month for my birthday. It had been years, probably decades, since I was last at California Great America in Santa Clara. It used to be a place I would visit most every year when growing up in the East Bay. (It opened in 1976.) Darla and I would run from ride to ride. We stopped to play the games of chance. One year we each won a huge stuffed animal. Not sure whose parents were driving that day, but we managed to fit our winnings into the vehicle.
In September, I was there with Sue, a self-proclaimed non-lover of roller coasters. Still, she was a trouper. Had it been up to her, we would have stuck to the water rides and the 4D holographic journey. Both were fun, but they aren’t adrenaline pumping, oh my gawd that was so outrageous let’s do it again rides. Rip Roaring Rapids was a must-do on Sue’s list. Oh, my, the before and after pictures are telling. Dry in the first, soaked in the second. The other two people in this oversized inner tube of sorts were also wet as we disembarked.
Don’t be fooled by Gold Striker. Even though it’s wooden, it’s modern. It opened in 2013 and to this day remains the tallest and fastest wooden roller coaster in Northern California. Every year it has been named one of the world’s Top 10 roller coasters by Amusement Today’s Golden Ticket Awards. If you like the Giant Dipper at Santa Cruz, you will definitely want to ride Gold Striker. It goes 53.7 mph, with a height of 108.2 feet.
While Sue indulged me on this birthday outing, the photos of us on the rides clearly showed who was having more fun and who was more scared. I was all smiles; she never had her eyes open.
It’s hard to decide which coaster was my favorite. All are different in their twists and turns, whether it’s more or less jarring, if feet are suspended or inside the cage.
The first ride of the day I did alone – Flight Deck. It debuted in 1993 with the name Top Gun. This is how the park describes it, “Riders soar through a 360-degree vertical loop, two 270-degree after burn turns, a full-circle wingover and a zero gravity roll. If that’s not enough, you take this 50-mile-per-hour flight in a floorless coach, suspended below the coaster’s steel track.” It was awesome.
The smoothest coaster we went on was Rail Blazer. Instead of sitting next to your scared friend, there are individual seats lined up in cars of eight. The track looks so narrow. This is because the cars are straddling it. It opened in 2018 and is the newest coaster at the park.
The Santa Clara City Council in 2017 approved a new master plan for the park. This means more rides are coming, some will be replaced, and hours of operation will expand.
Going on a Saturday in September was ideal – it wasn’t crowded, the wait time was reasonable – for rides and food. Now through Nov. 2 the park has special haunted nights in celebration of Halloween. Be sure to visit the website, as the park is not open year-round, and pricing is better online.
If it weren’t for one particular garage in Palo Alto, the world might be a very different place. It is considered the birthplace of Silicon Valley.
This is where Bill Hewlett and David Packard in the 1930s formed Hewlett-Packard, aka HP. (A coin toss decided whose name would come first.) Both were students at Stanford University.
Packard and his wife were living in one of the apartments, while Hewlett resided in a shed on the property. Together they used the garage to develop their products.
Driving by it would be easy to assume this was just an ordinary neighborhood in the Peninsula. The large sign out front proves otherwise. It says, “The garage is the birthplace of the world’s first high-technology region, ‘Silicon Valley.’ The idea for such a region originated with Dr. Frederick Terman, a Stanford University professor who encouraged his students to start up their own electronics companies in the area instead of joining established firms in the East. The first two students to follow his advice were William R. Hewlett and David Packard, who in 1938 began developing their first product, an audio oscillator, in this garage.”
Walt Disney was the first to recognize the two were onto something, deciding to use their initial product, an audio oscillator, in select theaters showing “Fantasia.” The duo came out with their first computer in 1966. The handheld calculator followed in the next decade.
California recognized the significance of the garage at 367 Addison Ave. in 1989 by naming it a state historical landmark. It was in 2007 that the garage was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The detached garage sits back from the road and house, but is easy to see from the street. The sign is near the sidewalk.
Beer, burgers and hot water all in one stop.
This is what one finds on Old Hot Springs Road in Carson City – Shoe Tree Brewing Co., Sassafras and Carson Hot Springs. One Saturday in September we enjoyed what the three distinct businesses had to offer.
