Hidden gems – Groveland Hotel

Have you ever stayed in a haunted hotel?  Turns out I have and I didn’t even know it.  Last October when my husband and I went to Yosemite to see the waterfalls we stayed at The Groveland Hotel.  It’s a charming, historic turn of the century inn located just outside of the Park and it plays host to a ghost.  The owners claim that a spectral gold miner named Lyle skulks around the hotel.  He’s a friendly spirit though.  His high jinks lean toward rearranging your make up and turning on lights or your shower.  Nothing scary.  Just good old fashioned fun.  If you’re looking for a spooky stay this Halloween and you’re out in Groveland, CA it’s the place to stay.

Great travel accessory

I recently took a redeye flight from the West Coast to the East.  It’s been a long time since I’ve done this and I’d forgotten how much you want a shower when you land after a long flight.  But, there’s no water of course.  The next best thing?  Comb some of Frederk Fekkai’s Au Naturel dry shampoo through your hair before landing.  It’s the next best thing to a shower and at 2.9 ounces you’ll have no trouble getting it through TSA in your carry-on.

Hidden gems – Blue Bottle Coffee Co

I was in San Francisco this week hanging out with a friend and he suggested that we have coffee.  Now they have a lot of great coffee roasters in San Francisco.  The big question is always where to go?  When he suggested Blue Bottle I immediately agreed.  I’d been hearing buzz (no pun intended) about them for over a year.  In fact I’d gone down to the Ferry Building to try their wondrous brew, but couldn’t stand the 45 min. line.  It all was started by one man.  He had a roasting fixation and the gumption to think he could do it better and fresher than everyone else.  The original location is on Linden Avenue in Hayes Valley and is little more than a glorified garage.  But the coffee…is amazing!  Dark, delicious and so fragrant I’d like to bottle it as a perfume.  I brought home half a pound of their Guat Guaya B blend so I can recreate the experience for myself.

Travel tip of the week

There’s a lot of talk this week about how angry fliers are with hidden fees.  Well there’s one hidden fee this year that you may not be thinking about.  It’s the fee for “peak travel days”.  Yup, airlines add between $10 and $30 to the price of your ticket if you are traveling around a holiday, what they consider a “peak” day.  If you want to avoid this fee, check out this great chart at Farecompare.com.  It details all the peak days for 2010.  Why pay more than you have too?

Travel tip of the week

If you’re heading out on the road for Labor Day weekend you’ve probably already heard that gas is going to be cheaper this week.  Well I haven’t seen it.  In fact gas where I am has gone up 2 – 4 cents in the past 24 hours alone.  Looking for cheap gas?  Try GasBuddy.com.  I use it as an app on my iPhone, but if you have a computer and a wireless connection you can avail yourselves as well.   Have a safe and happy holiday weekend everyone!

Where shall I go?

The Bird’s Nest (above) looks like some crazy house of the future or a hotel room for Sesame Street’s Big Bird.  It’s not though.  It’s the product of the fertile Swedish imagination.  Located in Lapland just South of the Arctic Circle it’s part of the Treehotel.  The room looks like a funky water tank covered with twigs.  It’s a 3 legged, 3 eyed sentinel of the forest.  Inside you have a completely circular living area in which to relax and roam.  Believe it or not the bird’s nest will sleep a family of 4.  How do you get up there you ask?  There’s a retractable staircase.  Ingenius, don’t you think?

Is that what I think it is?

I’m on the road today, so instead of posting something myself I’m going to turn you over to a story I found on ABCNews.com.  It’s about America’s strangest roadside attractions.  I just love this sort of stuff.  When I was on my 6 week road trip I often saw things that you simply can’t describe (like that peach, yeah I tweeted it!).  My road rule is “always stop for something uniquely weird”.  I think it’s the American way.  I mean seriously it takes imagination to come up with the world’s largest twine ball.  Go team USA!

Hidden gems – Fox Theater

There are a number of beautiful old 1920’s theaters around the Country, but none I’ve seen compare to the Fox Theater in St. Louis.  I went tonight to see Wicked, and was amazed by the beautiful stonework outside.  The inside is an exotic “Siamese Byzantine” design which reminds me of a Vizier’s palace.  The space is cavernous.  The Fox was built in 1929, but fell into disrepair. In 1981 it was purchased by a private partnership and restored to it’s former glory.  No detail was left to chance, they even had 7,300 yards of the original elephant pattern carpeting rewoven so they could put it in the lobby.  The theater seats 4,500 people, so it’s a great venue for traveling Broadway productions.  Book tickets for a show if you’re in town and be sure to hit one of the chic restaurants nearby for pre-theater dining.