Archive for October, 2012

California Pet Friendly Road Trip Day 2: Big Sur Getaway Review

Editor’s Note: This is the second post in a series about about our Pet Friendly California road trip from Los Angeles to Big Sur. – Jen

After overnighting in Pismo Beach, we woke up to start the drive from Pismo Beach to Big Sur, California. The morning was foggy but the we were thrilled with the Big Sur Getaway once we arrived.

The morning drive from Pismo Beach to Big Sur was foggy, once you reach the stretch of Highway One from Hearst Castle to Big Sur you see why California is called the Golden State. The view is simply stunning, when you can see it.

 Morning fog on the drive from Pismo to Big Sur

Morning fog on the drive from Pismo to Big Sur (mobile photography).

I swear, the Pacific is there somewhere beyond the fog

I swear, the Pacific ocean is there somewhere beyond the fog. Still, this stretch of the Pacific Coast Highway is all about stopping and checking out the view.

 When the fog began to lift on the drive to Big Sur

When the fog began to lift on the drive to Big Sur (mobile photography, PhotoSynth)

We arrived at the Big Sur Getaway by following the owner, Caroline’s excellent directions.

Caroline, the owner/proprietress, is very cool and friendly and hails from Berlin. She has restored three vintage trailers: an Airstream, a 1974 Avion (where we stayed) and a Tradewind.  All the vintage trailers are located on private grounds, making for an intimate little glamping resort located off a well-maintained gravel road that is gated and requires a security code for entering.

Caroline had the trailer stocked with cooking utensils and wine glasses, and a binder full of interesting handouts and brochures from around the area. She even gave us the directions to reaching the tricky turnoff to pet friendly Pfeiffer Beach, and brought us a round of her homemade mojitos.

The Avion was pet-friendly (and available) and a lot of fun for all three of us. Scarlet very much enjoyed sniffing around the woods, and special touches like a stove and BBQ make the property a fun and funky accommodation choice in the area. Rates for the Big Sur Getaway’s Avion start at $175 per night with a two night minimum. You can find more info about the rates for all three vintage trailers here.

Stunning Sky above the Avion

Stunning Sky above the Big Sur Getaway’s Vintage 1974 Avion.

The Vintage 1974 Avion

The Vintage 1974 Avion at the Big Sur Getaway.

The Avion The Avion plants

The Avion came complete with nice touches like garden-like landscaping, succulents, lawn chairs, and hammocks, and a picnic table. Two space heaters inside kept us nice and toasty at night.


Scarlet very much enjoyed the Big Sur Getaway. Here she is chilling on the bench at the outdoor picnic table.

Happy Camper

Sniffing around the woods at Big Sur

Sniffing around the woods at Big Sur.

Jeff and Scarlet

Jeff and Scarlet, enjoying the outdoor stove and BBQ area.

While the property lacks ocean views, it is close to Andrew Molera State Park which has beach access and hiking trails. While the Avion did not have internet access, the location is close to the Big Sur River Inn, which has a restaurant (with free wifi) and shops.  And backs up against the gorgeous, if slightly creek-like, Big Sur River.

Big Sur River

The nearby Big Sur River has a great pet-friendly lawn.


Giant Redwood trees in Big Sur near the Big Sur Getaway.

The flora on the property of the Big Sur Getaway.

Big Sur Woods

More giant trees in Big Sur. It’s really one of  my favorite escapes in California. I’m thrilled Scarlet approves of it, too.

I made a time lapse on my iPhone using the TimeLapse app on my iPhone 4s.

Stay tuned for the next post in this series, a Big Sur Mobile Photography Experiment.

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The My Life’s a Trip Vacation Photo Contest has been Extended!

Marita Hodges: Nothing says Hawaii vacation like skydiving at dawn. Shot this guy on my window this morning.

The MLAT team has been blown away by quality of images that have entered in our First Annual Vacation Photo Contest, and due to popular demand, we’re extending the deadline for the contest by two weeks. The new deadline is Wednesday, November 14th. Then we have to decide which images we will move forward to our international panel of really cool judges.

In this post we’re showcasing some of our recent favorite entries.

Remember- There’s a Super Fly Prize Package in store for the Grand Prize winner worth over $1,000!

The grand prize winner of the first ever My Life’s A Trip Vacation Photo Contest will get enough goodies to take an actual vacation (or at least a weekend away). I’m throwing my hard earned points and miles in the kitty to put together this grand prize package worth over $1000*:

25,000 United Airlines Miles (good for a domestic US roundtrip coach ticket)
50,000 Club Carlson Points (good for nights at properties by Radisson, Park Plaza, Park Inn, and Country Inn & Suites)
A copy of iPhone Photography: How to Shoot, Edit and Share Great Photographs, the new eBook by Misho Baranovic
And, since every other contest gives one away… a $100 iTunes Gift Card!

