After perusing “The Privileged Pooch, Luxury Travel with Your Pet in Southern California,” I’ve decided if Ace and I ever run into author Maggie Espinosa and her dog, Marcel, on the road … they’re buying.
Unlike my Travels with Ace project, “The Privileged Pooch” – not to be confused with the fine pet boutique in Baltimore of the same name – is a guidebook that focuses on high end luxury travel with your pet.
“Now you can share Southern California’s celebrity lifestyle with your furry friend,” reads the summary on the back of the book. “The days of staying at substandard hotels and dining at drive-thru’s when traveling with the family pet are over.”
Not for me, they ain’t. But that’s not the point.
Espinosa’s point is that bringing a dog along on your trip no longer automatically relegates you to economy-level accommodations. And her book, provides plenty of examples, in highly readable form, of where you can stay, play and eat with your pet — in Palm Springs, Orange County, San Diego, Santa Barbara and greater Los Angeles.
High-end establishments are starting to wise up to the fact that about 10 million pets each year vacation with their owners — and that many of those owners are from the demographic at which tourism-related businesses commonly take aim.
“The Privileged Pooch” lists 69 hotels (not a Motel 6 among them), 55 restaurants, 56 dog-friendly activities and 38 “trendy shops” where you and your dog are welcome.
Espinosa has done some culling, weeding out those establishments that have too many restrictions or silly and unrealistic weight limits. (For the dogs, I mean. Southern California doesn’t have weight limits for people. Yet.)
She uses a rating system of one wag to four wags for pet friendliness — one being “pooches permitted,” four being “pooches paradise.”
At the latter, you might find such features as special puppy menus, a “togetherness massage” for you and your dog (at Casa Laguna Inn & Spa) or ”blueberry and plum pet facials” at a dog-friendly spa called The Healthy Spot.
Espinosa and her bichon frise, Marcel, tested all 69 hotels, and each section of the book, region by region, includes recommendations for everything from dog-friendly beaches to emergency veterinary care.
Our favorite example was the Doggie Bus in Tustin, which totes dogs and their humans to the beach at no charge. An Orange County man started providing the service not to get rich, but simply because he enjoyed doing it.
Now that’s dog-friendly.
Posted by John Woestendiek May 15th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: activities, animals, books, books on dogs, california, dog, dog books, dog friendly, dogs, guide, hotels, los angeles, luxury, maggie espinosa, marcel, orange county, palm springs, pampered, pet friendly, pets, pooch, privileged, privileged pooch, restaurants, san diego, santa barbara, shops, southern california, the privileged pooch, travel, traveling with dogs
O’Malley, whose family has two dogs, is expected to sign the bill, the Baltimore Sun reports on its Maryland Politics blog.
The bill permits restaurants with outdoor patios and tables to welcome dogs, if they want to.
Del. Dan Morhaim sponsored the legislation, and said it will provide a financial boost for restaurants and bars heading into the outdoor dining season.
The Dining Out Growth Act of 2011 permits restaurants statewide to have outdoor space for humans and dogs to eat together — as is already the case in Frederick County, for which similar legislation was passed last year.
Opponents of the bill said it could lead to more dog bites and other health hazards.
Posted by John Woestendiek April 12th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: allowed, animals, bill, dan morhaim, dining, dining out growth act, dining with dogs, dog, dog friendly, dogs, frederick county, governor, health, laws, legislature, martin o'malley, maryland, outdoor, patio, pets, politics, restaurants, seating, signature
Say you forked over $650 to spend the month in a trailer in the desert – actually one of those big pull-it-yourself RV campers with popouts – and when you arrived the next day to move in, a little earlier than expected, you saw that not only were the pop-outs popped in, but the trailer was hitched to a truck, appearing as if it was ready to hit the highway.
(A) Immediately assume you’d been scammed?
(B) Shoot first and ask questions later?
(C) Politely inquire as to what might be going on?
