Sunday, July 27, 2014

Adrift Hotel and Spa: Long Beach Peninsula, Washington - Review



Adrift Hotel as seen from the beach.
It's not easy to review a hotel as unique as Long Beach's Adrift. It's really in a category of its own. But let me try.

I had the good fortune of a two night stay, with my dog, right on the beach in a place that was as dog-friendly as they come. Adrift, you see, was purchased by a local couple and renovated. The property is eco-friendly and they've used re-purposed materials as much as possible. And, in their wisdom, they made the rooms family and dog-friendly. They are easily cleaned by the staff and there isn't much that can be harmed by an exuberant child or hairy dog.
Cinnamon checks out the dog-friendly room.

There don't seem to be many rules. There are no extra charges for dogs, no weight limits and, given the fact that three beautiful Golden Retrievers were staying in a room on my floor, there doesn't appear to be a numerical limit. There are plenty of places to walk a dog and the hotel is right on the beach. 

There are no rules to tell you not to leave your dog in the room. While this is very convenient if you want to go out to, say, the hotel's Pickled Fish Bar and Restaurant, it might be an issue for your neighbors if the dog barks.

The walls are not all that sound absorbing. In fact, the hotel provides you with earplugs on the bedside "crate." Crate? Oh yes, let me tell you about the decor. That's hard to explain or review as well. I found the room to be clean and the crisp triple-sheeting was appreciated. But the decor harkens back to dorm days, with re-purposed wood and crates, buckets and industrial lights, and easily cleaned laminate floor. 

Pickled Fish is very popular with visitors and locals alike.
It was kinda cute and it looks like the owners had fun decorating the rooms and painting fanciful murals on the walls. My dog loved the polka dotted throw rug.

I describe the rooms as simple, beachy and creative. You'll be playing on the beach most of the time, anyway. So is decor all that important?

It's important to know that Adrift rooms are not air-conditioned but that is not usually an issue at the beach if you are ok sleeping with your windows open. And, you won't find tons of amenities in the rooms. Just ask at the desk if you want a coffee maker or something extra. They have games and loaner bikes, too.

Parking is great (free). Don't be surprised if your room overlooks the parking lot with the beach just beyond.

Restaurant
The decor, although of the same style, was stepped up a notch in the Pickled Fish restaurant. This was a fun place with an experienced bartender, a view to die for and pretty good food. Most nights there is live music. I'd sure recommend checking it out on your next visit to the Long Beach Peninsula.
Live music most nights

Spa
Oh yes, the Spa. I didn't try out any spa services but there was an on-site, by appointment, spa professional available. 

So would I recommend Adrift? My dog, Cinnamon, certainly does! I recommend that you read the TripAdvisor reviews and look at all the visitor photos. You can make your own decision and you'll be fully informed. After all, Adrift Hotel and Spa is unique. You can't really compare it with other beach hotels and motels or do a standard hotel review. But I had fun trying!

More Information
Address: 409 Sid Snyder Dr., Long Beach, WA 98631
Phone: 360.642.2311
Email:    reservations@adrifthotel.com
Facebook Page


Note: As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with a complimentary accommodations  for the purpose of review. While it has not influenced this review, the writer believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest.

Best Small City In America: Santa Fe New Mexico!



Why am I not surprised! I had the privilege of living in Santa Fe for over two years. There was always a world class festival, art show or event happening.

Santa Fe, New Mexico has been named the Best Small City in America by Condé Nast Traveler’s 26th annual Readers’ Choice Awards, a ranking of the best cities, islands, cruise lines, airlines, hotels and resorts in the world. Condé Nast Traveler had 79,268 readers participate in the 2013 survey, resulting in 1.3 million votes.   

The publication credits the destination’s cultural scene as one of its best assets, noting, “no other place in the country so beautifully reflects the art, architecture, food, and crafts of centuries of Native American, Spanish, and Mexican influence.” Also included was a recommendation to visit the Museum of International Folk Art (MOIFA) on Museum Hill. 

