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Being Open to New Experiences: My First Airbnb Stay

I recently booked time at an Airbnb residence in the Ventura/Oxnard, California area, which is about 60 miles from my home. My plan was to drive to the beach early in the weekend and then stay overnight at this person’s home, leaving late in the day on Sunday. I must admit, booking time at an Airbnb was a bit perplexing: I was not sure it was “safe,” I was concerned about whether it would be awkward staying with someone I didn’t know, and I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into. I only knew that other people had done it before me and they had survived!

For those who have limited knowledge of Airbnb, it is a booking service for travelers seeking to rent a room, an apartment, a home or a shared space in a private residence. Airbnb is now worldwide – you can rent a private room in an English castle, a cozy cabin in the Netherlands, stay on a boat in Ventura harbor, or in a yurt or an RV, somewhere in the United States. There are many, many options available, ranging in price from cheap to luxurious. The main draw for people booking through Airbnb, in my opinion, is that it offers a host of options that weren’t previously available and at a lower cost than most motels.

Anyway, back to my story: My choice was to rent a room in a private home in Ventura near the beaches that I love to visit. The cost was a mere $66.00 for the night, which included the taxes and fees. I got to see photos of the place before I booked and I also got to read a number of reviews about the host, which were all exceptionally positive. With that tidbit of information, I set off to explore my first Airbnb experience.

I started my day by heading to one of my favorite beaches to cool off. While there, I received a text from the host, asking when I would be ‘checking in.’ I texted him back that I would be there between 4:30 and 5 p.m. That was my first point of communication with him. Later, I met “A.,” a young man in his 30’s with a ponytail, who showed me my room and the different amenities available. He was very thorough in his explanation of everything and had prepared a small pile of brochures on different attractions in the area. By my bed were two bottles of water and some candies. On the table was the house key, a remote control for the ceiling fan, the code for his Wi-Fi and some sightseeing books. After showing me where the towels were in the bathroom, he invited me to join him and his girlfriend for a glass of wine, then departed, leaving me to my privacy.

So far, so good, I thought. He’s respectable, very professional, and he obviously cares about his customers.

A little later on, after a shower and a change of clothes, I was introduced to his other house guest who were renting a room and a couch from him. I then left to join some friends for dinner and headed out for the evening. When I returned, a few hours later, he and his girlfriend, “L.,” greeted me and asked how my dinner was. We then had a nice conversation about his residence, neighbors, and the amenities offered at his complex. Being a news reporter by trade, I asked a lot of questions, which they didn’t seem to mind answering. One had to do with his mention of the facility’s salt water pool.

Now I’ve never been in a salt water pool and that sounded very cool. So I asked whether I might be able to try it the following day. A. told me that they normally don’t bring their guests over to the pool because it’s reserved for residents, but seeing that I was really interested, he said he’s make it happen.

That night, I enjoyed one of the best night’s sleep I’ve had in a long time. The air was cool, the complex was exceptionally quiet, and the bed was extraordinarily comfortable! When I awoke, there were pastries laid out on the kitchen table and coffee waiting to be made on the counter. It really felt like I was in my own home, for all intents and purposes.

Later that morning, I got to experience the salt water pool where you can float effortlessly, suspended in the salt water like a balloon. It was heaven!

I indulged myself in another shower at A.’s place before leaving. To my surprise, they greeted me with homemade lemonade and hors d’oevres before I left. I was not hurried out but treated like a member of their family. This was probably because they didn’t have a booking for that night, so there wasn’t a firm timeframe for check out.

I eventually left at around 2 p.m. that afternoon and when I did, A. told me that I would be welcomed back again, should I like to stay with them – and you know, I think I will. As someone who has traveled a bit, I definitely know what I like and what I don’t like.

I’ve stayed in very nice hotels where I’ve paid a lot more and still had to deal with noise issues from traffic and neighbors. I’ve also stayed in hotels in major cities where parking was expensive or non-existent. And let’s not forget the campground experiences where I’ve had people keep me up all night because they wanted to party till the cows come home.

Unfortunately, you can’t pick your neighbors – it’s always a roll of the dice – even in expensive hotels.

For the price of my Airbnb, I got a great location in a private home with really nice, caring hosts who did everything they possibly could to make my visit comfortable. So for my first Airbnb review, I’m going to give it 5 stars. If you are interested in experiencing Airbnb, it helps to go into it with an open mind. For the record, I got more than I paid for!

My Visit to the Sierras: Lake Isabella for July 4th

Lake Isabella is in the southern Sierras: I chose this location because of the beauty of the lake and the proximity to the Sierras with their majestic redwoods. Unfortunately, when I arrived on Sunday, July 2nd, 2017, my companion and I found the lake covered with a thick green slime – algae, which is caused by excessive heat conditions. This pretty much rendered the lake unswimmable, although the dogs didn’t mind wading chest deep into the green goop to cool off. Give that this was Day 1 of my 4 day vacation, things were looking grim.

