Archive for the ‘ California ’ Category


First time ‘Kamping’ at the San Diego KOA

Saturday, April 14th, 2012

I’ve done all kinds of camping in my day, but I’d never been “kamping” in San Diego before.  The San Diego KOA (Kampgrounds of America) is located in the southern part of the county in Chula Vista.  The property is quite large, with over 300 sites for RVers and tent campers, along with 35 cabins (or as KOA spells it, “kabins”), including a handful of deluxe accommodations, which is where I stayed.

The deluxe cabin can sleep six comfortably with a private bathroom, full kitchen, loft and your own private BBQ and fire ring outside.   If you stay in one of the traditional log cabins, be sure to bring your own linens…those accommodations are kind of in between a tent and a motel—best part is…you can spend the afternoon relaxing on a shady porch swing.

The public restrooms have hot showers and are quite clean with private stalls.  There is a central Kamping Kitchen for camp-goers to share…it includes everything you can think of in a traditional kitchen, however you get to do it in the great outdoors of sunny San Diego.

There are a ton of fun things to do at the San Diego KOA…from the heated pool & spa, to a myriad of bike rentals, game-room, basketball court, ping pong, playground, to a rock climbing wall.

Of course, outside the campgrounds, San Diego has a lot to offer, from the famous San Diego Zoo to SeaWorld, Old Town, Balboa Park, Cabrillo National Park, Gaslamp Districts, to Seaport Village and a whole lot in between.

Click the following link to see some of my pictures from the San Diego KOA.  If you’ve ever been to this KOA location, leave a comment below and let my readers and me know what you like best.  If you found this post and video helpful and/or entertaining, please click the “like” button below to share with friends and family.

KOA San Diego Information:

(800) 562-9877
Info Line:
(619) 427-3601
111 North 2nd Ave.
Chula Vista, CA 91910


Lavish Luxury at 1906 Lodge

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

Every so often I stay at a property that sets the bar just a bit higher.  I recently enjoyed such a place on Coronado Island in San Diego, California…the 1906 Lodge.  As the name might imply, the structure (that is now a first-class B&B) was initially built in the year 1906…nearly 20 years after the famed “Hotel Del Coronado,” was erected.

With a century of use, and several decades of decay, the 1906 Lodge property was purchased and completely restored just a few years ago. During the reconstruction phase, painstaking effort went into preserving the period architecture and design.

There are seventeen rooms and suites to choose from, each completely unique using Coronado history as its decorative guide.  For example, the 4th of July is a huge event on Coronado, so there is “Star Park,” a tastefully decorated suite using our National stars, stripes and colors as its palette.  Then, there’s “Ocean Blvd.” which made me feel as though I was in Tommy Bahamas’ bedroom (my favorite clothing designer.)

In addition to the accommodations taking decorative cues from their room names, each is appointed with quality furnishings, amazingly comfortable beds, luxurious linens, comfy house coats, and the list goes on.  Only the highest quality materials were used by craftsmen who cared about their work.  Quality is something that never goes out of style and by reconstructing the Lodge using the same guiding principles that got it through its first 100 years, I have no doubt it will be around to see its second 100+ years of life.

I’m a person who really notices the details; whether it be poor craftsmanship, maintenance issues, cleanliness or inconveniences…I couldn’t find a single item to complain about during my stay at the Lodge.  Oh, wait…yes I can…my stay wasn’t long enough.  :-)

I was excited to share this lodging experience with my Canadian traveling companion, Miss Rhonda. As we approached Coronado Island, coming across its namesake bridge, I reminisced about some of the wonderful times I’d had in year’s past.  This was Rhonda’s first time to San Diego and you could see the excitement on her face., and perhaps a hint of trepidation as I hugged the inside lane crossing the bridge in an attempt to get the best possible view of the harbor.

Coronado is a destination rich in history, and for me, its a place that conjures up romantic images of a forgotten innocence…when swimsuits left something to the imagination, and the summer family vacation was assured. After all these years, Coronado has maintained it’s nostalgic charm, while never becoming antiquated.