Fortunately I chose (C) when Ace and I pulled into Petite Acres last week to move into what, after six months on the road, we’d arranged to be our home – we presumed, a stationary one – for a month in Cave Creek, Arizona.
As it turned out, my landlady wasn’t hauling the trailer away, only moving it a few feet over so that I might enjoy my entire concrete slab patio, as opposed to just the half of it that the trailer wasn’t resting on.
After a week of trailer life, Ace and I (though I shouldn’t speak for him) couldn’t be happier.
I can sit at the dinette (across from the kitchenette — midway between the bedroomette and the living roomette) and blog while looking out my windowette and enjoying a view of the mountains, strutting quail and rabbits everywhere. At night, I hear whinnying horses and howling coyotes and a few other sounds, and soundettes, I haven’t identified yet.
He has learned, somewhat, not to wander off to visit other trailers, though twice I’ve caught him at the homes of my two closest neighbors, where he tends to venture when they are cooking or eating.
One of them, who introduced himself as Romero, informed me that he didn’t mind Ace dropping by, but asked that I pick up any poop he might leave there, which, unknown to me, he had done yesterday. I apologized, and Romero, who was slow cooking some pork on an outside stovetop, was very nice about it.
Romero’s dinner smelled so good that I couldn’t be too hard on Ace for the transgression. Besides, it had happened hours before.
We’ve yet to encounter any javelina, those wild pig-like creatures who roam in the desert nearby, but I thought one morning I heard some snorting outside the trailer. We have a woodpecker friend who hangs out on the telephone pole in my dusty yard, and other birds — since I generally keep the trailer door open — have wandered inside to look around.
Yesterday, I went outside to absorb some sun — not to tan, just to bake out the morning chill. I’d just about dozed off on my lounge chair when a bird landed on me. Feeling little webbed feet on my thigh, I jerked awake, scaring him off before I could see what kind it was.
I found my temporary home on Craigslist, and, though it’s a trailer, it’s actually wider than my former rowhome in Baltimore — at least when the pop-outs, in the living room and bedroom, are popped out. I worried a little bit about hitting the wrong switch while in bed and getting compacted — hydraulically turned into a John-ette — but it turns out keys need to be inserted for the pop outs to move.
My landlady, Tami, has been wonderful, jumping on any problems that arise, showing me the ropes of RV life, and intent on making sure — though I’m only here for three more weeks — that I feel at home.
She took me to the library to get a library card, introduced me to some of her dog-loving friends and left me stocked up with movies on DVD, since there’s no TV reception. She invited me to join her and some friends at the American Legion Hall last night.
Ace and I have checked out the biker bar next door, The Hideaway Grill, enjoying some nice time there before being informed that, because of a recent incident involving a customer tripping over a leash, dogs are no longer invited to sit on the patio, at least not on busy nights. Last night, I visited the next closest bar, The Buffalo Chip, where Wednesday nights feature bull riding. Not mechanical bulls. Real ones. Dogs are welcome there, but not on bull riding night, or Friday nights, so Ace stayed home. I didn’t ride a bull. Maybe next week.
In addition to not getting TV reception – maybe a good thing — we don’t get mail delivery, and I have to walk my trailer trash down to the Dumpster next to the biker bar.
We’ve had some minor plumbing issues — the trailer, not me — but they were quickly resolved. (Oh, and that missing dental crown? I found it on the car floor while unpacking, and have reinstalled it in my mouth.)
I couldn’t imagine pulling this trailer — it’s a late 90′s Sea Breeze — down the highway, getting it leveled and hooked up at every stop, but, sitting still, it makes for a cozy little home that sways only slightly when Ace jumps on or off the bed or the couch.
