…..was incredible. We had just finished up a 3 day kayaking trip in the Beardslee Islands outside of Gustavus, Alaska and were looking for a good place to stay in Seward. All I can say is thank goodness for Trip Advisor. I don’t know what I did before this tool existed, but I use it for a big chunk of my research when planning trips. I generally look at the bad reviews first, because those are most telling. Anyhow, I came across the Orca Island Cabins – really yurts – in the Humpy Cove in Resurrection Bay – home to all kinds of wildlife! It is one of my favorite glamping experiences EVER.
A few key things to consider about this place:
#1. It’s not cheap – but it is worth the experience if you want to get away from it all. No cell service, etc.
#2. It rains a lot in Alaska – especially the time of year we went – late August, so you have to be comfortable with this and carry on with your adventures. This cannot slow you down in Alaska!
#3. It is a 45 minute boat ride to get to the yurts, which makes it especially unique. The boat ride itself is worth the price of admission!
#4. The yurts are equipped with everything you need, but you do need to bring your own food, bevies, etc. They are also eco-friendly, in that they run on solar power for electricity and propane for their cabin heaters, hot water heaters and kitchen ranges.
#5. They have Standup Paddle Boards (SUP’s) and kayaks included, however, if you fall in the water from a clumsy SUP accident, the water WILL be cold.
#6. Outside of SUPing and Kayaking, there isn’t much to do but relax and soak in the beauty (birds, wildlife, etc.) of your surroundings on your private deck. And maybe even have a conversation or 2 with your significant other! Take that into consideration when contemplating this place. To me, it was dreamy.
#7. If you do like to kayak, there is a little cove not too far away where we watched Salmon spawning. It was incredible. I had never seen that before.
#8. The owners are absolutely lovely and will do anything to make sure you have a great experience! I promised them I would post this a few years ago (I am slightly behind the 8 ball!)
Check this place out – it should be on everyone’s bucket list for SURE.
For me, there is nothing better then a good backpacking trip. Being in the middle of nowhere with usually no connectivity is heaven on earth. The air is clean, I’m not on an airplane flying to work, not dealing with difficult clients or trying NOT to lose my shit because of a flight delay. My frenzied, somewhat chaotic life slows down and that’s what I need to keep my sanity.
I try to go at least once a year – two times is truly ideal. Our backpacking season is so short in Colorado, one weekend is generally the best I can do. Sometimes I’ll fly to another destination in April or October to get my fix. Just depends on all of the other adventures we have planned. I don’t know what I’ll do when my body gives out and can’t backpack anymore. Knitting is not an option. (no offense to readers who are knitters!)
One of our favorite places to backpack is in the Holy Cross Wilderness – outside of Minturn, outside of Vail, Colorado. Oh man, the scenery up there is just incredible. The wildflowers are beautiful, the hike up is manageable. We camp near an alpine lake inside a box canyon. The lake is stocked with trout, so fishing is in order! There is not one draw back to the location or the wilderness area.
Last year, the terrain was sooo dry – there was a fire on the other side of the ridge. Burning ash was blowing into our campsite – all I could think of ALL NIGHT, was that our campsite was going to catch fire. I plotted my escape and slept in my clothes in case we needed to pack up and run down the mountain. Irrational probably, but man, wildfires last year were insane.
I’d share the name of the trail, but I would have to kill you! I have been sworn to secrecy not to divulge the trail name on the blog. However, if you march down to REI and grab a topo map of the area, there is no doubt you will find the most amazing place to explore. If you are so inclined, there is a 14er in the area fittingly called Mount of the Holy Cross – it is most definitely one of my favorite 14ers in Colorado.
If anyone needs encouragement to get out and at least try backpacking, I’m your girl. It’s been a life saver for me!
I’ve been meaning to post about this for a while – better late than never I suppose. I couldn’t let this one slip by without writing about it – it was THAT amazing.
So, the 3 days before I backpacked the Lost Coast in Northern California last year, a group of us planted ourselves at a place call the AutoCamp on the Russian River in Sonoma County, California. It’s roughly 90 minutes from San Francisco, so not too far from a major airport. The name doesn’t exactly sound like a super cool place to stay does it? Oh my gosh, this place is the coolest.
It is essentially a luxury airstream campground! In addition to always wanting a retro van, the Life Bus drools all over airstreams. This was our chance to check one out without having to tow the trailer. Wish I was there right now, sleeping on one of their memory foam mattresses – best sleep of my life! If an airstream doesn’t interest you, or the price point is out of range, they do have super cool glamping tents available as well.
