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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Renting out your house? Think twice....

You may have heard about Airbnb, the startup that allows people to rent out their homes while they are away on vacation.
In a horror story that is now going viral online and causing a black eye for Airbnb, a woman rented out her San Francisco Bay area apartment through the Airbnb service. Her apartment was rented out by a mysterious "Dj Pattrson" for a timeframe when she would be away. The renters who were supposedly checked out through the Airbnb service methodically destroyed her apartment and stole all her valuable belongings over the period of a week.

Here is a snippet from the woman's blog detailing the damage caused:

"They smashed a hole through a locked closet door, and found the passport, cash, credit card and grandmother’s jewelry I had hidden inside. They took my camera, my iPod, an old laptop, and my external backup drive filled with photos, journals… my entire life. They found my birth certificate and social security card, which I believe they photocopied – using the printer/copier I kindly left out for my guests’ use. They rifled through all my drawers, wore my shoes and clothes, and left my clothing crumpled up in a pile of wet, mildewing towels on the closet floor. They found my coupons for Bed Bath & Beyond and used the discount, along with my Mastercard, to shop online. Despite the heat wave, they used my fireplace and multiple Duraflame logs to reduce mounds of stuff (my stuff??) to ash – including, I believe, the missing set of guest sheets I left carefully folded for their comfort. Yet they were stupid and careless enough to leave the flue closed; dirty gray ash now covered every surface inside."

That's not all....

"The kitchen was a disaster – the sink piled high with filthy dishes, pots and pans burnt out and ruined. Comet Cleanser was dumped everywhere; the kitchen counters, wood furniture, my gorgeous new bed frame, my desk, my printer… all were doused in powdered bleach. The death-like smell emanating from the bathroom was frightening (and still is) and the bathroom sink was caked with a crusty yellow substance. Various pairs of my gloves were strewn about – leather, dishwashing and otherwise – I imagine in a weak attempt to cover up fingerprints. Whoever these people were, they were living large and having one hell of a time for an entire week inside my home, unwatched, unchecked, free to do whatever destruction they wished. And damn, did they do a lot of it."

While all this was happening, the "renters" were sending her soothing emails saying how they loved her apartment.

She deserves an apology and reimbursement from Airbnb for her damages caused by relying on their service to properly vet potential renters. Until that time, I would warn others to not use the Airbnb service.

Read the full story here.

Posted by Carl Burnham at 11:39 PM
Categories: Travel News

Micro-chipped Hotel Towels & Robes?

Yes, you read that correctly. Linen Tracking is a company specialized in installing RFID chips for hotel clients. I can't imagine someone taking towels or a robe previously used by someone else in a hotel, but it does happen fairly often I understand at certain hotels. What's next, microchipped pillows?

Read the full story here.

Posted by Carl Burnham at 10:51 AM
Edited on: Saturday, July 30, 2011 11:05 PM
Categories: Accommodations

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

New Miami Hotels in revitalized downtown

Many cruises originate from the port of Miami. Developers have been keying on this fact as well as the history of the downtown area and have been actively reclaiming a vibrancy to the downtown Miami area with a crop of new upscale hotels and restaurants. A new train will go online in 2012 to dispatch people from the airport to downtown Miami.

Three of the newest hotels in the downtown area of Miami include:

JW Marriott Marquis
Indoor basketball court JW Marriott Marquis Miami
This 313 room hotel offers an indoor basketball court, expansive in-room window views of Biscayne Bay, mirrors with built-in TV, and a posh bistro restaurant (Daniel Boulud's db Bistro Moderne).

Epic Hotel
Epic Hotel in Miami
Part of the Kimpton chain, the Epic Hotel is a boutique hotel offering rooms in subtle colors, with balcony views, a wine happy hour, spa, and the popular ZUMA restaurant, specializing in Japanese tapas.

