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6 Airbnb Getaways in the Western US

Posted by on Mar 18, 2017 in Travel | 4 comments

life-crush-1-wildflowers

There is something so restoring about getting into nature, whether you’re taking a hike or just taking in the view.

If you’re feeling like you need a weekend away, here are some peaceful spots we’ve booked through Airbnb that are perfectly positioned for enjoying the great outdoors in Arizona, California, Colorado, and Nevada. All of them are close to hiking and most have kitchenettes.

I’ve included drive time to nearby cities and towns for reference.

Airbnb tucson

Airbnb 101

For those who have never used Airbnb, it’s a site that allows people to rent out spare rooms or guest apartments, so you end up with a really unique stay with a more personal touch. As you’ll see, we’ve used it to find and book places like a cottage in remote Southeastern Arizona, a trailer near Monterey, and a cabin room near the San Juan Mountains in Colorado.

You can get $40 off your first stay when you sign up at airbnb.com/c/sliebold2. (Full disclosure: using that link also sends some credit my way…so win-win!)
Pasadena-airbnb-1

California

1. Pasadena Glen Separate Cottage

The Setting: Lush, quiet neighborhood at the foot of the San Gabriel mountains that’s maybe technically part of Pasadena but feels like its own world.

  • Old Town Pasadena (or The Huntington) – 15 minutes
  • Downtown L.A. – 45 minutes
  • Phoenix – 5.5 hours

Pasadena-airbnb-3
The Room: The cottage is like a standalone studio apartment next to a larger house.

  • Very comfortable bed.
  • Included mini fridge, dishes, fruit, breakfast bars, electric kettle with Starbucks Via and a selection of teas.
  • Lovely garden/mini-yard area outside with a table.
  • Private 3/4 bathroom inside the apartment.
  • Separate entrance with keypad.

Pasadena-airbnb-2
Tips:

  • There’s a hiking trail at the end of the street.
  • You may get apples from one of their trees!
  • Sign a waiver if you plan to use the pool.
  • Two or three dogs also roam around the yard and will probably come to say hello. One of them is very large but very sweet.

How we ended up here: We stayed for a week while Phillip took a class at Fuller Seminary’s main campus in Pasadena.

goats-airbnb-ca
2. Trailer or Tipi Camping

The Setting: Travel trailers (and a tipi/teepee) surrounded by sprawling gardens and DIY-projects-in-progress, wandering chickens and a few cats, a goat pasture, and forest.

trailer-airbnb-ca-2
The Room: Boho vintage travel trailer with cozy sleeping area, dinette, and posssibly-working kitchen.

  • Microclimate tends to be cooler and cloudier than surrounding area.
  • Primative toilet in the woods (with privacy screen) and solar-heated shower.
  • Self-serve breakfast available from a pantry with oatmeal, granola, fruit, etc. and fresh eggs in the chicken coop.
  • Fire ring available for cooking or evening bonfires.

trailer-airbnb-ca-1
Tips:

  • Think camping without the set up! Of course, if you’re not into camping, this is not for you.
  • You may be able to use the host’s Monterey Bay Aquarium pass at a discount.
  • The chickens greet you in the morning – and provide breakfast!
  • There’s also a tipi option, subject to availability. (It was already occupied when we stayed there.)

How we ended up here: We were going to be in the area the same weekend as the Monterey Jazz Festival, so lodging options were limited and pricey. We were on a tight budget and decided to take a chance. And we’re glad we did! It was the quirkiest place we’ve stayed via Airbnb, but it was a lot of fun!

co-ridgway-bnb-2

Colorado

3. True Grit Mountain Retreat

The Setting: Cabin-like home with big picture windows looking out over gorgeous Colorado scenery and the San Juan Mountains.

  • Ridgway – 7 minutes
  • Ouray – 20 minutes
  • Denver – 5 hours
  • Albuquerque – 5.5 hours

co-ridgway-bnb-1
The Room: On the split-level second floor, there are 2 guest rooms available with bathroom and laundry in between. (There is a second guest bathroom downstairs.)

