Haunted or just Lonely? Lodgings with Spirit… California

Here it is Halloween-

According to Wikipedia- “the word Halloween dates to about 1745- and is of Christian origin” but some date it back to some sort of Pagan or Celtic festivals celebrating and remembering those who have departed…

In the United States- it seems commercialism has taken over and it’s all about scaring and fright- or running around and collecting treats.. but what does it mean for YOU?

In my travels I have run into all kinds of locations that are deemed “Haunted” but again that can conjure images of scary places or just places where souls seem to be connected, still lingering about.

Sticking to  places in California I will share a few places I have personally stayed that felt “Haunted..” – leave a comment if you have been there and your feelings

+++these are all Personal Observations and opinions+++

Contact information for each location was correct as of date of publishing-

1. California- The Historic Mariposa Hotel Inn– 209.966.7500 – http://mariposahotelinn.com/

Staying here on a blustery October or early November night can definitely take you back in time to the 1850’s or maybe before. The old wooden hotel creeks a bit and the woods hold the laughter and steps of those adventurers and gold seekers from the past. Stories seem to cling around the stairs and just outside walking down main street. I stayed here some years ago now with my family and my mother who always seemed in tune to things you couldn’t see was awfully quiet about this place. I wasn’t sure if it was a bit old for what she expected to stay in or if she was just trying to keep me from being scared. I can’t say I “saw” anything but then isn’t a feeling picking up on something? Maybe by its mere historic status it invites your imagination to wander- perfect for those who seek more than a generic experience. Dig a bit or go and stay and decide for yourself.

2. Catalina Island– there are many places to stay on Catalina Island- GlenmorePlaza.com is the oldest on Catalina Island and 2nd oldest in California. Interesting facts- the same crew that built the stunning Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego built this shortly after. Many famous guests have stayed here- reportedly Charlie Chaplin, Marilyn Monroe and Amelia Earhart. The whole island is a bit spooky in a way to me, maybe it’s the turbulent ocean you have to cross to get here, maybe it’s the isolation I feel or maybe it’s the lost souls like Natalie Wood who still wander here. I spent many September Weekends here participating in the Catalina Art Festival.. and after the crowds left and the streets emptied it felt lonesome and haunting.. and often I would turn around to see if someone were following me, even though it’s an island and there aren’t too many places to wander but yet it left deep impressions on me- and in fact I have not returned.

Catalina Island does offer hiking, music events, art festivals, and of course rent a golf cart and take in the views!

Go and check it out for yourself. 800.422.8254- think there about 42 rooms/suites.

3. Last location I will share though California has many more- The Coast Guard House Historic Inn- 707.882.2442, 7 rooms and built in 1901

I did enjoy my stay here but would I say I feel it is haunted… maybe. The location is near the rocks right off the ocean. Originally I felt at peace, but maybe it’s just a bit too isolated, maybe the sounds of the waves reminded me that the lightkeepers who built it often risked their lives to save others or maybe it;s the fact that it really is alone on the bluff. You can’t walk to other shops or restaurants, it is very much a destination in itself. Sometimes the hikers or characters you see milling by the pier make you feel a bit vulnerable, as you are far from civilization and the innkeepers don’t stay onsite. So if you like being alone from civilization with a view this might be a great place to do it- or to compose that next mystery novel- the Movie by Hitchcock the Birds isn’t far away.


Thanks for reading my post on Haunted or Not Lodgings in California- if you are interested in joining me on a Trip or Tour or just need an Itinerary put together – contact me!

April 818.723.7413



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Budget Tips for New England in October

Here are some quick tips to help you do a Budget trip to New England in October !

  1. Airfare: A couple tips on Airfare- book early- use a flight tracker such as Google Flights, Kayak or Hopper to just name a few- these will watch prices and alert you when it is a good time to purchase
  2. Fly on days such as Tues or Wednesday if possible.

3. Car rental prices – again look early, compare multiple sites like Kayak, CheapCarrental.com and sign up for rewards programs thru the big names like Enterprise. Another way to save is skip the extras, double check your other insurance thru your credit card to avoid tacking on additional insurance. Having one driver is another way to save money. Car-pool- go with a group of people so you can split the charge.

