Entries in ‘Arizona’ Journal

Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown’s 2012 Year in Review – What a Trip

Friday December 28, 2012 at 5:05 AM | 4 Comments

"Nancy D. Brown Rancho de los Caballeros"

Nancy riding Gonzo on her birthday at Rancho de los Caballeros, Wickenburg, AZ

It’s always a good idea to take the planning of your birthday celebration into your own hands. Last year, I took a foodie tour of San Francisco and this year I booked myself a solo getaway with sunshine and horseback riding at Rancho de los Caballeros in Wickenburg, Arizona.

This travel writer played tourist in San Francisco with an overnight stay at the Sir Francis Drake during the annual Fancy Food Show.


To Alisal Guest Ranch for horseback riding and a visit to California’s storybook town of Solvang.

February is Mardi Gras time in the South. This was not only my first time to celebrate Mardi Gras –  be a part of a krewe, throw beads and ride on a float – it was also my first time visiting the Mississippi Gulf Coast.


Road trip to Carmel, California and the Hofsas House in early March. Then onto Healdsburg for an overnight at Hotel Les Mars and horseback riding through the Sonoma county vineyards of Chalk Hill Estate.

I flew an airplane, and not just any plane, I piloted a Cirrus SR-22 for the first time with the Learn to Fly program. What a trip!

Vegas bound to dine with Chef Pierre at the Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas in Nevada.


My first time to San Antonio, Texas to celebrate Fiesta San Antonio, cruise along the famous river walk  and see the Mission Walk trail, connecting bikers, joggers and walkers on this landscaped, historic trail. While I didn’t have time for horseback riding in Texas, I watched my first Charreada in San Antonio.

"Everett Ridge"

Travel California’s Wine Road of Northern Sonoma County to Everett Ridge.


I traveled California’s Wine Road of Northern Sonoma County on a blogger retreat in early May and then ventured over to Napa for the expansion of Meritage Resort & Spa. They have an underground spa that is out of this world.

I journeyed to Debeque, Colorado, near Grand Junction, for a week of hanging with cowboys and horseback riding at the High Lonesome Ranch. I also experienced my first cattle drive while on the back of a horse. Giddy up!


Once again, I purchased my ticket to TBEX, the Travel Blog Exchange annual conference. And once again, the dates conflicted with another writing assignment. No way was I going to pass up a trip to Toulouse, France and the Midi-Pyrenees region. I drank and dined my way through Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle thanks to the French Tourism Board.


I drove California’s Sonoma Coast in my Mini Cooper, hugging scenic Highway One until I reached Timber Cove Inn,  located in Jenner, California. Timber Cove is undergoing a room-by-room, large scale renovation. I’ll be anxious to see the end result of the remodel.


Some people walk the historic el Camino de Santiago, our family takes a yearly pilgrimage to Sunriver Resort in central Oregon. While others may not consider a family vacation as spiritual, or a time for inner reflection; I beg to differ. Our yearly vacation is a rare moment in time when everyone clears their busy schedules and makes time for down time. Time to float the Deschutes River rapids with friends; time to go horseback riding, and, time for my Oregon-born husband to re-connect with his outdoor-oriented roots.


I flew non-stop from San Francisco International Airport to Palm Springs, California. This was my first time to discover the Hollywood desert playground of the rich and famous. Next stop, a road trip to Temecula Valley Winegrowers to experience Southern California’s CRUSH.

"Spa Natur'Eau"

Spa Natur’Eau, Quebec, Canada


I flew into Montreal and enjoyed a visual experience at the Botanical Gardens, along with a city tour. Then onto Quebec, Canada in the fall for a spa trip to experience Nordic Baths and overnights at fabulous country inns.


After many years of dealing with a failing hip, I made the decision to undergo total hip replacement surgery. You’ll see from this post that it took me quite awhile to come to terms with this decision. While my surgeon said no to horseback riding in Mexico, I was fortunate to be invited to Secrets Vallarta Bay in Puerto Vallarta for one last hotel review prior to surgery.


My travel wings were clipped the month of December due to my left hip replacement surgery. However,  I had a chance to speak with some cowboys and cowgirls who had experience recovering from joint replacement surgery and broken bones and were now back in the saddle.

What are you grateful for this year? Have you traveled somewhere special or made plans for travel in 2013.  I’d love to hear what travel plans are in store for you.

Related Post:

Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown’s 2011 Year in Review

Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown’s 2010 Year in Review


Fund Wells for Clean Water, Win Travel, Passports with Purpose 2012

Tuesday November 27, 2012 at 11:11 PM | 1 Comment


"Pacific Ocean sunset"

Wake up to the sounds of the Pacific Ocean at Timber Cove Inn, Jenner, California

Want to know what it’s like to wake up to the sounds of the Pacific Ocean in Northern California? Perhaps you’d prefer to go horseback riding in Wickenburg, Arizona, followed by a dip in the swimming pool and massage in the afternoon?

