TRAVELING IN OUR FABULOUS GAY WORLD: The Gay Bar in Gay, Michigan

Author: , May 18th, 2015

The Gay Bar

The Gay Bar in Gay, MichiganHasn’t everyone visited Gay, Michigan, population that is around 60? It is 12 miles from Lake Linden on Copper Island at the western end of the Upper Peninsula. The town was named after Joseph E. Gay, one of the founders of the Mohawk Mining Company that built a stamp mill in Gay in 1898. At it’s peak, Gay, Michigan had 1,500 residents and 117 houses. There were company stores and a schoolhouse for 250 students.

In the late 1800’s, Gay was a lumber town. Logging was waning when the Mohawk Mining Company decided to put stamping mills in the area to process copper from mines at Mohawk and Wolverine. Construction started in 1900. By 1901, there was an office, warehouse, blacksmith and carpenter shops, dock, pump house and company houses in the community. The Wolverine stamp mill closed in 1922. A depressed copper market caused the Mohawk Mining Company to shut its doors in 1933. Company homes were sold for $1 per room and $1 for the lot. Logging continued to be important to Gay until the railroad left in 1965.

The Gay Bar in Gay, MichiganToday, Gay, Michigan is famous for it’s bar…… THE GAY BAR in Gay, Michigan is the place to party and drink and eat. www.thegaybar.com It has been the GAY BAR since prohibition in the 1930’s. People drive from miles around to get there. The owners are Bruce and Christine Fountain. They offer a selection of over 40 beers both locally and imported.

They have a full selection of liquor and wine as well. The food menu includes thin crust Sicilian style pizza, fabulous hot dogs including their Chicago Dog (Gay Style), their Foot Long (12 inches) Hot Dog and their 1 lb. Chili Dog which they call their “The Home Wrecker”. Other sandwiches includes chicken, Meatballs, hamburgers and cheese burgers, stacked ham sandwiches and Spam and cheese sandwiches.

The Gay Bar in Gay, MichiganThey have a nice selection of items from the Waters of Gitche Gumme including a Friday Fry on Fridays, Surf & Turf, Fish Sandwiches, Smoked Oysters, Sardines and Baby Clams. It is no wonder why people go there all the time to drink, eat and have fun!

And now comes one of the best parts about THE GAY BAR! They have a huge selection of items to purchase. They offer everything including tee shirts that says “I Had 12 inches at THE GAY BAR”, ” I Blew My Wad at THE GAY BAR”, “I WENT STRAIGHT at THE GAY BAR”. They also have bar shot glasses, baseball caps, pens, beer can coolers, cigarette lighters and THE GAY BAR DO RAG” which every bad ass biker needs.

The Gay Bar in Gay, MichiganThey also have refrigerator magnets, stickers and lots of other really neat items. You do not have to go to Gay, Michigan to purchase these items as they sell them directly on their website and will ship them to you. www.thegaybar.com They are open 7 days a week. Monday thru Saturdays from 11 AM to 11 PM or later depending on how much fun everyone is having and Sunday they open at noon. You really do not need an address. Once you get into Gay, Michigan you can see it. But just in case their address is 925 Lake Street.

Gay, Michigan is celebrated for its annual 4th of July parade. The “Gay Parade” as it is referred to locally attracts people from all over. It is like New Orleans, San Francisco and Key West but on a much smaller scale. Next time you are bored with large cities and towns, why not go to Gay, Michigan and have a GAY time in Gay, Michigan and at THE GAY BAR! And a special THANK YOU to Jim of Michigan.

Don and RayAlways remember to have fun when traveling, meet new people and talk to everyone!

TRAVELING IN OUR FABULOUS GAY WORLD is written by Donald Pile and Ray Williams, Award-winning, Celebrity travel columnists who write for gay publications from coast to coast (And now legally married).

Proud members of the IGLTA. You can email them at gaytravelers@aol.com and visit their website at http://gaytravelersataol.blogspot.com/

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TRAVELING IN OUR FABULOUS GAY WORLD: Jack Mitchell, A Retrospective

Author: , March 7th, 2015

jack mitchell self portraitA few years ago as we were driving down to South Florida for a few weeks, we stopped by and visited the celebrated portrait photographer, Jack Mitchell and his partner, Robert Pavlik. They celebrated their 50th Anniversary in 2007. Jack had been a very famous portrait photographer in New York City for many years before he retired in Florida where he grew up.

We had a very lovely evening listening to him and Robert talking about their days photographing the many Broadway stars, dancers and entertainers from Hollywood. Jack was THE portrait photographer of his time. Jack’s portraits are extremely profound and heart touching. In each of his portraits he find the soul of the subject and it is a remarkable thing. He does not merely take a photo of his subject, but delves into the minds of his subjects. They are very intense. The hundreds of portraits that he took at his studio over the years is really a full history of the entertainment industry in New York City from the 1960’s to late 1990’s.

