Saturday, September 28, 2013

Take a day trip to a Central Coast Pumpkin Farm

central coast pumpkin patch

Fun Central Coast pumpkin patch opens

Looking for the best pumpkin patch in San Luis Obispo County? This is the place!

With over three acres of pumpkins, a corn maze, the haunted Lost Dutchman’s Mine and critters galore, My Granny’s Gardens at San Marcos Ranch is a Central Coast pumpkin patch offering up fun for the entire family from Sept. 28 through Oct. 31. Farm-fresh produce, a huge corn maze, haunted Lost Dutchman's Mine, picnic grounds and farm animals mean fun for the whole family. Carolyn Davis, better known as “Granny,” and David Poer, aka “Granddad,” are entering their third year of offering visitors a unique tour of their picturesque ranch – with its scenic lake, walking paths and more than 135 varieties of squash and gourds ripe for the picking at their pumpkin farm in Paso Robles. They could not be more thrilled to welcome old and new friends this season. “When I hear the laughter of the kids coming from the lake down toward the barn, I know that we are open – it’s just the best,” Davis said. With a theme geared toward family fun, everyone is sure to have a grand time at My Granny’s Gardens, from the youngest tikes to the young at heart.

Fun farm animals

Kids ages 2-6 will delight in driving through the twists and turns of the Straw Maze in electric carts and kids of all ages will enjoy visiting the assortment of critters, from tiny horses to very big birds. “We have an emu and lots of miniature horses,” Davis said. “We have Jacob sheep, miniature donkeys and all sorts of fun animals for everyone to see.”

Farm fresh pumpkins and vegetables

The pumpkin patch offers up a massive assortment of – what else – pumpkins! Looking for a huge, itty bitty, tall and skinny, striped, blue, red, white, warty or a plain ole orange pumpkin? With over three acres of pumpkins, squashes and gourds to choose from, the Pumpkin Patch has an ample supply of delicious varieties for your cooking and decorating needs. “The crops are continually getting ripe throughout the season, so no matter when you come out to the ranch there is always something delightful to choose from,” Davis said. “We have a great assortment, including some very rare selections in our Epicurean Corner. We have it all – but I lean towards what is delicious and unique.”

Pumpkin toss and more

Don’t forget to take part in the Pumpkin Toss – prizes are handed out to anyone who participates. Every week the highest score in each age group wins a T-shirt. Find peppers, tomatoes, indian corn and more in the Vegetable Garden and walk across bridges, past waterfalls and a trickling brook leading to the secret home of the Gargoyles in the Herb Garden. The wacky, witchy, wonderful corn maze, with turns and surprises around every corner, is fun for all ages. Solve a puzzle and earn a prize from the Witch’s Cauldron.

Haunted mine

For the most daring visitors, the Lost Dutchman’s Mine, rumored to be haunted by the Old Dutchman that entered the mine 100 years ago seeking gold, delivers thrills, shrills and chills. “The mine is too scary for little guys, but it really is a lot of fun,” Davis said.

Skeleton George

Not to be missed – Skeleton George – a rascally sort of guy sporting a cowboy hat, boots and sunglasses who likes to jump around to different locations throughout the ranch every week. “He’s always doing something different, he might be driving a tractor or up in the tree house,” Davis said. “So we’ll ask, ‘where’s George?’ and if the kids can tell us they will get a prize.”

Family run pumpkin farm

Alongside Granny and Granddad, Davis’ son and daughter-in-law, Justin and Lisa Davis and their children, Skye and Sloane, lend a hand to ensure the success of Granny’s Gardens each year. Another son, Scott, as well as daughter, Summer Barnes and her husband Pat Barnes, and her children, Mace and Makenna, are residents of Southern California and assist with the website and occasional visits to the property as well. “This has been a lot of fun to do as a family,” Davis said.

