ROAD TRIP: Head North!

Maybe you just want to cool off or break the kids out the summer doldrums. Whatever the reason, the solution is NORTH!

Point Reyes Seashore

Located less than an hour and a half north of San Francisco, Point Reyes National Seashore is an absolute must for your Northern California road trip itinerary! You can make it a day stop, but we highly recommend spending 1-2 full days exploring what Point Reyes has to offer. The park is actually WAY bigger than you would think from reading on the map and the roads are in poor condition which means you must drive slower than usual. Most people who road trip Northern California spend the day at Point Reyes before moving on, but we spent two full nights right outside of the park and we think it is well worth it.

There is so much to see and do in Point Reyes National Seashore that we could write a whole post on what to do there but we will keep it short and sweet for this California road trip itinerary. Your first stop in Point Reyes is to visit the S.S. Point Reyes Shipwreck. The shipwreck is easily visible from the road and is behind a shop in the small town of Inverness. There is a parking lot, which allows you to easily walk to see the shipwreck up close and personal. It is such a cool little spot and great for photography and long exposures if you are into that sort of thing!

Santa Rosa Wineries

Santa Rosa and the entirety of Sonoma County are famous for wineries and the production of wine. If you have never been to a vineyard, now is your time to make the stop! The area surrounding Santa Rosa is stunning and wineries are picturesque. The wine drinking is a bonus too!

If you are a Charlie Brown or Snoopy fan, visit the Charles M. Schulz Museum. This museum is the largest collection of original Peanuts comics in the world and pays homage to the work of Charles M. Schulz.

The city is the urban center of Sonoma County and offers many delicious places to eat featuring locally sourced ingredients and, of course, wine!

Avenue of the Giants

The Avenue Of The Giants is a 31-mile stretch of road that runs adjacent to Highway 101 in Northern California. During your California road trip, you won’t be able to miss the Avenue Of The Giants as there are signs pointing you in the direction of where to start the drive.

The Avenue Of The Giants is located in and around Humboldt Redwoods State Park and winds through the State Park and on both sides of Highway 101.

Mt. Shasta

For this stop on your Northern California road trip, it is time to head inland to Mount Shasta. You will need to head up through Grant’s Pass, Oregon first, and then down I5 to land in

While you are at Mount Shasta, take the hike up to Heart Lake for stunning alpine views! Drive your car to Castle Lake and then take the Heart Lake trail, which loops clockwise, around Castle Lake from the parking lot. The hike is roughly 1 mile and is uphill the whole time so make sure to take lots of rests. We barely ever hike, so we took it slow and it was doable and certainly not impossible.

Lassen Volcanic National Park

If you haven’t had enough of volcanoes at Mount Shasta, you are in luck! The last stop along your Northern California road trip itinerary is to visit Lassen Volcanic National Park. Luckily, it is located in the same part of California as Burney Falls, so if you visit the waterfall you are well on your way to visiting Lassen Volcanic National Park.

Lassen Volcanic National Park is one of the much lesser-known national parks in the United States but quite impressive to visit. If you are looking to get up close and personal with volcanoes, crystal clear pools, mud pots, and boiling hot water, them this national park is for you!

There are over 150 miles of trails in Lassen Volcanic National Park and you have the option to stay in a lodge, tent, or cabin in case you want to stay on site. You can also do Lassen Volcanic National Park as a day trip or choose to stay overnight if you wish.

Explore steam vents and meadows and the official National Park drive is quite a good way to experience Lassen Volcanic National Park if you don’t want to hike for miles. Exploring by car is one of our favorite ways to experience National Parks. Luckily, Lassen Volcanoes offers plenty of pullouts and easy hikes and walks to experience the beauty of this remote wilderness.


5 Ways to Cool Off at Home


Want to Cool Off at Your Pleasanton CA Home?

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It’s summer and the season has already shown its teeth a couple of times with more on the way! Don’t panic, there are easy ways to beat the heat at your Pleasanton CA home if you know what you are doing.

