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Denver in 4 Days

GoatA fantastic week in Denver!  While it may be the 21st most populated metropolis in the country, with 2.7 million people, it doesn’t feel like it. Denver is a great city, with character, culture and friendly people. We felt at home instantly.

Arriving on Monday and leaving on Saturday, I was able to attend a trade show, seminars, meetings, listen to amazing speakers, enjoy the Denver Botanical Gardens, the Denver Art Museum, 16th Street Mall, hear James Taylor at Red Rock, and visit Boulder (including a Celestial Seasons Tea Tour). It was really tremendous. Throw out the travel days and you realize all that happened in a 4 day span!

Several years ago when we visited Denver (from Florida – sea level), we got off the airplane, into a rental car and drove almost directly to the top of Mount Evans just outside Denver Mount Evans is the highest peak you can drive to in the continental United States. Don’t do that.  In our excitement to be adventurous and see mountain goats, we didn’t drink water or eat.  Sea Level to 14,240 feet above sea level, in just hours.  Really not a good idea, both my husband – Mr. Perfect, and I got altitude sickness.  Blue lips, head ache, nauseau and all.  At least it was a beautiful drive and we got to view the amazing mountain goats – so close you could touch them.  With a good night’s rest and breakfast we got back on the road to enjoy 4 days driving through Aspen, Steamboat Springs, Estes Park, Boulder and back to Denver. We had such a good time and witnessed so much beauty in the nature of the mountains. This year, to avoid being “green”, as soon as we got off the plane we drank a nice cool bottled water before moving on!

Glass BallsOur first fun on the Denver 2014 trip was to visit the Denver Botanic Gardens - which happened to have a Dale Chihuly Art exhibit throughout.  Dale Chihuly is so talented, his glass accented an already beautiful garden. Blue GlassWe have enjoyed seeing Dale Chihuly exhibits in the Belagio Hotel in Las Vegas, in the museum he founded in Tacoma, Washington, in Sarasota, and St Petersburg, Florida.  The Denver Botanic Gardens has to be my favorite so far.  It is magical the way the glass sculptures seemed to fit so naturally.

We also got to see James Taylor at Red Rock.  If you have never been there, it is definitely something that should be on your bucket list. James Taylor’s voice is still as pure as it ever was. To have the privilege of listening to him at the acoustically perfect Red Rock Ampitheater was really a joy. We sat on the 67th of 71 rows, it was the most clear concert ever. Imagine this spectacle of an amphitheater cut out of the red rocks outside of DenverRedRockThere was subtle lighting to illuminate the huge red rocks around the theater.  In the mountainous area outside Red Rock Theater, deer and other wildlife played. The seating looks like giant curved steps, by themselves a form of art. Underneath the theater is a museum to tell the history of Red Rock. Included are photos of everyone from musicians in the 60’s to Hip Hop Stars of today. As you sit in the seats, looking down upon the stage with a simple but awesome light show and the sun sets, the lights of Denver begin to twinkle. You think it can’t be any better, then the stars come out. Imagine James Taylor singing “Sweet Baby James”. When we got to that point in the evening, I thought I might just cry it was such a special moment!

We spent one afternoon at Denver Art MuseumNative American DAMThe Denver Art Museum includes two buildings (one 7 stories, the other is 4) and a nice park/outside mall area. WOW.  The variety of art was exceptional!  There was everything from African art, Native American Art, Remington Brass Sculptures, quilt exhibit, video art, a children’s “Create” area, protest art posters and so much more.

While I was attending my conference during the day, Mr. Perfect was figuring out the public transportation (great).  So on one afternoon we took the bus from beautiful Denver Union Station (neatly hidden underground) to BoulderBoulder has the lovely Pearl Street outside mall (everything in the Denver area is focused on enjoying the outdoors). Of course there were restaurants, shops, a grassy area and entertainment.  We enjoyed a meal at Oak. Mr. Perfct had shrimp and grits and I enjoyed Ramon noodles and pork belly. Yum.