Entrance is free

Fun corn maze at the pumpkin patch.[/caption] Entrance into this Central Coast pumpkin patch is free. Individual tickets for purchases or activities are just $3, or $65 for a book of 24 and $125 for two books (48 tickets). School group discounts available Monday – Friday. Visitors are encouraged to bring a picnic lunch or snacks for their journey out to the ranch. Bottled water, juices and packaged snacks are available for purchase. For a sneak peek at Granny’s Gardens, including maps for the Corn Maze and Pumpkin Patch as well as personal notes from Granny on vegetable varietals, check out Grab a flyer at the Paso Robles Rabobank location and various businesses throughout Paso Robles for a coupon good for a free pumpkin during the opening weekend. More photos, videos and updates will be featured in the Paso Robles Daily News after the pumpkin patch opens. Granny’s Gardens at San Marco Ranch is located 7 miles north of downtown Paso Robles and will be open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Sept. 28 through Oct. 31. Take Highway 101 north to the San Marcos Road exit, then drive 1 mile west to 775 San Marcos Road. For more information or to make a reservations for groups of 12 or larger, send an email to or leave a message at (805) 467-3315. Press release by San Luis Obispo web design and online marketing firm, Access Publishing, 806 9th St #2D, Paso Robles, CA 93446. (805) 226-9890.

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Saturday, September 14, 2013

Why you might want to keep your life insurance in retirement

life insurance in retirement
Rick Goree - One of my trusted
insurance advisors in my home
town of Paso Robles, Ca
Most people think they don't need life insurance in their retirement, but there are some good reasons you may want to keep it.

Life insurance helps protect your spouse and children from poverty in the case of your untimely death. However, once your children become self-sufficient and you and your spouse accumulate significant assets, there's less of a need to keep paying the premiums for life insurance. Here's how to tell if you still need life insurance in retirement:

Are you still working? 

Many Americans continue to work during the traditional retirement years. Life insurance can protect your family from the loss of your income when you die. "Whether life insurance makes sense or not for retirees depends on how much earned income would be lost due to the death of the retiree," says Hanming Fang, an economics professor at the University of Pennsylvania. "If the retiree does not have any earned income, then there is no real need for life insurance. If the retiree's death may lead to significant loss of income, then there may still be a need for life insurance even in retirement."

Are your children and spouse self-sufficient? 

When you have a young family, life insurance can provide an incredible amount of security. But the needs of your family will change over time. "One thing you want to think about is what would happen if you were no longer here," says Joel Lange, investment director of Bell Wealth Management in Austin, Texas. "If you are not responsible for anyone else and you have sufficient assets to cover your bills, then there is very little need to continue to hold life insurance in retirement."

Will you need to pay estate taxes? 

Life insurance can sometimes be an estate planning tool. "If you have a farm that you want to keep in the family or if you are a business owner and you don't have enough liquid assets to take care of estate taxes, you can have a life insurance policy that is tied to your estate plan," Lange says. It's a good idea to talk to an estate planning expert before taking on a life insurance policy for tax purposes. "Instead of going to an agent who has a stake in your keeping the insurance, go to a fee-only planner or tax attorney who doesn't have a stake in it," says Robert Hunter, director of insurance for the Consumer Federation of America.

Who should I talk to for advice?

Here is a list of my recommended insurance agents in San Luis Obispo County, whether you are looking for life, home, or auto insurance:

HFG Coastal Insurance Services, Inc.
Paso Robles Life Insurance Agency
1446 Spring Street, Suite 205
Paso Robles, CA 93446
(805) 239-7443

Rick Goree – State Farm Insurance Agent
Paso Robles Insurance
1947 Spring Street
Paso Robles, CA 93446
(805) 227-1560

Steve Weber – State Farm Insurance Agent
Auto Insurance Paso Robles
526 Spring Street
Paso Robles, CA 93446
(805) 238-6200

Callie L Fisher Insurance Services, Inc
Health insurance specialist in Paso Robles
578 Spring Street
Paso Robles, CA 93446
(805) 238-6593

Susan Polk Insurance Agency, Inc.
Health insurance specialist in San Luis Obispo
1443 Marsh Street
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
(805) 544-6454

Susan Rodriguez – State Farm Insurance Agent
Life home and auto insurance in San Luis Obispo
1317 Broad Street
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
(805) 783-7050

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Steve Meixner, left and Newlin Hastings. 