The amazing images in this post are by the following talented photographers from around the globe:

    • Ali Jardine.
    • Andre Boto.
    • Angela Failor.
    • Aoife Kirk.
    • Biondić Josip Joža.
    • Claudia Cooper.
    • Curtis Matwishyn.
    • Danielle Jurgens.
    • Diego Camposeco.
    • Dina Maccabee.
    • Eva Lim.
    • Halbert Bai.
    • Harsh Wardhan.
    • Joe Kunin.
    • Karen Hanson-Sharp.
    • Kevin Chen.
    • Kristin Luna.
    • Leka Huie.
    • Lesley Towns.
    • Lindsey Williams.
    • Marita Hodges.
    • Mihai Scorpan.
    • Misha Zagorac.
    • Ravi Kotecha.
    • Ron Murnik.
    • Timothy Henry Charles Tamm.
    • Verity Bowater.

Remember, as a condition of entry, it is necessary to “Like” the MLAT FB page.

Here’s how you enter. Good luck and keep those entries coming!

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California Pet-Friendly Road Trip to Big Sur: Day 1 L.A. to Pismo Beach

Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series of California Pet-Friendly Road Trip to Big Sur Posts. Stay tuned for more posts and fun mobile photography experiments. – Jen

I’ve spent the past several years focusing on international travel, and the truth is it left me a little out of practice for traveling with a dog (or two) in tow. Back in August, my husband and I were dealt a blow when we lost Lola, our beloved 15 year old lab, and we were suddenly a one dog family. It dawned on me just how much of the world my younger dog, Scarlet, had yet to see.

Photo of Lola and Scarlet as a puppy by Virginia Lee Hunter for Docuvitae.

We needed a family moment and Scarlet had never been on a road trip. By the time Scarlet joined our family, Lola was 10 years old, had two bionic knees and swam regularly and was past the road trippin’ days of her furry youth.

So we decided to take a good old-fashioned California road trip to Big Sur, so Scarlet could get a glimpse of the greater world, and all three of us could enjoy the epic scenery of the Pacific Coast Highway.

Planning Our Route

When researching pet-friendly lodgings to plan out our route, it became clear that “Pet-Friendly” usually breaks down two different ways– Über high end or super low-rent (and often devoid of personality).

My first task in planning was finding appropriate lodging in Big Sur and then figure out our route. The Post Ranch Inn, where I stayed on my last trip to Big Sur, is gorgeous and totally special, but doesn’t allow pets. After some research, I was thrilled to discover the Big Sur Getaway’s Vintage 1974 Avion Trailer was indeed Pet-Friendly, and looked my kind of funky. I have always wanted to do the vintage trailer hotel thing and looked super cool and was reasonably priced. So now we had a destination and a plan: time to take Scarlet glamping!

Scarlet hits the road! (Mobile photography)

I knew we’d have great options in the Santa Barbara area because both the Four Seasons Santa Barbara and the San Ysidro Ranch in Montecito are pet friendly hotels–  Lola had stayed at both properties in her younger days and approved.

We needed a spot to overnight and break up the drive, and settled on the beach town of Pismo Beach, which I’ve always wanted to visit since I saw Bugs Bunny go there in The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Movie.

So we decided on a route of Los Angeles to Big Sur, via Pismo Beach and returning via Montecito’s fabulous San Ysidro Ranch.

Day One: Los Angeles to Pismo Beach

We decided to make our first overnight stop Pismo Beach, because the Seacrest Oceanfront Resort seemed to be offer both pet-friendly rooms and have more personality than a lot of the other options, and was geographically desirable, allowing us the the right amount of drive time to break up the haul of the drive. We’d never been to Pismo and I had heard good things about the beach town.

Pismo Beach

At the Seacrest, I was impressed with how much pet-friendly information they provided us upon checked-in, including a list of pet friendly restaurants and beaches in the area. Scarlet, however, was not as fond of the hotel as I was. We booked the least expensive pet-friendly room, which had had nice touches like a dog bed and bowl, and the hotel was pretty spotless.

Misty Morning in Pismo at the Seacrest

The rooftop firepit of the Seacrest Oceanfront Hotel in Pismo Beach

We ate dinner on the patio of Mo’s Barbeque in Pismo and found the town to be rather charming and indeed, pet-friendly. Scarlet even got a few friendly sniffs from a handsome lab also dining there. While Scarlet was a bit overwhelmed at the hotel– probably more a reflection about overwhelmed she was by all the stimulation, other dogs and their owners seemed to be having a blast at the Seacrest.

Coming up next… Day 2 Pismo to Big Sur.

Where we were four. Lola and Scarlet as a puppy with my husband Photo by Virginia Lee Hunter for Docuvitae.

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The Resort at Paws Up: Complete With a Five Star Spaghetti Western Video

If you long for the adventure of an all-American safari, but still crave luxuries like wifi and fine cuisine, then it’s hard to top The Resort at Paws Up.