We read in the Southwest Airlines, Spirit magazine that a visit to the mint room at Celestial Seasonings Tea should not be missed.  So we hopped a cab from Boulder to Celestial Seasonings Tea for a tour of their facility.  Celesteal TeaLocated in the countryside near Boulder, the Celestial Seasonings Tea building barely seems to impact the landscape.

And the people that work there were so friendly and genuinely kind! Hanna greeted us as soon as we entered.  She won our hearts with a great smile and customer service heart (maybe she should come to work with Camden someday J).  Right way we were offered to enjoy different teas in the Celestial Café.  My favorite was Tangerine Orange Zinger! Next up, Hanna and Nathan took us on a great tour of the factory, where we learned about Celestial Seasonings Tea from start to finish. We toured through rooms that house all the flavors, we could not believe how distinct each aroma was. Probably everyone would agree that the best part of the tour is the Mint room. The huge room where they keep Peppermint and Spearment, smelled delicious.   After spending an hour and half there, it was easy to see that the people at Celestial Seasonings Tea are passionate about having a positive impact on people’s health, offering a quality product and connecting with people.

One last fun piece of the trip to Celestial Seasonings Tea is that we called for a cab and they just never came!  I called to follow up and even referred to the cab app and no one ever picked up the trip.  Oh, and it was too late to grab the bus shuttle! Shandra in the gift shop tried to help, but nothing.  We just sat outside (beautiful) and relaxed.  Liz came strolling out the door and for some reason I felt perfectly comfortable asking “Are you going to Boulder by any chance?”  To which she replied “Yes, do you want a ride?”  Did I mention that these people were nice?  Well actually everyone seems nice in Colorado. We had a nice chat with Liz along the way, she dropped us off right at the bus station and back to Denver we went.  Thanks Liz and all the nice folks at Celestial Seasonings Tea.  We will remember your kindness!

 Other highlights are the 16th Street Mall, Snooze, Union Station, Yard House, Train (yes, we saw them!) and the Wazee Supper Club.

And imagine this, Camden has 7 apartment communities in the Denver area!  This includes our newest apartment homes at Camden Flatirons. Camden Flatirons of course includes views of the majestic Rocky Mountains. And yes, you can live there with your pet. At Camden Flatirons, you will have Quartz countertops, stainless steel appliances and large floor plans with wood plank floors. Also featured at the community is a gaming lounge, an internet café, a high-endurance fitness center, a sparkling pool, hot tub, fire pit, outdoor retreat and a dog park!

Fun trip, we can’t wait to go back.

 

Peace,

Cindy

Screen Shot 2014-06-30 at 9.24.36 AMOur population is addicted to reviews.  Yelp, Google, Angie’s List and Amazon are all heavy hitters that affect business or product reputations. Apartment hunting is no exception.
As with any business, an online apartment review is only part of the equation.  Camden has an entire site dedicated to the interaction between our customers and the results achieved by sincere feedback. This page is called Voice of the Customer. Our best ideas, amenities and policies are born from feedback from our customers.  Reviews offer transparency to a small portion of their reputation.  It often deserves a better look.
Things to Consider:
  • Apartment quality, price and experience can vary greatly in any market.
  • People are far more likely to voice their opinion in the heat of a bad experience, misunderstanding or irritation. Since reviews can be written in the moment, the problem may be resolved and the reviewer may not have been able to log in to change his/her opinion. Have you ever signed up for an emailed newsletter and could never figure out how to un-subscribe because you couldn’t remember the log-in credentials?
  • Unlike Amazon,  apartment ratings have historically been based on bad reviews from people searching out places to voice their frustration.  Only in the last couple of years have rental companies sought out reviews and asked for public feedback.
  • No one will ever live anywhere without having problems of some sort. Homeowners deal with many of the same problems renters have.  Repair delays can be a reality in the best places to live.  Quirks, unavailable parts and similar repair situations can be as frustrating for the owner/manager, a homeowner or a renter all the same.
Apartment rating sites can also be a great source of good information when apartment hunting.   Look at the overall experience throughout all of the reviews.   When looking at reviews try to consider the reasoning behind the review.  People expect to be happy with their rental experience therefore they don’t feel obligated to report an expected experience.  People sometimes complain and focus on things that are very typical for multi-family living:  parking is insufficient, noise can be heard from other apartments, they have bugs on their patio and their rent went up. Other times, people can be angry because they were charged a late fee, had an unauthorized pet, occupant, or liked to grill on their balcony.
Who writes the reviews on apartments?
  • People who have been asked to rate them.
  • People who are angry about an outcome they can’t change.
  • Long-time customers who became aware of an outlandish negative review and wanted to set the record straight.
  • People with limited experience in apartments and housing responsibilities.
  • Someone experiencing unexpected regional differences in apartments (scorpions in the desert, large water bug in the south).
  • Someone angry about something else in their life.
  • Someone having a bad experience.
  • Someone who has been ignored or invalidated by the staff.
  • Someone who tried to be reasonable but had one too many bad experiences.

