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I haven’t even left California yet and I’ve already screwed up. Awesome.

Checked my e-tickets two days ago and discovered that for reasons lost to the mists of post-menopausal memory, I booked us on a 7am flight out of San Francisco.

Which means we need to get to the airport no later than 5am. Crap.

Much furious consultation with my spouse ensued. We decided to get a motel room at a place near the airport that offers free shuttle service, plus a well-lit place to park a car for the 10 days we’ll be gone.

Of course the problem isn’t confined to the California end of the trip. We arrive in Dublin at 6:55am. Which means that we’ve got ~9 hours to kill before our room in Dublin City Centre opens up.

I can’t manage sightseeing after a transcontinental+transatlantic flight. My body absolutely will not tolerate that kind of nonsense.

The answer is yet another airport motel room. I emailed customer service at the Radisson Blu Dublin Airport and discovered that they’re set up to deal with situations like this in a couple of ways. They’ve got what they call Day Rooms that are available from 9am-5pm, or they’ll let a weary traveler rent a room overnight and check in very late (like, say, early the following morning), then check out at 3pm for no extra charge.

I went with option B, which will allow me to stagger/roll out of Customs and Passport Control straight to the free shuttle, straight to my motel room to collapse in an insensible heap.

While I haven’t yet stayed in their motel, so far I’m quite happy with the Radisson Blu customer service folks. They’ve followed up with me and seem intent on making sure I’m taken care of.

The morals of this story:

1. Pay attention to your flight bookings, and try to make your departure and arrival times work for you rather than against you.

2. Flexibility and good problem-solving skills are key for traveling with pain. Be willing to change your plans to make yourself more comfortable.

3. Money helps. A lot.

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I didn't see this kind of bug in my room at Napa Discovery Inn. But then I was only in there for 5 minutes.

I didn’t see this kind of bug in my room at Napa Discovery Inn. But then I was only in there for 5 minutes. Photo by smee_me on flickr

Twice in the last month I’ve found myself in untenable  situations on the road. Both times, I had to change my plans on the fly. It’s tough and expensive to do that. But sometimes it’s necessary, no matter what your ability or pain level.

In short: Sometimes the best way to improve a bad travel experience is to  pack up and go home.

It’ll be up to you to decide when your personal pain/chaos/trouble-meter has pegged in the red zone.

To stop a trip in the middle, or make a major unforeseen change (like changing flights or hotels) usually costs money. Right now, I make good money at my day job. That means I can afford to indulge my pain and panic attacks in a way that I couldn’t back when I was a full-time freelance writer. When I was skating the poverty line, it took a lot more to make me change paid-for travel plans. Nowadays, I’ll suck up lost money to make myself more comfortable.

It’s up to you. It’s always up to you to figure out what’s worth it to deal with, and what’s just not worth it.

Here’s what drove me to make a major change in one case, and to bail in another case.

The Spider-and-Mosquito Motel

Last month I accidentally found what may be the worst motel in the Napa Valley: the Napa Discovery Inn. In a region that’s got about a thousand wonderful motels, inns, B&Bs, spa resorts, etc etc ad infinitum, there’s no reason at all to stay in a place this crappy. Just a few miles north, the Chablis Inn is a clean, comfortable, safe motel that actually costs less than this freakin’ travesty.

What happened

My instincts started ringing bells and popping red flags the instant I pulled into the Napa Discovery Inn’s parking lot. I stared into the dark, exposed parking lot, lit primarily by my truck’s headlights, and thought “my truck’s going to get broken into.”

I went in to the tiny office, not comforted by the “safety window” that lets clerks deal with customers without letting them in to the office. Hint: those are common in Oakland. NOT in Napa.

Though the clerk was friendly, an overwhelming smell of curry (which I’m kind of allergic to) and loud talking from the next room made the check-in experience unpleasant. And the clerk charged my card for my two-night stay then and there. Another no-no.

Room key in hand, I parked my truck in the too-small space in front of the exposed ground-floor room in an attempt to block the window a bit.

The room was small, badly designed, and not overly clean. But what finally did me in/started me into a full-fledged racing-heart panic attack was the bugs. The distinctive whine of mosquitos came from the ceiling. And as I stared, a big red-and-yellow spider sauntered across the night stand next to the bed.