With such an array of beer choices, Sue and I opted for two rounds of tasters. A flight of four is $12; each being 5 ounces. We indulged in the Muscle Powered Pale Ale, High Desert Brown, Coco Burrito, Wicked Shifty, Brunswick Blonde Ale, Atomic Ale, Shoehorn, and Ash Canyon Amber Ale. My favorite was the High Desert Brown. The brewery describes it as “notes of coffee, roasty & toasty.”
Brothers Paul and Jeff Young opened the brewery in March 2017. According to their website, “The brew system is a 7 barrel (217 gallons) brew house with a four fermenter farm able to produce 600 barrels (13,950 gallons) of finished beer annually.”
While food isn’t served at the brewery, plenty of choices are available next door at Sassafras Eclectic Food Joint. If they aren’t too busy, they will deliver food to the brewery. We shared a burger and roasted beet salad – perfect amount of food, and great quality.
With so many beers on the table, it was hard to know what paired best with our lunch. I’m a believer you can never go wrong with a beer and burger.
Still, the restaurant isn’t just a burger joint. There are pizzas, grinders, cold deli selections, and specials that range from Cajun Mac & Cheese to Shrimp Tacos to Salmon Sriracha. It is definitely eclectic.
Sassafras has its own beer menu and has a full bar. With plenty of seating, it is a destination in its own right.
Next door are the hot springs. The Washoe Indians were using these waters in the 1800s as an undeveloped site. It was in 1880 that Thomas Swift bought the area and added amenities like a clubhouse. It has been known as Carson Hot Springs since 1910. New owners in 1999 added two Jacuzzi tubs, though they were not operational when we were there.
“Natural mineral water flows out of the ground at 121 degrees. Air spray and evaporative cooling are used to lower this water temperature when pools are drained and refilled during each day. No chemical or city water is added,” according to the hot springs’ website.
The main soaking area looks like a normal, rectangular pool. The difference is there is no chlorine and two overhead spigots are regularly delivering hot water. One is so powerful it is aptly named The Hammer. It’s an intense massage of sorts.
An added convenience is the springs provide noodles as flotation devices, which is nice since the depth goes to 6½ feet. The shallow area is where most people were hanging out.
While we enjoyed all three businesses at this location, each is worth a visit without the others.
Similar, yet different. This is one way to describe the photography of Ansel Adams and Edward Weston.
Each captures the landscape surrounding them in a way that draws the eye to examine every detail. The play of light, lines and natural beauty beckon one to admire what their lenses captured. As with all great photography, it goes beyond the equipment. It’s having an eye for the subject and the patience to capture the moment.
A sampling of their works is on display in the exhibit “West X Southwest” at the Cantor Center on the campus of Stanford University.
“This installation explores how Weston and Adams expressed content and navigated aesthetics during early and formative moments in their careers. It considers how the artists sharpened their modernists visions through a selection of images created in the place that biographer and curator Nancy Newhall (1908-1947) called each artist’s ‘Paris’,” Elizabeth Kathleen Mitchell, curator and director of the Curatorial Fellowship Program, wrote of this exhibit.
Adams is known for his work in Yosemite and the Southwest, while Weston explored Mexico.
Together, in 1934 they were founding members of Group f/64, a San Francisco Bay Area photography collective. They had met in the mid-1920s; then crossed paths at various times. It was Weston who introduced Adams to Death Valley, while it was Adams who showed Weston Yosemite and other parts of the Sierra.
Adams said, “(We) had both come to be sympathetic to each other’s work, though we were never on an identical wave length.”
This sentiment is obvious as one walks through the exhibit. What I learned is that in 1941 Adams was commissioned by the U.S. Department of Interior to photograph national parks, mostly in the Southwest.
Having been an admirer of Adam’s for years, it was his photographs that captured my attention the most. This exhibit includes his iconic “Moonrise” at Hernandez, New Mexico. Before reading the description for “Dune” I thought the photo was a winter scene of plants struggling to survive in the snow. Instead it is an image of White Sands National Monument in New Mexico.
With the latest trend being printing on canvas, seeing an exhibit like this makes me wonder what the future of photography will bring. To me, this is real photography and a better representation of an artist’s craft.
- Exhibit is open Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday from 11am-5pm; Thursday from 11am-8pm.
