MIscellany extensive guide to Berkeley and San Francisco area, plus inspiring articles about trips around the world

Berkeley and Beyond



Cal Adventures
  Dept. of Recreational Sports, University of California, Berkeley.  Adventure trips include sailing, sea kayaking, windsurfing, and more.  Day classes and special programs for children in grades 3 through 12 are also available.

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Coastwalk California  Sebastopol.  Organized summer hikes in California's coastal counties range from 2 to 9 days, with camping gear shuttled by vehicle.  The goals of this non-profit organization are to nurture an awareness of the coastal environment and to promote development of a continuous California Coastal Trail. 

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Green Tortoise  San Francisco.  Travel on this groovy, laid-back, alternative bus line at bargain rates.  The clientele on summer trips tends to be the under-30s crowd, and winter trips to Mexico attract mature travelers, but all ages are welcome on all trips.  Trips are available to almost anywhere on this continent, including short trips to Mendocino and Yosemite, cross-country trips with stops at national parks, and trips down to Baja in Mexico.  Usually the scenic route, which is not necessarily the most direct route, is followed.  Overnight accommodations are sometimes on the bus, which is a sleeper coach, and sometimes at a campsite or in a hostel, and meals are mostly vegetarian.  The jack-of-all-trades bus drivers often organize cookouts, and they get out and fix breakdowns themselves.  Back in the ‘70s passengers sometimes got out and pushed when necessary, but the new buses have eliminated that.  All in all, a trip on this bus line is really a trip.

HI Northern California Hostels  San Francisco.  No pets.  The idea behind hosteling is to save money, so accommodations are simple.  Traditionally women bunk in one dormitory-style room and men in another, but nowadays many hostels also have separate rooms for couples and families.  Most hostels provide bedding and towels to guests at no charge or a nominal fee, and bathrooms and kitchens are shared.  Fees are low, ranging from $20 to $30 per person per night, and children under 13 with a parent are half of that; fees for separate rooms are slightly more.  Note that some hostels close during the day, usually from 10 to 4:30.  Call for a free brochure detailing the hostels in Northern California.  Members get a discount at most hostels and receive a newsletter and handbook describing U.S. hostels. 

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Junior Ranger Program in California State Parks  Designed for children ages 7 through 12, the Junior Ranger program is most active in summer.  It includes nature walks and activities related to learning more about the particular park and helps kids discover the rich natural and cultural heritage of California’s state and national parks.  Sessions last about an hour, and awards are presented as children progress.  A child can begin the program at one park and continue at a later date in another location.  To join a similar program in the national parks, kids promise, “I pledge to do what I can to protect and preserve the plants, animals, and history of our National Parks.”  Why, some Junior Rangers have even grown up to become real park rangers. 

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Reno Fun Train
  Schedule & prices vary; Jan-Mar only.  Must be age 21+.  This rolling cocktail party includes a bar car, a dance car with a live band, and a sightseeing dome car.  Passengers are encouraged to bring along snacks and drinks, and one meal is provided in each direction.  The package includes lodging for two nights in Reno, transfers to some hotels, and a coupon book.  The train takes on passengers in Emeryville, Martinez, Suisun, and Sacramento.  A Reno Snow Train operates mid-week.

Sierra Club Outings  San Francisco.  Of the more than 350 global outdoor adventures scheduled each year, close to 20% are in California.  Trips last from 4 to 8 days and typically include lodging and meals.  Shorter day and overnight trips are organized by local Sierra Club chapters.

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