Chino Hills State Park reopens Sunday

The Freeway Complex Fire ravaged Chino Hills
State Park
burning more
than 13,800 acres of park property. Since then, crews have been working to make the park safe again and reopen. 

On
Sunday, Feb. 1, the park will reopen with some restrictions. The park will be open for
day use and camping.

         
Hills for Everyone Trail                     

        
East Fence Line Trail                      

        
Sidewinder Trail

        
Water Canyon Trail

        
Scully Hill Trail

 

*Telegraph
Canyon Trail is open but please use caution adjacent to Little Diemer trail due
to a mudslide washout.

 he
park is missing many trail signs, so please do not venture into the backcountry
unless you are familiar with the park. We will continue to work on restoring
the park. We will reopen the trails that are closed once it is safe to do so.

 For
more information and updates please call: 951-780-6222.

Sealcam at Ano Nuevo State Park

Ao Nuevo
State Park has installed a new High
Definition (HD) Elephant Seal camera (or Sealcam) as part of its newly

remodeled Marine Education Center. They’re looking for your seal of approval.

 

            “This new Sealcam will provide our visitors with
a unique and extremely clear, close-up window into the world of these
magnificent sea creatures,” said State Parks Director Ruth Coleman. 
“I am excited that HD technology and solar energy enables our visitors to
get the kind of view you would only get otherwise if you were actually sitting
next to these animals.”

             
For the first time in the history of the Reserve, live High Definition video of
the Elephant Seals located on Ao Nuevo Island
will be displayed real-time on a large plasma screen in the Visitor Center.  
The new High Definition Sealcam is located a mile and a half off shore on Ao
Nuevo Island in the middle of a very isolated colony of the Northern Elephant
Seals.   It is necessary to have a camera, because the island is a marine
reserve, a restricted-access location, that is set aside for protection of the
seals and a camera is the only way for the public to view this unique natural
setting. 

            Powered
by green energy (a 720-watt photovoltaic solar system), the HD sealcam, with
its thirty magnification zoom lens,  will provide visitors with a spectacular
new way to observe the Elephant Seals as well as  the other extraordinary
marine life that frequents the island.  This new video portal onto the island
produces a clarity of image that is only possible using a High Definition video
format.

            Ao Nuevo
State Park
is one of the largest
mainland breeding colonies in the world for the northern elephant seal, and the
parks interpretive program attracts tremendous interest every winter during the
Elephant Seal breeding season.  Elephant Seals have gained their name because
of their large size and the long pendulous noses on the males.  The male
elephant seals at the Ano Nuevo measure fourteen to sixteen feet in length and
weigh up to 5,000 pounds each.

            While
the northern elephant seals may be seen year-round at the reserve, the largest
number of seals can be seen during their breeding season, which extends from
December through March.  The huge bull elephant seals engage in violent battles
on the beach to establish dominance and to take control of their
“harems”.   The females give birth to their young on the dunes.
Most of the adult seals are gone by early March, leaving behind the weaned pups
that remain through April.

      Ao Nuevo State Park is located on the coast of San Mateo County, south of San
Francisco
and Half
Moon Bay

From the north, drive to the town of Half
Moon Bay
and head south on Highway 1, about 25 miles
to the Ao Nuevo State Park entrance.  Park in the visitor lot and walk the
short path to the visitor’s center.   From the Santa Cruz Area, go north
on Highway 1, about 22 miles
.
 

            Funded
by donations,
the Elephant Sealcam will also provide university researchers
with an exciting new opportunity to remotely monitor the nests of Pelagic
Cormorants that breed on Ao
Nuevo Island

during the summer. In addition, live video from the Elephant Sealcam will also
be used 

as
part of the “Parks Online Resources for Teachers and Students”
(PORTS) program for classroom education programs on the Elephant Seals at Ao
Nuevo.  (See http://www.ports.parks.ca.gov
for more information about PORTS.)

            The
dramatic video produced by the new Ao Nuevo Elephant Sealcam will also be
available on the State Park web in a lower resolution format.  To view the
video remotely, go to the State Parks Web Site at:  http://www.parks.ca.gov/default.asp?page_id=523 

             During the breeding season through March 31, daily
access to the Reserve is available only via guided walks. Advance reservations
are recommended for walks.  Reservations can be made by calling 800-444-4445.

Holland America sails into Glacier Bay

23054-ms_Maasdam_in_Alaska-8804.jpgHolland America Line’s fleet
of eight cruise ships sailing in Alaska will offer more trips into Glacier
Bay National Park and Preserve. The National
Park Service has allocated the company 65 use days each year during prime
summer season for a 10-year period beginning in 2010.
 

