Imagine reading a great travel article and thinking to yourself, “I wish I could use this article as a guide while I’m traveling…”
If you have access to the internet, you could always bookmark the article and go to the website again. But more often than not, you’d rather not use up data to access the internet. And you might not even have a cell phone plan for the country you are visiting. Besides, just reading through the article again will remind you of the places you wanted to visit — that well-reviewed restaurant or that popular beach — but you’d still have to stop and look up the directions to find it.
There’s a much better way! Use a GPS-guided travel article. This is a travel article that has GPS coordinates embedded in the article and a map of the route the author described in his/her article. Once this app is downloaded to your phone, you will not need any internet to use the article as a guide. It will show you right where you are on the map and guide you to each subsequent location!
I’m pleased to announce that I’ve partnered with GPSmyCity to convert my travel posts into apps. You can download these apps for free, or pay for an upgrade to guide you wherever you are in the world!
What Are GPSMyCity Article Apps?
GPSMyCity produces city walk apps for over 750 cities across the world. The walks may be general (like “San Francisco’s Highlights”), or thematic (such as the “Murray Hill Architecture Walk” in New York). They use GPS tracking on your iPhone to chart your progress around the route and to make sure you don’t get lost. Many of the city apps now have links to articles covering different aspects of the area, including places of interest, restaurants and shops.
Each article is an individual app which you can download for free. This allows you to access the article offline, meaning that you can read it on the airplane, or while following a walk, even if you don’t have internet access. There is also the option to upgrade for a small fee ($1.99). This assists with your travel planning by providing an offline map showing the points of interest. And it links the app to GPS, so that when you are actually in the city you can get a route to the places mentioned in the article.
As a bonus (and to introduce you to how great this concept is), GPSMyCity is offering free upgrades of my most popular travel articles in the GPSmyCity directory for 1 week starting Monday, January 30th until Sunday, February 5th. You can access GPS-guided travel articles two different ways:
- Click on a link below for the article you are interested in (if you haven’t already downloaded the free GPSmyCity app, you will see a prompt to do so). After downloading the app, you will be directed to the article, where you can choose UPGRADE to get the GPS-guided version.
- From the GPSmyCity app, you can browse by city to see which articles are available.
You can download any article for free or upgrade for offline GPS-guided use. Happy travels!
We checked out the Miramar Air Show this weekend…my first one to date! Hosted in San Diego at Miramar, home to the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, including MAG-11’s fixed-wing F/A-18 and KC-130 Hercules squadrons and MAG-16’s MV-22 Osprey tiltrotors and CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters, this year’s air show paid tribute to veterans and their families. We saw F-18s, Blackhawls…even sat in a MIG!
It was amazing to be able to sit in the cockpit of a giant Boeing C-17 and try to imagine transporting tanks and troops in the body of the plane…how do they get these things off the ground?! Did you know the U.S. sent a C-17 to a Chinese Air Show despite concerns inside the Pentagon in 2014? The purpose was to strengthen relations but at costs such as putting technology secrets in jeopardy…including a monetary cost of at least $350,000! Fascinating.
We were able to catch the incredible acrobatics of the Oracle Challenger and Breitling L-39 Jet Team demo. The highlight of the day and show undoubtedly was the majestic performance by the U.S. Navy Blue Angels – jaw dropping and awe inspiring!
What a great day and what great people watching! Thank you to all who serve!
This past weekend I got to see one of my all-time favorite artists perform at Sleep Train Amphitheatre in Chula Vista. Dierks Bentley rocked the house with his best show ever (hands down)…and I have seen a lot of shows. I don’t understand how not every person in this world is a country fan. I think it’s because country historically has had a negative honky tonk stigma and people don’t give it a chance. They’re scared they might actually like it…and to their delight they probably will! I’d much rather listen to songs with actual stories, heart and depth instead of incomprehensible lyrics about mischief and b*tches but that’s just me.