That did it. Standing there alone, feeling unsafe and creeped out, I freaked.

What I did about it

I grabbed my bags, threw them back into the truck, and strode shaking to the office with the keys. A different clerk, male this time, appeared. I told him my room had bugs and I was leaving.

He wanted to give me a different room. I said no. He yelled at me, angry that I wouldn’t “give him a chance.”

Oddly enough, being verbally abused didn’t help my panic attack. I dropped the keys on the desk and fled.

On the way to the Napa Discovery Inn, I’d seen a couple of chain motels. I picked a Hawthorne Inn & Suites that was only a mile or two away. It was after 10pm, I was pale and shaking and felt like crap. I didn’t want to drive around anymore.

Sure enough, the Hawthorne had rooms available. The lobby was clean and nice (and didn’t have a security window). I went on up to my not-on-the-ground floor room after parking my truck in the well-lit lot. Then, and only then, did my heart rate start to diminish.

I’m never going to see that $300 prepay to the Discovery Inn again. Fine. I’ll repay them by panning them on every review site on the Internet. I can afford to suck up the cash loss.

Mini Burning Man

A couple of weekends ago, I went camping with a big group in a horse pasture in California’s arid Central Valley. I do that occasionally–I belong to a re-enactment group* that does camping events on a large scale. It’s tough to find shady campgrounds that can take 500 people, so we cope with the heat.  The whole state experienced an epic windstorm that weekend. Ever been camping in 35 mph winds? Yarg.

What happened

Friday night was charming. I hung out with friends, had a couple of cocktails, and enjoyed the atmosphere. What with one party and another, I didn’t make it to bed until about 2 a.m.

At about 5 a.m., I woke up when my tent hit me in the face. At 6 a.m., I woke up to children screaming. At 8 a.m. the sun had turned my tent into a steam cooker, and I gave the hell up on sleep.

The temperature rose to 90F-plus by 10 a.m. But what killed us was the wind. Also by 10 a.m. it blew constantly, gusting high. People’s tents and sunshades started blowing over, disrupting the day’s activities. Many folks had expensive tents badly damaged. (One friend had her 20-inch-long wrought-iron tent stakes bend.) We were all breathing dust and powdered horse crap.

I found myself enduring three of the main conditions that comprise the reason I don’t go to Burning Man: heat, wind, and dust.

What I did about it

By 2 p.m. my friends and I had had it. (I camped with couple who brought two children under 5 years old to this event.) We packed up and left a full day early. One of my friends drove my truck home, because I was on the verge of collapse. We got home, and I spent the evening huddled on my couch watching TV and basking in the lack of dust-filled air pummeling my skin.

The good news for this incident was that we didn’t lose money on the deal. The fee to attend the event was flat. No hotel or transportation reservations got canceled. And the gas cost the same on Saturday afternoon as it would have on Sunday afternoon. All we lost was a day of camping with friends.

* I’m in the SCA, if you care.

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It’s that time of year again–time for those of us with sweeties, partners, spouses, and so forth to think about doing something Valentines-y. I’ve added a few new tips to this post that talk more about the travel aspect of a Valentines getaway…

Lots of people go on romantic getaways sometime near Valentine’s Day. It’s a great time to take a trip with a loved one with the goal of spending some *ahem* quality time together, whether in a snowy clime or on a sunny beach.

But what if you’re stuck with a menage-a-trois on your Valentines excursion, because you’ve got to drag along that ever-unwelcome companion–chronic pain? When pain’s along for the ride, what can you do to steal that quality time  with your Valentine (with or with out the *ahem*, if you know what I mean)?

Go Someplace Pretty

When my husband and I do the Romantic Weekend Getaway thing, we go someplace beautiful. We prefer the beach (which is gorgeous even in winter), but you can also find hotels and inns with views of mountains, lakes, rivers, forests, deserts…whatever you prefer and whatever’s within an easy drive of your home. Heck, it can even be fun to go to a major city and stay in a downtown hotel with a view of the skyscrapers.