Install a Programmable Thermostat

A programmable thermostat lets you preset temperatures for different times of the day, so air-conditioning is working only when you are home. The least expensive thermostat models ($30) let you set four cycles that, unless manually overridden, repeat every day. Higher-priced models ($50 and up) allow you to create settings for each weekday and for each weekend day.

These thermostats come with complete directions and are easy to install. Just remove the old thermostat, unscrewing the wire leads attached to the terminals on the back. Reattach those wires to the terminals on the new model (in a system with separate A/C and heating units there may be four leads on the back, two for each unit). AA batteries maintain the settings if the power ever goes off.

Tick UP the Thermostat

If you have central air, set your thermostat above 78 degrees (all temperatures cited here are in degrees Fahrenheit). You’ll save 5 to 8 percent on cooling costs with each degree above that mark. For a typical household, setting the thermostat at 80 degrees saves 10 to 15 percent; raising it to 85 degrees will save 35 to 55 percent.

When you leave home for more than one hour, set the thermostat to 85 or 90 degrees. Reset it upon your return, and the room will cool down in only 15 minutes. The system will use less energy during the cool-down period than if you had left it running at a lower setting while you were out.

Typical air-conditioning settings for a programmable thermostat at different times of day:

6 a.m. to 9 a.m. = 75 degrees
9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. = 85-90 degrees
5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. = 75 degrees
11 p.m. to 6 a.m. = 80 degrees

How to Use a Fan

A fan, which costs two to five cents per hour to operate, will make a room feel 4 to 6 degrees cooler. Also, a fan works well in tandem with an air conditioner because the dehumidifying action of the air conditioner provides drier air that the fan can then move around.

In frequently used rooms, install a ceiling fan (set it to spin counterclockwise in summer). You’ll save the most money by running the fan only when you’re in the room. A motion-detector switch (around $20), which turns the fan on when you enter a room and off when the room is empty, is a good addition. However, if you have pets that move in and out of the room, make sure the switch can be turned off manually. Otherwise, your pets can cause the fan to run while you’re away.

If nighttime temperatures drop into the 70s where you live, you might want to purchase a whole-house fan, which runs $300 to $600 installed. This type of unit goes in an upstairs ceiling, ideally in a central hall. When run at night with the windows open, the fan will pull cool air into the house as it vents hot air out through the attic. Most models are designed to slip in between joists for easy installation. Whole-house fans, which draw only as much power as a couple of light bulbs, are usually outfitted with a variable-speed switch and/or timer. If you install one, be sure to get an insulated box to cover the portal in winter.

Go “Texas Cool”

“Texas cool” is a morning and evening routine that takes advantage of cool outdoor temperatures at night and keeps the heat at bay as much as possible during daylight hours. It’s very simple to do: At night when the temperature drops, open windows and bring in cool air with window fans or a whole-house fan. As soon as the sun comes up or the air starts to heat up, shut the windows and shades and keep doors closed.

Its Called “Duct Tape” for a Reason

Leaky ducts can cut into air-conditioning efficiency. Ductwork must be balanced between the supply and return sides of the system in order for it to work safely and efficiently, so making a repair in one section can cause a problem in another. Leak-prone areas include the return plenum; where branch ducts meet the trunk line; and where ducts attach to outlets. Also, insulate ducts that run through a hot attic with a blanket of R-11 fiberglass insulation.

Unless the duct repairs are minor, it’s wise to leave them to a HVAC pro. While the contractor is on site checking your ducts, have him tune up the air-conditioning unit by cleaning filters, unplugging coils, unblocking drains and lubing the fan.

Get Your Home Summer Ready!

Is Your Pleasanton CA Home Ready for Summer?

The summer is upon us and we can’t wait to spend some time outside of our homes with our families. Take these small steps to maximizing your positive summer feelings!

Check AC Unit

First; change the system’s filter. Clogged and dirty filters make air conditioning systems work harder, stay on longer and cost more to run. Hopefully, you’re already changing your heating and air filters every two to four months, depending on how much dust, pet hair, and the like are in your Pleasanton CA home. Spring is the best time to get started on that cycle with your air conditioning filter, so you don’t start the season with one that’s old and dirty.

