Tying the Knot

Sky written proposal beseeching the hand of Laurie (formerly Kraft) Pepitone.
Last month, Southern California residents looked up to see this sky-written proposal from Mike Pepitone.
Laurie Kraft and Mike Pepitone Get Hitched
Mike Pepitone marries California Native Operations Chief, Laurie Kraft, while Lee Klein (with California Native Official Wedding Hat) officiates.

On August 21, a beautiful Saturday afternoon, California Native’s Operations Manager, Laurie Kraft, married her longtime sweetheart, Mike Pepitone, at a poolside ceremony at their home in Torrance, California. California Native President Lee Klein performed the ceremony. The day was highlighted by a long awaited proposal written in the clear blue sky by five sky-writing airplanes.

A native-born Californian, Laurie has been with The California Native for over 18 years. Her family, including sons Jimmy and Jason, came down from Northern California and Washington for the event. Mike, who is an aircraft mechanic for Federal Express, welcomed his mother and family from their native Chicago.

We wish them a very happy and successful married life together.

Don’t Let Those Air Miles Go to Waste!

So many of us have airline miles that will expire before we have a chance to use them. Recently I learned about a wonderful program that can really use those miles. The nonprofit Fisher House Foundation offers a program called “Hero Miles,” in which they work with the airlines, whose passengers have donated their frequent flyer miles, to provide assistance to our wounded service men and women and their families. Thousands of free airline tickets have been issued to soldiers who have been wounded while serving in Iraq or Afghanistan and are currently receiving medical treatment at a military medical facility. These tickets are used for a short visit home between procedures and treatment or to fly family members to wounded soldiers who are unable to travel home.

Donate your unused airline miles to help our wounded soldiers.I can personally say that this program is wonderful. This last June, my nephew was severely wounded in Afghanistan. He was taken to Germany, where he under went surgery before being transferred to United States. The Fisher House Foundation, through the ”Hero Miles” program, flew his mother, father and sister to Washington DC to be at his bedside as he underwent several more surgeries. It does make a world of difference to these young men and women to have their families beside them while they go though such an extremely difficult time in their lives. The family presence really aids with the recovery process.

AirTran Airways, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Continental Airlines, Frontier Airlines, Midwest Airlines, United Airlines, and US Airways are currently participating in this program. Participating airlines change from time to time, so to find out if your airline is participating, visit the Fisher House website.

This very important program can only exist through the kindness and generosity of frequent flyer members. So please don’t let your miles go unused and support America’s heroes and their families by donating to the “Hero Miles” program. You’ll be helping to reunite these families and show that we do care for our American soldiers.

Back to the Future

We’re halfway through 2010 and it’s a good time to look forward to next year and the exciting places waiting to be visited. As an added bonus for your forward thinking, The California Native will help you save money on your 2011 vacation.

Tarahumara Weaver in Mexico's Copper CanyonIn Mexico’s Copper Canyon
a young Tarahumara lady weaves a basket from leaves of the agave.

Everybody loves a bargain! So, if you book your trip to Mexico’s Copper Canyon, Yucatan or Costa Rica within the next 30 days, you can lock in our 2010 prices for your 2011 trip.

To quote some famous thinkers on the subject of saving money:

“Money frees you from doing things you dislike. Since I dislike doing nearly everything, money is handy.” – Groucho Marx

“Money is better than poverty, if only for financial reasons.” – Woody Allen

“A nickel ain’t worth a dime anymore.” – Yogi Berra

California Natives Lunch With Mexico’s President Calderón

Mexico's President, Felipe Calderon, and California Native's President, Lee Klein, at luncheon in Mexico's Presidential Residence, Los Pinos.On May 21, 2010, California Native owners Lee and Ellen Klein were guests of Mexico’s President Felipe Calderón at a luncheon he held in Mexico City at Los Pinos, Mexico’s official presidential residence.

Guests at the luncheon were specially selected international tour operators, and members of the international press corps.

The event was the kick-off of an initiative to spur tourism in Mexico’s many beautiful and fascinating “non-beach-resort” destinations.

