Sunday, March 11, 2018

Frank Lloyd Wright's "Tiny" House

The Seth C. Peterson Cottage 
Mirror Lake Wisconsin

Close your eyes and imagine a tiny cottage perched on the side of a steep woodsy hillside with views of a shimmering lake below.

Mirror Lake

Now open them and find yourself in one of Frank Lloyd Wright's smallest, most intimate creations.

The Seth C. Peterson Cottage

In 1958 Seth Peterson (after numerous attempts) was able to convince Wright to design a small getaway cottage for himself and his future bride. 

Wright completed the commission, but passed away the following year in 1959, before the cottage was complete. 

 The Centerpiece of the Cottage is its Massive Fireplace

This makes the cottage one of Wright's last residences and the last commission in his home state of Wisconsin. Sadly, Peterson also died before his cottage was complete at the age of 24.

The cottage was subsequently purchased and eventually absorbed into Mirror Lake State Park. It fell into severe disrepair. In 1989 the Seth C. Peterson Cottage Conservancy began a complete restoration effort. The restoration was completed in 1992 and the 880 square foot cottage has been self-supporting ever since. It is available for tours, special events and for rent to overnight guests.

Construction is local limestone and pine. Floors are flagstone. Above the expansive windows are additional windows with a pine motif. 

Despite its small size, Wright's traditional "Compression and Relief" design principal (small intimate spaces opening to large spaces) is expressed perfectly.


The cottage design is organized around a core that features a large fireplace, compact kitchen and mechanical/utility room. The living room is surprisingly spacious with a built-in sofa (with hideaway bed). There is one bedroom that is afforded privacy by opening a hinged door to the linen closet. There is one modernized bathroom.

 Looking into the Bedroom

 Updated Bathroom

The rental rate for the one-of-a-kind cottage currently runs $300-$325 a night. A minimum 2-night stay is required. For information about renting the cottage click here.

Roadboy's Travels © 2018

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Roadboy Tries Tru

Refined Minimalism

With the strength in the hospitality industry of late, chains are expending incredible energy to precisely target various market segments. So whenever I can I try out new hotel concepts to spot trends.

I credit Starwood for kicking this all into high gear when it hit a home run with its "W" chain. W introduced a brash, irreverent and high energy vibe to the stodgy tired American hotel industry. They followed it up with "W Lite" (Aloft) and the Element brands.

Lately Marriott and Hilton have erupted in a frenzy of new concepts. Edition, H, Curio, Tru....

Some of the branding has been internally concepted, some has emerged via acquisition (i.e. Marriott's acquisition of Europe's AC Hotels) and some by curation (Marriott's Autograph and Design or Hilton's Tapestry properties).

I've been sampling a number of the new offerings and some have left me invigorated (France's Citizen M) others completely unimpressed (Marriott's Moxy).

Last night I tried my first Tru by Hilton in Murfreesboro Tennessee. And, after a 2 night stay, I'm happy to report they got a lot right in this new, economy priced, brand.

Public Space / Fitness
The Tru lobby feels more like a college student union than a hotel lobby. The round reception / registration desk is a convenience store. 

Fido will find bowls with welcome biscuits and fresh water.

 Tru's Welcome Island

There was a pool table, popcorn machine and a big variety of colorful seating options. Some seating is configured to encourage conversation the rest to discourage it. The overall vibe is colorful and unabashedly trendy in a mid-century modern retro kind of way. I predict a short shelf life.

Tru's fitness room was well equipped (compared to other hotels in this price range).

Guest Rooms
Rooms are compact and close to perfect for a single or couple.

Room Finishes
Surfaces are hard. Floors are wood grain laminate (clean, doggie friendly, noisy). Walls are vinyl. Ceiling is gyp board. The room would benefit greatly from the addition of an acoustical ceiling treatment to soften room noise.

The bed and linens were perfect. 

Room Furniture
No space consuming desk in this little room, instead you get a curvy chair with swing-out tablet surface for writing or eating.