Splurge on a Great Room

Another thing we like to do for our V-Day getaway is spend the extra $$ on a room with a view. Last year we stayed in a room that let me look out over the Monterey Bay…from the bed. In fact, that’s one of my favorite things when I travel–getting a room that’s got something beautiful or interesting for me to look at when I’m lying in bed resting. I have to rest a lot, and if my pain is intrusive on a trip, I may have to spend a lot of my time in bed. Which can suck. But if I’ve got a view from the bed, I can distract myself from the pain just by looking out the window. I know I’m not at home. I’m appreciating a new and different location.

But Make It Close to Home

If you’re planning just an overnight trip on the 14th of February, choose a destination that’s at most an hour’s drive from your home. The “transit” part  is almost always the most pain-creating part of any trip. So keep that part to a minimum. Don’t fly. Don’t drive for hours just to turn around and drive back the next day. Heck, stay in town and try a new B&B, explore your own historic downtown as a tourist, or head for a natural wonder or major tourist attraction you never visit ’cause you live close by.

 

And once you’ve made it to your destination, here’s how to make your trip romantic…

Snuggle

Snuggling can’t be overrated as a way of connecting with your sweetheart. Cuddling, canoodling, and spooning work too.

Enjoy a Romantic Dinner

If going out isn’t going to work, stay in. Bring a picnic with you in a cooler, order room service, call out for pizza. Light a travel candle, kick back, and have Dinner In Bed.

Talk…About Something Else

Make a major effort to talk about something besides your health, doctor’s appointments, current pain, etc. Instead, talk about politics, religion, the weather, the state of the roads…whatever, so long as it gives you and your partner a break from your physical problems.

Take a Bath

Hot water soothes so many things. So take a bath–so much the better if you can afford a room with a two-person jetted tub so you and your partner can take that bath together. (No you don’t have to do anything but bathe!)

Indulge in a Couples Massage

For those with enough money, lots of luxury hotels and a growing number of mid-priced inns and motels offer in-room couples massages. If ever there was a time to indulge, it’s now! (Whenever “now” might be.)

Watch a Movie

Do you and your partner love to MST3K bad movies? Or do you prefer to hold hands and watch epic masterpieces in silence? Bring your favorite DVDs along on your trip and spend some time bonding while being entertained. Lie together on your hotel bed and hold hands. Giggle. Cuddle.

If you’re feeling up to a couple of hours sitting up, head for the nearest movie theater and have a real live two-hour date.

*Ahem* Enjoy Each Other

Yes, like that. Sex releases endorphins. And “sex” can mean a wide range of activities that enhance intimacy and happiness, even if you can’t do it all.

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overleaf_lodge_ocva

Photo (c) OVCA on flickr.com

I broke just about every rule I’ve ever made on this site when I stayed at the Overleaf Lodge and Spa. I was flaky about getting a reservation, so ended up calling to get the room at the Overleaf less than 24 hours before I arrived. I chose the Overleaf based on its convenient and pretty location as described on its own web site, rather than by looking at reviews and analyzing how its amenities would work for my physical needs. And I was Not Well Prepared(tm) for my stay–we had no food, no personal pillow, etc.

Just goes to show that y’all should Do As I Say, Not As I Do. Also, it’s better to be lucky than good. Without further ado, the wonder and joy that is the Overleaf Lodge.

The Basics

The Overleaf Lodge is a big spa hotel on the central Oregon Coast. It’s a newer hotel, built as an eco-lodge, with a lot of attention paid to sustainability programs. (They recycle the used bar soap. I love that!) The Overleaf sits just north of the town of Yachats (pronounced ya-HOTS), Oregon. If you’re not familiar with Oregon geography, be aware that the Overleaf is nowhere near Portland or any major city or airport.

Expect to pay a minimum of $150 for a basic room in the off-season, and $210 in high season. If you need cheaper accommodations, the Overleaf’s sister property the Fireside Motel lives next door and runs far less expensive (especially for the non-view rooms). But this review does NOT include the Fireside.

The Bedroom

Our standard King room was friggin’ huge. There was room to turn a wheelchair, though we were not in an ADA room. The bed was soft and fluffy and comfy–I sank into it upon entering and didn’t re-emerge for more than an hour.

