Posts Tagged ‘US travel’

Exploring California: The New Tesla Supercharger in Kettleman City

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The exterior of the new Tesla Supercharger in Kettleman City

With the holidays upon us, more people will be hitting the road. For Tesla owners, this can mean long wait times at Supercharger stations. For those traveling on the I-5 between Los Angeles and San Francisco, there is good news. A 40 stall Supercharger station just opened in Kettleman City.

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Panorama of the Kettleman City Tesla Supercharger

I visited the spanking new supercharger on Saturday and was wildly impressed. It looks like something straight out of the Jetsons. In addition to the well designed and shaded layout and of the solar charging stalls, the Kettleman City Supercharger offers amenities for Tesla owners. There are bathrooms and a guest lounge where you can order a craft beverage from a Tesla barista while enjoying free wifi. There is even Tesla merchandise for sale.

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Kettleman City Supercharger Entrance 

The Kettleman City supercharger should help relieve the burden at the Bakersfield and Harris Ranch Superchargers during heavy traffic times, as well as when the Tesla Model 3s start to add additional traffic.  Access to the facilities is gained by an access code sent directly to guest’s Tesla touchscreen.

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Solar covered charging stalls at the Kettleman City Supercharger

There are quite a few dining options near the Kettleman City supercharger, including California favorites In-N-Out Burger, Bravo Farms and Baja Fresh.

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Pretty Tesla Chargers all in a row

The astroturf lawn is perfect for walking your pets.

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Kettleman City Supercharger

Another 40 stall Tesla Supercharger is set to open this week in Baker, for those driving between Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

My Tesla did not list the Kettleman City supercharger as an option last Thursday (a day after it opened) so be sure to ask your Tesla navigation system for specific directions.

Kettleman City Supercharger

27675 Bernard Drive

Kettleman City, CA 93239

Roadside Assistance (877) 798-3752

Charging
40 Superchargers, available 24/7, up to 120kW

 

 

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Exploring Montana: A Stay at the Ranch at Rock Creek with Dogs

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Horsing around at the Ranch at Rock Creek

I’m a big fan of Montana and try to visit the Treasure State as often as I can. Last month my husband made a repeat visit to The Ranch at Rock Creek in Philipsburg and this time we took our two Labrador Retrievers with us.

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Wildfires in the area made the Montana skies less picturesque than usual

There is a huge difference between properties that tolerate pets and those that are truly pet-friendly. The Ranch at Rock Creek is the latter. While the resort does charge a pet fee of $50 a pet per night, it’s totally worth it to be able to wander the Ranch and hang out at the bar with your dogs. Our labs weren’t the only dogs on the property. They made a few friends including an extremely friendly Golden Doodle named Tex and Flint, a black lab who lives at the RRC.

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Charming porch outside Eagle’s Perch

Wildfires have been a big problem in the west this year, and Montana had a lot of them during the time we visited. This gave the air a constant chargrilled scent and the skies a bazaar cast that made it look they had a sunset filter on from sun up to sun down. But that didn’t hamper the three days of fun we had at The Ranch at Rock Creek.

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Morning view of the Welcome Pond

The Ranch provided pick up and transportation for us (and our two labradors) from the airport to the property. The nearest major airport is Missoula, which is approximately 90 minutes by car. We arrived at the Ranch in time for lunch, which we enjoyed outdoors since the fall weather was still warm enough to dine outside. Lunch was delicious, as the RRC is an all-inclusive property as well as the world’s only Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star ranch.

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Supermodel Horse

We wanted to stay in the Loft of the Historic Barn because the room stood out during our last trip to the Ranch. It was very nicely situated close to the Barn and the Rod & Gun Club which were the staging area where most of our activities started.

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The western chic bathroom in the Loft of the Historic Barn

You never go hungry at the Ranch at Rock Creek. It’s a Relais & Châteaux property and chef Chef Josh Drage’s food program keeps getting better. The day started with morning coffee in the Granite Lodge and breakfast a bit later. Our dogs enjoyed joining us for Social Hour with Cocktails and Hors d’oeuvres at 5 pm.