The airstreams themselves are de-luxe with high-end boutique hotel bedding, linens, and towels, as well as, spa-inspired bathrooms with walk-in showers (not available in tents). The one we had was perfect for two people, though there is an option to make another bed from the sofa if you have kids or a third wheel friend! We grabbed a bottle of wine and hung out by our campfire – it was dreamy. The attention to detail was present everywhere, from the airstreams themselves, to the lighting on the property, the check-in area, wine tastings in the evening, fire pits, hammocks, and the coffee in the morning!
What did we do for fun while we were there? Since the river is close by, we rented kayaks and paddled down the river, road bikes to town and around the neighborhood close by and also played golf in a redwood forest! There are some awesome redwood hikes nearby and the beaches of Jenner are super close as well. We went in April so there were seals having babies on the beach (LOVE). Wineries are in the area, but we kept to our Life Bus roots and spent our time adventuring outdoors. Every day was a new experience!
The town of Guerneville where the AutoCamp lives is a funky little Northern California town, with some pretty good restaurants! I found a great summary of what there is to offer via this link 48 Hours in Guernville, California. One thing to note, this area was hit hard by the floods this year, so if you plan to go, I would call the AutoCamp and see how things are recovering.
It looks like they have a new location in Yosemite – which I think would be incredible! They are also in Santa Barbara, California. I highly recommend you check this place out – you won’t regret it!
So, I’m sitting in a coffee shop in Boulder, Colorado trying to focus on this blog post rather than stress about my keys lost in one of 20 shops I visited in the last two hours!! That will be a fun treasure hunt when the time comes. UGH.
Back to the point of this post…..As everyone should know by now, the Life Bus is obsessed with camper vans – retro in particular, though all vans pretty cool. I have fantasized about owning one forEVER and have spent HOURS and HOURS scouring the net looking for deals on VW Vans. Mind you, I have never rented one or know anyone who owns one. With that, what business do I have even thinking about buying one?!! I figured I needed to actually experience the retro van life before jumping into such a large investment. So, Sean and I broke down and rented a 1984 Volkswagen Vanagon (Pinky) for a week over 4th of July.
Photo: Meet Pinky 🙂
We loaded Pinky up with everything you could possibly want or need – our sweet pup Yogi, fishing poles, mountain bikes, speakers, paddle boards, puzzles, games, solar string lights, adult bevies – and food – lots of good food. I wanted this experience to feel like home on wheels, to see what it would be like to travel like this more frequently.
Photo: Poor Yogi was buried in the back – sweet pup!
We thought it was a great idea to have all of our future wants and needs at our finger tips, until we realized we could only drive 20 mph (literally) up the mountain passes on I-70 West outside of Denver, Colorado. Yep, we were one of THOSE people. We were going so slow, people were passing us on the RIGHT side – the actual shoulder of the freeway. That part was not so much fun, I thought Sean was going to have a heart attack. One can only assume he was mad at me for putting him through this – but – as sweet as he is, he never said a word and went along with my fantasy adventure. (I forgot to mention, the van broke down right out of the parking lot when we were leaving the rental office AND there was no A/C. Yep, it was starting out to be a real dreamy experience. They replaced the battery and off we went not really knowing what was going to happen next.)
Photo: Sean remaining patient on our 6 HOUR drive to the Flat Tops – love this guy!
We FINALLY made it to the East Flat Tops Wilderness (EFW) – Southwest of Steamboat Springs. The whole ride took us nearly 6 hours – any other car would have taken a little north of 4. Not only was the van a little bit of a challenge, I had no idea where we were going to land – this part of CO was untouched, at least by me and I had no idea what to expect. Sean took a huge leap of faith to trust me on this one!
Photos: Our hikes did not disappoint!
We found a great campground that didn’t take reservations – Bear Lake Campground – those always scare me a little, because you can’t tell if something is going to be open when you get there. Turns out, there aren’t many people who make their way to this part of Colorado. Probably because there is no connectivity what-so-ever and there are no stores around. You have to know what you are doing to spend more than 2 days out there. Pinky fit right in. She was small enough to fit anywhere we took her, with little or no fuss, nothing unwieldy to maneuver, not obnoxiously too big. We hung our solar string lights on her every night so she could shine when the sun went down – she was a beauty!
