Winery Stay: Abeja


Fall may be the best, and most difficult, time to visit wineries. Best because of all the luscious fruit coming in for pressing and difficult because everyone is so busy that they may not even be accepting visitors. Of course, the best thing to do is stay at the winery itself (and sometimes even volunteer to help sort fruit) so you can see all the action. One thing I regret from moving away from the northwest is that I never got a chance to stay here, at Abeja in Walla Walla, Washington. Just outside the town, which itself has transformed over the years from sleepy farm town to wine destination, it’s a perfect homebase for exploring the area, or just enjoying the stunning views while doing little to nothing. It’s supposed to be vacation, right?

The winery is in what used to be a mule and horse barn on an old farm and they smartly have turned various outbuildings into comfortable, not-too-country, vacation rentals. Prices vary but most have their own kitchen and a couple even their own garden. All of them have beautiful surroundings.

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Edison House:

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Carriage House Suite:

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Chicken Coop:

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Summer Kitchen:

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Bunk House:

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Hay Loft Suite:

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All photos curtesy of Abeja.

Friday Fantasy Vacation: The Balmoral, Edinburgh


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The expected high temp in Edinburgh, Scotland this weekend is a crisp 65 degrees, about 25 degrees cooler than what’s expected where I currently live, and maybe that’s why this destination seems so perfect to me for early Fall. Or it might be the newly opened Scotch, Balmoral’s new  bar offering the largest collection of whiskies available to the general public (read: not members of the Scotch Whisky Society, which why wouldn’t you be if you lived there?!). Both are actually perfect reasons to spend a fantasy vacation walking the old, twisty alley streets of Edinburgh, exploring the old castle and sipping some uisge beatha.

Originally opened in 1902 and, until a refurbishment in the 80’s, named The North British Hotel it was built as a railway hotel for the North British Railway and was conveniently located next to their Waverley Station. It’s recognizable clock tower has been traditionally set 2 minutes fast so that the guests could have a better chance of catching their train on time. Of course, the glory days of romantic and regular train travel are sadly ended but this glorious 5 star hotel still stands and if you’re looking for the perfect location, it’s a phenomenal place to stay.

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Wanderlust: The all-American Road Trip


If Portland, Oregon is the place where young people go to retire then I recently came out of a productive and happy 14-year retirement. I moved there straight after college; it’s where I met my husband, where our daughter was born, where we all made dear friends. Why leave such a place? There’s only really one thing that makes people move from Portland and it’s work. This spring my husband was offered a job in Fort Worth, Texas and suddenly we were moving. He left a couple of months before myself and our 9-year-old daughter who, while excited, was also nervous about what was to come. Mapping out our drive it appeared the shortest route would take us 3-4 days but was that any way to drive to a new life in the middle of summertime? I wanted to give her an adventure and some perspective on this move, on the distance we were to travel, on its place in what I hope will be a big life. There’s really only one way to do that: the all-American road trip. Given the novels written on the subject already, I can’t increase anyone’s understanding of what it’s like in the wide expanse of the American west; the small towns and surprising beauty and feelings of isolation and also belonging that come from days of driving through nothing and everything. The meaning comes from the experience and having this experience with my little girl seemed like the perfect way to transition our life. We left feeling a bit like adventurers in our own Hero’s Journey, hoping that by leaving all we knew behind and traveling into the unknown (but highly map-able) we’d discover a path home again.

