Treehouse Hotels (Yes, Really)

15 02 2010

I’m beginning to plan a trip to Costa Rica, and during a perfunctory initial search for country highlights, I discovered this interesting article from the Anchorage Daily News, of all places, about actual resorts in treehouses. It plays, I suppose, to the current travel climate: travelers looking for luxury without settling for canned resorts and chain hotels. Plus the whole eco-tourism thing, of course, though this is slightly oxymoronic, perhaps, given that actual trees must be used to create these “sustainable” treehouses. At any rate, I supposed it’s still preservation, and it’s an interesting idea—I mean, I’d have no problem staying here.

I thoroughly enjoy these unique accommodation experiences. Having stayed in a bell tower in Austria and a castle in Germany, I previously thought that such stays were limited to the youth hostel set, but it seems that folks with more grown-up tastes can have similar experiences, sans dorm rooms and down the hall bathrooms. If you’re one of those grown -ups (I’m not sure I am yet, though I’ve definitely graduated to the private room if youth hostels are in my future), check out this cool new book, Bed in a Tree, a survey of 27 unique beds in, well, trees, as well as other crazy spots—think igloos and gypsy wagons, and trains (oh my).





More on Maine: the “Eco-est” of Eco Inns

8 10 2009

inn by the sea

I’ve neglected my new obsession with Maine, partly due to a hectic schedule and partly just due to the fact that if I think about Maine I want to go back—at least while the weather is still not freezing. Anyhow, I think it’s high time to re-visit (at least in words) one of the aspects that made Maine so amazing. I had the pleasure of spending my last evening in Maine at the gorgeous Inn by the Sea, an amazing property on the coast of the sleepy town of Cape Elizabeth, just 20 minutes from Portland.

What makes Inn by the Sea amazing is not only its charming New England design and its proximity to, well, the sea, but the fact that it’s a friend to the environment in just about every aspect possible. A few years ago, the inn was taken down to the studs and experienced a multi-million dollar remodel, not to make it more luxurious (which it is) but to make it completely green from its re-purposed flooring to its
solar-paneled roof.

On top of that, guests can participate in a whole array of fun yet educational events, like classes on planting native gardens or beach cleaning festivities, all that end with guests receiving milkweed seeds, to help expand the areas in which endangered Monarch butterflies lay their eggs. And all this is just the beginning. Read more about my trip here.





Where Will You Be?

15 01 2009

The day we’ve all been waiting for has finally arrived.

Bush gives his farewell address tonight! And a quick thumbs up to Gail Collins for her piece in the Times is titled He’s Leaving. Really. Perhaps the best Op-Ed title. Ever.

But, much awaited and welcome as this evening is, it is not (if for no other reason that it’s yet another George W. speech) the highly anticipated, wracked with joy event of which I speak. America has been a buzz of excitement these past few weeks, looking forward to Tuesday with all out fervor. For two months I’ve passed a familiar face in shop windows all over the city, vendors selling every type of  “Yes We Did” paraphernalia imaginable, and next week it will finally be official.

The festivities begin with an inaugural celebration on Sunday at Lincoln Memorial and will last through the Wednesday prayer service, and four million lambs are expected to flock to D.C. this weekend to be part of the historic and joyful inauguration of lucky number 44.

I, alas, will remain in New York. Though I am close to D.C., it does happen to be a work day (and we are having our own Harlem Children’s Zone inauguration celebration) and I happen to not like crowds all that much. However, for those who are braver than I, there is good news: if you’d like to go to D.C. but aren’t willing to promise your first born child for a much coveted hotel room, try staying with a local. Courtesy of Air Bed & Breakfast, local D.C. ers are offering rooms for rent, costing anywhere from $40-$100 a night. Easy to afford now that there’s a possibility of a tax credit. For more information on parties, getting to D.C., and even a Crash Kit, check out
www.crashtheinauguration.com
.

If you’re like me and can’t travel (or just fear being trampled) look local. Here in New York, where the streets danced on November 4, 2008, there will be no shortage of Obama celebrations, but local organizations around the country promise similar festivities. In California, Keith Carson, Alameda County Supervisor, has put together several days of interfaith/community service related events in honor of the new president and no doubt to get a head start on Obama’s Call to Service. Or if all else fails, plan your own party. Whatever you’re doing on January 20, though, it’s guaranteed to be one of those “I remember when…” moments.





New Year (Vicarious) Trip

5 01 2009

One year ago today I was frantically racing around New York buying important things (like shoes I would wear once and bandaids that would mend my feet from the damage caused by said shoes), saying countless telephone goodbyes and, giant Squirrel on my back, boarding a plane for the long journey to Buenos Aires, full of excitement and nervous jitters.  This year I am parked at a coffee shop near Union Square typing away and dreaming of the Argentine summer. Sigh.

Since I’ve used up money and work days on holiday travel and have no trip in sight of my own, I’ve decided to focus my wanderlust on Tiffany and her trip to California. Yesterday during brunch I frantically scribbled down thoughts of things she must do, and today I have even more to add. So, I hereby dub this week “California Week” and will offer up Tiffany’s trip (or my vision of her trip) as the one I will be dreaming of while I stay here in frigid New York.

Today’s highlight stays true to the New Year Trip theme: Ano Nuevo State Beach. I must say that when Tiff’s boyfriend Mark told me they’d be seeing the elephant seals I turned a little green. I’ve wanted to visit for years and never got around to it (though my mother informed me today that we went when I was small but saw no seals).

This rocky point, named Punta Ano Nuevo because it was first sighted by Spanish explorers on New Year’s Day 1603, is best known as the site of the largest mainland breeding ground (in the world) for the massive and amazing northern elephant seal. Though I have yet to see them for myself, this I know: that elephant seals are enormous (males stretch from 14 to 16 feet long and weigh up to 2 1/2 tons), mean (males fight to determine the alpha male, who will do most of the breeding), and were hunted for their oil and nearly wiped out until protected in 1922. And, of course, that they head to Ano Nuevo, just south of San Francisco, to mate.

Things to know for planning a visit

To protect the seals and minimize disturbance to their routine, visitation is regulated year-round, and regulations vary based on the seasons. During breeding season (December 15-March 31) visits are limited to naturalist guided walks that must be booked in advance. From April to August, visitors may head out on self-guided hikes after obtaining a Visitor’s Permit. For full visiting details, hours, fees, etc, here.

To further enhance the experience, stay at the Pigeon Point Lighthouse Hostel. Not only is it a certified green business, its cozy, affordable, and, well, a lighthouse, one of America’s tallest lighthouses at that. Oh, and did I mention the oceanside hot tub that is perfect for pelican and whale watching? Maybe I’ll be finding a way to get another vacay in after all…