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Leslie McDowell’s California

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3901 Packer Lake Rd, Sierra City, CA 96125, USA

My wife, Robin, and I have been camping, fishing, and hiking in the Lakes Basin area, near Sierra City, since we met. These days, our usual home base is a tiny log cabin at the edge of Packer Lake, pictured here. From trailheads around Packer you...

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Strada comunale Serra, 1, 14055 Annunziata, Costigliole d'Asti AT, Italy
Winemaker Renato Ratti recently opened to the public his family’s 18th-century, 13-room villa in the Piedmont countryside. An old cellar stores decades’ worth of Ratti wines. Guided tastings can be arranged upon request, and bottles can be shipped...
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Big Sur, CA 93920, USA
When they say Big Sur, the "big" cannot be underscored enough. The Big Sur coastline area of California might be among my favorite places on earth. It doesn't matter what time of day, season of the year, or type of weather--it always has some...
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Zabriskie Point, California, USA
Looking something like a cross between a moonscape and leathery skin, Zabriskie Point is one of the landscape highlights of Death Valley. Shaped formations, formed over thousands and thousands of years look best in the early morning, as the sun...
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8501 CA-128, Philo, CA 95466, USA
This unpretentious tasting room is set in gorgeous country. Stop for a picnic--and some sips of brut rose--if you're cutting across the Anderson Valley en route to the Mendocino Coast.
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Presidio Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94129, USA
Artist Andy Goldsworthy's Wooden Line meanders its way through a grove of Eucalyptus in the Presidio, inviting all to take off shoes and balance beam through the forest. The sculpture, formed from the trunks of eucalyptus, gently curves its way...
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45500 CA-1, Big Sur, CA 93920, USA
One of my favorite campgrounds in Big Sur is the big open meadow at Andrew Molera State Park. It's great for large groups and it's one of the best bases for hiking and surfing in the area. More than 20 miles of trails run throughout the park's...
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52801 California State Route 1, Big Sur, CA 93920, USA
After five hours in the car, I was more than happy to hop out and hike the 1.4 miles out to Pfeiffer Burns State Park and get the prize of a beautiful waterfall. The water's color is an unreal sea blue/green that I have never seen before. The best...