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California Fall Wine Festivals

There is no better time to visit California than the fall. The weather is cooling, the scenery is changing beautifully, and wineries are announcing their new releases. Wine festivals are the perfect way to celebrate a love of wine with others and sample new varieties. Here are our recommendations for the best California wine festivals to attend this fall.

Sonoma County Harvest Fair

Santa Rosa, CA, October 5-7, 2018

For the 42nd year, Sonoma County celebrates their local harvest with a complete farm to table experience. Taste the best cuisine, beer, ciders, and wine the area has to offer. The fair focuses around a Grand Tasting Pavilion where visitors can try wines from over 100 Sonoma wineries. A Wine Country Market hosts vendors selling local goods including handcrafted jewelry, clothing, soaps, olive oil, and much more. You also can’t miss the annual grape stomp. Teams dress in matching costumes to compete for bragging rights and a $1,500 prize. Attendees can purchase bottles of award winning wines as well as new fall releases before they’re available from grocers.

Riverbank Cheese and Wine Exposition

Riverbank, CA, October 13-14, 2018

What pairs better with wine than cheese? This year Riverbank California celebrates their 41st annual Cheese and Wine Exposition. You can sample both local and imported wine during a three hour tasting period each day.  A designated “cheese zone” lets attendees immerse themselves in the experience of trying the best local cheeses. Fan favorites include a tempura cheesecake and deep fried cheese curds. This event is fun for the whole family with carnival rides, games, and live music.

Harvest Wine Weekend

Paso Robles, CA, October 19-21, 2018

The Paso Robles Harvest Wine Weekend is a truly unique event because of its collaborative spirit. The festival is not limited to a central location, but is held across almost every winery in the region.  Even wineries not generally open to the public offer tours and tastings for this weekend only. As the number of visitors grow each year, so does the friendly competition between wineries. Live music, local cuisine, special tours, seminars, grape stomps, and exclusive tastings of new wines have become the norm. The festival brags to be free of “tension or pretension” inviting anyone to enjoy delicious wine and relax surrounded by breathtaking views.

To find your way between wineries, grab a copy of our Paso Robles Wine Country map.

San Diego Bay Wine and Food Festival

San Diego, CA, November 12-18, 2018

The San Diego Bay Wine and Food Festival is the largest wine and food competition on the west coast. Walk along the gorgeous San Diego marina while tasting up to 700 types of wine and beer, both local and imported. Sample the best in local cuisine as 60 San Diego chefs compete for best dishes. There are also free cooking classes, wine tasting seminars, and live performances. Vendors sell homemade crafts and luxury goods.

Global Graphics maps are user-friendly and easy to read. Check out some of our best-selling maps of California: California Road Highway Map, Napa/ Sonoma Wine Country Map, California Map Package, Los Angeles Street Map, San Francisco Street Map.

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Lighthouses of Northern California

Lighthouses played an important role in California History. As major cities, such as San Francisco, began to grow, resources needed to be transported in from northern parts of California. Ships faced a dangerous journey because of foggy, rainy weather and a jutted, rocky coastline. In 1852 the United States Congress authorized the construction of the first eight lighthouses on the West Coast to make travel safer. Many more were quickly added in the following years. Even though most of California’s lighthouses have been decommissioned, some remain open to the public. Below are three of the most iconic lighthouses on the California shore.

Battery Point Lighthouse

The Battery Point Lighthouse is sometimes referred to as the Crescent City lighthouse. In the 1850s, Crescent City was a major shipping port for lumbar, but the rocky, foggy shoreline was problematic for sailors. In May 1855, $15,000 was alloted to construct a lighthouse just off the coast on Battery Point Island.

The first lighthouse keeper was Theophilus Magruder, a man from the East Coast who took the job for the $1,000 a year salary. When the salary was reduced by 40% a few years later, he quickly left the position, leaving it to be filled by many others over the years. In 1953, updates were made to automate the lighthouse. The Battery Point lighthouse was hit by the 1964 tidal wave caused by the Alaskan earthquake, but was left standing. Compared to the surrounding area, only minimal repairs were needed.

