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Northern California

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Just off Highway 395 in Bishop, Calif., the classic neon Thunderbird Motel sign invokes a bygone era of traveling. (Mark Boster / LAT)
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The neon tubes are gone, the paint is eroding, but the message is still clear for an abandoned cafe on Sterling Road in Pearsonville on Hwy 395. It recalls attempts to foster civilization in the high desert. (Mark Boster / LAT)
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Rivulets such as this one near Keeler are found in Owens Dry Lake, attracting millions of flies to the brackish water. (Mark Boster / LAT)
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Snow-capped mountains are filtered through the misty, late-afternoon light in a timeless tableau near Bishop. (Mark Boster / LAT)
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The Laws Railroad Museum captures a time when the railroad from Nevada to Keeler stopped here. Near Bishop, 11 acres are dedicated to preserving old buildings, locomotives and and other artifacts from the Old West. Admission is free. (Mark Boster / LAT)
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The White Mountains and their attendant clouds are rendered pink by the setting sun. (Mark Boster / LAT)
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Wildflowers announce spring in the Owens Valley. (Mark Boster / LAT)
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The Kava Coffeehouse on Main Street in Bishop is popular among laptoppers on wi-fi, readers and the social set. (Mark Boster / LAT)
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The fast water of the Bishop Creek Recreation Area signifies the melting winter snowpack. Later months bring fishing here and in nearby lakes and streams. (Mark Boster / LAT)
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Horses and ranches dot the landscape throughout the Owens Valley. This inquisitive equine lives on Moffat Ranch Road between Lone Pine and Manzanar. (Mark Boster / LAT)
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The Mount Whitney Fish Hatchery in Independence opened in 1917 and today provides brood stock for golden, brown and rainbow trout. (Mark Boster / LAT)
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In a year of bountiful snow, Mammoth Mountain offers winter recreation through July. (Mark Boster / LAT)
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The route along U.S. Highway 395 south of Lee Vining, Calif., rewards travelers with mountain vistas. (Mark Boster / LAT)
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“Cowboy” Bob Keiser, 82, a chain-smoking, two-time bronze-star winning World War II and Korea veteran, has been on the rodeo circuit and run cattle most of his life. He and his wife Pam run Cowboy Bob’s Curio Corral in Randsburg, a semi-ghost town of 200 souls. (Mark Boster / LAT)
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Mono Lake’s tufa towers are composed of minerals created by fresh water springs bubbling through the alkaline lake. The saltwater ecosystem is home to brine shrimp, alkali flies and migratory birds. The lake damage wrought by years of quenching the thirst of Southern California is being addressed today by balancing the preservation of a national treasure with the need for water. (Mark Boster / LAT)
Nevada City
The Mountain House bookstore in Nevada City features literary rarities including a 21-volume, 1860 edition of Washington Irving’s works. (Patricia Williams)
Nevada City
Artifacts from the California Gold Rush and the influx of Chinese Americans are housed at Nevada City’s Firehouse No. 1 museum. (Patricia Williams)
Nevada City
The venerable Mountain House Books in Nevada City, Calif., is ideally situated in a town also called “the Queen City of the Sierra Nevada.” (Patricia Williams)
Nevada City
Booktown Books in Nevada City is a 3,200-square-foot cooperative of more than a dozen dealers in a beautifully illuminated space. (Patricia Williams)
The Book Seller
Grass Valley, Calif. (Patricia Williams)
Main Street Books & Antiques
A long shelf life at Main Street Books & Antiques in Nevada City, Calif. (Patricia Williams)
Grass Valley Courtyard Suites
Grass Valley Courtyard Suites is a short walk from Grass Valley’s historic downtown. (Patricia Williams)
Ames Bookstore
Numbering between 200,000 and 300,000, the stock at Ames Bookstore in Grass Valley covers a range of interests unearthed withiin a rabbit-warren display. (Patricia Williams)
Downtown San Francisco
Signature San Francisco: a cable car on California Street. (Genaro Molina / LAT)
Hyde Street in San Francisco
It’s easier to ride than walk the Hyde Street hill. (Genaro Molina / LAT)
‘The Crookedest Street in the World’
Lombard Street in San Francisco is known as “The Crookedest Street In The World.” (Genaro Molina / LAT)
Heading to the Ferry Building