I’ve thought I should give it a name, like John Steinbeck did with his camper, Rocinante. (Feel free to submit nominations.) There’s one I like — it’s both modest and Spanish-sounding — but it isn’t original. I saw it etched into a sign at a gift shop:
Posted by John Woestendiek December 9th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, almosta ranch, america, animals, arizona, bars, buffalo chips, bull riding, camper, campers, cave creek, desert, dogs, english bulldogs, hideaway, javelina, john steinbeck, mobile, monthly, name, neighbors, petite acres, pets, pop=outs, quail, rabbits, rental, restaurants, road trip, rv, steinbeck, trailer, trailer life, trash, travel, traveling with dogs, travels with ace, travels with charley, wildlife, woodpecker
Ace and I were strolling down Fisherman’s Wharf in Monterey – a place where one can make a meal out of the free samples of clam chowder offered by hawkers trying to lure you into their establishments.
Rather than mooch samples all afternoon, though, and in need of more copious amounts of chowder, I started eyeing the restaurants, looking for an affordable one with outdoor seating — one that might permit Ace to sit with me and watch me while I ate.
That’s when the hostess at Cafe Fina called out. Well, she didn’t really call out — the city has cracked down on that practice. Instead she quietly and casually mentioned:
When I approached, she went on to explain that Cafe Fina had some pretty good human food, too, and how the restaurant grew many of its own vegetables and how they were organic.
But she had us at doggie menu.
It offered “Chicken a la pooch,” “Hungry pup’s half pounder,” “Hound dog heaven,” and a 14-ounce steak that went for $15.95
The hostess came out with a treat, which of course made Ace get unsituated, so that he might paw her arm in a gesture of affection, which really translated into “I’ll have that dog treat. NOW.”
With some work, I got him back down, but he was nearly trembling with excitement — if not in anticipation of the burger, at least by the noises and scents that emanated from the kitchen, which was on the other side of an open window just a few feet away.
Ace had other ideas.
He took a seat right in front of the window, watching intently as the chef ladled my clam chowder into the bread bowl, its severed lid covered with melted cheese and garlic.
Yes, we were luxuriating a bit — forgetting for the moment about our budgetary limits, and straying from our near steady diet of fast food “Value Meals.”
I saw no reason we couldn’t live it up — at least for one meal.
I think maybe we were both drooling a bit when it finally arrived.
His burger, cut into bite-sized chunks, was steaming, so I kept it on the tabletop for a minute. He waited impatiently — somehow seemingly knowing it was for him. Rather than just sit still and hope I’d toss him a piece, he was up and down, up and down, wriggling this way and that.
The check came to $17 — more than we’ve been spending on dinner, much less lunch.
How much was it worth?
Every penny of it.
Posted by John Woestendiek November 24th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, america, cafe fina, california, canine cuisine, clam chowder, dining, dining with dogs, dog, dog friendly, dog menu, dog's country, doggie, dogscountry, eating, fisherman's wharf, food, menu, monterey, restaurants, road trip, travel, travels with ace
While Denny’s has more than 1,500 outlets across the country, we haven’t stopped at them on our trip across America, vaguely recollecting some of the chain’s restaurants were accused of discriminating against black customers at some point in its 57-year history.
It’s the same reason – 21 years after the oil spill in Alaska – I still don’t gas up at Exxon stations (unless it’s the only choice at the exit, or their prices are the lowest). It’s my way-outdated and somewhat variable sense of social justice – old grudges still held against corporations, often long after I’ve forgotten why I’m holding them, and easily overlooked if the price is right.
I’m willing to let bygones be bygones if you let a couple of decades pass, and tempt me with a “Value Meal.” It helps, too, if you’ve cleaned up your act in the interim.
So, passing through Coeur D’Alene, Idaho, I pulled in under the bright yellow sign, told Ace I’d only be a minute, and went inside for a quick bite — fully intending, of course, as we did with the Waffle House, to share the experience with you, the reader.
By way of history, Denny’s, like the Waffle House, started off as one restaurant — actually a donut shop, named Danny’s Donuts, in Lakewood, California. It had 20 locations by 1959, when the name was changed to Denny’s to avoid confusion with another chain called ”Doughnut Dan’s.” In 1977, it would introduce its “Grand Slam Breakfasts,” reportedly in honor of Hank Aaron.