Today Battery Point Lighthouse is open seven days a week from April to September. From March to October, it is only open on weekends. Visitors can climb the lighthouse tower as well as view the keeper’s quarters, which include original furniture from the 1850’s. Displays also include maritime artifacts, photos, and historical documents. 

Point Arena Lighthouse

With a height of 115 feet, Point Arena is currently the tallest lighthouse on the West Coast. The original lighthouse was constructed in 1870. At that time, there was only one house for the light keeper, his three assistants, and all their families, making for crowded quarters.

Unfortunately, even with the aid of steam whistles, the original Point Arena lighthouse was not the most successful. In 1896, a ship called the San Benito crashed into the shore. Jefferson Brown, the lightkeeper, along with other local men ran to help, but the rough waters prevented their efforts. Eventually, a passing ship rescued the survivors.

The 1906 earthquake damaged both the lighthouse and the keeper’s home beyond repair, resulting in their demolition. The Lighthouse Service funded the rebuilding of the lighthouse, this time hiring a smokestack factory to build an earthquake proof lighthouse. Point Arena is the first lighthouse to be made of steel-reinforced concrete. When the U.S. Coast Guard took control several years later, an aircraft beacon was added and the lighting was automated.

The Point Arena Lighthouse is open for guided tours. This includes climbing the 145 step spiral staircase up the tower. The grounds are open to the public as a park. During full moons, there are night tours. Visitors can also stay overnight in one of the restored keepers’ houses. For more information, visit the Point Arena Lighthouse website.

Point Reyes Lighthouse

Point Reyes is known for two things: rain and fog. The Point Reyes Lighthouse sits on a strip of land about ten miles into the sea at the bottom of a cliff. This location offers the best visibility for ships. This also means visitors must descend 300 steps nearly straight down to access the lighthouse. Visiting Point Reyes is not for the faint of heart.

The original tower built at Point Reyes still stands. At only 37 feet tall, it is uniquely shaped with 16 sides. The Point Reyes Lighthouse actually has an identical twin at Cape Mendocino, but it is not open to the public. Many keepers found the extreme weather and isolation unbearable and only lasted a few years. However, one lightkeeper named Paulus Nilsson was hired as an assistant in 1897 and stayed until 1921.

Because of complaints of low visibility, a siren was added in 1881. In 1915, it was replaced by a foghorn that could carry over five miles. In 1938, the original clockwork that required turning every two hours was replaced by an electric mechanism. The United States Coast Guard retired the Point Reyes lighthouse in 1975 and allowed it to be run by the National Park Service.

The original mechanisms and lens that controlled the lighthouse are on display for limited viewing hours. There is also a visiting center, located on higher ground for those who don’t want to brave the steps, with exhibits about the lighthouse and the natural history of the area. For more information, visit the Point Reyes Lighthouse National Seashore Association website.

Planning a trip? 

If you’re planning to travel to the Northern California Coast, you need our Northern California Coast Map. The clearly labeled, easy-to-read map will give you a bird’s eye view of the area, including all major roadways and attractions. Additional tourist information is included as well.

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The San Luis Obispo Wine Region

California is home to over 4,000 wineries and vineyards. Yet, when most people think of California wine, they only think of the Napa and Sonoma valleys. Clusters of wine regions exist throughout the state, each producing wine as unique as the area that grows it. San Luis Obispo is one of the smaller wine regions located along the central coast. If you were to drive down US 101 without a map, you might not even realize you were passing one of California’s hidden gems. Anyone who loves wine should take a trip to San Luis Obispo.

Unique Growing Conditions

Located between the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Lucia Mountain Range, San Luis Obispo is divided into two wine growing valleys: the Edna Valley and the Arroyo Grande Valley. Both valleys have a unique east-to-west orientation, allowing a continuous supply of sea air to cool the region. This breeze creates a moderate, steady climate that extends the ripening process of the grapes, giving them a full, balanced flavor.