  • The Queen Room has a queen-size bed and Mexico-inspired decor.
  • The Spruce Room has twin beds and a private balcony.
  • Lovely breakfast in the dining room.
  • Hot tub outside.

co-ridgway
Tips:

  • It’s available during the summer only.
  • Get there before dark, if possible. Being out in the country means less light pollution – great for stargazing, challenging for finding house numbers.
  • Use of the kitchen downstairs is limited and may require an additional fee.
  • Nearby Ridgway is a one-stoplight-town that’s worth a stop. It’s home to the maker of the Grammy Awards and was the location for the 1969 western True Grit starring John Wayne. And a nice little roadside market!

How we ended up here: We needed a place to stay on the way home from a Denver road trip.

Tucson airbnb view

Arizona

4. Studio Cottage in Gated Community

The Setting: Quiet neighborhood street that winds through the Sonoran desert.

  • Downtown Tucson – 20 minutes
  • Phoenix – 2 hours

Tucson
The Room: Roomy southwestern casita with dining table and kitchenette, colorful ceramic tile, and a pink clawfoot tub.

  • Food and coffee aren’t included, but the kitchenette is stocked with the dishes and appliances (coffeemaker, microwave, toaster oven, fridge) to let you do it yourself – everything including a kitchen sink.
  • Pool/hot tub.
  • Parking and separate entrance through the garage.

Airbnb tucson
Tips:

How we ended up here: Basically, we’re always looking for excuses to go to Tucson and neat little places to stay there.
Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

5. SE AZ Hiking, Birding, and Quietude

The Setting: Remote casita near the Dragoon Mountains.

  • Willcox – 30 minutes
  • Tucson – 1.25 hours
  • Phoenix – 3 hours

Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset
The Room: Separate little adobe house.

  • Well-stocked kitchen with sink, coffee, grinder, and milk in the minifridge.
  • Composting toilet and shower in a separate building.

Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset
Tips:

  • Breakfast may be available for an additional fee. (I think we paid $10/person. We had so much delicious food that even Phillip was stuffed.)
  • Property backs up to state land with hiking trails. You’ll want to get written directions (or a map) before you head out. We got mixed up and went the wrong way.
  • They provided a flashlight (for night visits to the outhouse, etc.), but you may want to bring a headlamp or other hands-free light if you have one.

How we ended up here: This is where we stayed for our 10 year anniversary after picking apples in Willcox.

Red Rocks, Nevada

Nevada

6. Las Vegas

The Setting: Neighborhood in the Las Vegas suburbs near the edge of where city streets give way to Red Rock Canyon Conservation Area.

  • Red Rock Canyon Conservation Area – 10 minutes
  • Las Vegas Strip – 30 minutes
  • L.A. – 4 hours
  • Phoenix – 5 hours

Las Vegas Airbnb
The Room: Apartment with a full bath and a few midcentury modern touches.

  • Keurig, coffee and tea pods, and snacks included, as well as minifridge, microwave, and dishes.
  • Separate entrance but very near the main house.

image
Tips:

  • We didn’t meet the hosts, but everything (including check-in) was taken care of with lots of thoughtful touches.
  • There’s a really cool guestbook/journal you can leave a note and/or memento in.
  • Check out our Las Vegas Off the Strip list for a list of non-casino things to see, including Red Rock Canyon picnic spots and easy hikes.

How we ended up here: Avoiding the craziness of The Strip while in Las Vegas for a wedding!


Have you used Airbnb? Where’s your favorite getaway?

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Exploring Salem: Day One

Posted by on Oct 27, 2016 in Travel | 2 comments

[Ever been to Salem, MA? Me neither. Fortunately, Jessica Tennant of My Path to Mommyhood took a road trip there this summer from her home in upstate New York and is telling us all about it! –S]

Salem

My husband Bryce and I go to Maine every summer. There is nothing quite so beautiful as coastal Maine, and we get to see many different parts of the state because my in-laws live in the capital area, which is central to just about everything.

