Western Trips

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Aircraft of the Castle Air Museum / A Must See

Visiting the Castle Air Museum is an amazing and unique experience for young and old. Located at 5050 Santa Fe DrAtwater, California, the aircraft collection on exhibit is large and outstanding. Atwater, CA is located about thirty-one miles southeast of Modesto on CA Hwy 99 and about 120 miles southeast of San Francisco as well as about 10 miles north of Merced. 

The collection numbers nearly seventy restored aircraft exhibited on the museum's twenty acres. The museum site was obtained after the closure of Castle Air Force Base.In addition to the outdoor displays there is also an indoor museum which houses an amazing collection of wartime memorabilia including aircraft engines, military uniforms, historic photos, and personal military artifacts from the twentieth century. 

Castle Air Museum is operated by a non-profit foundation and relies on volunteers. The museum schedules events throughout the year. To see what events are currently scheduled and for museum hours, see the museum website at...http://www.castleairmuseum.org/calendar/

b-52d bomber
Nose of the B-52D

A Terrific Historic Aircraft Collection

We have traveled to several excellent air museums in the western U.S. and we can attest that this is one of the finest air museums you'll have an opportunity to experience. The collection includes historic World War II, Korean War, and Vietnam Conflict aircraft.

Just to name a few of the aircraft on display at the Castle Air Museum, you'll be able to view the B-50D Superfortress...the B-52D Stratofortress...the B-25J Mitchell...the B-29A Superfortress...the B-17 Flying Fortress and the F-15 Eagle.

Highlighted below are just a few of the aircraft on exhibit at the Castle Air Museum...

b 52 stratofortress
The eight engine B-52
The B-52D Stratofortress

The B-52 was a long range sub-sonic jet powered bomber built by Boeing. This aircraft is the longest serving front line military aircraft in aviation history. The plane used four double engine pods and four twin wheel landing trucks. The B-52 could also be refueled during flight therefore making it a truly world wide range aircraft. This is a very large aircraft and requires a very long runway to operate since the engines were produced without reverse thrusters.  B-52D's would typically fly in formation much too high to be seen or heard. Each aircraft was capable of dropping over one hundred 500 lb bombs. Today, the B-52 is also used as a cruise missile carrier.

It has been said that the B-52 was the most feared aircraft by the enemy during the Vietnam War. The aircraft shown here at the Castle Air Museum is a B-52D which was the backbone of the Arc Light Fleet bombing runs during the Vietnam War. These models ere specially modified for the conventional weapons used during that conflict.

b-50 superfortress
The B-50D Superfortress 

The B-50D Superfortress was a Boeing bomber built post World War Two and was essentially a redesign of the historic B-29. The B-50 had stronger aluminum and more powerful engines than the B-29. The aircraft flew faster and was able to carry a heavier payload.

Out of all the B-50's manufactured, the B-50D was the largest variant. It is estimated that 222 B-50D's were built out of a total production number of 370. The first B-50's were ordered by the War Dept prior to the end of the war and were delivered in 1947. Production ended in 1953.

The more powerful Pratt and Whitney engines gave the B-50 a top speed of just under 400 MPH. The B-50 Superfortress was able to be refueled during flight and therefore was capable of reaching the Soviet Union.

The B-50 was among the last piston-powered bombers built during an era that would be dominated by jet aircraft. Both the B-50 and B-29 were replaced by the B-47 jet bomber.

b-17 bomber
The B-17G Flying Fortress

The B-17 was developed during the 1930's as a heavy bomber. The first prototype flew in July 1935. The four engine Flying Fortress is often referred to as the best known bomber of World War Two. The B-17 served in every zone of the war but is well remembered for it's bombing of industrial targets over Germany.

The B-17, during the course of the war, was determined to have insufficient defenses. As a result, in 1943 the aircraft was modified to include a turret on the plane's nose equipped with two machine guns. Machine guns were also added to the plane's sides. The B-17 had a cruising speed of 170 MPH and a range of about 1,850 miles. Maximum speed for this plane was 300 MPH. 

The last B-17G left the factory on July 29, 1945. A total of 12,726 B-17's were produced.

See these additional Western Trips articles on the links below... 

Pacific Coast Air Museum's First Responder

See the Helicopters of the USS Midway

Visiting the Castle Air Museum

As mentioned above, the Castle Air Museum located in Atwater, California is an outstanding air museum with one of the best collections of twentieth century military aircraft in the U.S. All types and sizes of military aircraft are on display. The variety of aircraft is unbelievable.

Anyone interested in historic military aircraft will want to visit this one of a kind air museum. If you enjoy history and airplanes, Castle Air Museum is where to go. It's a hidden gem in central California and well worth your time.

(Article and photos copyright 2015 Western Trips)

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Things To See in Modesto, California

Modesto, California came about as a result of the old Central Pacific Railroad. This was the railroad that had built eastward from California to connect in Utah as part of the first transcontinental railroad. This was the historic railroad first constructed by Theodore Judah and owned by the Big Four. It was Judah's engineering skill which helped the railroad scale the formidable Sierra Nevada mountains during the late 1860's.

mchenry mansion modesto
Regarding the founding of Modesto, the area became the end of the Central Pacific Railroad line on November 8, 1870 and was incorporated as a municipal city on August 6, 1884. Modesto became known as the “Rose City” and the “Garden City” because of its many rose bushes and well-manicured lawns.

The McHenry Mansion

During the 1880's homes were built east of Modesto's downtown area. Today, only one of those beautiful homes stands in its original state. That home is the McHenry Mansion in 1882-83 by Robert McHenry. Robert McHenry purchased five lots in 1880 which became the site of the McHenry Mansion.  The Mansion was designed by Jeremiah Robinson, a Stockton contractor who constructed the Stanislaus County court house in the early 1870's.

McHenry arrived in California at about the time of the Gold Rush and was involved in business. He was a trader, raised cattle and crops and purchased various parcels of land. In 1878, Robert McHenry became a director of the Modesto Bank and the following year its cashier. 

The McHenry Mansion is located at the corner of 15th and I Streets. Mansion Hours: Sunday thru Friday from 12:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

modesto california historic sites
All tours of the McHenry Mansion begin at the Visitor Center.  The old house that houses the Visitor Center has undergone extensive changes beginning in 1910 when the front porch was replaced with a much larger one that spanned across the front of the building. It remained as a single-family residence until 1947-48 when it was converted into a five-unit apartment house.

Visitors are asked to sign the guest book. They are then able to view a short DVD presentation giving them a brief history of the house and of the McHenry family.  After a very short walk to the house, the escorted tour begins.

The McHenry Museum 

The McHenry Museum located next door to the Mansion is a great place to stop for anyone wanting to learn more about the history of Modesto. The museum goes back to the year 1912 when the building was built and became the McHenry Library. The library continued all the way up until 1971 when a new library was constructed. Rather than leaving such an historic building vacant, money was raised to turn the structure into a Museum and Arts Center. Various arts groups and historical groups occupied the building until 2003 when the Art League moved to new quarters and the museum was able to utilize the entirety of the building for an historical museum.

Museum exhibits include a complete dentist’s office, general store, and recreated blacksmith’s shop. There is also a collection of mining tools from the Gold Rush era. Also see a variety of cattle brands used in the county during the cattle raising era. The museum also offers temporary exhibits that showcase Modesto and Stanislaus County history. The museum property is owned by the City of Modesto.

train depot modesto california
The Southern Pacific Railroad Depot 

Another historic site in Modesto, California is the old Southern Pacific Railroad Depot. Southern Pacific had leased the Central Pacific in 1885 and would finally take it over in 1959.

