Get Your Grub on at the World Food Championships in Alabama

MomStart Travel News

When you think “great family vacations”, what destinations come to mind? Consider the shores of Alabama! This location will be hosting the World Food Championships the next few years – and is a vacation spot highly recommended by every person I know that has visited!

 

World Food Championships Selects The Wharf

In Orange Beach, Ala. For 2016 Tournament

The Ultimate Food Fight celebrates its 5th anniversary with multi-year deal

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Feb. 5, 2016) – The World Food Championships announced today that it is going coastal for the first time and moving the 2016 Ultimate Food Fight to Orange Beach, Alabama.

Now celebrating its 5th Anniversary, WFC will be held Nov. 8-15 at The Wharf, a resort destination with a full-service marina, retail, dining and entertainment options anchored by a multi-use event center and a 10,000-seat amphitheater.

The relocation to Orange Beach is a major milestone, according to World Food Championships’ CEO Mike McCloud. For the first time, WFC will be able to centralize all of its nine championships while also providing more access for “eatertainment” and culinary tourism.

“The World Food Championship is a great fit for the Alabama Gulf Coast, and we know competitors and visitors will enjoy their experience,” said Herb Malone, president and CEO of Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism. “Based on other culinary events we have here – National Shrimp Festival, Hangout Oyster Cook-Off, Wharf Uncorked – we know from experience what events like these can do for a destination.”

The direct tourism and economic impact of WFC in 2015 on central Florida surpassed $2 million, while more than 3500 room nights were booked and a national media value of $26 million was reported by BurrellesLuce, an independent media monitoring service.

“Our event brings a huge culinary and economic impact to our partner destination, and as a result, it requires a ton of space, logistics and support to be successful,” McCloud said. “With the help of Orange Beach tourism and The Wharf, we are extremely excited about our future as we continue to build out the largest Food Sport event in the world.”

The majority of WFC’s food fights occur in Kenmore Kitchen Arena, the largest outdoor kitchen in the world, measuring a full city block. The space features $250,000 worth of Kenmore branded stoves, cooktops, countertops and cookware – enough for 50 contestants to cook simultaneously. An additional $100,000 worth of professional grills from Bull Outdoor Products allow for open-flame grilling.

“This is a multi-year deal that gives us the ability to plan our growth strategically and confidently,” McCloud added.  “We will now be able to market and expand WFC on many fronts, including unique food experiences like a Global Tasting Village, a chef-driven Culinary Fight Club, and Food Champ Judging classes that feature the EAT Methodology for scoring competition food.”

The World Food Championships was created in 2012 and has experienced rapid growth ever since. From a 30% annualized growth in competitors, to its second TV series that will be aired this summer on Destination America, the WFC has evolved into a year-long quest for thousands of competitors and foodies, as well as a marketing platform for innovative companies that integrate fun food experiences.

This year’s tournament is expected to host more than 1,200 competitors representing 400 teams from 20 countries and 45 states, all vying for part of the $350,000 prize purse and its industry-leading $100,000 grand prize.

Marked by its sugar-white sand beaches, deep-sea fishing and countless family attractions, the Orange Beach and Gulf Shores area is one of the world’s leading beach destinations, annually attracting more than 5 million visitors. Centrally located in the Gulf, and a short drive from the Pensacola airport, Orange Beach’s lodging properties are ideal for beach-side access or inland retreats that are both convenient and affordable. A spectrum of local dining, upscale shopping, fishing, nature and adventure-based excursions also contribute to a spectacular vacation, holiday or leisure experience.

To learn more about the WFC and its qualifying events, tournament-style process or consumer experiences, visitwww.worldfoodchampionships.com.

To learn more about Orange Beach, visit www.orangebeach.com.

To learn more about The Wharf, visit www.alwharf.com.

Celebrate Spring Break With Moonshine in TN

Looking for a taste of the unusual this spring break? Consider East Tennessee for fresh air, mountains, and moonshine!