The room has a TV & DVD player, but they don’t overwhelm the space. A small table sat in an alcove of windows looking out over the ocean. Our room was not one of the best view rooms, which meant that we were looking south toward the ocean rather than west toward the ocean. All our windows still looked over the water (which is only about 10 yards from the hotel). We were in the midst of an energetic winter storm, but the well-sealed double-paned windows and sliding glass door kept the room quiet all night long. The surf was a gentle echo.

We had a tiny balcony with plastic chairs and table. Didn’t use it on account of the cold and wind and rain, but in the summer it would have been lovely.

The rooms come with a kitchen area in an interesting open space leading to the sinks and bathroom. This kitchen is especially nice–it’s got a fridge with mini-freezer, microwave, coffee maker, cabinets, counters, and bar sink.

Most/all rooms have gas fireplaces. We found that turning on the gas fireplace for about 90 minutes heated up our room for the duration of our overnight stay. Whatever the Overleaf used for insulation in their walls, I want to buy some for my own house!

There’s free wi-fi in all guest rooms.

Grade: A

The Bathroom

We had double sinks in a nice wide usable area.

The bathroom itself was small, but the tub was deep-ish and comfortable. For a bit more $$, you can get one of the many spa tub rooms. We were being all budget-conscious and one thing the Overleaf ain’t is cheap, so I passed on the spa tub. Sigh. Maybe next time.

Towels were thick and numerous. Robes were comfy. Toilet paper was average.

Grade: B

Food & Drink

Here’s where the Overleaf totally won me over. We got breakfast with our room rate, which my wonderful husband went down and raided, then brought up to me so I could sleep in. They don’t use paper or plastic tableware–it’s all crockery & metal, which I like for its sustainability. The range of continental breakfast options was, in my opinion, well above average. (But you should know that I hate the scary pseudo “fresh waffles” offered at Holiday Inn Express.) All well and good.

Here’s the Awesome: The Overleaf has a small “pantry” in the lobby. This contains the usual sundries some hotels sell–toothbrushes and shampoo and granola bars. But they’ve also got a big freezer filled with microwaveable meals they’re purchasing at Trader Joe’s and reselling. They’ve also got wine, beer, and some shelf-stable food items. Having arrived exhausted at the hotel, and having been dreading the need to drive into town to eat dinner that night, my husband and I were beyond thrilled to see this. And the Overleaf lets guests grab plates and silverware from the breakfast area to take up to rooms to use for meals.

Grade: A

Common Areas

The Overleaf has a big lobby with lots of seating. They’ve got a tiny gift shop area that sits in the middle of the lobby. The hotel is easy enough to navigate. It’s got elevators (always a good thing from my POV).

A downside during winter: It’s cold and windy in the outdoor breezeways–bring a coat if you’ve got to get something out of your car. You can’t get close to most rooms via vehicle.

There’s a DVD library…but it’s a rental library and I found the price to rent a DVD to be stupid-steep. If you want to watch movies in your room, I’d recommend BYO.

Grade: B-

Service

Both on the phone and live in person, I found the majority of the service folks to be very friendly, helpful, and accommodating. The desk staff know the hotel–you can ask them questions and they’ll know the answers.

Grade: A

The Spa

Know that this review is based on looking in on the spa rather than using it. I wish I’d had the chance to enjoy this spa–it looks amazing!

Hotel guests get access to the hydrotherapy areas of the on-site spa–which means the hot tub and warm pool that overlook the ocean. I love this area so much–it evokes some of the wonder of the hot tubs at Esalen, with a more upscale indoor environment. (Also, swimsuits are required.) You also get access to the locker room (of course), which isn’t huge but is gorgeous and has upholstered armchairs for TWP who need to sit down comfortably. The locker rooms also have gender-segregated steam rooms and saunas.

The Overleaf Spa’s menu of treatments includes most of the standards you find at an eco-style spa–less facial peels and more seaweed and mud wraps. For TWP, what I like is the range of hydrotherapy treatments the Overleaf offers. They’ve got a Vichy shower room for their body treatments, plus they do a range of Soaks in individual tubs–these can be added to massages and other treatments for a super-relaxing spa day.

Grade: n/a ’cause I didn’t actually use it

Outside

A paved trail runs between the hotel and the sea. While I’d describe this trail as at best semi-accessible for wheelchair users (paving is old and not there at all in places, in the dirt/gravel areas the ruts can be nasty), it’s reasonably TWP-friendly. It’s a flat, easy walk with immense amounts of beauty all around. Even in the cold and wind, it was worth walking for the staggering sight of the Pacific crashing into the rocks.