This train depot was built in 1915 in the popular Mission Revival style of that era. The new train station replaced a wooden structure. The new building with it's stucco facade and long platforms gave it a more permanent look.

The Second Railroad in Stanislaus County

The Atchison Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad was the second railroad to serve Stanislaus County following the Central Pacific. The ATSF did not lay their tracks through the new city of Modesto, but five miles to the east through Empire City. The ATSF railway provided passenger service through Riverbank with their Golden Gate line that ran through the Central Valley between the Bay Area and the Los Angeles area. This service was terminated in 1968. Passenger trains returned to the ATSF line with the formation of Amtrak in 1971.

You may enjoy the additional Western Trips articles on the links below... 

Big Sur and the Historic CA Hwy 1 Bridges

Visit the Wells Fargo Museum in Old Town Sacramento, CA 

A Must See / Castle Air Museum in Atwater, CA

lucas plaza modesto
George Lucas Plaza 

American film director, screenwriter, producer, and entrepreneur George Lucas was born in Modesto, California in 1944. Lucas was the writer and director of the 1973 film "American Graffiti." 

One must stop while traveling to Modesto is the American Graffiti statue at Lucas Plaza.  Lucas Plaza is located at Five Points (the intersections of McHenry Avenue, "J" Street, 17th Street, Downey and Needham). The statue represents a teenage boy and girl sitting on a 1957 Chevy.

Modesto, California is located about 90 miles east of San Francisco and about 75 miles south of Sacramento along CA Hwy 99.

(Article and photos copyright 2015 Western Trips)

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Chinese Builders of Gold Mountain / See This Documentary

Gold Mountain is the name the Chinese gave California during the Gold Rush days. The documentary, Chinese Builders of Gold Mountain, traces the path of Chinese immigrants who came to California in the 1850s. This documentary was filmed in Sacramento, Auburn, Marysville, Locke, Fiddletown, Oroville, St. Helena, Monterey and Donner Summit.

About the Documentary

Chinese dwelling near Dutch Flat
The documentary takes viewers to places where the Chinese lived and worked. In the Sierra Nevada, viewers will see the tunnels the Chinese blasted through solid granite to help build the transcontinental railroad through the mountains.

The documentary shows how Chinese built the levees in the San Francisco Bay Delta that reclaimed thousands of acres for agriculture. Chinese were also involved in the creation of California's wine industry, and the film takes viewers inside the wine caves built at Schramsberg Vineyards in Calistoga.

 "Through hard work, determination and knowledge, the Chinese made an incredible and lasting mark on California. Chinese Builders of Gold Mountain takes viewers to the places where the Chinese built levees, temples, stores and homes," said film producer Bill George. The Chinese came to California to find gold.

The film explores Fiddletown in Amador County to visit the largest collection of Gold Rush-era Chinese building Marysville and Oroville were two of the most important towns for Chinese in the 1850s and 1860s.

Today, the Bok Kai Temple in Marysville is still operated by the local community, and gives rare insight into the lives of the Chinese who lived and worshipped during the height of the Gold Rush. Also in Marysville is the Chinese American Museum of Northern California, run by Brian Tom. The museum is full of artifacts from the Chinese, and Mr. Tom explains how his grandfather came to Marysville in 1851,mined gold for several years, struck it rich and opened a store which stands to this day. Mr. Tom explains how the Chinese were able to work cooperatively to create wealth in America.

Bok Kai Temple
In Oroville, the documentary visits the Chinese Temple and Museum Complex, and interviews  Thill Chan Wilcox. Her family has been involved with the complex since the 1850s. Visitors today will find fascinating vestiges of Chinese life, including a replica of a store run by Chinese merchants. The museum contains huge, floor-to-ceiling tapestries, and every corner is full of rare artifacts from California and China, some left by Chinese travelling troupes that entertained Chinese and American audiences.

"The Oroville and Marysville temples are incredible places to visit," film producer George said. "My hope is that after people see the film they will head to these towns and see the wondrous works of Chinese art and culture. These sacred spots need to be supported and appreciated." The film also explores cultural, legal and political issues, as well as tensions between the Chinese and Anglo communities. Historical perspective and commentary are provided by Brian Tom and Dr. Elizabeth Sinn of Hong Kong University. Dr. Sinn's book, Pacific Crossing, detailed the rise of trade between Hong Kong and California spurred by the Gold Rush.

For more information and to order the documentary, Chinese Builders of Gold Mountain, go to website...http://www.transcoshow.com/

The film was produced by Nimbus Films of Granite Bay, California.

Photo from Bok Kai Festival
The film was written and produced by Bill George. Principal photography was from Brendan Compton of BA Productions in Auburn, California. The film is sponsored by ACC Community services. About Nimbus Films Nimbus Films produces, distributes and markets historical documentary films, focusing on California historical topics. Previous films include "The Hidden Wonder of the World, the Transcontinental Railroad from Sacramento to Donner Summit," which visited the remaining tunnels and construction sites of the original railroad built across the Sierra Nevada. That film won an

Award of Excellence from the Sacramento County Historical Society, and an award from the American Society of Civil Engineers for documentary film making. The company's films are designed to bring history to life by visiting historic sites and showing viewers where history happened.  

About ACC

ACC Senior Services (formerly known as The Asian Community Center of Sacramento Valley) is dedicated to enriching the lives of seniors and caregivers. ACC promotes the general welfare and enhances the quality of life of the community by offering specially designed, culturally sensitive services, programs and classes for older adults.

About Bill George

Bill George has more than 35 years' experience in journalism and filmmaking. He produced dozens of broadcast news reports, special reports and documentaries. His reports have aired on CNN, ESPN, NBC and other networks. He is the author of the book "Rails, Tales and Trails" about the construction of the Central Pacific Railroad. Bill has spoken and shown his films to numerous historical, civic and educational groups. To request Bill as a speaker, please send an email to BillG@transcoshow.com 

(Article and photos copyright Nimbus Films)

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The Caverns of Georgetown Texas / Visit Inner Space Caverns

Located just north of Austin, Texas in the city of Georgetown is one of the most interesting and best preserved caverns found in the entire state. Inner Space Caverns is a must stop when traveling through central Texas. Several miles of the cavern has been explored but there are thought to be many other areas inaccessible due to blocked tunnels.

Discovered by a Highway Construction Crew

Inner Space Caverns was discovered in 1963 when construction was underway for what today is Interstate 35. Construction crews were boring test holes through limestone in the ground when their drills were going much deeper than normal and then became stuck. They then drilled a hole two feet in diameter nearby and lowered a man down through it. The man was lowered to a room that is now called Discovery Cave and the discovery was official. News of this fantastic discovery spread fast.

Within the next few months, the Texas Speleological Society had received permission to explore the rooms and all the reaches of the newly discovered cave.  This included everything from large rooms to narrow tunnels.

The Forming of the Cavern

Geologists attribute formation of the cave to the action of underwater currents when the Permian Sea covered the area. The caverns are estimated to be up to 100 million years old but only open to the surface since about 40 thousand years ago. This was determined by certain mammoth and saber tooth cat bones discovered there. The natural entrances to the caverns were closed about 14,000 years ago.

