What do Iraq, Rice Pudding, Mountaineering, and a Streetcar have in Common?

They are all found in Ashland, Oregon... at least, they were when we were there!

We like whimsy. We love innovation toward community flourishing. We also adore unique lodging opportunities! So, when we discovered an ability to spend the night in a streetcar in someone's backyard, we joyously rode the rails of our delights to Ashland, Oregon and A Streetcar Named Inspire.

Melissa Orion is the heart and brains behind this lovely streetcar. After remodeling it and using it for years as a food cart in Portland, Oregon, Melissa relocated to Ashland and launched a non-profit organization centered around serving the community and the world via kids' camps, programs, and renting the streetcar for events.

One can also stay the night in the streetcar. If additional rooms are needed, there are rooms to rent in the adjacent, big, Victorian house. We traveled with Neel's brother and mom; and they enjoyed their stay in the house. The main downside of the streetcar for lodging is the absence of a bathroom. Ergo, one must make a three minute walk to the house for bathroom use. That's minor compared to the fantastical nature of the streetcar though.

We found the experience sublime. The details on the streetcar are impeccably artful and beautiful. From the pillows, which are prints of Melissa's artwork, to the joyful stained glass windows, to the tiny electric faux wood burning stove, to the letters "I N S P I R E" welded into the outer awning's skeleton, the place is alive with wonder. Melissa's hopeful heart toward making the world more shiny and ignited is catching. We left with fresh inspiration, radiant like the window panes. 

"Inspiration" was a theme for the weekend.

My husband relishes running. One of his main running muses is an ultra-runner named Rich Roll. Neel often listens to his podcast. A while back, Rich interviewed Conrad Anker, extreme mountain climber and captain of the The North Face Athlete Team. Conrad was part of a team which made an ascent in May of 2011 of the Shark's Fin on 20,700-foot Mount Meru. This is what the film, "Meru" is about.

The lovely folks at Meru gave us media passes to the showing; and so, we went.

Again, inspiration awaited. Through the rich narrative, the heart tugs, the awe-provoking mountain views, the film takes one's soul on a journey of continually redefining possibility. For us, this is the stuff of life. This is the grit of glory, dreams, and resolve which daily nips at our heels. The film was absolutely wonderful.

Watch the trailer below and figure out how/when/where to see this epic, roaring adventure.

MERU-ving on... we found further inspiration in food! We drifted down Ashland's Main Street and into Pangea, a charming cafe which successfully embodies our food philosophies: nourishment, creativity, kindness to earth and people, and tastiness! Plus, they have ample vegan and gluten-free options! Places like this captivate us.

We were particularly awed by two things: a Lemon Basil Cookie and Coconut Ginger Rice Pudding (both vegan and gluten free).

The lemon basil cookie enchants. The lemon tantalizes one's tastebuds to a fuller awakening; and then the basil reminds you of calm, nature, and refreshing. To have all of that ensconced in a a soft, but slightly crispy on the outside cookie (big enough for a 2+ people to share) is positively delightful!

As for the rice pudding, my husband Neel is Indian-American and rice pudding was a prominent part of his childhood. He's a bit of a rice pudding aficionado. He also LOVES ginger. However, it is rare to find vegan rice pudding; and so he was immediately smitten with the very successful carryout of these flavors and attributes in one, sweet (agave sweetened) dish. The pudding was cool, smooth, and yet quite enlivening. If a baby was born in an enchanted forest, this would be said baby's first dessert.

Again, we took in deep inspiration. Our time at Pangea reminded us of the difference a small group of people can make when working toward a unique, somewhat counter-cultural, innovative vision.

Beyond Pangea, our inspiration train brought us to the world-renowned Oregon Shakespeare Festival. There we were joined by my former intern, Susan. At the time, Susan was overseeing Hope Iraq, a movement I started 5 years ago prior to my trip to Baghdad with Canon Andrew White. I've been passionate about the Middle East for 20 years. Thus, when I learned OSF would have a play wherein an Iraq War vet, turned movie star, was filming in Jordan, I was elated! "The Happiest Song Plays Last" was outstanding. It successfully pulled back layers of psychology and culture in a highly human, authentic, relate-able manner.


The play allowed the intricacies of war's effects, culture gaps, and overcoming trauma to bring the audience into a place of introspection and reflection on world events. Daniel Duque-Estrada did a fabulous job as Elliot, the war vet gone actor. He led the audience on a journey, as if walking through the pages of Elliot's journal, replete in vulnerability, self-discovery; and an increasing awareness of the big picture of life, people, and sociological dynamics globally. It was healthy. Strong. Inviting. Insightful. 