Tempo Miami
Tempo Miami Hotel a Rock Resort
Located in a condo tower near American Airlines Arena, the home of the Miami Heat.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Old Missions of San Antonio

As the #1 attraction in Texas, San Antonio has SeaWorld, Six Flags Fiesta, River Walk, and the Alamo mission.
Mission San Jose
Lesser known are the other old Spanish missions around San Antonio, now maintained by the National Park Service. The first mission was built back in 1718, with five missions in all. Elaborate Spanish acequias (irrigation ditches) were built, and are still used today to help provide vital water to the area. Few are aware that the first cattle drives originated from here, specifically the old Spanish missions. Church services are still occasionally held today. If you have a chance, take time to tour these historic gems. We plan to tour extensively when the weather turns cooler.
View a printable map of San Antonio Missions. Visit the National Park San Antonio Missions website.

Posted by Carl Burnham at 12:58 PM
Edited on: Wednesday, July 27, 2011 11:44 AM
Categories: Attractions, Destinations

Friday, July 15, 2011

San Antonio Stay near area attractions

Headed to Sea World in San Antonio? Consider a stay at the Omni at the Colonnade, a family friendly hotel just 18 miles away. It is also located many other top attractions around San Anton.

Read more in our feature on the Omni at the Colonnade.
Omni San Antonio Colonnade

Posted by Carl Burnham at 10:15 PM
Edited on: Friday, July 15, 2011 10:19 PM
Categories: Accommodations, Destinations

Help for Allergy Sufferers who Travel

Hotels are paying more attention to those who suffer from allergies. According to a 2010 Lodging Survey prepared for the American Hotel and Lodging Association by STR, a hotel research company, thirty-eight percent of hotels now offer some kind of allergy-friendly service in guest rooms.

Read more about.

Posted by Carl Burnham at 8:51 PM
Categories: Travel News

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Bodie: Ghost of a Town

As you walk the streets you see signs of how bustling the town of Bodie once was. The town first received electricity way back in the 1890s. A gas station now sits vacant, with old wagons nearby. The buildings and houses in town show that it was a thriving place. Read more about the ghost town of Bodie, California.
Posted by Carl Burnham at 10:25 PM
Categories: Attractions, Destinations

Monday, July 04, 2011

The Declaration of a Republic

America is a Republic, not a democracy. A Republic is defined in the dictionary as "a state in which the supreme power rests in the body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by representatives chosen directly or indirectly by them." Many modern day career politicians tend to overlook this fact, and seek to polarize us into groups of finger pointers. We are all Americans.
On July 4th, it's good to review our foundings and refresh ourselves on the essentialls for what America is based on and what makes our country so great.

This Charters of Freedom website has the words and images of the Declaration of Independence and other founding documents. As a young nation, we threw off the tyrannical servitude to a King and of taxation without representation.

Put to pen by Thomas Jefferson, the Declaration of Independence articulated clearly an America where we "embraced a view of the world in which a person's position was determined, not by birth, rank, or title, but by talent, ability, and enterprise."

Posted by Carl Burnham at 4:10 PM

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Cars and Coffee, Leander, TX

Situated in the old town section of Leander just off of Hwy 183 is a little known monthly car event to show off vintage and unusual vehicles in the Austin area. Although I got there late, I was still able to see and talk with several of the car owners.

Here a 1961 Impala SS with a 1963 409 engine (equal to 425 HP) showed off it's stuff. Termed a "restro-muscle" car by the owner, it was in prestine shape. Reminded me of driving with my Dad in his 1964 white Impala to get some delicious mini Krystal Hamburgers. Wonder where that car is today??

If you are in the Austin area (or visiting) the first Sunday of the month, be sure to head up to Leander and check out the Cars and Coffee Austin Car Show for a real treat. Get there well before 12 to be sure and catch the most vintage and exotic cars, which varies monthly.
What: Cars and Coffee of Austin
When: First Sunday of each month - from 11 - 2
Where: old town section of Leander, Texas just north of Austin off of Hwy 183
Posted by Carl Burnham at 10:14 PM
Edited on: Sunday, July 03, 2011 10:22 PM
Categories: Attractions

Antique Car Museum near Bastrop, TX

I'm a sucker for old cars. So when I saw that the Central Texas Museum of Automotive History was just down the road from our stay at 9e Ranch B&B in Smithville, I was attracted like a moth to a flame.
Cars of yesteryear had class, finesse, PERSONALITY not found in the vanilla cars today.

