Beaverstock is an annual festival hosted by Castoro Cellars in Templeton, CA, to support the Templeton Education Foundation. Castoro Cellars was a founding cellar in the Paso Robles wine region, and we've been visiting Paso for years, but this was our 1st time at Beaverstock. It's a wonderfully organized, inexpensive, eco-conscious festival with activities for everyone. The emphasis is on the music festival, which features cult faves from a variety of formats - rock, bluegrass, alternative/folk, and latin. Headlining this year: WAR!!! But it isn't only a 2-day music festival. There were also 2 days of yoga, art, and some kid activities. I'd describe it as "music festival and mini-Bhakti-fest".
They also know what they're doing at Beaverstock. They avoid typical fest pitfalls with plenty of well-stocked & cleaned toilets (I never had to wait!); enough handwash stations (they never ran out of handwash water!); free water fill-up stations; always-working misters; shade & rest areas; lots of food selections; and a huge beer/cider/wine/sangria station, with options to buy 24oz sports drink bottles filled with poison of choice. A well-run festival at an extremely reasonable price for a good cause!
Pelletierre Estate is one of the best lodging properties in Paso Robles. If you seek a lovely, quiet place to stay and would like to be immersed in a lush vineyard environment, consider a few days here.
Pelletierre Estate is first of all a boutique winery, and a very good one. It's worth a stop at just their well-appointed tasting room to meet owner Janis Pelletierre, who will personally present some of the best wines in Paso Robles. Her excellent Lagrein Varietal is offered nowhere else in Paso.
There are two lodgings on the property: the 1 bedroom Cottage, and the 2 bedroom Farmhouse. We stayed in the Cottage, which has a full kitchen, a pellet fireplace, and a lovely furnished side porch. This is separated from the vineyard by just a few feet. Great, great view! We had enough time in our schedule to go absolutely nowhere on a Saturday, and just enjoy our wine and the gracious environment created by Janis. We stayed five days, and are leaving reluctantly.
El Fuego de la Vida performed for a small gathering of 6th grade young ladies and parents. They amazed us all with their double-staff dancing, fire breathing, and flaming (juggling) clubs. After the dancing, the 6th graders and one adult (not me) got in on the action with LED Poi. With just a little guidance, the troupe had some middle-school-aged girls surprising themselves with how talented they already were!
This was a fabulous performance, and at all times, safety protocols were clearly being observed. The 6th grade girls present had an opportunity to see courageous and strong women in action, and got to explore their own coordination and strength. Afterward, the troupe members said that they had never had so much fun performing. This is an experience we'll all remember fondly.
The first time Dr. Song and his staff helped my family was several years ago, when he helped put my daughter's pet rat out of pain. I was amazed that he took so much care with the small creature, sedating her first, then administering the final injection, and otherwise demonstrating great compassion for our pet. His office followed up with a card that had her footprints. It meant so much to us!
Since then, we've taken all our pets to Dr. Song for health care. Today, we took in our 17-year-old kitty, who's had health issues in the last year and seemed to be in pain. We determined that it was time to send her on her final journey. Dr. Song and his staff again showed a great degree of care and support for our entire family, even bringing in soft music. It's hard to say goodbye to such a wonderful cat but Dr. Song and his staff helped make it easier.
Spin and Margies's... Our little desert getaway. We've been staying here a couple of times a year since 2012. There are five suites, and we've stayed in every one except #2, the Mojave Wanderer.
Suite #5 is the smallest suite, positioned south of the other suites, and offers the most privacy. It has a coffee maker and small refrigerator but no cooking appliances. It has a small enclosed courtyard with a westward-facing side bordering the undeveloped adjacent property, great for privately viewing sunsets.
All other suites have fully equipped kitchenettes. A gas grill is available. There's a main courtyard with tables and chairs shared by suites 1 - 4. Suites 1, 3, and 4 additionally have separate enclosed courtyard areas.
Suite #4 is unconnected to other suites. Its main unique feature is its large bathroom with a deep bathtub.
Suite #1 is the largest suite, nice if you prefer "roomier" rooms, or if you want an additional room. It does have a smallish shower. It's acceptably sized, but not built for two.
Suite #3 is smaller than suite #1, but it's my new favorite because of its separate, very large, kitschy courtyard with plenty of outdoor furniture, burbling fountain, cactus garden border, and cement animal friends.
The first time we stayed at Spin and Margie's, Mr. Dawn and I immediately wanted to stay put and enjoy the quiet grounds and eclectic decor. So now we always bring food, cocktail supplies, and plenty of ice. The entire place seems like an art installation, and there are plenty of great locations to have a quiet sit. Each suite has a unique decor with a southwestern mood, punctuated with flea market finds and industrial overtones. Sheet metal in interior decorating? Yes, please! There's no place else like it, except my place after I remodel.
O-Bar-O is a lovely hidden gem in Durango, Colorado. If you like uncrowded, unconventional lodging WITH creature comforts, not too far from town, this just might be the place for you.
O-Bar-O is PET FRIENDLY. This is not a major selling point for us, but "pet friendly" is a growing market, and it's worth mentioning. The larger cabins have small gated areas. There are some friendly kitties-in-residence on the property, though I doubt anybody, or their dog(s), will intimidate them.
Owner-Managers Mike and Maria are onsite most of the day. They are very helpful and personable. If you leave your fly fishing equipment at home, Mike has some available for use in the catch-and-release stream. A really good selection of DVDs is available to borrow. Just about anything else you need: let them know. They'll either get it for you or tell you the best place to get it.
