10 Questions For (8): Desert Mama, one of four Traveling Mamas

Happy to present Desert Mama: one of the four ladies who run Traveling Mamas.

Desert Mama

1) Who are you?

I am Beth Blair. I’m 33 and reside in Tucson, Arizona. I have lived in 11 cities / towns in 7 states across the United States. In my former life I worked as a flight attendant and loved every minute of it. Jumping on a plane and going somewhere always seemed natural for me and fulfilled a childhood dream.
When my first child was born, the company I worked for was (ironically) offering all employees an early retirement for even those of us in our twenties. As hard as it was, I knew this opportunity would allow me to pursue a career as a freelance writer (I was already lugging my laptop on overnight trips) and still be there for my son.
Today, I write for various print magazines and online publications such as USATourist.com. I am a new “Outsiders” correspondent for AdventureUs.com and blog regularly with my three friends at TravelingMamas.com where I am known by my regional name, “DesertMama”.

2) What do you like about what you do?
I feel so lucky that I have found my passion. I wake everyday knowing I have a day ahead of me combining two things I enjoy immensely: traveling and writing. And, I’m still able to have a happy home with a supportive husband and two energetic and curious kids (who love to travel).

3) What don’t you like about what you do?
My only complaint is wishing I had more time at the destinations I visit. If I don’t get the chance to experience the town as a local might and learn people’s names, I feel I’m missing something.

Desert and Mudslide Mamas and Families
Desert and Mudslide Mamas and Families

4) Please tell us all about your blog and your aims with it.
We launched Traveling Mamas in January 2008. We have ten kids among us. (I have two preschoolers and two teenage step-sons.) Our mission is to inspire moms to get out there, travel and explore our world, whether a weekend away with the husband, a getaway with the girls, or a summer road trip with the family. We feel that just because you become a mom it isn’t a reason to stop traveling. We want women to get out there and LIVE. My “LIVE” stands for Laugh Inspire Vacation Explore – and I do love to laugh.

Desert Mama Family in San Francisco

5) Your top 3 destination experiences you’ve ever stayed to date and why?
My top three destinations are constantly evolving.

1. Mendocino Coast, California – This summer, my husband and I took the children on a road trip up almost the entire California shore. We stayed three or four days on the Mendocino Coast. The drive through the rolling vineyards and patches of towering redwoods was incredible and the rocky coastal views were spectacular.
2. Kauai, Hawaii – Earlier in the summer the four of us Traveling Mamas went to Maui then dispersed to different islands. I scored Kauai and am so glad I did. The island is serene and the people are very kind and gracious to visitors. I also discovered I did like poi!
3. Santo Domingo – Dominican Republic – I’m not sure if was the plantains, the pina coladas, the calm ocean or the terrific sense of humor of the people I met. I asked a young man if he was a “local” and he thought I was asking if he was “loco” – His laugh still echoes in my mind as if that conversation occurred yesterday.

6) Your top 3 accommodations you’ve ever stayed to date and why?
I have stayed at so many lovely properties, but the ones coming to mind are the places I’ve stayed most recently. I’ll try and narrow it down to three.

1. Solvang, California – Hadsten House Inn
During our recent California road trip we stayed at the Hadsten House Inn and Spa in the Danish town of Solvang. I fell in love with it. The outside is reminiscent of a motel, because formerly it was. The rooms have been refurbished with top-of-the-line upgrades, such as wooden floors, marble countertops, and faux fireplaces (the beds are luxurious).
2. San Diego Omni – This summer’s road trip is obviously fresh in my mind.
In San Diego we stayed at the Omni and it was terrific. The staff was extremely personable and the location was perfect for us. I blogged about it here.
3. Carmel, California – Highland’s Inn
My favorite of all time is the Highland’s Inn. My husband and I honeymooned there six years ago. It was luxury at its finest. The staff was outstanding and our room’s view was spectacular. Every morning we enjoyed breakfast on the outdoor patio overlooking the cliffs. I would go back there in a heartbeat.

7) Your top 3 most memorable food experiences to date and why?
1. Lexington, Kentucky: Holly Hill Inn
Last spring when I was in Lexington, Kentucky, I spent an evening at Holly Hill Inn, a charming restaurant listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The building dates to 1845. We started the evening on the inn’s front porch drinking bourbon cocktails (of course), watching the sun set as yellow butterflies flittered around. The Chef Ouita Michel uses only the freshest ingredients making every meal delectable. It was a perfect Kentucky evening.
2. Louisiana: Any crawfish boil
I grew up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and I think everyone should experience a true Cajun crawfish boil, complete with corn on the cob, whole sweet onions, potatoes, and a cold beer from the keg.
3. Anonymous
When my husband and I were on our honeymoon we decided to spend our last evening in Carmel at a fancy-schmancy restaurant. The portion sizes were the size of the minuscule plastic food my daughter serves with her play tea set. I mistook the dessert cookies for Cinnamon Toast cereal. But, I will admit while it was the most expensive meal we have ever had and tiniest, it was the most delicious meal we have ever experienced to date just don’t ask me the name of the restaurant. We ended up returning to our suite, starving, and digging into dinner leftovers from the night before and popped the cork of a chardonnay from the case we bought at Chateau Julien Winery earlier in the day.

8) Your 3 worst destination/ accommodation/food experiences to date and why?
I’ve been pretty lucky not to have any extremely miserable experiences, that or they were so bad I’ve pushed them out of my memory. Uh-oh, wait, they’re coming back to me!.

1. Many years ago I was on a road trip alone and stopped in a brand new hotel (the name escapes me, but it was off of I-10 in Texas). Exhausted, I went right to sleep only to wake in the morning to find I had slept in a filthy bed, embedded with hair that was not mine. The sheets had never been changed from the previous (who knows how many) guests. I learned my lesson to always check the sheets before diving in. Ugh! I’m still so grossed out.
2. Another hotel I stayed at in Sacramento was infested with ants. My bathroom and tub were literally covered in thousands of dead ants. The hotel refused to give me a new room because the entire area was sold out due to a city-wide convention and they told me “the other rooms have ants, too.” They said they had just sprayed so if the ants weren’t dead they would be soon. Yes, I woke up covered in ant bites.
3. As for poor restaurant experiences, the worst have been chain restaurants. I honestly avoid them at all costs, even in my own town.

Kauai Sunrise

9) Can you offer the readers 3 travel/ food / accommodation / things to do tips about the city you are currently living in?
Tucson is a wonderful city with stunning sunsets. My first advice is to seek out authentic Mexican restaurants; one of my favorites, Maria’s, lacks distinctive ambience, but has some terrific dishes. As for accommodations, Tucson is a spa and golf mecca and almost every resort offers both. I enjoy rustic Westward Look Resort. One of my favorite things to do on a weekend is to take a hike in the Santa Catalina Mountains (which you can do from Westward Look). The Sonoran Desert is stunning and you never know what type of wildlife you might stumble upon (so bring your camera).

10) Any Question(s) you’d expected me to ask that you would like to answer?
Thanks, Guido! I hope to meet you in person one of these days.

Thank You Beth! Yes, I also would love to meet with you and with all questioned persons I haven’t not met yet IRL (chat word for In Real Life). Sorry I was a tad late with publishing this as you so graciously returned my request immediately! That Kauai Sunrise is a killer photo!
As an aside: I’m still wondering why there are traveling mamas and traveling moms. What is the difference? However, I do admire mamas or moms who take the effort to travel around despite kids. I believe your blog is a great source of inspiration for the mamas and maybe also for the traveling aspiring mamas:-)

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