“Holland
America Line has a long history of sailing in Glacier Bay, and we look forward
to welcoming their ships each year,” says Glacier Bay National Park
superintendent, Cherry Payne. “They have created a comprehensive
educational program focusing on the park and have supported the Park
Service’s goal to reduce the environmental impacts to Glacier
Bay
.”

The National Park
Service regulates the number of cruise ships entering the bay from June through
August and allows no more than two per day in order to protect the fragile
marine environment. Glacier Bay is a 65-mile
long fjord with spectacular tidewater glaciers.

“Glacier Bay
is often singled out by our guests as a “must see” on their trip to
Alaska,” said Richard
D. Meadows, CTC, executive vice president, marketing, sales and guest programs.
“We are honored to show this magnificent place to our guests, and we
remain committed to conserving it for future generations.”

Glacier Bay is
visited on four different itineraries including roundtrip Seattle, roundtrip Vancouver and Vancouver to Seward (gateway to Anchorage) and reverse. A
visit to Glacier Bay includes a full day of
sightseeing in the park with the opportunity to view multiple tidewater
glaciers.

The National Park
Service focused on applicants’ commitment to meeting certain requirements
such as minimizing air and water pollution and on board enrichment to educate
guests about the area. Holland America Line exceeded requirements with its
environmental management systems program and has a full enrichment program in
place for guests.

Holland America
Line’s Environmental Management System is certified to conform to the ISO 14001
standard, and particular to operating in Glacier Bay,
the company has committed to zero discharge and reduced air emissions.

In Glacier Bay, a National Park Service ranger boards the
ship for the day for narration and presentations.  A Tlingit cultural
interpreter from Hoonah will board ships in Glacier Bay
to provide a native perspective on the area and its history. 

During the
weeklong cruise, Alaska Travel Guides are on board and give presentations such
as “Feathers, Fins and Fur: Alaska Wildlife” and “Alaskan
Gold Rush Dreams.”

The National Park
Service Junior Ranger program offered through the line’s youth program,
Club HAL, engages kids ages 6 to 12 in shipboard activities. A Junior Ranger
Activity Book encourages interaction with the park ranger and group activities
are planned to learn about the park’s history, wildlife and unique
ecosystem.

Upon completion of a set number of activities, the child is awarded
a special Junior Ranger badge. Club HAL also offers other activities separate
from the Junior Ranger program such as a “Match the Mammal” game,
Monty the Moose video, Measure the Whale, Dream Catchers craft and others.

Holland
America Line has been leading tours in Alaska
for more than 60 years and has eight premium ships offering a total of 156
cruises and 29 CruiseTours ranging from 10 to 20 days in length.  For more
information about booking, contact a travel agent or call 1-877-SAIL-HAL
(1-877-724-5425) or visit
www.hollandamerica.com.

Whale watching along the California Coast

The
annual migration of thousands of gray whales (up to 50 long and 45 tons each)
is now underway.  It begins in Alaskan and moves south along California‘s
coastline to birthing and breeding waters in Baja California.

 From December through March, visitors have the
opportunity to view the return of the gray whale, the state’s official marine mammal,
in a number of prime locations in California State Parks.  We have included a
listing to make your selection easier.

“Whale watching along our coast is a wonderful
and exciting family adventure,” said Ruth Coleman, director of California
State Parks.  “I would suggest a little research on whales along our
coast to get the kids primed, and then find a safe spot where crashing waves
won’t interrupt your adventure. And, bring the binoculars!”

On their journey, the whales move past Point Reyes,
the Farallon Islands,
through Half Moon
Bay and Monterey
Bay, and follow the coastline along
Southern California before reaching Mexico. The whales travel in small
groups and stay close to the shoreline for protection from predators, such as
killer whales.

Traveling 70 to 80 miles per day, the whales’ spouts
of vaporized water (at times reaching 12 feet high) can be seen as the whales
surface every three to five minutes to breathe. Their 12,000-mile round-trip
trek is the longest known distance any mammal migrates on an annual basis. The
whales’ migration pattern reverses when they lead their new-born calves back to
Alaska.