The complete ranking of the Best Small Cities in America includes: 

1.       Santa Fe, NM
2.       Carmel-by-the-sea, CA
3.       Napa, CA
4.       Telluride, CO
5.       Newport, RI
6.       Santa Barbara, CA
7.       Jackson Hole, WY
8.       Aspen, CO
9.       Sedona, AZ
10.     Key West, FL

The Condé Nast Traveler ranking is one of several important accolades Santa Fe has garnered thus far in 2014. Earlier this year, Santa Fe’s winding streets and abundance of world-class cafes and spas earned Santa Fe the No. 3 ranking as the country’s coziest city by The Huffington Post. The website 10best.com recognized Santa Fe in myriad categories, including the nation’s top destination for a girlfriend getaway, a top 10 historic destination, and the fourth most romantic getaway in North America. 

Its clean air and mountain perch make it a top destination for outdoor adventure. In March, Outside crowned Santa Fe as the nation’s Best Trail Running City. The League of American Bicyclists awarded Santa Fe a Silver Level designation for its welcoming bike culture. 

Through a variety of special events, visitors to Santa Fe this summer can experience first-hand the cultural and culinary scene that earned the Condé Nast Traveler ranking, including: 

Santa Fe Indian Market , August 18 - 24, 2014
This spectacular festival is celebrating its 93rd year as more than 1,000 gifted Native American artists from across the United States travel to Santa Fe to showcase their skills at the largest Native American art show and sale in the world.  www.swaia.org/. 

Burning of Zozobra , Aug. 29, 2014
The annual torching of 50-foot-tall Old Man Gloom, a puppet stuffed with thousands of scraps of paper bearing the citizenry's sad thoughts, has been a fall highlight for 90 years. 

Santa Fe Fiesta, Sept. 5-7, 2014
The oldest continuously celebrated community event in the country fills the historic Plaza with food and music, dancing and parades. Fiesta is the city’s most enduring tradition and one of the summer’s most anticipated weekends. More information is available at www.santafefiesta.org  

Santa Fe Green Chile Cheeseburger Smackdown, Sept. 12, 2014
After a successful inaugural run, this culinary competition is back for a second year as chefs from local restaurants compete to determine which restaurant’s green chile cheeseburger is the best in town. Judged by a panel of notable food experts, this event takes place at the Santa Fe Farmer's Market. Tickets are available now at ticketssantafe.org

For the complete list of Readers’ Choice Awards and the methodology, visit http://www.cntraveler.com/readers-choice-awards. Click here to see the full list of “The 10 Best Small Cities in America.”

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Spokane's Manito Park: A TripAdvisor Top 25 Park



Spokane's Manito Park

Spokane, Washington is home to one of the Top 25 Parks in the country. Spokane's Manito Park was recently named by TripAdvisor's 2014 Traveler's Choice Awards as one of the Top 25 Parks in the United States.

The Traveler's Choice Awards are given to top attractions that generate the most positive reviews during a 12-month period. More than 350 comments were written in praise of Manito Park, including 97 photos showcasing the park's various gardens and conservatory.

Manito Park consists of 78 acres of native landscape and 20 acres of botanical gardens. Along with five major garden areas, the park includes playgrounds, Gaiser Conservatory, Park Bench Café, Loop Drive and more. 

While visiting Spokane, we toured the historic neighborhoods. While in the beautiful South Hill Neighborhood, we stopped in to see some of Manito Park's attractions.  One highlight was The Nishinomiya Japanese Garden. Inside this traditional Japanese garden you can enjoy manicured pathways, a Koi pond, waterfall and cross the Japanese bridge. 