 The Rolly Chair

No dresser either. There is just a long narrow wall hung counter with shelf below. It holds the huge TV and offers a place for your wallet and rooms key. Next to the bed is a little red bongo table for your glass of water and hovering over the AC unit is a metal and lattice strap thingie. Space under the pedestal bed is configured for a suitcase or computer bag.

Nope. Closets are disappearing all over. Here there is a pipe rail with some hangers. Below the pipe is a flat laminate surface where you can set a suitcase. And under that is a small refrigerator (like it). 

 The "Closette"

Lighting and Power
Tru's Electrical Engineer gets an A+. The room had ample lighting placed exactly where it was needed. It was easy to figure out too. Outlets were plentiful and placed above counters (no moving the bed to find the one overburdened outlet).

Bathroom / Shower
The bathroom is just right. It offers a decent, well lit mirror. The shower is prefab (fine with me - no mildew in grout joints). The shower temp valve is placed so you can turn on shower water without stepping into the shower.


Lots of big hooks to hang stuff.


The one negative is noise. Both in the room (hard surfaces and the noisy through wall AC unit) and between the rooms (energetic amorous neighbors equaled a steep volume increase on HBO last night).

Tru Minimalism - No more - No less

Roadboy's Travels © 2018   

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Roadboy's Long Weekend in LA

The Best Time of the Year!

Roadboy just finished a really enjoyable long weekend in Los Angeles. The leisurely trip included a return to Disneyland, a day sent at Gene Autry's Western Heritage Museum and a dim sum / Peking duck brunch on The Terrace at Pasadena's venerable Langham Huntington Hotel.

Day One: Mrs. Knotts Fried Chicken Dinner
After landing at LAX Thursday evening, our first stop was Knott's Berry Farm for dinner. Mrs. Knotts Fried Chicken Dinner is an Orange County institution.  The dinner is now supersized and includes 4 pieces of chicken, salad, soup, sides and lots of hot biscuits and boysenberry preserves. Also included with dinner is choice of apple or boysenberry pie. The price? A little over $20.

My other usual stop would normally be Kings Hawaiian Bakery / Restaurant in Torrance for a KalBi plate followed by a slice of guava chiffon cake - OMG! My reverence for King's began when I lived in Honolulu. It was our Sunday tradition to brunch at the King's Bakery that used to be next to Star Market in Kaimuki. Alas no time for King's this trip.

Day Two: Disneyland
I know people that view Southern California almost solely as that place where Disneyland exists. And, some of them make trips to Disneyland with alarming regularity. As for me I love a whole bunch of things about LA. Disneyland is just one of them.

And, maybe a sign of getting old, but I have come to limit trips to The Magic Kingdom to the off season and preferably not on weekends.

 The Line Wait Time at The Haunted Mansion
(Why I go in the off season) 

And, like many Disney veterans, when I return I start by revisiting favorite attractions, then go off exploring.

Roadboy's 3 Disney favorites......

1. The Enchanted Tiki Room (always accompanied by a dole whip)!
I first experienced this attraction when when it debuted in 1963 and I was seven years old. The Tiki Room was the first of Disney's high tech audio-animatronic "Dark" attractions that have since come to characterize modern theme parks. It is still pure magic.

2. The Pirates of the Caribbean
This was the last attraction whose development and construction was personally overseen by Walt Disney (who even had a family apartment included above the ride itself). It opened in 1967 three months after Walt Disney's death. It has evolved over the years to be politically correct and add audio-animatronic Johnny Depp characters.
3. Haunted Mansion (Hurry Baaack, Hurry Baaack)!
Opened in 1969 this attraction was also conceived by Walt Disney who visited the Winchester Mystery House for inspiration. Developed after his death the attraction ushers guests through the mansion on "doom buggies". Love it.