Jack Mitchell RetrospectiveThe next year we again stopped by to visit them on our way down to South Florida and spent another very enjoyable evening with them. We could have spent days with them, listening to their wonderful stories about their times and experiences with the different people in New York city. In 1998, Jack came out with his portrait book, “Icons and Idols: A Photographer’s Chronicle of the Arts, 1960 – 1995” which was a best seller. It had a forward written by Edward Albee and was dedicated to his partner, Robert. In it he had portraits of everyone from Leonard Bernstein, Angela Lansbury, Tennessee Williams, Truman Capote, dancer Alvin Ailey and dozens more including his most famous portrait of John Lennon and Yoko Ono. Most of his portraits are in black and white.

From 1960 to 1970, Jack was the official photographer for the American Ballet Theatre, taking all the photographs for their souvenir program books. He also photographed the Boston Ballet, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, Pennsylvania Ballet, Houston Ballet, the Martha Graham Dance Company, New York City Ballet and the Paul Taylor Dance Company. He photographed most of the world’s leading dance companies for The New York Times and for DANCE MAGAZINE.

Dancer - Jack MitchellSadly, they both have passed away but his work lives on thanks to Craig B. Highberger, the very talented and award-winning writer, movie director, producer and good friend of theirs. Craig first produced the documentary movie, “Superstar in a House Dress: The Life and Legend of Jackie Curtis” back in 2004 which was a fascinating account of the late Jackie Curtis. He was a good friend of many of the Andy Warhol gang in New York City including Holly Woodlawn and our very dear Hollywood, California friend, The Countess Alexis.

He later produced the documentary movie, “Jack Mitchell: My Life in Black and White” which was an exceptional documentary on the life of Jack Mitchell. In it he has dozens of conversations with the different dancers, Broadway stars and entertainers who were friends with Jack and Robert. It is a MUST SEE documentary.

Now there is a tremendous exhibit of over 100 of Jack’s portraits at the Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art in St. Joseph, Missouri. Entitled, “Jack Mitchell: A Retrospective”, it is on exhibit there until April 5th. The exhibition was put together by: Eric Hornak Spoutz, Lead Curator Jack Mitchell Archives and Craig B. Highberger, Executive Director, Jack Mitchell Archives.

The exhibit was set up by the extremely talented Megan Benitz who is the Registrar/Office Administrator/Exhibitor Manager at the Albrecht-Kemper Museum in St. Joseph, Missouri. The museum is located at 2818 Frederick St. in St. Joseph, Missouri. Website: www.albrecht-kemper.org And while there visit the Frankie Van Johnson’s Edward Marshall Boehm porcelain bird collection.

John Lennon and Yoko Ono - Jack MitchellThe Jack Mitchell Retrospective exhibit is going to continue touring for several years, and venues throughout the country will be announced on the website. They have upcoming venues in Florida and Washington. The Thrasher Horne Center for the Arts in Orange Park, Florida has a permanent Jack Mitchell Gallery, and so does the Atlantic Center for the Arts in New Smyrna Beach, Florida. For more information about Jack Mitchell, his books and documentary and future tours, contact Craig B. Highberger at www.jackmitchell.com And to see some more of the beautiful portraits by Jack Mitchell, go to: http://jackmitchell.com/gallery.php

Don and RayAlways remember to have fun when traveling, meet new people and talk to everyone!

TRAVELING IN OUR FABULOUS GAY WORLD is written by Donald Pile and Ray Williams, Award-winning, Celebrity travel columnists who write for gay publications from coast to coast (And now legally married).

Proud members of the IGLTA. You can email them at gaytravelers@aol.com and visit their website at http://gaytravelersataol.blogspot.com/

TRAVELING IN OUR FABULOUS GAY WORLD: Wilton Manors, Florida

Author: , January 16th, 2015

wilton sign oneThere is the city of Los Angeles and then there is West Hollywood which is why Gays visit there. There is the city of Las Vegas and then there is the Las Vegas Strip which is why Gays visit there. Most people do not realize that the Las Vegas Strip is not in the city of Las Vegas.

Then there is the city of Ft. Lauderdale and then there is the city of Wilton Manors which is why Gays visit there. You fly into Ft. Lauderdale but the main attraction is Wilton Manors which has over a dozen bars, fabulous restaurants, great shopping and everything else that you would want including museums. Most everything is within walking distance so it is not necessary to even have an automobile.

Wilton Manors is called ‘The Island City” and abuts Ft. Lauderdale just to the north. Wilton Manors and Provincetown, Massachusetts and West Hollywood are considered the Gayest cities in America. You just fly into the airport in Ft. Lauderdale and take a short cab ride to Wilton Manors and then you can walk everywhere.

Inn on the DriveA new Bed and Breakfast, The Inn On The Drive, opened last year in downtown Wilton Manors. Tony and Walt are the owners. They are located in a very quiet residential area however only a couple of blocks to where all the action is so you certainly do not need an automobile to get anywhere.

Tony and Walt are two of the nicest guys that you would ever want to meet. They have four guest rooms that all face their swimming pool.

winton manor bedThis is a brand new complex that is spotless. They offer everything that you need. You can either have breakfast in your room or out on the patio. They have certainly done everything the right way. Great rooms, great hosts, great location and the fact that you can walk everywhere within a few blocks is amazing!