Imagine if you had a chance at either of these prizes for only $10 bucks?  That’s right – $10 dollars. Last year someone won my prize of a three night/four-day junior suite with ocean view for two at Secrets Marquis Los Cabos for $10.  On my equestrian blog, a lucky winner spent $10 on a Passports with Purpose donation and won a trip to Echo Valley Ranch in Canada for three nights/four days.

With your $10 donation, you could be kayaking on the Pacific Ocean in Jenner, California and kicking back at Timber Cover Inn or horseback riding at Rancho de los Caballeros in Wickenburg, Arizona. These are just two of  the travel prizes up for grabs at this year’s Passports with Purpose.

Passports with Purpose is celebrating their fifth year of fund-raising for a cause. I’m pleased to say that this travel blogger has supported Passports with Purpose from the start and I continue to be involved in 2012.

Last year we raised $90,000 for Room to Read and built two libraries in Africa.

This year, more than 150 travel bloggers from around the world will participate in Passports with Purpose 2012.

Together with your support, the money will fund wells in two communities in rural Haiti, providing much-needed clean water.

Passport with Purpose Prizes

To see a list of prizes on the Passports With Purpose website check here. Each donated prize will link back to a full description of the prizes on the blogger’s website.

Your purchase of a $10 raffle ticket will help support Passports with Purpose and ultimately supply clean drinking water in Haiti on behalf of Water.org. For each $10 in donations that you make to Passports with Purpose, you will be entered to win a prize (or prizes) of your choice. The fundraiser begins on November 27th and closes on December 11, 2012. All proceeds go directly to Water.org.

"Timber Cove Inn"

With your Passports with Purpose donation, you could be at Timber Cove Inn, Jenner, California

Timber Cove Inn

Timber Cove Inn, located on coastal highway CA-1, fourteen miles north of Jenner, California, is donating a two night stay in a Cove View room (breakfast included) with a bottle of Hirsch Vineyards “Timber Cove Cuvee” Pinot Noir and two complimentary tasting flights at the nearby Fort Ross Vineyard tasting room located on Meyer’s Grade road.  The suggested retail value of this Timber Cove Inn package is $650. Thank you Timber Cove Inn  for your generous donation.  Read my review of Timber Cove Inn here.

Rancho de los Caballeros

Rancho de los Caballeros, located in Wickenburg, Arizona, is donating a three night stay, with meals and daily horseback riding in one of their Maricopa Suites. The suggested retail value of this Rancho de los Caballeros package is $1,900.00, not including tax and gratuity.  Read my review of Rancho de los Caballeros here.

Article written by Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown of What a Trip

Related Posts:

Build a Library, Win Travel, Passports with Purpose 2011

Passports with Purpose 2010

Passports with Purpose 2009


Luxury and Comfort at the Westin Kierland Resort in Scottsdale, Arizona

Wednesday May 9, 2012 at 1:01 PM | 1 Comment

The Westin Kierland Resort

The Golf Course at the Westin Kierland Resort Scottsdale

Scottsdale, Arizona is full of luxury resorts, so it’s difficult to know exactly which resorts are the best to stay in.  When I travel alone, or with my family, I’m essentially looking for the same things – deluxe amenities, a comfortable room, and fabulous service.  On our recent family vacation to Scottsdale, Arizona, we stayed at the Westin Kierland Resort, and loved the entire experience.

The Westin Kierland Resort offers a conference center and a golf course, but is also extremely family friendly.  The experience starts when kids check in at the Kierland Mining Company to learn all about the wonderful activities available to kids.  They also receive a “passport” which offers a scavenger hunt to be completed around the resort.  My kids were signed up for the kid’s pajama party (while we dined at the onsite deseo) and the Kids in the Kitchen program and they really enjoyed both of them.

Room at Westin Kierland Resort

Our Room at the Westin Kierland

As you’d probably expect, the rooms at the Westin Kierland Resort are extremely comfortable and feature the Heavenly Bed and Heavenly Shower.  They are also spacious and offer some beautiful views of Scottsdale.  But with all of the wonderful amenities available, you won’t want to spend too much time in your room.  There’s a family pool with a lazy river, as well as an adult pool.  In addition, there’s a spa, a fitness center, and a golf course onsite.

Insider Tip for the Westin Kierland Resort:

The kids activities, especially the Kids in the Kitchen program, fill up in advance so book them before your vacation.

The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa
6902 East Greenway Parkway
Scottsdale, Arizona 85254
(480) 624-1000

This is a guest post by Jodi Grundig of Family Travel Magazine. Photos are courtesy of Jodi Grundig. Follow Jodi on Twitter.  This hotel stay was provided at no cost for purposes of review.

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