The Tiki Room
(Where the Birdies Sing and the Flower's Croon)

Roadboy scrupulously tries to avoid.....
1. It's A Small World (this was created as a ride for the 1964 New York World's Fair. It was sponsored by Pepsi and proceeds from it were given to UNICEF. Now Roadboy views it as a cheap  aquatic, plywood and glitter earworm factory)

2. Star Tours (a gussied up shopping mall flight simulator ride. Ugh.)

3. The Mad Teaparty (this is one of Disneyland's original attractions, but Roadboy just flashbacks to a grad night in 1974 where about 2:45 am Roadboy and centrifugal force joined to create some epic projectile vomit)

This year the park is full of (much needed) repair and construction work. Splash Mountain is totally ripped up, Main Street has a big ugly wall running right down the middle of it to conceal repairs to the trolley tracks and huge cranes herald the massive new Star Wars "Galaxies Edge" addition scheduled to open in 2019. Hopefully they will turn some imagineer attention to a serious renovation of the skanky old "Tomorrowland".

Cranes from Galaxies Edge Under Construction

 Little Jedi's in Tomorrowland

It turns out timing our timing was perfect. We toured on Friday and Disney announced another hike in admission prices the very next day. 

And yet, we will always return....

Here's Why

Day Three: The Autry in Griffith Park
Although Roadboy knows many visitors to LA have never even heard of Gene Autry's Museum of the American West (now simply referred to as The Autry), you really should put it on your list to see. 

The permanent galleries have tributes to all things "Cowboy" including: art, history, movies and popular culture. Whoever curates this museum IMHO is wonderful.

 Every Kids Dream Bedroom Circa 1959

 Lesaka Waken
Maynard Dixon 1922
James Doolin 1989

We were lucky enough to visit the day The Autry debuted its spectacular 2018 Master's Western Art show.  What a joy to view such glorious art in the presence their creator's.

 Santa Fe Plaza
Roseta Santiago

 Silent Shadow
Tim Cherry

Shadow Catcher
Jeremy Lipking

 Native American Nouveau
Thomas Blackshear

 West of the Rio Grande
Mark Maggiori

Day Four: Bottomless Mimosa's and Peking Duck - The Brunch at Pasadena's Langham Huntington. Yum!

We tried to visit the Griffith Park Observatory, but met way too many Los Angelino's with the same idea.

Alas, with the sun starting to set on a Sunday evening it was time to fly home.

Roadboy's Travels © 2018

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Sold! Barrett Jackson AZ 2018

Sparkles, Glitter and a Rolling Hot Tub Caddie

This year Phoenix / Scottsdale hosted a record 6 collector car auctions simultaneously in mid-January.

The Gooding and Company Collector Car Auction was a 2-day event at the Scottsdale Fashion Square. Total sales at Gooding was $49,215,650 with 11 cars selling for over $1M. High dollar car was a one-of-a-kind 1965 Ferrari GTB Speciale built for the personal use of Battista Pininfarina for $8,086,000.

The RM Sotheby Collector Car Auction was conducted at Phoenix's Arizona Biltmore Resort. It was also a 2-day event with total sales of $36,523,620. Sotheby's sold 11 cars for more that $1M including a 1966 Shelby 427 Cobra for $2,470,500.

Bonham's "Scottsdale" Auction (which was actually held the Westin Kierland Resort in Phoenix - I guess saying the resort is in "Scottsdale" has more cache for elitists) had total sales of $25.2M with 7 sales over $1M. Top seller was a 1958 Porsche 550 Spyder going for $5,170,000.

The Barrett Jackson 8-day "Lifestyle" event (collector car auction) was held at Scottsdale's  Westworld. It reached $113,7M in total sales featuring 3 cars selling for more than $1M.

The Russo and Steele Collector Car Auction was conducted at the The Talking Stick Resort and featured 800 cars for sale. The Worldwide Collector Car Auction was also held in Scottsdale.

I went to the Barrett Jackson on a Tuesday for the first time this year and really enjoyed the more relaxed pace of the day.

As always the Barrett Jackson was the biggie. And as usual my visit began with a visit to the Salon Collection where the amazing cars reside until the gavel falls. 

As with last year it felt like there was more space devoted to selling massage chairs, magnetic ion bracelets, art made from nails and fly-in fishing trips, and less space showcasing the Auction's signature collections.  I'm guessing that the addition of auctions in Palm Beach, Newport Beach and Las Vegas dilutes the pool of exceptional cars showing up each year at each venue.

No matter, there were still lots of great cars to admire, new hood ornaments to photograph and lots of greasy heart stopping comfort food to eat.

