Blink and you’ll miss Buellton, California. Here’s why you don’t want to.

Blink and you’ll miss Buellton, Calif., a tiny town a two-hour drive north of Los Angeles. And maybe that’s just fine with Buellton, one of those undiscovered destinations where everyone expects you to stay a few exits south, in touristy Santa Barbara, or just keep driving through to nearby Hearst Castle. Read more “Blink and you’ll miss Buellton, California. Here’s why you don’t want to.”

In Monterey, the action’s on the water — if you can get there

For days, the Humpback whales had been taunting us from the bay as if they knew what we wanted. Every now and then they’d breach the surface or send a spout of water high into the mist, as if to say, “Catch us — if you can.” The rare sea otters teased us, too, playfully popping their heads above the surface near the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Read more “In Monterey, the action’s on the water — if you can get there”

To the caring employees at Vons in Chatsworth, Calif. — thank you!

Falling bullets/Flickr
Falling bullets/Flickr

Mimi Rosenblatt lives in Los Angeles. She’s unemployed and disabled, having suffered from lung cancer that metastasized to her brain. Even a seemingly simple task like grocery shopping can be a challenge for her.

“I often stand there, looking for something,” she says.

Rosenblatt contacted me recently to let me know about the extraordinarily helpful workers at Vons, a local grocery store chain.

“An employee is always there, not only to tell me where the item is, but to actually take me there,” she says.
Read more “To the caring employees at Vons in Chatsworth, Calif. — thank you!”

The inn’s owners are out — why won’t they waive my cancellation penalty?

Here’s a case I’ve been mulling for a few days. It involves a highly-rated bed and breakfast, a loyal customer and an unwelcome change.

Should I get involved? I’m asking for your advice, as I do every Monday on this site.
Read more “The inn’s owners are out — why won’t they waive my cancellation penalty?”

Where are America’s best bears?


Mention the Smoky Mountains, especially Gatlinburg, Tenn., and bears are probably the first thing that you’ll hear about.

Black bears, to be exact. The nearby Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the last remaining places in the eastern United States where they can be found in the wild.
Read more “Where are America’s best bears?”

Hangin’ out in California’s capital

We’ve just wrapped up our visit to Sacramento.

Yesterday, we checked out Old Sacramento, a lively district with restaurants and museums. The school house museum (pictured above) wasn’t open, but it made a nice photo.

However, the California State Railroad Museum was open. If you want to see trains, it’s the place to go. There are dozens of full-size trains, including locomotives, a sleeper car, a dining car and a refrigeration unit. I highly recommend it.

Oh, and there’s candy — lots of candy. We counted no fewer than three specialty candy stores in Old Sacramento. This shot was taken at a place called Candy Heaven. My kids are still eating the gummy bears and lollipops they scored.

Nothing like being on the road with three sugared-up children.

You can read more from our adventures soon on the Intelligent Travel blog.

Spaced out in Oakland

The Oakland Hills may be the last place you’d expect to find a first-rate museum dedicated to space and science. But that’s exactly what we discovered yesterday, when we stumbled upon the Chabot Space & Science Center.

Well, we didn’t exactly stumble upon it. We had read about it, but we didn’t know what to expect up in the Oakland Hills.
Read more “Spaced out in Oakland”