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Grilled steak salad in the Granite Lodge

Breakfast and lunch are served in the Granite Lodge, and for dinner they mixed things up. One night we had a great BBQ. We also enjoyed long trail ride followed by a picnic lunch at The Top of the World, the highest viewpoint of the ranch. Normally the Top of the World is is known for it’s stunning views of Big Sky Country. The views were hampered by the smoky air but we still enjoyed the experience, complete with homemade lemonade and locally brewed beer.

Fun fact: Montana is #2 in number of microbreweries per capita (only Oregon has more)

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Ribeye and Zeppelin enjoying Montana life

We took a lot of long walks around the property because the the dogs really enjoyed roaming and running and playing in the creek (which was pretty shallow this time of the year). RRC has hired naturalists on staff to help show you around the property, and we loved loved it.

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Girl goats at the barn

My younger lab, Ribeye was less charmed by the three goats who roamed the grounds. They were friendly but he’s definitely not a fan.

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Dog day afternoon at the Ranch at Rock Creek

We like to get on horses in Montana and took daily trail rides. My husband especially enjoyed the shooting sports raving about the pistols and rifle range.

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Getting ready for a trail ride

I passed on the guns and hung out at the bar where the bartender made a great margarita and delicious Montana Mule served up in a copper mug made from locally mined copper from nearby Butte.

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trail riding fun

We were even given two Ranch at Rock Creek copper mugs as a welcome amenity.

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Scene from a trail ride

The staff at the Ranch at Rock Creek is great and laundry service was speedy (riding clothes get dusty quick). The barn even has quite an array of loaner boots in case you forgot a pair that is suitable for riding.

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Obligatory cow photo

During the summer months, the Ranch at Rock Creek has a rodeo on the property. Riding lessons can also take place in the ranch’s arena.

 

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Good to go trail riding

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Left: Montana Craft Beer Right: Smoky views at the Top of the World

The dogs were sad when our three day stay at the ranch came to an end. I hope to bring them back during another season, since winter and summer have different experiences to offer.

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Morning ride

The Ranch at Rock Creek is also a popular spot for corporate retreats, destination weddings, and family reunions since it has lots to offer in a fun yet luxurious atmosphere and can accommodate 125 guests.

 

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targets from the shooting activities 

In the winter, there is even an ice skating pond complete with a warming hut. I’d love to spend the holidays here!

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Creek Crossing

The RRC is constantly improving and upgrading. The property is closed from late mid- January to mid-February and this is when some of the improvements happen. We heard a new Rod & Gun Club in is the works.

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Left: BBQ goodness Right: Grilled veggies and ribs

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Spicy beans

We had so much fun at the Ranch at Rock Creek. Our dogs did too. The staff was even helpful locating a hose so we could rinse off our dogs after a particularly dust-filled day of exploring.

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Flint, the ranch dog, joined Zeppelin and Ribeye for a game of fetch

The other guests at the Ranch at Rock Creek are also cool. We socialized over cocktails and everyone had interesting tales from their day of adventure.

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Zeppelin on the wagon

 

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Left: Ribeye enjoying nature Right: Zeppelin on the go

It was pure joy watching our labs play in the creek and run free at the ranch. They don’t have this kind of freedom at home in Seattle.

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Zeppelin and Ribeye enjoying Rock Creek

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Smoky mid-day sun at the Ranch at Rock Creek

My trip to the Ranch at Rock Creek was booked through Linda Clark of Lake Forest Travel Bureau. You can reach her via the email below.

linda@lakeforesttravel.com

(All inclusive rates at the Ranch at Rock Creek begin at $900)

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Exploring Maui, Hawaii: a Stay at Travaasa Hana

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Pool and the Pacific at Travaasa

If you want to drive the Road to Hana at a more relaxed pace, and stay for a night (or three) in the Hana area, Travaasa Hana (formerly known as the Hotel Hana Maui) is the best bet for the luxury traveler. There are other options in town (including Airbnb properties), but if you want a full-service property, Travaasa is the way to go. Travaasa also offers a stay three nights and fly for free promotion that allows those who want to skip driving the Road to Hana altogether.