In the 1990s, Denny’s was named in a class action suit filed by African-American customers who claimed they’d been refused service and forced to wait longer or pay more than white customers. The case resulted in a $54.4 million settlement in 1994.
After that, Denny’s created a racial sensitivity training program for its employees, and began running advertisements featuring Sherman Hemsley and Isabel Sanford, from the television show, “The Jeffersons.” In 2001, Fortune magazine named Denny’s the “Best Company for Minorities.”
This year, though, Denny’s came under ethnic fire again, for a commercial that used the 150th anniversary of the Irish potato famine, which left more than a million dead, to promote an all-you-can-eat french fries and pancakes offer. It later apologized and pulled the ad.
My visit to Denny’s was the first in a year or so, so I took some time familiarizing myself with the multi-page menu. There was a page of special entrees for people 55 and over (quite an arbitrary cut off point, in my view), and another page of ”Value Menu” items (not restricted to old farts) – low-priced entrees that the restaurant seems to make up for with higher prices for everything else (including $2 sodas).
Among the Value Menu offerings, at $4, was the “Fried Cheese Melt.”
It’s a grilled cheese sandwich, with mozarella sticks embedded in the American cheese — that’s right, four breaded and deep fried sticks of cheese, on a bed of cheese, between two pieces of sourdough bread, buttered and fried.
Fortunately, the Fried Cheese Melt is not on the senior menu, because it would probably kill us after just a few bites — and by us, I mean both actual seniors and those of us still enjoying that frolicsome, vital and exploratory stage of life known as our fifties.
At 57 — the same age as me — Denny’s should be smart enough, sympatico enough not to thrust us 50-somethings into the category of seniors. Or at least, if they insist on doing so, offer us some sweeter deals.
That, of course, would make everything – even the Fried Cheese Melt — OK.
Posted by John Woestendiek November 8th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: african americans, animals, black, cheese, compromising, denny's, dining, discrimination, dog's country, dogscountry, Exxon, famine, fried cheese melt, health, irish, lawsuit, menu, nutrition, pets, potato, principles, restaurant, restaurants, road trip, travel, traveling, traveling with dogs, travels with ace, value meals, value menu
The new rule requires dogs to be restrained and prohibits them from entering indoor seating areas. It also makes a point of saying they can’t come in contact with food or servers.
But it’s a giant leap from the old rule, which assessed as much as a two-point health-inspection deduction for restaurants that allowed pets in outdoor eating areas.
The rule change became effective earlier this month.
Posted by John Woestendiek September 9th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: allowed, animals, change, department of environment and natural resources, dining, dining with dogs, dog friendly, dogs, north carolina, outdoor, pets, restaurants, rule, seating
Revisiting my old south Baltimore haunts while I’m briefly back in Baltimore, I made a point to stop by Miguel’s Cocina y Cantina – partly because it’s on my shortlist of dog-friendly local eateries, but mainly for the guacamole.
Between their ever-so-fresh guacamole, cold Mexican beers, dog-friendliness (in the outside dining area) and its proximity to Locust Point Dog Park, Miguel’s is hard to pass up, though difficult to find.
Miguel’s is located on the ground floor of Silo Point, a high-rise condominium in Locust Point. It has a fair harbor view, especially if you like big gray government vessels, and a spacious outdoor seating area.
Earlier this week, after a play date at the dog park — on a day too hot to play much — Ace and his friend Bimini (who you may remember from our pin-up photo session last year) — went on over to Miguel’s, where, being nearer the water, the breeze blows cooler.
We’d issue a cautionary note about feeding your dog guacamole — avocados aren’t good for them — but it’s probably unnecessary. You’ll want to keep it all for yourself.
(“Dog’s Country” is the continuing account of one man and one dog spending six months criss-crossing America.)