And should you have an automobile, they offer off street parking. Their phone number is: (954) 990-4895, their email is: info@InnOnTheDrive.com. Their address is: 2405 NE 7 Avenue Wilton Manors, FL and their website is: www.innonthedrive.com/.

IMG_1779Of course they offer WiFi, Cable TV, air-conditioning and more. Tony and Walt want your stay to be perfect and they will do most anything to assist you.

Some of our favorite restaurants in Wilton Manors includes Rosie’s Bar and Grill, www.rosiesbarandgrill.com/, The Courtyard Cafe, www.wiltonmanorscourtyardcafe.com/, The Tropics Restaurant and Bar, www.tropicsofwiltonmanors.com/, and Peter Pan, www.peterpandiner.com/ where they serve wonderful home-style and comfort foods.

Remember, we always tell you to talk to everyone? As we were going into the Peter Pan restaurant, we started talking with two ladies. In that short period of time, we had a great time and then upon entering the restaurant we asked if they would like to sit at our table for lunch which they agreed to. What was to be a routine lunch for the two of us turned out to be a fabulous one hour dining experience with lively conversation and laughter.

Helen and Jane were two very interesting and delightful and VERY intelligent ladies. Plus we were pleasantly surprised when at that end of the lunch, they paid for our lunch! That is one of the many things that we enjoy about traveling, meeting new people

Wilton Manors has dozens of bars and some of our favorites are: THE TROPICS, www.tropicsofwiltonmanors.com/ which is always packed with mature men and with live piano entertainment every night. The ALIBI, www.georgiesalibi.com/ which is always busy and also serves food. THE RAMRON, www.ramrodbar.com/, which serves the leather community. THE SIDELINES SPORTS BAR, www.sidelinessports.com/. SCANDALS SALOON, www.scandalsfla.com/ for the cowboy crowd. RUMORS, www.rumorsbarwiltonmanors.com/, which is a classy cocktail club. And BILLS, www.billsfillingstation.com/.

These are but just a few of the many bars and clubs in the area within walking distance of the INN ON THE DRIVE BED AND BREAKFAST!

Wilton Manors is indeed THE PLACE TO PARTY IN SOUTH FLORIDA! And again, be sure and stay at the Inn On the Drive Bed and Breakfast. Tony and Walt will take good care of you.

In addition it is always great seeing our good friend there, Herb Pianin who stands out as being not only he finest General Manager of any resort in the country but also one of the nicest gentlemen that we have ever met in our travels.

Don and RayAlways remember to have fun when traveling, meet new people and talk to everyone!

TRAVELING IN OUR FABULOUS GAY WORLD is written by Donald Pile and Ray Williams, Award-winning, Celebrity travel columnists who write for gay publications from coast to coast (And now legally married).

Proud members of the IGLTA. You can email them at gaytravelers@aol.com and visit their website at http://gaytravelersataol.blogspot.com/

Traveling in Our Fabulous Gay World: Hermann, Missouri: A Very Interesting Town, Part One

Author: , October 11th, 2014
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Hermann, MO

Just how much fun and how interesting can a small town in the middle of Missouri with a population of only about 2,500 be ? Well, if it is Hermann, Missouri you can have a LOT of fun. Hermann was founded around 1837 and sits right on the banks of the Missouri River and is located about 75 miles west of St. Louis and about 175 east of Kansas City.

Hermanhof InnHermann’s downtown which sits directly on the banks of the River is filled with shops, restaurants, bars and a winery and brewery. Actually there are about 7 wineries in the area.

It is a German settlement and the buildings all are the same as they were for over 150 years although thanks to many people including Jim and Mary Dierberg, they have been brought up to date and refurbished.

Hermann SuiteWe stayed at the Inn at the Hermannhof which is a spectacular Inn that has been completely restored to the grandeur of old. They also have hillside cottages about a block away. We stayed in one of the hillside cottages which are very luxurious and spacious. Our front porch measured about 45 feet by 10 feet and over looked the downtown area. Not only was there a working fireplace in the main rooms, there was also a working fireplace in the bathroom which measured about 14 foot by 17 foot which had a claw footed bathroom plus a walk in shower with 5 shower heads. Luxury is what it is all about there.

Hermanhof BathroomA very hearty gourmet breakfast is served in the main Inn every morning. Chef John outdoes himself with the finest of ingredients with everything that is grown locally, fruits, vegetables, meats and pastries. Every staff member is extremely professional and will do anything to make your stay very enjoyable. The Inn at Hermannhof website is: http://www.innathermannhof.com and their toll free phone number is: 888-268-1422 and you can email them at: info@innathermannhof.com

When you stay at the Inn at Hermannhof you can walk everywhere downtown. There are also several trolleys in town that will take you to the different wineries during the day The Hermannhof Winery was started around 1850 and produced thousands of gallons of wine until Prohibition.

