Integratron: A Mind Trip Worth Taking 


Take out your bucket list. This experience is one for the books. Get in your car and head towards Joshua Tree, and keep driving, deep deep into the Mojave Desert, and all of a sudden, just when you think you’ve reached the middle of nowhere, there it is. The unmistakable white dome off in the distance. The Integratron, in all its glory. A spellbinding creation of George Van Tassel, the UFOlogist who built this structure at the command of the Venusians who paid him a visit from outer space to instruct him on the specifications. Adding to the mystery, this building claims to posses the special powers of rejuvenation, time-travel and anti-gravity and was financed by the one and only Howard Hughes. This place is BEYOND captivating. 

Van Tassel passed away in 1978 and eventually, after years of neglect and misuse, a group of three forward-thinking sisters purchased the property and turned it into a meditation mecca. On the website, you can reserve a spot at a one of the scheduled sound baths, a session where you and others lie down in the dome of the Integratron and absorb the frequencies created by the sounds and vibrations of quartz bowls, which will allow your brain to enter a deeper state of relaxation than you’ve ever thought was possible. Interestingly, it is also the only all-wood, acoustically perfect sound chamber in the United States. 

Do not leave without performing a sound check with someone standing across the dome from you, under the same support beam. It sounds like they are whispering into a microphone right next to your ear. It will BLOW. YOUR. MIND. Also go stand exactly in the middle of the dome right at the little circle in the floor. Listen to yourself whisper loudly in your own ears. It is totally unbelievable. So far out! 

They’ve created really cozy outdoor lounge areas that are set up for people to relax in before their sound bath. You can bask in the warm desert sunlight, slip into a brightly colored hammock, and drink filtered water from the faucet to stay hydrated. Stroll into the visitor center gift shop and chat it up with Jesse (super cool dude) who will show you where to stand, right in the middle of the room, so that you will hear your own voice echo loudly in your own ears. You can’t fully appreciate the bizarro factor until you’ve experienced it for yourself.

The group is led into the Integratron together and, after a short bit of background and history, you will climb up the ladder into the dome, grab a blankie, lie down, get comfy and await for your sound bath “pilot” to further instruct you on the flight you are about to take. For the next hour you will feel as though you have been transported into another dimension. 

As the bowls began to ring out, they seemed almost deafeningly loud. After taking some deep breaths and allowing myself to fully embrace the experience, I started floating off into space. Only to awaken about 45 minutes later to the sound of people snoring and breathing very deeply around the room. And remember, everything is amplified here due to the architecture of the dome. That was some serious sawing of logs. It was hard not to giggle. But I was thankful for being unconscious for the majority of the sound bath and allowing my mind to aimlessly wander and explore like it never has before. I will say this is definitely one of THE most unique things I have ever done. WHAT AN INTOXICATING TRIP IT WAS. 



Wayne Newton’s Casa de Shenandoah is a Diamond in the Desert 


I was intrigued when I heard that Wayne Newton was opening his beloved home to the public with a variety of tours to choose from, and as a Wayne Newton fan I knew that I would have to check it out in person. I was in Las Vegas over the 4th of July weekend with my mom, and my visit to Casa de Shenandoah became a reality.

Sticking with the them of gratitude and appreciation of stellar customer service, I would like to first give a few shout-outs to everyone involved in our time at Wayne Newton’s estate. They were absolutely first-rate, and all deserve a mention.

Evelyn worked tirelessly on the phone with me to coordinate a tour time with our hotel check out in order to make sure my precious doggy had a safe and cool place to stay while we toured the mansion. She went above and beyond the call of duty to ensure that we were able to come visit and even went as far as to ask her manager if they could create an earlier tour time slot JUST FOR US. Now THAT is good customer service.

Next up, guest services manager Senobia came out to introduce herself to us and explained there had been a mix-up with the payment credit card, and while we were more than happy to provide her with the credit card right then and there, she went ahead and comped our tour and apologized for the inconvenience and misunderstanding. WHAT? Who does that? She was so sweet and clearly makes customer service a top priority. Thank you kindly, Senobia!

Lastly, our tour guide Memo. He has to be the most adorable and fun tour guide I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. He was so informative, told fantastic and funny stories, shared juicy facts and tidbits, and was such a warm and down-to-earth guy. Wayne Newton is very lucky to have all three of these folks representing him at the Casa de Shenandoah. Outstanding!

I really enjoyed the short introduction video shown at the theatre inside the magnificently adorned gift shop and visitor center, as it gives you such a good sense of who Wayne is as a person. Great background and worthwhile film for all visitors to see. As for the mansion tour. It was simply brilliant. Completed in 1976, this modest 8700-square-foot mansion sits on 52 acres of beautiful open space, including several artesian wells which can be seen seen bubbling up in the lake. A number of guest houses, barns, stalls and arenas for his Arabian horses and a collection of exotic animals to boot. Oh and don’t forget the large number of peacocks that reside on the estate, and be sure to ask Memo to tell you the story about them getting inside the house.

