Archive for April, 2008

Slide Ranch

April 30, 2008

Editor’s Note: Matt Lauer turned up in a field of tulips in day two of “Where in the World is Matt Lauer?” Today, Lisa & Brent share some fantastic adventures that feature our own beautiful wildflowers & scenery all accessible on one tank of gas.

Lisa BernardSaturday (April 26th), we awoke to a beautiful day: sunshine, no fog, and at least two out of the three kids seemed to be in an agreeable mood. We got in the car, strapped on the child restraints and pondered where to go. I had heard of this place called “Slide Ranch”: a farm with hiking trails by the ocean. Sounded intriguing. We drove to Highway 1 off of 101 in Marin County and followed signs towards Muir Beach.

Funny thing…these cardboard signs started popping up periodically on the side of the road saying

“Slide Ranch Spring Fling April 26.” We followed the signs (essentially stay straight past the turn off for Muir Beach, up a little way more and you’re there). After successfully unloading my 1 year old daughter and 3 and 5 year old sons with their sippy cups, their goldfish snacks and their suntan lotioned bodies we were startled by a very loud groan.

It was a goat. Just a few steps away. There were about 7 of them. All different shapes and sizes and a nice man, with a name tag that said “volunteer,” was letting anyone who wanted to pet them go ahead and do so. We were right in their pens with them. Water, food, poop, the whole deal.

After we’d had enough of that we started walking down a small hill and found ourselves on the most beautiful hiking trail above the coast. There were wild flowers everywhere. Purple ones, yellow ones and the stunning orange California poppy. There were a lot of smaller trails off the big one… one led us to the shade of a huge tree… where we discovered the nearly complete skeleton of a deer or some other medium sized four legged animal. My kids thought it was a dinosaur. A little further along was a great hut in the shape of an octagon. We snooped around (the combination lock was lying next to the unlocked door) and discovered a rustic wooden table, chairs, a stove, cooking utensils and a sign about renting the place out for overnights. Very cool.

After a little picnic in a pretty field we continued on a path that led right down to the ocean. The kids were splashing in tide pools getting soaked and sandy while we wondered how we’d get them back up the hill (on our shoulders). After tiring of the ocean, we completed the loop which led past some more rustic wooden dwellings. Because it was “Spring Fling” there were activities throughout the area. On this day there were people demonstrating how to shear sheep. There were people making crowns out of flowers. There was face painting. There was an acoustic guitar performance and barefooted people dancing. There was a great energy.

I’m told most weekends there is some kind of family activity. Milking goats. Tours of the organic garden, lessons on churning butter, instruction on how to make soap and candles. Ocean exploration. There is a real emphasis on learning about the organic farm and making nutritious food. It is a public parkland so anyone can hike the trails from sunrise to sunset for free. But the programs cost $20 per person, $75 for a family of 4 (scholarships available, you must pre-register and they are all basically full already…go to www.slideranch.org for more info).

When we finally returned to our car my son said “Wow, this was a really nice place.” And all three kids fell asleep on the windy ride home. A perfect day.

Lisa Bernard
NBC11 Reporter

Nevada City

April 30, 2008

Brent CannonFor about half a tank of gas, you can get to a quaint mountain community, just outside Sacramento. I recently went through Nevada City. It is about half an hour outside Auburn on highway 49. It took me a little less than half a tank of gas to get there – and half a tank back. It takes about 2 hrs and 45mins from the South Bay.

Nevada City is right next to Grass Valley and holds a lot of history.I like to go to the old historic downtown area where you can find architecture from the 1850’s – the famed gold rush era in California. There are restaurants, shops and old hotels. Most have been transformed and you can find the finest in culinary cuisine – as well as relics from the past.

I suggest checking out the chamber of commerce web site. It contains a wealth of information, as well as lots of pictures to give you an idea of what you might find there.

I really like the drive too. Nevada City is along the gateway to the Sierra in Gold Country. You will meander by farms ringed by white fencing, cabins, meadows and lots of shady trees. Last weekend the flowers had begun to bloom. There were purples and yellows and oranges. However, I have also been there during the summer months and found blooms in white, red and violet.

Enjoy.

Brent Cannon
NBC11 Anchor

Catching Crab

April 29, 2008

Editor’s Note: Day one of Matt Lauer’s “Where in the World?” adventure took him to a country famous for its gauchos and $10 steak. Day two of our local adventures on a tank of gas or less reveals how you can lasso your own Bay Area crab for just a few bucks worth of gear.