The show opened with the classic Dierks Bentley flag, show-stopping pyrotechnics and a strapping Dierks perched on the podium with the beginning tones of “Sideways” playing in the background. Indeed, “worked all week, it’s time to play, gonna get a little bit…sideways” and sideways we were! One of the many highlights was his performance of “I Hold On”, one of my favorite songs about how he holds on to his roots and what all is important in his life: “Baby, looking at you right now, there ain’t never been no doubt, without you I’d be nothing, so if you ever worry about me walking out, let me tell you something. I hold on.” Something people unfortunately no longer do these days! He killed his current single “Say You Do” and brought out his opener Kip Moore for his first encore song “What Was I Thinking”. Classic! Needless to say, he brought down the house with his final hit “Drunk on a Plane”.
We continued basking in the glow of the show with a little dance party fiesta with the bands afterwards. “Hangin’ memories on the high line poles. Free and easy down the road I go!”
In honor of the evolution of the curl afro, here’s a walk down memory lane…starting as early as 2008! Nationwide. Youngins!
I’ve finally recovered from the Fourth of July and therefore by association…my birthday! We packed up the dog and headed up to my old stomping grounds of Hermosa Beach to spend the day with friends, fireworks and fireball!
A few other highlights from the day (besides my paleo caramel apple pecan bars and Rachael’s tequila infused watermelon skewers)…
Oh yeah, what did I do the next day on my actual birthday? Giant turkey leg at the fair, of course! Nom nom nom…
We took a little weekend getaway this weekend to beautiful Sonoma County for some wine tasting and R&R time! With more than 400 wineries, exquisite tasting rooms, jagged Pacific coastline, rushing Russian River and towering redwood forests, Sonoma is truly a wine lover’s dream.
We started our day of wine tasting at Williams Selyem Winery in Healdsburg’s Russian Rivery Valley. Tours and tastings are available to their Allocation List Members and their referred guests and joining a wine tasting here also entitles you to get on their mailing list (which ordinarily there is a waiting list for). The vineyard designates are extraordinary and it’s exciting to see how they vary and evolve from vintage to vintage. We took home a delicious 2013 Vista Verde Vineyard San Benito County Chenin Blanc, 2013 Unoaked Russian River Chardonnay and an amazing 2012 Block 10 Mass Selection Estate Russian River Pinot Noir. Yum!
Our next stop was a beautiful tasting room looking out into the beautiful vineyards of Benovia Winery, a family-owned producer of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Zinfandel wines in Santa Rosa off the beaten path. Benovia farms three estate vineyards, including the famous Cohn Vineyard, totaling 71 acres. We loved the pinots here!
After our tasting, we headed downstairs to a beautiful table outside among the grapes as our fearless driver Woodie brought us the most amazing sandwiches from Oliver’s Market in Santa Rosa that we enjoyed with (yet another) glass of fine pinot. I highly recommend the Calistoga Honey sandwich – Columbus maple honey ham with crisp bacon, fresh avocado, aged cheddar and honey mustard aioli toasted on a soft Dutch crunch roll…or create your own delicious monstrosity!
With tummies full, we headed to the Lancaster Estate in Healdsburg. We were taken into the beautiful cooling wine caves for a tour and were set up with an exquisite private tasting in the cave. The wine was delicious (especially the cabs) as was the enchanting atmosphere we tasted in.
Albeit pricey, a Lancaster Estate wine guild membership also includes a 3 night stay at the 6,000 square foot Proprietor’s House on the property that is blessed with captivating views of vineyards and surrounding hillsides that was built by the owner of Lancaster Estate that sleeps 10 people comfortably.
Our last tasting for the day was at Christopher Creek Winery, a small family owned winery located in Healdsburg. To be honest, by this point all the wines we were tasting were starting to all blend together but I sure enjoyed having my wine sitting poolside overlooking their rolling vineyards and creeks!
The final (and by far the most special) part of the day was stopping at Cooper’s Vineyard at J’s Winery to remember J’s beloved late winemaker Paul Cooper!