Shortly after we checked-in, we were invited to gather in the parlor for the evening wine and cheese hour, which gives guests an opportunity to mingle with one another. We enjoyed talking with folks from around the country, some of whom had stayed at the Lodge before.

We soon headed out for dinner—shortly thereafter, we retired to the sanctuary of our suite where we enjoyed a luminous glow of a fire while the open patio door let an in a pleasant ocean breeze.  Our super comfy bed beckoned us to cozy-up and watch a movie.

After such a fantastic first evening at the Lodge, we were both excited for breakfast.  It was a glorious morning, especially for Rhonda who had just flown in from Vancouver, where freezing temperatures had been in the forecast.  We both enjoyed a cup of coffee on the patio while enjoying the serene sounds of the courtyard water feature.

Breakfast at the Lodge is a reflection of Coronado’s relaxed healthy lifestyle.  Breakfasts is made from fresh ingredients simply prepared and beautifully presented.  A hot entree is served each morning in addition to a breakfast buffet of fresh fruits, cereals, muffins, scones, yogurts and juices.

  • Our first morning the entrée was an Adella Chili Baked casserole with just a kick of spice.  It was served with sour cream, fresh salsa and corn chips.   So good!
  • The next morning was a more traditional breakfast…a cheesy scrambled Eggstravaganza, served over a generous helping of hot savory baked potatoes.  This dish gave us the strength to go out and spend the entire day at Seaworld.
  • The last morning was a scrumptious mascarpone stuffed French toast served with a heap of homemade orange berry sauce…a delicious combination.

Coronado Island has one of the biggest and best stretches of beach in San Diego, and the 1906 Lodge is just a block or two way. There’s also a plethora of great restaurants, shops and activities to entertain yourself within walking distance. If you visit Coronado, you simply must check out the 1906 Lodge for your accommodation needs—this bed and breakfast is one to which others should aspire, and will not just meet, but rather exceed your expectations. While it’s early in the year, 1906 Lodge will certainly be in contention for the “Best B&B” award on the annual “Best of Mike’s Road Trip” list.

Click the following link to see more of my pictures of the 1906 Lodge. If you’ve ever visited the Lodge, tell my readers and me what you like best by leaving a comment below.  If you found this post and video to be interesting and/or helpful, please share it with your friends and family by clicking the “like” button below.

1906 Lodge Coronado Beach Bed and Breakfast information:

Address (click for map):
1060 Adella Avenue
Coronado, CA 92118

866 435-1906
619 437-1900
Rooms: $189-$309 per night; Suites: $249-$599 per night.  Rates are based on availability, season and specific accommodations.
It’s worth noting that the Lodge does have meeting space available for small gatherings, such as corporate retreats.  There is one conference room and two smaller meeting rooms.

Step inside the Hadsten House

Sunday, February 26th, 2012

The Hadsten House Inn is located in the Danish themed community of Solvang, California, which is about 35 miles northeast of Santa Barbra.  As you approach the Hadsten House for the first time, you could easily misjudge it by its cover (exterior); but we all know how that can turn out.  I’ll be the first to admit that I often judge things based on their outside appearances…for example, a restaurant with a bad sign, or a B&B with a website built in the 90s.  The Hadsten House Inn is the perfect example of why that’s not a good idea.  Like the next American novel hidden within an unassuming jacket cover, this boutique hotel looks like a modest motel from the outside, but dive in and you’ll find an urban chic oasis.  The lobby, rooms, spa to the restaurant all contradict its Danish modeled exterior.

Once you step inside the lobby…any modest misnomer is completely dispelled.  The lobby is warm and cozy with rich hardwood floors and French influences wrapped around a library/travel theme.

The accommodations are modern and sophisticated, with clean lines and comfort in mind.  There are five room types available, from the standard king or double queen, to the king spa or one-bedroom suite.  Each room is similarly decorated with quality designer furnishings and decorative fireplaces.  The beds are super cozy with luxurious high tread-count sheets and very comfortable pillows.

