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6 Airbnb Getaways in the Western US

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


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 (Full disclosure: using that link also sends some credit my way…so win-win!)


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

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.


  • 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.

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.

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.


  • 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!



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

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.


  • 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


4. Studio Cottage in Gated Community

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

  • Downtown Tucson – 20 minutes
  • Phoenix – 2 hours

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

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

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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

  • 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


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.


  • 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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Citrus Season in the Southwest

Posted by on Jan 23, 2017 in Craft, Travel | 14 comments

Citrus at tucson market

It’s citrus season here in Phoenix! Farmers’ markets and roadside stands are overflowing with oranges, grapefruit, and lemons (so is my Instagram feed).

When we were in Tucson just before Christmas, there were baskets of beautifully bright oranges, tangerines, and kumquats at the Thursday Farmers’ Market at Mercado San Augustin.

Citrus park in Riverside, CA

California Citrus Historic State Park in Riverside, which we’ve enjoyed visiting when we’re in Southern California, currently has extended hours for the season and special events like a harvest tasting on February 26.

The Pasadena Farmers’ Market lists lemons, navel oranges, grapefruit, tangerines, and tangelos as being in season right now. (When I was there this summer, it was piles of peaches and pecks of peppers.)

Pasadena farmers market

On the theme of citrus…

What’s in season where you are?

Microblog Mondays: Write in your own space

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September Photo: Coffee

Posted by on Oct 24, 2016 in Travel | 7 comments


After BlogHer in L.A. but before driving back to Phoenix, I fueled up with brunch at Trois Familia in Silver Lake. I loved how the purple Le Creuset coffee mug they brought me looked against the coral wall I was sitting across from.

I wonder if they chose the colors for their brightly painted walls based on what would make good backgrounds for food photos. What do you think?

Microblog Mondays: Write in your own space

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Gilligan’s Post-Apocalyptic Island

Posted by on Oct 20, 2016 in Travel | 0 comments


You may think the 1960s television show Gilligan’s Island is simply the tale of a 3-hour tour gone terribly awry, indefinitely stranding its passengers on a deserted island where hijinks, visits from goofy guest stars, and thwarted rescue attempts ensue. But it may have actually been a metaphor for restarting after the annihilation of civilization.

I know. Mind. Blown.


The Gilligan Manifesto, a documentary debuting at LA Femme International Film Festival this weekend, takes a fresh look at the slapsticky sitcom that went into production the year after the Cuban Missile Crisis. I was able to preview the film, which places Gilligan’s Island in its Cold War context and aims to reveal the critiques of democracy and capitalism behind its farcical facade.


Originally confined to text in an article in Americana: The Journal of American Popular Culture, writer and director Cevin Soling translated his ideas to film, taking advantage of the audio-visual medium with groovy novelty songs, original animation, quick cuts of Cold War era footage, and scenes from the show itself. By the time the opening titles appear, you’ve already seen a depressing number of mushroom clouds and atomic infernos exploding in sync with disturbingly upbeat tunes like “Love That Bomb.”

There are also interviews with creator Sherwood Schwartz, cast members Dawn Wells (“Mary Ann”) and Russell Johnson (“The Professor”), and (actual) Harvard professors of history and literature.


After an animation introduces the characters and illustrates the parallel between the island castaways and survivors emerging from a fallout shelter, the film examines the society they create, positing that it more closely resembles a “true” (non-dictatorial) communist system than a democratic/capitalist one.


While a few points are belabored and others left hanging, the film does raise some interesting questions.

Do societal structures, such as class divides, persist when society itself is gone? What about titles such as “professor,” “millionaire,” or “movie star”? Can a person lead without being corrupted by power? What’s the best way to distribute resources? Is Gilligan the ultimate proletariat-hero? Do the castaways even want to be rescued?

The Gilligan Manifesto gave me a lot to mull over. And it’s definitely changed the way I look at the show and its character archetypes.


– Film Info –

The Gilligan Manifesto is a feature documentary by Spectacle Films, Inc.

Debut: LA Femme International Film Festival

Information on additional screenings/viewing options was not available.

Photos via The Gilligan Manifesto.

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San Diego Souvenir Mug

Posted by on Oct 10, 2016 in Travel | 14 comments

Phillip has been on this much-appreciated fixing-things-with-superglue kick.

He’s currently putting back together the mug my grandma got me as a souvenir of our 2003 trip to San Diego.

San Diego mug

She had vacation time, wanted to go to San Diego, but didn’t feel she could make the drive alone, so I got to go along.

I drove and we worked as a team to figure out how to navigate San Diego – exploring the Gaslamp Quarter, peeking in at the inner workings of the Balboa Park pipe organ, accidentally visiting the zoo on (super crowded!) free day, shopping in Seaport Village, spontaneously deciding to take a Duck tour (laughing as the amphibious vehicle splashed into the bay), and wandering through the colorful Old Town Market that’s commemorated on my mug. We would walk from our hotel to the beach or to this Italian restaurant that had a second story with a view of the ocean.

San Diego mug

She would actually be turning 86 today if it hadn’t been for pancreatic cancer in 2007.

I wish there was a word for the opposite of regret, to describe things that, even in hindsight, you are 100% glad you did.

I’m so grateful for that trip to San Diego with Grandma.

Microblog Mondays: Write in your own space

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