You will see a everything from an old Texaco gas station, gas signs, license plates, and of course cars of all makes and models from 1903 to current day. The placement of cars has no rhyme or reason that I could see. No matter, they're all treasures. Here a towering 1940s Ford pickup is parked next to a vintage Rolls Royce. A 1957 Chevy screams out to you to drive it (orange UT colors are naturally prevalent here).

This 1911 Napier "Garden Car" in the second photo above was a British status symbol of it's day for the rich to show off, and was exceptionally made. Note the wicker seating and back cover.

The 1959 Ford Edsel is here, a product of extensive Ford research that went awry. Note the unusual color original to the car. Compared to the cars today it is far from what I would call ugly. One of the oddest cars on display is the 1924 Delage D.I. made in Paris, France. Note the wood grain finish This car was discovered on a Netherlands farm in 1975. There were less than 10,000 of these cars made in the Delage D.I. series. An earlier model of the Delage won the 1914 Indianaplois 500.
Join our Facebook pages and view more vintage cars from the Central Texas Museum of Automotive History.

Read about our visit to 9E Ranch Bed & Breakfast in Smithville just 2 miles from the antique car museum at Rosanky.

Posted by Carl Burnham at 8:28 PM
Categories: Attractions, Destinations

Friday, July 01, 2011

Bastrop, Tx: Old Soda Fountain & Visitor's Center

Lock Drug Store, Bastrop, Texas    
I love old authentic soda fountains like the one at Lock Drug Store on Main Street with the old marble counter and interior dating to 1905. The second photo is of the soda fountain the way it originally looked around 1905. The cabinets, marble counter, and most of the interior is still the same. Here they will mix you up a treat however you like it. I decided on a frosty shake, except instead of milk had them add Dr. Pepper with the vanilla ice cream. Good combo!

Across the street is the Visitor's Center housed in the old First National Bank Building, circa 1889. The old bank vault is still there, and the walls are lined with vintage photos. The lady there can fill you in on all the historical places to see. Watched a brief film here on the history of Bastrop. Be sure to get the pamphlet on the historic walking tour of downtown.
Just 12 or so miles down the road on Hwy 304 off of Hwy 71 is the Central Texas Museum of Automotive History, a priceless gallery of the best in American and foreign automotive ingenuity and engineering. More about it tomorrow. Like our Facebook page to see more photos, and read more about our stay at the 9e Ranch B&B on Hwy 304.
Central Texas Museum of Automotive History   

Posted by Carl Burnham at 10:46 PM
Categories: Attractions, Destinations

Exploring Bastrop, Texas

Bastrop is one of those sleepy little towns that has done an excellent job of preserving their heritage (it doesn't hurt to be on the Colorado River and within 30 minutes of Austin either). Over 130 buildings in town have historic markers. Bastrop is one of the oldest towns in Texas. First inhabited by settlers in the 1830s, the town blossomed along the Colorado River.
downtown Bastrop 
Besides the antiques and touristy shops and plenty of things to do outdoors (there is the Colorado River and four parks within a stone's throw), there are lots of great eating places. My first thoughts were BBQ, but the wife wanted lighter fare so we opted for homemade food at Maxine's.
Maxine's Restaurant in Bastrop, Tx.
Had a tasty burger with lots of ice water served from Mason jars (it's hot out there), with homemade coconut cream pie to round out the meal. Photos and memorabilia line the walls of simpler times. An old bicycle hangs over the doorway. By the kitchen are three cast iron skillets sized from small to large. The first one says "1st Warning." The mid-sized one states "Attitude Adjuster." The large one, the size that my Mom uses for making buttermilk biscuits says "Final Results."

More to come tomorrow on our visit to the incredible antique car musuem (like our Facebook page to see photos) just down the road.
Read about our new feature on the 9e Ranch B&B just 10 miles from Bastrop.

On a separate note, we are looking to re-add comments on the blog in the coming months. We had it years ago but had spammers. Looking to utilize a new system to take care of.

Posted by Carl Burnham at 1:22 PM
Categories: Attractions, Destinations