After a few nights in the campground and getting to know Pinky pretty well, we decided to try a different camping experience. We jumped on our bikes found the perfect dispersed camp spot over looking the valley with the winding Yampa river below. The views were outstanding, with the swirly orange/purple sunsets and stars filling every inch of the sky at night (there is a song that says stars are really angels taking their cigarette breaks at night – I love it!).
No-one was next to us, so we could play music as loud as we wanted and could dance like crazy people! We backed her up with her tail facing the valley so we could wake up every morning with the most beautiful views. We stayed in that spot for 4 days…it was magical.
The only thing un-magical about it were the dang mosquitos – good lord, there were seemingly millions of them. Luckily, I had bought some citronella candles that managed to keep them at bay. Only regret is the natural insect repellent – what a bunch of junk – no less then 50 bites on each leg and arm. I say go for the deet – what harm could it be to use it just a few times a year?? I’m at home right now swatting at my arms – PTSD from the swarms of mosquitos!
Photos: Our beautiful campsite
Even though Pinky didn’t have AC, she stayed pretty cool all day long as we kept the tent flap up and open all the time – a nice breeze was always present. We would come back from the days’ activities and she was very comfortable and inviting. The bed was easy to set up and pretty comfy – we brought some cozy blankets and sleeping bags with us, and our favorite pillows to keep our heads comfy. We spent a TON of time inside – more than you would expect – playing games, reading, napping, eating, etc. and we loved every second of it.
Photo: Nap time!
We kept most of our food and bevies cold with the solar powered fridge inside the van – but we also had our Yeti cooler – that thing is badass – kept everything fresh for at least 4 days. We met a really sweet gal who brought some ice back for us from Steamboat – she saved our bacon as the fridge in the van worked great – but wasn’t large enough to keep ALL of our stuff cold. The only challenge we had with food, was that we did not have a bear box outside the campsite, so we had to bring all of our dry food into the van at night. This is fine, but we kept losing stuff trying to keep everything organized – as stupid as that sounds – Pinky was just not that big to accommodate all of our stuff at all times!
Photo: Look at that pile of stuff to manage – too much? I think not.
After 6 wonderful nights in Pinky, we decided to head to Steamboat Springs, Colorado – about 1.5 hours from where we were in the EFW. Lunch and exploring the town was in order as it was Sean’s first time there. We spent our time laughing about all of our favorite things that happened over the past week – our nighttime music and dancing, all of our gorgeous hikes, catching trout, playing games (Sean kicked my ass at Yahtzee every time – how is that possible? Its a DICE game), paddle boarding around Bear Lake with Sean fishing off the front of the board, mountain biking at night with our headlamps on with the star-filled sky… the list goes on and on….Once we were done, we jumped back into Pinky ready to head back down to the front range for one last night with her….then it happened…
She broke down AGAIN. Sean put the key in, nothing… Mechanics came to look at her…no luck bringing her back to life. It took us several hours to sort through all the madness and find a rental car and a tow-truck to take all of us back to Denver. A few things about this – yes, it was stressful and pretty much ruined our last day with her, however, we didn’t lose her in the wilderness where we had no connectivity, we had a great day in Steamboat, and we didn’t have to drive 20 MPH uphill on I-70. The owner of the van felt so bad about it all, I’m pretty sure he started to tear up when we said our goodbyes. He loves Pinky and wanted us to love her just as much as he – we did, we fell in TOTAL love with her.
Photo: Goodbye sweet girl
In the end, I am glad we had the experience we had – it was FANTASTIC. I learned a few things in the process – vans ROCK and are a super fun way to travel. However, without knowing how to fix mechanical issues, etc., sadly, a retro van is probably not in my future – I’m glad my obsession with this idea is over! I am good with renting for a while – buying a van of any kind right now probably doesn’t make sense. Retirement is on the horizon – maybe then… Until that point in time, we will think about Pinky every day, and miss that girl – maybe we will see her again :-).
Why is it that many family reunions take place when a loved one passes? It’s not a horribly bad thing, and I suppose it’s understandable when you are all dispersed across the USA. It’s just kind of a bummer for obvious reasons.
A few days before Christmas – I got the note from my cousin – my first best friend in the world.“Gary died over the weekend”.Gary is her husband.It was horrible, I was in shock, didn’t know how to respond. I think I said something lame like, “Oh no”- I didn’t have the words. I don’t live in the same state to provide comforting hugs – she wasn’t ready to talk about it.I felt somewhat helpless.
