Can’t wait for your next trip, but are miserable at the idea of leaving your best friend behind?
After all, who better to experience long walks on the beach with – or snuggling up on the terrace to watch the sunset with – than your pooch (especially when no meaningful conversation is expected)?
If you’ve got to get away, but can’t bear the sad look from those puppy dog eyes, maybe it’s time for a little getaway that includes Fido, too. The following are some canine-friendly cities that offer more unusual treats to lure both of you for a visit.
“But my dog doesn’t drink,” you argue. No worries. While you’re lapping up the region’s top-notch wine, your canine pal will have plenty of things to do.
Cuvaison Winery 4550 Silverado Trail, Calistoga, California 707-942-6266
Well-behaved dogs on leashes are allowed to join you in the small tasting room and in the three outdoor picnic areas.
Clos Du Val Winery 5330 Silverado Trail, Napa, California 94558 800-993-9463
Dogs on leashes are allowed in the enormous tasting room and on the property
Hillcrest Country Inn 3225 Lake County Hwy, Calistoga, California 707-942-6334
Host Debbie O’Gorman runs this country home with her three dogs, Taz, Debo and Bamboo, who are friendly and welcoming to other canine friends. The antique-filled home is located on a hilltop with an unbeatable view of Napa Valley. You and your pup can romp around the 36-acre property where there is swimming, hiking and fishing, and then he has the option of staying in your room or in a large outdoor kennel.
Beazley House Bed & Breakfast Inn 1910 First Street, Napa, California 707-257-1649
You’ll be able to play with resident Golden Retrievers Sissy and Autumn Beazley in this downtown Napa inn, and you’ll even receive a doggie welcome basket with a bowl, doggie beer, bones and cleanup baggies. Three rooms open out into the gardens, and there is a $25 per day per dog charge, with a maximum of two dogs per room.
Angele 540 Main Street, Napa, California 707-252-8115
This gourmet French restaurant allows dogs on leashes in their outdoor patio, and will provide water and treats while you dine.
Bistro Don Giovonni 4110 Saint Helena Hwy, Napa, California 707-224-3300
This laid-back Mediterranean restaurant (it’s the sister to San Francisco’s Scala Bistro) allows dogs in their outdoor tables, but please call ahead to inform the staff.
Los Angeles already has a reputation for being a dog-friendly city, but its neighbor down south is making steps to become the next hot dog spot in Southern California. Long Beach is a coastal city that has recently opened three acres of its beach in Belmont Shore as an off-leash area. “The Dog Zone” visitors must follow the rules- only one dog per adult, and pooper-scoopers are a must. The Dog Zone starts at 4800 E. Ocean Blvd., between Roycroft and Argonn streets.
Also in Long Beach is the very active Haute Dogs organization, which arranges several doggie-centered events in Belmont Shore all year long. The Haute (pronounced “hot”) Dog Easter Parade features hundreds of dogs marching along in bonnets and Easter outfits, while the Howl’oween Parade and Canine Costume Contest that includes an adoption fair, a bulldog kissing booth; and a dancing dog demonstrations. If that’s not doggone wacky enough, stick around Long Beach for the Haute Dog poetry contest and bulldog beauty contest.
Several restaurants and shops along the busy Second Street in Belmont Shore offer water bowls to welcome pets. Pet-friendly accommodations are rather scarce (you may be better off making Long Beach doggie festivities part of a day trip), but you can try the following:
Renaissance Long Beach Hotel, a luxury hotel that welcomes dogs of any size for a $75 non-refundable fee. 111 East Ocean Boulevard, Long Beach, 562-437-5900
Peter Greenberg is a preeminent expert on travel. His focus is on the journey, providing insider’s tips and recommendations to an increasingly savvy and demanding traveler. Peter is also author of The New York Times best-selling series, The Travel Detective, which uncovers secrets the airline, hotel, cruise and rental car industries don’t want consumers to know. Check out Travel Tips for more insider information.