Meanwhile, the KOA campground where I was staying, offered me a lovely little log cabin that perfectly met my needs. It had a double bed with a thick cushion mattress and a bunk bed with room for two more people. My roommate took the bunk bed and one of the dogs decided to share it with him (we have four between us). The bed was comfortable and with the air conditioner on its highest setting, we were prepared for a good night’s sleep.

Not so, as we quickly found out: We were situated in the middle of ten other cabins which were all rented out to a very large family from India. There must have been 75 adults and children all competing for attention. While the children and teens ran around playing a game of musical chairs out in front of the cabin next door, the adults began socializing with a beverage of their choice and it started to get loud!

I don’t fault anyone for enjoying themselves. Camping offers the opportunity for people, who may not have seen each other in a while, to get reacquainted in a laid back setting. But this party was non-stop and lasted well into the night. Because we were in the middle of their cabins, we were also in the middle of a busy traffic area and people did not seem to notice that the sound of their voices was being heard within our little private setting. Despite that snafu, we managed to get a few minutes of sleep and move into the next day.

Day 2, we awoke early and began setting up our breakfast table on the picnic table out front. I was pleased to learn that the proprietors had arranged for a free pancake and sausage breakfast for everyone as a holiday celebration! The food was great and because the camp store had ready-made coffee, I didn’t have to heat up any water to make my own. In a short time, we were in the car with the dogs and off to our next adventure: the Kern River.

The Kern River meets Lake Isabella and fills it with a steady stream of fresh water, which should keep it clean as the water is moving. But since the algae was already well formed, we chose to avoid the lake and go directly to the source. The Kern River was accessible from Riverside Park in Kernville where we found a large shade tree to set up our lawn chairs and hook up our dogs. The view of the river was magnificent and it was exciting to watch the rafters and kayakers navigating the rapids and white water! To our dogs delight, we even found a few coves off the river where it was safe to wade in and enjoy the refreshingly cool water.

This experience proved so delightful that on Day 3, we returned again and just relaxed all day in the shade of a tree by the river. Back at the campground, our friendly neighbors continued to party, so the second night was only slightly better for sleeping than the previous one. We still could hear them chatting into the wee hours – well past 2 a.m. – although my ear plugs did help a lot.

After the second day on the river, I returned to my cabin where I took in a long walk with my dogs on a lovely open dirt road that ran from the back of the KOA property to a Wildlife Reserve. The backdrop for this hike was a majestic view of the high Sierra Mountains which were surprisingly clear and well defined in their beauty. As dusk fell and the stars came out, the sky came alive with brilliance. The sky was especially vivid at 2 a.m. when all the lights from the nearby RVs were out. It was very clear that night and I relished the view of the heavens, having not seen so many stars in my neighborhood of Los Angeles in a long time.

On Day 4, I packed up, walked and fed the dogs, then ate a nice light breakfast at my picnic table before hitting the road home. About halfway back to L.A., I stopped for lunch in Mohave, CA where some close friends drove up to meet me. It was hot in Mohave – 106 degrees (although the inside reading on my car was 115 degrees). After a little rest for the dogs and I, under a large tree in a park, we started the second leg of the trip home.

Driving back to the city, I was thankful to be returning to the place and people I love, but was glad to have gotten away from the fireworks and explosives that people seem to enjoy setting off around the 4th of July. This trip introduced me to a place that I might like to return to again – albeit in the Fall, when the foliage changes color. Hopefully, there will be fewer people at the campground, although I would settle for quieter neighbors!

My dogs had a good time and for a change, I didn’t have to feel guilty about leaving them behind. It’s nice to been welcomed, dogs and all, when traveling somewhere new. 

Till then, I’ll sign off with this: Don’t be afraid to explore unknown places, because in doing so, you get to open your world to new sights, tastes, and experiences that make your life richer~

Writer For Hire® Pat Kramer to Share Life Journey with Los Angeles’ Inner – City High Schoolers

Media Inquiries:  For more information, please contact: Pat Kramer

818 353-5699 pat@writerpatkramer.com

Los Angeles, CA (March 23, 2016) – Writer For Hire Pat Kramer, a veteran business copywriter and ghostwriter, today announced that she will share highlights of her 30 year career journey with inner city high school students at Oscar de la Hoya High School on Wednesday, April 20 and at Animo Inglewood High School on May 18th.  The two, one hour presentations are in partnership with the Youth Business Alliance (YBA), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that focuses on bringing critical 21st century business skills and perspectives into the classroom. Pat will be presenting tips on how she went from a “wanna-be writer” in high school to a professional journalist and corporate copywriter in Los Angeles.

The Youth Business Alliance invited Ms. Kramer to share her experiences and achievements over the time she has built her career in an effort to provide high school students with a broader perspective of what it takes to be successful. The YBA was formed in 2012 with one disadvantaged school and has since grown to include 14 high schools serving roughly 350 disadvantaged students each year through its year-long after school course “Introduction to Business & Careers.”

