Category Archives: Trip Reports

AutoSlash Newsletter: Is your Rental Car Company Spying on You?

I don’t know about you, but I would say on a scale of one to ten, I’m probably a ten when it comes to protecting my privacy. I like to know who is gathering information about me, what information they are gathering, and how they are using it. Even if you’re not very high on the privacy scale, this article by AutoSlash (Is Your Rental Car Spying on You? The Story of Connected Rental Cars) is a great read. I like many of the articles that appear on the AutoSlash newsletters because the AutoSlash team is insiders while not actually being a rental car company themselves. I think they do an excellent job of educating consumers, like you and me, on a wide variety of topics related to renting cars.

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Shelli’s World Coffee Tour – Coffee Houses in Boston, Massachusetts

I guess it’s time for a true confession. I’m a coffee snob. And when I travel, I have a passion for supporting local roasters and coffee houses. Let’s just say I’ve BEAN Around the World and I’m feeling like now is the time to start sharing the love… and caffeine, one city at a time. Recently, I had a fantastic week in Beantown, aka Boston. And while I didn’t eat a single baked bean, I did drink plenty of coffee, so I’ve got lots to share with you. Let’s open the TWG cafe society doors and talk coffee, Boston and Cambridge style.

You’ll notice I wrote Boston AND Cambridge, and that’s the first distinction to make. There are two sides to the Charles River and definitely two sides to the coffee scene as well. No worries, though. I covered both sides and have recommendations for you, no matter where you go.

When I travel, I only review and like to support coffee houses that roast their own beans or use locally roasted beans. Unfortunately, many of the coffee houses in Boston use beans from national roasters like Counter Culture, Intelligentsia, and Stumptown. That’s unfortunate because I don’t care for these three roasters, and there are plenty of good local roasters to use. So do make sure to ask at coffee houses whose beans they use. In part 1, I started with the Cambridge side of the river. Now let’s head to the Boston side of the Charles River and drink some coffee!

There are two main players in the Boston coffee scene. Gracenote Coffee Roasters is one of them. Besides having their own shop, other coffee houses use their beans. I’ll get to that in a minute. I spent a long time at Gracenote talking with Aprille, one of the owners. She’s a fun, energetic, woman who is super passionate about coffee, and she was a delight to spend time with.

Tote bag at Gracenote Coffee Roasters

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Shelli’s World Coffee Tour – Coffee Houses in Cambridge, Massachusetts

I guess it’s time for a true confession. I’m a coffee snob. And when I travel, I have a passion for supporting local roasters and coffee houses. Let’s just say I’ve BEAN Around the World and I’m feeling like now is the time to start sharing the love… and caffeine, one city at a time. Recently, I had a fantastic week in Beantown, aka Boston. And while I didn’t eat a single baked bean, I did drink plenty of coffee, so I’ve got lots to share with you. Let’s open the TWG cafe society doors and talk coffee, Boston and Cambridge style.

You’ll notice I wrote Boston AND Cambridge, and that’s the first distinction to make. There are two sides to the Charles River and definitely two sides to the coffee scene as well. No worries, though. I covered both sides and have recommendations for you, no matter where you go.

When I travel, I only review and like to support coffee houses that roast their own beans or use locally roasted beans. Unfortunately, many of the coffee houses in Boston use beans from national roasters like Counter Culture, Intelligentsia, and Stumptown. That’s unfortunate because I don’t care for these three roasters, and there are plenty of good local roasters to use. So do make sure to ask at coffee houses whose beans they use. Let’s start with the Cambridge side of the river because that’s home to one of the key players in the coffee scene.

Barismo was founded back in 2008 by a group of five people. Jaime and Hong, the current owners, are two of the original group. The space I visited in Cambridge was opened in 2012. It’s an all-around perfect spot! I spent quite a long time there and enjoyed talking coffee and business with Jaime. He is warm, welcoming, dedicated, easy to talk with, and very transparent about how he runs the business and his ideas about creating and sustaining a coffee house.

Barismo Coffee. Image: http://www.barismo.com/our-story/

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PSA: Buy National Park Senior Pass Before Massive Price Hike on August 28

The popular senior lifetime pass to America’s national parks is about to get a price hike. And it’s a big one. Act fast to save $70 before August 28, 2017. The pass covers entrance fees to more than 400 national parks for an unlimited number of visits. It’s available for anyone 62 and older. Currently, the pass is only $10. If you purchase online or through the mail, you pay an additional $10 processing fee. But starting on August 28, the price is going up to $80.

The senior pass has not had a price increase since 1994, but why is the new price $80?  Here is your answer: The legislation states that the cost of the lifetime Senior Pass be equal to the cost of the annual America the Beautiful – The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass, which is currently $80.  To find out more about purchasing your senior pass – either online or in person – click here.

I love my pass and use it a lot. Make sure to get yours, or at the very least, find a bestie who has one :) Where’s your favorite place to use yours? I’m partial to Point Loma in San Diego, and to parks in Hawaii.

Point Loma Lighthouse in San Diego. Image: http://coastalsandiegorentals.com/about-san-diego/

My BOS-SAN Alaska Airlines Flight Home Ended with New Luggage

After the flight from San Diego to Boston and my volunteering to be bumped experience, I was expecting a smooth return back to San Diego. But this was not to be! The nonstop flight from Boston to San Diego is an early evening flight. We boarded on time and I took my favorite window seat. We pulled back from the gate and then SLOWLY got into the departure queue. It started to rain. I looked up at the sky and I just didn’t have a good feeling about our departure. I think all of us who travel a lot, and who sit at window seats like I do, watching the sky and clouds, develop a sense about these things.

The pilot started giving us the we-don’t-know-exactly-what’s-happening-yet-but-it-looks-like-we’ll-be-here-for-another-fifteen-minutes speech. He did this a few times, and then he turned the engine off. He told us Boston had stopped ALL flights from leaving due to the weather, and planes were not being able to take off to the northwest.

People were free to get up and move around, so I went to talk with the crew. I wanted to know their take on it, whether or not we might have to stop on our way to San Diego to refuel, or even the chances of a canceled flight. They did suggest I call my Hyatt and see about getting a room for the night, just in case. Because I could see from my window seat that some planes were indeed landing and taking off, I asked the crew about this. They told me that Alaska Airlines actually waits longer than many of the airlines before canceling a flight. I took this as hopeful news, since I had called my Hyatt and they were overbooked by 6 rooms! Continue reading