State park whale watching sites include:

 

HUMBOLDT COUNTY

Humboldt Lagoons State Park (Dry Lagoon),
phone: (707) 677-3121

Patrick’s Point State Park (Palmer’s Point and
Wedding Rock) in Trinidad phone: (707)
677-3570

Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park
(Gold Bluffs Beach),
phone: (707) 464-6101, extension 5300

 

MENDOCINO COUNTY

MacKerricher State Park
(Laguna Point) on the Mendocino Coast three miles north of Fort Bragg,
phone: (707) 964-9112 or (707) 937-5804

 

MONTEREY COUNTY

Julia Pfeiffer Burns
State park
(Vista
Point, Highway 1), phone (831) 667-2315

 

ORANGE COUNTY

Crystal Cove State Park (949) 494-3539

 

SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY

Montaa de Oro State Park, phone: (805)
528-0513

San Simeon State Beach, phone: (805)
927-2035

 

SANTA
BARBARA
COUNTY

El Capitan State Beach (805) 585-1850

 

SAN LUIS OBISPO
OUNTY

Estero Bluffs State Park (805)
772-7434

 

California
State
beaches also offer
a number of programs and locations for viewing migrating whales. For details on
what programs are offered, contact the state park listed below or call (800)
777-0369 for general information on all state parks or go on line to www.parks.ca.gov

 

MENDOCINO
COUNTY

Manchester
State Beach

(707) 937-5804

MacKerricher
State Park
(707) 937-5804

Mendocino
Headlands State
Park
(707) 937-5804

 

MONTEREY
COUNTY

Garrapata
State Park
(831) 624-4909

Patrick’s
Point State Park (707) 677-3570

Point
Lobos State Reserve (831) 624-4909

Point
Sur State Historic Park (831) 625-4419

 

SAN DIEGO
COUNTY

Silver
Strand State
Beach
(619) 435-5184

 

SANTA BARBARA
COUNTY

Point
Sal State
Park
(805) 733-3713

 

SONOMA
COUNTY

Fort
Ross State Historic Park (707) 847-3286

Salt Point State Park
(707) 847-3221

Sonoma
Coast State
Beach
(707) 875-3483

 

CALIFORNIA WHALE FESTIVALS

 

Dana Point Festival of Whales

http://www.dpfestivalofwhales.com/home.html

 

Fort Bragg Whale Festival

Mendocino Whale Festival

http://www.mendowhale.com/events.htm

 

Point Mugu to Point Dume
Whale Festival
(Leo
Carrillo State
Park
)

http://www.parks.ca.gov/events/event_detail.asp?id=2184

 

Redwood Coast
Whale and Jazz Festival

http://gualalaarts.org/Festivals/2009WhaleJazz.html

 

Visit California State Parks on line at www.parks.ca.gov

Grand valentines at MGM Grand

The Signature at
MGM Grand welcomes couples to celebrate their love with the perfect union
- an idyllic non-smoking, non-gaming retreat just steps away from the
excitement of Las Vegas

Starting at just $159 per night*, The Signature’s “Romance Package” gives couples
the power to create their own
idyllic getaway.  It pairs complimentary chocolate-covered
strawberries and champagne upon arrival with a fragrant rose-petal turn-down
service. 

Couples then have the freedom to tailor their stay to suit their
ideal romantic escape – from a private in-suite dinner for two to a Valentine’s
Day concert by the incomparable Billy Joel.      

 

Options for The
Signature’s Romance Package
include:

 

  • Romantic
    in-suite Valentine’s Menu for Two by Signature Executive Chef Uday
    Huja

   Priced at $100
per couple, this delectable dinner includes:
Roasted heirloom beet carpaccio with satsuma orange
vinaigrette
;Pan-seared chicken breast marinated in Chardonnay and herbs; Tomato basil fettuccine tossed with sauted julienne carrots,
yellow squash and zucchini in aSan Marzano tomato sauce; Raspberry cheesecake with Chambord
mint sauce paired with a bottle of Moscato D’Asti
 

  • Tickets
    to share Valentine’s Day with critically acclaimed singer-songwriter
    Billy Joel’s Feb. 14 concert at the MGM Grand Garden Arena priced at $175, $125 and $75, excluding tax and service charges

   Indulge
your sweetheart with a rejuvenating Valentine’s service from MGM
Grand Spa and receive a complimentary box of chocolate truffles

  Chocolate Truffle
Pedicure, $90

   Raspberry Truffle
Massage, $125

  Chocolate
Raspberry Facial, $150

  Coupled with
Chocolate Treatment (massage for two), $250

 

Call 1-877-727-0007 and use booking code
“ROMNC09″ for The Signature at MGM Grand.


*The Signature at MGM
Grand’s Romance Package is available February 1, 2009 to March 31,
2009.  The $159 starting rate excludes tax and is based on a two-night
minimum stay in a junior suite.  Please inquire for specific rules and
restrictions.  Rates and availability vary.