Sugarlands Distilling Company

Gatlinburg, Tenn.— Sugarlands Distilling Company, distillers of craft moonshine in East Tennessee, would like to invite you to enjoy a few days with us in the Great Smoky Mountains this spring. In recent years, Gatlinburg has become a popular spring break destination for college students and families alike. With world class shopping, premium distillery tours, and award-winning regional food at the entrance of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, are you really surprised?

TripAdvisor recently named Gatlinburg, Tenn. one of the Top 10 Travelers Choice Destinations for 2016. Esquire Magazine named the mountain town a Top 10 U.S. Travel Destination for 2016, as well. As if you needed anymore reasons to make Spring Break 2016 happen in Gatlinburg.

Sugarlands Distilling Company is one of a handful of distilleries in the city that offer free spirit tastings to anyone over 21 years of age. It is the only distillery, however, that offers free daily tours, premium/private group tours, live music on the Backporch Stage, and appalachian story-telling. You can also plan an excursion into the Smoky Mountains at the distillery in downtown Gatlinburg!

Sugarlands Distilling Co. currently has more 5 Star reviews on TripAdvisor.com than any other distillery in the United States. It is ranked second only to Guinness internationally in that category.

So this spring, be sure to bring your party to us. With daily tastings and activities, Sugarlands Distilling Company offers fun for everyone. Don’t miss out on visiting one of the world’s hottest destinations in 2016.

Sugarlands Distilling Company currently offers 14 flavors of its award-winning moonshine, including newly announced Peppermint and Root Beer. Peppermint and Root Beer join an award-winning line of Sugarlands Shine that has won 20 awards internationally since distillation began in 2014. In that same time period, more than 1 million people have visited the distillery. Find out why by following them on Facebook and on Twitter @sugarlandsshine.

 

Let The Good Times Roll With Carnaval!

MomStart Travel News

Ready to greet Lent in style? Consider a trip to Brazil for Carnaval!

Celebrate Carnaval Throughout Brazil!

With the Olympics nearly six months away, Brazil is set to be (once again) the #1 destination for international travelers. Just take a look at its main event: Carnaval.

The idea of Carnaval at first might seem easy to grasp and maneuver, but consider this: Over 3 million revelers are expected to attend this year’s celebration in Brazil. So we ask: how much do travelers actually know about Carnaval in Brazil, and are they missing out on the full experience?

You might know about the Rio de Janeiro parade, but there are other cities that throw equally massive parties in even more gorgeous settings. Here’s your chance to learn about them and join the party!

Salvador

Salvador, the capital of Bahia, proves to be a forerunner of carnivals. The city has an estimated 2 million festival attendees during carnival and has the Guinness Book of Records as the biggest street party in the world. “Land of happiness”, Bahia is considered the musical state of Brazil with a rich mixture of genres and rhythms like axe, pagode and samba. People here sing and play special instruments like the berimbau, agogos and atabaques, and the carnival is dominated by the “trio elétricos”  – music-trucks with singers and dancers on top.

Its Carnaval kickoff includes a beautiful and intricate masquerade ball called “Baile dos Mascarados.” Carnaval in Salvador also cannot commence without the tradition of when the mayor hands over the keys of the city to the designated “Carnaval King.” This ceremony signifies that the city belongs to the revelers of Carnaval, and it starts the parades to celebrate the spirit of its people through music and various circuits and street blocks.

Visitors can get involved in local activities and celebrations by choosing a neighborhood block to join in marching the Carnaval parades. The only requirement to join a block is to buy a shirt to participate and follow the “trio elétricos” through the circuit around the city. If tourists prefer to take part as spectators of Carnaval, then they can observe the parades by buying access into a “camarote” or “viewing box.” The viewing box is accompanied with live music, food and drinks during Carnaval, not to mention that guests will have a great overall view of people dancing down the streets. Another alternative is to play in the independent blocks of the city where there is no cost to participate in Carnaval.

Recife & Olinda

Recife has its own distinctive Carnaval symbol: the “Galo da Madrugada” (Rooster of Dawn.) Millions of revelers follow this festive and folkloric doll down Forte das Cinco Pontas to the harbor during the traditional Saturday morning parade, dancing to frevo, Recife’s regional Carnaval music.