Be sure and drive along Manito Place, adjacent to the park. The west and south sides of Manito Place are lined with older bungalow homes, some as old as Manito Park, dating back to the early 20th century.
The manicured beauty of Manito Park's Japanese Garden stands
in beautiful contrast to Spokane's natural pine trees.
Manito Park is easily accessed off I-90. From I-90 drive South on Stevens Ave past the hospitals. Stevens will turn into Grand Boulevard which travels past the Manito Park Entrance. Watch for the large sign on the right after you get up the hill past 14th Ave. 

More About Spokane
Spokane Falls
Spokane's Cork District
Walking Spokane

Photography copyright: Elizabeth R. Rose

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Camp 18: History, Logging Lore and Great Food on Oregon Hwy 26



The beautiful Camp 18 dining room is supportive by massive logs,
cut and milled locally.
Going to the coast from the Portland, Oregon area? Camp 18 is a traditional stop for many. You'll see massive log beams, chainsaw carvings, old logging equipment and, inside, a spacious yet warm dining room where you'll enjoy a meal (no small plates there!).

Camp 18 represents the logging past of Oregon. In the 1920s and 1930s large logging operations such as Clark & Wilson, Big Creek Timber Company and others numbered all their camps. The restaurant and logging museum is called Camp 18 because it’s located at mile post 18 on Highway 26. It was not an actual logging camp but I can't think of anyplace better to learn about Oregon's logging history.

You'll be in awe of the massive logs that make up the entrance and the restaurant building. According to the Camp 18 website ... All of the timber used in the building has come from the general area and logged by Smith. It has been hauled in, hand peeled and draw knifed with the help of his family and friends.
Chainsaw Carvings

Most dominating is the huge 85 foot ridge pole in the main room, the largest such structural member known in the United States. It weighed approximately 25 tons when cut and has 5,600 board feet of lumber in it.

Another spectacular feature of the building are the hand-carved main doors. They are cut from an old growth Fir log. Each door is 4-1/2 inches thick and weighs 500 pounds. The doors open with authentic logging axes.

The two fireplaces are built with approximately 50 tons of rock found locally. The mantle of the fireplace in the main dining room is solid black walnut.

Virtually all the lumber used in the building has been cut in Smith’s mill which is set up on the property across Humbug Creek. Smith is still doing some logging in the area, but his oldest son Mark has been helping him run things so he could stay with the construction of the building. His youngest son Clay is a faller and lives and works in the area.

Old Logging Truck
Camp 18 is most cozy on a winter day. You can sit by the rock fireplace and play a board game. Or be seated at one of the massive tables and enjoy breakfast, lunch or dinner. If I had guests from out of the country, I would bring them to Camp 18 for an all American meal. Portions are pretty much lumberjack sized. They have an extensive menu which includes burgers and fish, salads and the mouth-watering Marion berry cobbler.

For me, Camp 18 is a mid-way stop between central Portland and Seaside or Cannon Beach. While you are there, be sure and look at the logging equipment and read the signs to learn more about area logging. It's a good way to stretch your legs!

More Information
Website
Camp 18 Restaurant, 42362 Highway 26, Elsie, Oregon 97138
Phone: (800) 874-1810 or (503) 755-1818


Photography copyright: Elizabeth R. Rose

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

London Bridge at Lake Havasu, Arizona is alive and well (Not falling down)

Imagine being the Mayor of Lake Havasu City, Arizona, and coming to work one day to learn that your city's iconic bridge, shipped to this desert oasis and painstakingly reconstructed stone-by-stone in the late 1960s to become Arizona's number two tourist attraction - imagine reading in a London newspaper that it was, in fact, falling down. Just like the nursery rhyme.
        
Such was the case this week when a concerned citizen returning from a visit to London gave Mayor Mark Nexsen a story in the U.K.'s The Sun that said the famed bridge is scheduled to be "bulldozed."
         
While the English Village built beneath London Bridge has seen higher visitation in the 1970s and 1980s and is currently being revitalized, the bridge itself is as solid as ever, save for a few ghosts said to have been transported within the stonework in 1969.   
    
To counter the story, the city's Visitors Bureau is demanding that The Sun print a front-page apology and retraction for having published a complete fabrication.