“Are RV’s dangerous to own and operate?” After giving this question some thought I realized that this one short question covered a very large spectrum. There is no quick or easy response to this question. In most cases it’s not the RV that is dangerous, but the individual that is operating the RV that is dangerous. Some examples of unsafe acts that I have witnessed are carrying a full spare LP gas bottle inside the RV, sleeping in the RV with the generator running and never weighing the RV or checking the inflation pressure in the tires.
When you begin your search for an RV, the first thing to verify is that the RV manufacturer is a member of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA). If they are, the RV will have an oval shaped RVIA seal displayed on the exterior, usually by the entrance door. This seal means that the RV manufacturer is in compliance with more than 500 safety requirements regarding electrical, plumbing, heating, and fire and life safety. These safety requirements are established under the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) A119.2 Standard for Recreation Vehicles. This should put to rest any concerns you may have about the RV itself being safe when it is manufactured.
The next step is to educate yourself on the systems of an RV and what is required to operate the RV safely and properly. If you’re going to be towing a three or four ton travel trailer, or driving a six ton plus motor home you need to understand the importance of proper hitch work, weights and driving techniques. I also explained that anytime you are dealing with petroleum products like LP gas and gasoline generators there is cause for concern, but if handled properly there is nothing to worry about. A good place to start is with our RV video and DVD library.
In no particular order, I offer the following advice concerning RV safety:
•Take care of your RV’s tires and they will take care of you. When you’re not using your RV keep the tires covered to protect them from the damaging affects of ozone in the air and UV rays from the sun. Invest in a quality inflation pressure gauge and check the tire pressure in all tires every time you use the RV. Check and adjust the pressure when the tires are cold, before you move it. Maintain the pressure recommended by the manufacturer. Consult the owner’s manual for proper tire inflation and never exceed the maximum pressure located on the tire sidewalls.
•Weigh your RV and tow vehicle. The only way to know if the weight is properly distributed and that you are within the allowable weight ratings for the RV and tow vehicle is to have them weighed. Look for certified platform scales in your yellow pages under moving companies or truck stops. When you weigh your RV and tow vehicle have them fully loaded for travel to include passengers, cargo, fuel, personal belongings, and full fresh water and propane tanks. Verify that you do not exceed any manufacturer weight ratings such as, the Gross Vehicle Weight Ratings (GVWR), Gross Combined Weight Ratings (GCWR), and Gross Axle Weight Ratings (GAWR). NEVER exceed any manufacturer weight ratings. It is quite possible to be within the weight ratings, but still exceed a tire rating. This is why you must weigh each axle end separately to insure that the load is within the capacity of the axles, wheels and tires and to see if the load is properly distributed.
•Have the LP gas system inspected every spring before using the RV. Take your RV to a qualified service center and let them check the LP gas system for proper appliance operating pressure and to check the system for leaks. Familiarize yourself with the odorant added to LP gas to assist you in detecting a leak, and what to do if there is a gas leak.
If you smell LP gas or the leak detector alarm goes off:
1) Extinguish any open flames and pilot lights. 2) Do not touch electrical switches. 3) Shut off the gas supply at the tank valve(s) or gas supply connection. 4) Open the doors and windows and leave the area until the odor clears. 5) Have the LP gas system checked and repaired by a qualified technician before using the system again.
It is not recommended that you travel with the LP gas turned on. If you do have the gas on while traveling turn off each individual pilot light, appliance, and the main gas supply before refueling.
•The onboard generator makes your RV fully self-contained. It allows you access to 120 volts when there is no shore power available, but keep in mind that carbon monoxide is deadly! NEVER sleep in the RV with the generator running! Before you start and use the generator inspect the exhaust system. Do not use it if the exhaust system is damaged. Test the carbon monoxide detector every time you use the RV. Know what the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are:
1) Dizziness 2) Vomiting 3) Nausea 4) Muscular twitching 5) Intense headache 6) Throbbing in the temples 7) Weakness and sleepiness 8) Inability to think coherently
If you or anyone else experiences any of these symptoms get to fresh air immediately. If the symptoms persist seek medical attention. Shut the generator down and do not operate it until it has been inspected and repaired by a professional.