For Brazilians, Recife is one of the top Carnavals to attend, and the city’s population actually drastically increases from 1,297,000 residents to more than two million people in celebration of the festival. The Carnaval opening ceremony in Recife is kicked off with a commencement in the neighborhood of Rua da Moeda. It is here where people start dancing the distinct rhythm of the Recife Carnaval, “Frevo,” all while following drummers known as the “12 Nations of Maracatu.”

Recife’s neighbor, Olinda, also has carnival dancers jumping with umbrellas in hand and frevo in the foot. The five-day festival, beginning with the typical parade of giant puppets known as mamulengos offer several street blocks, as the Room of Justice and the potato cod, which closes the Carnival on Ash Wednesday.

Fortaleza

The Northeast stands out in the country in this period as a region of joy, relaxation and celebration. In Fortaleza, the capital of the State of Ceará, the party has varied rhythms of music, away from the hegemony of samba and axe. What stands out the most are maracatu groups and dances at Iracema Beach and Avenue Domingos Olimpio, major sites of Fortaleza’s carnaval.

Manaus

The creation of Carnaboi party helped join carnaval celebration with the traditions of the Boi Bumba, turning this into the most famous Carnaval in the Amazon. The Manaus Carnival keeps the tradition going back to the early 20th century, the great parade of traditional costumes, which takes place in the historic city center.

Florianópolis, SC

Carnaval in Florianópolis is among the best in Brazil. Similar to Rio, the celebration here is cheerful and open to all; gays, lesbians and supporters head to Magic Island to enjoy a quiet and lively street party. At the city center, the samba schools parade on the Nego Quirido catwalk.

Diamantina, MG

Carnaval in Diamantina has the special distinction of taking place among narrow streets full of old mansions, and the party has no time to finish. We are talking five days 24 hours of non-stop festivities. By day, the street blocks get people dancing all over the streets. And overnight, the Bartucada groups and Bat Cave direct the batucada. And it all takes place in the Old Market Square, with more than 15,000 joining the fun people daily.

Most of the carnaval celebrations in Ouro Preto are organized by local universities students, called Cabrobró. But there are also events organized by residents of Ouro Preto, including the oldest carnaval group in the country; The Zé Pereira dos Lacaios, which since 1867 rouses party goers with giant puppets.

Sao Paulo

Similar to Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo has a competition between different samba schools. Carnaval in Sao Paulo starts on the Friday and Saturday of Carnaval week, a day before Rio de Janeiro, at the Anhembi Sambadrome. Anhembi Sambadrome is the largest outdoors event venue in São Paulo designed by the great Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer. It is here where the top samba schools congregate to compete for the grand honor of winning the Carnaval championship title. Some of the well-known and top samba schools competing include Nenê de Vila Matilde, Gaviões da Fiel, Vai-Vai, Camisa Verde Branco, and Peruche. Festivalgoers can expect to see a lot of Afro-Brazil cultural influences and dances in Sao Paulo’s Carnaval.

And of course, we will mention Rio:

Rio de Janeiro

For many years, Rio de Janeiro has been notoriously known for its main samba parade, which will take place February 5-8th of this year. During this enormous parade, 6 of the 12 best samba schools march to the Sambodromo (Samba Stadium) each day for the opportunity to be selected the year’s champion. What many travelers might not know prior to planning their trip is that the Carnaval-fun doesn’t end there and that the festival has additional samba parades, Carnaval balls, children’s parades, neighborhood block parties and other events that are just as entertaining.

For many attendees, Carnaval actually starts and ends with the “street blocks,” or individual neighborhood street parties. During this time, Rio locals, better known as “Cariocas,” take the street to dance and sing behind their preferred bands’, or “trio eletricos,” giant trucks with a sound system. Full of creativity and humor, these blocos hype up the joy of the city, and best of all, it’s free and open for the public to attend.