Inner Space Caverns is a living cave. This means that the formations continue to develop. It is estimated that ninety-five percent of the cave is still active.

One very interesting rock that guides point out during various parts of the tour is named "bacon". The rock amazingly resembles a strip of bacon. You'll also see tiny bats that generally cling or hang from the rock ceiling in certain parts of the cave. The caverns are also one of the few where prehistoric remains were found.

Touring Inner Space Caverns

Inner Space Caverns was opened to the public in 1966, just three years after it's discovery. There are several different tours conducted at Inner Space Caverns. The Adventure Tour departs approximately every thirty minutes and does not require reservations. The tour itself lasts about one hour and fifteen minutes. A guide will lead the group through well lit pathways and explain the spectacular formations they'll pass. Many of the formations have names. It's amazing how beautiful these caverns are and makes one wonder how many others may still be undiscovered.

We found the tour of the cavern to be very educational and the guides were knowledgeable and helpful.

The year round temperature inside the caverns is 72 degrees which make the caverns a great place to visit on a hot summer day. It's highly recommended that tourists wear rubber soled shoes since you'll be walking on rock surfaces. Food, drink, candy, gum, backpacks, wheelchairs, strollers, and tripods are not allowed within the cave.

Inner Space Caverns could be one of the most easy to reach in Texas. The caverns entrance is just on the west side of Interstate 35 in Georgetown, Texas. The caverns themselves actually run under the Interstate highway.

See these additional Western Trips articles on the links below...

Longhorn Caverns of Texas

The Historic Driskill Hotel in Austin, TX

Visit Historic San Marcos Texas

Directions to Inner Space Caverns

From either the north or the south, Inner Space Caverns can be reached via Interstate 35. If you're coming from Waco to the north, drive south on I-35 to exit 259 toward Texas 26 Spur/ Southeast Inner Loop. The caverns parking lot and building is on the right.

Driving from the Austin to the south, take I-35 north to exit 259 toward SE Inner Loop Dr. Turn left on SE Inner Loop Dr and cross under the Interstate. The parking lot and building will be on the right. 

The address of Inner Space Caverns is 4200 S Interstate 35, Georgetown, TX

Texas is fortunate in having some of the country's most interesting "show" caves. There are also thousands of "wild" caves throughout the state which offers many diverse geologic regions.

There are many great trip stops and historic places to explore in Texas. Inner Space Caverns in Georgetown, just north of Austin, is definitely one of these.

(Article and photos copyright 2015 Western Trips)
The caverns reveal a subterranean world of stalactites, stalagmites and the remains of mastodons and wolves. The year round temperature in the cavern is a delightful 72 degrees with a relative humidity of 98%. - See more at: http://texasbrazostrail.com/plan-your-adventure/historic-sites-and-cities/sites/inner-space-caverns#sthash.MvP84Mor.dpuf
The caverns reveal a subterranean world of stalactites, stalagmites and the remains of mastodons and wolves. The year round temperature in the cavern is a delightful 72 degrees with a relative humidity of 98%. - See more at: http://texasbrazostrail.com/plan-your-adventure/historic-sites-and-cities/sites/inner-space-caverns#sthash.MvP84Mor.dpuf
The caverns reveal a subterranean world of stalactites, stalagmites and the remains of mastodons and wolves. The year round temperature in the cavern is a delightful 72 degrees with a relative humidity of 98%. - See more at: http://texasbrazostrail.com/plan-your-adventure/historic-sites-and-cities/sites/inner-space-caverns#sthash.MvP84Mor.dpuf
The caverns reveal a subterranean world of stalactites, stalagmites and the remains of mastodons and wolves. The year round temperature in the cavern is a delightful 72 degrees with a relative humidity of 98%. - See more at: http://texasbrazostrail.com/plan-your-adventure/historic-sites-and-cities/sites/inner-space-caverns#sthash.MvP84Mor.dpuf
The caverns reveal a subterranean world of stalactites, stalagmites and the remains of mastodons and wolves. The year round temperature in the cavern is a delightful 72 degrees with a relative humidity of 98%. - See more at: http://texasbrazostrail.com/plan-your-adventure/historic-sites-and-cities/sites/inner-space-caverns#sthash.MvP84Mor.dpuf
The caverns reveal a subterranean world of stalactites, stalagmites and the remains of mastodons and wolves. The year round temperature in the cavern is a delightful 72 degrees with a relative humidity of 98%. - See more at: http://texasbrazostrail.com/plan-your-adventure/historic-sites-and-cities/sites/inner-space-caverns#sthash.MvP84Mor.dpuf
The caverns reveal a subterranean world of stalactites, stalagmites and the remains of mastodons and wolves. The year round temperature in the cavern is a delightful 72 degrees with a relative humidity of 98%. - See more at: http://texasbrazostrail.com/plan-your-adventure/historic-sites-and-cities/sites/inner-space-caverns#sthash.MvP84Mor.dpuf
The caverns reveal a subterranean world of stalactites, stalagmites and the remains of mastodons and wolves. The year round temperature in the cavern is a delightful 72 degrees with a relative humidity of 98%. - See more at: http://texasbrazostrail.com/plan-your-adventure/historic-sites-and-cities/sites/inner-space-caverns#sthash.MvP84Mor.dpuf
The caverns reveal a subterranean world of stalactites, stalagmites and the remains of mastodons and wolves. The year round temperature in the cavern is a delightful 72 degrees with a relative humidity of 98%. - See more at: http://texasbrazostrail.com/plan-your-adventure/historic-sites-and-cities/sites/inner-space-caverns#sthash.MvP84Mor.dpuf
The caverns reveal a subterranean world of stalactites, stalagmites and the remains of mastodons and wolves. The year round temperature in the cavern is a delightful 72 degrees with a relative humidity of 98%. - See more at: http://texasbrazostrail.com/plan-your-adventure/historic-sites-and-cities/sites/inner-space-caverns#sthash.MvP84Mor.dpuf
The caverns reveal a subterranean world of stalactites, stalagmites and the remains of mastodons and wolves. The year round temperature in the cavern is a delightful 72 degrees with a relative humidity of 98%. - See more at: http://texasbrazostrail.com/plan-your-adventure/historic-sites-and-cities/sites/inner-space-caverns#sthash.MvP84Mor.dpuf
The caverns reveal a subterranean world of stalactites, stalagmites and the remains of mastodons and wolves. The year round temperature in the cavern is a delightful 72 degrees with a relative humidity of 98%. - See more at: http://texasbrazostrail.com/plan-your-adventure/historic-sites-and-cities/sites/inner-space-caverns#sthash.MvP84Mor.dpuf
The caverns reveal a subterranean world of stalactites, stalagmites and the remains of mastodons and wolves. The year round temperature in the cavern is a delightful 72 degrees with a relative humidity of 98%. - See more at: http://texasbrazostrail.com/plan-your-adventure/historic-sites-and-cities/sites/inner-space-caverns#sthash.MvP84Mor.dpuf

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Two Unique Texas Wineries / Plan Your Visit

Texas Wine Industry
Texas has a dry and sunny climate that makes it ideal for wine production. Texas also ranks Number 5 in wine production in the entire U.S. following California, New York, Washington and Oregon.

eden hill winery
Eden Hill Vineyard & Winery
As many know, the Spanish missionaries who traveled with the Conquistadors were well known for planting grape vines near their missions. It is a fact that the first vineyard established in North America was in El Paso circa 1662. The Spaniards established their first mission in Alta California in present day San Diego in 1769 and grape growing was then introduced to that region.

