Daydream: Rural Calistoga

I loved Phifer Pavitt's tasting room.One of the (many) reasons I wanted to move to the San Francisco Bay Area was its proximity to the wine countries of Napa and Sonoma – and many others that will soon start to make an appearance on this blog. One of my very first trips after I moved here was to Calistoga, the northernmost town of Napa. I had never been to this neat little town known for its hot springs. It seemed like a throwback to the “old” Napa, from before Downtown Napa exploded and became trendy. I had actually noticed the last time I had been in southern Napa that people were starting to dress up more for the more scene-y restaurants. And I hadn’t even packed one pair of heels! As I wrote in Huffington Post, during my years living in Las Vegas, I always enjoyed my getaways to wine country, which I turned into my little escape, where I could be outside and learn about farming before heading back to to the bright lights of the Strip. It’s strange how a lot of people think Napa and such are so “fancy” – but it really is all about the land! In fact, I just wrote about Sonoma’s Benziger and the pictured Phifer Pavitt, in Calistoga, in a piece for Los Angeles Confidential about how eco-friendly wine country has become. Continue Reading »»

Daydream of the Week: My new neighborhood

Los Altos Silicon Valley Flowering TreesOne of my favorite parts about leaving Las Vegas for northern California has been the changing of the seasons. When I got here in November, the leaves had changed colors, so the trees were covered in the deep reds and yellows of autumn.  Then winter set in, albeit a mild one. Still, the starkness was noticeable, even in sunny Silicon Valley. Now it’s almost springtime, and the flowers are absolutely gorgeous. My dog walks around my neighborhood in the small town of Los Altos are still super-exciting, overcome with flowers of all colors. But even though the pinks, bright yellows and purples are absolutely gorgeous, my favorite California treat are these trees that are covered in white blooms. Continue Reading »»

Daydream of the Week: Macau

Macau SkylineBring on the bright lights!

Seven years off and on in Sin City, and I never tire of neon. So imagine my excitement when I was able to squeeze in a long weekend in Macau during my most recent Asian adventure. After a week in Hong Kong, where I took in such sites as the Big Buddha, I headed with my mom and two brothers to “Asia’s Las Vegas.” One of my brothers has been a professional poker player in China for years, so has spent “some” time in Macau. And my mom, herself a savvy gambler, had met him there before. Me? I was ecstatic to see if for the first time! Having edited three local Vegas magazines, I’ve written/edited a lot of stories about Macau over the years. (My favorite: Bridging the Gap between Vegas and Macau by Steve Friess.) For Vegas locals, watching Macau explode has been fascinating. It’s no secret that the area’s passion for games of chance fueled mega-winnings for the casinos over there — and helped keep the Vegas outposts afloat during the US recession.

We stayed at Venetian, and it looked so much like the one in Vegas (that I know like the back of my hand) that I often found myself headed to a bathroom or something that didn’t exist. I had been told that Macau was small, and I really needed only a day or two. WRONG! We were there three days, and I wanted even more time! It’s true that there are less restaurants (and only one show!), so some non-gamblers might get bored. But not this one — I wanted to see everything!

Other than that, the biggest difference was the weather. You’ve heard of the smog in some parts of Asia — the skies in Macau were indeed grey, a far cry from the bright sunny dessert weather I’m used to in Vegas.

Next up? Mainland China!

Daydream of the Week: Summertime Fun in Seattle

Seattle Ferris WheelAs my social media streams load up on snow pictures from the big blizzard in the northeast (what a winter!), I was home in sunny (but still chilly) California — and I happened to come across some photos from this summer that never saw the light of the day. It’s no secret that I prefer hot, sticky tropical weather to winter wonderland snowstorms. So I thought I’d skip down memory lane as an ode to all the fun I had last summer in the carefree months after I decided it was time to leave Las Vegas for the California coast. This picture is from underneath the Seattle Ferris Wheel, taken during a long weekend I spent there last July. After jumping onboard the off-the-wall “Ride the Ducks” tour and a day on Bainbridge Island, my two pint-sized friends (ages 2 and 4) caught a second wind and ran towards the big wheel, willing to wait in line as long as it took. As the tourists in front of us started to load up one enclosed cabin after another, I couldn’t help but wonder how the little kids in my party were so fearless. We were getting ready to go sky-high — even I was getting a little nervous! But once we climbed in, all of that was forgotten. We were so excited! Slowly, we rose higher and higher, in our own car with plenty of room to move around as we each tried to see everything. What a view… The wheel increased to some pretty impressive speeds once it was full and could really get going. We looked for our car, pointed out interesting people along the boardwalk and took a ton of photos. The water was gorgeous with a smattering of sailboats.