IMG_6047In 1974, the Hermannhof Cellars were purchased by the Dierberg family and renewal began. They are among the finest Missouri wines and have been presented. many awards. Paul LeRoy is the General Manager of the Winery and has been there for years. Charlene Penn is the Director of wine sales and the Manager of the Tasting Room. They offer wine tours daily. Check out the winery at www.hermannhof.com and their toll free number is 1-800-393-0100.

IMG_6030Located directly across the street from the Winery and just a block from the Inn is the Tin Mill Brewery and is located in a landmark 100 year old mill in historic downtown Hermann Missouri. The Company is the only true lager microbrewery in the state of Missouri. They also have a restaurant inside. NOTE: They recently began serving Pizza and it is the finest pizza that we have ever had! The Brew Master is Elijah Holt. They invite you to visit their brewery to sample, shop, and to learn how their beer is made. You can experience their self-guided tours daily or arrange a private tour by calling the brewery at 573-486-2275 or emailing info@tinmillbrewery.com.

The Tin Mill Restaurant, formally called the Granary is located inside the Hermann Mill, a beautifully restored grain elevator that provides a unique atmosphere for your dining pleasure and is located directly across from the Winery. They serve upscale comfort food including chicken fried chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy, a one pound meatloaf with bacon along with a large variety of German food. Chef John is one of the finest in his field and comes up with wonderful new entrees all the time.

IMG_6053So with all of this going on in one small town, what else is there to do ? Well be sure and visit the new (actually over 150 years old) the Hermann Farm & Museum which is a German settlement just on the outskirts of downtown. It is currently in development and will be a 160-plus acre working farm, living history center, and National Landmark located along the Missouri River, That website is: http://www.hermannfarm.org/

We always tell our readers to talk to everyone and it is sure true here. Everyone is so friendly, helpful and really wonderful people. We especially want to say a BIG THANK YOU to Julee Baldridge the General Manager of the Inn at Hermannhof and the Tin Mill Restaurant. She is the finest and most professional General Manager of any Inn or Restaurant where we have been. She simply could not have been more professional! She is on top of everything!

Also a very sincere thank you to Jim Dierberg. Without him and his wife, there would be no Hermann as it is now. We also enjoyed meeting and talking with Gina, Rena, Paul and Kim, John Baldridge, Charlene, Chef John, Cazey, Sam and Elijah. These people made our Hermann stay extremely special and they will make your stay special as well. A special thanks to Patty Held, of the Hermann Wine Trail and we will writing more about her and her in part two on Hermann.

In our next column we will talk about other wonderful restaurants, wineries and places to visit when in Hermann.

Always remember to have fun when traveling, meet new people and talk to everyone!

Donald and RayTRAVELING IN OUR FABULOUS GAY WORLD is written by Donald Pile and Ray Williams, Award-winning, Celebrity travel columnists who write for gay publications from coast to coast (And now legally married). Proud members of the IGLTA. You can email them at gaytravelers@aol.com and visit their website at http://gaytravelersataol.blogspot.com/

TRAVELING IN OUR FABULOUS GAY WORLD: Yosemite National Park

Author: , July 4th, 2014
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Yosemite

YosemiteOn our last trip to California we decided to stop and visit the Yosemite National Park. We have been to a lot of the different national parks across the country but have heard that Yosemite was a MUST SEE! Well, it IS a MUST SEE!

Whenever you travel to new places you always need to do your preliminary work before going. The websites you need to check out are www.yosemitepark.com and http://www.nps.gov/yose/index.htm

The entrance fee to drive into the park is $20 per car. If you have a Golden Pass Card or a Senior Card, there is no admittance fee. We have had our Golden Pass Card now for several years and have already gotten over $500 worth of free entrance fees. from coast to coast. The Golden Pass Card costs $10 and the card expires when you do, so it is really a great bargain. You can check out their information at http://store.usgs.gov/pass/senior.html

YosemiteYosemite can get very busy during the summer. When we were there in May it was not that crowded however all of the campsites were already booked up. We stayed at the Ahwahnee Hotel, a grand hotel in Yosemite National Park, California, on the floor of Yosemite Valley, constructed from stone, concrete, wood and glass, which opened in 1927.
The crown jewel of Yosemite dining, the award-winning Ahwahnee Dining Room is both magnificent and intimate. The 34-foot-high beamed ceiling with large sugar pine trestles that complement the room’s granite pillars, floor-to-ceiling windows, chandeliers, linen tablecloths and beautiful china create the perfect ambiance for a memorable dining experience. They do have a dress code for dinner. Check out their website at: www.yosemitepark.com/the-ahwahnee.aspx

After you leisurely drive thru the front entrance of Yosemite, you go to the main section. It is best to take a guided tour of the park. A ticket is $25.00 and worth every penny. On the two-hour tour, Rangers introduce some of Yosemite’s most famous sightseeing points in Yosemite Valley and describe the history, geology, plant and animal life of the region.