Mauna Kea Beach Hotel reopens

22843-mkpreview-rates-mh.jpgThe Mauna Kea
Beach Hotel
on Hawaii’s
Big Island
has
reopened after its multi-million dollar restoration. The Mauna Kea has added
new amenities to the spa that offers exotic treatments, new culinary item by
the hotel’s executive chef George Gomes, and refurbished guest rooms.

The Mauna
Kea and Mauna Loa suites are 1,610 square feet that includes a lanai, upgraded
bedding, oceanview bathrooms, and new interior furnishings.

Continuing
activities and services are the 13-court Seaside Tennis Club, the Salon at
Mauna Kea, Hawaiian cultural experiences, Art & Garden Tour, yoga and
exercise classes, and the Beach at Kaunaoa Bay that offers beach services and
cabanas.

The Mauna Kea Golf Course has new grass throughout the course, rebuilt
bunkers and a new irrigation system. For more information, visit PrinceResortsHawaii.com.

Escape winter and save on luxury accommodations plus enjoy a $50 daily resort credit.

  • Starting from $385 per night, Mountain View room
  • Includes daily $50 resort credit good toward golf, dining, massages and other resort activities
  • Promotion valid 1/4/09 – 3/21/09

Our Prince Preferred Members receive 10% off above package rates and earn bonuses including points and frequent flyer miles. Learn More.  Not a member yet? Enroll now for FREE!

Terms
No
minimum night stay required. Rates are per night plus applicable taxes,
based on single/double occupancy. Rates and room categories are based
on availability. Promotion is valid for select room categories.

Superpool at Sheraton Waikiki Resort


The Sheraton
Waikiki Resort
has
added an $8 million pool and play area to its already $200 million hotel
renovation. The Helumoa Playground
“superpool” is located between the Sheraton Waikiki and The
Royal Hawaiian.

The playground features two fresh water swimming pools, two
whirlpools, ten cabanas, a water slide that measures 15-feet by 70-feet long,
and various areas to enjoy food, beverages, and parties.

The playground also
features lei making, hula lessons, water slide races, and more. The “superpool”
is open to guests daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, visit Sheraton-Waikiki.com.

Click on the following offers to view our Sunsational Savings Packages:

Sunsational Savings 2009 with THIRD (3rd) NIGHT FREE and Upgrade:

  • Third (3rd) Night FREE
  • FREE daily breakfast buffet for two (Neighbor islands only) or $75 Dining Credit (Oahu properties only)
  • PLUS one category room upgrade based on participating categories

Sunsational Savings 2009 with FREE NIGHT and Upgrade:

  • FREE night (varies by property)
  • FREE daily breakfast buffet for two (for Neighbor island properties only) or $75 Dining Credit (Oahu properties only)
  • PLUS one category room upgrade based on participating categories

Sunsational Savings 2009

  • FREE night (varies by property)
  • FREE daily breakfast buffet for two (for Neighbor island properties only) or $75 Dining Credit (Oahu properties only)

Buffett opens buffet in Waikiki

Looking for that “lei’d back” lifestyle that singer Jimmy Buffett is so famous for?

The songwriter is opening his latest dining and entertainment destination, Jimmy
Buffett’s at the Beachcomber, in Waikiki. The family-friendly restaurant is located in the  newly-remodeled OHANA Waikiki Beachcomber hotel. 

Buffet’s place is one of the features of the $21 million renovation at the
OHANA Waikiki Beachcomber.  The 21,000 square-foot restaurant will seat up to
500 diners, with plenty of room for locals and tourists alike.

Guests can sip Margaritas, Mai Tais or signature Boat Drinks on the open-air Lanai, the “Hot Spot Bar,” a dramatic homage to the lava formation of the Hawaiian Islands.

Of families can sit back in one of the Ocean Wave booths inspired by the towering waves found on Oahu’s North Shore.

They will enjoy a menu of regional cuisine, fresh seafood, steaks, burgers and chef’s specialties in the space where the renowned Don Ho Theater used to peform.

Local singers will perform nightly on the restaurant’s stage when the relaxing sounds of
Buffett’s own music isn’t filling the air. Using cutting-edge technology, images of majestic mountains, crashing waves and beautiful sunsets bring the outdoors inside.

“From the first time I rode a wave at Canoes on Waikiki I began to figure out how I could get back to Hawaii on a more regular basis to that One Particular Harbour,” says Jimmy Buffett.

“I’m not the first nor will I be the last traveler to do so, but now with the partnership of
the great folks at Outrigger Hotels, I have realized my dream and we will soon be open in Waikiki. I have had a long love affair with Hawaii and her people,” he added.

