Shoulder Season – An Excellent Value!

Booking your trip during “shoulder season” usually means lower prices and fewer tourists, but can vary according to destinations. Here are some things to keep in mind…
Lower airfares will only apply if your whole trip is within that time period, however. So if you book your flight and part of it falls outside of a shoulder season, you will pay the higher price for the whole flight.
Pay attention to weather issues in certain areas. If you are going to the Caribbean, you will find emptier beaches and calmer weather…provided you are not traveling during hurricane season.
You may want to ask your resort when you book your stay if there will be construction. Often shoulder season is the best time for resorts to get all the repairs and remodeling finished.
Check the weather before you pack. And it never hurts to be prepared with a lightweight rain coat or umbrella.

Languages – A Little Help Can Go A Long Way.

When preparing to travel to a country where a language other than your own is spoken, do you try to learn some words or phrases before you go?
I do. And I feel it’s a good idea to at least make the effort.
Even if you only learn some basic words people appreciate it. Here are some suggestions…please, thank you, good morning, hello, good bye, yes, no. Do you have more? I do but these will get you started.

August Grapes at The Terraces Winery

Rows marching up the hillside, green leafy canopy protecting ripening fruit.

What looks like waste to us non-wine growers is really necessary for grape development. Unwanted clumps of grapes lay on the ground after a pruning session.

Fruit hanging around just ripening in the sun.

They look so yummy. Go ahead…taste one. Not me…I’ll wait for the bottles.

Flight Tool: ITA Software Can Be Of Service.

Perhaps you really like flying on one particular airline…but they don’t fly to your destination. So you need to check several different airlines in order to find the best deal or the best times to fly.
If you are like me, you have your favorite places to check flights, fares, deals and more. Some of those sites even compare several airlines or different booking sites for one destination, all at the same time. Those are a great place to start your search.
Google recently acquired ITA Software, one of those comparing sites. As a travel data clearinghouse it supplies everyone from Bing to Orbitz to Kayak with their flight information, according to Budget Travel.
Founded in 1996 by MIT computer scientists, ITA Software isn’t new but now it’s easier to look at and use. Keep in mind you cannot book from this site but it is great for giving you all the tools in one spot.
It might be worthwhile to check it out at http://www.itasoftware.com/.

Noise? How About Soothing Sounds Instead!

If you travel a bunch and city or other noise bothers you or you have a hard time falling asleep, I recently read about a gadget in Budget Travel that may help.
Usually I don’t promote gadgets unless I have tried them, but this one sounds interesting. Check it out. It is available at Sharper Image for around $90, which isn’t cheap but if it works…
It is the Travel Sound Machine and it gives you 17 soothing sounds or simply white noise, including ocean surf, north woods, thunderstorms and more. You can record your own alarm, record a message and it tells time in two places.
Next time I’m at a Sharper Image store…I’m going to try it out. You never know…

Packing Questions . . .

When thinking about packing for an upcoming trip…where do you start and what do you pack?
Do you check the hotel’s website to see if hairdryers are furnished? If so, I leave mine at home.
Do you check the weather to see if you need a jacket, rain coat, umbrella or sunscreen? It sure makes packing easier.
Do you decide what goes in your carry on and what gets checked if you are flying? Do you know what you will keep in your purse or case by your feet and not put in the overhead bin? It makes a difference, especially if you are flying International and need your identification to fill out your tourist cards. I have my list.
Do you make a packing list? I do. Do you follow it?
What makes your packing easier? I’d like to know.

Bodega Bay Hike Offers Spectacular Scenery

Saturday was a great day for a hike along the cliffs over Bodega Bay.

Wildflowers marked our path.

Views from the cliffs down to the water.

Assortment of colors from yellows to reds to pinks contrasted with the gray and brown trail.

We hit the best part of the day with sun coming and going,
giving us varying shades of blue from sky to water and back to sky.

Climbing down the steps and hill side to Shell Beach is tricky and sometimes impossible if tides are coming in. We arrived just past low tide, giving us a great stopping point for a snack. Rewarding us with a show as we ate were several otters just off shore…swimming and sunning themselves on rocks.
If only I had a telephoto lens!

Tide was just starting to come back as we left.

Southern California Deals

Head to Southern California this September for some deals. Book the 3 day park hopper ticket for Disneyland Resorts by September 1 and use it before September 30. If you do book it…it will be upgraded to a 5 day ticket for free, according to one website I read. Great for Labor Day traveling.
If you are in San Diego…stop and say “hi” to Shamu. Sea World’s new Dolphin Show “Blue Horizons” is supposed to be great. Kids tickets are $5 with a paying adult.
Check out these places…San Diego Wild Animal Park, San Diego Zoo, Legoland, U.S.S. Midway…buying your tickets in advance saves you some money as well.

It’s a Dog’s Life

You can really only play so much…and then you must take a nap.

We visited our son and daughter-in-law and their sweet Miso. Believe me, she doesn’t miss a thing…especially if someone is about to hand her a treat.

Will someone please come swimming with me? She doesn’t really get in the pool…just chases those in it from the pool deck.