Here’s my run down of some of the highlights from our tour. Carved wooden doors from Thailand and rare endangered wood used in the ceiling. Baccarat crystal everywhere you look (Wayne’s favorite), even on the door handles and original staircase railing. Artworks by Renoir, Van Gogh, Walter Keane and more. The exquisite Baccarat and Waterford crystal chandeliers. A rare antique billiard table from India complete with Baccarat crystal legs. Chinaware with 14-karat gold leaf, each piece designed and signed by Wayne himself. The sensational interior decoration of the sunken living room and the use of lapis. Oh the antiques! Don’t get me started on all of the beautiful antiques, including elegant Louis XV and XVI pieces. Be sure to have Memo show you the different security additions suggested to Mr. Newton by the FBI for the safety of his family. The floor-to-ceiling windows and the views of his lush landscape.

You can certainly feel Wayne’s presence and personal touch on everything in this beautiful abode. All the way down to his “man cave” (aka “red room”), master bedroom and daughter’s fairy-esque room. Loved every single detail, personal effect and photo. So fascinating to think of all the presidents, kings and other dignitaries who visited this home throughout the years.

Wayne Newton. A true entertainment legend and icon. What a talented and generous soul he is. Knighted three times,  admired by so many loyal fans and still entertaining crowds after all these years. How many other people are named after a city? Wayne Newton truly IS Mr. Las Vegas, and here’s to many more years of entertaining ahead! Danke schoen Mr. Newton for allowing us to visit your cherished home and estate. I can’t wait to go back for a different tour. In the meantime, I will proudly wear my new Wayne Newton t-shirt and spread the good word.

The Chopra Center: Spa Day for Your Soul 


Located on the spectacular grounds of La Costa Resort and Spa in Carlsbad California, just north of San Diego, the Chopra Center should most definitely find its way your Short List. Beautiful, warm and inviting, inside and out. Sensational landscaping, Mediterranean architecture and glorious mosaic fountains surround you on this 400 acre lush mega resort. The valets, retail shop employees and Chopra Center staff were all so kind and professional! Top notch! 

I’ll be honest, the traffic getting to Carlsbad on the 5 is pretty hairy to say the least, BUT… once you arrive, your soul will be quenched with love, your spirit will be embraced with nonjudgment,   while your mind will be refreshed, inspired and reenergized. I’d say that’s a decent trade off, wouldn’t you? 

I arrived in time to attend a meditation class at 8:45 am, followed by the 10:00 am yoga class. Both lead by instructor Treloar. Such a true and lovely soul. Very calming and soothing in the meditation session. Then turning playful and whimsical in the yoga class. Calling each pose by its corresponding animal name, just loosening up and having fun for the sake of the young child who was attending her first yoga class. I loved “rowing boats”with her, chanting to the different colors of the rainbow and learning how to send love to others from our inner rainbow to theirs. Really fantastic teacher! I felt like a million bucks afterward. 

The young man in the bookstore (I don’t want to butcher his name? I think it started with a C?) was SO helpful and patient with me. Guiding me through the oils, necklaces and books as well as describing his take on the different meanings of Om. He even had me take a brief quiz of sorts to determine whether I’m more Pitta, Kapha, Or Vata. Can you guess which one? What an outstanding employee! 
I’ve been a fan of Deepak for quite some time now, with his wholistic approach to healing through body, mind and spirit. And I was truly impressed by his healing center, of course wishing I could spend more time there. But… I’ll happily take whatever I can get! The energy is so supportive and alluring. 

When I am finally discovered and become famous, I’ll spend at least one week at both the spa and healing center! Look at this place, would you? Sensational!

All fantasies aside, I do think it’s incredibly important to recognize that we all owe it to ourselves to continually expand our brains, nurture our souls and arouse our spirits. The Chopra Center definitely achieved all three. Namaste my friends. 

Here’s to Five-Star Service and Adult-Only Playgrounds 


Back in Vega$, again! This time for some 4th of July fun in the hot, hot sun. Everyone has their addiction and this town is one of mine. I chose to stay at the Mirage, as I think it’s pretty cool trying out all the hotels and experiencing them for myself first hand. Variety is the spice of life, right? 

While I had a sinfully fabulous time, as I always do, I want to focus on two major takeaways from my trip. Customer service and vacationing with children in Las Vegas. And while I’m sure the latter topic will only serve to annoy and irritate some readers, I feel strongly enough about it that I’m willing to take that chance. In the end, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, so I will proudly and unapologetically express mine. 