It just takes a REALLY long time to get there, so we’ve started stopping partway on the way there and the way back, which gives us the added benefit of exploring New England.

Salem - coach house inn tile

Weekend in Salem

This year, we decided on a romantic weekend in Salem, Massachusetts to break up the trip to Maine.

I had actually never been to Salem before, which is a shame. Salem is a tremendously kooky town, full of serious and tragic history (ahem, witch trials) as well as an affinity for ghosties, ghoulies, and all things Halloween, and a literary history involving Nathaniel Hawthorne and H.P. Lovecraft. It has cobblestone streets, tremendously old houses, and a red line painted throughout town called the Heritage Trail – following it sends you past many interesting historical attractions.

Coach House, Salem by boblinsdell

Bed and Breakfast

We stayed in The Coach House Inn, a bed and breakfast on Lafayette Street. It was built as a Victorian ship captain’s house in 1879. The inn was great, the innkeeper was very helpful and hospitable, and the breakfasts were continental and came in a Red-Riding-Hood style basket to your door at 8:30 in the morning, like magic.

Salem Breakfast

One thing about the Coach House that wasn’t so great was the location. It was right on the street that leads you straight into historic Salem, but, to get there, you had to walk through a fairly sketchy (and, as we heard from locals, heroin-plagued) section of town. We walked once and used Uber to go home and then took advantage of street parking after that…so if you don’t mind driving instead of walking, it’s perfectly lovely.

image

Geek Pizza

Our favorite place to eat was Flying Saucer Pizza Company, which sounds like a strange choice for me as a person with Celiac disease, but it had delicious and safe gluten-free options. AND, it was decked out in art and action figures and all kinds of paraphernalia from Star Wars, Star Trek, Doctor Who, the Avengers, Ghostbusters…it was a terrifically geeky place! All the pizzas were named after various things from sci-fi, and they have a Space Pug, Charlie, who is their mascot.

I had The Vision pizza, TWICE (for dinner the first night and lunch the next day, because it was THAT GOOD), which had walnut pesto, cheese blend, fresh mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, and balsamic fig. Does that not sound amazing? The regular pizza was excellent too, with Bryce mumbling “This is THE BEST pizza I have EVER HAD” to the server with his mouth full of a Hawaiian-style pizza with jalapeño peppers.

Salem burying point

Ghost Tour

It was an appropriately thunderstormy night for a ghost tour with Black Cat Tours. Our guide was dressed in old-timey clothing and delivered a great mix of historical and paranormal tales. He brought us through the burying ground, past an original house that was restored and, apparently, has a very Ring-like ghost of a girl who was quarantined in the attic for having scarlet fever and peeks out the windows.

image

Giles Corey

There was a section of the burying ground that had stone benches jutting from a stone wall, with each bench etched with one of the names of the witch trial victims and the date of their death.

All were hanged except one – Giles Corey, who was accused of witchcraft in his 80s (but, lest you think he’s a good guy, he also accused his wife), and knew that if he was convicted or confessed he would lose his property to pay for his time in jail (yup, they had to pay for their meals and everything they got in the deplorable jail conditions themselves). He refused to confess or consent to be tried. He was tortured to death through “pressing” – they lay a board on him laden with more and more stone weights every time he refused to consent.

Although he died, he saved his property from confiscation this way, and now you know what it really means to be pressed for an answer (!)

Supposedly, he haunted the head of law enforcement who had him arrested, hanging out at the end of his bed and causing chest pains.

Salem

Favorite Haunts

We also learned of an angry divorcee ghost who haunts the space where they have weddings and dances and other events, tries to push people down the stairs, and wreaks havoc on art displays, stomping around the top floor and going down invisible stairs that don’t exist anymore to frighten people on the first floor.