As we exited the theater, we spotted Daniel and snagged a few minutes with him. (My apologies on the poor quality of the video. I don't know what caused that.) Check it out!

I hope this production educated and equipped the audience with more understanding, compassion, and hope for the Middle East and its people. Creations like this are paramount in re-explaining to us the crucial centers of value within and outside us. It's not simply in our elevated ideas that we develop impact, but in our willingness to meet people where they are, to see their destinies even when they feel too bogged down to see them, and to champion nations with the utmost love.

Thank you to the playwright, Quiara Alegría Hudes, for being willing to explore these places of potential.

For information about upcoming productions at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival go here.

Get inspired, live inspired, give inspiration.

Intercontinental The Clement Monterey: Hotel Review

The greeting we received from the valet and receptionist upon arriving at California's Intercontinental The Clement Monterey  impressed us with the cordial, purposeful, and proficient service one would expect from such an accomplished hotel. We were, however, delightfully caught off guard by the charming gift awaiting us in our hotel room: Clement, the friendly sea-star bearing sea otter. Fret not, more sea otters just like this one can be found in the gift shop. 

During our one-night stay at this luxurious waterfront hotel, spa, and resort, we took in the stunning coastal views of Monterey Bay, traipsed down the street to the acclaimed Monterey Aquarium, and we simply enjoyed being in such a well-placed vantage point on historic Cannery Row.


Inside Intercontinental The Clement Monterey, we found the ambiance soothing and inspiring. The aquarium's proximity even shows in the decor. Off the lounge area in the hotel, once you ascend a few stairs, and you'll find yourself in an underwater-like hallway. Look up, and you'll see this sea creature! I love this hotel's display of technology-meets-nature ambiance. 


Silicon Valley's Newest Hotel Is First To Offer Certified Organic Mattresses in Every Room

Well, this is wonderful news! This is the first hotel to offer these organic mattresses!! 

Enchante Boutique Hotel

Los Altos, CA (September 16, 2015)  – Silicon Valley’s first romantic luxury hotel, Enchanté Boutique Hotel, opened April 2015, is treating guests to a sleep experience unlike any other as the first hotel in the region to fully equip its rooms with certified organic, sustainably produced mattresses. The mattresses, made by Naturepedic of Chagrin Falls, Ohio, meet the most stringent of green textile certifications without sacrificing the comfort, luxury and durability desired of a high-quality mattress for a restful night’s sleep. Enchanté is the first hotel globally to be outfitted with Naturepedic mattresses.

Enchanté’s owner Abby Ahrens’ commitment to sustainable luxury and a superior guest experience led her to seek a top-quality mattress that also assured a clean and memorable sleep experience. Certified by the Global Organic Textile Standard, the only third-party organic certification recognized by the USDA for organic mattresses, Naturepedic mattresses are manufactured using non-GMO, plant-based fabrics and sustainably-harvested wools. Naturepedic mattresses are also produced without the use of flame retardants and other toxic chemicals commonly used in mattress production while meeting and exceeding safety standards and regulations for mattresses.


Founded by Barry A. Cik, an environmental engineer, Naturepedic began by producing fully organic crib mattresses after Cik became aware of the threats that common, chemical-laden mattresses posed to newborns and infants. The company soon expanded their offerings to include hand-crafted mattresses for adults following the same rigorous quality standards.

A Naturepedic EOS mattress is featured in each of Enchante’s 19 rooms, with queen- or king-size options. Fitting squarely within Enchante’s chic and fashionable French aesthetic and European-style hospitality, the EOS mattress’ luxurious design showcases a signature quilt and beautiful fabrics with multiple comfort layers. Enchanté selected Naturepedic mattresses to offer guests a cozy sleep experience that also leaves the body supported for proper rest.

“Enchanté is a part of Silicon Valley, where environmental awareness is at the forefront of every industry, and this was an important consideration when seeking a mattress for my guests.” says Ahrens. “I was certain Naturepedic was the right choice for Enchanté the moment I discovered the company – the rich production history, the values the company was founded upon, the commitment to quality and health all aligned with what I was seeking for Enchanté.”

Enchanté’s guests have been enamored by Naturepedic’s mattresses, calling them “supremely comfortable” and “a unique component in an already stunning hotel,” delivering “the best night’s sleep I’ve had in some time.”