Valentine’s Day in Chicago

MomStart Travel News

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner! Consider a fun getaway to Chicago for you and your sweetheart.

FAIRMONT CHICAGO, MILLENNIUM OFFERS DECEDANT VALENTINE’S ROMANCE PACKAGE

Enjoy cocktails at THE BAR, an in-room Chocolate Bar and long stem roses delivered to the guestroom and more this Valentine’s Day


CHICAGO, Ill. (January 2016) – Make this Valentine’s Day the most memorable yet with Fairmont Chicago, Millennium Park, 200 North Columbus Drive. Explore in the heart of downtown Chicago with the Romantic Escape Package. Start with a cocktail at THE BAR followed by a scenic stroll around Chicago’s famous Millennium Park, just steps away from the property. For a more secluded evening, toast champagne in the intimacy of a luxurious Fairmont Chicago, Millennium Park guestroom.

Top off the night with The Chocolate Bar. The decadent in-room experience features an array of delicious tantalizing treats like Strawberry Tuxedos, Dark Chocolate, Pistachio and Mascarpone Cannolis, Chunky Double Chocolate Chip Cookies, Cinnamon Brioche Bun Stuffed with Bananas and Nutella and Chocolate and Lavender Éclairs. Rates for the Romance Package begin at $189 per guestroom and are subject to availability. The Romance Package includes The Chocolate Bar (a $60 value).

Let Fairmont Chicago, Millennium Park handle the little extras this Valentine’s Day. Add some sweetness to the evening with one dozen gourmet dipped fancy strawberries ($40), a dozen hand dipped cherries ($25), or a Kama Sutra Kit with petite treasures including honey dust and massage oil ($25). Have one dozen long stemmed red roses in a glass vase delivered straight to the guestroom and never miss a romantic beat. Room reservations for the dozen roses must be made by Feb. 8 and only applies for stays between February 12-15. Room delivered roses are $100 plus tax, gratuity and delivery.

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About Fairmont Chicago, Millennium Park

Fairmont Chicago, Millennium Park is an AAA Four Diamond luxury hotel located in downtown Chicago.  With 687 guestrooms and 63,000 square feet of meeting space, the hotel provides contemporary elegance and gracious hospitality. Fairmont Chicago, Millennium Park is also home to THE BAR in the Lobby and aria restaurant and bar, taking guests on an “east meets west” culinary experience. In addition to uniquely inspired dining and stylish accommodations, the hotel features an exclusive lifestyle spa. mySpa affords eight treatment rooms and provides the perfect urban sanctuary from the busy and bustling Chicago streets.  For more information on Fairmont Chicago, Millennium Park, call 312-565-8000 or visit fairmont.com/Chicago.

About Fairmont

Fairmont Hotels & Resorts connects guests to the very best of its destinations, providing travelers withmemorable travel experiences, thoughtful and attentive service and luxury hotels that are truly unforgettable. Each Fairmont property reflects the locale’s energy, culture and history through locally inspired cuisine, spirited bars and lounges and distinctive design and decor. With more than 65 hotels globally, and many more in development, the Fairmont collection boasts some of the most iconic hotels in the world, including The Plaza in New York, The Savoy in London, Fairmont Peace Hotel in Shanghai and Fairmont Le Château Frontenac in Québec City. Fairmont is owned by FRHI Hotels & Resorts, a leading global hotel company that operates more than 125 hotels and branded residential properties under the Raffles, Fairmont and Swissôtel brands.

For more information or reservations, please visit fairmont.com.

New Leadership in Chicago Hotels

MomStart Travel News

Interested in a trip to the Windy City? Consider staying at the Hampton Inn, now under new management!

Hampton Inn Chicago Downtown/N Loop/Michigan Ave appoints Ross Guthrie as General Manager and Kelly Sujka as Director of Sales

CHICAGO – Located in the historic Chicago Motor Club building at 68 E. Wacker Place, Hampton Inn Chicago Downtown/N Loop/Michigan Ave announces today the appointments of Ross Guthrie as General Manager and Kelly Sujka as Director of Sales. Just steps from the Magnificent Mile, Millennium Park and the Theater District, Hampton Inn Chicago Downtown/N Loop/Michigan Ave opened in May 2015, featuring a grand, three-story Art Deco lobby, a 67-seat 1920’s-style cocktail bar, and intricate architectural details throughout the property.