There’s no beach to speak of. You’ll have to drive a little or walk a bunch if you want to plop down into the sand or hunt for shells & driftwood.

The Overleaf offers a wide range of outdoor activities to its guests. Ask when you make your reservation, or when you check in, if you want to go hiking or horseback riding or golfing or dune buggying or fishing or etc etc.

Grade: A-

The Bottom Line

The Overleaf Lodge and Spa is a fabulous TWP hotel. Not only would I stay there again, I’d make a point of it.

Grade: A-

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Because a lot of people seem to want to know how to find hotels with Tempur-Pedic(r) beds, I’ve gone out and found some.

*whew*

Gathering these things takes longer than you might imagine. But there will be lots more soon. Check the Pages for more accommodations with Tempur-Pedic beds in more places.

But in the meantime, here are ten California hotels, motels, and inns with Tempur-Pedic mattresses:

Park Tahoe Inn
530-544-6000
South Lake Tahoe, CA
$122.60-$150

All rooms have  Tempur-Pedic beds; some Superior King Rooms have ADA-compliant bathrooms.

Black Bear Inn
209-795-8999
Arnold, CA
$240-$300

All 5 guest rooms have king-sized Tempur-Pedic beds and spa bathtubs.

Coventry Motor Inn
San Francisco, CA
415-567-1200
$90-$187

Not sure how many rooms have Tempur-Pedic  beds; rumor has it that at least some of the King beds have the Tempur-Pedics. Call and ask specifically to be sure to get one. The good news: this is not a high-budget motel (especially for San Francisco), but it’s got good online ratings.

La Serena Inn
Morro Bay, CA
(800) 248-1511
(805) 772-5665
$100-$275/night

At least half the rooms at the La Serena have Tempur-Pedic beds; may all have them by now. But be sure to call for a reservation and ask for a Tempur-Pedic bed. (Can’t do this on the web reservation portal.)

Grass Valley Courtyard Suites
530-272-7696
Grass Valley, CA
$175-$310

All rooms and suites have Tempur-Pedic beds. This hotel also has a full-service day spa and an on-site personal trainer. (I love Grass Valley–Gold Country may be my favorite region in California. Oh, and the Flour Garden bakeries have the best cherry turnovers in the known universe.)

Wydown Hotel
707-963-5100
St. Helena, CA
$308-$375

Unconfirmed. Only info that claims this property has Tempur-Pedic beds comes from 3rd party website.

Stevenswood Spa Resort
800-421-2810
Little River, CA (Mendocino region)
$310-$550

About half the rooms have  King Tempur-Pedic beds; if you look at the individual room types you can figure out which rooms to reserve online, or call and ask for a room with a Tempur-Pedic. As the name implies, there’s an attached spa, which has lots of healing options on the menu.

Best Western Newport Beach Inn
800-523-5549
Newport Beach, CA
$187-$285

Some rooms have Tempur-Pedics; this isn’t emphasized and there’s no way to tell on the web site which these are–you’ve got to call for a room and ask for a Tempur-Pedic room. There’s at least one theoretically ADA compliant room that they seem to be very proud of. No idea if it’s got a Tempur-Pedic or not.

Pierpont Inn Hotel
805-643-6144
Ventura, CA
$111

Unconfirmed. Only info that claims this property has Tempur-Pedic beds comes from 3rd party website.

Tower23 Hotel
Pacific Beach, CA
858-274-2333

Hotel reservation sites claim that all  rooms have Tempur-Pedic beds, and this does seem to be the kind of chic urban resort hotel that can claim tip-top amenities.

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It's important to be comfy when you're sleeping away from home. Which apparently means burying yourself in pillows if you're my friend Daniel.

When I travel, I gotta sleep. There’s no way around it. No matter how many things I want to see, no matter what I want to do, if I don’t get plenty of sleep every single night I might as well stay home.

So I think about sleeping when I plan my trips. When? For how long? On what? Under what? Sleep is a many splendored thing–I need to be comfortable, which means I need to plan pretty carefully.