The restaurant has a lounge feel with plenty of chaise seating by the fireplace (the focal point of the space), where you can enjoy a glass of wine and intimate conversation. The food could be described as wine country cuisine. The portions are plentiful and nicely presented.  The dishes I tried during my stay included:

  • Southwest chicken tortilla soup, which was flavorful and spicy, but with a bit too much salt.
  • My entree included a fresh stuffed vegetable raviolo with spinach, roasted tomatoes, mushrooms, roasted garlic, onions, goat and parmesan cheeses top with a rich and delicious marinara sauce.
  • I also had a lovely glass of local wine.  The Santa Ynez Valley (where Solvang resides) is a big wine producing area.  As a matter of fact, much of the footage for the movie, “Sideways” was filmed here.   By the way, if you’ve never seen the film, it’s quite good.
  • Each morning you’ll enjoy a complimentary breakfast buffet that includes scrambled eggs,  thick and meaty bacon, fresh fruit, seasoned roasted potatoes, hot oats and coffee/juice.

As I enjoyed my meal, I noticed one of the General Managers, Trent, visiting with many of the guests (including myself), making them feel special and at home.

Be sure to bring your swimsuit!  There is a large indoor heated pool with beautiful tongue-and-grove wood vaulted ceilings to enjoy during your stay.  They also have a nice alcove area with whirlpool spa and plenty of seating nestled around two fireplaces.

I didn’t get a chance to indulge, but I did notice that the Inn also has a full day spa offering services such as massage, mud wraps, manicures and facials.  They also have meeting space for conferences or business retreats.  During my visit, famed bicyclist, Lance Armstrong and his “Live Strong” crew were staying at the Inn using the meeting space.  I believe the crew was training in the area to see who would make the “Tour de France” team.

Located at the beginning of town, the Hadsten House is conveniently located within walking distance to shopping and restaurants, however that convenience does come at a price for those sensitive to road noise.  Solvang is a popular destination and traffic can be heavy at times.  While the road noise was quite apparent outside, I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of insulation once nestled in my room.  I would however recommend bringing earplugs for those more sensitive.

Solvang and the surrounding Santa Ynez Valley is quite spectacular.  With the rolling hills, windy roads, great restaurants, shopping, to world-class wineries…there’s a plethora of things to do for just about anyone interested in exploring an area a bit off the beaten path.

Click the following link to see more of my pictures of the Hadsten House Inn.  If you’ve ever stayed at the Hadsten House, please post a comment below and let my readers and me know what you thought.

Contact information for the Hadsten House—Inn | Spa | Restaurant:

1450 Mission Drive
Solvang, CA California, 93463
(800) 457-5373

Chalet View Lodge is a Venerated and Indelible Experience

Friday, November 11th, 2011

I love it when I find one of those cliché “hidden gems” located off a beaten path, because that’s what typifies Mike’s Road Trip.  I get ardent when I find an “undiscovered” place that other travel writers have yet to notice…it makes me feel as though I’m doing justice to my readers/followers by providing something unique and worthy of their time.  I recently found such a place located in the northern Sierra Mountain Range, about forty five minutes northwest of Reno, Nevada (in California)…the Chalet View Lodge. While conversing with other guests during my stay, I continued to hear them say, “this place is an unexpected treasure.”

The Lodge is located in between two very small towns, Graealge and Portola, California along highway 70.  The area is fairly remote, surrounded by a million-plus acres of Plumas National Forest…for those driving by the Lodge, it’s a sweet surprise.   You often don’t expect high quality accommodations in  rural areas, but that’s exactly what you get at the Chalet View Lodge. This 49 room boutique hotel/resort is a family-owned operation with varying accommodations to suit just about every need.

For starters, the Lodge as a whole is a series of structures…you have the main lodge building that plays host to the “standard” rooms (which are anything but)—along with the lobby, restaurant/bar, patio with fireplace, and a cozy common area decorated in high European fashion.  Then, there is the “Terrace Suites” structure, which is where I stayed.  The Terrace Suites are two stories, with a king-sized bed and full bath in the upstairs loft, and another full bath with sleeper sofa downstairs…along with a comfortable living/seating area facing French doors that open up to a Terrace providing wonderful views of the property and surrounding areas.