Woodie got us back to our Russian River cabin safely to finish off the night with some more wine and gourmet pizza. Perfection!
Snickerdoodles are my boyfriend’s world’s favorite cookie and my dog thinks it’s unfair that he gets to eat them all. The only solution to this snickerdoodle injustice was to make a dog-friendly healthy version of the classic cookie for him to enjoy like his daddy!
Surprisingly, dog treats are extremely simple to make at home and also healthy for your dog. You can tailor the recipe towards your dog’s diet for any special diets or preferences. The most popular add-in ingredients for dogs are pumpkin, sweet potatoes and apples so don’t hesitate to throw any or all of those in in a puree form. The brown rice flour used in the doggy-doodles gives them their crunch, doesn’t contain gluten, is hypo-allergenic and aids in doggy digestion. Brown rice flour is also high in protein and vitamin B…as well as fiber and selenium which helps prevent cancer! A few key benefits of other popular homemade dog treat ingredients are as follows:
Pumpkin – Pumpkin has been known to improve digestion, urinary health and even assist in weight loss for pets. It’s high in Vitamin A, potassium and fiber and can help keep your dog’s immune system strong as well as remedy upset stomachs, constipation and diarrhea.
Sweet Potatoes – Sweet potatoes are as healthy for your dog as they are for you! They are packed with antioxidants that aid in cancer prevention, healing and anti-aging effects. They’re high in fiber, Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, beta carotene, manganese, copper and iron…a true superfood!
Apples – Apples contain Vitamin C, Vitamin A and plenty of fiber. They will make your dog’s coat shine with omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, not to mention they are a naturally delicious sweet treat.
Natural Peanut Butter – Natural Peanut Butter contains Vitamin E, niacin, phosphorous, magnesium and fiber. It contains protein, carbohydrates and omega fatty acids that can even reduce bad cholesterol in dogs. Peanut butter is Harley’s all-time favorite…one lick from a spoon and he’s drooling for days.
Whole Grain Oats – Beta-glucans in whole grain oats can improve cholesterol which reduces risk of heart disease. They also contain a high level of fiber, protein, magnesium, iron, zinc, Vitamin B and selenium. Oats can assist in controlling blood sugar levels which is beneficial for any dog with diabetes.
Harley and I made these doggy-doodle treat packages to send to his buddies with a note saying “I made you these dog-friendly treats because I miss you and hope you can come play with me soon. I promise I won’t growl or attack you. Love, Harley”. They’re too tasty to not to share!
- 2 cups brown rice flour
- 2 cups oat flour
- 2 eggs
- 3/4 cup water
- 1/3 cup honey
- 2½ tsp cinnamon
- 1½ tsp vanilla extract
- dash of salt
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Mix the brown rice flour, oat flour, eggs, water, honey, cinnamon, vanilla extract and salt together in a large mixing bowl.
- Roll dough into small balls about 1 inch in diameter.
- Place on a foil-lined baking sheet, pressing slightly on each ball as you place it.
- Bake for 20 minutes until golden brown.
I’m not a fancy ritzy spa day girl. Not that I don’t enjoy the luxuries of pampering (I sure do), but it’s more about the ludicrous cost versus benefit for me. Disregarding the ambiance factor, I would gladly choose a $20 full body massage at an Asian “foot” massage parlor over a $200 massage at a fancy shmancy spa. Nevertheless, I had a certificate for Burke Williams so I happily made an appointment to see what the fuss was all about.
I started the day with an early morning run with Harley to get my cardio out of the way. He’s sticking his tongue out at the camera but he’s having fun and he loves to check out the waves. After we successfully avoided all dogs for Harley attack, I whipped up a batch of my paleo huevos rancheros style eggs and began the trek to LA.