Second, turn on your unit to see how it’s cooling. If the A/C doesn’t kick on (it might take a minute), check your circuit breakers or fuses. If it still won’t start up or cool like you think it should, call a professional.

Even if everything does seem to be in working order, it can still be a good idea to call a pro. Having your unit tuned up annually can help extend its life and keep it running efficiently. Seasonal maintenance usually includes inspecting and cleaning your unit, and servicing parts that might need it. Many HVAC companies offer a prepaid annual service plan that covers tune-ups, filter changes, and a discount on repairs if something does go wrong. Do the math to make sure it’s worth it, and if it is, you won’t need to worry about paying the technician for tune-up and maintenance visits.

Windows and Screens

Spring is the time to remove and clean storm windows that have spent the last few months keeping out the cold. To make those windowpanes sparkle, fill a spray bottle with window cleaning solution, use newspaper or a squeegee to leave them streak free, and wear gloves for protection if you have sensitive skin.

While you’re cleaning, evaluate how your windows have fared through the winter. Look for signs of dry rot and water damage from melting snow and ice. Check the seals around windows as well, and re-caulk or replace damaged weather stripping where needed. This will go a long way toward keeping the hot air out and the cool air in as the weather gets warmer.

Finally, clean your window screens, inspect them, repair any damage, and reinstall them in your windows. Use a hose and mild detergent, but don’t pressure wash them — the force of the spray can damage them. You can repair damaged screens with a kit you can purchase at most home improvement or hardware stores.


Lawn mowers and edgers are key to keeping your yard looking neat through the summer. Make sure your equipment is ready to tackle these tasks with springtime tune-ups.

For gas mowers and edgers, clean the equipment and change the gas if you forgot to empty it at the end of lawn care season. Replace the oil and spark plugs, and get all new oil, fuel and air filters. Lubricate the moving parts and sharpen the mower blade. Check the edger’s trimmer string to see if it needs replacing. If you’re not comfortable doing either of these tune-ups yourself, you can have them handled by a professional.

If your mower and edger are electric, inspect the cords for frays or cuts, and turn them on to be sure the equipment works.

Power tools may be the workhorses of your lawn, but hand tools are just as important. If you didn’t clean them off last winter, wash off any remaining dirt from your shovels, hoes, rakes, pruners and shears. Wipe them down with a lubricant, too. Lubricate hinges of pruners and shears, and carefully clean blades with rubbing alcohol. Sharpen blades if needed.


 Cleaning gutters can be a tough job, so consider hiring a pro, especially if your house is more than one story tall. If you’re comfortable tackling it yourself, be safe and work with a partner.

If you’re doing it yourself, you’ll need a sturdy ladder, gloves, a trowel, safety glasses and a hose. Use the trowel to scoop the gunk out of the gutters. Once you’ve gotten as much out as you can, hose out the gutters and let the water run out through the downspout. Use the hose to force out clogs.

Be sure water from the downspouts flows away from your house to keep it from collecting around the foundation. As dirty as this job can be, it’s one that can save a lot of headaches and bigger problems down the road.


Find two trees and hang up a hammock! You’re welcome!


American Flag Etiquette

Memorial Day is next Monday! As an important symbol of our country, everybody should understand the significance of flying the flag. On Memorial Day fly the flag at half-mast, a position reserved for when the country is in mourning, until noon, before raising it to full mast for the remainder of the Day.

Here is the full list of the proper way to fly the American Flag:

