Entries in ‘California’ Journal

Morro Bay Lodging, Los Osos, California Central Coast

Wednesday December 10, 2014 at 7:07 AM | 2 Comments

Everything about the bayside community of Los Osos and Baywood Park is off the beaten track. If you like stepping off the tourist path and being surrounded in nature, I have a secret to share with you. Her name is The Green Cottage and she is a charming little gem. In fact, she reminds me of a treasured piece of sea glass. Worn by the waves, recycled by the sea, this immaculate guest house, built around 1920, is a family treasure filled with antiques, nautical-themed art and heart.
 

Morro Bay, Green Cottage, Los Osos

Morro Bay from Green Cottage, Los Osos. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown

 
Perched on the southern tidal estuary of Morro Bay, The Green Cottage has been in Pandora Nash Karner’s family since the 1950’s. Pandora has thought of everything to make this vacation rental feel like home.

“We try to make our guests feel like they are staying at their favorite aunt’s cottage while she is away on some exotic sailboat cruise in the South Seas,” say Green Cottage owner Pandora Nash Karner with a grin.

 

 
The Morro Bay and Morro Rock views are lovely, the quiet profound, and the birding is spectacular for Audubon afficionados, as well as the casual shore bird watcher.

After a day of exploring Montaña de Oro State Park, walking El Moro Elfin Forest’s boardwalk loop and wandering the nearby Audubon Sweet Springs Nature Preserve, I was looking forward to a restful sleep in the king size bed in the cottage.
 

Green Cottage, Morro Bay, California

Take a peek inside this Morro Bay cottage. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown

 

Green Cottage, quilt

Pandora made this quilt! Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown


 

Switching on the electric fireplace, I plopped on the couch and opened the binder to review the over 400 DVD selection. You won’t find TV’s or telephones at the cottage – this place is all about re-connecting with nature (and your partner) but there is WiFi in the cottage and a desk in the quiet room if that’s important to you.
 

Green Cottage, Morro Bay, California

Quiet room photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown


 
Green Cottage kitchen, Los Osos, California

Breakfast by the bay. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown


 
My morning started with fresh ground SLO Roasted coffee from San Luis Obispo, a basket of fresh fruit and yogurt left for me in the fridge, as well as a large selection of tea. If you plan to cook in the cottage, there is a petite kitchen garden on the deck, spices and pans in the pantry, a dishwasher, stove and a microwave oven, too.

 
The rental fee for 2 nights is $490.00 with a two night minimum, in addition to a $100.00 cleaning fee and $250.00 refundable security deposit. San Luis Obispo County charges an 11% tax ($64.90).

Insider Tip

If you find yourself in Los Osos on Monday, there is a friendly Farmers’ Market in Baywood Park. It’s a 15 minute walk or 3 minute drive from the cottage. Open from 2:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m., the market is located between Santa Maria Street and 2nd Street. There are cloth market bags in the pantry.

For additional insider tips follow Luxury Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown on Twitter.
 

Green Cottage, Morro Bay, California

Green Cottage photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown

If You Go:

The Green Cottage (805) 528-1718
356 Mitchell Drive
Los Osos, California 93422
 

You might also like Things to do in Los Osos. Article written by, video and photos courtesy of Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown of What a Trip, Travels from Northern California. I was a guest of The Green Cottage. As always, all opinions are my own.

Review: Embassy Suites Napa Valley

Friday December 5, 2014 at 7:07 AM | 1 Comment

Back in the day (we’re talking late 1980’s) downtown Napa was not the happening spot that it is today. My husband and I lived in the apartments next to Embassy Suites Napa Valley and would walk over to order their killer cheese bread. The bread is long gone from the Napa Valley menu – it was probably called killer cheese bread due to the artery-clogging goodness – and along with the updated healthy menu items comes a $4 million+ re-model of the entire hotel.
 

"Embassy Suites Napa Valley", hotel review

Embassy Suites hotel review. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown


 

What I like about this property; the all-suite hotel is conveniently located in downtown Napa, so if you want to do Napa like a local, you’ll be able to walk, dine and drink without driving. You’ll need your car to explore further up valley, but if Napa is your focus, the hotel is right next to Highway 29 – the first downtown Napa exit. Additionally, as a business traveler, I love the free, fast wifi! Good water pressure in the shower of this well lighted bathroom, too. FYI, no bath tub, but there is an indoor and outdoor swimming pool, as well as a small fitness center.

 

 

The 205 room hotel is pet-friendly and charges a one time $75 pet fee. Dogs receive a goodie bag upon arrival! All rooms are suites with king or double bed options and include a desk and sleeper sofa in the front suite. The updated rooms include plenty of electrical outlets for charging your electronics. If you are a light sleeper, I recommend requesting a third floor location. My neighbors above me were walking around until 11:30 p.m. and up early the next morning.
 