The Route

The Route

Last day in PDX

Last day in PDX

Redwoods Magic Light

Redwoods Magic Light

Founders Tree

Founders Tree

Humbolt Redwoods State Park Visitor Center

Humbolt Redwoods State Park Visitor Center

Avenue of the Giants

Avenue of the Giants

Eel River Café, Garberville

Eel River Café, Garberville

Souvenirs from Santa Rosa

Souvenirs from Santa Rosa

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Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara

Last Look at the Pacific

Last Look at the Pacific

Shark Tank Aquarium, Las Vegas

Shark Tank Aquarium, Las Vegas

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Hoover Dam

Hoover Dam

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The Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon

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Winslow, AZ

Winslow, AZ

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Gallup, NM

Gallup, NM

Amarillo, TX

Amarillo, TX

Big Texan 72oz. Steak Challenge

Big Texan 72oz. Steak Challenge

West Texas

West Texas

The Road to Fort Worth

The Road to Fort Worth

Texas Sunset

Texas Sunset

All photos by Morgan Ennis

Friday Fantasy Vacation: The Serai


Anyone who’s seen this site before has probably picked up on the fact that I have a real soft spot for luxury camping; all the great things about being close to nature without the lumpy ground to sleep on. It doesn’t really get more luxe than the Serai near Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, India. A Relais & Chateaux property that describes itself very accurately as “a luxury desert camp and spa”, it’s set on 30 acres in the Great Thar Desert and really couldn’t be more romantic and serene if it tried. I don’t doubt that a goodly portion of the other “campers” here would be honeymooners but the 14 tent suites are private enough that it should hardly matter. The fact that you can dine anywhere you desire on the property also helps alleviate any problems you may have sharing your private space with snuggly newlyweds. And there are plenty of excursion possibilities to keep one occupied such as Jeep or camel safaris, historical tours of the ancient fortress city of Jaisalmer or plain old pampering spa treatments. But enough talk, let’s take a look at all this beauty.

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More information at Relais & Chateaux

Also available through i-escape

Photos curtesy of Relais & Chateaux

Wine Trip: Monaci delle Terre Nere


While doing some research on a Sicilian winery at work, I came across this amazing hotel on the slopes of Mt. Etna, surrounded by orchards and vineyards and all around gorgeousness. There are currently 6 rooms, but 12 are planned in the future after restorations are complete on some outbuildings. As if I needed another reason to want to visit Sicily!

MONACI DELLE TERRE NERE:

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Photos curtesy of Welcome Beyond

Friday Fantasy Vacation: Sliding House, Nova Scotia


I’ve never been to Nova Scotia, and maybe October isn’t the ideal time to go there, but then again maybe it is. I’m picturing blustery afternoons curled up by the window with mugs of tea and playing cards with my family while the wind blows sea spray up on to the porch. This area looks beautiful and when you’ve got the option of being holed up in a great vacation house like this, who cares if you go outside or not.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Available through Boutique Homes

Last Chance to Camp


I don’t know where you live, but where I am it’s about to turn cold and rain. A lot. While this change of season doesn’t make camping impossible, it does make it a lot less desirable. It is, however, the perfect season for luxury camping. I refuse to use the word “glamping” if only because it sounds like something someone does while sick with the flu, but also because I feel that it cheapens the experience of a real luxury camping experience. The setting is beautiful, nature is at your door and when it pours rain, you can retreat to the interior of an actual structure and snuggle in a real bed. There are often restaurants on-site and while you may or may not have to share a bathroom with your fellow “campers” you are almost always guaranteed a breathtaking view. Below are a few places I would love to visit during this in between season, if only to get in one last camp before winter.

Longitude 131°, Ayers Rock, Australia

Available through Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia: travel@voyages.com.au

Le Camp, Midi-Pyrénées, France

Available through Welcome Beyond: welcomebeyond.com

Dunia Camp, Serengeti, Tanzania

Available through Asilia Camps/ Lodges/ Safaris:  www.asiliaafrica.com

Treebones Resort, Big Sur, California


Available through i-escape: www.i-escape.com

Dolphin Beach, Kalpitiya, Sri Lanka

Available through Makara Resorts: reservations@dolphinbeach.lk

Elqui Domos, Elqui Valley, Chile

Available through Welcome Beyond: www.welcomebeyond.com

The Serai, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, India

Available through Relais & Chateaux:  serai@relaischateaux.com

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