Road Trips: Aspen

Well, this would be a bit of a haul in a car. But luckily, flights to Colorado aren’t terribly expensive from the Bay Area, and visiting Aspen is well worth the price of admission! I visited recently for BHG’s Top Producer conference and met some agents from all over the United States and got to share in Aspen’s natural beauty!

The conference was at the St. Regis and it was one of the best hotel stays I have had. They left me a handwritten note asking if I would like coffee, tea or hot chocolate delivered to my room. I chose hot chocolate and then they asked if I wanted marshmallows – of course!

The conference held a nice dinner, with music at the T-Lazy-7 Ranch one night and then another was at the hotel with an oxygen bar, and raptor birds. The St. Regis offered free rides in and around town. Not that Aspen is that big, but it was nice to have a ride back from dinner. On Friday, at the end of the conference, it snowed and I was hoping to see the Maroon Bells. The next day was forecasted sun, so I wandered around Aspen and met up with Nina and Chris from Boise and we walked around the John Denver Sanctuary, which was serene and beautiful. Then we had dinner at Matsuhisa, a fabulous sushi restaurant.

On the ride back to the hotel, the driver asked what I was going to do tomorrow. I chimed in with the Maroon Bells, he asked how I was getting there, and I said Uber or Lyft. He looked at me and said he doesn’t think there would be one available so early (7:30 am) nor would there be reception for me to call one to pick me up (welcome to Aspen). He then suggested that the hotel has a partnership with Lexus and they have two vehicles for guests to test drive in 4-hour segments. That was perfect for a trip to the Maroon Bells to get me back in time for my 12:20 flight. I texted Nina if she and Chris wanted a ride and she asked if Sam and Q from Minnesota could come and, thus, our pictures!

BTW, the St. Regis has Kitty the Bernese as their mascot and his Instagram is a hoot! The handler is called a “fur butler.” I want that job for my retirement. Kitty was only there for a day, as the St. Regis was closing for three weeks and Kitty was on a road trip to San Francisco.

Road Trips: Beach Blanket Babylon

I’m very sad to report that, if you haven’t already heard, the world-famous Beach Blanket Babylon will officially close it doors on December 31st in San Francisco. Beach Blanket Babylon is a musical revue that’s been playing shows in North Beach for 45 years.

The pop culture and political satire song-and-dance show has been treating audiences to hilarious routines since 1974, but they will play their final show on New Year’s Eve this year. I was able to squeeze one more show in this year before it shuts down, and I’m so glad I did!

We went and enjoyed drinks while watching the hilarious performances on stage, complete with all the famous custom-made hats that are larger than life! It will be really sad to lose this outrageous aspect of San Francisco’s soul, and hopefully, they will find a way to keep the tradition and spirit of the show going long after, or create something new!

I had a friend in town on business who had never seen the show, so we met up before and had dinner at Soto Mare which is famous for “The Best Damn Crab Cioppino,” and it is damn good! We ordered it and each had a cup of their clam chowder because the people sitting next to us ordered it and we could smell its delicious goodness and our mouths began to water. There is a long history of this venue and the restaurant – a great way to spend an evening in SF, or make a date of it and grab a hotel for the night. We then walked a couple of blocks to the Beach Blanket Babylon venue. Tickets are going fast, so book now or forever miss out on this iconic SF show!

You can learn more about the performances and buy tickets on the website here.

Road Trips: Sausalito Art Festival

I have a confession. I haven’t actually done this road trip myself. But I’m planning on going, either this year or in the near future! So this blog is just letting you know about the Sausalito Art Festival.

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Here’s what you need to know: the festival brings art, music, and wine together on the Sausalito Waterfront. They have more than 250 artists from around the world, and three days of live music on two stages. The beverages come from some of the best wineries in the country.

The festival takes place starting Aug. 31 and goes through Labor Day Weekend. There are VIP options, and it is family-friendly to boot. Kids aged 12 and under can even come for free.