“We are very excited to welcome Ross and Kelly to our team,” said Carl Dees, Vice President of Operations. “Their combined experience with the Hilton and Hampton Hotel brands, as well as their strong leadership skills will be incredible assets to this property.”

A Memphis, Tennessee native, Ross Guthrie brings his extensive management expertise to Hampton Inn Chicago Downtown/N Loop/Michigan Ave as General Manager. Guthrie began his career in the industry as a Pool Attendant at Imperial Palace Hotel & Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi, quickly turning the summer job into a career. Ross went on to become General Manager of Hampton Inn – Memphis/Sycamore View, the worlds’ first Hampton Inn. In 2014, Guthrie was nominated for Illinois Hotel Lodging Association’s “Hotelier of the Year.”

“I am excited to be working for such a unique property, one that is part of Chicago’s rich architectural history,” says Guthrie. “The Chicago Motor Club building’s glory has been preserved and I’m honored to be able to share the story of the Art Deco gem with our guests.”

A lifetime Chicago native, Kelly Sujka joins Hampton Inn Chicago Downtown/N Loop/Michigan Ave after having served as Regional Director of Sales & Marketing for multiple branded properties throughout Illinois.  Most of her career had been associated with the Hilton family of brands in the Chicago area. Sujka is a well-practiced and a dedicated sales professional, and has vast expertise on building client relationships that result in a “win-win situation” for everyone involved in the sales process, Revenue Management and brand culture. Sujka has received several awards, including the Chicago Southland Convention & Visitors’ Linda Morgan Award for Volunteerism, and the Doubletree by Hilton’s Spirit of Care Award, one of the brand’s highest forms of Team Member recognition.

Standing 17-stories high, Hampton Inn Chicago Downtown/N Loop/Michigan Ave features 143 guestrooms, each featuring complimentary WiFi, a 42-inch flat-screen HDTV, an ergonomic desk and a coffeemaker. The LEED Certified hotel offers guests state-of-the-art cardio equipment in the 24-hour fitness center, a 24-hour business center, and two versatile meeting rooms with the latest A/V technology.

Known as one of Chicago’s finest Art Deco-style skyscrapers, the former Chicago Motor Club building was completed within 265 days in 1928. More than just a social and sporting group, the Chicago Motor Club wielded power in advocating for city improvements, including the widening of North Michigan, the installation of a public parking garage in Grant Park, and the transformation of Wacker Drive into a double-decker motorway.

 

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ABOUT Murphy Asset Management LLC

Murphy Asset Management, LLC, represents the investor group that owns the hotel and focuses on generating development opportunities in the multifamily, hospitality and office sectors across the country. Through sound investment strategies and extensive due diligence, the dynamic development team at Murphy Asset Management with support from the MB Real Estate platform assists with identifying, evaluating and executing the projects by combining sound financial modeling, economic analysis and entrepreneurial creativity. Murphy Asset Management and the MB Real Estate team have supported numerous developments owned by affiliates of Murphy Asset Management, including: Lincoln Park 2550, Hyatt Centric The Loop Chicago and the Oriental Theater redevelopment.