In my opinion, these are some very real concerns that all RVers need to be aware of. I also want to mention that this is a very short list. There are many other safety issues involved in owning and operating an RV, but by practicing common sense, and through education, RV ownership is not only safe, it’s lots of fun.
Happy Camping, Mark
Copyright 2006 by Mark J. Polk owner of RV Education 101
RV Expert Mark Polk, seen on TV, is the producer & host of America’s most highly regarded series of DVD’s, videos, books, and e-books. www.rveducation101.com/
Mark Polk is a retired U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer Three, specializing in wheeled and track vehicle fleet maintenance operations. In addition to owning and operating RV Education 101, (based in North Carolina) since 1999, Polk also has a very extensive RV background working in RV service, sales and management. Polk has a degree in Industrial Management Technology and his 30 plus years of experience in maintenance includes working as an RV technician, a wheeled vehicle and power generation mechanic, an automotive maintenance technician, Battalion and Brigade level Maintenance Officer, an RV sales manager and also in the RV financing department as the Finance & Insurance manager. www.rveducation101.com/
Lake Tahoe is shared by two states, California and Nevada, with two-thirds of the lake located in California and one-third in Nevada. It is situated between the Sierra Nevada and the Carson Range and is surrounded by very large mountainous peaks. It is the eighth largest lake in the world.
The water is crystal clear (99.1 percent pure) and visibility at times measures two-hundred feet deep. It has its own natural filtering system with water filtered through marshes and meadows before running into the lake.
Sixty-three streams and two hot springs feed the lake and make it popular for fishing. Trout and salmon are the natural inhabitants. Mackinaw and Rainbow Trout are found in the waters of Lake Tahoe. Shore fishing is popular, but the Mackinaw Trout are best found at two-hundred foot levels. The Kokanee Salmon is a sport fish, hard to catch and presents a real challenge for the sport fisherman. Lake Tahoe’s fishing season is open year-round and either a California or Nevada fishing license is required.
Lake Tahoe is considered one of the favorite vacation and recreation places, with over two million visitors a year. Summer is the peak season (July 4th through September 1st). It offers the best outdoor activities and entertainment. Hiking, biking, water sports, golfing, camping, fishing and rock climbing are just a few of the outdoor activities enjoyed by visitors to this area.
There are several sandy beaches where sun bathing and swimming can be enjoyed, with even a nude beach for those so inclined. Age requirement on this beach is eighteen years.
There are several areas where visitors can take short hikes, but be aware that proper clothing is required due to possible weather changes. A wilderness hike is available that takes you through the desolate wilderness. It is twelve and one-half miles long with nature in the raw. High water stream crossings and sudden stormy weather can happen any time. A permit is required to take this hike.
Winter sports include skiing (downhill and cross-country), snowmobile and ice skating. The ski slopes have fifteen downhill and twelve cross-country ski ranges. This is the largest ski resort in the United States. Over half of the winter visitors to Lake Tahoe go there to ski.
Rock climbing is done in Bear Valley located in Central High Sierra Nevada, at Phantom Spires and Sugarloaf on South Lake Tahoe. Sugarloaf has a pitch of approximately 350 feet and is a popular climbing site in the winter, while Bear Valley offers climbs no higher than 100 feet. Phantom Spires’ climbing is steep and best climbed in early summer through fall season.
In addition to the outdoor activities, Lake Tahoe boasts some of the best casino hotels around – Caesars, Harrah’s, Harvey’s and Horizon. The casinos present top-notch entertainers year-round and have outdoor concerts in the summer. You can expect world class accommodations at the hotel casinos at Lake Tahoe with luxurious guest rooms, fine dining in their restaurants, swimming pools, spas and, of course, the casinos. Casinos are open twenty-four hours a day with some of the best gaming tables. The accommodations for Harrah’s and Harvey’s have been awarded the AAA Four-Diamond award.