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One of the charming Ocean Bungalows at Travaasa Hana on Maui

Not all rooms at Travaasa are created equal. The Ocean Bungalows are located across the street from the main hotel complex, near the pool and fitness studio. They are more expensive than the Garden Junior Suites and worth every additional penny. Our first room was a Garden Junior Suite and only had a standing oscillating fan for cooling. It was tolerable but not pleasant.

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The Ocean Bungalows had lovely breezes coming off the water, and newly refurbished bathrooms. It was a much more pleasant environment overall. The ocean bungalow also had a spacious lanai (balcony) which was great for viewing the sunset or enjoying a drink.

Rainbow time lapse at the Hotel Travaasa Maui

I shot this time lapse of a rainbow appearing from my ocean bungalow at the Hotel Travaasa Maui.

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Rainbow views at the Hotel Travaasa Hana on Maui

While the Hotel Travaasa does not have it’s own beach, it’s a mere 10 minute walk from the property to Hana’s gorgeous Red Sand Beach (also known as Kaihalulu).

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Bed in an ocean bungalow

Hana is not a highly populated area and while all the hotel staff were very nice, service was uneven. The bellman who showed us to our room the first night (a Garden Junior Suite) did not point out where the hotel’s pool was located. When we ordered cocktails from room service, they failed to make note of our room number and we had to call back. The staff made up for the error by comping the round of drinks.

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Lovely renovated bathroom in the Ocean Bungalow

Tennis courts and a rec room are some of the other facilities on the Travaasa Hana property .

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Another view of the bedroom of an Ocean Bungalow at Travaasa

Travaasa rates can be all-inclusive or priced a la carte. We opted for a la carte and think it was the right choice. While there isn’t a wide selection of full service restaurants in the area, there are several food trunks that served tasty tacos and bbq that are perfect for lunch or a quick snack.

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The living room of the Ocean Bungalow at Travaasa Hana

All rooms come stocked with coffee makers and banana bread, a local specialty.

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The ocean bungalows at Travaasa

Travaasa also offers a schedule of cultural, culinary, and adventure experiences as well as fitness classes. Some are free, others are offered for an additional fee. There is also a spa on the property. I can’t vouch for any of the classes or spa services since we used Travaasa as a home base for Hana and spent most of our time off the property exploring the area. The spa and fitness class space did however look lovely.

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Sunshine on the Ocean Bungalows

I really enjoyed Hana and would happily stay at Travaasa Hana again. But I’d be sure to book an Ocean Bungalow and I’d want to have my car with me so I could continue to explore the area and not be isolated on the property.

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Entrance to Travaasa Hana

The restaurant on property was fine but not exceptional, and service is more laid back than you will find in the other resort areas of Maui like Wailea or Kaanapali.

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Breakfast at Travaasa Hana

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A view of the Ocean Bungalows at Travaasa Hana

Travaasa isn’t cheap but I’d happily stay here again. It’s not the place for you if you require five star service or strong A.C., but it’s a lovely place to use as a base to explore the Road to Hana and the Kīpahulu District of Haleakala National Park.

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Rocks along the walk to the Red Sand Beach

If you are staying at Travaasa, please keep in mind driving the Road to Hana after dark is dangerous and plan your driving time so that you arrive before dark. Hana doesn’t have a buzzing night scene but it a good night’s sleep can help you beat the crowds at some of the best attractions in the area by getting on the road early after a good night’s sleep.

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Maui’s Red Sand beach is a 10 minute walk from Travaasa

The vibe in Hana is chill and relaxed, so you just kind of go with it and enjoy the island vibe. It’s fantastic.

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Pink clouds at Travaasa Hana on Maui

Travaasa Hana Maui

5031 Hana Hwy
Hana, Hi 96713

Tel: 808-248-8211

Room rates start at $450

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Exploring Maui, Hawaii: Ho’okipa Beach, Paia and Mama’s Fish House

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The beach outside of Mama’s Fish House

If you’re looking for something different from the mega resorts on Maui, I’d highly advise spending a day exploring Ho’okipa Beach Park and the charming town of Paia.  Ho’okipa is one of the best windsurfing spots on the island if not the planet. It’s also a favorite of surfers and people who just want to watch them while enjoying a day at the beach.