"An article like this is a stain upon our honor," says Doug Traub, president and CEO of the Lake Havasu City Convention & Visitors Bureau. "For over four decades we have been dedicated custodians of British history. We stand to lose millions of dollars in tourism revenue if our friends in the United Kingdom stay away out of spite.

"The Sun claimed bridge maintenance stopped," Traub continues. "We invite them to return to write another article - on top of their retraction - as we invest $624,000 more this year in bridge maintenance, in addition to the $2.5 million in bridge maintenance we've invested over the past 10 years. We are a small town and our hard-earned taxes pay for all of this upkeep. We can't afford a hit like this. It's just awful to us, a slap in the face."

The Bureau is not stopping with just a strong demand for a retraction. It will begin reaching out to volunteers for help in spreading the word that the London Bridge is well maintained.

Starting Sunday, June 29, anyone with a U.K. passport, or anyone else with confirmed airfare to the U.K. in July or August, will be provided with a thumbnail-sized piece of the bridge and a brochure about the historic structure. The idea is to have returning residents of Great Britain, and Americans traveling to London on work or vacation, testify that all's well with what's been called the "world's largest antique."

Says the City's Mark Clark, PE, PTOE, Maintenance Services Division Manager, "All these improvements that we continue to make keep the bridge intact to avoid any major failures. Once our work is completed this summer, we should have a bridge that lasts another 40 years or more."  
                 
The bridge has been holding up well these 43 years, but water has leaked into one of the support piers and now needs to be pumped and dried out. Lake Havasu City also plans to create a maintenance entryway into the mainland side of the bridge to better ensure the safety of workers. Also on the repair schedule: there's sand on the bearing pads that prevent the bridge from smoothly expanding and contracting in various temperatures. Those pads will now be cleaned.    
   
The CVB's Traub continues, "The Sun story also says the bridge will be torn down to attract drug tourism. Last time we looked, this was illegal in Arizona."   
    
The city's Visitors Center, located in the shadow of the bridge, regularly sells bridge fragments to tourists. The stones are literally a chip off an old block that was transported to Lake Havasu by founder Robert P. McCulloch, but never used in the reconstruction.     
  
U.K. residents and Americans heading to Great Britain can claim their souvenir fragments by visiting the Visitors Center at 422 English Village.

The history of the purchase of the London Bridge by Lake Havasu is a well-known one. The purchase of the bridge was and is an important tourism strategy.

According to the Lake Havasu Tourism website, in 1967, the Common Council of the City of London began to look for potential buyers for the London Bridge. Lake Havasu City founder and entrepreneur Robert P. McCulloch placed the winning bid of $2,460,000 on April 18, 1968. McCulloch came by this figure by doubling the estimated cost of dismantling the structure, which was $1.2 million, bringing the price to $2.4 million. He then added on $60,000 – a thousand dollars for each year of his age at the time he estimated the bridge would be reconstructed in Arizona. Each block was meticulously numbered before the bridge was disassembled. The blocks were then shipped overseas through the Panama Canal to California and trucked from Long Beach to Arizona. Following reconstruction of the London Bridge, Lake Havasu City rededicated it in a ceremony on October 10, 1971.

The London Bridge, Arizona tourism’s second-largest attraction after the Grand Canyon, attracts thousands of visitors each year and is a popular stroll for people on romantic getaways in Arizona.

The Lake Havasu City Visitors Center conducts a 45-minute walking tour of the London Bridge. Arizona tourists can see the strafing scars from WWII that mar the bridge’s granite surface and stroll over sparkling Bridgewater Channel. The bridge is also a popular hangout for the Arizona boating crowd and you’ll see all kinds of boats anchored in the shadow of this piece of history.


Read The Sun's story here:  
   
Learn more about the history of the bridge here:


Information courtesy: Lake Havasu City CVB

Photography copyright: Elizabeth R. Rose