More grapevine cuttings followed the missionaries as people from Europe brought them to the continent  after the missions were built.  

Texas Wineries

Texas has more wineries in operation than you may have thought. There are 310 wineries in Texas, ranging from small producers who concentrate on tourism for the majority of their sales to large wineries who have developed state, national and international markets. Texas boasts approximately 5,000 acres of producing vineyard land and produces a variety of great vintages each year. Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay have the highest number of plantings in the state.

Texas has eight recognized American Viticultural Areas

Texas High Plains: Located west of Lubbock in the Panhandle area. The elevation ranges from about 3000-4000 feet. The climate here is very dry. The Texas High Plains AVA includes over 8 million acres and grows over 80% of Texas’ wine grapes.

Escondido Valley: This AVA established in 1992 covers 50 square miles in Pecos County in far West Texas and is located near the city of Fort Stockton.

north texas wineries
Texas Hill Country: This AVA is quite large and is located west of Austin and San Antonio. A significant fact is that it is the second largest AVA in the entire country. Two smaller AVA's listed below have been designated within the Texas Hill Country due to the unique micro climates they embody. The Texas Hill Country is one of the most scenic areas of the state and the wineries located there often include beautiful vistas.

Bell Mountain : Designated in 1986, it is the first established AVA in Texas. It covers five square acres about 15 miles north of Fredricksburg and is within the Texas Hill Country.

Fredricksburg : This viticultural area covers about 110 acres and is located within the Texas Hill Country.

Mesilla Valley: Located at the far western tip of the Texas border north and west of El Paso, this area is hot and dry with a long growing season.

Texas Davis Mountains: This west Texas AVA is cool and wet with a relatively high elevation ranging from 4,500 to 8,300 feet.

Texoma: Located in north-central Texas, north of the Dallas / Fort Worth area, this AVA contains about 3,650 square miles along the Texas-Oklahoma border.

Texas Wine Production

Texas wine production has been growing.  In 2010 there were approximately 8,500 total tons of grape production. The 2010 price was about $1,250 per ton. The 2010 survey of Texas wine production was conducted by the Texas Field Office of the National Agricultural Statistics Service of the USDA.

texas hill country wineries
Stone House Vineyards

The Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association supports three annual wine competitions that prominently feature Texas wines.

These are...The Lone Star International Wine Competition, The GrapeFest People’s Choice Wine Tasting Classic, and The Munson Cup Competition (Texas Non-Commercial Wine Competition).

You may also enjoy the Western Trips articles found on the links below...

A Texas Hill Country Wine Tour

Historic Buena Vista Winery / Sonoma California

Visit the Inner Space Caverns / Georgetown, TX

Featured Wineries

We have featured two Texas wineries and vineyards in this article. One is in far north Texas and the other in the Texas Hill Country near Austin.

Eden Hill Vineyard and Winery

Eden Hill Vineyard and Winery  is a winery, wedding and event center about thirty minutes north of Dallas, Texas. Eden Hill produces Texas wine from fruit grown in their own vineyard. The vineyard at Eden Hill was planted in 2008. Eden Hill Vineyard and Winery produces red, white and dessert wine from their 2 acre site. The winery is located in Celina, Texas, just 30 minute drive north of Dallas, and 20 minutes west of McKinney. For more information on this winery and vineyard see website...www.edenhill.com

stone house vineyards
Stone House Vineyards
 Stone House Vineyard

Stone House Vineyard is located within the beautiful Texas Hill Country. The winery is surrounded by 6.5 acres of close-planted Norton vines. The grapes are grown in soil composed of limestone, clay and sand. The beneficial cool breezes off the adjacent lake contribute to the high quality of the grapes produced.

Stone House Vineyard is located northwest of Austin and is about a 30 to 45 minute drive from the city. For more information on this winery and vineyard see website...www.stonehousevineyard.com

We have visited both of these wineries and highly recommend both.

(Article and photos copyright Western Trips)

Monday, May 18, 2015

Mountain Biking in the West / Types of Bikes

It's a fact that several companies offer mountain biking tours that go through very scenic routes. Taking a mountain biking getaway  is an excellent way to simply unwind from daily stress and at the same time explore some of the more scenic areas of the United States. Some of these biking companies even arrange accommodations for travelers as well.

bike trails lake tahoe
Plenty of scenic trails at Lake Tahoe, CA
For athletic couples, a biking  vacation offers the opportunity of exercising together and enjoying the fresh air of the great outdoors. As opposed to working out on a treadmill in a gym, mountain biking puts you right in the middle of nature. It can't get too much better than that.

Regions and Trail Types

Each and every region in the United States has some truly awesome mountain biking trails. In fact, there's a trail somewhere that will provide riders the adventure they seek. Each and every region in the United States has some truly awesome mountain biking trails. A number of the best areas to mountain bicycle ride in the United States are the Pacific Northwest, Southwest.

These areas are where you'll find the major mountain ranges that offer all types of fun trails. Scenic, rough, hilly...a trail that should be suitable for any rider regardless of their experience. Some riders of course choose to push the limit, others hope to just get in some moderate exercise and others desire a slower, let's enjoy the scenery, pace.

Being in good athletic shape is a big plus but keep in mind that there are trails for everyone and the pace of your ride should be an individual choice.

pacific coast bike trails
Trails along the Pacific coastline
The American Southwest

Although the whole American West area is great for a mountain bike outing, the Southwest U.S. is quickly becoming a very popular area for the sport.

In the Southwest, a number of the best trails include Canyon South Boundary Trail in New Mexico, Flume Trail in Nevada. Both of the aforementioned trails comes with the reputation of a hard ride. As an example, both of these trails are over twenty miles long. With that being said, there's no requirement of having to ride the entire trail.

The Pacific Northwest

The Pacific Northwest is a terrific place for a mountain biking expedition. Some might say that the best two trails in the Pacific Northwest are Surveyor's Ridge in Oregon and the Methow Trails in Washington.

bike trails new mexico
Trail through Sangre de Cristo Mountains, NM
Which Bike to Choose

With mountain biking being a popular sport, there's lots of bikes to select from. Here are a list of bike styles that fit into whats important to you the rider. What type of mountain bike riding you enjoy most and feel comfortable with is what really matters. 

1. Cross Country

Cross country mountain bikes are known to be light weight. This helps them run over most terrains, even up and down hills. Just about all mountain bikes fit into this general category and makes them the most common mountain bike. Cross Country biking is an Olympic sport. In the Olympics the cross country race is run around a lap rather than straight line racing.

2. Downhill

The Donhill bike may not be for everyone. If you're looking to push limits you'll probably want this bike. Downhill bikes come with both front and rear suspension, strong parts, and disc brakes. It's the type of mountain bike that riders like to custom build.

trail mountain bike
Trail bike
3. Trails

A good many of these Trail bikes are also custom built. These bikes are known to be light weight and strong. Trail mountain biking  takes an ample degree of skill and is known as the precision riding challenge of the sport.
the sport.

4. Jump and Slalom

Not the mountain bike for the beginner. Slalom and Jump bikes are designed for jumping, street racing, and slalom. They are built to be strong. The race course is similar to that of a slalom course for skiing. The difference however is instead of one racer racing against the best time, there are two racers who go head to head on the same course. These bikes are highly popular with mountain bikers.