San Francisco visitor Chetan Hans from Louisiana sees himself and the Ferry Building reflected in a puddle. (Genaro Molina / LAT)
Coit Tower in San Francisco
The sun sets behind Coit Tower in San Francisco. (Genaro Molina / LAT)
Bay Bridge
Evening commuters on the Bay Bridge, looking toward San Francisco from Yerba Buena Island. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
Golden Gate Bridge
A golden sunset finds the Golden Gate Bridge. (Genaro Molina / LAT)
San Francisco skyline
Dusk drapes the San Francisco skyline. (Genaro Molina / LAT)
At the Ferry Building
Visitors silhouetted in the Ferry Building of San Francisco with the Bay Bridge beyond. (Genaro Molina / LAT)
Transamerica Pyramid looms
With nightfall, the Ferry Building dons neon and the Transamerica Pyramid emerges in sharp relief. (Genaro Molina / LAT)
Lotta’s Fountain in San Francisco
San Francisco’s Lotta’s Fountain at Kearny and Market streets is where residents gathered in search of loved ones after the 1906 earthquake. (Genaro Molina / LAT)
H. Dana Bowers Memorial Vista Point
A girl at the H. Dana Bowers Memorial Vista Point in Marin County on a rainy day by the Golden Gate Bridge. (Genaro Molina / LAT)
San Francisco
San Francisco is an easy weekend trip. (Myung J. Chun / LAT)
San Francisco
The parlor of a one-bedroom suite at the Hotel Rex is a mix of vibrant colors. The San Francisco hotel underwent a $1 million renovation in 2003 (Myung J. Chun / LAT)
San Francisco
The lobby bar at the Hotel Rex is said to have been inspired by the literary salons of the 1930s. (Myung J. Chun / LAT)
San Francisco
Cuisine at Hotel Rex’s Café Andrée is a French-Latin fusion. (Myung J. Chun / LAT)
San Francisco
Close to Union Square and across from the Curran Theater, Hotel Diva’s 116 rooms are ready for their close-up. (Myung J. Chun / LAT)
San Francisco
San Francisco’s Hotel Diva: sleek and cool. (Myung J. Chun / LAT)
San Francisco
Vinyl records, painted by the artist Klutch, enliven a room at the Hotel des Arts, off Union Square in San Francisco. (Myung J. Chun / LAT)
San Francisco
With hotel parking fees as high as $57 per day, consider forgoing a car for San Francisco’s excellent public transportation system. (Myung J. Chun / LAT)
San Francisco
In a former life, Hotel Majestic was an Edwardian mansion . (Myung J. Chun / LAT)
San Francisco
The Golden Gate Bridge illuminates the San Francsico fog. (Myung J. Chun / LAT)
Napa
Several wineries in the Napa Valley offer wine and food pairings to entice more visitors into their tasting rooms. (Mark Boster / LAT)
Napa
Tameron Reynolds, Emily Schrieber and Erin Armstrong sample the wares at Robert Sinskey Vineyards in Napa Valley, Calif. (Mark Boster / LAT)
Napa
Domaine Chandon champagne is on offer at an open-air tasting bar in Yountville, Calif. (Mark Boster / LAT)
Napa
At the Robert Sinskey Vineyards in Napa, Calif., Alsatian Onion Tartlets with Pecans are paired with the Pinot Blanc, Los Carneros-2005. (Mark Boster / LAT)
Napa
Kevin McCullough and Christopher Spazek, visitors to the Robert Sinskey Vineyards, sample Duck Burgers on Gougere served by Chef Natalie Felice Niksa, with Pinot Noir, Vandal Vineyard, Los Carneros-2002. (Mark Boster / LAT)
Napa
Posed on the stone patio of the Robert Sinskey Vineyards overlooking the Napa Valley, Morel Mushroom and Crescenza Pizza with Cabernet Franc, Vandal Vineyard, Los Carneros-2002 make the perfect food-wine couple. (Mark Boster / LAT)
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The historic Carlton Hotel in Atascadero, Calif., has been rejuvenated after extensive restoration. (Don Kelsen / LAT)
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Adelaida Road winds through the northern end of San Luis Obispo County where the land is thick with walnut trees and vineyards. (Don Kelsen / LAT)
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Vinny and Gerry DiPompei prepare to sample Adelaida 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon at Adelaida Cellars vineyard. (Don Kelsen / LAT)
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Lake Atascadero attracts people and their pets in search of exercise or solitude. (Don Kelsen / LAT)
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The lobby of the Carlton Hotel is compact but plush, with upholstered furniture and marble floors and counters. The ground floor’s coffee shop and spacious restaurant overlook the main intersection. (Don Kelsen / LAT)
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The Carlton Hotel, estab. 1929. (Don Kelsen / LAT)
Napa
Cabernet sauvignon grapes on the vine at the Robert Mondavi Winery, Oakville, Calif. (Mark Boster / LAT)
Downtown San Francisco
The Transamerica Pyramid and downtown San Francisco are framed within the windows of the Carnelian Room restaurant. (Genaro Molina / LAT)
Carol’s Recycled Paperbacks
The 20,000-some volumes at Carol’s Recycled Paperbacks are arranged by subject, including the always popular “ghosts and angels.” (Patricia Williams)
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