- Exhibit ends Jan. 6, 2020.
- Cantor Arts Center is at 328 Lomita Drive, Stanford.
- Cost – free.
- More info is available online.
Meandering around, the cacti tower overhead, others are closer to the ground, some are in bloom. They weave together, making it difficult at times to know if it’s one or multiple plants. Dead limbs look like firewood.
While there are plenty of cacti in the desert of Baja California Sur to look at, the Cactus Sanctuary puts so many of them in one place.
The park opened in 1997, with development by the Intercacti Group. A sign out front says visitors will find: a high density of cacti, nurse plant system, zoochory processes, pseudoephiphytic growth of cacti, primitive cactus, cacti with monster growth, and seed germination in situ.
Species include baron cardón, sweet pitaya, pitaya sour, garambullo, pereskia, biznaga, nopales, choya, old man and more.
Not being an entomologist or a cacti expert, I’m not sure if we saw all of the above.
I first went to see the cacti last October with friends who were visiting from Arizona, then a month later with my mom. It’s one of those places that I wouldn’t go to just for the cacti, but it is a good side trip when visiting El Triunfo. Part of this has to do with the upkeep, or rather lack of. The signage is sketchy, with some being faded or damaged – so not readable in English or Spanish. Plus, the entire place is overgrown and not well kept.
Reports are that the sanctuary looked a lot better before Hurricane Odile struck in 2014.
On the first visit a man tried to show us somethings as we had already made the circular trek through the sanctuary. Then we realized he just wanted money and didn’t appear to actually be working there.
If there were tours, or some way to know what we were looking at (some claim there is a 500-year-old cacti there), it would have been more enjoyable.
Despite the lack of upkeep, it was still worth the walk because of how peaceful it is – very much like a sanctuary in that respect. Plenty of shade also made it inviting.
The sanctuary is on the way to El Triunfo off Highway 1 when approaching from Todos Santos or La Paz. It’s off to the right, down a so-so dirt road for about three miles. It’s by the tiny town of El Rosario. Sometimes there is someone there collecting money – about $4 a person. Unfortunately, it’s hard to know where the money is going.
It is striking how drab artist Georgia O’Keeffe’s wardrobe was compared to her vibrant paintings of flowers and the landscape of New Mexico.
While she preferred to be dressed in black, the garments were not shabby by any means. In some ways, her clothing was artistic as well. Many of the dresses she made, especially early in her career. The cream colored silks are simple, yet exquisite.
The dress above is described as, “This two-piece outfit is a fine example of O’Keeffe’s skills as a seamstress and a designer. The ingenuous design allowed her to put the dress on over her head, eliminating the need for buttons, belts, or zippers. The jacket also lacked buttons or closures and was designed to lie smoothly under or over the draping collar of the dress.”
This is one of many of O’Keeffe’s articles of clothing on display now through mid-October at the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno. Titled “Georgia O’Keeffe: Living Modern,” the exhibit is a history lesson of sorts. The clothing shows an evolution in styles. With O’Keeffe dying in 1986 at the age of 99, she lived through several fashion periods.
Mostly, though, she wore what she wanted. In this way, the exhibit also brings a human element to this renowned artist that isn’t necessarily revealed through her work. While the world has known O’Keeffe’s individuality through her paintings, now all can understand her in deeper way through her wardrobe and how she posed for the camera.
It was interesting to see the actual dress and later pants next to a photograph of O’Keeffe wearing the outfit.
One section says, “From her early years on, O’Keeffe had a soft sport of Japanese kimonos and put together a personal collection of them to wear around the house as bed and bath wear. In her later years, she adopted a kimono-like wrap dress as her signature outfit. Travelling to Hong Kong in her seventies, she bought off-the-rack garments and accessories, and ordered custom-made coats and dress suits in local silks, incorporating details like mandarin collars and frog button closures.”
One thing about this exhibit that is also unusual compared to showings specifically of her work is the number of photographs of O’Keeffe. Of course there were ones by her famous husband Alfred Stieglitz, but also pictures by Ansel Adams, Philippe Halsman, Yousuf Karsh, Cecil Beaton, Andy Warhol, Bruce Weber and Todd Webb.
Interspersed among the clothing are paintings by O’Keeffe. The contrast of color compared to the clothing is striking. To me, it shows an artist wanting her work to be the focus and not herself.
