Monday, December 18, 2006

Rush Hour in Groveland

It's rush hour in Groveland. That is the period of time from 3:25pm to 3:28pm when the bus stops in downtown Groveland to let the kids off from school. Traffic stops in both directions and the lines can get as long as 8 cars. We all wave and it's over until tomorrow.

Nice small town!

Monday, October 09, 2006

Being Bob the Dog

Wine barrel Bob is his new moniker, goes with his new home that Victor just "built" him. Buy one wine barrel, take off the first two rings, cut a semi circle, put dog bed down and spend a week trying to get your dog to go into the barrel that still has a very strong wine scent to it. We are glad to have chosen a red wine barrel.

Bob has a perfect life here and I sometimes wish I was the Hotel Dog instead of the bill paying, team leader, local volunteer, weather gal, and "mom" to many that I usually get tasked with.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

A funny thing happened on the way to the quorum

Its a great title about a a story I was going to write, but decided not to. Perhaps another day.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Should a stroller saunter?

This last Sunday, September 3rd, marked the end of our GAS (Groveland Art Stroll) season. With three strolls this summer, it was a great stretch and super introduction of a new event to the area bringing oodles of locals, friends, family and new comers from miles and miles around.

We noticed however that not all the participants were strolling. Some were sauntering. We would like to keep this a strolling event open to familys and leave the sauntering for other days, or even the nights. Participants took home a great deal of artwork, artists gabbed and commissioned with strollers and merchants sold their wares to the town's guests. Restaurants had a busy day feeding the frenzie.

We can't wait until next year to start it all up again and hope to find a whole lot more artists to fill all the nooks & cranies of our cute downtown with their creative pieces and that those who so richly benefit from the event choose to participate in its planning and implementation this next year. Its a big load for one person to handle the whole thing.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Radio Personalities!

Another silly first for me—Radio Personality!

On Wednesday a small posse of us from the Yosemite Chamber of Commerce went down to tape a 10 minute radio segment on the Chamber's name change, new website and coming events. It was only going to be Tony, then he asked me to help and I insisted I would only particapate if we had a good giggler along with us. So Robin joined in too....and giggle we did!

George started us off with a question or two about the Yosemite Chamber's new name, and then suggested maybe we change the name of the county to Yosemite County, well we all liked that idea! We got through our highlights, mentioned coming events and were even starting in on some details when it was all over. It turned out to be the quickest 10 minutes ever and was a great deal of fun.

Listen in if you can this Sunday, August 27th:
KZSQ FM Star 92.7 will be 9:30 a.m.
KKBN – FM 93.5 10:30 a.m.
KVML – AM 14.50 at 9:00 a.m.

Friday, August 11, 2006

An Innkeeper's Comedy

While we have had many funny and unique experiences here at the Charlotte, Thursday, August 10th made the top 10 list of hysterics. Because the Charlotte has "period" sitting rooms (we don't know what period) and classic old furniture and odd decoration (props), we were asked by the Sierra Red Hats group if we would host a photo shoot for their 2007 calendar. (Think of the movie "Calendar Girls") I said yes, gave them a few dates to work with and swiftly forgot about it...naively thinking they would be self sufficient.

As luck would have it, interviews were scheduled this day for the Yosemite Chamber's new web design team, and at the Charlotte no less. Further, our housekeeping staff is all male, and one of them but a teenager. Our delivery trucks are all late...or rather, right on time for the ladies photo shoot and Bob, the dog, is more than a little confused by the commotion.

So here I am trying to talk techno-babel in the dining room with the Web Guys, with nearly dressed ladies of a certain age, a whole lot of purple and red boa feathers flitting about in the living room, Terri Metz click, click, clicking every sultry pose. The housekeeping staff is finding a plethora of reasons they MUST be in the photo zone. The phone is ringing off the wall from curious neighbors who want to know why our windows are all taped up with newspaper..... In the end I just put our billboard sign outside with a note that said: Nude Photo Shoot Today, Hotel reopens at 2:00.

We went to bed laughing on this day.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

An aerial Yosemite

Okay, so up I went with Victor and my brother Pat and Larry Jobe as pilot. Story and pictures are on line at The perspective of the park from the sky is amazingly different from what you expect, especailly Half Dome. Turns out this rock is far more narrow than it looks, the back side from land appears to be curved, but from the air looks almost as perpendicular as the face. The climb up the cables is done from the north side of the rock, not up the back.

Needless to say, if you ever have the opportunity to get in the air over Yosemite, go for it!

By the way, Larry is one of the neat people of Groveland, pilot and realator.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Groveland to Minden over Ebbets Pass, July 4th 2006

So now I can say I have really done all the routes from Groveland over the highways to the Eastern Sierras. I know now why it took me so long to do Ebbets Pass, its got a serious Jaw Factor. As in! The road is narrow and twisted. The sign post at the top indicates that you will drop down at a 25% grade, a phenominal pitch. Kindly, the portions of the road that were actually this steep were short, but one drives on the edge of the seat for an hour and a half waiting for these steep moments. The views are grand for sure! It is fairly remote for most of the trip, though we did come across Alpine Lake at the top of the hill and that was stunning and worthy of another visit, perhaps even an overnight. So go once for the experience, but know that it is the slowest of all the routes over but quite stunning and very worthy of its recent National Scenic Byway designation.

We chose this route so we could go to Murphys and unload the "antique" sinks that Victor just upgraded in our rooms. luck would have it, the antique plumbing store wasn't open on the 4th of July...Odd? But it was not a total loss, we did some wine tasting at a few tasting rooms that aren't typically open on our midweek-days off. Black Sheep has a cute room and Irish was very talkative. I even bought a bottle of green wine from Irish.

So how in the world did the two of us savy world travelers (hahaha!) end up in the oasis town of Minden you might ask...Well as these getaways happen for us rather last minute, we had called our little casino hotel in Tahoe to get a room on the 4th of July and they were selling our $65 a night room for $299. We just couldn't do it. Knowing that even the best case scenario would likely be a very simple room at a steep price, we decided to head to Minden. Once there we discovered the Carson Valley Inn. You won't be disappointed in the customer service if you ever find yourself here, every employee was well focused on making our visit memorable. We ended up celebrating our "anniversary" here with an overlarge room and dinner at Michaels. Victor's meal was fabulous, the Kobe Flat Iron steak, I chose the duck and wished I had the Kobe. We don't gamble much and this was true this night also. (Michael's has since closed.)

Our way back we needed to stop in Murphys at that great antique plumbing store to take care of the sinks, no need hauling them all back to Groveland. This time we took the less dramatic, but still beautiful Highway 88 across the Sierras and then headed back up route 4. All ended as planned.

Groveland to Murhpys, Ebbets Pass, Minden, back around the hill, back to Murphys, Sonora and Groveland, 24 and a half hours. Another typical Hotel Charlotte getaway: Short, Sweet, Mind-Clearing!

Monday, June 26, 2006

Tioga Pass to Mono Lake June 26, 2006

We had hoped to get over the pass last week, as close to opening day as possible. I always like to see the snow that delayed the opening. This year has much more snow around and to a far lower elevation than last year. I did not wack Victor in the head with a snow ball.

I enjoy the lakes the best. First there is Teneya Lake, from the approach we almost thought the lake had a layer of ice on it still is was so motionless. We were in rain for half an hour in both directions and it was easy to imagine the night temperatures reaching some fairly low lows, which is what must be keeping the snow on the ground refreezes every night.

This year we left later in the day and had already eaten lunch and weren't hungry when we hit Whoa Nelli Deli inside the Mobile Station just above Lee Vining, but we stopped anyway. Same great menu, fair prices, quick service and that fantastic view overlooking Mono Lake. A must do if in the area.

We spent a little time at the Mono Lake visitors center, run by the National Forest Service. What a fabulous display. They have a great space, photography room, amplitheater, history, education and endless lake views. I am curious as to the source of the funding for all this. Such a huge project for a small area. Was it interest surrounding the restore Mono Lake activity roughly 15 years ago? I can say, it was far more "lunaresque" when the water levels were low. But that only matters for the pictures. The lake looks grand!

I will update the Hotel Charlotte website, Eastern Sierras itinerary to include my new Mono Lake pictures. We went to the lake, dipped a toe in the water and read about these odd flies that coat the last few inches of shoreline all around the lake. Harmless and strange. Check the website for updated photos later this week,

On our return we stopped at the Tioga Pass Resort, just on the outside of the park boundary. Talk about a piece of heaven. Stunning views in every direction, gorgeous alpine lakes, lots of running water & snow...and the restaurant was putting out some perfectly delicious smells. The cafe is tiny, but very warm and charming. You could meet a new best friend here. Again, we were not yet hungry and Victor really did not want to get stuck driving the return trip in the dark and feeling sluggish from a super off we went, back into the park, over the pass and out again on the Groveland side.

Now we are hungry and are tempted by the treats awaiting us at Evergreen Lodge, but without reservations, fear getting a table quickly will be unlikely. We continued down the road with a brief stop in Buck Meadows. And so ends our adventure today!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Yosemite Jaw Factor, Victor's first visit

We just celebrated our 3 year anniversary at the Hotel Charlotte last week and before we moved here neither of us had ever been to Yosemite Valley. I had been over Tioga Pass years before and considered it a road challenge to get through, but really didn't know anything about Yosemite, the park. Since then I have come to love it... But this is more about Victor's awe-inspired relationship with the park. I took Victor on his first valley visit in October of 2003 and the falls visible from the valley were nearly dry and he thought it was "nice" but surely not worth all the hype we had been exposed to since moving up here. Then I took him in May of 04 for another visit and the falls were screaming and there was water coming out of every granite crevas. The Jaw Dropping ohh-ahhing began. We were off to Glacier Point next, then over the pass and we now take many day trips through out the year to experience the many visions of Yosemite, ever changing by the season. Without question, if you are only coming once, come when the falls are the strongest. It would be nice if Tioga Pass and Glacier Point roads were also open. This tends to be in June sometime. Here at the Hotel we always hope for late snows, lots of snow and early opening of the roads, which are contradictory wants!

Saturday, June 10, 2006


I've been researching agri-tourism, having had the word come up in several meetings and am convinced it is word that would only come up in meetings. Travelers who choose holidays with some of their itinerary selections based on agricultural stops would be unlikely to use the term. I think it is a great marketing word towards building a new travel industry around one that has already been around. Think of all the folks that visit wineries, this is very successful agri-tourism. I imagine with the growth of the word and the coorodinated marketing that will go right along with it, we will see more families choosing vacations where the kids might get to milk a cow, pick strawberries, sheer a sheep, shoe a horse and any number of other interesting farm activities.

Already many of our visitors coming in from San Francisco will participate in some similar activity, perhaps touring the cheese factory in Oakdale or the wineries in Murphys. We are going to keep an eye on this new travel angle and see where it goes and what develops. I have always thought a ranch holiday might be fun...

Shattered Air, the Yosemite thunderstorm story

We took a week off from the hotel recently for Victor's daughter's graduation and I was able to actually complete a full book: Shattered Air by Bob Madgic. This true story follows a handful of adventure seekers on an excursion up Half Dome in Yosemite culminating in a bad weather scene and the drama that unfolds. It is a compelling story and keeps you interested throughout, but what was most intriguing to me were all the bits of climbing history thrown into the story.

On Friday, September 15th the Historical Society's guest speaker is Bob Madgic who will bring this book to life. We think this will be a marvelous program and it kicks off the annual 49er festival and chili cookoff the next day.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

My first post: Highway 140 road closure

There are so many things I want to comment on here, the biggest for those traveling to Yosemite has to be the closure of the 140 route due to the sliding hill. This is devastating for those businesses and folks who live and work on opposite sides of the problem. Mariposa County declared a state of emergency last week, noting they have already last $4million and anticipate this to go as high as $14million if the closure continues through the summer season. Considering the effect our own 34-day Highway 120 road closure had on us earlier this spring, these figures seem somewhat low.

Some of the handling of this event by the news agencies, such as San Diego CBS Channel 8 ( have done additional harm by discouraging visitors to even attempt Yosemite trips with claims that travelers will be disappointed... I laughed when I read that. Surely no one goes to Yosemite for the road they want to enter on, but rather for the glorious experiences that await them on the inside. Why would they be disappointed? Yosemite Falls still fall, Half Dome is still a life-goal, El Capitan is still royal in its massiveness and so on...

This particular story claimed the main entrance was closed and yet failed to offer alternative routes, implying one couldn't get into the park at all. Perhaps this is what the disappointment would have been, not getting in at all. We hope all the news agencys and Associated Press will work harder to get the details right, folks who are traveling to Yosemite and those who live and work in the area depend on them for accurately reporting the facts.

Our hearts go out to our neighbors to the south and we are hoping for as speedy a solution as possible!