The soil in the area is also unlike any other part of California. It appears that San Luis Obispo is located where the Pacific Plate and the Continental Plate met over 17 million years ago. This collision pushed sandstone, shale, limestone, and marine fossils to the surface. Petrified oyster shells are still commonly found on farms. The proximity to volcanoes and past volcanic activity have also added to the complex composition of the soil.

Many vineyards in San Luis Obispo are classified as region 1, a category reserved for the coolest wine growing regions in the world. This combined with the rough soil creates growing conditions only known to this area. Wine produced from San Luis Obispo has a unique intensity and full-flavor. 

Traditions of Value

While production of wine may have increased in San Luis Obispo in the last 30 years, vineyards are far from new to the area. Winemaking dates back to the founding of the first mission in the 18th century. The community has stayed true to its roots through recent growth. There is still a sense of small-town friendliness and the majority of winerys are family-owned.

Almost every winery and vineyard in San Luis Obispo  has a Sustainability in Practice certificate. This goes beyond just organic farming practices. It also includes strict standards for habitat conservation, energy efficiency, pest management, water conservation, economic stability, and human resources. This commitment to caring for the environment and community is a cornerstone value of the area.

More Than Just Wine

While we recommend visiting every winery room and tasting room you can while in San Luis Obispo, there is also plenty more to explore. Even though the weather is considered cool by growing standards in the valley, in other parts of San Luis Obispo the weather is usually 70 and sunny. There are hiking, biking, and horseback riding trails as well as kayak rentals and tours. There are a variety of beaches. Some are perfect for relaxing, while others have sunbathing sea lions and coves ready to be explored.

Downtown San Luis Obispo is lined with locally owned shops and restaurants. In a bizarre, but fun rite of passage for visitors, you can stick a piece of chewed gum along the walls of Bubblegum Alley right in the heart of downtown. You can experience history by touring the Mission, take a trolley ride to the Point San Luis Lighthouse, or join in the nightlife of downtown. San Luis Obispo offers an eventful trip for everyone.

 

The Quick Access Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, and Paso Robles map shows the best wineries in the area. Additional information including opening hours and tasting rooms is also included. All Global Graphics maps are easy-to-use and clearly labeled for straightforward navigating. 

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Tips for a Safe Solo Road Trip

Embarking on a solo road trip can be a fun and freeing experience. The majority of the United States is safe to travel alone. If you’re driving along interstates, there will be plenty of rest areas. Highway exits with restaurants and gas stations will be clearly marked. However, there are still unique challenges to driving alone and special precautions should be taken. Whether you’re traveling cross-country or to the next state, you want to ensure your solo road trip is safe.

Prepare Your Vehicle

Before any road trip, you’ll want to make sure your vehicle is running in good condition. You should always check your car’s fluids and tire pressure. For longer trips, or if you wouldn’t consider yourself car savvy, it is best to have a mechanic take a look.

You also want to make sure to pack an emergency kit in your vehicle. Recommend items include a flashlight, duct tape, a multi-head screwdriver, jumper cables, a tire gauge, fire extinguisher, road flares, a first aid kit, and a water bottle. Consider what else you might need to bring based on the length of your trip and any inclement weather you might encounter. Basic emergency kits can be bought from sites such as Amazon or Walmart.

In addition to an emergency kit, consider investing in a roadside assistance service such as AAA before you leave. If you do encounter car trouble you can’t fix yourself,  you don’t want to be stranded in an unknown area for hours. Roadside assistance ensures help will arrive promptly.

Leave Your Itinerary

While you of course need to remember to bring a copy of your itinerary, you also want to leave a copy with a trusted friend or family member. Map out and show them the route you intend to take. Let them know what time you plan on arriving to your destination or checking into a hotel.  Even if you are traveling to sight-see without a set schedule or destination, establish times you will call and check in. Minor emergencies can become much more severe when traveling alone. If your car were to break down in a location without cell service, you’d want some else to realize you need help. With a copy of your itinerary, your friend or family member could direct local assistance to find you. 