Have you ever dreamed of retiring and buying a winery?

Pacifica Wine Division launched to buy and sell wineries

Blending local commercial real estate expertise with wine industry resources to bring buying a winery from a lifestyle choice to a smart investment. Ah, the romantic notions of owning a winery: Wandering through vineyards in the early morning light; sipping the fruits of your labor as the gentle laughter of visiting wine lovers, mingled with a classical concerto, floats through the air.

 Passion? You may have plenty of that, but if you dream of owning a winery or vineyard, desire eventually takes a backseat to the reality that this is a very competitive business that requires large amounts of hard work, determination and capital. To be successful you need expert resources, good advice and a solid plan.

Enter Pacifica Commercial Realty, the Central Coast’s market leader in commercial real estate.  Pacifica has been in operation in the Paso Robles market for more than 30 years, and has additional offices in Santa Maria and Santa Barbara.  In response to growing demand for its advisory services and transactional experience, the Paso Robles office recently launched its Wine Properties Division to represent buyers and sellers of wineries and vineyards throughout the Central Coast region.

 Newlin Hastings, a Pacifica partner, Broker and owner of the long-successful Hastings Ranch Vineyard, summarized the new division’s charter: “It is our primary responsibility to bring together buyers and sellers of wine properties, and to facilitate successful transactions that accomplish the objectives of both parties.”. “We’re offering professional commercial services to buyers and sellers of wine properties using the same disciplines we have applied to commercial real estate over the last three decades,” said Steve Meixner, Managing Director of Pacifica’s new Wine Properties Division.

Working together, this duo brings decades of commercial real estate experience and vast wine industry resources to share “We’ve created an online guide designed specifically for those thinking about getting involved in the industry, but who aren’t familiar with the wine business here in Paso Robles, and who also need to understand the politics of San Luis Obispo County,” explained Newlin.

The Winery Buyer’s Guide, available on Pacifica’s Wine Properties Division website, is an extensive resource created by local industry specialists that covers everything from accounting and permits to winemaking and bottling. Pacifica’s unprecedented access to wine industry experts gives aspiring winery and vineyard owners a clear overview of the ins and outs of the wine business, preparing them for personal and commercial success.

 For more information on buying and selling wine properties in the Paso Robles area, visit Pacifica’s Wine Properties Division website, or call (805) 237-4040.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Tips to help you select a good real estate agent

best local real estate agents

Before buying or selling a home, think about who you want to represent you

There are hundreds of real estate agents in  San Luis Obispo. How should you go about choosing your real estate agent? These are a few ideas for you to review before selecting an agent to represent you in your real estate transaction.

1. Ask friends and former clients  It's OK to ask an agent to provide a list of homes they've listed and sold in the last year. Ask for contact information to. Call the past clients and see what they liked and didn't like about the process with their agent. Be sure their comments fit with your expectations. A good question for sellers is, "How long was you home on the market?"

 2. Review the agents real estate license The California Department of Real Estate has public information on agents who have had their licenses suspended in the past. Review it online here:

 3. Choose a winner Check the local board of Realtors in Paso Robles, Atascadero, San Luis Obispo or Cambria and ask what agents do the most volume in the market. Ask who has won the recent "Realtor of the Year" awards or similar designations. These can be excellent endorsements.