Yes, the casino hotels even have wedding chapels with an experienced staff to help in planning a wedding, reception and honeymoon package. The chapels are beautifully designed and make a lovely setting for a wedding. Bridal suites are also available in the hotels.
So, whether you want outdoor activities or just simply enjoy the luxurious casino hotels, Lake Tahoe is definitely a place to consider for your next vacation.
About the Author
Michael Russell is your Independent guide to Lake Tahoe
Those of us who live in the States are lucky. We have one of the best National Park systems in the world. We also have fast, efficient Interstates that will take you close enough to most of them that you don’t have to worry about off-roading in your RV!
But what makes those parks so great is really the breathtaking natural beauty that is preserved there. Every place in the world has its unique sights to see, but you just can’t beat standing on the south rim of the Grand Canyon watching the sun go down.
Here is a brief introduction to 3 of America’s oldest and still best national parks, Yellowstone, Yosemite and the Great Smoky Mountains.
Yellowstone National Park – Southern Montana and Northern Wyoming
Yellowstone is the first, and many consider the greatest National Park in the United States. It’s a wonderland of spouting geysers, unique rock formations and other leftover evidence of a massive volcanic explosion over 600,000 years ago.
Don’t worry, it’s all cooled off now. At Yellowstone, you can see the world’s most famous geyser, Old Faithful. Early settlers thought it was a noxious spew from hell itself, but nowadays we know it’s just a geothermal process, but that doesn’t make it any less interesting.
Yellowstone has a reputation for being crowded, and it’s true that it’s a popular destination. If you really want to see the park, park your motor home and hike off the beaten path. Yellowstone has lots of great hiking trails, more than enough for everybody to enjoy without crowding each other. There are plenty of day hikes with spectacular views.
Yellowstone has at least 12 different campgrounds, and they’re all first come, first served. Before you go, you’ll want to call ahead and see about fire restrictions. If you’re with the family and you want to stick to some luxurious digs, there are KOA’s and other commercial campgrounds just outside the park with more modern conveniences where you can park your motor home or RV.
Yosemite National Park- Eastern California
Yosemite is another one of the oldest national parks in the United States. The wilderness of Yosemite represents all kinds of terrain, including meadows, valleys, mountains and great forests, and it’s not too far from San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Probably the most amazing thing about Yosemite is the waterfalls. It has more waterfalls than any other single place on earth. Steep cliffs of granite abound, and from certain points in the valley you can see seven or eight big ones at once. It may be tempting, but don’t try swimming in the pools, because the force of the water can knock you senseless.
Yosemite also boasts one of the biggest forests of sequoias in the world. These ancient trees stand tall, their tips pushing way up into the sky, like the California Redwoods.
There are 13 campgrounds in Yosemite National Park, and some of them accept camping cars, trailers, motor homes and RV’s. If you plan on heading to Yosemite, it’s best to call ahead and make a reservation. In the summer months, the campgrounds fill up quick.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park – The North Carolina and Tennessee Border
If you like the outdoors, Great Smoky has it all. There are more hiking trails than probably any other area in the US, as well as great fishing and camping. Compared to the parks out west, you’ll see lots more wildlife and plants. Also unlike the west, the weather is mild and there’s plenty of humidity to keep you from dehydrating.
Another reason to head for the Smokies is to experience real, authentic Appalachian mountain culture. There’s mountain music, storytellers, and all kinds of family fun.
Great Smoky is also a great place for RV drivers, because there are lots of auto tours. The park boasts roads where you can see great views, old historic buildings and vast forests as far as the eye can see.
Of course, this is just a basic introduction. You have to see these parks to believe them. These are definitely three places you want to hit at least sometime in your life.