Then, there are the rustic one and two bedroom private cabins. These are a bit more on the posh side of rustic, especially when it comes to the “Villa,” a secluded cabin within a short walk of the main lodge.  The Villa is simply spectacular…not “rustic” in any sense of the word.  The Villa is high-end all the way…a full kitchen with granite countertops, two bedrooms, two baths with a large Jacuzzi tub for two, fireplace…and, a deck overlooking the golf course with a hot tub and fireplace—absolutely perfect for a honeymoon or romantic get-away.

I had so much fun during my stay…there is a plethora of things to do, both on-site and in the surrounding area.

Here are just a few of the on-site activities I enjoyed:

  • 9-hole pitch and putt golf course
  • Basketball
  • Volleyball (sand and grass)
  • Horseshoe area
  • Small pond for fishing with a bonfire seating area
  • Workout facility
  • Spa

Nearby Activities include:

  • Summer ATV and Winter Snowmobile tours
  • Hiking
  • Fly-fishing on the Feather River
  • Winter cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, downhill skiing less than 1-hour away
  • Museums
  • Horseback riding
  • Mountain Bike Riding
  • Boating

On my first evening at the lodge I was invited to dine with the owners, Bob and Carrie, and their marketing person, Debra.  We quickly learned that we all shared a passion for travel and discovery. After swapping stories for a while I wanted to learn more about how the “Lodge” became to be. I just knew there was an interesting story behind the decision to build and invest in a boutique hotel with little around to support it. I learned that Bob was a builder (and in some respects still is as the Lodge continues to grow) and his company actually constructed the Lodge, which made it a bit more affordable to consider such an endeavor.  I can’t recall the exact details, but the vision for the Lodge actually came from Bob and Carrie’s 13-year old son at the time.  The family was driving by, or perhaps exploring on ATVs; they came across the current site of the Lodge…when all of a sudden their son stopped, peered out at the property and said, “this would be the perfect spot to build a hotel/lodge.”   I’m not sure how much time went by, but Bob soon shared in his son’s vision to construct the Chalet View Lodge.  A few years later, and after a lot of blood, sweat and tears, their vision became a reality. The rest they say, is history.  The family is very hands-on, trying to meet every guest and making sure all are enjoying their stay.  I was absolutely amazed by the hard work and dedication…and, I swore it seemed as though Bob was often in two places at the same time!

Bob and Carrie have long-term vision for the area and have been working with local entrepreneurs to expand the offerings to attracted more visitors…with the Lodge as one of the anchors to that development.  “We offer a pretty unique experience at Chalet View Lodge for our guests…they can experience luxury in the wilderness, while not compromising on comfort or activities.

On the second day of my visit I enthusiastically accepted an invitation to go on an ATV ride with an outfitter just a few miles away.  Explore! Sierra Touring Company offers exciting tours of a private 2000 acre ranch with varying terrain.  I thoroughly enjoyed a private tour with Ken, the owner of Sierra Touring, who painstakingly carved out an exciting trail system taking riders from low-lying plains to mountain tops with 360 degree views.  The terrain is interestingly diverse, from dense pine and fir trees, to aspen and scrub oak.  After a couple hours of riding I headed back to the Lodge to get cleaned up.  I had no idea how dirty I was until I looked in a mirror prior to jumping in the shower.  You know you had a good time when your face gets this dirty!

On my third day I decided to take it easy and head over to the spa for a salt scrub and deep tissue massage…a perfect complement to the prior days’ activities.  I had never experienced a “salt scrub” before…it was a unique and enjoyable treatment.  After I showered off, I hopped back on the table for one of the best massages I’ve ever had (Amanda…you rock!).  The spa is really quite nice, with all the comforts and services you’d expect if you were in a big city.

It was another spectacular fall day, sunny and in the high 60s.  Now that I was thoroughly relaxed, it was time to hit the links.  The Lodge has a 9-hold pitch-and-putt course…which as you may know are the two most important aspects of the game.  It took me a while to get used to the short lengths (I kept hitting over the green), but I soon had it dialed in and had a really enjoyable time.