- Location: Nevada Museum of Art, Reno.
- Exhibit closes Oct. 20, 2019.
- Museum open Wednesday-Sunday, 10am-6pm.
- General admission – $10.
- This is the only U.S. West Coast exhibit.
Garlic. I think it’s a food group. It definitely belongs in more dishes than it doesn’t.
With the average person consuming about 2 pounds of garlic a year, according to Reference.com, this may be one category where I’m above average. I use it more like a spice, though technically it isn’t one.
Sautéing a little garlic and onion is a great start to so many dishes. I could eat pesto every night. Roasted garlic spread on sourdough bread – yum. Whole or chopped garlic must be part of a roasted veggie ensemble. Garlic in salsa, of course. Then there are garlic fries – wow – two of my favorite food groups in one dish.
Plus, there are tons of health benefits to garlic. Alejandro Junger in the book “Clean: The Revolutionary Program to Restore the Body’s Natural Ability to Heal Itself” wrote, “Garlic will help not only to eliminate bad bacteria, yeast, and parasites, but also to regulate blood sugar levels, enhance fat burning, reduce hunger sensations, lower cholesterol, relieve arthritic pain, and reduce bowel gas.”
While April 19 is national garlic day, Gilroy celebrates this pungent food for three days in late July each year. Those in California consider this town south of the San Francisco Bay Area to be the capital of garlic. Truth is that China grows the most garlic in the world; producing about two-thirds of the world’s garlic, according to Agricultural Resource Marketing Center.
This summer was the fourth time I went to the festival. It’s amazing how such a tiny bulb can be the focus of so much fun, so much delicious food. Cooking demonstrations, celebrity chefs, artisans and more are part of the festivities. This was the first year for a night concert. Colbie Caillat with band Gone West entertained a throng of people. The music was included in the price of admission of the festival. (The festival in 2019 was $20 or $30 for a three-day pass; food is extra.)
The chefs in Gourmet Alley and in the outlaying food booths hovering over the open flames when it was near triple digits made me thankful I was eating and not cooking.
The Gilroy Garlic Festival is perfect for meat and non-meat eaters. There are so many choices – from pesto to corn on the cob to ice cream to steak sandwiches. When the garlic gets to be too much, there are other choices.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the tragedy that occurred on the third and final day this year. I was there the day before the fatal shooting. It’s surreal to think about that fact. Still, I’m not going to let nut cases stop me from continuing to lead my life, to go to events – big and small, to shop where I want, to frequent places that are full of people. It’s easy to say that. I haven’t had to run for my life, to duck and cover, to attend a funeral for someone who died in a mass shooting. This is as close as I ever want to be to such a tragedy.
Part of me wants to buy my tickets now for the 2020 Gilroy Garlic Festival. It would be more about showing support for this small town than for the garlic. Whatever your reason for going – go. It’s a unique event that any garlic lover should experience at least once.
Breathtaking. That is one of many superlatives to describe the East Shore multi-use path that opened earlier this summer. The nearly 3-mile paved route goes from Tunnel Creek to Sand Harbor in Incline Village.
A few years ago, for a story I did for Lake Tahoe News, I had the opportunity to walk along part of what was the planned route. Even then I knew this was going to be something special. It’s so much more spectacular than anything I could have imagined.
“It is a trail that takes you someplace, but the journey is the destination,” Amy Berry, head of the Tahoe Fund, said during that excursion in 2014.
Estimates during the planning stage were that 100,000 people would use this trail each year.
The East Shore of Lake Tahoe has some of the most dramatic scenery in the basin. This trail allows almost anyone to enjoy this slice of Tahoe that until now may have been off-limits to certain people. Before it meant seeing these views from a vehicle whizzing by on Highway 28, being on a mountain bike along the Flume Trail, dealing with the masses at Sand Harbor beach, or risking your life parking and darting across the highway to get to the water.
The pavement is 10-feet wide and built to ADA standards. There are a couple curvy and steep sections that had skateboarders using their foot as a brake, and some cyclists panting. Walking didn’t seem like any big deal.