Scott McGrewOne of my favorite things for my boys is to go crab fishing up near the Golden Gate Bridge. It combines the chances of falling into the Bay with getting attacked by clawed animals, so my boys really enjoy it.

Actually, it’s tremendously safe, and anyone can do it. You don’t need much. You need a crab net, easily available from any reasonably sized fishing store or sporting goods for about $15. Because you will be fishing from a city pier, no fishing license is needed. If you’re taking small children, I strongly suggest a PFD (life jacket) just in case they go over the side.

The net looks a bit like this though the example is way too expensive; I think you’ll find it for less.

You will also need something to attract crabs. We find chicken legs work, but frankly crabs will eat anything. It just has to be something (like chicken legs) that won’t fall apart under water. You can use a bait box – a small metal cage tied to the bottom of the net – or you can just tuck the chicken leg into the small pocket you will find at the bottom of the net.

Take your new net to the pier right next to Fort Point at Crissy Field. There’s usually plenty of parking, even on a Saturday.

Tie one end of your net’s rope to one of the davits along the pier. Toss the net over the side. Wait a bit and pull it up. Crabs are amazingly dumb creatures – we’ve never failed to catch one, or many, over the course of a half hour.

Set the net on the pier and let the crab crawl for a bit. There are very specific rules as to what you can keep and what you cannot, but we never keep any of them. Grab the crab from behind, your thumb on the top of the shell, your other fingers on the bottom, and gently fling him back into the water. And then try to catch him again.

Kids love it; tourists will stop by and gape.

Scott McGrew
NBC11 Business & Tech Reporter

Little Yosemite

April 28, 2008
Editor’s Note: As Matt Lauer launches a new “Where in the World is Matt Lauer?” adventure on Today this week, the NBC11 morning team will be sharing some unique getaways around the Bay Area that you can get to on just one tank of gas. Be sure to check back each day for a new destination… NBC11’s Bob Redell kicks off our series:

Bob RedellLITTLE YOSEMITE

Boy, if only swimming/wading were allowed in this slice of paradise: Waterfalls. Clear water. Round river-rocky bottoms. No crowds. Right here in the Bay Area (aka: short drive.)

This past Saturday morning, fresh off a good night of cards, I trekked with my girls and loyal lab into Sunol Regional Wilderness: about a mile on gravel road. No serious climbs. Very navigable. A place like this should demand more. We were surprised to find the place they call Little Yosemite in the middle of rolling green hills and cow pastures.

For some reason, I expected El Capitan-like features broken up by marshy grassy meadows. But there it was, down the bluff, a cascade of giant boulders smack dab in the middle of Alameda Creek. If you’ve been to the Lower Yosemite Falls in the real Yosemite, you get the idea… just picture this on the smaller scale (i.e. no rapids ready to crush your skull.) The water bubbled and lept its way through tiny waterfalls to form decent-sized pools before falling further to the next watering hole.

It struck me that I haven’t heard more about this place before. Granted: it’s no Muir Woods, but it was certainly “different,” inviting and something my friends who have lived here forever had never been to.

I have no problem breaking the rules, but that morning, the water was a little too cold for me and frankly, I didn’t feel like soaking my car’s upholstery on the way home. But Hank, our dog, was beside himself. So were the dozens of other dogs there bright and early. I’m glad that now, I don’t have to give him bath.

I know my words can’t do justice to this place (or anything else for that matter.) I hope my pictures do. See it for yourself: http://ebparks.org/parks/sunol

Bob Redell
NBC11 Reporter

Sunrises Around the Bay

April 25, 2008

Craig HerreraSunrise or sunset? Which do you prefer? I like both and I have to say both offer the best parts of the day for me. I love sunrise because it signifies the start of the new day, new life, a new opportunity to learn something new or make a new friend. But I also love the colors that dance across the sky at sunset! To me it signifies the end of hopefully a productive day, a fun day, a day of memories!

Sunrise is set for 6:17AM Monday, April 28th. And beginning on April 28th, I’ll be hitting the road every Monday with a crew to bring you a shot of the sunrise from a different location around this beautiful Bay Area we call home. On Monday, April 28th I will bring you the weather forecast live from the Peninsula, San Carlos to be exact. I will visit a special park that is being preserved by San Carlos residents and city leaders. They are doing everything they can to preserve and restore native plants to this park and the views across the Bay are beautiful!