See the Western Trips articles on the links below...

Ride the Unique Great Divide Trail

The Columbia River Gorge

How Much Skill is Required for Mountain Biking

Mountain biking is a sport that beginners can enjoy but always keep safety in mind. There are many bikes to choose from as described above and there is one to fit the first time rider. Take your time choosing the right mountain bike. Be sure to try out several different styles and choose the one that suits your riding the best.

(Article copyright Western Trips)

Friday, May 8, 2015

Dude Ranches

by: Christine Chou

Dude ranches are facilities for accepting paying guests and meet their needs according to the functionality of each ranch. The phrase dude ranch surfaced only after the formation of the Dude Ranchers' Association in the year 1920, although the service and concept dates back to the end of 1800. The purpose of people flocking to these dude ranches during the vacation timings is basically to enjoy these ranches which offer various ranching activities in a serene and untouched rural ambiance.

The concept of dude ranching picked up in United States of America due to the gradual but steady romanticization of the western locations and lifestyle. The wealthy easterners of the continent started enjoying the ambiance and experience of ranches located in the west and thus started flocking towards them. Tapping the opportunity, the ranches started earning revenue by charging for their stay. The concept gained momentum by time and soon the west was dotted with dude ranches. Piggybacking on the success of United States, Australia also has many dude ranches and they are famous for their indigenous style of ranching.

Dude ranches are available in numerous types and activities. For instance a working dude ranch gives a gist of the west lifestyle to the guests, not only with its romantic and simple atmosphere but also by getting in touch with the day to day works at the ranch. They even encourage them to take part in the daily activities of a ranch comprising garden maintenance and handling cattle. The stay is expected to give an idea of the whole thing called ranching to the inhabitants.

A dude ranch that concentrates on the activity of horseback riding is called a riding dude ranch. They provide expert tips and tutelage on the skill of horse riding for guests who would range from experts to amateurs. The ranches also offer them an opportunity to have a ride, along the beautiful ranch locales along with works in the ring and trail rides. Another type of dude ranches is resort ranch and as the name suggests they give an environment and experience, similar to a resort concentrating on comfort of the guests. In addition to these ranches there are also other ranches like those for hunting, which enables the guests to have their hunting skills polished at native and wild imported species also.

Dude ranches are aplenty both in number and the activities they indulge in which is why people needing some hassle free stay for the vacation should scout around for the type of dude ranching they are interested in. Resort dude ranches are for those inclined to total relaxation, while those wanting some action and energy can look for ranches that provide various work activities. The dude ranch must be chosen based on the requirements of the guests.

There are ranches that accept guests throughout the year as well as those that are seasonal. Summer is the generally accepted peak season for ranchers due to the vacation timings and the working season of the ranches. This makes it difficult to get a good bargain on the rates. However this also leads to a reduced rate during the winter. The less hectic seasons during winters also enable the occupants to have a comfortable and warm atmosphere.

About The Author
To find a dude ranch for your next vacation or getaway please visit www.ranchseeker.com
The author invites you to visit:
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Popular Reasons to Visit Park City Utah in the Summer

by Susan Mayloch

When people think of Park City, winter sports and the "Greatest Snow on Earth" are usually the first things that come to mind. What most don't realize is that Park City has as much to do in the summer as in the winter, if not more. The hard part is choosing which activities to do if you have a limited amount of time.

Winter skiing is not the only sport for those seeking adventure in Park City. To start, the resorts are home to world renowned mountain bike trails. Deer Valley hosts downhill races during the summer for all skill levels, although most people come to watch the experts attempt the challenging single tracks. If mountain biking does not appeal, there are many other ways to get adrenaline pumping, including rock climbing and river rafting.

While sports are a big lure for many vacationers, there are also numerous activities to keep families entertained. Park City Mountain Resort offers pulse-racing rides like the zip line, alpine coaster, and alpine slide for kids and adults alike. Mini-golf, a climbing wall, and a human maze are also great alternatives right at the base of the mountain.

Utah Olympic Park can give aspiring Olympians and adventure seekers the opportunity to experience the rush of racing down the bobsled track. An expert will guide the sled down the track at speeds up to 70 miles per hour-definitely not for the faint of heart! If the bobsled isn't enough, there is also a freestyle aerial splash pool at the park, where Olympians practice, as well as putting on public shows. There are even aerial camps available for those who want more of a hands on experience.

Park City hosts a number of events throughout the summer, including the Kimball Arts Festival in August, which unites artists from all over the country to sell their wares to crowds wandering Main Street. Music aficionados can get their fill at the Park City Jazz Festival with its multiple stages and world famous musicians. Another delight for the senses is the Park City Food and Wine Festival, which features fine wines and food from local restaurants.

On an every day basis, Park City possesses enough dining options to satisfy any palette. Various international foods, as well as classic American fare, can be found throughout town. Whether it's fine dining in an award winning Continental restaurant in Deer Valley, or having a casual meal in a bistro on Main Street, it would be difficult to sample all that Park City has to offer in just one trip.

Shopping is yet another pastime for locals and visitors alike. Strolling down Park City's quaint Main Street while deciding between checking out a souvenir shop or one of Park City's many boutiques is a great way to spend a day. There are also plenty of shops specializing in gear for mountain sports, from mountain biking to rock climbing-some even offer ski apparel and equipment year round.

It can be easy to think of Park City only in terms of its snow. While this is a big attraction for people in the area, the summers are usually what keep people from leaving. Coming up to Park City in the summertime, with the abundance of activities and scenic landscape, it can be easy to understand how people come for a week, and end up becoming locals.

More Information:

Susan Mayloch is a travel and outdoor writer from Park City UT. Susan uses a local website for information on Park City Activities.

Source: http://www.PopularArticles.com/article168553.html

Grand Canyon Summer Trips Are Great for Adventurous Travelers

by Lea Fallon

Going on a tour is the ideal way to experience the Grand Canyon National Park. If you're going to be in Arizona or Vegas, you should definitely consider taking one of these tours.

Unique Experiences With Plenty Of Options

You have plenty of options when it comes to these canyon tours. To start with, you can choose an air tour, bus tour, or water tour. Helicopter tours are very exciting. Touring by raft is exciting too since you can gaze up at the rocks towering above you.

If you choose a tour that leaves from Vegas, you can go to the West or South Rim. Folks coming from somewhere in AZ will do the South Rim. Unfortunately, there are no tours available that go between the rims. Keep in mind, too, that Las Vegas helicopters only go to the West Rim. If you really want to take a chopper tour of the South Rim, you can book an airplane/helicopter combo package that flies you to the South Rim by plane.

The Canyon Is Vast And Diverse

The Canyon is spectacular and truly immense, and there are plenty of things to do while you're there. Since it encompasses more than one million acres, the best way to see it is from the air. Once you gaze upon the Grand Canyon from the air you'll be incredulous how big it is..

It's a good idea to avoid the tourist traps when you go to the park. There are easy to spot because they are filled with tourists and they charge high prices. Touring by helicopter, airplane, or boat is much more fun. You won't have to deal with crowds as much either.

Safety Matters

Another benefit of booking a tour, is you will have an experienced tour guide along with you. Tour guides are important to the success of your trip because they ensure that it's fun, informative and safe. In addition, tour guides are the ones that know exactly where the best views are and where to take the best pictures..

