Reviews, Travel

Retreat Yo Self > The Inn at Perry Cabin – St. Michaels, MD

Inn at Perry Cabin

At some point during the last twelve months, my life turned into one that involves attending Board Meetings once every quarter. As fun as that sounds (it’s really not that bad), there is a nice perk:  The Annual Board Retreat.

This year’s retreat was at The Inn at Perry Cabin in St. Michaels, MD and although most of my time was spent in meetings, the backdrop was a gorgeous waterfront property that would be an easy weekend escape for anyone in the Washington, DC metro area.

That Water View

Even if you hate boats and/or sailing and/or fishing–which would be a wasted use of a hatred–you can’t help but appreciate the calming water views. We were spoiled with perfectly warm fall weather, but it would also be a cool place to visit during a snowy winter day.

Stay Active

Although the work portion of my trip prevented us from enjoying one of the many daily activities, the list was long enough to entice us to return on a future trip. The daily activities ranged from early morning oyster boat tours to kayaking. Wanna bike through St. Michaels? They got you covered with complimentary bikes.

The best part? All of the activities are inlcluded in your stay. No upsells or surcharges. Luxury without a price tag on everything.

Get Turnt Down

At most nice places, you might feel ashamed to get cookie crumbs on your bed. Well, this is actually encouraged at The Inn:  Turn down service includes fresh baked cookies.

You read that correctly. Every evening, you are cordially invited to a cookie party in your own bed.

Make Room

A picture is worth a thousand words? Okay. Here are four thousand words:

Enjoy The Journey

Although not long enough to be considered a “road trip,” the two and a half hours it took us to travel to The Inn at Perry Cabin was long enough to warrant a couple pit stops for food.

If you have time, we highly recommend checking out Bakers & Co. in Annapolis, MD. The test of a good bakery is this:  If you finish eating breakfast, then go back into the bakery to take stuff home for later, it’s a pretty damn good bakery.

We took two croissants home with us.

And also pizza from Vin 909

Vin 909 - Annapolis, MD

Vin 909 - Annapolis, MD

A Smooth Ride

Thanks to the fine folks at Hyundai, the journey was also made much more comfortable by having the transportation provided via a 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport Ultimate.

I appreciate the accurate use of “Ultimate” in the trim level. Some vehicle manufacturers use vague descriptions (SE, Grand Touring, SLX, R2D2) to describe the model trim level. Hyundai eliminates any guessing as to how well-equipped the Santa Fe is: Ultimate.

What makes a Santa Fe Sport an Ultimate? Not only heated seats, but a heated steering wheel. 360 degree surround view, Apple Car Play, and plenty of power with 240 HP in a 2.0L turbo engine to name a few. You can check out our separate Review/Q&A here and follow the conversation on social media:  #DriveHyundai.

One Last Tip

We wanted to end the post with one final tip, as it was a hard lesson that we had to learn. No matter how many nights you plan on staying at The Inn at Perry Cabin, add an extra day. We regretted not staying longer and you will too.

Car Reviews

Car Q&A: 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport 2.0T Ultimate

2018 Hyundai Santa Fe 2.0T Ultimate

This post is made possible through a partnership with the cool cats at Hyundai, who provided us with a vehicle to test drive for a week. You can follow the conversation on social media with the hashtag #DriveHyundai.


MSRP (as tested):  $39,875
MPG Estimate: 19 city – 24 highway
Engine:  2.0L Turbo Gasoline Direct Injection 4-Cylinder
Power:  240hp | 260 lb-ft of torque
Transmission:   6-Speed Automatic
Color:  Twilight Black (exterior) / Gray (interior)
Options:  Ultimate Tech Package (Smart Cruise Control, Automatic Emergency Braking w/ Pedestrian Detection, Lane Departure Warning, Electronic Parking Brake w/ Auto Vehicle Hold, Dynamic Bending Light, High Beam Assist, Auto-Leveling Headlights)

For more info, click here to view the 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe Brochure.

We spent a week with the Santa Fe Sport, including a beautiful weekend on the water in St. Michaels, MD (check out our companion post here).  Afterwards, we sat down–or rather, IN—the Santa Fe to see what makes it so ultimate.

2018 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport 2.0T Ultimate

Get in my Mouf (GIMM):  I notice that you don’t beat around the bush with your model trim: ULTIMATE.

Santa Fe:  I feel as though it is a quite accurate descriptor.

GIMM:  Indeed, but in the words of Kendrick Lamar, “Be humble.”

Santa Fe:  I hardly think Kendrick was referring to a family SUV when he wrote that song. And yes, I am familiar with his music library. I do subscribe to XM Sirius.

GIMM: Yes, I recall enjoying satellite radio on our trip.


Santa Fe:  I know. I was there. Anyway, you were questioning my humbleness?

GIMM: I didn’t mean to question your humbleness, I was just pointing out how…not humble it is to use “ultimate” to describe one’s self.