Posted by John Woestendiek September 4th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, ace does america, animals, baltimore, bimini, dining, dog friendly, dog parks, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, locust point, locust point dog park, miguel's, pets, restaurants, road trip, silo point, traveling, traveling with dogs, travels with ace
Heading north from Richmond, and doing our best to stay off I-95 (sorry, NPR), we stopped a Mexican restaurant called Nacho Mama’s — not be be confused with Baltimore’s — where Ace was brought the biggest bucket of water we’ve ever been served.
He was far more interested in the tortilla chips, though — at least until my pork enchiladas came. That’s when the serious salivation began.
Ace drooled some, too.
This is nacho Baltimore Nacho Mama’s, but, with two locations in the Richmond area, it’s serving up some pretty fine food, and both welcome dogs to their outdoor areas.
As soon as we sat down, my waiter, who has three pit bulls, brought out a big black bucket, halfway filled with water. My portion of food was equally generous, leaving me, once I polished it off, wanting a nice nap.
But instead we followed U.S. 301 up to Bowling Green, and state highway 2 into Fredericksburg, where we’d been offered overnight accommodations by an old college roomate with an even older dog. (You’ll meet Puck tomorrow.)
From there we kept to the backroads, stopping for the night in Waldorf, before reaching Baltimore Friday. Our first stop was Ace’s old stomping ground — Riverside Park — where Ace reunited with some old friends.
It was a little strange coming home to a place we no longer have a home.
But we’ll talk more about that Monday.
(“Dog’s Country” is the continuing account of one man and one dog spending six months criss-crossing America.)
Posted by John Woestendiek August 28th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace does america, animals, dining, dog friendly, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, mexican food, nacho mama's, ohmidog!, pet friendly, pets, restaurants, richmond, virginia
Being on the road with a dog, there aren’t that many opportunities for a sit down meal, or at least a leisurely sit down inside a restaurant meal — meaning I, in my travels below the Mason-Dixon Line, have been missing out on that southern culinary and cultural delight: The Waffle House.
The Waffle House is one of my favorite places on earth. I love to sit on a stool at the counter and watch the short order cook in action. I love the way the waitresses shout out the orders. I love to watch the waffle iron overflow, see the eggs sizzle on the grill, and eavesdrop on conversations about the days events, spoken in southern accents thick as maple syrup.
On this trip with Ace, in the middle of the summer, the chances to savor a Waffle House experience have been non-existent. It has been way to hot to leave a dog in a car for any length of time.
But the other morning, the coolest one in a long time, I pulled into a Waffle House — they are, after all, at nearly every exit down south, still more prevalent than Starbucks. I found a parking space in partial shade, popped the back window open, and let Ace watch me (and I him) as I sat at a stool and downed a waffle and some orange juice.
It’s not just the food, which comes fast, costs little and tastes good; it’s the Waffle House ambience. It’s knowing, soon as you walk in, four or five employees are going to shout out a hello. Your waitress is going to call you hon’, or perhaps darlin’. And chances are there will be a good conversation going on at the counter. Something about sitting at a counter, even if there’s not a bartender on the other side, sparks open discussion, group conversations. Counters — and they’ve been declining since the demise of the drug store soda shop — have a way of making us realize, as we sit elbow to elbow, that we’re all in this together.
So I always choose the counter.
At this particular Waffle House in Virginia, the conversation was about daytime TV talk show host Wendy Williams. It began when someone said “How you doin’?” Then everybody started saying “How you doin’?” Apparently it is Wendy Williams signature phrase, though some thought she stole it from Joey on “Friends.” Others thought Wendy Williams looked a lot like a man, which of course led to giggles and more debate.
(I didn’t say that discussions were of vital importance, just that they occur.)
(Tip to young reporters: Waffle Houses are a great place to get, in addition to waffles, quotes — better than bars because people are generally sober, unless you’re there late at night; better, too, than the “man on the street,” because the man on the street is generally headed somewhere and doesn’t have time for you. It’s easy to walk in, take a seat — at the counter of course — and get a conversation started on the subject you’re reporting on. I long ago opened a story on a proposal in South Carolina to castrate convicted rapists with a Waffle House exchange.)