She always wants to jump in my suitcase when I adventure, so I decided to plan one for the two of us and another awesome cousin of ours.Hoping this would be a good distraction, and for her to know that while not nearby, I am always here for her.Not anything over the top, no pit toilets, or camping in the woods in the middle of a 3rd world country, but something still adventuresome that I thought they would both like and would remember forever!
She picked Asheville, North Carolina as the destination.I jumped on that pretty quick, because Asheville is a very cool place, a smaller version of Denver or Portland. At first I looked at AirBnB for lodging options…then GLAMPING jumped in my head.Glamping is essentially camping, but with a few “plush” amenities.Which in the end, I think the only thing we didn’t have to do was sleep in a tent.We did have a fridge for beer, we had comfy beds, but no suitable showers, no toilet (port-a-potty) and no way to heat food, though there was a grill available for use.
The lodging of choice was Asheville Glamping.I’d give you the address, but then I’d have to kill you!They don’t like giving it out because they don’t want everyone and their brother driving through the property in search of a peek and disrupting the peacefulness of the place. The owner has great energy, my interactions with her were positive from the beginning – always a good sign.She is a young entrepreneur with a fantastic vision who wants to provide a unique experience for her clients.
Asheville Glamping has severaldifferent options for lodging – a few airstream trailers, 2 tented cabins, a tipi, and several dome-like structures.My cousin mentioned it would be fun to rent all of the airstreams with a group of friends – they are clustered together – I couldn’t agree more – it would be a total blast!!
Below is a view of the campground from our dome. You can see all of the sites are fairly well spaced apart, with the exception of the airstreams by the blue/white camper in the distance.
Almost all of the sites had their own fire pit but, there was a community section if you want to mingle with other campers.
Each “glamper” is decorated with pretty sweet furniture and bedding. We poked our heads in one of the larger tents and captured this….super cute. This particular tent had it’s own hot-tub and nice sized deck to enjoy.
The tipi below only sleeps 2, but it is adorable and sits at the base of some nice trees. I am sure they are amazing in the summer!
What did we choose? We picked the biggest dome they had so we would have room to spread out and wouldn’t be in each others “stuff” the whole time. It was the 1,000 square foot – mega dome – a one bedroom with a loft.The loft had two options to descend to the bottom floor – a SLIDE or stairs.It was awesome.I think there is a little more work to do inside, but it was great nonetheless!
What was the dome like?Well, it is a giant orb if you will. Half of it is covered in white canvas to provide some privacy and shade, the other half is clear plastic so you can enjoy the stars at night, the sunrise in the morning, and have a beautiful view of the surrounding rolling hills of the Smokey Mountains.
(The master bedroom and kitchen – Image by Asheville Glamping)
(A view from outside – Image by Asheville Glamping)
It was a treat to wake up and see the sun shining in the dome every morning.In fact, the sun was so bright, we had to wear shades (I feel like there is a song there…) and slather on the sunscreen while eating breakfast!My cousin had the pull out couch, so every night she could see the stars and reflect on the events that have turned her life up-side down.
All in all, we had a great time and I think it was a good distraction for her! We spent a day shopping and exploring the arts district in Asheville, hiked in the Smokey Mountains, ate and drank to our hearts content, celebrated a birthday and laughed until we cried telling stories of growing up with our crazy families.It was good to see her laugh :-).
I did learn there is a picture of one of my cousins that I MUST get my hands on.He is very handsome and has gorgeous, wavy, red hair.He was 17, 2 days before his senior yearbook picture was taken. His friends convinced him to get a perm.It turned into an afro.His picture was taken in a baby blue suit with a big tie in an oval frame setting.Every time I think about it, I want to die laughing!! 😂 I MUST HAVE IT!!
If you haven’t seen beloved family in a while, I highly recommend it! So good for the soul. Oh, and glamping in North Carolina isn’t too shabby either.
Ok, I’m not going to lie, re-entry after 5 days on Isla Holbox, has been very, very challenging for me. I wake up remembering that oh yeah, I actually do have to wear shoes, and, no I can’t just walk everywhere barefoot. I’m bummed that I can’t just order a delicious Casa Sandra cocktail (cucumber, lime, mint, and gin) any time of day I desire one. I find that I’m cranky because I actually have things I have to get done, pesky things called deadlines. I can’t just go jump in warm Caribbean water when I feel like it. Can you feel my pain? I think this crankiness must come over most people who venture out to this tiny island off the coast of the Yucatan peninsula; only to have to return to reality.