ABOUT HAMPTON HOTELS  Hampton Hotels, including Hampton Inn, Hampton Inn & Suites and Hampton by Hilton, is an award-winning leader in the mid-priced hotel segment, serving value-conscious and quality-driven travelers. With over 1,900 properties totaling more than 195,000 rooms in 16 countries and territories, Hampton Hotels is part of Hilton Worldwide, a leading global hospitality company. All Hampton hotels offer a friendly service culture, defined as Hamptonality, delivered by more than 50,000 Team Members and backed by the 100% Hampton® Guarantee, reinforcing its commitment to providing excellent service to business and leisure travelers alike. High quality and consistent accommodations and amenities, such as complimentary Wi-Fi, Hampton’s On the House® hot breakfast, the latest technology and innovations like multi-unit Power Cubes and the brand’s signature Clean and fresh Hampton bed®, combined with numerous locations globally have made Hampton a leader in its segment and one of the fastest growing hotel brands worldwide. Please visit http://www.hampton.comhttp://news.hampton.com orwww.hamptonoffers.com for more information and connect with Hampton Hotels online athttp://www.facebook.com/Hamptonhttp://twitter.com/Hampton orhttp://www.youtube.com/Hampton.

ABOUT CRESCENT HOTELS & RESORTS  Crescent Hotels & Resorts, the operator of the hotel, is a nationally recognized, top-5 operator of hotels and resorts. Crescent currently operates over 100 hotels and resorts in 36 states in the US and 4 provinces in Canada. Crescent is one of the few elite management companies approved to operate upper-upscale and luxury hotels under the brand families of Marriott, Hilton, Starwood, Hyatt and IHG. Crescent also operates a collection of legendary independent hotels and resorts. Crescent’s clients are made up of hotel REITs, private equity firms and major developers. For more information, please visit http://www.chrco.com.

 

Getting a Crash Course From Volvo Driving Academy

Volvo Lineup

Travel consideration provided.

It’s not every day that you get to weave through an obstacle course with a professional driver, but that’s exactly what happened the last time I was in California! Volvo invited me to Sausalito, where I got behind the wheel of some of their new models for 2016 and got a “Crash” course from some of Volvo Driving Academy’s finest instructors!

We started our day at Cavallo Point Lodge, my favorite place to stay in San Francisco. This resort sits by The Golden Gate Bridge, affording one of the most beautiful views in the area.

The Golden Gate Bridge

To kick off the activities, we were introduced to three new Volvos for 2016: The S60 Inscription, the S60 Cross Country, and the V60 Cross Country.

2016 S60 Inscription
Volvo 2016 S60 Inscription Side View

The S60 Inscription is a spacious sport sedan with features like electronic power steering personalization and 3D navigation with Map Care and a 4-Cylinder 2.0L Drive-e turbocharged FWD or optional 2.5L 5-Cylinder turbocharged AWD.

Volvo V60 Cross Country
V60 Cross Country Side View

The V60 Cross Country is perfect for adventure with Hill Descent Control for off-roading, standard 2.5L 5-Cylinder turbocharged, all-wheel drive with Instant Traction, and 7.9″ of ground clearance for a higher ride height.

Volvo S60 Cross Country

Meanwhile, the S60 Cross Country offers these same features in a sleek package, perfect for people like me who prefer driving a more compact vehicle. Both Cross Country models include Sensus Connect, an in-car WIFI hotspot for passengers – perfect for bloggers like me!

S60 Cross Country Side View

We set out on a fun road trip so that we could give these new vehicles a spin. I’ve become a big Volvo fan over the past year, and am always impressed by the quality. I felt completely at ease navigating through new and unknown roads, making my way through San Francisco and navigating hairpin turns with total confidence. Knowing how much work goes into Volvo’s safety features gives real peace of mind in any situation.

Our destination was the Sonoma County Fairgrounds, where we met with the Volvo Driving Academy for a series of special demonstrations in the Polestar S60 and V60. First, I was able to get behind the wheel and drive around an obstacle course, with a professional driver instructing me on sudden breaking and swerving. It was incredibly fun and a great chance to practice defensive driving skills that I would not otherwise be able to test out!


A video posted by Beeb Ashcroft (@beebashcroft) on

Next, I got to sit shotgun as one of the Volvo Driving Academy pros whipped the Polestar S60 around the track:


Professional driver! Closed course! Do not try this at home! Etc. etc. etc!

It was as fun as any amusement park ride and incredible to see the driver’s skill in swerving right up to a cone, but not touch it!