Establish Personal Limits

Not everyone has the same limits for driving extended periods of time. Some people can drive for 12 hours multiple days in a row with only minimal stops. Most of us can not. Decide what your limits are. If you can’t see well at night then find lodging before the sun sets.  If you need to stretch your legs every 3-4 hours, just plan accordingly. In rural parts of the United States places to stop may be far apart so you’ll want to begin searching in advance. Pack water, snacks, a car cell phone charger, or anything else you might need while driving in easy reach.

If you are travelling west, its advised to start your drive early in the day. If you’re driving east, getting a late start can be better. This is because driving into the sun can cause light to hit the windshield at angles that make it difficult for drivers to see.

Bring a Printed Map

Using a printed map allows you to see the big picture of the area you’re traveling through. Since driving alone can become monotonous or dull, it can help to map out a route with attractions or interesting views along the way.

Keeping a printed map in your vehicle can also keep you safe. While most people reply on a GPS or navigation from their smartphone these days, there are limitations to these devices. While they can give weather and traffic updates, they can also lead you in roundabout routes or to unsafe neighborhoods when followed blindly. Electronic navigation devices can also run out of battery or lose signal. In any sort of emergency you’ll want to have a printed map available to consult. You can easily guide yourself to a nearby city to seek help or simply back to your established route. 

If you’re going to be traveling in the United States, check out the maps available in our online store.

Did you miss last month’s blog post? Check out these Little-Known Facts about Los Angeles History.

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Little-Known Facts About Los Angeles History

Many historical facts about Los Angeles are well known. Any guidebook or tour will tell you that LA is the birthplace of Mickey Mouse, or that the Hollywood sign first read “HollywoodLand” as an advertisement for a real estate development. With so much interest in the modern Los Angeles, many pieces of history have been nearly forgotten. We’ve gathered some historical facts we bet even some Angelenos don’t know. 

Beverly Hills’ Lima Beans

The legendary Beverly Hills Hotel was built on a former Lima bean ranch. After being settled in 1828,  the region was used for growing Lima beans and cabbage. Hundreds of acres sprawled the land because of the access to water through the Benedict Canyon. In the 1900’s, the land was divided and a parcel sold to Margaret Anderson, owner of the successful Hollywood Hotel. She built a new location in Beverly Hills, beginning the migration of the rich and famous that transformed the area.

The Speed of Light

Mount Wilson, an observatory located just outside Los Angeles, has seen three astrophysics breakthroughs. The first was by George Ellery Hale in 1908.  He used a 60-inch mirror to improve his telescope and show for the first time that the sun was not the center of the universe. Then, in the 1920s, Edwin Hubble discovered that what scientists were calling “spiral nebulas” were actually other far-away galaxies. The third and most well-known achievement occurred when Albert Michelson measured the speed of light using two giant mirrors, one at the Mount Wilson observatory and one 22 miles away on the the side of Mount San Antonio. The experiment documented that light traveled at two ten-thousandths of a second.

The Original Iron Man

Before the Marvel superhero, there was a different Iron Man. His real name was Joseph Ardizzone, a mafia member who became the first Boss of the Los Angeles crime family. He supplied alcohol to Los Angeles throughout the prohibition, but was also responsible for organizing illegal gambling, serving as a loan shark, and dealing drugs. No one is quite sure why he was called Iron Man, but he had a reputation for killing at least thirty men. After several attempts on his life, Ardizzone went mysteriously missing. After seven years, he was declared dead. 

The Battle of Los Angeles

In 1942, the Battle of Los Angeles, also sometimes referred to as the Great Los Angeles Air Raid, took place. The incident lasted less than 24 hours, but a city-wide blackout was ordered. Shots were fired by the United States Air Force at what was believed to be a Japanese air barrage. It was later declared a false alarm, with the military blaming a weather balloon and “war nerves” that caused the military to panic and believe they saw more aircrafts. At the time, many newspapers speculated there was some sort of government cover-up. While no one was injured directly, some sources claim up to 30 victims from injuries caused by shock or car crashes. 

 

To find your way around Los Angeles without every getting lost, check out our LA Detailed Street Map  and our LA Freeway System & Major Streets Map.

Did you miss last week’s blog post? Click here to read why you should Visit Yosemite National Park This Spring.