"Embassy Suites Napa Valley" swans, hotel, "Embassy Suites"

Swans in the hotel courtyard. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown


 
"Embassy Suites Napa Valley", hotel, pool

Outdoor pool. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown


 
"Embassy Suites Napa Valley", swimming pool

Indoor pool & hot tub. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown


 
In addition to a complimentary cooked-to-order breakfast, guests are welcomed to a complimentary reception for evening cocktails served nightly from 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. Breakfast is served in the atrium Monday – Friday from 6:30 a.m. – 9:30 a.m., Saturday and Sunday from 7:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.
 
"Embassy Suites", "Napa Valley", breakfast

Cooked to order breakfast at Embassy Suites. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown


 
"Embassy Suites Napa Valley", atrium

Cocktails served nightly in the atrium. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown


 
Insider Tip
In addition to being pet-friendly, Embassy Suites has lovely grounds with water features, fountains, ducks and swans. If you are traveling with kids, the birds are fed in the morning for good viewing. See if you can spot the black swans!

For additional insider tips follow Northern California Travel Writer @Nancydbrown on Twitter.
 

"Embassy Suites" suite, "Napa Valley"

King Suite Pool View. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown


 
Check-In Time: 4:00pm

Check-Out Time: 12:00pm

If You Go:
Embassy Suites Napa Valley (800) Embassy or (707) 253-9540
1075 California Boulevard
Napa, California 94559

Hotel review, video and photos courtesy of Lodging Editor Nancy D. Brown. I was a guest of Embassy Suites while researching an article for another publication.

Book Review: Wild

Thursday December 4, 2014 at 7:07 AM | 0 Comments

We’ve all heard the phrase, “don’t judge a man until you’ve walked a mile in his shoes.” The same could be said of author Cheryl Strayed, only the phrase would read, “don’t judge a woman until you’ve walked 1,100 miles along the Pacific Crest Trail in her boots.”
 
Cheryl Strayed has been called many things – gutsy, brave, stupid, drug addict and writer are among some of the titles. In the true story Wild, the Portland-based author takes to the Pacific Crest Trail like an Oregon duck out of water. She squawks, waddles and rolls her way through California, Oregon and eventually makes it to Washington State and the Bridge of the Gods in her search to heal her broken soul and make herself whole again after the death of her mother and the end of her marriage.
 

Reese Witherspoon, Cheryl Strayed, Wild

Reese Witherspoon hikes in Cheryl Strayed’s boots in ‘Wild.’ (Anne Marie Fox/Fox Searchlight Pictures)


 
While I have never walked the Pacific Crest Trail myself or lugged a monster of a backpack – I prefer the comfort of a soft mattress and high thread count – I did enjoy reading Wild and learning more about the trail and its history. The Mexico to Canada trail wasn’t designated until 1968 and was completed in 1993. I imagine the PCT will increase in popularity when the movie Wild hits theaters.

The book and movie will appeal to travelers and explorers for its stark and scenic beauty. As Strayed points out, “the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada is entirely different. A landscape so desolate it seemed out of this earth. I was a pebble. I was a leaf. I was the jagged branch of a tree.”

Strayed bypassed the High Sierra – missing Sequoia and Kings Canyon and Yosemite national parks, Tuolumne Meadows and the John Muir and Desolation wildernesses, but hiked many miles in the Sierra Nevada – what Muir called the Range of Light – before entering the Cascade Range. Personally, I have ridden some of these locations on horseback.

Like Strayed’s mother, horses are my religion. I do anything I can to ride them. Horse lovers be warned that there is a difficult section in the book about the death of a beloved horse.
 

Mt Hood, Oregon

Mt. Hood as seen from the Columbia Gorge. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown


 
Another favorite location that Strayed and I share is Oregon’s Three Sisters-South, Middle and North, as well as Mount Hood. Central Oregon and Washington’s Columbia Gorge are great places for horseback riding vacations.

 

 

Reese Witherspoon, Wild, movie

Reese Witherspoon by Pacific Crest Trail in Wild, the movie. (Anne Marie Fox/Fox Searchlight Pictures)


 
Wild walk on Pacific Crest Trail
Whether you read the book or watch the movie, you’ll appreciate Strayed’s ability to tell a story – both wild and raw. Indeed, Wild is a fast-paced, thrilling and rocky walk along the Pacific Crest Trail.
 
“We all have the power to heal ourselves,” said Bruna Papandra, producer ‘Wild.’
 
Insider tip

Like Cheryl Strayed upon completing her walk on the Pacific Crest Trail, you too can touch the Bridge of the Gods, or drive across the toll bridge that crosses the Columbia River at the Oregon-Washington border. If you make it there, stay at Skamania Lodge – much preferred over a tent pitched on the ground by the trail.

Have you read the book or seen the movie? What did you think? For additional insider tips follow Luxury Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown on Twitter @nancydbrown and follow @CherylStrayed on Twitter.
 
Wild, book review, Cheryl Strayed
 
Where to Buy:
Wild

Article written by Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown of What a Trip, Travels from Northern California. I purchased the book Wild From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail for review purposes and because I enjoy reading books that I can hold in my hands.