Guests of Enchanté are able to purchase the EOS mattress through the hotel. The EOS mattress is customizable for individual sleep preferences and includes dual customization for shared beds. An EOS Queen mattress is priced at $2,599.

Offering an elegant and romantic overnight experience with a touch of Paris through French artwork, antiques and décor, Enchante’s provides Silicon Valley travelers wary of common options with an unforgettable experience that demands repeat stays.

About Enchanté Boutique Hotel:

Enchante Boutique Hotel

Enchanté Boutique Hotel is a brand new experience in luxury hospitality for Silicon Valley and the city of Los Altos, the birthplace of Apple Inc. Each of the public and guest accommodations are unique with a sophisticated, eclectic style that blends elements of a Parisian Inn with French art and memorabilia and modern comforts culminating in a distinctive guest experience. Its elegant, châteauesque architecture commands a striking presence at the entrance to downtown Los Altos.  Enchanté is the vision of Abby Ahrens, a real estate professional, developer of custom homes and beloved member of the Los Altos community for over 30 years. Enchanté is the region’s first chic and fashionable luxury boutique hotel.

Featuring 19 rooms, each with unique interior designs expressive of French culture, highlighting French artwork and antiques, Enchanté offers a cozy retreat and an alternative to chain hotels for the growing number of travelers coming to the Silicon Valley region. www.enchantehotel.com

About Naturepedic:

Naturepedic, based in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, was founded by environmental engineer Barry A. Cik. Naturepedic specializes in the design and manufacturing of certified organic mattresses for adults and children that promote natural and organic materials, a non-toxic design, fire-safety, and overall health and safety.

The Citizen Hotel in Sacramento, California is now an Autograph Collection Hotel!

Since we live near Sacramento and value advocating the city, we want to share some news from there! 

Sacramento, California – September 1, 2015 –

The Citizen hotel in Sacramento, California is the latest addition to Autograph Collection Hotels, Marriott International’s exclusive portfolio of properties recognized for celebrating individuality.

(*yay! We get giddy about unique hotels!!) 


“Our goal is to give guests of the Citizen an upscale luxury experience with a location convenient to all that downtown Sacramento has to offer,” said Michael George, President and CEO of Crescent Hotels & Resorts. “The partnership with Autograph Collection has positioned us to present this superb and unique property to business and leisure travelers alike.”

Located less than half a mile from the California State Capitol building, The Citizen occupies the historic California Life Insurance Building, California’s first sky-scraper, built in 1925. Guests of the hotel will be treated to a truly one-of-a-kind experience, as no two rooms are exactly alike and each offers a different view of downtown Sacramento. On the historic thirteenth floor, for example, gorgeous tile mosaics adorn each bathroom.

The Citizen seamlessly marries the historic with the modern, offering amenities such as iPod sound systems and LCD high-definition televisions in each room. Boasting 9,000 square feet of meeting space, including a beautiful 3,000 square foot tented roof deck with city views, the hotel is the perfect destination for any meeting, wedding or special event.

Grange Restaurant and bar is located on the grounds of the Citizen. The restaurant incorporates farm fresh ingredients from the local farms of Central California into delicious seasonal menus. The Grange is also terrific choice for intimate gatherings, offering a private dining room for up to twenty guests.

The Citizen is truly a unique establishment, located within walking distance to the most powerful building in California and offering modern amenities with historic charm. To learn more about the hotel or to book your next stay in Sacramento online, please visit TheCitizenHotel.com. The Citizen is an ideal addition to Autograph Collection’s portfolio of exceptional properties, and now invites guests to book with and benefit from Marriott Rewards.

Marriott Rewards is Marriott International’s award-winning loyalty program spanning 16 brands and 4,000 properties worldwide. Marriott Rewards is free to join and has no blackout dates, and members can earn and redeem points at Marriott properties around the world and at Marriott Rewards exclusive luxury partner The Ritz-Carlton®.  Members can also redeem points for frequent flyer miles, cruises, car rentals, merchandise and more. To enroll and for more information about Marriott Rewards, guests can visit MarriottRewards.com.

For further information on Autograph Collection Hotels, visit www.autographhotels.com

About Autograph Collection Hotels

Autograph Collection Hotels celebrates a collection of independent leaders in film, art, design and literature by curating one-of-a-kind travel experiences at 89 luxury lifestyle hotels found in the world’s most desirable destinations. Exactly like nothing else, each hotel has been hand selected for its distinction as an iconic landmark, for its remarkable design or for its best-in-class resort amenities. For more information please visit www.autographhotels.com, or explore our social media channels to learn more about championing the independent spirit:

An On-water Oasis to Soothe the Soul: All Aboard the Delta King Riverboat Hotel!