This year marks Mexico’s Bicentennial, as well as the Centennial of the Mexican Revolution. In recognition of these events, The Mexican Tourism Board has created “Rutas de Mexico,”—ten tourism routes covering the 31 States of Mexico.

We enjoyed a delicious lunch and listened to speeches from Gloria Guevara, Mexico’s new tourism minister, as well as the President himself, who spoke of each of the routes. He spent quite a bit of time on the Copper Canyon Route, and talked about the town of Batopilas, which is visited on most California Native Copper Canyon tours.
The California Native's Lee and Ellen Klein at luncheon in Mexico's Presidential Residence, Los Pinos.

As guests of the Tourism Board and President Calderón, we spent the next four days touring on the “Revolution Route,” which included many charming Colonial Cities, including Querétaro, San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Zacatecas, San Luis Potosi and others.

Watch our blog for more on these cities, along with our other Mexican destinations of Copper Canyon, Chiapas and Yucatan.

Welcoming the Next Decade at The California Native

We’re coming to the end of another year, and we at California Native are looking forward to enjoying a great new year, with more fun, more adventures and more opportunities for everyone.

So, what’s new for 2010?

I recently traveled to Argentina where I made new contacts and researched new destinations to offer our fellow traveling enthusiasts. I will be returning there in a few months to continue this project.

Next month we will be traveling to Loreto to survey new and exciting adventures in Baja California—tours to petroglyphs and historical sites, relaxing “sit-by-the-pool-and-sip-margaritas” getaways, and more whale watching trips.

This coming year we will continue to look for more ways to make it more convenient for our fans to obtain information on the destinations they would like to visit. Last year we introduced “The Desktop Traveler,” our email newsletter as an up-to-date supplement to our semi-annual printed newsletter, which we have published for more than 25 years. We also now have a Facebook page and daily update on Twitter. Soon we will include a slide show on our website for each of our California Native destinations.

We are always looking for new ways to make our trips even more fun, and offer more unique destinations.

We encourage and appreciate your suggestions.

The Desktop Traveler

The California Native is happy to announce our new email newsletter, “The Desktop Traveler.”

We like to keep in touch with our many friends and fellow travelers and so, way back in 1984, we began publishing our California Native Newsletter. Now the newsletter has more than 10,000 readers and we receive many cards and letters from our readers telling us how much they enjoy the publication. We have even had several people sending notes saying “Although I can no longer travel, I would like to continue receiving your newsletter and I am sending this to help cover the postage.” We very much appreciate these gestures and we donate any money we receive to charities supporting the Tarahumara people in Mexico’s Copper Canyon. You can subscribe to the newsletter here.

With the advent of the internet we added our California Native website. In addition to listing all of our current trips and prices, it is filled with useful information on all of our destinations including an archive of the hundreds of stories we have published over the years, charts to compare our various trips, and many other features.

Last year we introduced our Blog, Facebook and Twitter pages, to make it even easier to communicate with us.

Now we have added another way to keep in contact with our many friends, our email newsletter, “The Desktop Traveler.” This short little newsletter will be published once every few weeks and features stories which are fun and interesting to read.

If you are already a subscriber to The California Native Newsletter (and we have your current email address on file) you will automatically receive the Traveler. If you are not receiving it and would like to, please call or send us your email address. We don’t want this to be looked at as being “junk” mail, so you can always opt out by clicking the “unsubscribe” link at the bottom.

Here is a sample of the publication:

 

The Desktop Traveler from The California Native
The Silver King of BatopilasAlexander Robey “Boss” Shepherd, the last territorial governor of Washington D.C., developed the remote Copper Canyon village of Batopilas into one of the richest silver mining towns in the world.  Read the full story.

 

 

 

 

The Legacy of Chan Chan

The capital of the Chimus, Chan Chan dominated over 600 miles of Peru’s Pacific coastline before the Inca empire. The Chimu civilization lasted for almost 500 years.  Read the full story. 