4. Lodging- I find there are many places to stay in New England and there are often places just off the beaten path that will charge a bit less. Look at sites like Hotels.com which will often list nearby cities and options, and then book direct thru the Hotel or motel. Read the fineprint on cancel policies. If you can avoid the big Columbus Day Weekend you will save money- weekend are most expensive! Share lodging- either with your travel companions or check the smaller no name mom and pops. I have found many clean rooms with bathroom that aren’t super fancy that are much cheaper than the Chain names and often with these rooms you will get free coffee or breakfast included.

5. Food- with cooler temps – you can buy food at local markets, or stop at the many Country Stores and get some incredible soups and sandwiches to sustain you. If you start with a good breakfast (maybe included with your lodging) and then snack along the way- all those Free Sample cheese shops….you can have a light dinner from one of the many Country Stores!

6. Skip the tours- there are plenty of places to enjoy all that fall offers without an “Admission Price” – covered bridges everywhere, scenic hiking, cheese sampling, small historic towns, lighthouses and more. Do some internet research and you will find so much to fill your days!

7. Souvenirs- If you want to buy some gifts for yourself or others- buy local- many of the local grocery stores have local jams, syrups and more. Maybe I just like to eat but bringing back a food item is a great practical gift and often doesn’t have to cost a lot. Cell phone photos- take a lot of cell phone photos and turn your photos into cards, puzzles and so many more items, check out sites like shutterfly.com, moo.com, snapfish and others for unique gifts using your photos

Most important is start planning EARLY- if you plan ahead you will have the best selection of rooms – waiting will result in being subject to what is available and where it may be available.

Thanks for reading my blog! My name is April and I have been traveling to New England specifically in October since 2003 and can help you plan the trip of a lifetime or join me and leave it all to someone else!

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Vermont- More than Pretty Fall Colors!

Vermont- one of our nations Smallest states and in a ratio of cows to people .. well you know the answer!

Vermont- one of the best places to experience the change of seasons!

What else makes Vermont unique?? Well here are a few quick facts …

The Trapp Family made famous with the movie starring Julie Andrews and the musical “Sound of Music” settled in Vermont and descendants still own and run the Trapp Family Lodge- beautiful location and beer! Stowe is popular in the fall and you can often ride the ski lifts and gondolas to get some incredible views of the foliage and not worry about knowing how to ski!

The ONLY President to have been born on the 4th of July – Calvin Coolidge was born in Plymouth Vermont and sworn in by candlelight there and you can see this small village today as it was .. and do some Cheese tasting! Crunch thru the old leaves, and watch a hundreds year old cheese process and sample some!

Vermont also is the Nation’s largest producer of Maple Syrup so why not just go and see the trees it comes from! Many of the farms that produce Maple Syrup from the very trees whose beautiful leaves we love to see are open for tasting- and of course walking!

And there is Ben and Jerry’s where bus loads now stop to walk thru the factory, sample some new flavors and check out the graveyard of lost flavors. Ben and Jerry’s buys its milk from local dairies supporting local farmers and its waste goes back to the cows- except I understand Oreo- they don;t seem to enjoy that flavor!

So grab a bag- and head out to Vermont- and if you are looking for lodging I still know some local gems to wake up and smell the fresh coffee brewing!

My name is April – I create unique itineraries for photographers, travelers and those that wish to celebrate what we have right here in America! You can get the best tips from someone who has been going to Vermont since 2003, eating, sleeping and taking a few photos !

Contact me and enjoy your best New England experience!

April 818.723.7413


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Fall in New England ! Feel it Taste it – New England in October!

Fall in New England? I am sure some of you thought I was going to chat about safety but the Word Fall perfectly fits the Season. Like Spring is a popping UP an Awakening of sorts- Fall is a time to gather- collect our thoughts, our best feelings, our Warm experiences- gather the BEST to carry us thru what used to be very Long Dark Days of WINTER.

So when I get asked to create an Itinerary it’s difficult to sell you thru WORDS- you can’t see my face, I can show you some photos or maybe try to explain an experience but my experience is just that – an experience so to FALL in NEW ENGLAND – you have to do just that… FALL in.. Fall in and taste a warm slightly sweet cider donut hot in your hands, you have to hear the early morning cry of the loons, watch the clouds lifting and the light changing over the hillside and the fog lifting to reveal the picture postcard view of a Red Barn surrounded by bright colored trees, walk quietly and hear the leaves crunch… BUT I still have to try and find is an experience that is important to YOU!

Fall is also just by Nature and the word itself… you Fall you need to be SLOW… you need to take it SLOW- you need to not rush. By rushing you won’t have time to taste the hot sweet cider, or even have time to find the path to walk crunching thru the leaves, or look up at the light filtering thru the trees… let alone hear the whispers of history or feel the brisk air hit your face.