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The music features Blood Sweat and Tears, Blues Traveler, and ZZ Ward. You can get one-day GA tickets for about $30 online still. We’re talking about good drinks, great music, and an incredible location in beautiful Sausalito, for a totally reasonable price!

I think I might check it out! Will you? More info here.

Road Trips: Marlette Lake

Over the 4th, I spent the long weekend in Reno and Tahoe. We decided to take do a hike to Marlette Lake. As you can see in the featured image on this post, Marlette Lake is a beautiful little lake in the Sierra’s, just above Tahoe and was used for the water, via flumes in Virginia City during the silver mining boom. It was a perfect day for this 9-mile round-trip hike.

I wanted to continue on the Flume trail which takes you to the old Ponderosa Ranch location and makes the trip a total of 13 miles with breathtaking views of the lake as a reward. However, you need to figure out how to get back to your car at Spooner Lake. There is a shuttle for $18 per person or you take two cars and park one at the new parking lot at the base and one at Spooner summit.

I was out-voted to do the longer hike and my my feet were very happy we didn’t. You just can’t beat day hiking around in the beautiful mountains around Tahoe. Note: There are two trails – one larger path for mountain bikes, and a narrower foot path for hikers going up to Marlette from Spooner. Going down or up the Flume Trail, all share the same path!

Road Trips: Whitewater rafting

I haven’t taken a ton of road trips lately, so I’m handing the mic off to one of my team members, Jeremy. He recently went on a trip down to Mariposa to raft the Merced River for a friend’s bachelor party. Take it away, Jeremy:

This winter, California got a record amount of snowfall. Hopefully all you skiers and snowboarders took advantage! A heavy winter like that has huge ramifications for the spring and summer, too. We learned that the fun way in Mariposa recently.

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The town of Mariposa itself is a quirky, charming place with a small downtown and a nice public park with live music. It’s near a Yosemite entrance, so if you were lucky enough to get camping reservations there, you can tie both trips into one!

If you’re up for some wild, fast whitewater (the guides told us the river was flowing 3-4 times faster than usual because of all the snow!), you can jump on a trip with any outfitter that does the Merced or Tuolumne Rivers in that area. We went with All-Outdoors Whitewater Rafting, which is a company based in Walnut Creek!

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You can’t beat a day of splashy waves and Class IV rapids (the highest is Class V), especially on a day like we had where the weather was perfect. If you’re in Mariposa and looking for something that’s not outdoorsy, good luck. But if you enjoy hiking, kayaking, rafting, or anything else of that nature, I’d highly recommend checking it out!

Road Trips: Farmer’s Markets

Okay, so I’m cheating a little bit here. Most farmer’s markets aren’t going to take you on an actual road trip. But there are so many good ones around the Bay Area, that it feels like you could totally spend half a weekend day visiting a few different ones and getting lots fresh fruits and vegetables!

Check out some of the main spots you can find markets in our area:

This doesn’t even account for San Francisco, Berkeley, Oakland and other Bay Area places that are known for having awesome farmer’s markets. And since we’re on the events angle, let’s throw in this cool Art & Wine Festival happening at Heather Farm right NOW! It continues tomorrow, too. So don’t worry.

If you’re reading this in time, Parkmead is having their annual garage sale until about 12 p.m. today. Not your traditional road trips, but still a fun day out nonetheless!

Road Trips: Bottlerock

Music festivals are all the rage these days. Chances are that if you know a few people under the age of 40, at least one has been to OutsideLands, Coachella, or EDC. Bottlerock is the adult version!

I love going to Bottlerock. It’s a 3-day festival in Napa that offers a small camping option (about 20 minutes from the grounds), but is a close enough drive that you can sleep in your own bed each night, as long as you’re willing to brave traffic on the way in. Fridays are my favorite day because the crowds are smaller and the traffic lighter. This year I am again going on Friday, because I love Imagine Dragons and One Republic.