We will visit a fews spots for a few weeks each Monday during our morning newscast. We have picked some special places with unique characteristics and history. I hope you’ll tune in and tell a friend to wake up with us and watch the sunrise… the start to a new day, a new opportunity, a new beginning!

Craig Herrera
NBC11 WeatherPlus Meteorologist

Day 5: NBC11 Producer Goes Green, Rides Bike

April 25, 2008

Michelle ToyDay 5

I was the kid who really struggled to learn how to ride a bike. It took me a little longer than most kids, but once those training wheels came off, I was hooked. My best friend and I would ride all over the neighborhood, down steep canyons, on gravel trails and in the middle of the street. We would coast down hills, streamers flying from our handlebars until our Mom’s made us come home for dinner.

Then came 6th grade when I ditched the bike for pom poms, Sweet Valley High novels, and the city bus. When I was in high school, my Dad won a bike in a raffle and gave it to me. It went from the raffle, to my parent’s garage, to my storage shed, until today.

I have to admit that I was a little nervous about riding my bike to work. Over the past 20 years, I have been on a bicycle maybe a dozen times. As I teetered with apprehension down my gravel driveway, I felt for a brief second, like I was 6 years old again. Once I hit the damp, dark pavement, I picked up speed and some confidence. I was on my way.

The morning air was cool and crisp. The wind rushed noisily in my ears. I glanced at my reflection in the window of a passing store and saw my face 20 years ago, nose and cheeks flushed a rosy pink. I remembered as I glanced over my shoulder how my best friend and I would yell “car!” as a warning to get out of the middle of the street. As I approached a row of low hanging trees, I reached up to flick the green spring leaves. Morning dew rained down on my face, and as I raced toward my final destination, I wondered what Mom was cooking for dinner.

Cost of old bicycle – free
Miles biked – 8
Feeling like a kid again – priceless

Tune in tonight at 6 p.m. to find out how the whole week went and how many carbon emissions were saved by taking just one car off the road.

Michelle Toy
NBC11 Special Projects Producer

Yummy?!

April 24, 2008

Brent CannonSomething must be wrong with me. I think dog food looks good. Have you seen recent commercials? I was sitting at my desk the other day and caught a glimpse of a really tasty looking plate of stew. It had thick beefy gravy, tasty chunks of meat, peas, carrots, potatoes. It was about lunchtime and I was hungry. I thought – where can I get some of that? I could put it on a plate and sop it up with a biscuit. About then I realized – this is an ad for dog food!

This isn’t the first time this has happened. A couple of years ago, I saw what looked like Dinty Moore stew. I use to eat Dinty Moore as a kid. But, as it turns out, once again it was an ad for dog food.

Why do dog food manufacturers make the food look like people food? Is this stuff good for dogs? Heck – is it good for people? Do dogs need peas and carrots and potatoes? Is gravy as bad for dogs as it is for people? Do they get the same meat we do?

So many questions. Maybe you can leave a comment with some answers. In the meantime – somebody pass the biscuits. Oh – and I will be having people food, not dog food – at least as far as I can tell.

Brent Cannon
NBC11 Anchor

Day 4: Gives Up Car, But Gives In and Calls a Cab

April 24, 2008

Michelle ToyDay 4

I’m working down at the ballpark today. NBC11 is now the official home of the San Francisco Giants, so I spend a lot of time working on stories and live productions from AT&T Park.

Since I stayed the night in San Francisco, I simply walked to the Glen Park BART station and then walked from the Embarcadero station to the ballpark. It was a great way to get a little exercise first thing in the morning, especially with my laptop on my back.

After I was done working at the ballpark, it was just another 1 ½ mile stroll along the Embarcadero back to our San Francisco bureau. I am wearing tennis shoes. Those who know me, know that I rarely wear tennis shoes. This week, I think people have been wondering why I look 3 inches shorter.

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A producer from the NBC Network is in town and we need to meet to plan coverage for an upcoming event. She and her photographer pick me up in a Suburban (yikes!) and we run around town to various meetings. I fear the time spent in the Suburban will offset all of my good intentions, but when you are lugging a ton of camera equipment, walking is a very undesireable option.