Here are my 2018 snaps...

1930 Cord Phaeton
(Sold for $253,000)

 1937 Rolls Royce Phantom III
(Did Not Reach Reserve)

1950 Oliver 77 Orchard Tractor
(Sold for $23,100)

1952 Ferrari 212 Europa
(Sold for $1,100,000)

Hood Ornament 
1953 Pontiac "Woody" Wagon
(Sold for $65,000)

1954 Plymouth Belmont
Concept Car
(Did Not Reach Reserve)

1956 Lincoln Continental Mark II
(Sold for $95,700)

1956 Talbot Lago T-26
(Did Not Reach Reserve)

1967 Jaguar XKE
(Sold for $176,000)

1969 Cadillac Sedan DeVille
Rolling Hot Tub
(Sold for $26,400

Collectibles and Auto Nostalgia

For Roadboy's photos from 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 (I didn't post for 2011) just click here:

2017 Event
2016 Event

See you next year!

Roadboy's Travels © 2018

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Crying on the Sidewalk

My Neighbors are Awesome

Every Saturday in the winter I take a bicycle ride. 

My rides begin along Phoenix's network of canals to enjoy views of local architecture and our mountain scenery.

I don't ride for speed or distance anymore. I ride to get out, stretch and fill my lungs. Seeing an occasional roadrunner (last week) or a covey of baby quail (this week) is cool too.

Today, I opted for a different route to climb some hills and turned north on 44th Street. And, since 44th Street is really busy, I was paying attention to traffic (important since actuaries all agree that drivers in my state are among the worst, most aggressive and inattentive jerks to be found anywhere).

As I started riding up the hill, I passed a bus stop, where a lump of humanity in a tracksuit was sitting on the ground crying inconsolably.

My first inclination was to keep riding. 

But at the next corner I stopped, turned and went back.

At the bus stop, through tears, the lump of humanity became a person. 

A person for whom all things were bad. 

She asked if I'd call the police for her. I did.

Assuming she did not want to tell a stranger what had left her so desolate, I instead asked if she needed water (in Phoenix cyclists carry a lot of water). And, yes, she was thirsty. 

At that point a fellow cyclist (with his 3 year old son in a little bike pod) stopped to join us.

We all just talked, waiting for the officer to arrive. We asked her name and where she was from. 

Her breathing became regular. Her tears stopped.

At that point a man walked up. He touched her shoulder and asked if she was hungry. She was. He left to get her a meal from a nearby fast food joint.

She was from Illinois having arrived in Arizona just two weeks ago. She was at the end of her rope.

The Phoenix Police officer rolled up and professionally began her assessment.

I bid Daniela (I now knew her name) goodbye, advising her to visit Andre House (a homeless services provider my church supports) and, knowing she has a really tough road ahead, quietly said a prayer for her.

In the space of 30 minutes a complete stranger was no longer a stranger. She was comforted, fed and knew that she was loved, even if it was by total strangers.

My weekly bike rides always nurture me physically.

Today's ride, in a nation that feels increasingly hateful, restored my faith in the human race.

When in doubt, stop. Get out of your comfort zone. Offer a hand and a heart. 

Trust me, the benefits flow both ways.

Roadboy's Travels © 2018

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

A Few Roadboy Travel Tips

Making Travel Easier

So my goal is always to make life easy and to travel organized. 

I mean they go hand-in-hand right?

So without further adieu...

Tip #1
Download the App: Tripit

This is the best tip you'll get from Roadboy in 2018. 

Tripit is simple to install and use and it makes travel so much easier. Once downloaded you simply set up your profile. Then you'll load the date and a title for each upcoming trip.

Then, as you book travel and get confirmation e-mails for air, rental cars, hotels (whatever), simply forward them to "plans@tripit". 

Tripit takes care of the rest.

Tripit organizes all the details for each trip into a continuous stream. It saves me (literally) hours of itinerary building. It also notifies me if there appear to be conflicts.  While traveling I can click specific items and all the important accompanying reservation details appear.

And best of all it is free! 