YosemiteThe year-round Yosemite Valley Floor tour provides a fuller knowledge and enjoyment of the park. Open-air trams operate from late spring through early fall. From late October through April, you can ride in an enclosed and heated motor coach with large windows allowing unimpeded views of Yosemite’s famous sights. We are not all that into taking organized tours as we like to see things ourselves however this tour is a must, otherwise you are going to miss a lot in addition to hearing the ranger giving a great talk of the area.

The vistas and scenic views in Yosemite are truly majestic to say the least. Be sure and take your camera. At every turn in the road you get completely different views. Hundreds of people camp in the park all year long and there are hundreds of hikers as well as climbers scaling the rocks. Be sure and drink plenty of water while you are there which is extremely important.

We met and talked with several of the employees and staff. Most of them actually live right in the park in close quarters with others. It takes a special type of people to do that but glad that they do. ENJOY the Yosemite National Park as we did.

Always remember to have fun when traveling, meet new people and talk to everyone!

Donald and RayTRAVELING IN OUR FABULOUS GAY WORLD is written by Donald Pile and Ray Williams, Award-winning, Celebrity travel columnists who write for gay publications from coast to coast (And now legally married). Proud members of the IGLTA. You can email them at gaytravelers@aol.com and visit their website at http://gaytravelersataol.blogspot.com/

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TRAVELING IN OUR FABULOUS GAY WORLD: Beautiful Carmel by the Sea, California

Author: , June 21st, 2014
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Monterey, California

Carmel, CaliforniaCarmel-by-the-Sea is located on the Pacific coast, about 330 miles north of Los Angeles and 120 miles south of San Francisco. The one-square-mile village has no street lights or parking meters. In addition, the businesses, cottages and houses have no street numbers.

Originally, the early artists who were the first builders of the homes in the town, named their houses, rather than having numerical addresses. Due to this situation, the Postal Service provides no delivery of mail to individual addresses. Instead, residents go to the centrally located post office to receive their mail.

Carmel, CaliforniaTo find a business or residence, you simply have to go to something like 9th St. and Ocean Avenue, or 3 doors west of 9th St. Ocean Avenue. Rather simple but very interesting. While we were there, we never got lost.

We stayed at the historical Pine Inn Hotel right downtown and within a very easy walking distance to everywhere. It was the first hotel built in Carmel back in 1889 and has been updated continuously over the years.

Pine Inn Hotel, Carmel, CaliforniaThe Pine Inn is a boutique, full service hotel boasting the most elegant rooms in Carmel and all the amenities you expect. Their suites are some of the finest we have ever stayed in.

Il Fornaio, Carmel, CaliforniaThey offer an American breakfast buffet Monday thru Friday in their Il Fornaio Restaurant. You can dine inside or outside with ocean views. For a truly fine dining experience we certainly recommend Il Fornaio! Their dinner menu offers the finest of Seafood and Italian fare. Their website is: www.pineinn.com/ and the website for the restaurant is: www.ilfornaio.com/?page=138&restaurant_id=3145

Carmel, CaliforniaFor lunch one day, we dined with Monta Potter, the Chief Executive Officer of the Carmel Chamber of Commerce. All towns should have someone as professional as she is representing their town. We had lunch at Doris Day’s Cypress Inn and met Fiona Ayers, the General Manager. The restaurant was packed with people dining (and with their dogs). Dogs are everywhere in Carmel and they are all well behaved!

There are several sites to see around Carmel and one of our favorites was the Basilica of Mission San Carlos Borromeo, commonly known as Carmel Mission. It was founded in 1770 so has a lot of history and very interesting architecture.

Downtown Carmel is full of art studios and shops, restaurants as well as shops filled with clothing, antiques and home decor items. We only wish that the shop owners would realize that travelers do get up early and walk the streets with money in their pockets to SPEND. But when shops do not open at a reasonable hour, travels seem to spend their money elsewhere.

The Arts are alive and well in Carmel with opera, drama and museums. Anytime is a wonderful time to visit Carmel and if you stay at the Pine Inn, then you can just walk everywhere. Before going to Carmel, visit their website: www.carmelcalifornia.com/

We want to give a big THANK YOU to Tom Williams and Robert Hale who live in beautiful Carmel by the Sea. We first met them when we were all staying at the Terrazzo Resort in Palm Springs a few years ago.

Always remember to have fun when traveling, meet new people and talk to everyone!

Donald and RayTRAVELING IN OUR FABULOUS GAY WORLD is written by Donald Pile and Ray Williams, Award-winning, Celebrity travel columnists who write for gay publications from coast to coast (And now legally married). Proud members of the IGLTA. You can email them at gaytravelers@aol.com and visit their website at http://gaytravelersataol.blogspot.com/

TRAVELING IN OUR FABULOUS GAY WORLD: Passion in the Sonoma Wine Country

Author: , June 6th, 2014
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Sonoma Wine Country - Don and Ray

When we are traveling around the country we always try to take full advantage of everything and on our last trip to San Francisco we drove on up to the Sonoma wine country and took a “wine tour” with “Out in the Vineyard” which is a company that is owned by Gary Saperstein and Mark Vogler. They offer luxury travels and exclusive adventures for the LGBT community in regards to wine.