Plan Ahead

Planning your tour ahead of time is a good idea. Decide on the things you want to see and activities you want to do, and then get your tour booked before it sells out. At the West Rim, the highlights include such landmarks like Eagle Point, Guano Point and Grand Canyon Skywalk. The South Rim offers Yaki Point, Grand Canyon Village and Mather Point, among other highlights.

Treat Your Family

If you're looking for a good gift for a friend or family member that enjoys nature activities, why not give them tickets for a tour of the Grand Canyon? Anyone would love to go to the Grand Canyon National Park. There are so many tour choices, even if they've already been, they could have an entirely new experience this time.

Summing Up

When you get ready to tour the Grand Canyon, you'll have many choices to make. Whether you're planning a trip for yourself or as a gift for one of your friends or family, a tour will let you customize your experience and avoid the crowds and hassle. Do your research, and I'm sure you'll be able to find a Grand Canyon tour that will give you a great time.

More Information:

Grand Canyon specialist Lea Fallon suggests this free report on the way to save money on excursions http://www.grandcanyondaytrips.com/save-money/ She also suggests checking out this website to get the best discounts on the very best tours: http://www.grandcanyondaytrips.com/tours/

Source: http://www.PopularArticles.com/article463721.html

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Things to See and Do in La Jolla California

La Jolla coastline
The hilly, seaside neighborhood of La Jolla is an affluent community in San Diego, California. La Jolla occupies one of the most beautiful spots on the Pacific Coast. It is surrounded on three sides by ocean and beaches and offers unique recreational opportunities plus excellent photo opportunities.

 Located only about 15 minutes north of downtown San Diego, La Jolla is a unique community with some of the highest home prices in the U.S. La Jolla is well known for it's beaches, scenic cliffs, shopping, dining and world class golf. 

Torrey Pines Golf Course, on the north side of La Jolla, sits on the coastal cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean and is recognized as the premier municipal golf course owned and operated by a city. Torrey Pines is the location of several major golf tournaments.

La Jolla History

San Diego was the site of the first Spanish Mission built in 1769 in what was then called Alta California. During the years afterward, Spanish missions were established up the California coast as far north as Sonoma.

Street along shoreline
Archeologists have discovered artifacts that tell us that Indians lived in the area of La Jolla some 10,000 years ago.

The La Jolla Historical Society states that where exactly the name "La Jolla" originated from is a bit controversial. There could have been two different sources. What is known is that it could have come from the Spanish word La Joya (which means "the jewel") or possibly from the Indian term Woholle (meaning "hole in the mountains"). The Indian name is  certainly appropriate considering the caves and rock formations along La Jolla's shoreline. According to the Society, the name has appeared in all land grant and mission records since 1928 and in scattered documents at least back to 1870 when they appeared spelled "L-a-J-o-y-a".

Scenic and Relaxing La Jolla

If you're traveling to southern California, particularly down to San Diego, La Jolla is a must stop. It's not only a must stop but also a place where you'll surely want to enjoy for a few days. Many fun things to see and do in La Jolla.

One fun activity we found when first arriving was a stroll above and along the shoreline. Here you'll find a walking path that follows the rocky coastline where you'll likely see sea lions and several different kinds of birds. The view along the way is spectacular and you'll get a bit of exercise and fresh sea air at the same time.

There are countless activities and attractions in La Jolla and  we want to list a few of these...

Snorkeling...Scuba Diving...... Kayaking...Bicycling...Birch Aquarium...Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego ...Sightseeing...Beachcombing...Unique Dining and Shopping...Strolling along the Shoreline

Birds congregate on the rocks
Kayaking La Jolla

There are opportunities to Kayak La Jolla and the Seven Sea Caves.  There is a guided tour enjoyed by locals and tourists alike. California sea lions can frequently be seen sunning on the cliffs, swimming around in the water nearby the Caves, or barking at each other on the rocks. Kayaking can allow you to get up close for a view.

Dining in La Jolla

Throughout the La Jolla community you'll discover an amazing range of dining choices, from fine cuisine to quaint cafes, from internationally renowned restaurants to neighborhood favorites. Downtown La Jolla, located on the peninsula, has dozens of restaurants, many of which are upscale

Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego

This museum was first establishes in 1941 as the Art Center of La Jolla. Later it functioned as the La Jolla Art Museum. During the 1970's it's name was changed to the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego.

This museum has two locations, one in the La Jolla community and one in downtown San Diego. The museum, according to their website, is the region’s foremost forum devoted to the exploration and presentation of the art of our time, presenting works across all media created since 1950. The museum is located at 700 Prospect Street, La Jolla. Hours are 11 A – 5 P daily. Closed Wednesday.

You  may also enjoy the Western Trips articles on the links below...

Coronado Island and the Historic Hotel del Coronado

Visit the Oldest Hotel in San Diego / Old Town

Street leading to shoreline
The Birch Aquarium at Scripps

Located on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, you'll be able to view more than 3,000 fish in over sixty habitats plus a museum on ocean & earth science. According to their website, Birch Aquarium at Scripps brings to life the exciting discoveries of world-renowned Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego. The Birch Aquarium also hosts daily animal feedings as well as educational, hands-on visitor activities. Open 9A-5P daily, the Birch Aquarium at Scripps is located at 2300 Expedition Way, La Jolla.

La Jolla is a terrific community to visit when in the San Diego, California area. There are many fun things to see and do in La Jolla. Plenty of great scenery, sunny weather, dining and shopping, an aquarium and museum plus unique recreational opportunities. 

(Article and photos copyright 2015 Western Trips)


Sunday, April 26, 2015

Visit San Diego's Popular Gaslamp Quarter

San Diego, California is a magnificent city to experience with a seemingly endless list of attractions to visit. One unique site located in downtown San Diego, very near to the Convention Center and Petco Park where the Padres play baseball, is the Gaslamp Quarter, often referred to as The Gaslamp.

gaslamp quarter san diego
Street in Gaslamp Quarter
The Gaslamp Quarter is the hub of dining, nightlife and entertainment in downtown San Diego. It's estimated that there are over 100 restaurants and nightclubs in the general area. In addition to that, the Gaslamp Quarter is home to ninety-four Victorian era buildings some constructed as early as 1873. The Gaslamp Quarter is a National Historic District.

San Diego's Old Town and New Town

There are many instances where a city's original location is in it's present day downtown area. San Diego's story is a bit different. Old Town San Diego and it's historic structures are located north of the downtown area where the Spaniards originally settled. Old Town is the site of the original town plaza and is now a state historic park. Old Town San Diego is located at the foot of Presideo Hill.

The idea of New Town San Diego took root after California became a state in 1850. Within a few decades of heavy promotion for this new business location, companies and businessmen began relocating there mostly because of it's proximity to the bay and shipping. By 1900, 5th Avenue between Market and Broadway, busy with electric street cars, towering arc lamps, and unique elegant architecture stood as the commercial hub of the new city.

san diego gaslamp district
One of the many Gaslamp Quarter restaurants
Historic Gaslamp Quarter Buildings

Many of the buildings in the Gaslamp Quarter have significant historical associations as well as distinctive architectural characteristics highlighting important years in San Diego's history. The best source for information regarding the historic significance of San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter is the Gaslamp Quarter Historical Foundation. In the general area of the Gaslamp are ninety buildings that are on the Register of Historic Places.