Pat started her career as a radio news broadcaster and journalist working for radio stations in New England. To get her foot in the door of this incredibly limited and competitive industry, Pat had to work every shift around the clock, including all-night at one radio station in Newport, Rhode Island and then a split-shift at the next where she covered both “morning drive time” and “afternoon drive time.”

“I have never worked as hard in my life as I did at the start of my career,” says Pat, who notes that hard work and determination are the winning formula for anyone starting out in the job market. “Most people in their early ‘20s opt out when the going gets tough, but I stuck with it and advanced in my career to the point where I eventually got to call the shots.”

Looking back on her career of 30+ years as a news writer, ghostwriter, and marketing and public relations consultant, Pat believes the challenges she faced led to a tenacity that has helped her succeed in business when other writers have closed down their shops. “I believe all the challenges I have had to face ultimately gave me a wealth of experience in life and now, I’m giving back by helping the youth of today get started on their own career path.”

Speaking before the public is not new to Pat. Over the years, she has presented workshops and seminars for business leaders in a wide variety of industries on how to better communicate their branding messages by using news-oriented press releases, professionally-written articles for trade publications, and blogs on the social media. Pat is a recognized business leader and an active member of her business community in Sunland-Tujunga. She is also an advocate for humane treatment of animals and the ghostwriter of several books and memoirs.

For more information, please visit: www.writerpatkramer.com

About Writer For Hire 

Writer For Hire® Pat Kramer specializes in developing informational, editorial, promotional and ghostwritten content for companies and individuals all over the world. Her press releases have helped first-time authors reach “best seller” status on Amazon.com, while her media outreach campaigns have elevated formerly unknown business professionals to “thought leaders” in their industries. Known as Writer For Hire® since 1990, Pat has written more than 1,000 articles for local, national and well respected industry publications.

 

 

Why We Celebrate Presidents’ Day

Presidents’ Day is a state and federal holiday celebrated this year on Monday, February 20th to honor the birthday of our nation’s founder, George Washington. The holiday goes all the way back to 1885 and is still referred to as “Washington’s Birthday.” Although his birthday was actually February 22nd, it is always celebrated on the 3rd Monday of February after the Uniform Monday Holiday Act was passed in 1971 to allow for 3-day weekends for the nation’s workers.

While many people think of Presidents’ Day as a commercial holiday, deluged with commercial advertising to create more commerce, it’s important that we remember from where we came. George Washington was one of the most important figures in the founding of this country and President’s Day is a way to pay homage to his life and where we are today, because of the role he played.

Born in 1732, George Washington served as the Chief of the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War, which lasted from 1775 to 1783. In that role, he was victorious in establishing the colonial forces as the victors over the well-trained British Army. Prior to that role, he served in the French and Indian War (1754 – 1763). In 1787, he was elected president of the convention that wrote the U.S. Constitution and two years later, became the first president of the United States, serving two terms: (1789 – 1797). He died at the age of 67 at his Virginia plantation, Mt. Vernon three years after ending his second term. His legacy included his attributes of strength, integrity and national purpose.

Some interesting facts about George Washington:

  • His only trip outside the borders of America was in 1751 when he accompanied his half-brother, Lawrence, to Barbados. Although his brother’s tuberculosis improved from the warm climate, George contracted small pox which permanently scarred his face. This is apparent in portraits of Washington that we see today.
  • One of Washington’s first roles in the military was taking on the role of Commander of the Virginia militia in 1752, even though he had no previous military experience. He rapidly gained experience by leading troops in the French and Indian War and eventually was put in charge of all of Virginia’s militia forces. In 1759, he was elected to Virginia’s House of Burgesses, serving until 1774.
  • Washington married Martha Dandridge Custis, who was a widow at the time with two children. The couple never had any children of their own.
  • The war against the British lasted for 8 years but there were few military wins for the Americans during that time.
  • Washington’s troops were poorly trained and had scant supplies – often lacking food, ammunition and it is said, shoes, during the winter.
  • Washington’s ability to motivate them led to the ultimate victory in the Revolutionary War when, with the aid of the French, the Continental Forces captured the British troops fighting under British General Cornwallis in Yorktown, Virginia, ending the war for independence and making General Washington a national hero.
  • George Washington was inaugurated as President at the age of 57 on April 30, 1789 in New York City and lived in both New York and Philadelphia during his presidency, as the White House was not yet built in Washington, D.C.
  • In his farewell address, Washington urged the new nation to maintain the highest standards, domestically, and to keep involvement with foreign powers to a minimum. That address is still read each February in the U.S. Senate to commemorate Washington’s birthday.
  • Today, his face is seen on the dollar bill and the quarter, more than 200 years after his death.
  • At the time of his death in 1799, George Washington owned 300 slaves. However, during his years in office, he became opposed to slavery and – long before President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, willed that his slaves been freed at the time of his wife’s passing.

Pat Kramer, aka “Writer For Hire,” is a business writer, ghostwriter and contributing writer to Crescenta Valley Weekly. Read more at: www.writerpatkramer.com.