We didn’t personally see any of the ghosts, but thought the tour was fabulously spooky and informative. (Who knew the inspiration for The Tell-Tale Heart was a real-life murder of a stingy old captain by his caretaker right there in Salem?) I am a sucker for a good ghost tour, and this one was atmospheric and not corny at all.

So much to do and see in the first day, how could our second day in Salem compare?

[Part 2 is coming up on Monday!]


Photos –
1, 2, 6: Jessica Tennant.

5: Doug Kerr on Flickr, color corrected. CCL.
3, 4, 7: Robert Linsdell on Flickr, color corrected. CCL.

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Room with a View in Big Sur

Posted by on Sep 26, 2016 in Travel | 8 comments

I saw this image on Pinterest of what looked like a tiny cabin with large picture windows. The caption said “Big Sur,” but the link was broken.

big sur rental

A few years ago, Phillip and I drove down Highway 1 through Big Sur – wooded mountains on one side and cliffs dropping off into the ocean on the other. It is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been.

Which may be why, in a late-night, insomnia-fueled obsession, I had to find out more about the place in the photo.

Big Sur trailer rental by Brian G.

Eventually, I spotted it in a vacation-rental listing in Big Sur.

The listed lodging is this cute vintage trailer nestled in a valley and off the grid.

Big Sur rental trailer by Richard W.

A few yards away is the “cabin,” which turns out to actually be the bathroom, housing a cast iron tub with an ocean view.

Big Sur lodging by Joe S.

It’d be a nice place to soak awhile, don’t you think?

—-

 

Photos:

  1. Angela Elser.
  2. Brian G.
  3. Richard W.
  4. Joe S.

 

Microblog Mondays: Write in your own space

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Would you sleep in a lookout tower?

Posted by on Jun 23, 2016 in Travel | 1 comment

I was looking for National Park campground information online when I came across this:

“Bunk in a Fire Lookout Tower – These are mostly historic fire lookouts once used by wildland firefighters, like 55-foot tall Spruce Mountain Fire Lookout located at 10,000 feet.”

http://www.recreation.gov/camping/spruce-mtn-fire-lookout-tower/r/campgroundDetails.do?contractCode=NRSO&parkId=73946

I’ve seen these towers in the distance, perched over Arizona forests, and thought how awesome it would be to see the view from there. I had no idea it was a possibility (without years of training and a Forest Service job) until I read that. I also hadn’t thought about them no longer being in use.

I guess nowadays fires just send a text-?

Text from a wildfire

The catch:

“Most offer panoramic views of mountains, forests and wildlife but may not offer electricity, running water, or road access.”

http://www.recreation.gov/camping/bald-butte-lookout/r/campgroundDetails.do?contractCode=NRSO&parkId=75026

You may have to pack in all your food, water, and gear. You may also have to climb down a ladder to use the bathroom.

Inconvenient, but still, I’d stay in one for a night.

How about you?

Lookout tower

How to find fire towers you can stay in on recreation.gov:

  1. Type “camp” in the search box.
  2. Under category, choose “campgrounds.”
  3. Under looking for, choose “lookouts.”

image

Images via recreation.gov (except #2).

  1. Spruce Mountain Fire Lookout, Medicine Bow National Forest, Wyoming.
  2. Via iOS7 Text generator.
  3. Bald Butte Lookout, Fremont-Winema National Forest, Oregon. “The lookout was built in 1931 and served as a Forest Service fire detection site for over 50 years. It was constructed from an Aladdin L4 ground-mounted lookout kit in which all of the pieces were pre-cut in six-foot lengths or less so the entire kit could be packed by horses into the remote site.”
  4. Screenshot.
  5. McCart Lookout, Bitterroot National Forest, Montana. “It has been restored to reflect a lookout of the 1940s, including the stove, furniture, dishes and other small touches.”
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