Do you remember that song by Madonna, La Isla Bonita? Holbox must be the island she was singing about. The roads on the island, if you could call them that, are really lanes of sand where the only traffic is golf carts, some ATVs, a few mopeds, and cruiser bikes. The color of the sky and water are so unbelievably blue and turquoise that it’s hard to believe your eyes are seeing things correctly. I’ve never met so many incredibly kind people in a week, employees, locals, and other intrepid travelers, all seemed infused with a happiness that came from just spending time in such a beautiful place. Holbox definitely embraces a zen mindset and pace. Not at all in a pretentious, obnoxious way but in what seems to be the true spirit of that kind of philosophy. Todd and I had the best yoga class of our lives given by the warmest, kindest, funniest person I’ve met in a long time, Luchi Lux. Luchi came highly recommended by Juls at Le Petis Pas de Juls travel blog. Juls has become a friend and she lives on Holbox. Everywhere we went, we were treated so kindly, warmly, and genuinely. Luis at the restaurant at Casa de las Tortugas was so kind, William our jack-of-all-things at our hotel Casa Sandra anticipated our every desire, Luchi made yoga, for two non-yogis, fun and energizing.
Our beach bar
Casa Sandra at night
More lounging area
Serendipitously we wound up at one of the best beach boutique hotels I’ve ever stayed in, Casa Sandra. Initially I had hoped to stay at Casa de Las Tortugas, but had no such luck with availabitliy. We booked the Casa Sandra hoping that it would meet up to the expectations we had had for the Tortugas hotel. We were so happy at our little bungalow and hotel. Beautifully done in linen, grey, and sand tones, the staff was incredible and everyone knew our names. The location is amazing. Casa Sandra is so small that even when they were at capacity there were so few people that we had the beach bartender virtually to ourselves. Our routine became: Casa Sandra cocktails, lobster tacos, and guacamole for lunch under our palapa. In the afternoon, pretty much all of 3 hours later, we would go the 100 yards from the beach back to the hotel and have dessert and coffee poolside. On the beach we had our choice of relaxing on a day bed under a palapa, hammocks under a palapa, lounge chairs under a palapa, or bean bags … you guessed it under a palapa. I was almost stressed out making sure I took the opportunity to try all of these various methods of relaxation 🙂 Relaxing is pretty much the most popular sport on Holbox. There are hammocks everywhere; quite a few can be found hanging out in the water off the beach.
Relaxing in Casa Sandra beach hammocks
Holbox: The Island of Hammocks
The water on Holbox is spectacular. You can wade out quite far and never have water higher than your shoulders (I’m 5’10” for reference.) The water starts out ankle high and then drops to shoulder / head high, and then returns to ankle deep out on a sandbar. It’s an amazing thing to look out on the horizon and see groups of people all walking parallel to the beach but 100 yards out in the water. Many people walk the length of this sandbar all the way to Punta Mosquito where the wildlife refuge and flamingos are. This is about a mile or two from Casa Sandra to the refuge.
You can also walk out to the refuge via the beach but we were told you might have to “swim” a bit going this way. We had to choose this beach route because I didn’t bring water shoes. There are a lot of rays and horseshoe crabs in the sand and I didn’t want to get a nice, big stinger in my foot. The fact that we had to “swim a bit” didn’t seem too daunting until we got to the second river crossing. The first river crossing was maybe 20 feet across and shin deep. The second river crossing definitely caught our attention. It was a significant, actual river which seemed much deeper and, with a stronger current, than the open ocean. Todd and I stood there for a while trying to decide if we should take on the challenge. A Scottish woman eventually showed up and she also seemed quite surprised and daunted by the size of this second river. My concern about the current of the river was primarily due to the fact that I had heard that there are crocs in the mangroves. The ocean flows into the river, which then flows into the mangroves. I imagined myself being swept by the river current into the mangroves and decided I was out. (I’m sure it’s fine to actually swim across this but I would want some more information on the whole process before venturing across the rio.) The next day Todd and I kayaked out to Punta Mosquito. It really is a cool place to get to, no matter how you arrive … by sand bar walking, beach walking with river crossings, kayaking, or paddle boarding.
Because the water is so shallow it is very warm and you can swim in it all day. Holbox might also be one of the best places ever to paddle board. Because the water is so shallow so far out, there is almost no surf … especially early in the morning. Some mornings the water was like glass. We did have significant wind pick up every day typically starting around 11 and ending around 3PM. I’m not sure if this is a year round occurrence or just a random weather pattern. Either way, if you get out early in the morning you’re likely to have extremely calm waters and much cooler temps for any physical activity.