review wordsSome signs the apartment review might be emotionally charged and could be biased:

  • The reviewer names people in an inappropriate manner. “The manager (named) needs to get a life”.
  • The reviewer has a laundry list of complaints. This can indicate they are unloading anything and everything.
  • The reviewer talks about how long they have lived there and for some reason they are now mad about something. ” I have lived here three years and the new management company is terrible”. It could mean the new management is enforcing a rule that had not been enforced previously.
  • The story cannot be confirmed. Crime can usually be confirmed online or by inquiring with the police department.
  • Security deposit complaints and rental rate increases are often the most debated issue.
  • A lone review (good or bad) without any other corroborating experiences.
Other Resources:
  • Local news station online. Search the name of the community to see what comes up. 
  • Social media:  It’s a good sign when you visit a Facebook page for a community and see a consistent amount of posts, resident functions, various communications and equal involvement by customers or vendors.  It often means management is focused on people and communication. You might see post about resident functions followed up with photos from that event. You might even see communications to the residents about dates and times of pest control or water being turned off on a building at a specific time. 
Do your own review when you visit an apartment community.
  • Are common areas clean?
  • Are the lawns and common area flower beds neatly manicured?
  • In the winter months is the pool kept clean and free of fallen leaves? This could tell a lot about the mind-set of the maintenance team. Be more forgiving if there are seasonal trees surrounding the pool.
  • Call first to gauge their phone mannerisms.  See if they invite you for a visit.
  • Consider engaging in conversation with current customers.
  • If you are interested in a community as a serious contender, but see a post that is concerning, ask management about the review.  Start a dialogue to better understand how the communities respond to inquiries.

Never assume an apartment review is the whole story.  Even the best community could have a negative apartment review.  Use your best judgement when apartment hunting.  Do a little more digging when it seems like a good fit. Lastly, don’t let one persons opinion keep you from a great experience.

 

 

Whether it is by choice or necessity, a lot of people these days are finding themselves living with someone else, i.e. a roommate. This someone else could be a friend, a family member, a bestie, a significant other, an acquaintance or yikes…a stranger. I have seen quite a few lease breaks in my day because roommates could not get along. And I’m not talking the “conscious uncoupling” kind of break-up like Gwenyth Paltrow and Chris Martin made famous this year. I’m talking the dirty Hollywood divorce kind of break-up. I’ve heard and seen it all…from fights over cups left in the sink to the more serious things that ended with lock changes.

So how did they get there? What could have been done to prevent it? There are basics that everyone should know when living with a roommate and then there are the specifics depending upon who you are living with. Find out how to live drama-free with anyone by following some easy tips from an industry insider (me) as well as someone who has lived in most of these situations (yep. you guessed it. me, again).

Photo Courtesy : www.bubblews.com

Photo Courtesy : http://www.bubblews.com

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Huntington Beach Pier

recreationalportal.com

There are a lot of options for summer activities in Orange County but one of my favorite things to do with my son is the Huntington Beach Street Fair & Farmers Market. It is held every Tuesday, from 5-9 p.m. on Main Street. Main Street is filled with live music, food, art, jewelry, clothing, and a farmers market.

