Olive Sonoma: There's more to the quaint town than wine

Eren Göknar/ Special to the Town Crier
While many day-trippers may think that Sonoma is all about the grapes, the region boasts other delights. Try a biplane ride over the patchwork landscape.

Sonoma, a scenic two-hour drive from Los Altos, boasts more than just top-of-the-vine wine tasting.

The heart of the tree-lined town centers on the historical Sonoma Plaza.


Scaring up some Halloween fun

Courtesy of CambriaScarecrows.com
Handcrafted scarecrows dot downtown Cambria during the coastal town’s annual Scarecrow Festival.

Cambria’s annual Scarecrow Festival features hundreds of high-tech scarecrows through the end of October.

More than 350 scarecrows line the streets of Cambia for the entire month, each with a barcode visitors can scan with a smartphone to access information about how it was constructed.


Falling leaves: Four places in California to see autumn colors

Courtesy of Castello di Amorosa
Castello di Amorosa in Calistoga, above, boasts a beautiful setting for viewing fall’s colors – and sampling the vineyard’s wines.

Yes, Virginia, there is fall in California.

The colors pop out in pockets all across the state – not as intensely as in New England, perhaps, but enough to warrant hikes and photography.


Skylines and seagulls: Nearby getaway offers world-class views

Rich Robertson/Special to the Town Crier
Sailboats docked near The Spinnaker restaurant bob in the waters off Sausalito. The city’s Inn Above Tide boutique hotel offers scenic views of San Francisco Bay.

We woke to seagulls squawking and the San Francisco skyline in the distance resembling a pop-up greeting card.

Sausalito’s The Inn Above Tide boutique hotel has the kind of view that bigger downtown hotels can only dream about.


Los Altos resident's visit to North Korea proves enlightening

Courtesy of Sally Brew
North Korea is home to many monuments honoring its “Dear Leaders,” left.

In August, I traveled for 11 days with MIR Corp. to North Korea, a fascinating country that is almost completely cut off from the rest of the world. We were only permitted to see what the government prescribed, thus there were no visits to open markets or stores, except souvenir shops. Our two guides always made sure that we did not take pictures of any military or construction areas. We never felt threatened or insecure, but neither did we stray off on our own.

One of the main impressions in North Korea is that the smiling faces of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il are everywhere – in subways, museums, schools, monuments, even along the highway. The scenes are often of the two “Dear Leaders” benevolently smiling, surrounded by happy children or workers. The words of the Dear Leaders, published in many books and taught in schools, govern the behavior and define the laws of the country.


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