Get Out of Town: The Selfish Vacation


It’s January and any or all of three adjectives could apply to your state of mind or body: stressed out, fat, lethargic. Come on—rejuvenate! Take one of the following trips to kick off a new fitness program, relax, revel in nature or simply have some fun. It’s time to take care of yourself.

Yoga by the Sea

Annalisa Cunningham, a Chico-based psychology instructor and author who teaches yoga, invites yoga enthusiasts to join one of her vacations through Opening Heart Journeys. This month, she leads a week-long vacation Jan. 8–14 to the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico, where for $1,400 (not including air fare), participants stay in Villas Shanti in Puerto Morelos, a small coastal fishing village. Guests partake in yoga practice every morning and meditation most evenings; the rest of the time, they’re exploring the region—beachcombing, snorkeling, visiting Mayan ruins, dining in the village. “That’s why we call it a yoga vacation rather than a retreat,” says Cunningham. “You’re not sitting in the hotel doing yoga all day.”

Snow Workout
Get one of the cozy log cabins among the trees at Sorenson’s Resort in Hope Valley ($215–$295 a night) and with it comes access to some 60 miles of cross-country ski trail. Although you’re less than two hours’ drive from home, you’ll feel like you’re really getting away from it all—most cabins come with Franklin-stove fireplaces and homey Scandinavian décor, but without TV or landlines. Hope Valley Outdoors center, a yurt set up 300 yards from Sorenson’s, can outfit you with cross-country skis and advise you which trails to kick-and-glide over. Be prepared for a stiff workout—on even the flattest trails, cross-country skiing gets your heart pounding inside your parka. Need a lesson? Ask at the yurt.;

Shut Up and Get Naked
Nestled in a preserve in the foothills about 20 miles east of Clear Lake, Wilbur Hot Springs lures tired souls to sink into its hot mineral water baths. With water channeled into three flumes—hot, hotter and hottest (110 degrees)—Wilbur invites guests to take their dip clothed or not. What’s not optional: talking. Keep quiet during your soak, and you might be surprised how much better you feel when you get out. The water’s got a reputation for healing, but could it be the quietude? In any case, take full advantage of your trip to the hot springs by joining weekend yoga, hiking the surrounding area or borrowing one of Wilbur’s complimentary bikes, getting a massage or two, and making your reservations for a Chef Weekend, when a visiting chef treats guests to nourishing meals Friday through Sunday ($150 per person). The next one is Jan. 28–30 with Marion Cascio, former staff cook at Big Sur’s famous Esalen. Private rooms start at $195 double occupancy; guests not participating in Chef Weekends bring their own groceries and prepare meals in the communal kitchen.

Winter Biking—and a Campout, Too
Pack up your mountain bike and head for Santa Cruz, where the trails at Wilder Ranch State Park beckon cyclists looking to whoop it up on the more than 30 miles of trails. There’s a trail for any level of rider—wide fire roads for beginners and goat-path single-tracks sure to raise adrenaline for even the hardest-core mountain biker. One thing’s for sure—the scenery is awesome: forests and ferns, windswept bluffs and ocean. Keep it cheap with a campout at Big Basin Redwoods State Park, where renting a tent cabin ($75 a night) puts you right under the redwoods in a 12-by-14-foot rainproof tent with a wood stove and two beds with mattresses (bring your sleeping bags). Sleep two people on the floor (it’s allowed), and you’ve got a vacation for less than $20 a night. Gather around the fire pit for s’mores and drinks in the evenings and tell war stories about your day on the trails.;

Beach Boot Camp
Get your butt kicked at a boot camp vacation through Getaway Fitness, a Florida-based company that runs camps as nearby as San Diego. Check into the Hotel del Coronado for a two- to 10-day stay (four nights costs $2,695 single, $2195 double) that includes meals and snacks, personalized program management, and five to six hours a day of structured and intense activity. Work with a personal trainer, have a fitness assessment, get nutritional guidance and be prepared to work out. Biking, kayaking, swimming, stretch and core conditioning, Pilates and yoga, cardio kickboxing and other activities fill up the day, which ends about 2:30 p.m. Then you can relax—sunbathe, get a massage or go sleep off your workout.




Day Trip: It’s Crab Season—Start out early and head for Pillar Point Harbor in Half Moon Bay, where several crab boats sell the crustaceans right off the boat. For about $5 a pound, choose yourself some live crabs to pack on ice for the trip home. (They’ll go dormant and sleep on the ride.) Or get ’em cleaned, cooked and cracked at Princeton Seafood, then head up to Montara Beach to picnic with a few bottles of Half Moon Bay Brewing Company’s famous Mavericks Ale and a loaf of crusty San Francisco sourdough.



$1 Fun in the Snow
Way up north in Lassen Volcanic National Park, you can plunk down one thin dollar and learn how to snowshoe on Saturdays and Sundays at 1:30 p.m. Your donation covers snowshoes, instruction and a tour. Dress in layers (you’ll start out cold and end up hot) and meet at the ranger station.




Free Beer and Jellybeans—Take a free tour of the Anheuser- Busch Brewery in Fairfield and taste two beer samples. Practically next door, the Jelly Belly factory runs free tours and sends you home with a 2-ounce bag of jelly beans. Tip: Go on a weekday when the factories are hopping.



Good Night, Sleep Tight and . . . Bedbugs!
We keep hearing about these nasty bloodsucking creatures turning up in hotel rooms. About the size of an apple seed, at maturity they’re brown and quite visible to the naked eye. Problem is, they’re sneaky buggers: They hide in mattresses and furniture and under carpet till they’re ready to come out and—shudder—feed. Any respectable hotel or inn operator is examining rooms carefully, but you’re wise to watch out for your own hide. Here’s what you need to know before you throw back the covers and climb into bed:

• Bedbugs don’t like to be seen in the light of day, so search beneath sheets, in mattress crevices, along the wall behind the bed. You’re looking for bugs themselves, or signs of them: skin casts or reddish-brown spots along mattress seams and piping.

• A hotel room infested with bedbugs may have a subtle stink-buggy smell, says Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology at UC Davis.

• If you see signs, report to the hotel manager immediately. (And, obviously, switch rooms—or hotels.)

• Store all luggage on racks or up off the floor. Keep bags closed. Bedbugs hitchhike, and the last place you want an infestation is at home.

• If you wake up to discover you’ve been bitten, don’t panic. Bedbugs do not transmit disease, says Kimsey. The bites are similar to mosquito bites and should disappear in a few days.