Calistoga Pottery

So…. we were hanging out in downtown Calistoga, California looking at the tourist map on Main Street.  I see it lists of a number of antique shops, coffee shops, restaurants and a bookstore. Off in the corner a little square on the map says “Calistoga Pottery.”

My eyes lit up! Of course and I had to check it out.

Calistoga Pottery is a little shop behind a home on the highway just before the turn into/out of Calistoga. We had the privilege of chatting with the owner/operator/artists, a husband and wife team. He makes the pottery and she glazes the pottery. Together, Jeff and Sally have been in business almost 40 years.

They make dinnerware for more than a dozen of the local restaurants. A list hangs on the wall by the door. They also sell their pottery to the public out of this working studio, the one pictured here.

Both Jeff and Sally were absolutely lovely to talk to and were particularly enthusiastic when we told them we were from Canada. Sally told us of a time when she lived in British Columbia in the 1970s. She remembers it very fondly. When it came time for me to complete my purchase, she joked that I could even pay in Loonies (Canadian coins) if I had them!

Sally showed me a number of her signature glazes, including one that was made from the ash of grapevines from a local winery.  Such a beautiful effect on clay!

I did also mention to Sally, how much her shop reminded me of the pottery business established in Manitoba by another potter, my friend Jeff Bettle. “Manitoba Jeff” has transformed an old church and made it into his home and studio over the course of the last 20 years. I told her how much I admire people who master their craft and share it with others.  Theoldchurch.ca

Maybe someday the 2 Jeffs and Sally will bump into each other at a clay convention. They can swap stories and tell the tales of life and work aside a highway, and the tourists who stop in. And they’ll have a laugh about that charismatic chatty Cathie who happened to connect over clay, in Calistoga California one July afternoon in 2019.

Rock star travel deal for families

I’m actually so excited to share this tip, I can hardly type fast enough. Travelling with your kids gets more expensive as they get older. But it doesn’t have to be prohibitive, you just have to pick the right resort.

The vast majority of all inclusive resorts in hot destinations offer a reduced price for children 12 and under, but charge full adult fare for teenagers.

I recently learned that Hard Rock Resorts and Moon Palace resorts both offer dramatically reduced fares for teens 13 to 17.  These are the gems that can save you literally $1000 or more over other resort chains.

For example, I will say the average adult package fare at Hard Rock is about $2500 per person. That’s a pretty standard price for a  luxury resort for a week in Mexico.  So at a resort where 13 year olds pay adult fare, you will pay $10,000 for a family vacation of 2 adults and 2 teenagers.

On the other hand, Hard Rock Resorts will charge you about $7000 for the same people during the same week.  So not only will you save enough money to pay your hockey fees for next season, your teens will be thrilled with the luxury amenities and non-stop activities offered by the iconic Hard Rock chain.

Hard Rock has resorts in (Mexico) Cancun, Puerto Vallarta and Los Cabos, in addition to a resort in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.

Moon Palace has resorts in Cancun, Mexico as well as Ocho Rios, Jamaica.

Sunwing, Transat, Westjet and Air Canada each offer these resorts in their vacation packages.

Prices will vary by the dates you travel, and the type of room you select. However, for travel with teens age 13 to 17 you absolutely can’t beat this savings and the top quality vacation experience.  You’ll definitely be the Rock Star Mom when you book this one.

Air Canada pricing to Puerto Vallarta. The fee per teen is the same as the adults for this resort.

 

This resort is less expensive per passenger, but all fares are equal in price.

 

This is pricing for the Hard Rock Puerto Vallarta December 7-14th, 2020. Cost per each teen is $499 plus tax. $2000 less than each adult fare!! See the savings?

If you love this tip as much as I do, and this will save you money, please consider booking your next vacation package to a Hard Rock (or Moon Palace) resort with me.

6 nights in Cabo. No nights in Calgary.

You can fly from Los Cabos, Mexico to Brandon Manitoba without an overnight stop in Calgary.

You can’t do this every night of the week, just on those evenings when there is an 8:40PM flight from Calgary to Brandon.  This evening flight makes the same-day return connection possible. So it’s important to choose your connections carefully.

Here’s an example.  Priced per 2 adults, leaving on January 11th.

Rates and availability as of 9:30pm December 26th

Albuquerque, New Mexico $1K

What a fun word to write! Thank goodness for spellcheck. I can’t think of another word that has three “U” and two “Q.”

And until my time-killing search on a -30C night in January, I didn’t realize that you could fly to New Mexico, from Brandon, in one day. Thanks to Expedia.ca I took this info and rolled into a vacation.

Flights, 7 night’s hotel, and breakfast included $1022 per person. That’s pretty cool and suddenly, you’re 55 degrees warmer than at home, eating authentic Mexican cuisine and exploring the Rio Grande.

If you’re ready to start your research, click here for the Albuquerque Tourist Bureau and a link to order a travel guide.

And here’s their blog to keep you up to date on current events. Lots of great photos featured here as well.

From hot air balloon rides to golfing and sightseeing in Old Town, you could definitely stay busy and stay warm for a week.

Screenshot January 3rd. Prices and availability subject to change without notice.
Breakfast and free parking included.

Highlights of 2016

I’ve made it a personal goal to see at least one new city or town each year. This is a pretty easy thing to accomplish. And I do enjoy it.

In 2016 I visited San Diego, California. I really loved it. Especially the seals on the beach, dinner at Old Town and the cake on the patio at Scripps Pier. Those were fabulous. Actually, that whole trip was great. Really good food, great scenery and even better company. San Diego is a must visit on my list for couples, families and buddy trips. It’s one of those locations that truly has something for everybody. I will definitely go back.

In February, I travelled with my friend Kim to Florence Italy. Hard not to wax poetic over a trip like that. We took a pasta making class, travelled the tuscany region on a wine tour and even climbed the Leaning Tower of Pisa. We stayed at a small boutique hotel near the train station. The breakfast and hospitality and constant cappuccinos made us feel oh so very comfortable. We also LOVED the market and the shops and made a dear friend in Stefania.  We saw museums and statues and paintings. We laughed and made the best memories. If you ever get the chance, GO TO FLORENCE! I would go back in a heartbeat.

And Cleveland. Wow! It was so much more than I expected. What a great sports town, and even though we saw the Cleveland Browns kick off their worst season in history, we enjoyed that game and baseball too. Then there was the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Unreal! Must see. And for me, it will always be memorable. 2016 was a tragic year for the loss of legendary musicians David Bowie, Prince, and George Michael.  I bought myself a CD in the gift shop, Prince’s Purple Rain. A really nice souvenir of a special trip with my youngest son. Would I go back to Cleveland? Yes, absolutely.

 

Jamaica-me-crazy for a holiday trip

Not a bargain this time, but ALWAYS a good value for your hard earned money.  You can count on the weather, the hospitality and quality food in Jamaica.

The Montego Bay airport is large, modern and well run. Once through security, your tour package shuttles will pick you up and deliver you to your selected hotels.

Beaches in Ocho Rios are gorgeous.

Montego Bay is just a few miles and a short shuttle from the airport.

Negril is known for its popular beaches and nightlife.

And on a personal note, our last family vacation (2015) was to the Hilton Rose Hall in Jamaica. A family-friendly hotel with great food, activities and a small but nicely groomed beach.

Start your research here, http://www.visitjamaica.com/canada

screen-shot-2016-12-08-at-2-54-30-pm
Screenshot from Redtag.ca Prices and availability subject to change.