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Summer day at Ho’okipa Beach Park

I am particularly fond of the mix of locals and tourists at Ho’okipa Beach. There are even a few interesting food trucks if you need a quick bite to eat.

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Food trucks at Ho’okipa Beach 

Drink a coconut or grab a nibble, but don’t spoil your appetite. You’ll want it later.

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Another view of Ho’okipa Beach 

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Left: Getting ready to surf at Ho’okipa Right: Surfing rush hour

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Windsurfing at Ho’okipa Beach

Ho’okipa is located close to Paia, which a charming spot to browse, go shopping, or grab a shave ice.

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Sun’s out/buns out at Ho’okipa Beach

Bathing suits are cheeky this season. If you’re doing the sun’s out/buns out thing, don’t forget your sunscreen!

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Kampachi Ceviche at Mama’s Fish House

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After you’ve worked up an appetite at the beach, head to nearby Mama’s Fish House for a meal. Be sure to book ahead… there is a reason Mama’s is so popular!

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Left: Blue Hawaiian at Mama’s Fish House Right: the cute pineapple I found blended right in with the Hawaiian decor

While fresh fish is the specialty at Mama’s they also serve excellent short ribs as well as some island specialities like fresh poi and kalua wild boar.

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Grilled shrimp at Mama’s

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img_9419Left: Ahi poke Right: Fresh poi comes complimentary at Mama’s

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Mahi mahi and ahi Panang curry

This is great place to try a tropical cocktail. Mama’s version of the Mai Tai isn’t too sweet. The Blue Hawaiian is probably more photogenic than it is my taste.

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Tiki pineapple goodness at Mama’s Fish House

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Mama’s menu + pineapple = art

After a mai tai or two, I got creative and noticed my pineapple felt like part of the menu art at Mama’s Fish House.

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View from a table at Mama’s Fish House

Mama’s Fish House also has The Inn at Mama’s right next door, should you wish to stay in this charming part of the island. I plan on doing so on my next visit to the island.

Ho’okipa Beach Park

Located at Mile #9 on Hâna Highway (36).

Mama’s Fish House

799 Poho Place,
Paia, HI 96779
TEL (808) 579-8488
FAX (808) 579-8594

OPEN DAILY from 11am to 9pm

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Exploring Maui, Hawaii: Sunset Stroll and Happy Hour Picks in Wailea

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The Mana Kai Maui during golden hour

During my amazing girls trip to Maui our base for the first few days was the Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort. Our first night on the island we took a walk along the beach towards Kihei to enjoy the sunset views.

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Sunset fishing spot in Kihei

There are a couple of great happy hours in Kihei with stunning views. Sarento’s on the Beach and the 5 Palms at the Mana Kai Maui are both excellent locations to take in the sunset and enjoy an adult beverage.

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White sand beach during golden hour at Kamaole Beach Park

If you just want to stretch your legs, there are quite a few lovely public spots to take in the stunning views of Maui.

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Golden girls during golden hour

The public beaches are all easily accessible via foot including Kamaole Beach Park I, Kamaole Beach Park 2 and Kamaole Beach Park III. Walking through them is enjoyable because you’ll see plenty of locals playing in the surf and walking their dogs in these parks.
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Dog walk at Kamaole Beach Park

After dark, I highly recommend heading to the Andaz Maui where guests can enjoy roasting marshmallows poolside. Even if you’re not staying at the hotel, it’s worth dining at Morimoto Maui for their sushi and Japanese menu (the hamachi tacos and chicken ramen soup are stand out dishes).

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Curves and clouds at Kamaole Beach Park

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Golden hour at Kihei’s Kama’ole Beach Park

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Toasting marshmallows poolside at the Andaz Maui

If you don’t want to do the walk after dark, an Uber X costs about $4 to take you from Kamaole Beach Park back to the Andaz Wailea.

Sarento’s on the Beach

2980 South Kihei Road
Kihei, Maui, HI 96753
Phone (808) 875-7555

5 Palms
2960 S. Kihei Road
Kihei, Maui HI 96753
Phone (808) 879-2607

Morimoto Maui
3550 Wailea Alanui Dr.
Wailea, HI 96753
(808) 243-4766

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