 

 

 

 

Monkeying Around in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a great place for “monkey watching.” On our California Native trips we watch howler monkeys, spider monkeys, squirrel monkeys and capuchin monkeys, while they in turn watch us.  Read the full story.

 

The California Native’s Summer/Fall Newsletter is Now Available

The Summer/Fall 2009 edition of The California Native Newsletter is now in the mail. The newsletter, published by The California Native since 1984, has more than 10,000 readers (not counting those who download from the web). If you are not already a subscriber to this free newsletter you can signup now.

This issues feature stories include:

Lee Klein prepares to fly over the Nazca Lines on The California Native Peru ToursREVISITING PERU’S NAZCA LINES

The desert markings, believed to have been made thousands of years ago, made little impression on occasional travelers who viewed them from ground level, but when they were spotted by aircraft in the 1930’s they caught the world’s attention. They have since been surveyed, mapped and studied. Only two questions remain—who made them, and why?

Rafting is one of the many options for guests on The California Native Costa Rica ToursRAPID TRANSIT: COSTA RICA STYLE

Costa Rica has long been a favorite destination for both the beginner and the experienced river runner. With ample annual rainfall, mountainous landscapes, and plenty of road-to-river access, the country prides itself on being a whitewater paradise.

GHOSTS OF THE GALAPAGOS

Packing a pearl-handled revolver, a riding crop and three lovers, the Baroness Eloisa von Wagner Bosquet disembarked on the Island of Floreana, in 1932, and declared herself “Empress of the Galapagos.”

The cathedral is a favorite hiking destination for guests on The California Native China ToursCOPPER CANYON’S LOST TREASURES

In 1880, Alexander “Boss” Shepherd, the last territorial governor of the District of Columbia, packed up his family and, in the remote village of Batopilas, at the bottom of Copper Canyon, developed one of the richest silver mining operations in the world.

THERE’S MORE TO CHINA THAN BEIJING

Naxi ladies strolling home after work can be seen on The California Native China ToursBecause the Olympics were hosted in Beijing, chances are that you learned more about China in 2008 than at any previous time. On the other end of the country, far from bustling Beijing is Yunnan Province—home to the largest variety of ethnic groups in China.

CALIFORNIA NATIVE ADVENTURES
The newsletter also includes schedules, prices and descriptions of California Native’s tours to Mexico’s Copper Canyon, Peru, the Galapagos, Patagonia, Costa Rica, Yucatan and Chiapas, Myanmar (Burma) and Laos, Bhutan, Yunnan, China, and Ireland.

The California Native is Now on Facebook

Here at the The California Native, we are always looking for new ways to connect with our “fans.” We love to share any information we have about our destinations like Mexico’s Copper Canyon, Costa Rica, Yucatan, Peru, Bhutan, Burma and more. Lately we have noticed that more and more people are joining social networking sites to keep abreast of their friends and interest groups.

We are happy to announce that we now have a California Native Page on Facebook, and you can become a fan on our Facebook page. If you are not yet a member of Facebook, you can also join and connect with old friends and make new ones too. You might learn about a trip some old friend took that you are dying to try yourself! Maybe they even posted some great pictures.

You may also have noticed that all of our stories, and this blog itself, are available for sharing on dozens of social networking sites as well as e-mail. Just click on the “share” icons on our website, www.calnative.com, to share a story, or page.

There is also an RSS feed on the top of our blog pages, to allow you to see blog updates, as soon as they are posted, on your Google Home Page or RSS reader.

Of course, you budding travel writers can always post your own story or photos on our blog or Facebook Page.

Run With the California Natives

The Tarahumara Indians are purported to be the world’s greatest runners,

Tarahumara runner in Mexico's Copper Canyon
Tarahumara runner in
Mexico’s Copper Canyon

running up and down the rugged canyons of their homeland, in Mexico’s remote Sierra Madre Mountains. The Tarahumara run for transportation and sport, and villages often compete against each other in races which last for several days. The area is commonly known as Copper Canyon, and its unique scenery and cave-dwelling inhabitants make it a favorite destination for active tourists looking to get off the beaten path.