That evening I was invited to dine with Bob and Carrie once again, along with a couple of their friends up from Reno for the weekend.  We had a sensational evening and I was a bit doleful to be moving on.

If you’re looking to escape the hustle and bustle of a more popular tourist destination, but not compromise on accommodations or activities, do yourself a favor and plan a trip to the northern Sierra Nevada Mountains and stay at the Chalet View lodge…I promise ya, you will not be disappointed.

Click the following link to see more of my pictures of Chalet View Lodge.  If you’ve been to the lodge before, post a comment below and let my readers and me know what you thought.  If you found this post and video to be helpful and/or interesting…please click the “like” button below and share with your friends and family.

Chalet View Lodge Info:

72056 Highway 70
Graeagle, Ca 96103
Map: Click Here
Phone: 800-510-VIEW (8439)

A Look at the Urban Chic, Pacific Blue Inn B&B

Tuesday, January 4th, 2011

While in Santa Cruz, California, I stayed at an eco-friendly, urban chic bed and breakfast called the Pacific Blue Inn.  The Pacific Blue Inn is located within walking distance of many of the area’s famed attractions, such as the Santa Cruz Boardwalk, the Waterfront Wharf Pier and downtown…which is full of wonderful art galleries, restaurants, museums, music venues and other activities.  Michael (owner/proprietor) and Alex (Innkeeper/chef) are friendly, eager and quite knowledgeable on the area and are great resources for restaurant suggestions or area activities. If you don’t feel like walking or dealing with parking, the Inn has complimentary bikes available for use.

There are nine rooms (three stories) at the Pacific Blue Inn, each with a modern European flair—simple in design with clean lines.  The flooring is bamboo, while the bathrooms are tile.  The king size pillow-top beds are most comfortable with Egyptian cotton sheets and hypoallergenic alternative down comforter and pillows.  Typically I prefer real down, but I have to say, the pillows and comforter were nearly indistinguishable…very cozy and comfy.

Each room has your typical amenities, e.g. iron, hair dryer, etc., but they also have iPod alarm clocks, which I really appreciate.   Each room also has an electric fireplace for ambiance and original local artwork adorning the walls (some from the talented innkeeper/manager and chef, Alex).  The bathrooms are modern with bright colors, a large pedestal sink and floor-to-ceiling tile shower, which has no ledge, making them handicapped accessible.  Along with a 37” flat-screen TV, there are DVD players in the rooms, however I must have missed the DVD library.

There is a small but charming courtyard for guests to enjoy, which includes a gas fire-pit, water feature and plenty of seating…including some hand carved wooden chairs and benches.

As for breakfast…you don’t want to miss it!  Breakfast at Pacific Blue Inn is simply delicious, and hearty (Alex is a great cook!).  First, it’s the perfectly brewed cup of gourmet coffee, and then you’re presented with a serving of epicurean fruit.  Next up, the famed Pacific Blue “popover—“which to tell you the truth, I was not familiar with (apparently one of the few people in the world who’ve never enjoyed a popover!).  If you’re not acquainted with popovers, they’re a cross between a doughnut and a muffin…light and flaky.  Presented with three spreads, the popover makes for the perfect complement to a good cup of coffee. The main course is served a bit differently…it’s made-to-order—from a series of omelets; a frittata to a number of griddle dishes…there’s something for everyone.  Each breakfast course is served on sleek, modern dishes and flatware that perfectly enhance the presentation.

It’s worth noting that the Pacific Blue Inn is in an urban area. Some might find the neighborhood slightly sketchy, while others will embrace the setting with all its surrounding culture and amenities.   Additionally, because of the Inn’s location, it may not quite feel like a B&B to some—it’s important to note that all Bed and Breakfasts are different… each is unique and special in its own way. Being in an urban setting makes the Pacific Blue Inn very convenient to many area attractions, however land costs and use restrictions may have posed development challenges—I believe the Pacific Blue Inn has struck a nice balance in providing quality accommodations in an urban setting.

