Golf the Journey at Pechanga

A Golfweek selection for “Best courses you can play”, Journey at Pechanga, set in the foothills of Temecula, one hour north of San Diego, is one of the most eco- sensitive in the country. This beautiful track offers a variety of challenges through natural canyons, massive boulders past streams and over hilltops.

The Journey at Pechanga teebox
The Journey at Pechanga teebox

The Journey at Pechanga course designer, Arthur Hills, created this championship 18-hole course with input from the Pechanga Band , routing fairways around the giant oaks,  and building doglegs that snake along fast-running creeks with steep climbs to cliff-side tee boxes.

“The construction of the Journey at Pechanga golf course was controversial,” says Paul Macarro, Tribal Chairman for the Pechanga Indian Reservation. “Initially, the golf course builder wanted to clear cut our sacred trees but we held firm.”

The Great Oak at Pechanga
The Great Oak at Pechanga

The Pechanga, who have a great respect for trees, managed to save their giant coastal oaks along with their ‘grandmother’ sycamore tree.

Thankfully, all the conditions to honor sacred natural items were finally met, including ancient granite and the ancestral “kitchens,” large boulders with built-in mortars where Native American women ground the insides of acorns and other grains and seeds into meal.

The replica kiicha, the small dome houses made of twigs and vegetation, serve primarily as a barrier between the course cart paths and the remainder of the Pechanga Band’s sacred land.

Tule House at Journey at Pechanga
Tule House at Journey at Pechanga

The result, ironically, is the best and arguably the most natural feature of the Pechanga Resort complex. The course offers clear views of the surrounding, boulder-topped hills, as well as an open-air dining option bordering the course fairways appropriately called “Journey’s End.”

The surrounding hills do more than offer a great backdrop; they also provide six holes of challenging and scenic elevation. Meanwhile, closer to earth, the other holes – no two are alike – offer water hazards, deep sand bunkers and historical, natural artefacts which determine the interesting layout of the track.

Hole 17 The Journey at Pechanga
Hole 17 The Journey at Pechanga

The par three 17th has the most elevation on the back nine. Par is a great score on this hole. Just 180 yards from the whites, your only bail out option is the front bunker.

This is not your average resort course by a long shot; coincidentally, that’s the shot you’ll need to clear hundreds of yards of scrub, rock-guarded waterways, steep fairway and green-side bunkers.

Practice area at The Journey at Pechanga
Practice area at The Journey at Pechanga

To compensate for its toughness, Journey at Pechanga offers a well-designed practice area. It’s divided into a separate driving range, putting green and a most-impressive short game area. It’s complete with sizeable sand bunkers and replica rough areas from which careful shots land on slanted greens to help golfers prepare for the challenges ahead.

Randy Chang Golf School at Journey at Pechanga
Randy Chang Golf School at Journey at Pechanga

If your game needs a tune up, visit Randy Chang’s Golf School on-site at Pechenga Resort & Casino. Golf Channel Academy Coach and PGA pro, Randy Chang has the rare ability to explain the swing simply and to help you make changes quickly.

Previously published on USA Today 10 Best

 

 

Explore Canada’s Rideau Waterway on Le Boat

Explore Canada’s scenic and historically significant Rideau Waterway with Le Boat,  the largest operator of self-drive boating holidays in Europe. As the captain of your own boat, you  cruise in your own time and stop at your leisure. 

Le Boat docked at twilight
Le Boat docked at twilight photo credit: Sherel Purcell

Depending upon the model, Le Boat accommodates between two and 12 passengers. All regular berths come with ensuite baths making Le Boat the perfect economic option for families and small groups traveling together.

Le Boat Interior cabin
Le Boat Interior cabin photo credit: Sherel Purcell

These custom contemporary styled craft offer a natural, light-filled kitchen/dining area and a spacious top deck for maximum cruising and viewing pleasure.

From Canada’s capital, Ottawa to her former capital, Kingston, the 125-mile (202 kilometers) route traverses forests, wetlands, the rocky Canadian Shield and the famous locks system – a technology dating from the 1830s earning the waterway a UNESCO World Heritage Site designation.

The cities and towns abutting the Rideau Waterway where boaters dock at marinas and lock sites are well worth a visit. Ottawa, the largest city on the watery route, offers docking near the downtown area. Highlights include the National Gallery of Canada, the Ottawa Art Gallery, the Museum of Nature, the parliament buildings and the selfie – worthy Ottawa sign-sculpture on the edge of the Byward Market.

Smith Falls Golf and Country Club
Smith Falls Golf and Country Club photo credit: Sherel Purcell

Heading west on the Rideau, the happening town of Smith Falls is served by Via Rail and is home to Canadian golf sensation, Brooke Henderson and her sister-caddy, Brittany. Their home course, The Smith Falls Golf and Country Club allows visitors to play at reasonable rates for a pretty course in excellent condition.