Iron Horse WineryOur day tour with them began at the Iron Horse Ranch and Vineyards. Our tour guide, David has been there a number of years and is extremely passionate about the making of wine. He gave us an excellent history lesson about grape growing, wines, bottles and even the corks.

In our travels from coast to coast, he was the most interesting and knowledgeable tour guide that we have ever encountered. Brent Burch, the Accounts Manager at the Winery was extremely helpful and professional as well. They are located in Sebastopol. Check them out at www.ironhorsevineyards.com

La CremaOur next stop was La Crema Winery and we went first to their tasting room where we were hosted and entertained by two VERY passionate people, Brandii and April. They LOVE wine and being around people and they are truly remarkable and FUN !!!!! It is located in downtown Healdsburg at 235 Healdsburg Ave. You can check them out at: www.lacrema.com/tasting-room-overview

After tasting several wines, we went a few doors down the street and had a fabulously delicious lunch at their restaurant, Partake by K J., which is Kendall-Jackson’s tasting lounge and restaurant. We indulged in their “Chef’s Tasting” which included food and different wine pairings.

PartakeAmong some of the exciting things we had were, Oysters, Estate Fava Beans and strawberries, a fine selection of cheeses, whole vine Tempura Maitake mushrooms, Smoked loin of lamb, heirloom beans, spring vegetables, beef and Pomegranate relish. All with wine pairings of course! Our server was exceptional and so professional ! They are located at 241 Healdsburg Avenue and you can check them out at www.partakebykj.com/

Mercury WineryOur next stop was in Geyserville visiting the Mercury Wine tasting room at 21015 Geyserville Avenue. You can visit them for a complimentary tasting of small-lot Pinot Noirs, Bordeaux-style blends and esoteric white varietals. The owner, Brad and his brother Grady are two great guys. They love what they are doing and have “the passion”. You can check them out at www.mercurywine.com

If one were to try to take in the wineries at their own schedule it would be a nightmare. Gary and Mark do it the right way and take care of everything. Their itineraries are designed to provide intimate and exclusive wine country experiences and are strictly limited to small groups. They are offering a special South Africa Wine Safari in October which will be an intimate wine journey thru South Africa. If we were not going to be attending parties in the Hampton’s at that time, we know that we would want to go with them.

That trip is limited to only 12 guests, so book now ! Out In The Vineyard has lots of activities year round so be sure and check their website: www.outinthevineyard.com to see their upcoming events. Thanks Gary and Mark for having such a great tour company ! We highly suggest that if anyone is going to the Wine Country north of San Francisco to be sure and take one of their tours.

We seldom get to use the word “passion” when it involves our travels but the people that we met in the wine country all have PASSION and that is a good thing! It is extremely enjoyable being around people with passion who are so enthusiastic about what they are doing.

When in that area, be SURE and stay at the Village Inn Guesthouse in Monte Rio. It is THE best. Owner Mark and his staff also have “the passion” and that is why guests keep returning year after year after year. Their website is: www.villageinn-ca.com/

Always remember to have fun when traveling, meet new people and talk to everyone!

Donald and RayTRAVELING IN OUR FABULOUS GAY WORLD is written by Donald Pile and Ray Williams, Award-winning, Celebrity travel columnists who write for gay publications from coast to coast (And now legally married). Proud members of the IGLTA. You can email them at gaytravelers@aol.com and visit their website at http://gaytravelersataol.blogspot.com/

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TRAVELING IN OUR FABULOUS GAY WORLD: How to Get Ready for Traveling

Author: , April 5th, 2014
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Travel BudgetWe often are asked how we get ready for our travels since we are usually gone for between two weeks and a month or more at a time. It does take a lot of preliminary work and thankfully for the Internet it makes it much easier. But even without the Internet, a trip to the local library is full of travel books which you can read ahead of your travels.

SpinnakerPresently we are getting ready to take off on a west coast trip to San Francisco, Yosemite National Park, Napa Valley and the Russian River. We of course have been to San Francisco many times and will want to return to many of the places where we have visited in the past, dine at our favorite restaurants and drink in our favorite bars and visit with friends that we have met there over the years. We always dine at Spinnaker restaurant in Sausalito every time we are in San Francisco which is truly one of the highlights of our trip. Check out their website at www.thespinnaker.com.

Chef Phil Collins has been there since 1982 so that tells you about the restaurant. He as well as the owners KNOW how to do it right and keep their customers returning. We have featured Chef Phil Collins and the restaurant in past travel columns and will do so again after our trip to San Francisco this time. They have the finest food and the greatest ambiance.

