Winter in the Canadian Rockies

Emerald Lake Lodge photo credit: Canadian Rocky Mountain Resorts Fly into: Calgary in the Alberta Provence, a 2.5 hour flight from San Francisco. To Stay: Emerald Lake Lodge. This is an old Canadian lodge, a 2.5 hour drive Northwest from Calgary airport. Their restaurant … Continue reading

The Best Places to Eat in San Francisco

San Francisco- Gramspiration

Scoma’s: This is in Fisherman’s Wharf- which normally no locals recommend- but for Cioppino is legendary

Kokkari- Amazing greek- you need a reservation- good for lunch- good for dinner

A16:  Fantastic Italian in the Mariana–fun area awesome food. See picture of the beautiful Marina below.

Marina

Elephant Sushi: Great Sushi.  Russian Hill

Aikikos: Financial district- amazing sushi

Bar Crudo: Fun atmosphere- very fun area, great seafood. This is in Nopa- go to Bi-Rite before for an ice cream– eat dessert first!

Nopalito: Amazing Mexican- you need to wait but it’s worth it- you can call in and put your number down. Get the Pisole Soup and the carnitas are absolutely fantastic.

Coquetta: Really good Spanish tapas on the Embarcadero

Park Tavern: Great for bruch- get the avocado toast

Rose’s: This is a local brunch spot for people in Pacific Heights- very much a locals place- smoked salmon breakfast pizza is an old favorite

Presidio Social Club: There is nothing really special about this, but it is fantastic location, great wrap around porch, in the Presidio.  There is a very cool old school bar there. It is rumored you can get a foie gras burger there … because it is on Federal Land- not California. Not confirmed…

Ocean Taqueria: Lower pac heights- this place looks scary- but it is outrageously good – get the carne asado burrito with onion and peppers.

Love Our Pink City

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image: Anne Solange Tardy

St. Helena, Napa Valley

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In the middle of the summer in San Francisco, when the fog blankets the city in thick cold mist and wind, it’s important to have a stable of destinations to escape to.

 

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Up in the Spring Mountain District of St. Helena is a gorgeous winery called Barnett Vineyards. We recently had the privilege of spending a weekend up there. The grounds are fantastic. And their Rattlesnake Hill Cabernet is legendary among wine people.

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The drive up to the estate is gorgeous. Winding roads with tree canopy coverage gives the impression you are somewhere very far from San Francisco despite the short 90 minute drive.


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Fly Fishing in California

The McCloud River

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Some of the most legendary fishing in California is located in the North of the state, very close to the Oregon border.

In the shadows of the tall pine of Shasta Trinity National Forest lies the McCloud River, or the Green Cathedral. This is famous among fly fisherman in the state– and for those who know fishing well– nationally.

Mt Shasta

image: loomis luggage

The place to fish in the idyllic place lies in the protected grounds manned by The Nature Conservancy. On any given day, 10 passes are given out to fish the McCloud. Five are reservations and five are walk ons. Reservations sell out for the entire summer season in one day in February. As such, many people make the pilgrimage to the McCloud in hopes of securing one of the five day passes.

The McCloud River- Nature Conservancy

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People camp at Ah-Di-Na before making their way to the river. And that is camping with a “c” not a “gl”. Campsites require a tent and all supplies however there is running water and fire pits at the campsite. Mornings begin early. And the fishing is spectacular. The water boasts every shade of green the eye can detect.

 

The McCloud River Fly Fishing

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The vegetation is unusual. In some places it is like a scene out of Jurassic Park.  Huge plants, giant flowers and clouds of butterflies are frequent sites along the 8 mile out and back hike along the river.


The McCloud River

image: loomis luggage

While in the area, it makes sense to pay a visit to Lassen National Park- one of the least visited and undiscovered National Parks in the United States. Dazzling glacier lakes lie beneath high altitude mountain hikes. The park was formed around the erupted Lassen Volcano- which created some unusual landforms– like an underground tunnel system called the Subway Caves


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While in Lassen, stop by the Loomis Ranger Station and the Loomis Museum, most certainly the highlight of the trip! 



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Conservacion Patagonia

Visit to the Future Patagonia National Park 

Magestic Guanacos

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image: Loomis Luggage

We recently had the incredible fortune to be invited to stay at the Future Patagonia National Park, created by Conservacion Patagonia. Staying in a new national park before it opens to the public was one of the most incredible experiences and we wanted to share some of it here.

To get to the Park, it is best to fly from Santiago, Chile to Balmaceda, Chile. From there you will begin what is a 5-8 hour drive on winding, dirt, mountain roads. The drive itself is one of the best drives, I would argue, in the world down the famed Carretera Austral. Four-wheel drive vehicles are necessary.

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image: Loomis Luggage

Food options are limited along this route. To be precise, they are limited to this vehicle; a bus repurposed into a hamburger stand. Service can be quite slow and the translations on the menu are a bit terrifying. But it’s hot food and quite the experience.

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image: Loomis Luggage

Who doesn’t love a good “You eat friend with sausages?”

Lake near Marble Caves

image: Loomis Luggage

Impossibly blue lakes appear out of nowhere as you crest over hills on dirt roads. Pictured above, Lago General Carerra, one of the many views along the way, is the second largest lake in South America.