One thing we didn’t get to do, because we were there at the wrong time of year, is see the whale sharks that apparently take up residence from June to November off the coast. It would be amazing to these gentle giants in such a beautiful location.
Entrance to Casa Sandra
The sand road in front of Casa Sandra
View from beach bar Casa de Las Tortugas
Just writing this blog makes me drift off to Holbox in my mind. It truly was four days of beach bliss on a relatively undiscovered gem of an island. So if you really like hammocks, turquoise water, beautiful sunsets, long sandbars, and you’re interested in trying something new in Mexico I highly recommend you get your Life Bus to Holbox. Here’s to cold cervezas and new adventures in Mexico!!
So I signed up for a trail run in Salida, Colorado – a half marathon to be exact. Fellow Life Busser, Lynda, ran the marathon (she is an ANIMAL). She is training for a 100 miler this summer so this was a training run for her. I know, I cannot relate either – hope she posts about it this summer!
I thought it was a good idea at the time the fee was paid in early December…and really, it ended up being a great idea regardless of the pain and agony felt today – tomorrow will be worse – boo. The run is called “Run Through Time” and takes you up about 1,600 feet on mostly single track, dirt trails for the half marathon and about 4,200 feet for the marathon. Yep, my legs are toast today and can hardly walk, but it was a beautiful day, a beautiful course and I feel accomplished! Extra bonus: no blisters were formed and no hips were broken.
I carried a bunch of stuff with me “just in case”. I didn’t bring the poles, but that Patagonia Houdini jacket was a life saver. Super light and it kept me warm when I needed it!
Views from the trail – heavenly….
Salida is a small, artsy mountain town Southwest of Denver, Colorado – population ~5600. The starting elevation here is 7,000 feet. It’s not your typical touristy mountain town, which is why we love it so much. No glitz, no glam, just a bunch of people enjoying the outdoors!
Kayaking, Rafting, mountain biking, hiking, hot springs, skiing and fishing are the favorite things to do here. The Arkansas river flows through edge of town, which makes for some beautiful scenery.
If you are into art, there are tons of galleries or if climbing 14er’s (14,000 foot peaks) is your bag, it’s a great place to be as there are at least 6 or 7 close by.
This is a no frills city so if 5 star accommodations and restuarants are preferred, this may not be a great option for you!
Where to Stay:
Because Salida is a small, no-frills town, lodging can be a challenge. There are tons of airbnbs, but Sean and I decided to stay at a renovated 1950’s motel called the Amigo Motor Lodge. The minute I saw the photos on line and read their story, I was in love with this place. It was equally as charming in person.
I have a huge appreciation for attention to detail – everything is perfectly placed here. From the bathroom, artwork, bedding accessories, glassware, to the free coffee, yogurt and fruit in the morning, and the quotes on the marquis outside. They invested in this property and they did it right. The rooms are small as you would expect from a motel, but that didn’t bother us. Humor is a large part of their brand – which is a huge attraction!
More humor……he he
Bonus – they allow pups!
A place to chill for breakfast or any other time you’d like more space!
Nature survival instead of a bible….that’s a first!
They loaned us a 50’s cooler for some celebratory wine – another very nice touch!
Where to Eat favorites:
Our first night in town, we wandered the streets looking for carbs. We came across the town staple for Italian food – Amicas – which has been around for 10 years or so. It’s an excellent and mostly locally sourced Italian restaurant with my favorite – wood fired pizzas. Great beers on tap too. We had a simple pepperoni/mushroom thin crust pizza and a local IPA from Soulcraft brewing – delish. The only unfortunate thing was listening to the guy next to me giving advice on how to buy running shoes. It’s akin to me telling someone from Alaska, what to do there. UGH.
Breakfast x 2:
When you find a gem, sometimes you cannot stay away from it. We stumbled on a place called The Little Red Hen Bakery. Everything is made from scratch and sadly they only sell their amazing bagels on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Had I known that, I would have hoarded some for my freezer. Apparently, they sold out in 2.5 hours on Saturday morning, so I feel grateful we were able to experience the crispy on the outside, doughy on the inside bagels from heaven. They rotate the menu every day which keeps you coming back for more. The second time we were there, I picked up some cherry granola and a loaf of cinnamon bread – I didn’t need it mind you, but couldn’t help myself.