  • The custom is to display the flag only from sunrise to sunset on flagstaffs in the open, but it may be displayed at night upon special occasions to produce a patriotic effect.
  • When the flag is hung vertically on a wall, window, or door, the Union (blue section) should be to the observer’s left. When the flag is hung either horizontally or vertically against a wall, the Union should be to the observer’s left.
  • The flag should be hoisted briskly and lowered ceremoniously.
  • The flag should not be displayed on days when the weather is inclement.
  • The flag should be displayed at every public institution and in or near every polling place on election days, and at schoolhouses during school days.
  • In a procession, the American flag should be to the right of any other flag or, if in a line of other flags, in front of the center of that line.
  • The flag should not be displayed on a float except from a staff, nor draped over the hood, top, sides, or back of a vehicle.
  • When the flag is displayed on a vehicle, the staff should be fixed firmly to the chassis.
  • No other flag should be placed above the American flag or, if they are to be placed on the same level, to the right of the American flag.
  • The United Nations flag may not be displayed above or in a position of superior prominence to the United States flag except at United Nations Headquarters.
  • The flag, when displayed with another against a wall—both from crossed staffs—should be on the right (the flag’s own right), and its staff should be in front of the other staff.
  • The American flag should be at the center and the highest point when displayed with a group of state flags.
  • When flags of states, cities, etc., are flown on the same halyard, the American flag should be at the peak.
  • When flags of two or more nations are displayed, they are to be flown from separate staffs of the same height, and the American flag should be hoisted first and lowered last.
  • When displayed from a staff projecting from a building, the union should be at the peak of the staff.
  • When the flag is displayed otherwise than by being flown from a staff, it should be displayed flat, whether indoors or out; or so suspended that its folds fall as freely as though the flag were staffed.
  • When displayed over a street, the flag should be suspended vertically with the union to the north in an east and west street, or to the east in a north and south street.
  • On a platform, the flag should be above and behind the speaker, with the union uppermost and to the observer’s left.
  • When displayed from a staff in a church or auditorium, the flag should occupy the position of honor and be placed at the speaker’s right as he faces the audience.
  • When flown at half-staff, the flag should be first hoisted to the peak for an instant and then lowered to half-staff position. It should again be raised to the peak before it is lowered for the day. Half-staff is one-half the distance between the top and bottom of the staff. The flag must be flown at half-staff on all buildings on the death of any officer listed below, for the period indicated:
    • For the President or a former President:30 days from the date of death.
    • For the Vice President, the Chief Justice or a retired Chief Justice of the United States, or the Speaker of the House of Representatives:10 days from the day of death.
    • For an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, a member of the Cabinet, a former Vice President, the President pro tempore of the Senate, the Majority Leader of the House of Representatives, the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives:From the day of death until interment.
    • For a United States Senator, Representative, Delegate, or the Resident Commissioner from the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico:the flag should be flown in the metropolitan area of the District of Columbia, on the day of death and on the following day; in the state, congressional district, territory, or commonwealth of such Senator, Representative, Delegate, or Commissioner, from the day of death until interment.
    • For a Governor:Within the state, territory, or possession, from the day of death until interment.
  • When the flag is used to cover a casket, the union should be at the head and over the left shoulder.

Summer Learning for the Kids

Summer vacation is coming for the kids, but our adult lives keep on going as usual. Trying to fit their schedule into ours can be challenging and more often than not our propensity to “plug them in” becomes too easy.

Just because they will be away from their daily source of higher learning does not mean that they can’t still stay engaged in summer learning and have a blast doing it.

Here are five ways to keep kids going in a positive direction this summer.


They are bound to create many experiences this summer, some good, some rooted in life learning. Keep a daily journal recording your summer experiences – this will keep reading and writing skills sharp.

Library Cards

It’s free, it’s local, it’s quiet and usually has much more to offer than just books with puppet shows and classes. Many libraries have reading competitions that kids can take part in.

Reading Lists

Just because school’s out, doesn’t mean story time needs to come to an end. Keep reading each day to help your child develop their reading skills. Have them make a list of the books that they want to read this summer. Their selections might surprise you.

Plug In (the Right Way)

There is more to the iPad than Minecraft and YouTube. There is a wide range of fantastic and free resources for just about every type of learner. Some of the most popular games that encourage creativity for younger children include drawing game SketchUp, building online with Lego Digital Designer or creating a digital flip book with FlipSnack.

Field Trips

Visit a museum of art, history, natural history or science. Go to a zoo or aquarium. Many museums have one day or evening per week offering free or reduced admission. Take advance of museum education programs and classes like pottery, painting, fused glassmaking, bird watching, scientific experimentation or photography.

Once they return back to school they will be asked by teachers and peers what they did on their summer break. A regiment of summer learning will give them experiences worth boasting about!