I found my way easily to the spa and entered the lobby behind 3 other women before me. I only had to wait five minutes or so before I was given a key to a locker and led into the women’s spa. Of course, the first thing I noticed was a table with small tasters of a smoothie, beautiful bananas and apples and watermelon-lemon infused water. Delightful! I had a sample of each…a couple samples.
Inside my locker was a soft cotton robe with rubber slippers which I contently slipped into. I grabbed a complimentary aromatherapy towel and headed to the steam room. I will say that the combination of the aromatherapy towel over my face while lying in the hot steam was pretty amazing. Every breath felt refreshing, reviving, and cleansing. I could still smell and feel the aromatherapy essences well after I left the steam room. I headed to the (non-silent) Jacuzzi after drinking some infused water and soaked for a few minutes before I lost interest and headed back to the changing area to shower and prepare for the grand event. I was a fan of having any toiletry openly available for use at your disposable – razors, shaving cream, facial moisturizer, body lotion, hair mousse, hair spray, even hair straighteners and curling irons!
I put my robe back on, headed to the waiting room and sipped on some apple spiced green tea while I waited eagerly for my name to be called. Finally an older Swedish woman came into the room and announced that she was “looking for Melody”, me! She led me up the stairs to my massage room and asked me what I would like her to focus on and to which I responded “everything”. The room was nice and dimly lit and I snuck a few pumps of the lotion before I slipped under the blanket and onto the table. I reveled in every muscle she soothed and all of the knots she worked out. I tend to carry a lot of tension in my neck so it was much needed! It was the perfect pressure, with just enough so you don’t feel like you’re only getting lotion rubbed on your back yet not enough to feel like you’re getting murdered via table pounding.
I dreaded the final smooth down and towel pat but eventually all good things come to an end and I was left with the tingly calm sensation that they call relaxation. My massage was amazing and I enjoyed every second of it but I couldn’t help thinking about the fact that I could have gotten the same end result with paying 10% of the price. My mom takes me to these Asian foot massage spa parlors (found anywhere near large Asian populations – we hit the ones in San Gabriel) where you pay $20-$25 and the place you in large, plush recliners and give you a foot soak/massage then recline you flat for a full body massage for 1 hour…neck, shoulders, back, arms, legs, feet…the works! You won’t get the waterfall trickle and saunas that you’d find at a high-end spa but if you’re looking for a no-frills massage, this is the way to go. Depending where in LA I am, I tend to frequent these parlors (yes, I have a frequent customer punch card):
Southbay Foot Massage – 2421 190th Street, Redondo Beach, CA 90278; phone: (310) 379-3668
Lucky Foot Spa – 1039 E Valley Blvd, Ste B113, San Gabriel, CA 91776; phone (626) 572-0588
After showering with four shower heads and an unlimited supply of conditioner (and swiping a razor in my bag because that’s how I roll…and hey, I paid $200 for it), I headed to Venice to meet some girlfriends for brunch at the Sunny Spot, one of my favorite lunch spots with magical décor and a killer outdoor patio. This time I ordered the Diablo Shrimp and Grits (2 eggs any style, spicy rum sauce, garlic butter, herbs) which were good but didn’t quite meet my expectations. The grits and sauce were on the plain side and could have used more spice and flavor but I still managed to consume every last bite. Of course I also had to have a side of their delicious Yucca Fries with their banana basil ketchup which is to die for. I’ve had their Pork Belly Sandwich (garlic aioli, pickled cucumber, cilantro, pineapple, butter lettuce), Half Jerk Chicken (jerk sauce, grilled pineapple) and the MUH-F KN Mofongo and Eggs (2 eggs any style, mashed ripple plantains, applewood bacon, fennel, garlic, rum, cilantro, chili vinegar, ginger oil) which were all mind blowing. For all of you boozers, they also have a $15 bottomless mimosa, bloody mary or sunny rum punch offer until 4:00 pm with the purchase of any main plate!
I headed east with my full belly to pay a visit to the fam…and also learned the “Little Apple Dance” from my mom. Apparently it’s all the rage in Asia 😉