Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Idyllwild, CA

Strawberry Creek Inn

Wow! When I arrived in Idyllwild last February there was 49" of snow on the ground! Fortunately, there had been enough time since the last snow for the roads to be cleared. This was something like the 4th highest amount of snow to fall from Christmas through February in Idyllwild's history. It was a beautiful sight, but I am pretty sure the locals were ready for it to melt, which it did quite a lot of during my week there. By the time I left you could see the roofs again and patches of grass were begininng to show.

My assignment was at the Strawberry Creek Inn, http://www.strawberrycreekinn.com/ . This is a lovely property just outside of the main town area so it is quiet and yet close to everything. The inn has 9 rooms in the B&B plus a vacation cottage next to the B&B property. There are decks, gardens and even a hammock to relax in. All rooms have TVs and most of the rooms have fireplaces. A full breakfast is served at 9 am each day. The vacation cottage is separate from the B&B; however, for an extra fee the cottage guests may join the B&B guests for breakfast.

By the way, the eggs you get at breakfast are definitely fresh because the owners, Ian and Scott, raise their own chickens. Let me tell you that feeding chickens and putting them in the coop at night is a new experience for me. When the guys first told me about the chickens I told them I was a city girl and the only thing I knew how to do with chickens was cook them! Anyway, I have learned. Of course, watching me try to take care of the chickens has also provided the guests with a great deal of entertainment!
I'd say that one of the best things about the inn is that the "common area" where all the guests can relax and get to know one another is very spacious and welcoming, much larger than in many B&Bs. There is a large living room area that has a wood buring fireplace, comfortable couches and chairs and even a rocking chair. Also there is a bookshelf that is full of games to play.

There is a private area just outside the living room that is a small library with 2 comfortable chairs to sit and read in. For those who are musically inclined, there is even a piano. The common area also has lots of windows so there is wonderful natural light to enjoy as well.

For those of you who would like to bring children and pets, the inn is not the best place as it does not allow pets and while children are welcome, there can only be 2 people to a guest room regardless of age. So, to accommodate families and/or those traveling with pets, the guys also own the Strawberry Creek Bunkhouse on the other side of town. This is a charming place reminiscent of the days of knotty pine motels. The rooms are all knotty pine, have a north woods decor, kitchenettes and a deck at the back of each room with view that looks out to the San Jacinto State Park. There are also two cottages available. While a full breakfast is not included, a tray with coffee and scones is delivered to your room each morning.

Cottage at Strawberry Bunkhouse
The town of Idyllwild is in the San Bernadino mountains. It is a quaint town with lots of galleries and small shops. The San Jacinto State Park and the San Jacinto National Forest surround the town so there are lots of hiking trails. Many generations of families from Southern CA have been coming to Idyllwild for summer vacation every year. It is a short drive from Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego. In fact, for those of you in the Los Angelese, San Bernadino and San Diego area, Idyllwild provides a great opportunity to take a long weekend if you are trying to be more budget minded and don't think you can do a lengthy long-distance vacation this year.

I had lunch one day at The Bread Basket restaurant. This is a small restaurant with a European style. They bake fresh pastries and breads everyday. I had a Chardonnay Chicken Sandwich with soup. The chicken sandwich was made with sour cream instead of mayonaise and had cranberries in it. Very good!

Regretfully, there are no quilt shops in Idyllwild. However, there is an active quilting guild that holds a quilt show each year.

Besides quilt shops, I always look for tea shops and there I was lucky. A new shop has opened in Idyllwild called Idyllwild Tea Company . There is a comfy setee and chairs in a small area for guests to sit, enjoy there tea and chat with one another. If the manager, Carol Klika, isn't busy at the counter, she sits and chats with you too. There is a nice selection of teapots for sale and an abundant selection of teas. I had a Chai tea with chocolate in it. Yummmmmm!

I hope you find time to visit Idyllwild and enjoy the hospitality that Ian and Rodney and their staff provide at the Strawberry Creek Inn and Strawberry Bunkhouse.

Have fun!

Thursday, February 12, 2009


The first week of February in Monterey, CA was wonderful. I attended the California Association of Bed and Breakfast Inns' annual InnSpire Conference. As always, it was very informative, an excellent format for networking with B&Bs and a lot of fun.

f you are ever in Monterey, I highly recommend staying at the Jabberwock Inn, http://www.jabberwockinn.com/. As the name suggests, you will find references to Alice in Wonderland throughout the inn, but not in an over-the-top way. The inn is beautiful, comfortable and inviting. The innkeepers, John and Dawn, will make you feel like a long lost friend. The breakfasts are absolutely delicious. After breakfast or anytime during the day, you can go out in the gardens and play bocce ball on the recently installed court. Watch out for John...he has the home court advantage and can place the balls anywhere with amazing accuracy.

I made my first (but definitely not my last) visit to the Monterey Aquarium. If you have never been there, make it a "must see" when you visit Monterey. What a beautiful and inspiring place to spend your day. Plan at least 3 hours if you want to see everything at your leisure. I was mesmerized by the Jellyfish exhibits and who would have thought that a school of sardines would appear as a shimmering silver ribbon undulating through the sea. There is even a worm who, unfortunately, is called the Fat Innkeeper Worm! He is definitely not attractive and any shrimp that checks into his B&B should skip breakfast because instead of being served breakfast, the shrimp is breakfast!

There are many fine restaurants in Monterey. A group of us dined at the Old Fisherman's Grotto on Fisherman's Wharf. I had giant scallops that were served with a light coconut sauce that was truly delectable. There were 6 of us and we all agreed that the food and service were outstanding. Not only did they bring free appetizers to our table, each lady was given a rose at the end of the evening!

Just a few minutes away from the aquarium is a town called Pacific Grove where the Monarch Grove Sanctuary is located in a secluded grove of eucalyptus trees that is a winter migration place for Monarch Butterflies. You will find the monarchs there during the 5-month period beginning in October each year. The best viewing is between November and February. I was lucky to be there at the right time of year to see them. Can you imagine watching thousands of butterflies flying around? What a beautiful sight!

Also in Pacific Grove there is a wonderful shop called Back Porch Quilts. If you love fabrics and quilts, stop in and browse around. They frequently have a quilt show on exhibit in the classroom. You will find the staff friendly and knowledgeable.

I would have loved to spend more time in Monterey and visit Carmel as well, but I didn't have time. The weather was beautiful up until the day I left. Unfortunately, it rained making my trip down Hwy. 1 a bit soggy, so I didn't stop as much along the way was I would have liked. I always love the drive down the coast and even in the rain there are many breathtaking views.

Next assignment is in Idyllwild, CA. Can't wait!