4. Choose a Realtor with good credentials Real estate agents specialize. Ask about the initials that come after an agents name on his or her business card. They can be an indication that the agent has taken additional classes in a certain specialty of real estate sales. Here are a few designations:
  • CRS (Certified Residential Specialist): Completed additional training in handling residential real estate.
  • ABR (Accredited Buyer's Representative): Completed additional education in representing buyers in a transaction.
  • SRES (Seniors Real Estate Specialist): Completed training aimed at helping buyers and sellers in the 50-plus age range.
  • Realtor with a capital "R," means the agent is a member of the National Association of Realtors. By hiring a Realtor you know they have pledged to support the code of ethics.
5. How long have they been an agent? You can find out how long the agent has been selling real estate from the California DRE, or just ask. Because many people come and go in the business, a solid track record is a good thing.

6. Look at their current listings Check out your prospective agent's listings. Check out the agents own site and How closely do the agent's listings match the home you want to buy or sell. Are they in the same area and price range?

7. Ask about other homes nearby A good agent will know about other area properties. Ask about a house in your area that's sold recently or is for sale. If the agent knows the property and can give you a few details, that means he or she really knows your area.

A couple of real estate agents I recommend

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Check out the Cambria Scarecrow Festival in October.

Scarecrow Festival is Cambria tradition in October

Cambria businesses, residents and organizations put together more than 300 scarecrows in October

Did you ever wonder where the term scarecrow came from and why they were created? Well, it seems these eclectic figures found in farm fields throughout the world originated to actually “scare crows.” Crows are very advantageous birds and know how to benefit from a farmer’s efforts in spreading seeds. 

In olden times these birds consumed not only the seeds being planted but the eventual crops, and they ate so much corn and wheat that often farmers lacked enough food to get through the winter months. Thus, the ingenious field laborers constructed life-size figures made with pieces of cloth or old clothing stuffed with straw to stand out in the fields and discourage the ravenous crows.

Click her for more information on Cambria, CA 

Scarecrows have been made famous in movies, some of them in rather sinister roles, but the most well-known is the scarecrow searching for a brain in the “Wizard of Oz.” Today we can see famous scarecrows too. Just visit the coastal town of Cambria during the month of October for their successful Scarecrow Festival presented by the Cambria Historical Society.

In 2009 the first festival presented 30 scarecrows lining the sidewalks and streets of town. People loved them and by 2012 the festival boasted 370 scarecrows. Each year locals and visitors alike can’t wait to see what new and unique creations will show up. Thousands of folks pour into town and stroll up and down taking photos of the artful creations. 

“It all started with people viewing the scarecrows we had at the museum for the annual Harvest Festival,” Sue Robinson said. Robinson, a Festival volunteer is up to her neck in straw bales processing new applications for this year’s festival. 

Merchants and individuals who want to create a scarecrow attend classes that the Festival Committee holds. Volunteers, including an art teacher and a professional artist, guide learners in making the papier mache figure, doing the painting, building the body frame, and dressing the scarecrows.

2013 brings something new to the festival. Technology has caught up to the simple scarecrow and each one is equipped with a QR code enabling users of smart phones and tablets to scan the figures and find out fascinating details about them such as the name of the figure, the inspiration for it, and the sponsor. You’ll be able to rate them, post their picture to Facebook and even create your own custom map of your top choices.
The Cambria Scarecrow Festival now joins with other scarecrow festivals world wide as one of the most successful and fun fall festivals. So be sure to travel up Highway 1 to the pine-laden town of Cambria from October 1 through October 31, 2013 and become acquainted with Cambria’s scarecrows.

Recommended businesses in and around Cambria

Motel in Cambria
6656 Moonstone Beach Drive
Cambria, CA 93428
(805) 927-5888

Cambria Realtor
770 Main St
Cambria , CA  93428‎
(805) 927-2474

Cayucos Realtor
299 Cayucos Dr
Cayucos, CA 93430
(805) 234-4315

Cambria painter
1982 Londonderry Lane
Cambria, CA 93428
(805) 927-1604

Cambria general contractor
788 Arlington Street
Cambria, CA 93428
(805) 927-8138

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Top 10 things to do on the Central Coast

things to do in San Luis Obispo County
Searching out the wildflowers is a great way to spend a spring afternoon.