The Waffle House got its start in the mid-1950′s when neighbors Joe Rogers, who worked for the Toddle House, and Tom Forkner, in the real estate business, decided to start a business of their own. On Labor Day 1955, they opened the first Waffle House in Avondale Estates, an Atlanta suburb. The chain grew to 401 restaurants by the end of the 1970′s, 672 by the end of the 1980′s, 1,228 by the end of the 1990′s. By 2006, Waffle House Inc., operated more than 1,500 restaurants in 25 states.
At the Waffle House you can get your grits. You can get your hash brown potatoes “Scattered, Smothered and Covered.” You can get “Cheese n’ Egg”s or “Egg and Cheese,” which are two different things, I learned a few years back.
Seeking scrambled eggs with cheese, I placed my order: “I’ll have the cheese and eggs,”
“The Cheese n’ Eggs, or the Egg and Cheese?” the waitress asked. As I was silently pondering what the difference might be — trying to figure out just what I was missing – she explained that the Egg and Cheese is a sandwich.
Waffle Houses – they’re all always open and they all have individual jukeboxes in the booths, but not so loud as to drown out the conversation — are not exclusive to the south, but, like kudzu, that’s where they’ve spread the most.
If you’ve never experienced one, you should. Sit at the counter. Join the conversation. Have a waffle, and maybe some eggs and cheese. Or was that cheese and eggs?
Posted by John Woestendiek August 22nd, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace does america, animals, breakfast, coffee, conversation, counter, dining, dog's country, dogscountry, eating, eggs, fast food, food, icon, ohmidog!, pets, restaurants, road trip, south, southern, traveling with dogs, virginia, waffle house, waffles, wendy williams
Santa Fe is big on rules and restrictions.
It’s also big on dogs.
And, in more than a few cases, dogs have won out.
During our time in Santa Fe, we visited three dog-friendly restaurants (at least one, bird-friendly, too) — where dogs are permitted on leashes in the outdoor dining areas.
We stopped by one more that’s listed as dog-friendly on numerous websites — Bobcat Bites — but they’ve apparently stopped allowing dogs, after a customer either got bitten, or almost got bitten. This isn’t an inclusive list (feel free to add your dog-friendly Santa Fe restaurant to this post through a comment), it’s just where we went.
For starters, we tried Louie’s Corner Cafe, which was our favorite — partly because of the build your own omelette, which has very little to do with dogs, or, in this case, dogs with it. It was too good to share (though Ace did get some toast.)
The waitress was quick to bring Ace a bowl of fresh water, and the umbrellas over the tables supplied much in needed shade, which in Ace’s view, is the second best thing to dropped food.
The Atomic Grill has limited dog friendly seating and, interestingly, only one table at which one can both be accompanied by their dog and drink an alcoholic beverage. I opted for that one, as the other two were kind of on the entrance path and I worried about Ace — given his size — blocking the view of patrons. While there’s a full patio, the part with a roof isn’t open to dogs because of some silly rule, my waitress said. The food (I opted for fish tacos) was great, and the waitress adored my dog, which is always worth some extra tippage. I had to answer the “What Kind of Dog is That?” question about ten times during my meal, but I didn’t mind.
Our final dog-friendly stop was Counter Culture, which has a spacious and shaded outdoor dining area with trees, and birds everywhere. It’s more off the beaten path than the other two restaurants — not right downtown, which, in many ways (given parking and traffic) is a plus.The only inconvenience there is that you have to go inside and order first. Fortunately, Ace is well-behaved enough to stay, and, just in case, anchoring his leash to the iron chair was easily accomplished
(“Dog’s Country” is the continuing account of one man and one dog spending six months criss-crossing America.)
Posted by John Woestendiek July 20th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace does america, allowed, animals, dine, dining, dining with dog, dog, dog friendly, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, eat, eating, food, new mexico, pet friendly, pets, restaurants, santa fe, tourism, travel, traveling with dogs