24 HenryWe love staying at the 24 Henry Guest House in San Francisco, located at 24 Henry St.. It is very conveniently located within an easy 10 minute walk to the Castro. Owner Walter Edgar and his staff are extremely friendly and professional and pamper they guests to the fullest. We have stayed with them before and would never think of staying anyplace else in San Francisco. Their B and B is located within just a couple of blocks from the many public transportation locations to get anywhere in the entire city. A supermarket and drug store is located just a couple blocks away. This is THE place to stay when visiting the city. Their website is www.24henry.com

The bar scene seems to change a lot so we will be able to update our readers about them and what they offer. We have seen most of the museums and galleries although we never get tired of seeing new exhibits that they have. Live theatre is always a joy to see. Downtown shopping is always a special treat there as well. There is just so much to see and do in San Francisco and we are really excited about returning.

san-francisco-golden-gate-bridgeThen after a week there, we will drive to Yosemite National Park where we have never been and are really excited about that adventure. From there we will spend a few days in Napa Valley and then on to the Russian River.

So we are now working on our scheduling and what we need to do getting into Yosemite National Park and exactly what routes to go to see the highlights of the park. Hopefully we will be staying at some Gay / Lesbian Bed and Breakfast Inns in that area.

We normally always drive when we travel however this time we have decided to take Amtrak and leave the driving to them. They are proud sponsors of the “Ride with Pride” campaign. We have never taken a long trip like this on Amtrak and certainly looking forward to it. From Kansas City, it is a 35 hour drive to Los Angeles and then change trains and continue upward to San Francisco. We will be getting a “roomette” so we will be able to sleep in a bed during the trip. We are really looking forward to this next adventure and after all, that is what travel should be: an Adventure! Now we have to decided what to pack and how much we can pack.

Fortunately on Amtrak you can take up to two large pieces of luggage to check in as well as two smaller size luggage on board. Before you take out, just always do your homework ahead of time. Read the city’s newspaper online to see what is going on. You can check their temperatures so you know what clothing to wear If you are not going to be having an auto at your disposal you can check public transportation online in any city. Have fun and make it an adventure!

Always remember to have fun when traveling, meet new people and talk to everyone!

Donald and RayTRAVELING IN OUR FABULOUS GAY WORLD is written by Donald Pile and Ray Williams, Award-winning, Celebrity travel columnists who write for gay publications from coast to coast (And now legally married). Proud members of the IGLTA. You can email them at gaytravelers@aol.com and visit their website at http://gaytravelersataol.blogspot.com/

TRAVELING IN OUR FABULOUS GAY WORLD: Problems When Traveling & How to Avoid Them or Get Them Taken Care Of

Author: , February 22nd, 2014
Email Donald & Ray | Visit the Gay Travel Guys Website

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GlobeWe certainly think that traveling is the most educational and interesting thing to do in life We always enjoy seeing new places, experiencing new things, enjoying different foods and meeting all types of people.

Fortunately for us we have the time and energy and know how to plan all of our trips ahead of time. However we fully realize that thousands of travelers simply to not have the luxury on time to do that. When problems do arise, travelers usually wait until they get back home and then try to complain. Usually it just does not work that way.

HotelOn our way down to South Florida this year, we had reward points at a hotel chain and we stayed in St. Petersburg taking advantage of two free nights. Everything was fine and then we decided to spend another two nights and paying for it. On those next two nights, things went downhill and very quickly.

We came back to the hotel around 9 PM after being going almost the entire day. There were about two dozen men playing basketball out in the parking lot. At times the basketball was hitting parked autos. We KNEW that a problem was at hand. As we went into the hotel lobby we immediately went to the front desk to give them the information about what was going on outside in front of the hotel.

Yep, she was a young woman, had been employed there about 2 months and had NO idea what to do. Other guests were trying to check in and were also complaining about the problem. We asked if there was security on the premises and she was more than happy to inform everybody that SHE was the security. Duh!

We were very concerned about the safely of our auto so we immediately called the 800 telephone number for the hotel chain. Of course the first thing we heard was that our call was very important to them but they were assisting other customers and would have to wait our turn. When we finally got to talk with a real person, we explained in full detail the problem at hand.

They of course had to put us thru to a supervisor which took another 5 minutes. However we were VERY concerned about our auto’s safety. When the supervisor finally got on line we had to explain yet again the entire story.

At this time, he was very apologetic and said that he would call the owner/management of the hotel and have the problem taken care of immediately. Within 15 minutes not only did someone from the owner/management arrive at the hotel but the police came as well. The problem was resolved and all the guests were relieved.

Of course the desk clerk on duty should have taken care of the problem herself but really had no idea what to do. When any business is taking in thousands of dollars a day in hotel rooms one would think that they could at least hire someone who knows what to do when a situation like this occurs.

RestaurantAnother problem that arises often at hotels and motels is that when you check in, they do not tell you their hidden fees such as a fee for a safety deposit box in your room. Upon check out you notice a fee of $1.50 to $3.00 a day for it. They do have a very small sign on their counter that says if you do not want to take advantage of your safety deposit box that the fee will be deducted from your bill.

Upon checking out, we explained that we did not want nor did we use the safety deposit box so they took the fee off. However it took 15 minutes for them to figure out to deduct it. Other people standing in line behind us wanting to check out were not pleased with having to wait, however we explained to everyone of them to double check their bills and they all, also had that fee deducted. It is YOUR money so spend it wisely. It is no wonder why so many travelers stay in Bed and Breakfasts? In all of our travels we have never had one problem like this staying in a B and B.

