Renting a houseboat on the California Delta wasn't always simple. You'd contact the various companies, then wait for their brochures to arrive. Today it's easy. A single post card does the trick. The Delta Houseboat Assn. sends you a package containing brochures, prices. Dave Smith used to practice law before he went to the Delta to vacation on a houseboat and water ski. Smith decided this beat pleading cases. So he closed his law books and stayed on. Now he's president of the Delta Houseboat Assn. For your packet of material write to Houseboats, 6333 Pacific Ave., Suite 152, Stockton, Calif. 95207, or telephone (209) 477-1840.
Piet Van de Mark writes: "You awake on an uninhabited island where our tented camp is set up . . . sea birds everywhere . . . tide pools to ponder . . . peace and quiet rarely broken by outside human contact." What Van de Mark is describing is an eight-day vacation package he's putting together in Baja/Sea of Cortez ($1,285/$1,350). Departures March 23, 30, April 6. Contact Van de Mark c/o Baja Frontier Tours, 3683 Cactusview Drive, San Diego 92105, or telephone (619) 262-2003.
Shelter in Wales
Britain is expecting a record number of travelers in '85. Wales features several old coaching inns, hotels, farmhouses. Privately owned, lots of hospitality. Special rates for guests booking for more than one night. Prices start at $11 for bed and breakfast. Contact the British Tourist Authority, 612 S. Flower St., Los Angeles 90017. Ask for a copy of "Welsh Rarebits." The BTA will send other information about the bargain pass called "Open Ticket." Costs $23 and it's good for entry to 500 castles, stately homes, other historic buildings throughout Britain. Comes with a map zeroing in on locations. Another booklet titled "Hotels in London Country" names nearly 100 properties within an hour of London. Also available from the BTA.
France a la Carte
A company in France tailors itineraries for individuals traveling by car, camper, bicycle. Guidebooks, highway tips, driving instructions, a French phrase book. The whole package. Apartment rentals in Paris, farms in the country, chateaux, cottages, hotels in Burgundy, Alsace, Bordeaux, the Loire Valley, Normandy and Brittany, the French Riviera. Balloon/helicopter trips. Contact Promenade a la Francaise, 127 Rue du Faubourg-Poissonniere, 75009 Paris, France. Pin them down on prices. (Rates in some cases are high.)
Vermont will be welcoming bikers again this year. Back roads. Gorgeous scenery. Country inns. Dozens of trips are being scheduled by Bike Vermont. Small groups. Usually 10 to 15 riders. The pace is up to the individual. Singles, couples, families. These are escorted tours. Luggage, spare parts are carried by a support van. Nights are spent in small inns with reputations for good country cooking. Prices from $425 for five days, $160 for weekends. Includes shelter, breakfasts, dinners. Reduced rates for children traveling with an adult. Bike rentals are extra. Write to Bike Vermont, P.O. Box 207SD, Woodstock, Vt. 05091.
New Mexico has produced an 88-page booklet describing the state's top 100 events for '85. Everything from fairs to fiestas. Other sections feature weather, destinations, historic hotels. For a free copy write for the "1985 Vacation Planner" c/o the New Mexico Tourism & Travel Division, ED-TD, Room 751, Bataan Memorial Building, Santa Fe, N.M. 87503, or telephone toll-free (800) 545-2040.
Tahiti--Pat Ryan, Whittier: "Anyone who would like to sunbathe, snorkel and picnic on white-sand beaches and deserted islands while visiting points of interest on five islands from Tahiti to Bora Bora (shorts and T-shirt atmosphere). Contact Exploration Cruise Lines, 1500 Metropolitan Park Building, Olive Way at Boren Avenue, Seattle, Wash. 98101."
Italy--Carter Newton, Los Angeles: "A particularly nice restaurant in northern Italy near the Dolomites--Ristorante Al Sasso, Via del Cansiglio No. 12, Belluno, Italy."
New Zealand--Joe Gesto, Whittier: "Recommend The French Cafe, 210 B Symonds St., Auckland, New Zealand. Small, quaint, friendly, moderately priced, excellent food."
Switzerland--Arnold Green, Los Angeles: "I spend several weeks each summer and winter in Zermatt skiing. Greatest bargain is six days of unlimited lift use and instructions for $75. All instructors speak English."
Hawaii--Kathye Faries, Redondo Beach: "Had a delightful day aboard the yacht Trilogy in Hawaii. For rates write to Randy Con, Trilogy Excursions, P.O. Box 1121, Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii 96767-1121."
Australia--Mr. and Mrs. Paul Lipsius, Tujunga: "In Cairns, Australia, a fantastic seafood restaurant, Scuppers, corner of Grafton and Aplin streets. Reservations a must. In New Zealand the Union Fish Co., 16 Quay St. (fresh crayfish, rock lobster, steamed small clams, scallops, etc.). Also recommend the Rangiroa Lodge Motel, 436 High St., Rangiroa, New Zealand. Costs $19 for two persons a night."