So… to really LOVE FALL in NEW ENGLAND – you need to be willing to slow it down-

Google Maps, Mapquest- all of these programs have made it easy to get us from Portland Maine to Bennington Vermont and back to Boston in a few days – say 3 or 4 because that’s all you have BUT is that Fall in New England? I don’t think so= that’s just a fly over to ME but…

So when you are planning your Trip to New England- give me some thoughts on why you want to go – what experiences you hope to have and let’s chat and make it memorable!

You gotta Fall- you gotta Feel and you gotta SLOW it down a tad to really experience why millions return each October to New England!

Planning Tips for Fall in New England-

  1. choose some Experiences to go with the Colors- because the Colors will be found but need to be paired with say a hike, beer tasting, finding the best cider donut or checking out all the Country Stores or a covered bridge-
  2. Time– the best roads are NOT 60mph or more like we drive getting to work in places like LA- the best roads are more like 35-40- and lots of stopping or slowing down- tractors are out, school buses, and small towns have one lane roads going thru them – YES they DO exist!
  3. Locations- there are many places- but do you prefer being by the Water, chatting with a few others over a Farm breakfast, = Locations work somewhat in tandem to your desired experiences

My name is April- I have been leaving LA each fall for over 15 Octobers to experience Fall in New England, sleeping local and Eating Local and I hope to help you create a memorable trip OR join me and spend more time capturing it with your camera OR leave the Driving to ME..


Fill out the FREE Form on my website www.fallphototrips.com or message me april @ aprilart dot com-

All the best! Now back to sipping my coffee and spice muffin !

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New England for October- still time!!

New England- specifically Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and states like Connecticut, and even Maine have beautiful fall foliage, covered bridges, small iconic Villages and 2 lane rooms – a sought after destination when the calendar turns to October.

Bookshelves are covered with travel guides and the internet full of ideas– but what IF you have just decided to take some time off and go… Now What??

Buy that Airline ticket- if you are lucky you can still find some great fares- Frontier, even Alaska Air fly to Boston and besides Boston you may want to choose one of the smaller airports such as Albany NY or Burlington Vermont.

Lodging- you can check on the chains and they will still have rooms in the larger places like White River Junction, Lebanon/Hanover and others BUT you CAN still find rooms in smaller places- unique finds. HOW do I do that you may ask- well you can spend a lot of time hunting- making phone calls and being on the internet but there are some hidden gems- or get yourself an Itinerary Planner- let them find places, and often someone like myself will have relationships with many bed.breakfasts and inns and be in the know about available rooms.

Be willing to lower your “standards” if Money is a concern or a factor- choose something with fewer reviews or places that are more “basic”,  many of the old 50’s roadside motels have been updated with clean hardwood floors, and basic clean lodgings for a fraction of some of the chains. Read the reviews and realize you are only sleeping there- prices in fact can triple during the month of October.

Secure your WEEKEND LODGING first- I can’t stress this enough – the Weekends fill up- because those living/working in the metro areas of New York, Boston so on and on also get out and take Fall Weekends, and the many Colleges, and Universities have Parents Weekend, Homecoming and other events that fill up the rooms !

Plan now- do some research- be flexible or get some assistance. BUT PLEASE GO!! Mother Nature is continually creating changes- so don’t wait plan to go to New England EVEN IF you just started your PLANS !


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Fall Foliage in New England- Facts, and Fun!

Tourism is big business in the tiny New England states of New Hampshire and Vermont. Each year millions of visitors descend on the 2 lane roads, filling the bed/breakfasts and lining iconic hillsides at sunrise with tripods to get that postcard image.

Historically the First 2 weeks of October bring colors to the Northern tier of Vermont and New Hampshire. Color travels south and areas by water such as coastal areas tend to turn last.

New England consists of Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut and Massachusetts.

Vermont Fun Facts: Largest producer of Maple Syrup – takes 40years to grow a maple to be able to get Maple Syrup. It takes about 40 gallons of sap to produce 1 gallon of syrup! There is also a grading system for syrup!

New Hampshire is the birthplace of Poet Robert Frost, the first public Library was founded in Peterborough and New Hampshire was the first to declare Independence from England prior to the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

more fun facts to come-

Fall Foliage tips- get out early to make the most of each day- daylight usually ends the first couple of weeks of October by 6pm and earlier. Plan ahead for lodging. Be patient- most roads are two lanes and people do live here, working, going to school and getting ready for Winter! Don’t let the numbers keep you away- with planning you can find many quiet places, trails, views and undiscovered gems!