Suggestion: When staying at the Pacific Blue Inn, I might recommend requesting a third floor room if one is available.  Since all the rooms have hard floor surfaces, people walking with heels above you could be a bit disturbing. Additionally, if people are utilizing the courtyard, the sounds are more pronounced on the lower level.

To see some of my additional pictures of the Pacific Blue Inn, click here. If you’ve stayed at the Inn, please let my readers and me know what you think. For more information or to make reservations at the Pacific Blue Inn Bed and Breakfast in Santa Cruz, California, click here to visit their website.

Mendocino Luxury at the Brewery Gulch Inn

Tuesday, December 28th, 2010

Just outside Mendocino, California, intimately tucked atop a bluff overlooking Smuggler’s Cove is the luxuriously unassuming, Brewery Gulch Inn bed and breakfast.  The Inn was constructed using beautiful old-growth, eco-salvaged redwood trees that had been reclaimed from the Big River during a construction project of a new bridge.  The “sinker” logs as they are known, were well over 100 years old and had been previously lost to the bottom of the river during the logging days of the 1800s.

The Brewery Gulch Inn has a Craftsman-style redwood shake exterior, with a harmoniously contemporary flair on the inside.  The Inn has ocean views throughout the property and from ten of its eleven suites—the views are unobstructed by hundreds of acres of unoccupied meadows and protected forests.

When you enter the Inn for the first time, through the large hand-crafted wooden door, you can’t help but be impressed by the expansive open-space great-room…which serves as lobby, reception, wine bar and common area for guests.  As you survey the vastness of the room, your eyes take notice of the striking view through the glass doors that open up to a patio overlooking the water below. The focal point of the room is a giant steel fireplace providing warmth from two sides. The space is illuminated with natural light by a 35 foot skylight and kept cozy by radiant floor heat.

Each of the eleven rooms is lavishly and distinctly appointed with a feather bed, Italian linens, a down comforter, gas fireplace and fine leather club chairs in front of an LCD TV. Ten of the rooms have ocean views framed by spruce and pine trees while eight have redwood decks for lounging.

Not missing a beat and firing on all proverbial cylinders, the Brewery Gulch Inn serves up a culinary delight that would impress any aficionado—not just for the expected breakfast, but for light dinner fare during wine hour as well.

Breakfast is a bit unique in that it is made-to-order from a fairly extensive menu—you can choose from a classic breakfast to Eggs Benedict or something from the griddle.  The O.J. is actually fresh squeezed, which, if you’re used to the pasteurized stuff, is really a treat.  The bacon is so thick and flavorful that you may need a knife to cut it.  Of course you can get yogurt or a hot cereal and other accoutrements if you prefer.

The happy hour features local wines that are personally selected by Innkeeper and owner, Guy Pacurar. I’m not sure if Guy is a sommelier, but he certainly seems to be quite knowledgeable on the subject.  During wine hour, several entrée dishes are provided to perfectly complement the libations.  During my stay, some of the dishes I enjoyed included:

  • Pan-seared Covelo flat iron steak with chermoula sauce and sautéed spinach
  • Wild rice with cranberries and almonds
  • Butternut squash soup with cinnamon crème fraiche and candied walnuts
  • House-made dark chocolate pudding with semi-whipped cream sauce
  • Pan-seared tenderloin of heritage pork with cranberry-apple chutney over braised kale
  • French green lentils with red wine vinaigrette, roasted red peppers and feta
  • Roasted golden beet and citrus salad with pickled red onions and candied walnuts
  • Patrick Meaney’s chocolate-caramel tart with Maldon sea salt and blackberry coulis

This was my first trip to Mendocino and I certainly hope it will not be my last.  The community is quaint and small with amenities that you’d expect from a large city.  Great restaurants, shops and a walkable downtown all add to Mendocino’s charm, which is to say nothing of the fantastic coastline worth exploring.

The Brewery Gulch Inn is one of those places worth going out of your way for, the accommodations, service and culinary delights will make any occasion special and memorable.

To see more of my pictures of The Brewery Gulch Inn, click here.  For more information or to make reservations, visit: