Thursday, August 26, 2010

Labor Day Travel Without The Traffic

Amtrak Pacific Coastliner Route
Labor day in California is the last chance to getaway this summer. Thousands of people will hit the roads for the three day weekend and the resulting traffic jams will quickly take the shine of your holiday weekend trip. There is an alternative to crawling along at ten miles an hour to get to your destination, Amtrak California. There is nothing satisfying than cruising along at 70 miles an hour while watching miles of bumper to bumper traffic out of your window. Amtrak Pacific Surfliners services the coast of Southern California from San Diego to San Luis Obispo stopping at 15 stations along the way. If your planning a trip to San Diego the downtown train station is a short walk form the USS Midway Museum and a quick trip on the red trolley to Old Town San Diego. Beach stops include San Clemente with its train station steps away from the sand and Santa Barbara where the station is about a half mile from Sterns Wharf. Other popular stops along the way include Mission San Juan Capistrano, Anaheim and downtown Los Angeles. If your planning to take a trip this labor day weekend Amtrak can get your there without the holiday traffic.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Mission Beach San Diego Beach Town

Mission Beach San Diego
Mission Beach in is unique that it has a beach on the Pacific Ocean and a beach on Mission Bay San Diego. During the summer Mission Beach attracts thousands of visitors and parking can be a problem. Off season the beach is a great place to stroll along the two mile boardwalk. The center piece for this San Diego beach is historic Belmont Park. Attractions at the theme park include the wooden Giant Dipper Roller Coaster, FlowRider, Vertical Plunge, Krazy Kars, Liberty Carousel, Crazy Submarine, and The Beach Blaster. Mission Beach is also known for its beach bars. Some of the most popular places to quench your thirst are the Sandbar Sports Grill, the Beachcomber and the Coaster Saloon. Parking is hard to come by, with local residents taking most of it. Public parking lots are available around Belmont Park, Santa Clara Point and South Mission Beach Park. Parking usually costs $5-$15 for an all day pass in the lots. During the summer expect a little more. Many local restaurants and merchants do validate parking. Consider renting a bike and enjoying the weather and sites at a more up-close view.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Death Valley Scotty's Castle

Scotty's Castle Death Valley California
Way out in the middle of nowhere in Death Valley National Monument is a 32,000-square-foot two-story Spanish Villa that's called Scotty's Castle. Walter “Scotty” Scott, made his first visit to Death Valley in 1888 at the age of 16. He immediately fell in love with the area that ran along the California-Nevada border. Several years later in 1902, while tying his hand at gold mining in the mountains of Colorado, Scott convinced a wealthy New Yorker to sponsor a fictitious gold mine in Death Valley. For two years Walter wrote his patron describing his finds in Death Valley, all of which were lies. By 1904, a sizable sum had been invested, and Scott boarded a train east carrying a bag supposedly holding $12,000 in gold. The bag was conveniently and mysteriously stolen before he reached his destination. Such a large heist was a big story, and newspapers were eager to print it.
In 1905 Scott chartered the Coyote Special, a three-car train, with $5000 of an investors’ money in an attempt to break the rail speed record from Los Angeles to Chicago. He arrived in Chicago in less than 45 hours breaking the record. The press invented stories of a secret gold mine, which paid for his exploits and quickly gave him the moniker "Death Valley Scotty."
Gold investor Albert Johnson was among the crowd in Chicago to greet Scotty and was intrigued after hearing tales of the Death Valley gold mine. Johnson visited Scotty for nearly a month in 1909. Though he saw no gold, he enjoyed the desert climate and its effects on his failing health. In 1912 Scotty’s scam would be exposed to Johnson and the public in front of a grand jury. After being discredited; Scotty disappeared from the spotlight in a small cabin at lower Grapevine Canyon. Despite his untruthfulness, his friendship with Johnson grew and he often traveled west to visit Scotty for months at a time.
Eventually, Johnson decided to build a ranch in Death Valley and began construction in 1927.
After The stock market crash in 1929 Johnson's ability to complete the ranch was limited, and he was forced to liquidate his business.
Then in 1947, with his health failing, Johnson attempted to sell the Ranch to the federal government. His efforts failed, and in 1948 he donated the ranch to the Gospel Foundation of California. Albert Johnson died leaving the ranch forever unfinished.
In 1951, Scotty returned to live in the Castle and entertain paying guests with his exploits. He reached the height of his fame and became a tourist attraction in his own right. In 1954, Walter Scott died at the age of 82 and was buried on the rocky hill northwest of the guesthouse next to his dog. In 1970 the National Park Service purchased Scotty's Castle for $850,000.
Today guided tours of Scotty's Castle today. Park rangers dress in 1930s style clothes to help take the visitor back in time. During the tour, guests are treated to the sounds of a 1,121 pipe Welte theater organ. An underground mystery tour is also available for those wishing to see the inner-workings of the building.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Mars Rover Lands at the Discovery Science Center in Santa Ana

Mars Rover  Discovery Science Center
A replica model of the Mars Rover, Curiosity is on display at the Discovery Science Center in Santa Ana. Four interactive stations complete NASA Explores the Universe. At the Blueprints interactive, guests explore the Mars Science Laboratory as they learn about the parts, tools, even the wheels of this vehicle. Look through a microscope and compare rocks that might be found on mars at the Investigation Microscope. Guests will also learn about Curiosity’s mission and discover the marvels of the Red Planet. Curiosity is the next Mars rover, scheduled to launch in the fall of 2011. When completed, the Curiosity will have a length of 9 feet and weigh 1,984 pounds including 176 pounds  of scientific instruments. The full scale Mars Rover It will be the same size as a Mini Cooper. The Discovery Science Center is Orange County’s only Smithsonian Affiliate, Taco Bell Discovery Science Center is better than ever! If you haven’t been lately, it’s been too long! Boeing Rocket Lab is now open, and it’s inside the Cube! Walk through the belly of a giant dinosaur in Dino Quest, feel the winds of a hurricane in a simulator and gear up for flying pucks in The Science of Hockey. Hundreds of thousands of students and families experience science, Southern California-style at Discovery Science Center each year. What will you discover? 2500 N. Main St., Santa Ana, Calif., open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. most days

Monday, August 02, 2010

Manhattan Beach Dune Park Reopens

Sand Dune Park in Manhattan Beach, opens today and once again you can torture yourself climbing up and down the huge mountain of sand. There is just one catch, you now need a reservation to climb the dune.  Manhattan Beach closed the dune several months ago due excessive use, noise and parking problems.  The dune has been divided into two sections, one for kids 12 and under and the other for adults. Only adults need reservations. No adults are allowed on the dune on Sundays.  Reservations are $3.50 each or you can buy an annual pass for $60.00 plus a dollar a visit. To make a reservation, visit: