Thursday, October 22, 2015

Harvest Time Fun at Hunter Farms

Fall is a great time in California. The weather is cooperating and finding fun family activities outdoors is a perfect way to spend a weekend.

In Merced County farming is still a large part of our community and I took a visit to one of our larger farms located in Atwater that hosts a fun Pumpkin Patch each October.

Hunter Farms, located on SP, right off Highway 99 in Atwater, has set up a beautiful area of their farm with a pumpkin patch, corn maze, hay rides, critter corral, and a snack station for kids and adults. They offer plenty of activities to keep the kids happy with amazing verities of heirloom pumpkins, regular pumpkins and gourds for sale so you can create a beautiful harvest display at your own home.

Open daily through October, it is a fun place to take the kids and take a break too!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Enjoying the Monterey Bay Aquarium

One of our favorite places to visit is the Monterey bay area of California. The coastline is rocky and gorgeous. The bay is amazing and the sea life is teaming with activity. The weather is awesome year round and any time we can get there to visit, we do.

Smack in the middle of Monterey's Cannery Row site the beautiful Aquarium. They have become known for the wonderful work that they have done with the sea life surrounding the space and the resurgence of visitors into the Monterey area over the years. During one of my visits to a local hotel in Carmel, we spent some much needed time at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. It had been many years since we had visited and I was shocked and delighted with the changes.

Beautiful and modern inside with massive tanks and loads of fun areas for the kids and adults alike to enjoy and explore. It is a place not to be missed in your travels to this beautiful area. Here are some pictures to enjoy I took.

Make sure to add this place on your must-see list! So fun!

Monday, July 27, 2015

18 Safety Tips for Budget Travelers

Whether you are visiting a new city in the States or have decided to travel the world, there are some basic safety tips that you need to remember and be aware of. Often we trust people but when traveling and being a tourist for a while, becoming aware of your surroundings and staying safe is not always second nature. Here are some tips that you can use wherever you happen to be traveling, but especially in a different country where tourists are more obvious to the locals and may be targeted for theft more often.

18 Safety Tips for Budget Travelers

1) When taking taxis from an airport to your hotel, travel in the more expensive airport taxis and ensure that the drivers have official identification. Never take a taxi waiting outside the airport grounds in a city you are not familiar with. I know this sounds extreme, but it is by far better to be safe then sorry.

2) When traveling from your hotel to the airport, go with a taxi recommended by the hotel. Again, taxi’s can be dangerous depending on the city or country you are visiting.

3) Try not to arrive in a new city or town late at night. Things can go wrong in a number of ways. It is much easier getting checked in during the day time and security at night in some areas is non existent.

4) Travel in a group if possible. Always a good idea!

5) When visiting foreign countries, learn the basics in the local language before you arrive. Don't expect that people will speak English. English is becoming more widely spoken these days, but you want to be sure.

6) Keep your valuables hidden. A money belt is great if it is an option that you willing to look into. There are many different styles too choose from. One of the most popular is an “over the shoulder” style wallet on a strap that you were underneath your top. This makes it very difficult for a thief to make off with your valuables.

7) Avoid going on your own to remote areas/ruins where tourist would be expected to go. Seek local advice or take a guide recommended by the hotel.

8) Read the guide books and talk with other tourists to find out which areas are best avoided and best seen.

9) When leaving clubs or restaurants late at night, take a taxi no matter how close your hotel is. When in doubt about the taxi or area, ask someone who works in the restaurant.

10) When arriving in a new town in a strange country, keep to your original plan and stay in the hotel that you have already booked. Don't let the taxi driver persuade you that your hotel is fully booked and that he knows a cheaper and better one. He'll be working on commission and the hotel probably won't be in a safe part of town.

11) Don't wear expensive looking jewelry. Leave it at home or locked in the hotel safe.

12) On public transportation, keep your day pack close to you at all times, preferably with the straps around your legs or padlocked to the luggage rack. On buses, your backpack will normally go outside, either on top of the roof or in the external luggage compartments. On long distance buses ask for a receipt for your bags. On short rides just keep a careful eye out each time the bus stops to off-load bags. In the event your bags are stolen, stay with the bus - you will probably require a declaration from the bus company accepting responsibility for the loss in order to claim any money from your insurance company.

13) Leave your valuables in your hotel safe when making day trips or longer tours. Obtain a receipt not just for your money belt/wallet etc. but for its contents, with each item listed.

14) If you have to leave your passport and credit cards together at the hotel, place the items in a sealed envelope and sign your name across the flap. This way when you return you will know is it has been tampered with.

15) If planning on going to market areas, crowded streets, fiestas etc., don't go with all your valuables. Leave them in the hotel. If you’re planning on buying something expensive keep your money safely in a money belt. Try to be discreet when opening it! To protect small change in your pockets, stuff a handkerchief in after.

16) If the pavement are really crowded, especially in market areas, walk in the road to avoid pick pockets

17) If you suspect someone is following you, stop and stare them in the eye until they go. If you really get a bad feeling about a place, go with your first instincts and leave. Bag slashing is rare nowadays but it does happen. For added safety you can wear your day pack on your chest.

18) When putting your bag down on the floor to take a photo or just to sit in a café, put your foot through the strap. Not only will it be impossible to snatch, you also won't forget it! This is the most common type of theft - tourists forgetting bags in cafes and on returning to ask if anyone has seen it, you've guessed it, it's gone.

Common sense is the first tip! If something does not feel right, you are probably correct. Always be safe when traveling so you can enjoy many more trips in the future!