Archive for February, 2014

On Assignment in a Vintage 1973 Airstream Sovereign for

My lab, Scarlet, chilling out at the Santa Barbara Auto Camp

I’ve spent the last few days in Santa Barbara staying in a renovated vintage 1973 31′ Airstream Sovereign at the Santa Barbara Auto Camp on assignment for the blog. Since my Airstream suite is pet friendly, my dog, Scarlet joined me for this Southern California road trip.

All of the five Airstreams at the Santa Barbara Auto Camp have been renovated with sustainable materials. Each suite also has satellite tv and a DVD player as well as a kitchenette with a microwave and all the basics. There are BBQs outside and deck chairs.

You can check out the posts about my experience the first afternoon here and the first night here.

Stay tuned to the blog for more detailed trip report posts.

Each Airstream Suite comes with two beach cruisers for exploring the area

Each Airstream suite comes with two beach cruisers so you can explore the surrounding area by bike. The beach is about 3 miles away and the Old Santa Barbara Mission about a mile away.

The Dining Area and interior of Airstream Suite 1

All the Airstreams in the park have been renovated and are super cute and user friendly.

The claw foot tub and renovated bathroom of my Airstream suite at the Santa Barbara Auto Camp

My suite featured a claw foot bathtub and a 30 gallon hot water heater so there was no problem filling it.

Scarlet approves of the 1,000 thread count sheets on the bed in my Airstream at the Auto Camp

The Santa Barbara Auto Camp is located in an actual trailer park that has been around since 1922. The residents I encountered were friendly.

Why not stay in a pimped out Airstream in Santa Barbara?

Rates for the Airstream suites start at $139 dollars a night, it’s no shocker that the camp fills up well in advance on weekends.

A pair of rabbits hopping about the property add additional charm

Enjoying a glass of  local Hitching Post Pinot Noir with my dog outside the Airstream


Much thanks to and The Santa Barbara Auto Camp for hosting my pet friendly trip.

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The Best Kind of Hotel California: a Stay a the Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur

The Post Ranch Inn is all about indoor/outdoor living

One of the things I love most about living in California is that there are so many places I travel to within state lines– the desert, the mountains, vibrant cities and cute coastal towns are all just a few hours drive away. The spot I find most beautiful and special is Big Sur, California.

The view from the living area of my Pacific Suite at the Post Ranch Inn

Located on a curvy and stunning section of the Pacific Coast Highway, Big Sur is part California is part hippie strong hold and part high end dream destination. I recently spent a night at the Post Ranch Inn, and remain convinced it’s my favorite hotel in all of California, because in so many ways it represents what I love most about the Golden State.

The steel hot tub is kept at 104 degrees

The Post Ranch Inn was designed by architect Mickey Muennig, who studied and embraced the concepts of organic architecture and limiting the impact on the environment. The result is stunning. The Post Ranch Inn’s 39 rooms are hardly “rooms.” They are collection of unique structures– tree houses and curvy buildings that cling to the Pacific Coast. The result is serene and high end zen.

Magic Hour light in the bathroom of my Pacific Suite

The result is all about enjoying the surrounding environment, be it the majestic Redwoods on the property or the stunning coast below. Cell signals are dicey in Big Sur and that’s half the charm. There are no televisions in the rooms at the Post Ranch Inn and you really don’t miss them.

The chocolate chip cookies in the included minibar might ruin your appetite for dinner

Each suite has an easy to work fireplace and some sort of outdoor patio. There is really no reason to leave your wifi equipped room– unless you want to. The property is fun to explore with all sorts of special hidden hang out spots, including benches and even a Spirit Nest (a human-sized birds nest) if you want to chill out in nature.

Left: the hot tub on the balcony of the Pacific Suite is kept at 104 degrees Right: the fireplace makes the suite super cozy

There are two heated infinity pools on the property– one lined with jade (which I’m told has “healing qualities”) as well as a heated lap pool. There is also fitness center and complementary yoga and meditation classes in a yurt. There is a full spa menu and treatments are offered in the spa facilities or in your suite.

I loved how the desk was so organic to the room

The Post Ranch Inn does not allow pets or guests under the age of 18, making it an ideal choice for a romantic couples getaway. They offer wedding, elopement  and celebration packages should you wish to take your relationship to the next level in inspired and spectacular surroundings. Honeymoon packages are also available.

The Pinot Noir welcome amenity was nice to enjoy in the stainless steel hot tub

The Post Ranch Inn was one of the first pioneers in the green movement. You drive past solar panels on your drive up to reception (in the summer, solar panels provide 100% of the resort’s power– and they contribute back to the grid.) Once on the property, a fleet of Hybrid Lexus vehicles are available to chauffeur you around.

Left: the guard gate at the Post Ranch Inn Right: the curvy and awesome exterior of Mountain House

While all this luxury doesn’t come cheap (room rates start at $675) the service is top notch and the resort does not nickel and dime you. The minibar could feed a family of four and is included in the room rates, as is an impressive breakfast spread in Sierra Mar Restaurant (which I’ll cover in depth in a future post).

Left: Lounge chairs on the deck of a Tree House Right: the deck of a Mountain House

Nature walks, yoga in a yurt, and meditation classes are also complementary for guests.

The exterior of Sierra Mar restaurant

Be advised: if you want to stay at the Post Ranch Inn, book early! The intimate scale of the property means it books up way in advance, especially during weekends.

Left: Solar panels provide the property’s energy  Right: funky fountain on the grounds of the Post Ranch Inn

The Post Ranch Inn epitomizes everything I adore about California– the rugged beauty of the Pacific Coast, the responsible green philosophy, the unpretentious luxury, and the high end hippy vibe.