Tripit does have an advanced version that comes with an annual fee. It is pretty cool through. I gave it a test run and it dutifully gave me live updates of gate changes and such.

Tip #2
Download the App: Rome2rio

This app is amazing. Just open it. It is so simple to operate. Add any two destinations (anywhere). And poof! A whole host of travel options appear: driving, walking, trains, planes and UBER. Many show combinations.  Each option shows time involved and estimates of cost.

After some recent searching on how to get from Split to another town in Croatia for an upcoming bicycle trip, I was getting pretty steamed. All the normal venues just dropped me into commercial sites that then sent me down the rabbit hole. 

Then I found Rome2rio and boom! It showed me I could take a ferry boat, ride a bus or just use a ride share. It even gave logical combinations: Take a plane to here, then a bus to there. This is my new Go To site for connecting my travel dots.

Tip #3
(This one is for IOS folks). Enable Low Power mode when you begin a trip.

I am always frustrated when I start a trip and then watch my I-Phone battery melt. So now I begin my journey's by opening "Settings" and scrolling to "Battery". There I click "Low Power Mode". If I need to do some major searching needing data and speed or have access to a car charger etc. I turn Low Power Mode off. 

But on my recent bicycle trip in South Carolina (where I used my phone for turn-by-turn GPS mapping) enabling  Low Power mode kept me in business all day.

That's it for today's tips.

Happy 2018 from Roadboy!   

Roadboy's Travels © 2018

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Merry Christmas from Roadboy!

The Glamor of Travel

In order to economize travel costs on a recent business trip to Wisconsin I booked a round trip through O'Hare. It meant a couple of extra hours of drive time, but would save some taxpayer money....

Everything was working. Drives were smooth and this morning delivered blue skies. I caught an on-time hotel shuttle and discovered short lines at TSA Pre.

We boarded on time. I got my exit row, the travel gods were smiling. Life is good.

Then we got the dreaded pilot PA describing too much baggage, an injured laser beam smoke detector and some other technical stuff all culminating in a "minor delay".

Soon, the minor delay became a full hour. 

Then we were asked to get off the plane and remove our luggage (never a good sign). 

Then the rolling waves of delay started to crash....

2 hours became 4 hours, 
4 hours became 6 hours, 
6 hours became 8 hours.
8 hours becomes 10 hours.

Fingers crossed......

So bummed.

Amidst all this, I had been wondering when I was going to get the chance to compose my holiday letter this year. Well I guess Airbus Industrie and American Airlines just stepped in to solve that dilemma for me!

It's really easy to get jaded about delays when things start to go wrong. Partly because over the years the airline industry has perfected special ways of compounding "wrong".

But this time of year I have to admit it just seems like a time to chill.

A joy of travel for me is people watching. And (maybe aside from the ambulatory freak show known as Las Vegas) there are almost no better places on earth to watch the human parade than big airports like ORD.

At the holidays you dilute tired business travelers with effervescent, wide-eyed kids and a few dazed college kids all returning home or off to Grandma's house.

There's the lady with the two friendly little Scottie dogs that came and sat down next to me attracting every kid for six gates.

And the impromptu guitar concert from a (very talented) fellow passenger.

Then (to their credit!) American rolled out a very well stocked food cart with real food (sandwiches and wraps, sodas and juice, not just granola bars). And a few hours later they rolled out another fully stocked cart.

OK, I'm starting to forgive them, a little.

All the while Diane Schurr's perfect pitch is serenading me in my wonderful travel headphones.

And O'Hare has got some pretty SpecT holiday decorations this year too.

Holiday's in O'Hare

Now if O'Hare would just fix their crappy Boingo® free Wi-Fi limit of 30 minutes.....

But I digress.

The point is no matter what life tosses at you, Roadboy says (especially this time of year) relax, its just life. Its also better than covered wagons and steam trains.

Roadboy also wishes you and yours smooth travels and a wonderful holiday season!

UPDATE 12-22-2017: 
I just received an e-mail from AA apologizing for yesterday's delay. It went on to inform me that 10,000 bonus FF Miles had been deposited in my account. Color me surprised (and even a bit more forgiving).

Roadboy's Travels © 2017