See the States coast to coast in your home on wheels. Your family motor home lets you travel in style. Visit Bankston Motor Homes, http://www.bankstonmotorhomes.com/, to search for your next motor home or come by and visit with us at any of our five locations.
Inns are a delightful alternative to hotels and resorts. They can be just the right ticket for your vacation, providing you understand how they work and function.
Are they for everybody?
No, they’re not. But here’s the answers to some basic questions to determine if it’s the type of accommodation that’ll work for you…
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN INNS AND BED AND BREAKFASTS?
Let’s start by clearing up any confusion on the differences between inns and bed and breakfasts. And it’s not so much in the name as how they advertise themselves.
Firstly, there’s no difference in accommodation. The charm of a bed and breakfast can be every bit as good as the personality of an inn. The difference is the prepared meals. A bed and breakfast is just that… expect a bed and a breakfast, but you’re on your own for dinner. But at inns, they’re set-up to provide dinner as well, although it’s usually an option, and not included in the quoted price. The listing will be very clear if dinner is offered. But assume its just bed and breakfast if nothing is mentioned.
In many areas of the world inns and bed and breakfasts are also called guesthouses.
ARE THEY RIGHT FOR MY KIDS?
When an inn says kids are welcome, then you’d better believe they really mean they’re kid friendly. Now there’s nothing wrong with that (I have three myself), but don’t expect too much peace and quiet and solitude.
You’ll find a number of listings that put age restriction on children. For example they’ll say something like: 12 or older, or above 6-years old. They’re not being mean. It’s just these places are also catering to a single or couple looking for a chance to unwind and free of noise and high activity. If you’ve got high-action kids then bed and breakfasts may not be ideal for your family.
WHAT SERVICE CAN I EXPECT?
Staying in inns is very different than staying at a hotel. You shouldn’t expect a country inn to be like a Sheraton, with hordes of staff at your beck and call, and soundproof walls. Also, having a party and playing loud music after 11:00pm won’t win you any brownie points with your host or the other guests.
Remember… the innkeeper or host is there to provide you, and other guests, with a unique experience in unique surroundings, but to do that they’ll need your understanding.
WHAT’S THE USUAL CHECK-IN TIME?
Your host will go out of their way to greet you when you check-in. Usually when you reserve you’ll be told when their normal check-in period is. But most can accommodate you arrivals outside those hours.
But you need to let them know if you’ll be late so they can arrange for you to get into the house (yes, the doors are locked after a certain hour), and to your room. It’s one thing to show up at midnight at your hotel – they’re staffed round the clock – but it’s entirely another matter to roll-in after 11:00pm at an inn, and expect your host to get out of bed and greet you smiling.
CAN YOU NEGOTIATE PRICE?
You bet you can!
Just like hotels the room rate for inns is negotiable. The main difference is unlike a hotel, the person on the other end of a phone is usually the owner of the bed and breakfast, and they can make the decision on the spot. All you have to do is ask in a nice way.
Just remember the innkeeper may only have a few rooms to begin with anyway, and if your haggling over the last room then don’t be offended if it’s no dice on a price reduction. But on the other hand one room of a four-room inn without a paying guest reduces a host’s profit by 25%. So it’s always worth asking for a reduction!
HOW MUCH CAN YOU REALLY SAVE?
Off-peak travel will save you a bundle.
Most inns can book their weekend’s months in advance. But filling the rooms during the week, particularly off-season, is much more difficult. You’ll get the best deals for bed and breakfasts traveling mid-week and out of season. Now contrast this with hotels that have the opposite problem, because they cater to the mid-week business traveler, but can’t get people in rooms at the weekends.
I love staying in inns. They’ve a lot going for them. Inns are usually very affordable, offer tons more variety than a bland hotel room, and are a great way to meet fellow travelers or vacationers. You’ll find web sites devoted to inn and bed and breakfast listings now – so crank up Yahoo or Google and get searching… and saving!