LAKEPORT - Sometimes overlooked because of the state's spectacular Pacific coastline, California's fresh-water lakes offer plenty of getaway and vacation opportunities for the state's residents. One longtime favorite is Clear Lake, just a couple hours drive of the San Francisco Bay area.
Of all the food trends to take off during the last decade, taco trucks are perhaps the most popular form of fast food dining in the 209. The taco truck invasion has taken over Valley streets, giving local restaurants some serious competition.
STOCKTON - When it comes to taco trucks, my friend Kevin has his favorite.
JAMESTOWN - Table Mountain is one of the best-kept secrets for a hike that isn't far from home, isn't difficult, isn't crowded and offers a spectacular view of both snow-covered peaks, New Melones lake and the rolling foothills below.
PATTERSON - Looking for an authentic Mexican meal that isn't going to break the bank? Whether you have an appetite for chorizos (Mexican sausage), asada (beef), or even tripa (intestines), Patterson's local taco trucks can supply your needs for just pennies on the dollar.
STOCKTON - Nina Simangan looks over each of her orchids.
MODESTO - Folks looking for a hiking trail in the Central Valley have plenty of rural areas to choose from, and now have a more urban option also. The City of Modesto embarked on a new project designed to transform a piece of history into a physical fitness trail.
The daffodils are in bloom and the trees are budding as spring approaches for the 14th time since the Tidewater Bike Path replaced the former barren and weed-infested abandoned right-of-way of its namesake railroad.
PATTERSON - Heart-pumping climbs, dog-friendly paths and walks for the kids are some of the activities that Frank Raines Park has to offer local hikers.
The Calaveras River Bike Path also accommodates hikers and joggers.
It attracts millions of visitors every year, has served as a muse to some of the world's greatest artists and is known to inspire as much awe in the lifelong companion as it does in the first-time visitor.
From afar, Mount Diablo stares you right in the face.
STOCKTON - When it comes to the Stockton Ports, there's history and then there's History.
MODESTO - Baseball fans rejoice, the Modesto Nuts are almost back in town.
Walk down Yosemite Avenue on Manteca on April 6-7 and you may find yourself in a 1960s flashback to tie-dye mania.
Hob Nob's renowned Casper hot dog comes with mustard, relish and onions, "and anything else you want to put on it," quipped owner Rick Atwell.
About a year ago, I took my son to DAD's Hot Dogs to experience a real Stockton treat.
Just ask anyone in Turlock where they can find the best hotdog in the 209 and odds are they'll say Main Street Footers.
It's sacrilegious to even think that there is good news in the ongoing severe drought plaguing the Golden State. Yet, apparently, there's a bit of good in this bad situation of historic proportions. More appropriately perhaps, just a bit of silver lining.
The lawn in the front and back yards of Tom and Rita Canales home in Manteca was, at one time, their pride and joy. But in the face of the ongoing drought that has prompted Governor Jerry Brown to put California on a state of emergency, the couple decided to do their part in the statewide water-conservation. They ripped out their lawns and, in their place, they now have drought-resistant plants in addition to utilizing non-plant garden accessories.
Some time ago, the horticulture staff of the UC Davis Arboretum identified 100 easy-to-grow plants.
With the decrease of available water and the increase of water regulations, it has become almost too easy for gardeners to surrender their gloves and shovels to the drought that has been scorching the state for four years with no foreseeable end.
Earth Day 2015 arrives Wednesday with the 209 - and the rest of California - well into the fourth year of severe drought.
For past 27 years, Earth Day has been a major event in Stockton.
MODESTO – Tanner Carroll recycles.
Got documents that an identify thief would love to rifle through your blue or green Toter to find?
If you've "outgrown" theme parks - or at least think you have - consider a stop by Six Flags Discovery Kingdom next time you're in the San Francisco Bay area. It's quite amazing, really, but Six Flags seems to have included enough attractions to keep every member in the family fully engaged during your visit.
The grapevine has an amazing power to transform reasonably attractive countryside into an oasis of culture and beauty that speaks to all of one's senses - and no place is that better manifested than in the famed Napa Valley.
There I was standing alone watching water cascading 1,310 feet over granite just hours after sunrise.
If you want to see Yosemite Valley's famous waterfalls at their peak during this fourth year of drought you need to do so this month.