Santa Fe:  You did and it’s possible to be humble and accurate. Look, I’m not a flashy luxury vehicle that flaunts what I have. I’m an all around great SUV who happens to have an options package that is, well–

Do you know what the definition of ultimate is?

GIMM:  Of course. I mean, I didn’t go to college for five years and not learn big words.

Santa Fe:  Right. Then you already know that “ultimate” can be defined as the “best achievable or imaginable of its kind.”

Can I ask you another question?

GIMM:  Go for it.

Santa Fe:  You spent a week with me. Was there anything else you felt that I was lacking? Something else that you desired to have?


GIMM:  Hmm…Anything?

Santa Fe:  Anything at all.

GIMM:  Pizza.

Santa Fe:  You did have pizza!


GIMM:  Yeah, but we had to order it and pick it up. Would be nice if you could just make pizza. THAT would be ultimate.

Santa Fe:  I’ll keep that in mind for next year’s model…

2018 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport 2.0T Ultimate



Disclaimer: As noted above we were provided this vehicle courtesy of Hyundai. Other than being allowed to test drive this vehicle, we were not provided any monetary compensation for this post. All opinions and fake interviews with inanimate objects remain our own. 

Car Reviews

2018 Mazda3 Grand Touring Review: Hello, Old Friend

2018 Mazda3 Grand Touring |

This post is made possible through a partnership with the awesome folks at Mazda, who provided us with a vehicle to test drive for a week. You can follow the conversation on social media with the hashtag #DriveMazda.

Before we get into the 2018 Mazda3 Grand Touring, I wanted to start with a couple photos (courtesy of my younger brother, Tyler) of a different car:

2006 Mazda3 S |

2006 Mazda3 S |

That blue beauty right there was my first new car purchase. A 2006 Mazda3 S in Winning Blue Metallic. No co-signers. No help with the down payment. And since it was new, no previous owners!

It’s ridiculous to think now, but buying that car felt like a serious rite of passage into adulthood. A decade later I’m still not not sure if I’m actually an adult, but at that moment I sure did.

Not only was it my first new car purchase, but it was also my first introduction to Mazda and the “zoom zoom” philosophy.

What’s changed since 2006? A lot, but the core heart of Mazda has remained the same. Driving the 2018 Mazda3 was like reconnecting with an old friend. It felt familiar and comfortable, while also exciting to see what had changed over the last twelve years since we were first introduced.

2018 Mazda3 Grand Touring |

An Emotional Decision  

After having had a week to enjoy the 2018 Mazda3, I was reminded of just how much a car purchase is an emotional decision.

You can spend hours–days even–researching vehicles. Comparing options, reliability, and scouring reviews, but the only portion of the decision that really matters is how you feel when you sit in the driver’s seat.

2018 Mazda3 Grand Touring |

My old Mazda was a stick shift with killer handling, so even though the car only had 160 hp, it was a blast to drive. It felt great.

The 2018 Mazda–my sample equipped with an automatic transmission–was no different. It was peppy. It hugged corners. It made driving fun and helped tug at my emotions.

Yeah, I cried a little, so what?

That’s not to say that there aren’t plenty of logical reasons to enjoy the Mazda3, but the final choice is ultimately made with the heart.

Continuously Evolving

At the time, my Mazda was part of the first generation of Mazda3s, which were originally introduced in 2003. It was lauded for its performance, refinement, and aesthetics in an otherwise boring car class. For me, it was the perfect vehicle for what I needed. As a college student, I was looking for a reliable four-door car, that was also affordable and fun to drive. None of the other brands came close.

Over the last decade-plus, Mazda has continued to not only create solid vehicles that connect with the driver on an emotional level, but also introduce features and options that are a reflection of innovation in the car industry.

2018 Mazda3 Grand Touring |

The first is efficiency in gas mileage. In real world driving, my Mazda averaged about  25 MPG with just 160 horsepower.  The 2018 Mazda–with about 28 more horsepower–averaged roughly 30 MPG during our week of test driving. More power, less gas? I’ll take it!

Next, comes a technology system that is user-friendly, a screen that is easy to see, a a crystal-clear back-up camera.

2018 Mazda3 Grand Touring |

And you can’t forget about safety! Radar cruise control, rear cross traffic alert, lane departure warning (and assistance), and blind spot monitoring are just a few features that can help satisfy the fact that the Mazda3 is a logical decision (you’re welcome, brain).

Last, but first to my hands, we must also commend the presence of a heated steering wheel. Cold weather never felt so warm.

2018 Mazda3 Grand Touring |

Gratuitous Labradoodle Section

It wouldn’t be a car post without mentioning how much our pup, Cooper, loves hanging out in the back seat of a Mazda.

2018 Mazda3 Grand Touring |

Yeah, he approves.