The view from the Spirit Nest overlooks the pond (which is more scenic when California isn’t in a drought)

For all of these reasons, and the stunning location, the Post Ranch Inn is my favorite hotel in California. If you’re a bucket list type, this is a property worth adding. A two to three night stay is all you need, but one night is not really enough to truly savor all the Post Ranch Inn has to offer and to fully relax.

With only 39 rooms, reservations at the Post Ranch Inn are essential. No guests under the age of 18 or pets are allowed. Tip: stay here with someone special who you can chill with. This is a very special and memorable place.

Post Ranch Inn

Address: 47900 State Highway 1,
Big Sur, CA 93920, United States
Phone:+1 831-667-2200

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Where to Eat in Big Sur: Nepenthe Restaurant

One of the many patios at Napenthe Restaurant in Big Sur

Sometimes when you’re looking for a lunch spot on the Pacific Coast Highway, you have to choose between good food or great view. Fortunately Napenthe in Big Sur has both to offer. While not exactly fine dining, this funky California institution has tasty cuisine and oodles of atmopshere. Napenthe is open for both lunch and dinner and at it’s best when the the weather’s good and you can enjoy the spectacular views (especially from the back patio).

The steamed Castroville artichoke was a delightful lunch starter

Family owned & operated since 1949, Napenthe focuses it’s menu on local food and wine. I started with the steamed and chilled Castroville artichoke served with  sun-dried tomato pesto aioli for $11. It was fresh and tasty.

There’s an indoor fireplace to keep you warm on cool days and at night

Next I got the pulled pork sandwich, B with sweet and tangy BBQ sauce and pickled red onion on a sesame focaccia roll and served with garbanzo and kidney bean salad for $17. While $17 seems a bit steep, the atmosphere and view are worth the price of admission.

Napenthe’s back patio offers the best views

I didn’t have any wine, but I will the next time I’m at Napenthe. The restaurant has a great wine list and serves a lot of great wine from the nearby Santa Lucia Highlands including those by  Gary’s Vineyard and Pinot Noir from Roar.

Napenthe fills up on nice days– I love the outdoor seating they provide for those waiting for tables.

Napenthe’s menu has great options for vegetarian including a tofu veggie burger  with housemade Ambrosia sauce ($14.50) and the earthy roasted beet salad with Point Reyes s blue cheese, oranges, apples, pea shoots and field greens served with citrus vinaigrette ($14.50).

I’ve eaten at counters with worse views than this one

Book a reservation if you plan on coming on a weekend or when the weather’s good. Napenthe fills up on gorgeous days.


48510 Highway One, Big Sur, California

+1 (831) 667-2345

Nepenthe Restaurant serves lunch every day of the year from 11:30 – 4:30 and dinner from 5:00 – 10:00 every day except Thanksgiving & Christmas.

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Where to Eat in Nashville: Pinewood Social Club

The bowling alley at Pinewood Social in Nashville

Pinewood Social is the Nashville hot spot I was most interested in checking out, especially since my Nashvillian friend described it as, “it feels like a lobby of an Ace Hotel, but without the hotel.” After seeing it for myself, I totally get what she was saying. The 13,000 foot space does feel like a lobby slash adult playground, complete with a six lane hipster bowling alley, a karaoke room, communal tables (complete with electrical outlets) as well as a 30 stool bar in the center of the lobby-like space.

The menu at Pinewood Social

Pinewood Social is definitely fun and the food is kind of fine dining diner– the French Fries are excellent and the Kale Caesar Salad can be ordered in a half ($7) or full size portion ($12). There’s a full drink menu featuring cocktails with cheeky names like “He Who Shall Remain Nameless” and “A Sidecar Named Doug.” The Whiskey Smash was so tasty I stuck with it all night.

The whiskey smash at Pinewood Social

While I very much enjoyed the vibe at Pinewood Social, I don’t know if it’s right for a date. It’s much more free-flowing than that. It’s more the sort of place to go for brunch with a group of friends. Come summer, there is an outdoor section with Cabanas and an Airstream for more adult playground goodness.

Pinewood Social

Address: 33 Peabody Street, Nashville, TN 37210

Phone: 615-751-8111

Mon-Fri: 7am-1am

Sat-Sun: 9am-1am


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Things To Do in Nashville: Tour the Ryman Auditorium

The Ryman Auditorium is considered to better acoustics than Carnegie Hall

If you’re planning a trip to Nashville, the one thing that cannot be missed is touring the Ryman Auditorium. The former church has a colorful history as place of worship as well as the original home of the Grand Ole Opry. The Ryman is often called “the Mother Church of Country Music.”

Left: pew seating at the Ryman Right: Stained glass windows at the Ryman

The Ryman has acoustics that best even those at Carnegie Hall, making it a favorite venue of many performers. It also winds up on lists of the best concert venues in the country (including Rolling Stone’s list of Venues that Rock in the “Big Room” category).

The view from the stage at the Ryman

The Ryman also features rotating exhibits featuring costumes and memorabilia from artists that have performed on it’s stage, including Loretta Lynn and Johnny Cash. There is also a great exhibition of signed concert posters from artists who have played the Ryman including Led Zeppelin front man Robert Plant and the Lumineers.

Left: Costume from Loretta Lynn Right: Loretta Lynn’s cowboy boots

The Ryman’s appeal goes way beyond the country music crowd– the Pixies played here on Super Bowl Sunday. I was so impressed by the architecture and how passionate artists are about the Ryman that I’m pretty sure I’ll plan my next trip to NashVegas when a band I like is playing a concert here so I can check out the legendary acoustics for myself.

Ryman Auditorium
Address116 5th Ave N, Nashville, TN 37219, United States
Hours: 9:00 am – 4:00 pm
Phone: +1 615-889-3060
Self-guided tour: $15
Backstage tour: $20

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