Tweed, a new cannabis operation occupying 1,000,000 square feet offers tours of this highly scientific venture focusing on recreational and medicinal products that seeks to provide beverages to rival the alcohol market with a new emphasis on flavor. In homage to the former Hershey factory’s roots they’ve started producing chocolate and post tour samples are available as is their excellent coffee.

Eastern Canada’s only railway museum and a heritage museum that focuses on the old and the new are worth a visit. A good dining option, the Axe and Arrow offers tasty fish, seafood and local specials along with products from the excellent Perth Brewery.

A few hours sail away – Le Boat caps the speed at 10 kilometers an hour (6 miles) – sits the town of Perth, famous for its sizeable collection of limestone buildings and a main street built over the waterway. Quality local goods, new restaurants, cafes, a cheese shop and an English garden complete the pretty picture. The Rocky River cafe offers high-end pub food and healthier options in an attractive indoor/outdoor setting with excellent local brews.

Town of Westport Ontario
Town of Westport Ontario photo credit: Sherel Purcell

Another worthwhile stop, Westport, is home to the Scheuermann Winery whose folks will transport boaters to the scenic, six-acre vineyard and cafe above the water amidst rolling hills. Oven-fired pizza, inventive salads and tasty varietals top off a perfect day of boating.

The Westport Brewing Company occupies an intimate, contemporary-styled pub with a patio overlooking the waterway and serves tasting flights of their pale and darker brews.

Chaffey’s Lock, along with the usual waterside picnic and barbeque sites and friendly, helpful Parks Canada Lockmasters, offers good access to the 104-kilometer Cataraqui recreational trail – perfect for the folding bikes that can be rented from Le Boat to accompany your trip.The Lockmaster’s House Museum, an art gallery and the excellent cuisine of the Opinicon Resort all warrant a visit.

Previously published on USA Today 10Best.com

Can Pritikin Help You Achieve Your Health Goals?

Plan a healthy vacation at the Pritikin Longevity Center in Miami, and you’ll learn how to lose weight with better diet and lifestyle decisions.

It took nearly 40 years for the world to catch up to Nathan Pritikin and his then-radical ideas about diet and lifestyle. What is conventional advice today – eat more fruit and vegetables, consume less salt and sugar and exercise regularly – was once hearsay.

More than 100,000 guests worldwide have visited the Pritikin Longevity Center and Spa to prevent and reverse problems such as excess weight, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and cancer risk factors.

A hallmark of Pritikin is its strong medical presence. Upon intake, your current health and fitness levels are assessed. Certified physicians provide each guest with the expert medical attention required for achieving major life changes. A stress test is given to make sure those not used to exercising don’t overextend themselves.

Pritikin Center Lap Pool
Pritikin Center Lap Pool photo credit: John Cameron

You’ll stay on-site at the Pritikin Center in a Standard Villa room or at luxurious Trump National Doral, a short walk away. (Either way, your stay at Pritikin gives you access to the Doral facilities, which include the beautiful swimming pools and championship golf courses.) Here, you’ll be in a community of like-minded individuals who want to transform their lives.

A typical day at Pritikin starts with breakfast, followed by 45 minutes of cardio, then followed by weight training and alternating days with stretching. After a buffet lunch, where diners are encouraged to start with large salads followed by hot vegetable–based entrees, participants attend lectures to learn the skills to maintain the Pritikin lifestyle when they return home in a week or two or three, depending on the client.

Pritikin Center weight room
Pritikin Center weight room photo credit: John Cameron

Two factors set Pritikin apart from all other health resorts:

1. Scientifically documented results

2. An education program that teaches guests how to sustain these results.

Pritikin’s faculty – leaders in the fields of medicine, nutrition, psychology and exercise – lead eye-opening classes focused on subjects including dining out, reading labels and calorie density.

The popular lecture on processed food label reading is put into practice with a fun shopping trip, complete with a scavenger hunt for the healthiest products at a local supermarket. You’ll learn to decipher the correct information on the back of the package. 

A few pointers: Never believe anything on the front of the package, as it’s all unregulated marketing. Make sure the first ingredient is not sugar. Red flags are fat, sodium, added sugar and refined grain.

Another popular lecture – “Sitting Is the New Smoking” – challenges our contemporary sedentary lifestyle. Continuous sitting for more than three hours per day means you’re 64% more likely to die from heart disease.

Pritikin Center Dining Room
Pritikin Center Dining Room photo credit: John Cameron

In other lectures, participants learn about mindful eating. Did you know that stomach receptors malfunction if you multitask while eating?

Stop eating while comfortable. It takes 15 to 20 minutes for your stretch receptors to work. Start with servings of vegetables and fruit, and you’ll feel full sooner. The concept of food displacement is related to calorie density, a key Pritikin idea.

Pritikin is more than a diet; it’s a lifestyle. A one-week stay at Pritikin Longevity Center in Miami is the inspiration for permanent change that includes weight loss, a sensible exercise plan and effective tools to make good nutritional choices, both at restaurants and supermarkets. 

Previously Published on USA Today 10Best.com

Your Guide to an Active Vacation