Volvo in San Francisco

I can’t think of a better way to wrap up the day – it was an unforgettable trip to the “City by the Bay”. Once again, Volvo have outdone themselves with the quality and precision in their 2016 models. Riding with Volvo makes any road trip a dream!

10 National Parks Perfect For Winter Sports

10 National Parks Perfect For Winter Sports

Photo credit: National Park Service

The National Park Foundation has released a list of their top 10 national parks for winter sports. These are the top spots that made the cut:

  • Yosemite National Park
  • Yellowstone National Park
  • Mount Rainier National Park
  • Acadia National Park
  • Grand Teton National Park
  • Voyageurs National Park
  • Lassen Volcanic National Park
  • Glacier National Park
  • Rocky Mountain National Park
  • Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks

On this very day seven years ago – January 8th, 2008 – Jai and I took a roadtrip that led us through Sequoia National Park. We didn’t partake in any activities as we were on a time crunch and just stopped to briefly see the sights, but the scene of those majestic trees covered in snow is something else. It was a little surreal to me at the time because I was sick as a dog, but I’m very glad we took advantage of the opportunity to see it in person.

Sequoia Tree

Sequoia tree seen on our roadtrip in 2008

Beeb and Sequoia tree for scale

Comparison for scale

Have you been to any of these parks in the winter?

Dan Miller Comes to The Buffalo Bill Center of the West

Dan Miller

Dan Miller’s Cowboy Music Revue—(L-R) Wendy Corr, Hannah Miller, and Dan Miller—perform at “Larry’s Country Diner” on RFD-TV.

Back in 2013, I took a trip to Cody, Wyoming to tour The Buffalo Bill Center of the West. To this day, it remains one of my most memorable trips that I talk about often – a hidden gem in American travel! If you’re going to be roadtripping next summer, then I would certainly recommend making a pitstop in Cody – and starting in the summer of 2016, you can catch Dan Miller’s Cowboy Music Revue performing at The Buffalo Bill Center of the West six nights a week with a live dinner show. Dinner will start at 5:30 PM, followed by the live show which will run from 6:30 to 7:30 PM – finishing up just in time for you to catch the Cody Nite Rodeo! For more information, visit CenteroftheWest.org.

TNT Portland: A Blog Event With a Bang! #TNTPortland

Event consideration provided.

Yesterday, I attended TNT Portland, a blog event hosted by Traveling Mom and Techlicious at The Westin Hotel. This fun event gave me a chance to catch up with my PDX blogger friends, make new ones, and get an introduction to some of the hottest products and trends.


A photo posted by Beeb Ashcroft (@beebashcroft) on

We kicked off the afternoon with a cooking demo in The Westin lobby where their chef showed us how to make Thai Spiced Steak Lettuce Wraps. But this was just a delicious appetizer for the three-course lunch that was to come!


A photo posted by Beeb Ashcroft (@beebashcroft) on

This was my first time stepping foot into The Westin, and its beautiful ambiance is matched only by the amazing food and service.


A photo posted by Beeb Ashcroft (@beebashcroft) on

During lunch, we watched a number of presentations. I got some tips on choosing age-appropriate toys for holiday gifts and was introduced to some of the hottest toys from Hasbro – several of which are going to be featured in our Holiday Gift Guide, so stay tuned!


A photo posted by Beeb Ashcroft (@beebashcroft) on

Next, CEA presented “Connect My Car”, which was all about the accessories you can pick up to update an older vehicle with today’s technology. It was pretty timely, as I’ve actually been thinking about this a lot lately – when you drive a new vehicle, options like smartphone integration or backup cameras come standard, but these technologies have only come out in recent years, meaning that any vehicle with a few years on it is already out of date. These add-ons are a great way to update an otherwise solid car – a representative from Oregon’s own Stereo King was on hand discussing the installation process, and I was surprised just how affordable it can be.

We were also introduced to the VidMob app and service, got some holiday travel tips, and heard a great SEO presentation where I picked up a few new hints. It was a great afternoon! I hope TNT will bring their event back to the Pacific Northwest in the future.