Planners were able to keep 11 offshoots to the lake. This is the only place bikes are not allowed. With the lake being so high this summer, not all of those locations offer much sand to sprawl out on. Still, it’s nice to know these spots are there for those with dogs who would want to have a drink.
Major troublesome spots for dogs are the six steel-fiberglass bridges. The longest is 810 feet. This also happens to be the longest bridge in the basin. An Ohio company made the bridges. After dogs had their pads damaged from the hot surface, signs were posted warning people about the bridge temperature. At the long span and another bridge are wagons people may use to transport their canine. The Tahoe Transportation District, which oversaw the project, would not say if anything is going to be done to lessen the danger on the bridges.
A good rule of thumb is if you wouldn’t go barefoot – on any surface – because of the heat, a four-legged family member shouldn’t be either. This includes asphalt and sand. At sunset the temperature wasn’t an issue.
TTD manager Carl Hasty would not say if the heat of the bridge should be a concern to cyclists’ rubber tires.
A nice attribute to the route is the abundance of bike racks, as well as the couple stations to do minor repairs, including adding air to bike tires.
The total endeavor came with a hefty price tag – $40.5 million. This was a mixture of private and local-state-federal government dollars. About half went to the trail, underpass and parking, while the other half was for environmental and highway upgrades. Considering construction was right next to the lake, this meant more environmental concerns; then there is a tunnel where the path goes under Highway 28 taking people from the mountain side to the lake side; plus, there are a multitude of granite vista areas – ideal for sitting to take in the views. Parking spaces were also added. Eliminated is all the highway parking between the two points of the trail, with this being done mostly as a safety concern.
Eventually it will cost to park at some locations. Tahoe Transportation District officials would not say what the fee will be or when it will be implemented. The payment portals are already in place.
For those who want to enter Sand Harbor State Park it costs $2 on foot (dogs are not allowed), while it is $10 to drive in.
While the bi-state Tahoe Transportation District was the lead agency to make the path a reality, it will be the Nevada Division of State Parks which maintains it. It took three years to build it.
This is the second section of the greater 33-mile Stateline-to-Stateline trail. One day it will cover the entire Nevada side of the lake, thus the reference to the state lines. The end/starting points will be Stateline and Crystal Bay. The first section was completed it 2013 with 2.2 miles that go from Rabe Meadow in Stateline to Round Hill Pines Beach.
The third phase is already being planned, with the comment period on the U.S. Forest Service’s draft environmental assessment document having ended Aug. 11. The documents are available online. This next section will be eight miles from Sand Harbor to Spooner Summit.
As with all the sections, it’s not just a multi-use path that is being laid down. A major goal is to eliminate parking on the narrow Highway 28 and to create parking areas that are safer. Improvements to utilities, a focus on erosion, and reducing sediment from reaching Lake Tahoe are all goals of the project.
Artistry is found in so much of the merchandise available for purchase in Mexico. I want to drink from it.
I was hoping to find wine glasses at The Glass Factory in Cabo San Lucas so I could bring them with me to California this summer. Part of the logic was if/when I return permanently, the glasses would have made it without being packed in a full Jeep. I’m sure I’m better off without having spent money on something that was just going to end up in storage. Plus, if I end up in Baja more long term, it would mean driving them back across the border.
Even though I didn’t find anything to buy for the kitchen last month, I’m planning to go back. (I did buy a pair of fun glass earrings shaped like flip flops.) It’s possible to have custom-made glasses, but that’s not what I want. I’ll know what I want when I see it. Artisans hand blow an array of glass products six days a week. I was there with friend Joyce, who lives in Cabo, on a Sunday when the blowing wasn’t taking place.
That didn’t matter. The showroom is incredible.
The creativity in design and color is magical. It’s so much more than glasses (think water, wine, martini, margarita, and more) of all sizes and varieties. Large bowls, vases and pitchers were stunning. If only I had a kitchen, let alone a whole house of my own, to display and use these wonders. So much of what was available looked like art even though everything seemed to have a functional component.
When Sebastian Romo opened the business in 1990 it was Baja’s only hand-blown glass factory. The website says, “Today the foundry employs over 30 artisans who produce close to 500 one-of-a-kind pieces daily. Using recycled, lead-free glass, the maestros create custom orders for hotels, restaurants and retail shops as well as original pieces for groups and individual buyers.”