Great travel accessory

Tired of wrenching your arm dragging your wheeled luggage through the airport? Well now there’s a solution. TravelSmith has an ergonomic luggage handle that can be attached to your bag. It swivels up to 360 degrees, changing the angle of your wrist when you hold it to reduce arm strain. It even allows you to push or pull your bag along. Great for those times you decide to carry on and have to get down narrow airplane aisles.

Fall foliage

I took a very scenic drive this afternoon from Portland to Bend, Oregon. The highway between the two wound past two dams, through a “lake” of moss covered volcanic boulders and ended in a severely charred forest. On the way we stopped to cross the Detroit Lake Dam, and it was an amazing to see how calm the lake was on one side when the water was shooting out under high pressure on the other. It gives you a whole new appreciation for what the Army Corps of Engineers can do.

The Cascades have seen a lot of volcanic activity. The mountains are large and cone shaped, capped by snow even in early October. The trees and shrubs are turning red and gold and make the landscape look like something out of a painting. Living in San Francisco I don’t often get to see the leaves turn, so this is an extra delight for me.

Where shall I go?

Ever since reading about the Jupiter Hotel in Travel & Leisure several years ago I’ve longed to stay here. Well, this week I’ve finally made it. The hotel is truly the hipster paradise it’s advertised to be. Attached to the Doug Fir Lounge it’s a hotspot for local and regional bands. There is a large party tent connecting what used to be an old motel.

Rooms have all the longed for creative touches:

– chalkboard doors…the adult equivalent of “keep out” signs
– free wifi thoughout the hotel
– an on site tattoo parlour, rocker hair salon, and adult toy store
– free condoms at turndown (just don’t mistake this cheeky gift for your mint!)

I must in all conscience list a few cautions. Do not stay here if you’re looking for a good night’s sleep. No room is far enough away from the either the lounge or the party space to give you peace and quiet. The room decor can be a bit random (and doesn’t look like the website). For instance our room sported a yellow toilet that always made you think twice about whether you were getting a fresh bowl. There is also a large green throw pillow on the bed that looks like the love child of Oscar the Grouch and the proverbial grassy knoll. We voted it off the island as just too creepy.

On the plus side if you check in after midnight rooms can be had for as little as $89 per night. Breakfast and/or cocktails at the Doug Fir are a must. The neighborhood has a lot of cool vintage stores, coffee shops and boutiques. Best of all the hotel is within walking distance of Voodoo Doughnuts.

Travel tip of the week

Time to check that passport expiration date. Don’t have a passport? Well you’d better get one if you’re going to Canada, Mexico or the Caribbean. You see a new law now requires a valid passport for re-entry for U.S. citizens. Due to the crush of requests (less than 20% of us had passports at the time), the Bush Administration had to hold off enforcement to allow summer travelers to get to and from their vacation destinations. That is ending on Monday, Oct. 1st.

USA Today has a great article with tips on getting a passport or renewing one you already possess. You should definitely check it out.

Great travel accessory

Here’s something cool for those family trips where you go the extra mile and rent a cabin or room with a kitchen. You know you’ll be grocery shopping, but you don’t want all those pesky plastic bags. ChicoBags are $5 each on They are made of sturdy nylon and shaped like your regular grocery store plastic bag. They even come with a pouch into which they can be folded and stored. Earth friendly and packable, brilliant!

What do you look for in a boutique hotel?

Ever since Starwood rolled out the W Hotels I have been a huge fan of the boutique revolution. I love high style, a great bar, and rooms with a simple yet elegant feel. When I bought my first home I found myself trying to recreate the experience. What I’ve since learned is that you really can live the brand. W Hotels online store allows you to take home all the things you love about the hotel right down to the Havaianas. You can even buy the bed!

Where shall I go?

October is just around the corner, so I’m thinking why not celebrate with a trip to one of many Oktoberfests across the nation?

Can’t get the time off? How about a brewery tour right in your own backyard? Here in San Francisco you can tour our famous Anchor Steam Brewery and get a history lesson along with your brew.

Double duty – key holder

I carry a pretty deep purse, so I’m often left standing in front of my hotel room fumbling to the very bottom to find my door key. A solution? Buy a double sided business card holder like this one from Kenneth Cole and keep your door card in the windowed compartment. It’s a lot easier than emptying out your entire laptop bag or purse.