Winter is cozy, but I am already looking forward to the lazy days of summer!

Daydream of the Week: David Copperfield’s Musha Cay

Mirus-Musha-Cay-JogloI’m a show dork from the Entertainment Capital of the World, who happens to love to travel the globe. So when I found out that none other than David Copperfield, who’s had a residency on the Las Vegas Strip for more than a decade, has a private island paradise in the Bahamas, I set out to investigate.

Musha Cay sounds like a dream. I’ve flown on a private jet a few times now, but a vacation on a private island? The ultimate luxury! And one I can only daydream of for now. Maybe I should at least start dating someone before my trip – the guest houses sound more romantic than anything I could imagine. Copperfield is known for his celebrity friends, and you can bet they come here to relax when they need to get away. Privacy is the name of the game, so I won’t name names. But l bet I can entice you with some other details…

Mirus-Musha-Cay-Dock-Dinner-Wide

Copperfield’s getaway is 700 acres on five islands, and he’s created adventures and activities that only a magician’s imagination could scheme up.  A five-piece tropical steel drum band can be arranged, or fireworks. (I bet both have set the scene for many dreamy proposals and anniversaries.) And then there’s a Treasure Hunt created especially for the resort by Copperfield’s personal creative team. Of course, I would also be all over the spa treatments and water sports, which range from water trampoline and Wave Runners, to SCUBA diving in paradise and sailing.

There are only five luxurious guest houses, each with his- and her-bathrooms, mahogany wrap-around decks – and its own private beach. The cottages range from a one-bedroom to a 3,200-square-foot getaway with a private pier, to a 10,000-square-foot “Highview” that has two bedrooms and stunning 360-degree views. There’s an open-air, ocean-view Balinese Beach Pavillion dining room on property (plus a bar and billiards room), but I’d have every meal on my own stretch of sand, by moonlight.

Mirus-Musha-Cay-Sandbar-Chaise

The islands are just 90 minutes south of Miami by private jet charter, or a (provided by the resort) 20-minute boat ride from Georgetown Airport. To reserve a visit, leave all of the details to a travel agency like Mirus Journeys, the most sophisticated bespoke travel company. Someday I hope to have them help me plan my own “magical” dream getaway.

Daydream of the Week: Big Buddha

Big Buddha Hong Kong monkAfter visiting friends in Austin, Seattle, Victoria, and Vancouver, my big post-Leaving Las Vegas trip was to Asia. While I was there, my youngest brother very nicely agreed to join me on an excursion to the “Big Buddha” (Tian Tan) outside of Hong Kong. The only thing was, he sleeps in and then I lingered way too long over lunch with old friends. When our trip out to Lantau Island, where the Buddha and Po Lin Monastery are located, took a bit longer than we thought, we began to worry that we would miss the whole thing. The lovely subway seemed to barely creak along the later it got, as dusk (closing time) seemed to rapidly creep in. The ride up the mountain is stunning, as you float in cable cars that offer spectacular views in all directions. The Big Buddha is enormous, and everyone inside our car (my brother and I were the only non-French speakers) started pointed and shrieking when we turned a corner and spotted it for the first time. When we arrived, we were in a bit of a hurry. The sun was already setting, and I was determined to get some good photos before everything shut down. So we practically ran towards the Big Buddha, passing all shops, statues, and tourists along the way. Looking up at the steep final staircase, I lurched. Tripping on stairs happens to be a phobia of mine, and these were no joke. Climbing as fast as we could, I at one point glanced over at the other side. As I was heaving and out of shape, plus staring straight down to make sure I wouldn’t fall, I couldn’t help but notice a monk practically running down the stairs without even looking. His concentration? Texting on his cell phone, of course.

With one hand.

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