The California Native has been running Copper Canyon tours for more than two decades, but the Tarahumara aren’t the only runners associated with the company. Several members of California Native’s staff are also avid runners.

The company’s founder and president, Lee Klein, began running two weeks before his 61st birthday. He has since competed in eleven marathons and is now training for his 12th.

Lee’s wife, Ellen, who also serves as California Native’s destination scout and researcher, is a race-walker and has completed five marathons, countless half-marathons, 5k and 10k races.

Lori Klein-Del Rosario, Lee’s daughter, who has guided California Native trips for almost twenty years, began running last year and completed her first marathon in June. She is now training for more races and is mentoring new runners.

In addition to running, California Native staff members participate in many other outdoor sports. Laurie Kraft, California Native’s Operations Manager, is an avid swimmer, while Jason Hall, California Native Tour Coordinator, can often be found surfing the waves at Malibu (after all, we are the California Native).

California Native founder, Lee Klein, at Long Beach CA Marathon. California Native scout, Ellen Klein, at Long Beach CA Marathon. California Natives Lori Klein-DelRosario, Ellen Klein, and Lee Klein, at El Segundo CA 5k race.
Lee at Long Beach CA Marathon Ellen at Long Beach CA Marathon Lori, Lee, and Ellen at El Segundo CA 5k race

The California Native’s Fall/Winter 2008 Newsletter is now Available

The Fall/Winter 2008 edition of The California Native newsletter is now in the mail. The newsletter, published by The California Native since 1984, has more than 10,000 readers (not counting those who download from the web). If you are not already a subscriber to this free newsletter you can signup now.

This issues feature stories include:

CALIFORNIA NATIVES FOLLOW THE TEA HORSE ROADA centuries-old monastery overlooks the town of Shangra-La, along the ancient Tea-Horse Road on The California Native China Tours
“My grandfather dipped his silver bracelet into the water, to make sure it was not poisoned,” related Chen Dong Mei, her eyes sparkling as she related stories of her grandfather who drove horses along the historical Tea Horse Road. The tea horse road, leading from Jing Hong, China, to Llhasa in Tibet, has been a major trade route for almost 5000 years.

THE BOWMEN FROM BHUTANIn Bhutan, the national sport is archery and you can visit this Himalayan Kingdom on The California Native Bhutan Tours
Dancing about and shouting sexual insults at the opposing team, Bhutanese sports fans enjoy their favorite pastime, which is, of all things, archery!

COPPER CANYON TRIPS FEATURED IN NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC PUBLICATION
A new book, published by National Geographic, features The California Native’s tours through Mexico’s Copper Canyon.

THE LADY OF GUADALUPE
Throughout Mexico, in churches, roadside shrines, restaurants,  and automobile decals, the Virgin of Guadalupe is a sacred icon for both Catholic faith and nationalism.

TELL THEM TO “GO TO XIBALBA”The artifact of a Mayan diety warns us of the Mayan 'Place of Fear' on The California Native Yucatan Tours
It is the darkest place in Mayan lore, the underworld, the Place of Fear. It is ruled by the spirits of disease and death. And archaeologists believe that it actually existed in a series of underground chambers and passages.

THE MISSING SOLDIERS OF ALBERMARLE ISLAND
“The day was overpoweringly hot, and the lake looked clear and blue; I hurried down the cindery slope, and choked with dust, eagerly tasted the water—but, to my sorrow, I found it salt as brine.” So wrote Charles Darwin in The Voyage of the Beagle. Sixty-five years later, in 1904, eleven soldiers disappeared in the unforgiving landscape of Albermarle (Isabella) Island, the largest island in the Galapagos Archipelago.

CALIFORNIA NATIVE ADVENTURES
The newsletter also includes schedules, prices and descriptions of California Native’s tours to Mexico’s Copper Canyon, Peru, the Galapagos, Patagonia, Costa Rica, Yucatan and Chiapas, Myanmar (Burma) and Laos, Bhutan, Yunnan, China, and Ireland.