To give you an idea of the background of some of these structures, we've listed a few below.

The Keating Building

Built in 1890, the Keating Building was built in a Romanesque style by Mrs. Keating as a tribute to her late husband, George. The Keating Building has the city's oldest steam powered elevator. The building is located at Fifth and F Streets.

san diego historic buildings
Backesto Building
The Backesto Building

The Backesto Building was constructed in 1873. Klauber and Levi, a pioneer grocer and general-merchandise firm, occupied the ground floor from 1879 to 1886. In 1892 San Diego Hardware opened at the site, relocating in 1923 to a few blocks north on Fifth Avenue. The Backesto Building is located at Fifth and Market.

Louis Bank of Commerce Building

Constructed in 1887, this Baroque Revival architecture style building is easily recognized by it's twin rising towers. The Louis Bank of Commerce building was San Diego's first built of granite. The building is located at 835 5th Avenue.

You may also enjoy the Western Trips articles on the links below... 

San Diego's Oldest Building in Old Town

Visit Beautiful Coronado Island and the Hotel del Coronado 

The Rare Collections at the San Diego Automobile Museum

balboa theater san diego california
Balboa Theater
The Balboa Theater

Built in 1924, the Balboa Theater was San Diego's first big downtown theater. The Balboa was built in the  era of palatial theaters. The theater opened at a time when motion pictures were gaining in popularity.

The theater was designed for vaudeville performances and films. In 1930 there was a renovation undertaken to accommodate movies with sound. Designed by architect William Wheeler, the dome of the Balboa Theater was in the same style as the Santa Fe Railroad Depot also downtown.

The historic buildings listed above are, of course, just a few of the many structures still standing. Much more information can be found from the Gaslamp Quarter Historical Foundation at www.gaslampfoundation.org

San Diego, California is a real vacationers paradise. Aside from the great weather and beaches, San Diego is home to the USS Midway which is now a museum on the bay on the western edge of downtown. The USS Midway served for nearly fifty years and is the perfect stop for the entire family. The world famous San Diego Zoo in Balboa Park is another must stop as are some of the historic buildings within Balboa Park.

Old Town, New Town, the Gaslamp Quarter, Coronado Island and everything in between makes San Diego, California a terrific vacation destination.

(Article and photos copyright 2015 Western Trips)

Monday, April 20, 2015

See the Helicopters of the USS Midway / San Diego, CA

The historic aircraft carrier USS Midway is permanently on display in San Diego Harbor, just to the west of the downtown area located alongside Navy Pier. Today, the USS Midway is a floating museum with an an enormous amount of exhibits in addition to the aircraft carrier itself.

ch-46 sea knight helicopter
CH-46 Sea Knight
The USS Midway was launched on September 10, 1945. At the time of it's launch it was the largest aircraft carrier ever built. The Midway-Class design was also one of the longest designs used. This historic vessel saw action in every major U.S. conflict over a period of nearly fifty years.

Among the exhibits aboard the USS Midway are finely restored aircraft from World War II to Operation Desert Storm. This floating living history museum makes a perfect trip stop for the entire family and if you choose can be a day long adventure. If you're visiting the San Diego area a visit to the USS Midway is one of your must stops.

Helicopters of the USS Midway

We want to highlight just a few of the USS Midway's aircraft exhibits. Among the aircraft on display on the USS Midway's deck are two interesting helicopters. One is the CH-46 Sea Knight and the other SH-60 Seahawk.

The CH-46 Sea Knight

The CH-46 Sea Knight was first procured in 1964 to meet the medium-lift requirements of the Marine Corps in Viet Nam with a program buy of 600 aircraft. The Sea Knight was built by Boeing Aircraft. This aircraft has served the Marine Corps in all combat and peacetime environments. However, normal airframe operational and attrition rates have taken the assets to the point where a medium lift replacement is required. The safety and capability upgrades are interim measures to allow continued safe and effective operation of the Sea Knight fleet until a suitable replacement is fielded.

navy helicopters
Sea Knight interior
The CH-46 was first introduced in 1964 as a dual rotor utility medium lift helicopter. Over 600 airframes were built, serving mainly with the USMC and USN, export versions were sold to Sweden, Japan and Canada, these variants differ in having larger balloon floats. Civilian versions have been operated by New York airways and PAN-A.

Some specifications for the CH-46 Sea Knight include a length of  44.82 ft. and a height of 16.70 ft. ea Knight's power plants are two General Electric T58-GE-16 turboshaft engines. The operational service ceiling is 9,498 ft. Maximum speed is 166 MPH with a range of 690 MPH.

The SH-60 Seahawk

Manufactured by Sikorsky Aircraft, The SH-60 Sea Hawk is the U.S. Navy version of the UH-60 Black Hawk and is the primarily medium utility helicopter in the Navy’s fleet. The Seahawk is a twin-engine helicopter. It's engines are specially adapted for naval use, with special treatment for use in environments with high salinity. It is used for anti-submarine warfare, search and rescue, drug interdiction, anti-ship warfare, cargo lift, and special operations.

sh-60 seahawk
The U.S. Navy uses the H-60 airframe under the model designations SH-60B, SH-60F, HH-60H, MH-60R, and MH-60S. This helicopter is able to deploy aboard any air-capable frigate, destroyer, cruiser, fast combat support ship, amphibious assault ship or aircraft carrier. The Seahawk is built to handle  anti-submarine warfare, search and rescue, drug interdiction, anti-ship warfare, cargo lift, and special operations.

Some of the SH-60's specifications include a length of 64 ft. 8 in, a height of 17 ft 2 in., and a rotor diameter of 53 ft. 8 in. Maximum speed is 168 MPH and range is 450 nautical miles. The helicopter's operational ceiling is rated at 12,000 ft. The Seahawk is powered by two General Electric T700-GE-700 or T700-GE-701C engines.

You may also enjoy the Western Trips articles on the links below...

Some of the Finest Western Aircraft Museums

Beechcraft 18 in the Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Museum

Among the aircraft on display on the USS Midway Museum are World War Two aircraft, Korean War aircraft, Vietnam War aircraft and Desert Storm aircraft.

uss midway aircraft

Touring the USS Midway is a great adventure and there are activities for people of all ages. Some of these include climbing aboard aircraft and visiting cockpits... walk through helicopters, ride three types of flight simulators, climb in bunks, sit in ejection seat theatre and listen to real pilot conversations during Desert Storm.

Admission includes a self-guided audio tour to over 60 locations from the engine room to control tower, narrated by Midway sailors who lived or worked in each.

References include... Naval Air Systems Command, USS Midway Museum, SanDiego.org

(Article and photos copyright Western Trips)

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

San Diego's Coronado Island / The Del Coronado Hotel

Coronado Island, California

Coronado Island is a gem of San Diego. A place not to miss visiting while the San Diego, California area. Coronado Island is really on a peninsula between San Diego Bay and the Pacific Ocean. The island is a resort community and is the location of a major naval base.

hotel del coronado
Hotel del Coronado
According to the Coronado Historical Assocation and Museum of History and Art.....Many of Coronado's treasured traditions began in the first quarter of the twentieth century. The founding of the Horse Show, Flower Show, the arrival of Edward, Prince of Wales, and the early experiments in aviation on North Island, including the departure of Charles Lindbergh in 1927, have established Coronado as a premier city.