Our stay on the Delta King was made possible by a family who transformed this into this:

  Photo credit:  deltaking.com

Photo credit: deltaking.com

Delta King

And check out this stunning view: 

The Coyne family's restorative teamwork and strategy perched the Delta King in a prime spot in Old Sacramento, a 28-acre National Historic Landmark District. I encourage you to read more on how the Coyne family found the Delta King and brought it into its current state of glory. It's a beautiful story of vision, discovery, and transformative entrepreneurial-ship (pun intended). 

Now onto our stay...

  Photo credit:  deltaking.com

Photo credit: deltaking.com

That's right! We stayed on the 5th deck of the Delta King in the River View Stateroom, and right outside our room, the Sacramento River moved with an electric, yet soothing current. River-goers raced by in speed boats, pontoons, and other small vessels; and we enjoyed the peacefulness of our perch.

Those words, electric and soothing, aptly describe the sense of staying on the Delta King. It's electric in its throwback decor; its captivating amenities - casual and fine dining, entertainment, 2 professional theaters, a wine school; and its placement alongside aforementioned Old Sacramento.  And who doesn't love awakening to the soothing and refreshing sound of the river breeze? For me, it was especially relaxing, as I had just concluded a 2-day chiropractic seminar for my continuing education credits the day (Sunday) we checked into the Delta King. Combine the picturesque location, the getaway atmosphere of the river boat, and the history of the Delta King (some of which I learned after our stay), and It all adds up to a truly transporting experience. 

As mentioned in the video, the Delta King once commuted between Sacramento and San Francisco, and though it would have been spectacular to have traversed the Sacramento River Delta on this iconic boat, it's not difficult to tap into the history while exploring the various parts of the boat. For those not so keen on rocking the boat, fret not: the Delta King is docked and stable. 

 A close-up view of the Delta King's maraschino-cherry red churning wheel paddle against the backdrop of Old Sacramento (left) and Tower Bridge:

delta king's churning wheel

To memorialize our stay on the Delta King, we co-wrote this poem:

We love this dream-built and dream-inspiring boat. You can have your own electric and soothing experience on the Delta King. It's located in Old Sacramento, near Sacramento's vibrant downtown area -- just an hour and a half northeast of San Francisco.

If you're just in the area for a day trip, venture through Old Sacramento and enjoy a meal aboard one of the Delta King's two restaurants: the award-winning Pilothouse and the Delta Bar & Grill

**Complimentary lodging provided by the Delta King

Display your love for the Sacramento River with our Sacramen-toes in the River | Necklace.

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Let's keep traveling, growing, and dreaming. 



You're in Northern California & You Want a Unique Hotel: Voila! The Greens Hotel!

Let's start with the pool...

You're likely getting the vibe of this place already. What do you think?

Yes, it's hip, colorful, and modern with a vintage heart. It's also eco-sensitive. And fabulous. 

The rooms are marked with letters. We were in "V," for "Victorious!" ;-)

There's a large pot in the courtyard! The whimsy made my spirit's dimples glimmer. The rooms have a groovy modern retro design. This provoked a desire to wear sunglasses, rapidly turn my head to the side, and smile demurely. The lobby is particularly pleasant, airy, and restful. I envisioned reading a design magazine here. (I'm currently reading the September edition of Architectural Digest.)  

So, what did we think of our stay?

Well, we've stayed a lot of places and we have a noted value for eco-friendly spots. Thus, we were really thrilled to stay at The Greens Hotel. Moreover, we love innovative designs and visionary renovations (HGTV shows are some of our inspiration go-tos). From the moment we pulled up to its austere, grand metal gate, we were impressed! 

Then, came Jon, the fantastically personable owner. 

See, we love people and their dreams. A substantial reason we're passionate about our business is because we want to champion people's dreams. We get to do that in three main ways: 1. Sharing amazing locales on our blog and therein facilitating our readers' travel dreams; 2. Selling goods in our shop which inspire people's travel dreams; 3. Meeting with businesses and business owners around the world; and being their advocates. 