46 days until October 1- so if you have not started planning- get cracking!

I can also assist you- since 2003 I have slept in many bed/breakfasts, small hotels, motels, family owned lodgings and a few corporate ones. I have driven back roads and taken many photographs- so drop me an email! april@aprilart dot com


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Fall Foliage Activities for ALL AGES

October will be here before we know it! It seems many school age children now get a “Fall Break” similar to a Spring Break but in the Fall so many families have a week to spend enjoying some Fall Time together- plan ahead for activities and destinations that will appeal to all!

New Hampshire- The Flume Gorge open until October 21-walking, waterfalls and lots of stairs, a covered bridge and exploring thru the woods. Not recommended for those who have trouble walking as there is a lot of walking and a lot of stairs zig zagging thru the gorge.

there is an admission charge- for a family plan on Adults $16, kids under 5 Free, and kids over 5 = $14.00 check the website for hours and up to date pricing


Antique Speedboat Rides on Lake Winnipesaukee– not a slow scenic boat though you could get on one of those as well – there are hourly scenic cruises or longer day trips but for something more authentic and exciting how about a ride on a real ChrisCraft boat from 1931. Check the website for pricing and availability!


Moulton Farm- Quarry Road- Meredith New Hampshire-

Stop by in the summer for fresh produce- a walk in the gardens and more

September the fun begins with the Corn Maze, wagon rides, cider donuts and more! Small admission price for the Corn Maze but everything else is free- and sometimes they even have free samples!

The Inn at East Hill Farm-603.242.6495

More than just an Inn- they offer all kinds of farm activities- call to see if you can pay for the day or stay longer if you wish. Milking cows and other activities for all ages on a real working farm!

weekly summer programs, special events and more! Memorable place to spend with family or friends!

FunSpot– Weirs Beach- Laconia- everybody needs a place to go if it RAINS- how about 3 floors of pinball machines, video games, indoor mini golf and bowling just to start- great place for all ages and has been there for years!

Hobo Railroad– Lake Winnipesaukee- you always waved at the man in the caboose as the train went by- well now get a chance to be in that caboose as the train circles Lake Winnipesaukee. Check the website for prices and dates www.hoborr.com

Gould Hill Farm– Contoocook, New Hampshire- all kinds of apples to pick, sample and more! Sample, see how cider is made, and explore! www.gouldhillfarm.com

This is just my sampling of suggested places for visitors of all ages to New England in the Fall- check back for more suggestions, and if you need a personal itinerary email me at april@aprilart.com







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New England for YOU-

Overwhelmed trying to plan your Fall Foliage trip to New England? Not sure where to start? Just don’t have hours to spend on the internet or even trying to read all of those travel guides lining the shelves at your local bookstore…

Well- maybe a personal travel planner would be of help.

I have been going to New England specifically New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont and Massachusetts since 2003. I have personally stayed in many many bed/breakfasts, hotels, motels and inns. I have eaten at many restaurants, diners, cider stops, ice cream shops, lobster shacks and donuts – it’s amazing I don’t gain 50 pounds every time I go!

I have an interest in history, architecture, hiking, photography, and offbeat destinations- so I can suggest more than enough places to fill your days!

I am not a travel agent but a travel planner – I will work one on one with you to help you plan your unique trip, whether it is your first time or your fiftieth and can customize it for the type of experience YOU want- a little outdoors, romantic, solo, group or a photography guide and you make the bookings. You are in charge of how much you want to spend on lodging, dining or just doing nothing.

How does it work-

1. send me a detailed email letting me know if you have specific dates, how many people, what kind of trip it is or what kinds of activities you enjoy.

Let me know if you have a budget for lodging. Have you already done some booking let me know so we can work that into your plans.

2. Connect with me-

Once we have agreed on a price if it doesn’t fit a 7 day, 14 day or weekend or you have a special request we will work together over email, phone or skype.

We will review your plans- get your lodgings reserved and be sure we both are on the same page as to your wants and goals.

3. Reservations- I will work with you to be sure you have lodgings. I can often save many hours of internet research to be sure you have places that fit your needs and match your budget.

4. You will get a detailed itinerary with daily suggestions for activities- and maps to match

And you may also just want a quick Off-The Shelf- Daily guide for a specific destination- contact me.