Help Wanted: Mom

What is the value of a mom? The answer is unquantifiable, but what if we took a “general value” approach based on time/work rates and ratio? The answer might surprise you and make you look at the (more than) full-time position of mom a little differently.

This Job Description was found online and offered by

JOB DESCRIPTION: Long term, team players needed, for challenging permanent work in an often chaotic environment.

Candidates must possess excellent communication and organizational skills and be willing to work variable hours, which will include evenings and weekends and frequent 24 hour shifts on call.

Some overnight travel required, including trips to primitive camping sites on rainy weekends and endless sports tournaments in far away cities. Travel expenses not reimbursed. Extensive courier duties also required.

RESPONSIBILITIES: The rest of your life. Must be willing to be hated, at least temporarily, until someone needs $5.

Must be willing to bite tongue repeatedly. Also, must possess the physical stamina of a pack mule and be able to go from zero to 60 mph in three seconds flat in case, this time, the screams from the backyard are not someone just crying wolf.

Must be willing to face stimulating technical challenges, such as small gadget repair, mysteriously sluggish toilets and stuck zippers.

Must screen phone calls, maintain calendars and coordinate production of multiple homework projects.

Must have ability to plan and organize social gatherings for clients of all ages and mental outlooks.

Must be willing to be indispensable one minute, an embarrassment the next.

Must handle assembly and product safety testing of a half million cheap, plastic toys, and battery operated devices.

Must always hope for the best but be prepared for the worst.

Must assume final, complete accountability for the quality of the end product.

Responsibilities also include floor maintenance and janitorial work throughout the facility.

POSSIBILITY FOR ADVANCEMENT & PROMOTION: Virtually none. Your job is to remain in the same position for years, without complaining, constantly retraining and updating your skills, so that those in your charge can ultimately surpass you

PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE: None required unfortunately. On-the-job training offered on a continually exhausting basis.

WAGES AND COMPENSATION: Get this! You pay them! Offering frequent raises and bonuses. A balloon payment is due when they turn 18 because of the assumption that college will help them become financially independent.

When you die, you give them whatever is left. The oddest thing about this reverse-salary scheme is that you actually enjoy it and wish you could only do more.

BENEFITS: While no health or dental insurance, no pension, no tuition reimbursement, no paid holidays and no stock options are offered; this job supplies limitless opportunities for personal growth and free hugs for life if you play your cards right.

Here is the financial breakdown of what the position would pay:

So next time you see that mom at the supermarket with three kids hanging off different limbs while she tries to navigate the busy parking lot in a cart with a wonky wheel, lend a hand and thank her for her service. She has the best/worst job on the planet.


Next Level Mom!

Moms are a whole different kind of special. Lest we ever forget that she physically put you together all by herself, kept you alive and continued to be your personal psychologist through life. She deserves more than one of the last cards on the shelf with your name (the name she gave you) scribbled in the corner.

Here are a few unique gift ideas to boost the “wow factor” this Mother’s Day.

Plant a Tree

Nothing honors life more than giving new life! Choose a tree that fits her lifestyle like perhaps a Japanese Maple to signify her college trip to japan or a willow to honor her southern roots. Give it some thought. Show up to her house on Mothers Day and make it an event for the whole family, grandkids and all. Pick a spot and get to digging! You will feel great for the effort and physical gift and she will reflect fondly on you every time she watches it grow.

Interactive Picture Frame

Do you live further away from mom than a quick visit on the regular? Look into a WiFi cloud digital picture frame that you can upload too from a distance. With this line of digital frame you can upload pictures of the kids, of you and your travels or anything you think she would love to see. She can set the frame up in plain view and see the updates real time. The only downside is the potential for her to treat it like the TV and call you when you lag.


Does mom love to cook but hates to shop, or is really into wine? Enroll her in a club that regularly delivers her favorite things directly to her step. She can have pre-packed meals delivered with easy and colorful recipe cards to cook for her and dad or a special book delivered once a month that she can get lost in for a little while. Again, like the tree and frame, this is a gift that keeps on giving all year round, and every time the doorbell rings, will be reminded of how important she is to you.