Farmers Market

hbindependent.com

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riding on a motorcycle

riding on a motorcycle

There is nothing like riding old motorcycles threw Santiago Canyon on a hot summer day! If you are like me and love to ride then you will not want to miss The Born Free Show that is happening this weekend June 28th & 29th 2014.  People will attend this show from all over the United States. People will be showing all types of motorcycles such as Triumphs, Harley, and even motorcycles that they built in there garage. I have been attending the Born Free Show for about 4 years and its been truly amazing to see how its grown.

born free

born free

If you log onto http://bornfreeshow.blogspot.com/ you can read all about this amazing Born Free show. “How is about the love of old motorcycles and like-minded individuals having a good time together and enjoying these bikes of the past. It is also a family event, young and old a-like are welcome to come out and enjoy the show. This show is meant to unite people from all walks of life by bringing the passion that we all have of these old machines together for two special days. If you come out to the event please be prepared to have a great time, see neat old bikes…lots of neat old motorcycles, in a peaceful, friendly, family environment.” Continue Reading »

willow

Nice cool grass can be a relief to a warm pet in the summer heat. Photo courtesy of Ashlee Pigford

 

I love the Arizona heat but one thing that I don’t like is how restricting it can be for my dogs. With temperatures reaching over 110+ degrees it’s hard to think of ways to keep my dogs dog cool while getting them they daily activity they need. For safety it’s important to think about what activities you plan on doing with your pet in the summer. A visit to your vet to know your pets health and health risks prior to the summer heat is helpful. Learn potential risks to your pet for the area of which you live; some dogs are prone to sunburns, some breeds can overheat faster than other dogs. It’s important to make sure your pet is up to date with their shots. If you have planned vacations with your pet make sure you have the proper vaccinations. I like to take my dogs hiking and I want to take them swimming at the lake, my vet let me know there are certain vaccinations recommended for dogs who do those types of activities.

-If you want your dogs to be able to get physical activity try taking them to the dog park or for a walk before 7:00 am or after 8:00 pm. Many Camden communities have dogs parks as well.  Always remember if it feels too hot for you than it’s probably too hot for them. Learn the signs for overheating so that you can monitor their activity.

My dogs Dug and Sophie having a playdate with their friend Sophie at the dog park. Photo courtesy of Ashlee Pigford

My dogs Dug and Sophie having a playdate with their friend Sophie at the dog park.
Photo courtesy of Ashlee Pigford

-Doggy daycare is a great resource to allow your pet to socialize with other dogs and allows them to have supervision while playing. I send my dogs to Camp Bow Wow or Pete & Macs in Arizona. I went to Yelp and asked other dog owners recommendations for doggy camps. The dogs come home exhausted and I have a worry free day knowing they are not cooped up in the house or burning up in the heat outside.

- I test the ground outside with my bare foot to see if it’s cool enough for my dog. Their paws are similar to the skin on our feet so you can get a pretty good idea if it’s too hot. Burned pet paws are painful and can get infected. One option you can try if you dog will let you is paw protector shoes. They are adorable shoes that fit over your dog’s paws and prevent them from burning but they do take a minute to put on and some dogs do not know how to walk in them. They are sold at most pet stores and come in all kinds of colors and sizes.

- Make sure your pet is hydrated all day long. Having enough water is very important all year long but especially in the summer months. Last summer I felt like my dog was not eating but was drinking a lot of water, my vet told me that sometimes dogs will drink more than they will eat when its warmer out. To make sure my dogs stay hydrated this summer I bought them a bag a of ice before the dog park. The love the ice and by the time we are done at the park the ice is chilled water which they finish off. Pet popsicles are also a great way to keep them cool, Pinterest has a ton of recipes.

-Never leave your dog in the car! Windows down, and just a quick second can be dangerous to your pet and it is not worth it. If I want my dogs to run errands with me I try to avoid it during the hot times of the day and I make sure I have someone to stay in the car with them with the A/C on.

Follow these tips and check with your vet to see more ways to keep your pet safe.

Cheers,

Ashlee

SDFair.com

SDFair.com

I have lived in San Diego for about 12 years now and one of my very first San Diego rituals was going to the San Diego Fair (was called the Del Mar Fair ‘back in my day’) every year.  Ideally we would split it up: a day to try all the crazy fair food, a day for rides, and a day to take in all the exhibits and possibly a concert.  Every year when I drive by Continue Reading »

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