After reading this post, I am pretty sure we didn’t burn all of the calories we consumed. Looks like I will befriend the treadmill this week. Something like every day for the next year. Ha!
Hope everyone had a great weekend! We had a wonderful time in Salida!
Colorado weather can be nuts. Just last Sunday I was hiking in 65 degree weather on Mount Sanitas, since then it hasn’t gotten above 30. Yuck.
So, we decided to head to Laguna Beach, California for a quick weekend for some warm sun. We are staying at the Inn at Laguna Beach and have a room with a view. It’s gorgeous. Our room has a sweet patio for drinking coffee in the morning, wine in the evening. At night on the open air rooftop patio, dripping with lights, they serve free wine. Yep Free. It is lovely.
As soon as we arrived, we soaked in the beach views and walked around town. One of my favorite places to lunch is called the Zinc Cafe. They have super fresh salads and sandwiches and my favorite, an open air patio. The lemonade is to die for too. If you would rather have beer or wine, you may!
For dinner we went to Carmelitas Kitchen. Omg. The BEST, most tender carnitas I have ever had. Have a feeling an obsession has started. I may have to start coming here every few months just for the carnitas. The skinny margaritas aren’t bad either!
Laguna Beach always seems to have live music. We made our way to the Cliff where they have an open air, very quaint patio filled with locals. A band called The Salty Suites was playing. They were fantastic if you dig a little mellow blue grass – which I did!
Day 1 in Laguna Beach was fantastic!
Today we will explore the tide pools right below our hotel and go for a run on the beach. More on that later!
I am one of those people who starts planning vacations before the one I am enjoying is even complete! Maybe I should learn to live in the moment just a smidge better. I can’t help myself!
2018 is going to be an incredibe year of travel for the Life Bus! I am kind of grooving on some new glamping experiences in the US of A and one big 3 week European vacation. I am SURE we will squeeze in a few others, but this is what is on the books so far.
Asheville, North Carolina
It’s been quite a while since I have been to this funky, trendy town. The first experience wasn’t the bomb because of the company, so I am going back to spend some quality time with cousins. I wanted to plan something that none of us have done before and was not tooooo adventurous for my city folk relatives. I found a really cool “glamping” option with Asheville Glamping – about 10 miles outside of town. They have tents, teepees, campers, and these really cool dome structures. Coincidentally, they are in process of building one bigger than my house, so that’s where we’ll stay. We will have plenty of room to stand up and spread out. Looking forward to waking up to the view of rolling hills and nature, with a few comforts of home. The breweries and restaurants nearby will be an extra bonus!
(Photo by Asheville Glamping)
This is one of the creampuff trips of the year – at least for me. This trip starts in San Francisco, California and then 3 nights in an airstream trailer park. Yep, trailer park, but the cool kind. We are staying at the Autocamp in the Russian River Valley. Smack dab in the middle of the Sonoma Wine Country. The camp itself is nestled in the middle of a grove of redwood trees. The lodging options vary and include “fully appointed Airstream campers, luxurious canvas tents, and handcrafted Shelton Huts, all with plush, modern interiors”. Wine, airstreams, rivers, outdoor recreation and redwoods, what else is there?
Oh but wait, there’s more….after 5 days my group peels off and I move on to the Lost Coast to go backpacking for 5 days. This trip has been on the list for YEARS. I finally carved out some time for this adventure – so pumped. I am going with REI Adventures, mainly so I don’t have to navigate all of that on my own. The Lost Coast is truly just that, no tourist traps and VERY remote.
May can’t get here soon enough!
(Photo by AUTOCAMP)
Crested Butte, Colorado
Crested Butte is one of my favorite places in Colorado, however, it’s just far enough from Denver (4 hours?) I don’t make it there very often. So, I am hunkering down for a week in July to fully soak in the mountains, the town, and the epic hikes and mountain bike rides. It is truly one of the most beautiful places in the state. The wildflowers should be in full bloom as well.
The lodging of choice for this sweet adventure are the cozy, well appointed log cabins a few miles from town, the Pioneer Guest Cabins. There are only 8 to 10 cabins on the property so you do feel like you are away from it all.
I may bring my golf clubs too – the course in CB is fabulous.