Jimmy Buffett’s at the Beachcomber is located on the upper lobby level of the OHANA Waikiki Beachcomber Hotel in Waikiki, Hawaii. It will be open from 7a.m. to 1:30 a.m. Breakfast will be available on the lanai daily from 7 to 10:30 a.m. Lunch and dinner will be served inside the restaurant from 11 a.m. to midnight. A poolside menu will be offered until 7pm daily.

For more information about Jimmy Buffett’s at the Beachcomber surf over
to www.jimmybuffettsatthebeachcomber.com

Grand valentines at The Grand Del Mar

Stymied
about Valentine’s Day choices that will make your partner’s eyes
sparkle? The Grand Del Mar in San Diego has created
several options for a memorable day on Feb. 14.

  For the gentleman who wants to dazzle
that special someone in an intimate home setting, Executive Chef Jason McLeod
and Wine Director Jesse Rodriguez will once again host a pre-Valentine’s
event on Friday, Feb. 13 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

They’ll welcome men
only at an hors d’oeuvre and wine reception,
followed by a cooking class and demonstration. Men will leave with a packaged
prepared meal for two to finish on Feb. 14. Limited
to 15 participants, the cost is
$125 per person; an additional $90
for two paired half bottles of wine.
For reservations, please call
858-314-2000.

Every Thursday through Saturday in February, chocolaty-yummy cocktails and special
wines paired with chocolate accompaniments will be served in The Grand Del
Mar’s Lobby Lounge from 7 to 10 p.m.

  Try these special libations: Banfi, Brachetto d’Acqui, “Rosso Regale,” Italy
served with Valrhona Chocolate
or Chambers, Muscat, Rutherglen
Australia
served with Ganache
. Flight of three
chocolate and wine pairing is $28.

 Or try a Chocolate
Pumpkin Pie Martini
concocted from Modern Spirits Pumpkin Pie Vodka,
Godiva Dark Chocolate Liquor with Nutmeg and Cinammon; Espresso Mojito with Anejo Rum,
Espresso, Orange Mint Syrup and Club Soda; or Chocolate Brle
created with Vanilla Rum, Verona Chocolate, Espresso and Steamed Milk. Prices
range from $12 to $15.

Located north San
Diego
County
,
The Grand Del Mar opened its doors in October 2007, after two years of construction and planning.
The luxury resort features 249
elegantly appointed guestrooms and suites.

It features San Diego’s only Tom Fazio-designed championship golf course; two outdoor tennis
courts; a 21,000-square-foot Renaissance-inspired spa; four swimming pools;
regional dining, including Addison, the signature restaurant and Amaya, an all day Mediterranean-style venue.

For more information, call
858-314-2000 or visit the Web site at www.TheGrandDelMar.com.

Death Valley discounts

The historic Furnace Creek Inn & Ranch Resort
in California’s Death Valley National Park is offering a progressive discount on the room rates to guests over 60 years of age. 

 

For a one-night stay any day of the week, seniors receive a 10
percent discount off the room rate at both the Furnace Creek Inn and Furnace
Creek Ranch.  For two-night stays, the discount increases to 20 percent
for the room for both nights, and three or more
nights will result in a 30 percent
discount off the room.

Cabin units at the Furnace Creek Ranch are not included.
Some other restrictions and blackout dates apply, and this offer cannot be
combined with other offers.

“We
appreciate all of our guests of course, but we think our young-at-heart guests
over the age of 60 deserve a special benefit just because of their
longevity,” said Phil Dickinson, director of sales & marketing for
the Furnace Creek Inn & Ranch Resort.

Travelers
can book the special discount online via “Special Promotions” at www.furnacecreekresort.com or by
calling 1-800-236-7916 or 1-303-297-2757.

 The Furnace Creek Inn is open mid-October through mid-May. It features 66 rooms, two suites, the Furnace Creek Inn Dining Room, tennis courts
and a secluded spring-fed pool. One mile from the Inn is the Furnace Creek
Ranch with 224 rooms, general store, spring-fed pool, tennis courts, horseback
riding and the Borax Museum.

 Adjacent
to the Furnace Creek Ranch is the Furnace Creek Golf Course, an 18-hole
championship course that is the lowest golf course in the world, at 214 feet
below sea level.

In addition to golfing, guests can spend their time seeing
Scotty’s Castle, a 25-room Moorish-style castle built by a Chicago
millionaire in the 1920s; relaxing by one of the resort’s pools; taking
in the beauty of Death Valley from one of the park’s many overlooks and
viewpoints; hiking the sand dunes or one of the park’s other geologic
wonders; enjoying an afternoon horseback trail ride or strolling the gardens
surrounding the venerable Furnace Creek Inn.