Take Her on Your Next Trip

Do you have a camping trip coming up with the family or headed to Disneyland? Kids aren’t the only ones who love to be surprised with spontaneous destinations. Ask her if she would like to go with you all to the lake. At the end of the day, moms just want to feel included and this will give her an opportunity to spend time with the people she loves the most.

You have to step back on Mothers Day and take the gift ideas off autopilot. She means more to you and your own family than that and reminding her is good for everybody.

Real Estate in Pleasanton CA

SOLD! 1185 Piemonte Dr, Pleasanton, CA 94566

Pleasanton CA Home

SOLD! 1185 Piemonte Dr, Pleasanton, CA 94566
Market Stats
IDX Search
Single Family Home
Main Features
4 Bedrooms
3 Full Bathrooms
1 Half Bathroom
Interior: 4,746 sqft
Lot: 26,251 sqft
Year Built: 1998
1185 Piemonte Dr
Pleasanton, CA 94566

Doug BuenzDoug Buenz

Venture | Sotheby’s International Realty
(925) 621-0680



Listed by: Doug Buenz

Our recent listings

Looking for homes for sale in Pleasanton CA? Call me at 925-621-0680 and I will help you find the property that suits your budget and preferences!


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Pleasanton CA Homes

SOLD! 2668 Calle Morelia, Pleasanton, CA 94566

SOLD! 2668 Calle Morelia, Pleasanton, CA 94566
Market Stats
IDX Search
Single Family Home
Main Features
5 Bedrooms
3 Full Bathrooms
Interior: 2,422 sqft
Lot: 6,500 sqft
Year Built: 1984
2668 Calle Morelia
Pleasanton, CA 94566

Doug BuenzDoug Buenz

Venture | Sotheby’s International Realty
(925) 621-0680



Listed by: Doug Buenz

Our recent listings


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Xeriscaping, for Those Who Don’t Do Yard Work

In full disclosure “xeriscaping” is actually a science that utilizes dryer climates to still create marvelous yards with drought tolerant plants, mulch and efficient irrigation. This post is a more tongue-and-cheek list of ways to do without yard work and still have a fabulous space to show off.


From elevated to simple platforms, decks don’t need to be mowed! Match the paint to the color of the house, take some of your maintenance savings and invest in cool furniture and by all means jump on the “lighting bandwagon”. Edison string lights are all the rage and can often be used with remote control for different colors and settings.


Tall Grass

Not all grass is created equal. Tall grasses, like Switchgrass, Bluestem, Muhly, and Fountaingrass, all grow fast and require very little TLC. Nor do they ever get mowed.

Native grasses are a great solution to a lot of landscaping problems, as they soak up lots of water and provide an organic privacy screen while trimming your mowing time.

Plant them along fence lines, walkways or in random clusters and then just forget them. Minus some trimming in the fall, you won’t have to touch them.


Be careful to stay away from the simple truckload of ground cover gravel! People can smell lazy from a mile away. Instead take some time to get big boulders, lake rock and gravel and create a rock garden. For a splash of color you can plant a few succulents. These need little water and maintenance and can reproduce like crazy.

Lazy Garden

Do you have a spot in your yard where water collects? All you have to do is throw scraps of vegetation that have their own seeds and watch it grow itself. Jack-O-Lanterns (pumpkins), horseradish root, tomatoes, you name is. Toss if into your damp abyss, throw some fresh soil on top and wait. In a couple of seasons you will be growing pumpkins worthy of the county fair!


Use pavers, stones or flagstone to create meandering paths from spot to spot. These work well with bench sitting areas, small platform decks or ponds and allow you and visitors to experience your whole yard in the direction you intend them to go.

Fake Grass

Honesty faux turf has become as good as the real thing! You will not have a backyard that looks like the run down mini-golf course from your youth. The most wonderful thing about fake grass is it stays vibrant green all year round (no spots) and will never get too hot to walk on. Seriously, research fake grass ideas and be prepared to have your mind blown.

Not everybody loves to push a mower around every week or invest in a foam kneepad for your weed problem. Home ownership does not require a green thumb and you can still capitalize on nature and the wow factor!