Ever had problems at restaurants? Of course you have and the best thing to do if you do have a problem or problems is just to walk out. We were going to dine at a restaurant in South Florida and decided to order the Prime Rib. Yep, that is what it said. Prime Rib including salad, baked potato and bread. The salad came and it was great and they also served nice warm rolls. Then the Prime Rib came. It was NOT a Prime Rib but……. what they called, Prime Ribs!

Not a steak at all but ribs! That is NOT what a Prime Rib is. We explained nicely what we had placed an order for a Prime Rib.. We then found out that they have several other types of steaks that they serve but that they do not serve a Prime Rib steak. We politely left the restaurant and explained to them exactly why we were leaving. We then drove on a bit farther and had a nice Prime Rib steak at another restaurant.

CarAuto rentals continue to be a major problem with travelers. We cannot stress enough to ALWASY take photos of your auto BEFORE you leave the lot and ALWASY take photos of the auto after you return your auto to the lot. In case you were not aware of the fact, you DID sign a waver that says that after you can leave that the auto agency has the right to add on damage fees and parking tickets or toll road fees that you incurred while you were driving the auto.

Donald and Ray

Our one suggestion is to always pay with a credit card so that you can have at least something to fall back on if a problem arises. Hopefully you travels will be problem free but in today’s world, this is sadly to day, not always the case, so just do your planning well in advance.

Always remember to have fun when traveling, meet new people and talk to everyone!

TRAVELING IN OUR FABULOUS GAY WORLD is written by Donald Pile and Ray Williams, Award-winning, Celebrity travel columnists who write for gay publications from coast to coast (And now legally married). Proud members of the IGLTA. You can email them at gaytravelers@aol.com and visit their website at http://gaytravelersataol.blogspot.com/

TRAVELING IN OUR FABULOUS GAY WORLD: Savannah, Georgia

Author: , February 10th, 2014
Email Donald & Ray | Visit the Gay Travel Guys Website

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Savannah Fountain

Midnight in the Garden of Good and EvilTwo things to always remember about Savannah is how beautiful and historical city it is and it’s depiction in the movie, “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” based on the book by John Berendt about a real life Gay Antiques dealer in the city. It was a major movie directed by Clint Eastwood. The book was on The New York Times bestseller list for 216 weeks following it’s debut and still, to this day, the longest standing best seller of The New York Times.

After his book came out, tourists from all over the world flocked to Savannah to see for themselves the historic city. Savannah is located on the east coast of Georgia on the Interstate. Tourists go there 12 months of the year to take advantage of everything that the city has to offer.

SavannahThey have several trolley and bus tours that one can take to view the historical homes, downtown, and even the cemeteries. The most visited one is the Bonaventure Cemetery which is a public cemetery located on the scenic bluff of the Wilmington River just east of downtown Savannah. The headstones, markers and statuary are remarkable so be sure and take your camera.

Savannah Park

The main part of the city is made up of different “squares” which has the old stately homes and estates facing the historical statues in the center of the square.

There are of course dozens of restaurants touting that they are the best however we enjoyed one of THE best when found THE PIRATES’. It is located in the oldest house in Georgia and was erected in 1753! Yes, that is right….. 1753!

Pirates House restaurant SavannahWhile dining you can actually see the hand hewn ceilings joined with wooden pegs in the Captain’s Room, and the original brick walls and heart pine floors. They serve authentic Georgian food and it is priced very reasonable. Check out their website at: www.thepirateshouse.com

There are dozens of antiques shops in Savannah filled with the finest of porcelain, silver and decorative items for the home. We were lucky to find some great buys to bring home. For nightlife one needs to go further than to go to Club One, 1 Jefferson St. in the downtown area. The ‘Lady Chablis” has been performing there for years there.

If you have never seen her, check out the website so that you will know when she is performing, http://clubone-online.com/

Savannah statueOther items of interest when visiting Savannah are the River Boat Cruises, The Savannah Theatre for live productions, the Oatland Island Wildlife Center, plus there are several walking tours that you can take. If you stay downtown you can walk almost everywhere to view all that the city offers. On weekends, there is no charge at the parking meters in the entire city.

Before going to Savannah, be sure and check out www.savannah.com. There are several Bed and Breakfasts in Savannah and always check out www.purpleroofs.com to find the good ones.

Everyone is extremely hospitable in Savannah and are always more that happy to give directions or suggestions on where to dine and shop.

Always remember to have fun when traveling, meet new people and talk to everyone!

Donald and RayTRAVELING IN OUR FABULOUS GAY WORLD is written by Donald Pile and Ray Williams, Award-winning, Celebrity travel columnists who write for gay publications from coast to coast (And now legally married). Proud members of the IGLTA. You can email them at gaytravelers@aol.com and visit their website at http://gaytravelersataol.blogspot.com/

Click here for gay travel resources in Georgia.