Helicopter in Morgan Freeman and Sigourney Weaver- we've got a real-time episode of Planet Earth on our hands. More than 20,000 California gray whales (and a smattering of humpback, blue, and killer whales) are making their way along the Northern California Coast (en route from Mexico to Alaska) for their annual migration (in March and April). Dozens of pods per hour (each pod contains 20 or so whales) will be swimming by at a rate of 70 to 80 miles per day. Their journey -- one that should make you think twice about complaining about your next half marathon -- is 12,000 miles, the longest known distance that any mammal migrates on an annual basis.
Crab season is upon us, and unless you're ready to grab a net and spend a day on the pier, you'll have to enjoy the fruits of someone else's labor. The weather looks clear this weekend, so pack your overnight bag and head up to Mendocino for a weekend of crab and wine.
Like a lot of small towns along the coast of Highway 1, Mendocino is a village unto itself. Quaint bed & breakfasts, mom-and-pop shops, organic coffee houses—you have a beautifully quirky place sought by visitors and guarded by locals. In a nutshell, it's the perfect long weekend escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.
2008 was the year of the staycation, and 2009 doesn't appear to be changing anytime soon. This is excellent news for California residents who have everything one could want--sand and snow, mountains and deserts, plains and valleys--all within the state's confines, plus some stellar ongoing deals on local getaways. In this two-part list, we'll tempt you with 10 can't-miss spots to visit in the coming 12 months--make it your New Year's resolution to hit them all.
10. Mammoth Lakes
It's been one strange year for the travel industry. First, gas prices rose to an all-time high, topping out above $5 a gallon here in California. Then, they were the lowest they have been in years, but thanks in part to a recession (and perhaps a heightened awareness of the environment), people have been driving less, thus keeping the supply-and-demand factor in favor of the consumer. Air travel became increasingly more difficult, what with the ridiculous addition of fees--baggage fees, paying-for-exit-row-seat fees, purchasing-tickets-via-phone fees, sky-high fuel surcharge fees, anything the airlines could come up with really. And long-distance buses...well, who takes those anyhow? They're crowded, slow and unreliable.
The Big Easy: Part Lewis and Clark, part laid-back lazing, the Big River invites the exploration of a wide tree-lined estuary with resident river otters, sea lions, and kingfishers. The water vehicle of choice is a handcrafted, wooden outrigger canoe that’s as smooth and steady as it is swift and fun. Because the river is tidal, you want to paddle upstream with the incoming tide and downstream with the outgoing tide.