We finish up tired and hungry around 9 p.m. We stagger into Epic Roasthouse on the Embarcadero for dinner. It’s 11 p.m. when we finally part ways. I am a mile from BART, a few blocks from Caltrain, and just steps from Muni. I‘ve been working for 17 hours now, and I’ve pretty much had it so I step into the street and hail a cab.

I’ll take the train back to San Jose tomorrow. That’s the thing about working all over the Bay Area without your car. You come to rely on a lot of friends for rides or for a place to lay your head.

BART from Glen Park to Embarcadero – $1.50
Walking from BART to AT&T Park to the SF Bureau – 3.91 miles
Chevy Suburban gas mileage – 15 mpg city
Taxi from Epic to Glen Park – $23 w/tip

Tomorrow is a completely car free day. Check in with the breakfast blog where I find out how to feel like a kid again. And don’t miss the special report on my entire week without a car Friday at 6 p.m. on NBC11 News.

Michelle Toy
NBC11 Special Projects Producer

Day 3: NBC11 Producer Breaks Down and Rents a Car, But a Green One

April 23, 2008

Michelle ToyDay 3

It’s gorgeous out and I didn’t have to go into work so I made plans to go to wine country. While I’m sure we could have figured out how to take public transportation, we decided that we’d have a lot more freedom if we rented a car.

I spent the morning online looking for hybrid car rentals. It seems like everyone in the Bay Area is driving a hybrid, so of course I want to know what the buzz is about. I found there are several companies that rent hybrids and settled on Avis. At $55/day, I hope it’s worth it.

Driving the Prius is strange at first. Those of you who drive a hybrid know it is so quiet when you are stopped, it’s almost like the car isn’t even on. We had a good time watching the car’s usage on the dashboard monitor. It tells how the car is being powered, by battery or motor and also monitors your gas mileage. By the time we hit Sonoma County, I was carsick from reading it.

We had a wonderful time cruising through Healdsburg and Sonoma and feeling very green. Trunk space was big enough to hold all of our reds, too!

We returned to San Francisco to fill up the tank before giving the car back to Avis. We had driven over 200 miles and used only 4 gallons of gas. At $4 a gallon, we were relieved at the Prius’ efficiency.

Prius rental – $55

Miles driven – 200+

Gallons of gas – 4

Price per gallon – $3.99

Number of Prius’ sold worldwide – 1 million

Check back in tomorrow. I’m back to work, but I’m so tired at the end of the day, I break down and call a cab. Tune in to NBC11 News Friday at 6pm for a special report on how the whole week went.

Michelle Toy

NBC11 Special Projects Producer

Day 2: Week Without a Car

April 22, 2008

Michelle ToyDay 2

I often head to San Francisco after work. One of the things I love about the Bay Area is being able to spend time in different pockets. After all, San Francisco’s great nightlife is just an hour drive away. Ooops, did I say drive? I did spend a few minutes in the car today. My colleague picked me up and drove me to work.

My friend and NBC11 5pm producer Dan commutes back and forth to San Francisco on Caltrain every day. He was going to show me the ropes. First stop: beer. Apparently happy hour starts on the train. What a great idea! Beer and suitcase in tow, Dan and I head to the Caltrain Diridon station and board the Baby Bullet. Caltrain is great and the Baby Bullet is even better since it only stops at a few stations.

The beer was cold, the seats were clean and our ride was much faster than the traffic jammed highways. The transfer to BART in Millbrae was seamless. I was in Glen Park, lugging my suitcase up Chenery Street by 7:15. I remembered to bring a change of shoes so that I wouldn’t have to walk up the hill in heels. I arrived at my destination by 7:30.

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The only problem were the drinks in my system. I haven’t yet worked up the courage to use the facilities on the train. 1 hour and 10 minutes to get from San Jose to San Francisco during rush hour? Not bad at all.

Carpool – 4 miles

Caltrain – 34 miles, $7

BART – 13 miles, $3.65

Walking – .32 miles

Gas money saved – 44 miles at $3.85 gal = $7.27

Time saved by taking the train instead of driving – 30 minutes

2 beers on Caltrain – $2.50 (b.y.o.b)

2 beers at Americano on the Embarcadero – $12 w/tip

Check back tomorrow for day three… and don’t forget to tune into NBC11 Friday for a special report on my entire experience.

Michelle Toy
NBC11 Special Projects Producer