(Photo by Hotels.com)
Tour du Mont Blanc in Switzerland with a tag on to Northern Italy
At least ONE international trip has to be included in the mix. Somehow, I have not made it to Switzerland – Lexi has and loves it. Mont Blanc has always intrigued me. I am not interested in climbing the mountain itself, but hiking around it sounds like a good idea. I found a self guided trip through Macs Adventure, meaning, they book all of the lodging for the 12 day trip and provide me a map to help me find my way. We’ll be staying in Mountain Huts and small Swiss Inns. These self guided treks are the way to go for me, I can go at my own pace and don’t have to deal with the hassle of researching and booking all of the lodging. They will also transport my bags from from place to place so all I have to carry is a daypack. All good.
Northern Italy has not been planned so any and all recommendations are welcome!
So, I have to admit, one of my guilty pleasures is adding a wee bit of pampering to our Life Bus adventures when there is a place that looks interesting enough to try out. Francis Ford Coppola’s Blancaneaux Lodge, in the Cayo District of Belize, seemed like one of those places worth checking out. It did not disappoint.
To get to Blancaeneaux Lodge, you take a 14 mile ride on a bumpy, remote road that turns off of the Western Highway by Georgeville. While driving on this road, teeth rattling, car shocks groaning, you find yourself frequently second-guessing whether you are on the right road. Then, your worries are allayed when you spot a triangular road sign bearing the Blancaneaux Lodge logo. These signs indicate you are indeed on the right path. You breathe a sigh of relief and continue on … bouncing down the road eager with anticipation to see this Pine Mountain Reserve paradise. Fortunately, Blancaneaux Lodge has done an excellent job of placing these little triangular signs periodically along the way so you never have to worry for too long between signage.
Since most of our accomodations in Belize were going to be modest at best, we decided to splurge on our first few nights. Blancaneaux is so fantastic it’s hard for me to know where to start to describe it. Upon our arrival, we were greeted by Ryan, an incredibly friendly member of the front desk staff who gave us a briefing of the property and all of the property’s amenities, a yummy rum cocktail, and showed us to our splendid bungalow.
Our bungalow was amazing. A spacious, airy space with our own pool and outdoor shower. There is a glass container by the mini-bar with some very addictive coconut treats. Thankfully the jar gets replenished every day. The nightly turn-down service includes the lighting of numerous votive candles which creates a lovely ambience when you return to your bungalow. One of my favorite things, however, was the “shell phone” intercom system in each bungalow. This is a large conch shell placed on top of a box. When you want to order room service, schedule an excursion, or if you have a question for the front desk, you flip a switch on the box and speak directly into the conch shell. You have a direct connection from the conch to the front desk. This just brought a smile to my face every time I used the shell phone.
I’m sure there were other guests at the Lodge but with the way the property is laid out we almost never encountered any of them. Typically only at dinner did we really notice there were others present. The lodge grounds are beautifully laid out to maintain a lush jungle feel throughout the property. Beautiful Privassion Creek runs right through the property and there are numerous places where you can just jump in and have a swim in the creek.
The staff is so welcoming and amenable to any request. They will set up your dinner table anywhere on the premises you would like them to. One night we had the staff set up our dinner on the terrace and we ate a wonderful meal all by ourselves with only candlelight. The food is exceptional at Blancaneaux. One of the things attributing to the great quality of food is the fact that the Lodge grows almost all of its own fruits and vegetables in an organic garden directly on the premises. The fresh fish is flown in directly from their sister property, Turtle Inn, on the coast in Placencia.
Another plug for the staff and food. Todd and I were heading out to explore that infamous Barton Creek Cave and we ordered a to go lunch. This was one of the best picnics I have ever had. The staff provided us with our own full-sized Coleman cooler with all of our food thoughtfully wrapped in Saran wrap so the ice water wouldn’t seep into the entrees. There were a couple of surprise treats in the cooler as well.
As if all of this weren’t enough to make you fall in love with this lodge, Blancaneaux truly pursues an impressive array of sustainable initiatives. Blancaneaux is currently implementing a stainless steel bottle program aimed at reducing plastic water bottle consumption by guests. Additionally, Blancaneaux Lodge has actively begun implementing eco-friendly systems and procedures for recycling as well as preserving water and power on the property. As I mentioned earlier, Blancaneaux’s maintains an expansive organic garden that supplies fresh produce used in the on-site restaurants, reducing their carbon footprint by using locally sourced ingredients.
The remote mountain setting of the Blancaneaux Lodge makes it perfect place to relax, rejuvenate and enjoy life’s simple pleasures. I was excited about what we had planned for the remaining two weeks of our Belizean trip, but I could have just as well had the Life Bus park here for a very, very long time.