Dark and Quiet

I need moderate dark and reasonable quiet in order to sleep well.

For me, that means I try to get a room facing away from the street if I’m staying in a big city hotel or highway-facing motor inn.  That helps to keep the noise to a minimum. I also prefer to be about midway down the hallway from the elevator in multi-story accommodations. I like to be able to walk to my room easily, but I don’t love hearing the elevator clank and clang and beep all night.

I always wear earplugs when I sleep, so I don’t need absolute silence in my room.

Lightwise, I want to be able to draw curtains to shut out morning light. Whenever possible, I avoid east-facing rooms. Sunrise and I are not buddies. But I don’t love blackout curtains–they mess up my internal clock. If I get them in my motel room (and if I’m staying in Reno or Vegas, it’s nigh on impossible to avoid them), I make sure not to close them all the way.

Soft and Warm

Unless I’ve got no other choice, I prefer a room with some flavor of central heating rather than a portable space heater. One (often overly) warm spot in an ice-cold room does not work for  me, as I routinely get up more than once per night to use the bathroom.

“Soft” mostly means that I prefer a bed with a newer or specialized mattress. My preference is Tempur-Pedic(tm), but I can’t often afford the kind of room that boasts a top-end bed. Every now and again if I splurge I can afford something with a Sleep Number(tm), which is nice because my husband has different mattress preferences.

What doesn’t work so well for me are the slabs of plywood or concrete that masquerade as mattresses in down-rent Motel 6es and the like. So either I suck it up and budget for a nice enough room to guarantee a decent bed, or I drag my own mattress pad along. (Obviously this is a road-trip strategy.) I’ve got a queen-sized foam mattress pad that comes traveling with me when necessary.

Same goes for blankets–ultra-cheap motels often don’t have heavy enough covers for me, especially in winter. So I bring my own.

My Weary Head

BYO pillow if you want a good night’s sleep on the road. Accept no substitutes.

(I often sleep on hotel pillows so that I can bring their relative comfort to you, my readers. But not at cheap motels anymore. ‘Cause ow.)

Drugs and Other Sleep Aids

Are my friend. Whether I’m currently using melatonin or zolpidem, I bring a trip-long supply and use it regularly. On the road is not the time or place to decide that chemical sleep aids are evil and must be deleted from my repertoire.

Though I don’t use such things, same goes for music, sound generators, TV, aromatherapy, or whatever else you use to help you sleep at home. Bring it with you on your trip to make sure that your sleep environment is as close to what you’ve got at home as you can manage.

Long and Deep

I need to sleep at least 10 hours each night–12 is better when I’m traveling. Yeah, that’s a lot of sleep. That means I’ve either got to go to bed early and forgo whatever night life my destination has to offer, or I’ve got to sleep late in the mornings.

Because I am *ahem* not a morning person, I usually choose to sleep in. This means that I miss things. If you want to see Haleakala without a coating of dense fog, you pretty much have to see it at sunrise. So usually on each major trip I take, if there are cool things to do and see that must be done in the early morning, I’ll pick precisely one of them. I’ll choose one morning to get up early and play, and I’ll suck up the hit to my body and mind.

This can be a bummer sometimes. But if I try to push this limit and do two or three early mornings in one trip, the price I pay gets too high (like I won’t be able to function any more for the duration of the drip and for several days after getting home).

On the other hand, if I pack and plan well, stick to my boundaries, and get that good sleep, I often find that I’m able to do and see more than I might have imagined. Which is just so cool!

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Half Moon Bay California

View of Half Moon Bay from the Ritz-Carlton, where I would one day like to be wealthy enough to patronize for my overnight getaways

Last week, my husband and I went and spent a night in the charming little seaside town of Half Moon Bay, California at the ocean-front Cypress Inn.

This little vacation is exactly the kind of trip I think is perfect for chronic pain patients who haven’t done a lot of traveling with their pain yet, who are celebrating the diminishing of a flare, or who feel like they might be doing well enough to travel. At the moment I’m in category 2.

If you’ve got chronic pain and you can physically get up out of bed and walk around your house, and you can tolerate a car trip of 15-60 minutes, you can take this kind of trip. It may not be pain-free. But if you want to have fun, you can create a lot of fun.