The gorgeous Montana scenery at Paws Up looks like the backdrop straight out of a Ralph Lauren ad for good reason- the resort was used as a shooting location for their upcoming holiday campaign. Rumor has it resident cowboy, Max, even modeled in a few shots.

I was so inspired I wanted to make a five star spaghetti western highlight reel of the experience!

If you think of yourself as more of Cristal than camper, you might be surprised to find you can be both at Paws Up.  While being a very Montana experience, the service at the Resort at Paws Up is exceptional. They also have an a spa, and luxury homes to rent that range in size from 1,300 to 3,248 feet and come with sprawling decks and hot tubs. Both Cristal and Dom Perignon represent on the wine list.

Gorgeous Montana Scenery, including this spectacular willow tree

Views of the Blackfoot River at River Camp

Signage for Longhaired Owens, my tent at Moonlight Camp

Misty Morning at River Camp

Glamping at River Camp

Charming details like a camp bar and an amusing squirrel sheriff make Paws Up so memorable.

Charming Do Not Disturb sign

Longhaired Owens, my tent at Moonlight Camp, came complete with an-suite bathrooms with a slate shower, vanity with double sinks and heated slate floor and heated blankets. Perfect for snuggling and romance.

Chandeliers at Trough add to the rustic luxury vibe.

Killer margaritas at Tank

During glamping season, each the luxury camps comes complete with butler service and nightly s’mores by the firepit.  During my stay at Moonlight Camp, my camping butler, Sally taught me the secret to perfectly toasting the marshmallows (it’s all about the double burn).  The wine list had some real gems, including one of my favorites, McLaren Vale Dead Letter Office Shiraz. There are lots of dining options, too.  You can dine at the your camp, or go the fine dining experience at Pomp restaurant. Executive chef Adam Cooke is Montana bred and alum of Tennessee’s foodie fave Blackberry Farm. I thoroughly enjoyed the Chuck Wagon dining experience, complete with a cowboy poet and some very tasty brisket.

S’mores Anyone?

Toasting Marshmallows

Nightly bonfire in fire pit with s’mores

Moonlight Camp’s Dining pavilion, complete with a lounge and wifi

Chuck wagon dining spread

Moose Drool beer, if you want to try a local brew

A self-portrait I took on my iPhone. I was a very happy glamper!

Paws Up turns into a winter wonderland in December and January.  The tents may be closed but the luxury homes come complete with hot tubs. Check out the fabulous winter activities like dog sledding.

Check out what TIME Magazine had to say about The Resort at Paws Up


My Life’s a Trip’s previous posts on Paws Up can be found here.

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#FriFotos: Artists and Their Chairs in Helena, Montana

Editor’s Note: For those of you who are new to the blog, I’ve been participating in the #Frifotos Photo chat on twitter since it first began two years ago. It’s really a lot of fun. If you’d like to know more about #Frifotos or how to participate, click here. – Jen

This week’s FriFotos theme is chairs, and I was rather excited to use this opportunity to showcase some of the chairs I came across during my recent trip to Helena, Montana.

Montana’s capital of Helena has an unexpected artistic side, and where there is art some how chairs are always is involved. During my few days in Helena, I saw chairs as place for a painters to paint, and art collectors to look on at the Quick Draw Event at Sieben Ranch, part of the Western Rendezvous of Art.

Seats at the Quick Draw event at Sieben Ranch

Sieben Ranch Painting being auctioned off after the quick draw event

At the Holter Museum of Art there was a well placed bench in a gallery, allowing visitors to take in the art from a comfortable distance.

Bench at Holter Museum of Art

Holter Museum of Art Panorama of the Poindexter Collection

The Cathedral of St. Helena is stunning, and while the pews are pretty, it’s really the chair behind the Cathedral’s magnificent organ that blew me away.

Cathedral’s Organ

On the grounds of the Archie Bray Foundation for Ceramic Arts, there were loveseats and chair where the artists could take a breather from their studios.

Chairs at the Archie Bray Foundation

A stool belonging to famous Montana painter CM Russell was on display at the Montana Historical Society, in the Mackay Collection.

CM Russell’s Stool

CM Russell’s Paintings

While attending a performance of Othello at by the Montana Shakespeare Company, I had the opportunity to shoot the actors backstage before and during the performance. I also got a chance to sit in the technical booth and watch how the play from there.

Reflection of a Actress using the counter as a chair while getting into costume

Backstage with the actresses, sitting on chairs and counters 10 minutes before curtain

Sitting in a chair in her dressing room, an actress studying her lines

An actor takes a seat in chair in wings backstage before going onstage

In the booth, the chair was often left empty, with the technicians  preferring to stand.

Note: My visit to Helena, Montana was sponsored by the Helena Chamber. Much thanks to my amazing guide, Mike Mergenthaler.


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