Receiving about 2 million visitors per years, Coronado offers fifteen hotels with three of them being world class resorts along with dozens of great dining establishments.Coronado Island is unique and offers great oceanside scenery, pristine beaches, numerous recreational opportunities including a dedicated bike paths.

coronado island california
Looking out at the Pacific from the Hotel del Coronado
Coronado Island boasts six beaches, one of those being the Glorietta Bay Beach located just south of the famed Hotel del Coronado. The City of Coronado says that the Glorietta Bay Beach offers a unique view of the Glorietta Bay and the San Diego- Coronado Bridge. With a large grass-filled park, restrooms, playground equipment, and a small beach area, the Glorietta Bay Beach can provide hours of fun, and a relaxing time for all individuals.

Hotel del Coronado

The legendary Hotel del Coronado is located on 28 along the ocean on Coronado Island. The hotel was built in 1888 and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1977.  The Del,as it is often referred to, is a real treasure with over 125 years of stories to tell.

The Hotel del Coronado founders, Elisha Babcock and H.L. Story, had the dream to build a resort along the ocean that, as they said, would be the "talk of the town". One tale says that both men had been hunting rabbits on the island and came to the conclusion that it would make a great spot for a resort. Prior to that time Coronado Island had changed ownership several times. The two gentleman went ahead and purchased Coronado Island in 1885 for $110,000. After the purchase, Elisha Babcock brought in two more investors including his brother-in-law and established the Coronado Beach Company.

coronado island hotels
One of the outdoor restaurants at the hotel
Babcock and Story saw the resort potential for the island. They built the island infrastructure... irrigation systems, dams and transportation that allowed Coronado to become a great tourist destination. The foresight was spot on.

Since then, the resort has become a living legend, visited by celebrities, dignitaries and U.S. presidents. It was even the film location for the 1959 comedy classic "Some Like It Hot" starring Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon. Rated one of the top 10 hotels in the world by USA Today, The Del continues to maintain its rich history while also offering contemporary conveniences such as unique beachfront dining experiences, an award-winning spa, upscale shopping, a variety of recreational activities and the luxurious cottages and villas at Beach Village. The hotel's spectacular setting, impeccable service and award-winning cuisine also makes it the perfect setting for a fairy tale wedding or group event.

Some of the attributes of the world famous Hotel del Coronado include... 

Consistently named among the world's best.

Southern California's only beachfront resort, located on Coronado Beach.

Several ocean view restaurants.

Beautiful Victorian architecture with it's signature red turrets.

    Additional Western Trips articles on sites to see in the San Diego area are found on the links below...

    Cosmopolitan Hotel / Oldest Hotel in San Diego

    The San Diego Automobile Museum in Balboa Park

    See the Helicopters of the USS Midway 

    Visit San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter

    coronado island beaches
    Excellent reading material regarding the Hotel del Coronado history includes...Hotel del Coronado History. Another book regarding the history of Coronado Island is...Coronado (Images of America) by author Leslie Hubbard Crawford.

    In addition to the unique beach side Hotel del Coronado, San Diego, California also still has the oldest structure in the city still operating as a restaurant and B & B. The Cosmopolitan Hotel is found in Old Town San Diego and was opened not long after the Civil War. 

    (Article and photos copyright Western Trips)

    Saturday, February 28, 2015

    Oldest Building in San Diego / The Cosmopolitan Hotel

    The Cosmopolitan Hotel in historic Old Town San Diego is believed to be the oldest building in San Diego, CA. Today, the Cosmopolitan is a piece of history and a hotel with vintage luxury ambiance within the Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.California State Parks owns and operates a number of original and reconstructed buildings as part of Old Town State Historic Park.

    Cosmopolitan Hotel
    Stay and Dine at the Cosmopolitan

    Old Town recreates the setting of California life during the Mexican and early American periods, 1821-1872. This is where San Diego began. If you're looking for an historic and unique hotel, the Cosmopolitan Hotel is it. The structure received a three year renovation in 2010.

     The Cosmopolitan features a full-service restaurant and bar, open 7 days a week for lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch. The hotel is also a ten room B&B. All rooms are beautifully furnished with 1870's antiques and have private baths.

    The History of San Diego's Earliest Building

    What is today the Cosmopolitan Hotel was once a one story adobe structure and home to Don A. Bandini built during the early 1800's.Bandini arrived in California from Peru with his father who has a ship captain.  The adobe home was at one time headquarters for Commodore Robert F. Stockton in 1846.

    In 1869, after the American Civil War, the structure was purchased by Alfred Seeley who operated the Seeley Stables. The building needed a lot of repair. It was Seeley who decided to built a second story in wood frame and opened the building as the Cosmopolitan Hotel. The hotel had a barber shop, a billiards room

    Alfred Seeley eventually sold the hotel in 1888. After that time the building served many purposes. This included being a canning facility for olives. The building had become rundown but was purchased by a grandson of Bandini. The grandson renovated the building with new decor and installed modern conveniences such as electricity and gas.

    During the 1950's the building operated as an upscale motel. The state of California purchased the property in 1969 when the state historic park was founded.

    San Diego's Old Town State Historic Park

    As mentioned above, the Old Town San Diego State Historic Park was registered in 1969. Admission to the park is free. There are five original adobe structures in the park including museums, restaurants and shops.

    The site of Old Town San Diego was the center of town into the 1860's. The center of town started to switch to the site of present downtown San Diego. This new site was promoted by Alonzo Horton who pointed out his sites close proximity to the harbor area. Straight west of the present day downtown area is the Embarcadero with restaurants, shops and floating museums such as the USS Midway aircraft carrier.

    old town san diego dining
    Dining room
     You may also enjoy the Western Trips articles on the links below...

    Visit the San Diego Automobile Museum in Balboa Park

    Hiking in California's Joshua Tree National Park

    Tour the Historic Menger Hotel / San Antonio, TX 

    Our references and excellent books regarding Old Town San Diego State Historic Park includes... Old Town State Historic Park by author Alex Engstrand.....Old Town San Diego 1821-1874 by authors Iris W. and Ray Brandes Engstrand.

    Old Town San Diego is often referred to as the birthplace of California. It was the first settlement in Alto California after Father Junipero Serra, traveling from today's Mexico in 1769, founded his mission. Discover Ol also see a working blacksmith shop, enjoy music, see or touch the park's burros, and take part in activities that represent early San Diego. A trips to Old Town makes a great family activity.
    old town san diego attractions
    Cosmopolitan's outdoor restaurant

    Old Town San Diego features a lively, authentic atmosphere that boasts 17 museums and historical sites. San Diego tourist websites offer four tips to help with your visit to Old Town. 
    • Parking in Old Town can be a challenge, but there are a number of paid parking lots and many hotels offer visitor parking.
    • The Old Town Transit Center offers both Trolley and Coaster service for easy access around the county.
    • During Charger Games and morning and evening drive times, traffic in the Mission Valley area can become congested.  
    • Old Town offers seven hotels to choose from all within walking distance from the Trolley. 
    The park is located on San Diego Avenue and Twiggs Street in San Diego, and is conveniently adjacent to the Old Town Transit Center, with Coaster, Trolley, and MTS Bus service. Also, website www.parks.ca.gov/

    San Diego has many fine attractions. Old Town is one of these connecting you to the city's historic past. We know you'll enjoy spending time there.

    (Article and photos copyright Western Trips)