Here’s my step-by-step guide to finding the joy in a one-night near-home getaway:

  1. Choose someplace near home.
    I love Half Moon Bay because it’s less than an hour’s drive from my house, yet it’s got a totally different atmosphere than the one I live in. It’s got a small town feel, complete with kitschy downtown, and it lies along the stunning Northern California coastline. Read here: Beach!I also like taking getaways to the woods, to the mountains, and to small towns with interesting history. I always try to pick someplace with points of interest, places to take slow pleasant walks, unusual or chic restaurants, and a nice inn that’s got comfortable rooms near to the places I want to visit.
  2. Drive out in the mid-afternoon.
    Midafternoon is the perfect time to make my short drive up the freeway and over the mountains. Between 1pm and 3pm, traffic in my major metro area smooths out. Most every hotel, motel, and inn known to man has a check-in time between 3pm-4pm. I timed my drive to get to the Cypress Inn just at check-in time, so I could lie down if I felt tired or achy when I arrived.
  3. Take a walk on the beach.
    I didn’t feel tired or achy, so my husband unloaded our bags into our room, we changed our shoes, and we headed out. The Cypress Inn sits just across the road from the beach. We took a long, shambling stroll. I collected a few shells, including some undamaged sand dollars. I breathed in the ocean air, stared out over the water, petted various dogs who’d taken their owners out for a romp on the sand, and just let myself feel the joy of being someplace beautiful…someplace different.
  4. Rest.
    After beachcombing for an hour, I felt tired. So I laid down on the wide bed and read a book for an hour. My husband and I watched the sun set over the Pacific from the wide windows overlooking the water.
  5. Go out for a nice dinner.
    Before we left home, I’d made reservations at Cetrella–a fancy California cuisine restaurant in downtown Half Moon Bay. I love dining out, especially when I’m traveling. Cetrella has a special $25 prix-fixe menu they serve Tues-Thurs. We took advantage of that discount and enjoyed a charming meal with a glass of wine. The restaurant is only 10-15 minutes from the Inn, so if I’d had physical trouble we could have gotten me back to the room quickly.Though it wasn’t strictly necessary, my husband and I dressed up some for dinner. I wore dress pants and boots rather than a dress and heels–walking in heels tends to cause me pain, and the cold weather would have added pain if I’d chosen a dress. But it’s still great fun to dress up, add some jewelry and makeup to my outfit. It makes the meal a special event, and that much more fun.
  6. Take a bath.
    Especially in chilly weather, baths ease my aches and pains while relaxing my muscles and soothing my skin. Knowing this, my fabulous husband reserved us a room with an oversized spa tub. We made use of it. ‘Nuff said.
  7. Enjoy the hotel room.
    All through our short stay, I enjoyed the amenities of the room at the Cypress Inn we’d saved up to be able to afford and of the Inn itself. The bathtub, of course, the comfy bed, the wide flat-screen TV with cable, the in-house Esalen-trained massage therapist, the wine and cheese in the evening, the room-service breakfast in the morning.
  8. Sleep.
    I can’t do without lots of sleep each night. So I put in my earplugs, locked the door and put out the Do Not Disturb sign, pulled the drapes, and slept.
  9. Eat breakfast in bed.
    The innkeeper delivers breakfast trays to guests who don’t want to appear in the dining room in the morning. So we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast in bed.
  10. Check out at the latest possible check-0ut time.
    No point in bolting out of the room at 7 am–this was a vacation! So we packed up, husband loaded the car, and we checked out at 11:30 am.
  11. Shop downtown.
    I love shopping, and my husband gamely tolerates shopping. Shopping is another way to get in a stroll while seeing new things. Most downtown areas have benches if I need to sit down, there’s usually someplace that’s selling bottled water and coffee, and being a customer means the sales staff will let me use the restrooms.
  12. Have a light lunch at a cute bakery.
    Eating’s important. So we did.
  13. Drive home.
    In the early afternoon, we drove home. I have a tough time making it through a whole day without lying down to rest at least once in the afternoon. We went home so I could do that.
  14. Rest.
    We got home and I laid down and rested.

Totally successful trip! Try it yourself when you get a chance.

 

Photo (c) radzfoto on flickr

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