Our visit to The Greens Hotel was rich in the last one. Jon is a noble and trustworthy business owner with chutzpah, commitment, and a love for people that is impactful and life-giving to the world. We talked with Jon for about 45 minutes upon arrival and enjoyed hearing about his journey and The Greens' journey. I asked if we could pray for him and his business, and he happily agreed. There in the charming lobby, we got to bless him and this distinctive hotel. It was special and powerful. He bought this hotel from its previous owner with a big-hearted vision to bring it to new levels of flourishing and to host people with intentionality. He is succeeding. 

The space drips with personality, functionality, and earth-hugs. Our room was soooooo cool! I loved the bright green walls, matched with bright red furniture on black and white carpet! The bed was comfortable, the bathroom was bright, and I cherished the potted succulents outside. There was a renewed sense of space and spaciousness, as I took in the minimalist simplicity of the exposed concrete structure which gave the outside an edgy frame of urban sensibilities. Born of our delight for The Greens Hotel, we wrote this poem entitled, "Green Space." 

green space poem

You can experience this forward thinking nostalgia too. The Greens Hotel is located in Sacramento, California, about an hour and a half northeast of San Francisco. You'll come in through this gate. Then, you'll see what we green... I mean MEAN. 

the greens hotel, sacramento

**Complimentary lodging provided by The Greens Hotel

Are you keen on eco-friendly spots? Read about our stay at The Good Hotel in San Francisco! Then, swing from the treetops by reading about our zip lining experience at Sonoma Canopy Tours, another green-minded business in California.

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We would be honored and thrilled if you would follow us, like us, pin us, and tweet us from those places too. 

Let's keep traveling, growing, and dreaming. 

Sonoma Canopy Tours: Zip-lining Eco Tour: REVIEW

Since we've been together, I've taken Dawn flying (in some shape or form) each year for her birthday. We love co-adventuring, so we'll both often end up in the air. I love flying, so it's a blast for me as well.


Why flying? Yes, it's an adrenaline burst for the body, and it's exhilarating for the soul; but it's more a proclamation of how I see Dawn. She's brilliant, beautiful, full of wonder and whimsy, and she's destined to soar -- figuratively and literally. One year, she flew a plane. Another year, we went hang-gliding. This year, in October, we zip-lined! Here's a brief introduction to our experience:        

Those trees you are seeing are Redwood trees. Yes, we zip-lined through the renowned Northern California Coastal Redwoods! We took the Sonoma Canopy Eco Tour at the Alliance Redwoods grounds in Occidental, California. Alliance Redwoods began this tour as an environmental education experience. They desire to be "A place of renewal where the guests meet the Creator in His Creation." 

This tour features two and a half hours of action-packed fun with 7 ziplines, 2 sky bridges, a spiral staircase, and a rappel. Here's Dawn on an 800-foot-zip: the longest one on the tour. Buckle up and enjoy!

Woo hoo! It is just as exhilarating as it looks and sounds. The air rushing by and the loud zipping -- it's like you're unzipping the threshold between the trees and the sky. Practically speaking, the more you lean back, the farther and faster you'll zip. So, if you do as instructed, you naturally get a magnificent view of the treetops kissing the sky.

Speaking of instruction, we had two savvy and energetic guides take us through this experience: Moshe and Rachel.

The voice you hear at the end of Dawn's zip video is Moshe's. He's instructing her to do something called a "tacker backer." If you don't zip all the way to the next tree, you need to turn around and pull yourself the rest of way. Both of our guides were nimble and free in the trees, and they led us with great insight, confidence, and comedy!  

I highly recommend taking the Sonoma Canopy Eco Tour. It really does awaken the senses to the beauty and preciousness of the forest. Visit the Sonoma Canopy Tours site for more information about the tour; and while you're at it, check out the rest that Alliance Redwoods has to offer. 

For a poetic review of the experience, watch this video:

Let us know if you take the tour! Share your photos and stories!

**Special rate and helmet camera provided by Sonoma Canopy Tours

Also, we'd love for you to consider helping Alliance Redwoods and Sonoma Canopy Tours send a Sonoma County foster kid to camp! It's a life-changing week-long camp, They are looking for 1,000 donations of $50 or more, and the funds you donate will go towards covering food, lodging, and clothes. The donations are tax deductible, and you'll receive a special dessert at Union Hotel in Occidental. Visit here to donate and/or read more!


Looking for more tips for rejuvenating travel in California? A resort & spa in Santa Cruza spa inside San Francisco International Airport, and a comuse health tip on being present. 

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Happy perusing & comuse-ing!