Top 10 things to do on the Central Coast

So you have a little time to kick back and relax on the Central Coast? Well it's no time to slow down in SLO, because there are so many things to do. Here are a list of some of my favorite things to do and this is just scratching the surface.

San Luis Obispo Farmers Market
ALL YEAR - Every Thursday night, Farmers' Market brings the community together to shop for fresh produce, sample San Luis Obispo's delectable and varied cuisine, browse local shops, listen to live music and interact with local entertainers.
Hiking around San Luis Obispo

Kayaking around Morro Rock
ALL YEAR - Kayaking is relatively easy and a person can do it with just some basic instructions. Outfitters will show you how to get in and out of the boat, how to hold and use your paddle, as well as giving you some helpful tips about the area you will be paddling through. Most kayak outfitters also give tours and this is often the best way to get started kayaking.

Paso Robles Wine Tasting
ALL YEAR - Visitors to the Central Coast often come to sample the vintages of the more than 200 wineries in the Paso Robles American Viticultural Appellation, but not so long ago this was a sleepy area with only a handful of tasting rooms available for the public. Read a little on the link above about how it all got started and who came first.

Estrella Warbirds Museum
ALL YEAR - For all aviation and military buffs, the Estrella Warbirds Museum in Paso Robles is a must see. It has two dozen aircraft on display, missiles, tanks, and other military vehicles and machinery, as well as military artifacts and paraphernalia and civilian artifacts kept by civilians and military personnel during the wars.

Hunting for Wildflowers on the Carrisa Plain
SPRING - Come out for a relaxing drive looking for the wildflowers found in the eastern part of the county way out Highway 58. You can’t miss it in a good flower year. As you approach Shell Creek Road the fields are bursting with miles of yellow flowers. People come by busloads to see the spectacle and to take photographs.

San Luis Obispo Marathon
APRIL - You may think that running a marathon is a bit too ambitious for a retired person, but you'd be wrong. The field is filled with the 65+ and over set. I recently raced a triathlon at Lake Lopez with an 80-year-old gentleman. It's never too late to start running. A great place to start is with a 5k run, like the one sponsored by the SLO Marathon. Afterward enjoy their health and fitness expo.

Arroyo Grande Strawberry Festival
MAY - This is one of California's largest festivals and premiere festival on the Central Coast. This family-style event brings together thousands of visitors and residents to enjoy activities and entertainment, the Strawberry Stampede, hundreds of art, craft and display booths, ethnic foods, and of course, scrumptious strawberry treats of all kinds in shortcakes, funnel cakes, milkshakes, ice cream and by the box.

Atascadero Wine Festival
JUNE - There are several wine festivals on the Central Coast but this one is exceptional. The Annual Atascadero Lakeside Wine Festival brings together more than eighty Central Coast wineries to the Atascadero Lake Park to share their favorite wines for this annual festival. Continuing the celebration of the senses, the festival provides an eclectic selection of fares from local chefs with an array of culinary creations to invigorate your spirits and enjoy the good life, against the backdrop of this truly inspired Lakeside Festival.

Paso Robles Concerts in the Park
SUMMER - During the summer the downtown park fills up with locals and visitors every Friday at 5:30 p.m. to enjoy live music, dance, food and wine. You are welcome to bring your own chairs, blankets and cooler. This is a fun, social experience not to be missed.

Cambria Scarecrow Festival
OCT - Every year the population of Cambria increases by hundreds. Thanks to some amazingly creative locals a phenomenal display of scarecrows descend on this little town and remain there for the entire month. The scarecrows are a diverse and eclectic group. Some resembling the characters from Harry Potter, others meant to look like a senior citizen walking down the street. They seem the have embraced the artistic atmosphere in Cambria, and in the process they've given passers-by another reason to make a stop in this seaside community.