Trouble in Hawaii, Grand Canyon via Las Vegas and Lake County Wine Country
Photo Courtesy Ultimate Resort – Wailea Beach, Maui
Contra Costa Times Article Launched: 04/18/2008
As the cabin door closed on Aloha Airlines Hawaii-bound flight from Oakland Airport, Val Pettegrew’s angst took hold and it had nothing to do with a fear of flying. “If the word had gotten out that they were shutting down, we would have never gone,” lamented Pettegrew. While they had a gorgeous ocean view room, their vacation was consumed with logistical calls to find available seats to the Bay area as their airline carrier had filed for bankruptcy. Odds of finding open seats were lessened when ATA Airlines shutdown operations two days later.
The Aloha spirit was not in the air for numerous Lamorinda families who found themselves stranded in paradise over spring break. Dawn Hess and her family were not able to return to Moraga as scheduled, same goes for the Reineckes and Baldwins of Lafayette. “I think the airline shake out is going to continue,” notes Hess.
There were no crowded airports for our vacation as we hit the open road. Our trusty Honda van logged 1,614 miles as we traveled from Lafayette to the Grand Canyon via Las Vegas, Nevada. Our AAA vacation specialist recommended Circus Circus Hotel for our 12 and 16 year old. We were located in the older Skyrise Tower at the end of the Strip. It reminded me of Tijuana more than glitzy Vegas.
We left the neon lights and trapeze acts behind us and steered toward Hoover Dam and mighty Lake Mead. While not a wonder of the world, Hoover Dam is one of the greatest engineering works in history. If you have time, check out the Powerplant or Dam Tour.
Visit the Grand Canyon by Rail
The Grand Canyon did not leave us disappointed. We opted for the Rails to Rim Package which included a night at the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel before and after our stay at Maswik Lodge. Anyone traveling with kids will appreciate the cheesy Wild West show in Williams, Arizona before taking the train to the South Rim. FYI, seven miles of Hermit Road will be closed until November 2008 for safety upgrades.
Tallman Hotel's Dining Room
Closer to home, readers unfamiliar with Lake County are in for a treat. A recent Unique Inns road trip took me from the Inn at Occidental to the historic Tallman Hotel in Upper Lake. The 1890’s main building has been restored by owners Lynne and Bernard Butcher to its original glory, housing 17 rooms, suites and cottages on the property, while eco-friendly solar panels and Japanese Ofuro soaking tubs differentiate the place. The location would be ideal for a family reunion with its meeting room and swimming pool. Next door, the Blue Wing Saloon serves good food and microbrews at affordable prices. Lynne Butcher told me that Lakeport’s Disney Boat Rentals will take care of all your water sport needs.
Lavender Rows Lead To Ceago Vinegarden
Central to wineries, boating and hiking, the Clear Lake region offers more than a venue for aging rock stars at Konocti Harbor. Accessible by float plane and car, Ceago Vineygarden is located between the village of Nice and Lucerne on Clear Lake’s north shore. Owner Jim Fetzer’s organic and biodynamic grapes go into Ceago wines. Framed with olive trees, the lavender-lined paths are in full bloom now. Eventually, Fetzer plans to unveil a spa and restaurant on the property.