Something to Talk About

Even excluding this post, I’ve always been a vocal proponent of Mazda–and specifically the Mazda3. My brother and I share fond memories of my car since I sold it to him after I grew out of it. It’s easy to share an appreciation for a vehicle that just feels right. Although he had to upgrade to a larger vehicle for his growing family, we still reminisce about changing gears and taking tight corners in the ol’ Mazda.

2018 Mazda3 Grand Touring |

Aside from nostalgia, even the new Mazda3 is a great conversation icebreaker. Upon hearing that my buddy, Micah and his wife, Lizzy, recently purchased one, I instantly lit up. They gushed about how much they loved the car and I emphasized my fond memories for Mazda. The rest of the table probably thought we were weirdos, but who cares?

2018 Mazda3 Grand Touring |

It’s worth stopping to point out that this is a compact car. It’s not a sports car or the latest electric car that will eventually transport you to mars.

It shouldn’t be exciting.

But it is.

Because driving matters…

…hmm…where have I heard that before?

2018 Mazda3 Grand Touring |

2018 Mazda3 Specs (As Tested)

MSRP (as tested):  $28,470
MPG Estimate: 27 city – 36 highway
Engine:  2.5L Skyactiv-G, 4 cylinder
Power:  184 hp | 185 lb-ft torque
Transmission:   6-Speed Automatic
Color:  Snowflake White Pearl
Options:  Appearance Package and Premium Equipment Package

For more info, click here to view the 2018 Mazda3 Brochure.

2018 Mazda3 Grand Touring |

Disclaimer: As noted above we were provided this vehicle courtesy of Mazda. Other than being allowed to test drive this vehicle, we were not provided any monetary compensation for this post. All opinions remain our own. 


Relax Yo Self at Carmel Valley Ranch

Carmel Valley Ranch |

We’ve mentioned Carmel Valley Ranch in a previous post, but it really deserves its own post.

Why? After two visits in two years, clearly we’re trying to throw this ranch resort into our regular vacation rotation.

I firmly believe that every hotel, Airbnb spot, resort, cabin, RV, park bench–whatever–has its own aura. For Carmel Valley Ranch, there’s a strong sense of relaxation energy that hits you when you enter the front gate.

If you need to relax, this is your place. And I realize that’s a pretty cliché thing to say about a hotel. I’m sure every content marketer has used that phrase to help sell more rooms to the masses.

Carmel Valley Ranch’s relaxation value is the sum of many different parts, each one contributing to the ultimate goal of reducing stress.

There are an infinate number of reasons to plan a vacation to The Ranch, but we think you’ll only need these six to help convince you:

1.  Room with a View

Studies show that looking at your phone screen before and/or after bed is horrible for your eyes, brain, mood, and overall mental stability. Carmel Valley Ranch can help with that.

You’ll lose all desire to stare at your phone when you’ve got THIS right out your window:

Carmel Valley Ranch |

It’s a golf course, it’s a vineyard, it’s a valley.

It’s a room with a freaking view.

2.  Coolside Poolside

The view continues at the Ranch’s saltwater pool. One of multiple pools, by the way.

Have you ever taken a nap in a cabana? You should.

If your muscles aren’t relaxed by now, there’s only one thing left to try:  The infinity hot tub.

3.  Ranch to Mouf

The local “farm to fork” food movement is so over-saturated that the phrase has become a caricature of food marketing. Fortunately, no buzz words are necessary at the ranch, because a good portion of the food is grown on site.

Carmel Vally Ranch |

The restaurant at the ranch, Valley Kitchen, transforms those fresh-from-the-garden ingredients into fine dining. But the party doesn’t stop at the restaurant.

Honey, from the bee hives.

Herbs from the garden.

Swing Pinot Noir? From the Ranch’s very own vineyard.

Carmel Valley Ranch |

Even the staff has a garden in which they can plant sections of fruits and vegetables!

4.  Best Smelling Hotel Ever

Staying at Carmel Valley Ranch is like staying in a lavender field. Wait, no, it’s not like staying in a lavender field — IT IS STAYING IN A LAVENDER FIELD!

Carmel Valley Ranch |

I didn’t even know I liked lavender, having always assumed it was a floral potpourri that smells like grandma’s house. However, fresh lavender is possibly the most relaxing smell on earth. Now whenever the scent of lavender hits our noses, we’re instantly taken back to The Ranch.

5.  Creatures and Comfort

Yeah, sure, this is a luxury place.

There’s a golf course. Saltwater pool. Nice restaurant.

Despite all the “fanciness” The Ranch really feels down to earth and thoughtful. Part of the charm is the wildlife that roam the property. Deer and turkeys can be found straight chillin’ on the side of the road.

And there’s something fun about hearing Turkeys gobbling outside your window in the mornings.

FYI – Watch out for hungry birds who try to steal stuff off your deck. Speaking from experience…

6.  Oh and they also have a swing…

Carmel Valley Ranch |


Carmel Valley Ranch


Disclaimer:  We were not hosted or compensated by Carmel Valley Ranch for this post. In fact, they won’t even know about it until we tag them on Twitter.