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Credit: JamBase

This year, they’ve announced the lineup and it looks pretty good again. They usually attract big names to the headliner’s stage, and they pair it with a unique Chef’s Stage experience that brings out the biggest celebrity names! It takes place May 24-26 this year. Last year, Shaun White was on the Culinary Stage with his mom (see attached video) and the cooking was a snow theme, they threw out snowballs – those Hostess cupcakes you had as a kid – and did some crazy stuff with cotton candy. Always interesting. This year, I think Alice Cooper will be a fun experience.

One really awesome thing about BottleRock is that, being in Napa Valley, the food and drink options are unbelievable. You’ll spend a little bit extra on your meals, but you’re getting legitimately delicious food instead of your typical festival fare and a place to sit down and eat it.

I’d highly recommend trying to snag last-minute tickets if any are still available. If not, make plans for next year! It’s always around Memorial Day weekend. If you are going on Friday, let me know! Maybe we’ll see each other there.

Road Trips: SUP Yoga!

As the long, successful winter melts into Spring around the Bay Area, it’s time to get off the mountain and onto the water! Last year, I went on an unforgettable day trip to Alameda, that you simply must try.

I took a sunset, full moon SUP Yoga class with Lilly Manderville from Yoga Treat Fitness Studio who collaborates with Mike’s Paddle Boards in Alameda. First, we paddled through the waterway and homes into the bay and back into the cove where we proceeded to take a yoga class on the board.

It was awesome! We had wetsuits, beautiful views and a full moon, not to mention a really good yoga class. Of course, I pushed the envelope and fell into the water. I hopped back on the board and finished the poses! A picture says a thousand words and with the weather getting warmer now is a good time to look into doing a class or getting a group to try it.

Check with Mike’s Paddle Boards to see what classes are coming up or call me if you want Lilly’s info to schedule a full moon class with her.

Road Trips: Squaw Valley

Come on, how could I not do one more road trip to Tahoe with how this winter is going? It has been dumping record-breaking levels of snow on the resorts up there, and I’ve been lucky enough to go skiing a few times within it.



Besides Mt. Rose, one of my favorite places to ski is Squaw Valley (ideally not on a weekend). The mountain itself is amazing, especially as I get to know the terrain more intimately. The village is great, and the surrounding areas are also nice, but I come to ski Head Wall, Siberia and Granite Chief.

My most recent trip on the 24th did not disappoint. We took the scenic route around the lake (I was staying in South Reno) – check out all the snow on Mt. Rose Highway and the image with Tahoe in the background. So beautiful!

When we got to Squaw, Head Wall, Granite Chief and the Tram were closed due to wind. Not to be discouraged, we headed to Siberia and took a few runs and then checked out Shirley Lake and the bowl. The snow was fantastic and there were no crowds; I think with the coming storm and the wind, all the California folks headed home to our delight! The bowl protected us from the wind and we made run after run.

Around 1, we headed in for lunch and when we went back out the sun had come out and we went back to Siberia for a couple more runs and finished off the day again at Shirley! Awesome day with great friends – one who had never been to Squaw and now he has the perfect first experience to want to return.

Road Trip: Fifty Fifty Brewery in Truckee

As you well know by now, I love to go up to Truckee and Tahoe to ski in the winters. Especially when we have snow like we have this winter! But there are a lot of other places to check out that are off the mountain.

For example, there’s Fifty-Fifty Brewery in Truckee. It’s bound to be packed these days since everyone should be going up to take advantage of all the snow we’ve been getting. I recently was recommended to try it out on a stay at Northstar with my son and a family friend, who are in these photos with me.

My son got an Eclipse which is a whiskey Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout that was over 11% and cost a whopping $22 for a big bottle (he purchased one after the glass I bought), ohhh but it was really smooth and tasty! They also have burgers and other food there, and it’s a really great place to stop on your way home from skiing or to enjoy while staying at Squaw or Northstar.

It has a cozy atmosphere with twinkle lights tucked off the main road in Old Town Truckee at 1197 Brockway Rd. It gives another option for an quick meal and a good beer other than Bar America or some of the more touristy places on the main street of Old Town Truckee! Enjoy!