Marbe Caves- Loomis Luggage

On this lake you can visit the Marble Caves. There are signs everywhere along the lake for boats that take you on the hour + ride to the caves. It’s hard to miss. Puerto Rio Tranquillo, where the lake and caves are, is one of the only towns you pass and it’s advisable to fill your car up with gas there. The view as you pump your gas is pretty exquisite, as you can see below.

Marble Caves Lake 2

image: Loomis Luggage

As you continue along on the drive you will encounter a very curious thing– a mini Golden Gate Bridge! Coming from San Francisco this was pretty fantastic. If only the waters of the Pacific were glacier blue and you could stop in the middle of the bridge to take photos!

Golden Gate Bridge

image: Loomis Luggage

And then, right as the day was coming to a close, we entered the Park. Restored grasslands and Guanacos grazing at sunset mark your arrival into this beautiful and expansive territory.

Guanacos

image: Loomis Luggage

The view below, from our windshield, was a welcomed one. The Park’s main structure, gorgeous, greeting us as we arrived.

 

The View from our Windshield

image: Loomis Luggage

We took in this pink sky at sunset as we walked to dinner at the main lodge. The meal was prepared with care by the Park’s sensational chef from San Francisco, serving food grown on the property.

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image: Loomis Luggage

No detail was left unattended to in the Lodge. The rooms were well appointed and luxurious with a very classy yet comfortable  feel. It reminded me of a Patagonian version of the Greenbriar.

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image: Loomis Luggage

The next morning we woke up to a homemade breakfast of wonderful fresh baked breads, jams, incredible butter (and I consider myself a butter connoisseur, see Cotswolds post), eggs and cereals. We prepared to explore the park, though it was difficult to step away from the family room of the Lodge.



The Lodge

image: Loomis Luggage

Our first hike took us up steep mountain ascents, down towards lagoons you could swim in (if you like the temperature of glacial water) and provided us with sweeping views of both Chile and Argentina. We also had a view of the towering Cerro San Lorenzo, the second tallest peak in the Patagonian Andes. 

Hiking day 1

image: Loomis Luggage

We had to ask ourselves many times, “Is this Patagonia or St. Barths?” Water simply is more beautiful in Patagonia.

Tropical Patagonia

image: Loomis Luggage

The day was not complete without a stop at the Argentine border, filling up our water bottles in the stream (you can drink from streams without worry) and heading back to the lodge where fresh baked muffins and a glass of cold white wine was waiting for us.

Republica Argentina

image: Loomis Luggage

The only way we could reconcile coming in from that spectacular hike was the fact that we were able to kick up our feet at this magical spot. 

Lodge at Future Patagonia National Park - Image CP

image: Conservacion Patagonica

The sun sets over the park. 

The Sky Outside the Lodge
image: Loomis Luggage

Our crew happily fed at a Patagonian Asado.

The Group

image: Loomis Luggage


We would encourage anyone who loves the great outdoors, conservation and stunning natural landscapes to make the trip down. Volunteering at the park is possible as well as visits, with advanced coordination.

Shortly after we left, the Park experienced one of the most devastating fires in that geographical’s history.

Volunteers will be welcome and appreciated in the months and years to come!

Email: heather@loomislugage.com with questions.

Jackson Hole: Winter Guide

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Wyoming is the least populous state in the union. Jackson Hole is the 48 mile long valley that straddles the snake river

Here are some things to do in the Winter:

Eat: 

During the winter, if you are skiing, it’s easier to stay and eat in Teton Village- referred to as ‘the village’. With that in mind here are some favorites. Terra Café for breakfast at the base of Jackson Hole Mountain. Four Seasons resort- it is combo of chic and cowboy- it’s expensive but worth it.  Note: you can rent a helmet camera from the ski concierge. If you just had the run of your life and want to congratulate yourself– or take some time to re-thinking now dropping Corbet’s – head to the restaurant on the top of the mountain called the Couloir. It’s fancy, the food is great, make reservations in advance. Osteria is also amazing for some wonderful Italian after a day on the mountain. For more casual try Teton Thai.

Outside of the village, Lotus Café is a wonderful organic place to restore your energy with some green juice and probiotic salad bowls. It is very popular with the locals- and it is very good.

For Apres Skiing: 

The Mangy Moose is the place to grab a micro brew and, usually, listen and probably dance to a local band. This is one of my favorite spots- it was also the place where the shot ski from our wedding had it’s last stand. Last intact photo of the ski below (lobster not included). At the Moose try anything from Snake River Brewing Company (you should also check it out in town). Additionally,  the state’s first locally produced bourbon Wyoming Whiskey has won a good deal of awards recently.

Here is a video my friend, videographer and Jackson resident Alden Wood Faust put together. It’s all all about Apres in Jackson Hole– it’s amazing.

shot ski jackson hole

Winter Activities 

  • Skiing- of course. Jackson Hole Mountain is a legend.
  • Snowshoeing or cross country skiing in grand Teton national park.
  • One other must for the winter is breakfast at Nora’s Fish Creek Inn. This should go under eating- but it really is an activity. It is not in the village, but it is in Wilson, closer than town. It is an incredible cabin with great food. It won a James Beard award in 2012. Get the huevos rancheros or the biscuits and gravy.
  • Snowmobiling in the park- we saw buffalo.
Mountain Chic
For more recommendations on Jackson: Check out Travel Guide, Jackson Hole Wyoming