I am also always adding more Destinations- not just for Fall but anytime of year- so contact me and let me know where you are going! I know many fellow travelers, guides, photographers and tour leaders so drop me a note and let’s chat!

The Internet provides a lot of great information but sorting thru it all can feel tiring so let’s get chatting and creating your personal trip of a lifetime!



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Best Places to Photograph Fall Color- Planning Tips!

Wow- here it is JULY 1-and it’s probably pretty HOT and bright wherever you are- the kids are running around or playing in the pool and hopefully you are relaxing.. but it’s already TIME to start planning your Fall Travels!

Photography in the Fall is obviously one of my favorite seasons! I live to get out and capture the “carpet” of trees- reds, oranges, greens, yellows and browns against a bright blue sky!

The United States has some incredible destinations for Capturing Fall Colors-

  1. New England tops in my book for its variety of scenics- small towns, covered bridges, small farms and iconic steeples dotting the landscape. New England for most is Vermont and New Hampshire. Contact the state tourism offices for Free Maps and guides. Classic Movies like “On Golden Pond”, “Funny Farm”, “Beetlejuice”, and “Jumanji” were all filmed in Vermont and New Hampshire.
  2.  Boston and Massachusetts- Boston is a trip in itself as you don’t want a car and the city is full of historic spots and brownstones! Best advice- don’t rent a car, stay a few days and then you can rent a car and hit the Mohawk Trail one of Americas earliest trade routes follows a couple of rivers. Plan early for Boston- Boston is probably the priciest place to stay in the United States with rooms during Fall Weekends starting around $250.00 unless you have friends or family to crash on their couch!
  3. New York state- Upstate New York – all along the Hudson River communities like Senaca Falls which is forever linked to the classic Christmas Movie “It’s A Wonderful Life” and gateway to the Finger Lakes. You can sip wine, and watch the leaves fall! For something relaxing and wonderful to do in the Fall Consider a Hudson River Cruise- consult American Cruise lines or other provides and enjoy a unique trip and never have to deal with “traffic” !
  4. Virginia- The Blue Ridge Parkway and Shenandoah National Park – get your car packed and head out on another incredible drive thru the trees. Shenandoah National Park also has an incredible Artist in Residence program. This is a great trip for those who enjoy driving but don’t have a lot of vacation days. There are plenty of places to pull off and also places to stay within the park- get outside or take it at your pace. See the website for the National Park for more tips!
  5. Maine- kind of a hidden gem- lots of Trees, and miles and miles of shoreline. Acadia National Park glows in the fall and offers places to get away from the hoards of Leaf Peepers! Pick up a guide book, this park offers a variety of landscapes to keep a photographer busy, a lighthouse, beaches, rocky, smooth, trees and water and changes in elevation offer plenty to fill your memory card! A few photographers Collen Miniuk Sperry, and David Middleton both have great guides you can pick up at your local bookstore or order online.


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Photography and Safety

Photography and Safety- Some tips to keep in mind:

If you are a Landscape Photographer or an Avid Traveler who enjoys taking photos it is important to take time to be SAFE

If you are Driving – know where you are going – don’t just rely on your cell phone, many places even within the United States. Be prepared- make sure your car is full of gas, often when we are photographing in Nature we get excited and the chase is on!

The Buddy System- I highly highly advise the Buddy System- I can’t stress this enough. It is important if you are going outside even if you think you know the area, the park, the neighborhood- go with someone. IF you insist on going it alone- let the hotel front desk know you are going out, where you plan on going to and a contact phone number. If you don’t return by a certain time wouldn’t you rather have someone out looking for you– than not?

Proper ATTIRE– for outdoor photography know the weather, know the potential conditions, coats, hats, boots, don’t be out without proper clothing- carry extra with you if you go out for a long hike or have in your car.

FOOD– be sure and take some FOOD- I can’t stress this enough either especially for landscape and travel photography. A few power bars, nuts, and bottled water can carry you over for a few hours when the light gets great!

Basics like a FLASHLIGHT, bandaids, aspirin, are minimum items you should keep on you. You can purchase a travel size pre-packaged First Aid Kit as well to keep with you, in a backpack or in your car.

If you Join A PHOTOTOUR – ask questions so you will be comfortable with the guide, or some trips you do your own driving.

Thanks for reading my blog and if you have comments or would like to see a destination covered let me know!






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