We reserved Bird's Nest, their smallest cabin. Without kids or pets, it was perfect! We sometimes value the "alone at last" factor over room service, so an equipped kitchen and adequate refrigerator storage was important. One potential hassle factor for such a venture can be stopping for groceries on the drive in from California. O-Bar-O Cabins has a perfect solution in their reasonably priced "Fill the Fridge" packages. We requested Breakfast Basics to be in-place (already in the fridge) upon our arrival, and Grill Master Junior, to be placed in our refrigerator day #3. Along with the wine and soda we brought, these two packages made all of our breakfasts, some of our lunches, and a couple of dinners. Of course we enjoyed some of Durango's local cuisine, but because we enjoyed most of our meals on the property, we had more time to enjoy the hot tub, fishing, and some quality time together in an idyllic mountain setting.
We can't wait to go back for either a late spring or an autumn trip.
Mr. Dawn and I dropped in at the last minute to see the evenings final showing of The Imitation Game. During an acceptable break in the drama, I left in search of refreshments. They have a lovely wine and beer bar with American Songbook background music. Very grownup! A gracious young man, Daniel, attended. They had six beers on tap and about as many nice wines. I selected a 2011 Stag's Leap Merlot for Mr. Dawn, $17.50 for a six oz. glass. This is on the higher end of wine bar prices, but not completely out of line for Stag's Leap. I think consumers would do well to remember that this is a bar in a movie theater, and presume a markup along the lines of the soda, popcorn, and candy selections at the regular snack bar.
I can't remember having a nicer time at a movie, and it wasn't just the drinks. Seats: very comfy. Fellow movie goers: well-behaved (though perhaps it was the movie selection). Theater staff: almost deferential. I generally dislike the movie theater experience so much that I wait for almost all movies to come out on cable. I might go more often to this theater.
The view from your room, no kidding, really, really, looks like a darned postcard. They have in-room refrigerators, and there is NO alcohol onsite. So. Bring. Your. Own. Vino! That way, you can enjoy wine on your balcony while reflecting on the view and saying every few minutes what will gradually become a running joke: "That looks like a freakin postcard!" But it will be absolutely true.
If you get there before 5pm, you will pay $20 to get in. It does not matter if you are a hotel guest. If you are a hotel guest, and you leave, you will pay $20 to get BACK in. If you go on a guided jeep tour, YOU will still pay to get your tour guide's jeep back in. It just IS, okay?
For accommodations, it's no better than a 3 star, and only because it has an onsite restaurant and gift shop and small fitness center. But you are RIGHT THERE! There's no comparison with some other National Park where you have to hike, drive, donkey ride, rock climb, or kayak to whatever the park is famous for.
Hike? Sure, you can. YOU can. The monuments are in really good CAMERA distance. There's a lotta desert between you and putting your hand on that big rock.
Drive? Sure. They keep saying they're gonna fix the road. But there's so much YOU can't get to, because you aren't a native Navajo tour guide.
Do this: budget for a driving tour (plus driver tip!!!) in an ENCLOSED vehicle WITH seat belts! Don't be this guy: "Ooh, let's save money and be one with nature! We'll go on one of those open air jeeps!" Haha! Monument Valley is in really fine, red, Sedona-like sand. Everyone on the open-air jeep tours ended up with big bandanas on their faces looking REALLY miserable! We went with Sacred Monument Jeep Tours (monumentvalley.net). We took the 4 hour Cultural Landscape Hidden Verses Jeep Tour. In an ENCLOSED truck. WORTH. IT. Worth the price twice! Yes, we stopped for jewelry & trinket & snack sales. Yes, we stopped at a cultural exhibit that expected a donation. (These are reasons you need cash. Another reason is for cash tips.) We also got into back country trails off limits to non-Navajos. We got to walk right up to petroglyphs and rock formations with minimal hiking. We heard ongoing descriptions of nature, history, and culture. By the last 30 minutes of the tour, we were tired out from our whirlwind tour and knew almost everything about Monument Valley! Oh, okay - we knew MORE about it, felt greatly enriched, and needed a nap! You're not going to get all this done in even a two day stay by yourself.
The View always seems to be booked online. Calling (in case of last minute cancellations) seems to be the best way to get a reservation. Second floor, far away from the visitor center, seems to be ideal.
Five Vines Wine Bar is one of our favorites. Owner Suzy and family have created a wonderfully cozy space. It feels like someone's super-cool custom basement living room/wine cellar - and you're invited to drop in anytime.
They have great Happy Hour specials on wine AND beer, with generous pours. There's a variety of wine flights to choose from, or you may create your own flight. The wine menu is incredibly varied, with many price points represented. They have beer, ale, and sometimes mead on tap, and several other bottled brands available.
Their food menu has a lovely variety of charcuterie, chocolate, and small plates.
Wine, beer, yummy food, cozy space, wonderful people: There's something for everyone (over 21) at Five Vines.
I've gone to this Chevron for years and use it almost exclusively, partly because it's conveniently en route to a close SB I5 fwy onramp. Their car wash is usually in operation. Other equipment that I've seen chronically out of order at other stations (not necessarily Chevrons) is usually in working order, such as air/water or gas pump ATM pay stations. The owner and all workers have always been courteous and friendly. They'll continue to have my business.