Not feeling up to the impending travel logistics nightmare guaranteed at LAX, I decided to drive to Sin City. By the grace of the Las Vegas traffic gods, I made it in under four hours (fantastic time from the LA coast, actually) and headed straight to the hotel in hopes of lucking out with an early check in. And here begins my rundown of what I witnessed as top notch customer service, which is most definitely becoming a lost art in today’s world. I do think each and every one in the list below are worth mentioning, as they all went out of their way to go above and beyond the average level of customer service one usually receives. From the young lady at the front desk who happily checked me in three hours early with a lovely room with a full pool view (thank you!) to the woman at the concierge desk who was so helpful when we needed our 311 and Garth Brooks concert tickets printed out, 

to the young man at the valet who shared with us the AWESOME insider tip that our paid valet ticket works at all the other MLife hotel valets (you’re a Rock Star!). On to the very sweet cleaning ladies on the 12th floor who hooked us up with extra lotions and shampoos, the retail shop employee who lead me over to one of the most spectacular blouses I’ve ever laid eyes on. Continuing with the front desk clerks who answered my calls with a cheerful “Hello Ms. Miller, how can I assist you?” and to the hardworking woman who delivered our lunch from The Pantry…all so very good at delivering five-star customer service. Really. I mean they were ideal representatives of what excellent customer service should be.  Very impressive, and definitely on par with what you see at Bellagio, Caesars and Wynn. It’s comforting to know that this is a town where exceptional customer service still matters. A lot. 

The reason I think this topic is blog-worthy is because there are so many instances today where you go to a restaurant, hotel or boutique and are met with such substandard customer service, it’s almost become the norm. So when I DO experience superb customer service I feel that those who deliver, deserve a shout out. I make it a point to give my return business and positive word of mouth to those people and businesses who actually place a high value on treating each customer as if they were royalty. And who doesn’t like to be treated like royalty? When we spend our hard earned money going somewhere or doing something I think it’s fair to expect a high quality of customer service. In terms of this topic, kudos to you, Mirage! Really nice job! 

Now… on the the topic of children in Las Vegas. 

My thoughts are as follows: Way, way, way, WAY too many toddlers and babies. Strollers EVERYWHERE. Backups at the valet while Mommies and Daddies unpacked their car seats, pack n’ plays, bags of toys, cartons of goldfish crackers, and ginormous diaper bags. Children being drug around at 1 IN THE MORNING on The Strip, through the CASINOS, and out at late night restaurants. Cranky, tired and unhappy kids who would rather be at home, in bed, or at the playground… anywhere except the action-packed Strip or less-than-wholesome Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas. Screaming, kicking, running and splashing everywhere at the pool as if they were at their local YMCA for swim lessons. I was told by a young man working at the towel desk that all too often he witnesses parents wrapping their children, including small babies, up in towels and leaving them on the lounge chairs while they get a beer and go in the pool. What? Seriously WHY? Even this individual at the ripe age of 16 KNOWS how ridiculous and negligent this behavior is. It’s like these parents aren’t going to let something like HAVING KIDS stop them from having their FUN in Vegas. 

I’ll be honest with you, folks. I. Am. Not A. Fan. I simply DO NOT understand who is having fun in these scenarios? The children? NO. The parents? Definitely NOT. Everyone else around within earshot? HELL NO. I fully comprehend and grasp that Vegas tourism is a money making venture, and in order to make the most money possible, you must market to every demographic available, HOWEVER… that being said… I really WISH Vegas would not market itself as a vacation hot spot for families. Does anyone else see what has happened here? Adults have nearly lost all control of THE ONE city in this country where you can run away and hide from things like dirty diapers, bottles, stroller jams and soccer tournaments. Can’t we just have ONE town where we can act out in sin amongst other sin-loving adults? A place where you can lie at the pool with your Bloody Mary or Pina Colada the morning after a long, hard debaucherous night of drinking, dancing and who knows what else, without having to hear the screams, squeals and tantrums of young children? A town where you can go out and enjoy a tasty dinner at a fine dining establishment without watching unruly children at the table across from you PUT THEIR BARE FEET UP ON THE TABLE and whine about how BORED they are while glued to an iPhone game, as Dad slurps down another beer and buries his head in his cell phone only to come up for air to ask his wife why the kids are acting out? It’s 9 o’clock at night. Kiddies need to be in BED. SLEEPING. Not out on the town in Las Vegas. Anyone in agreement with me here? 

Let’s not forget watching and listening to the parents argue, beg and negotiate with their kiddos to behave or else “no more iPhone for you.” Oh please. Who are you kidding? We all know how that will end. 

The truth is, parents, you can drink all you want, but we all know you are not going to have as much fun on vacation in Vegas WITH your kids in tow as you would if you LEFT THEM AT HOME with Grandma or the nanny. Do you really think this is an appropriate vacation spot for your children? Better yet, why not take the kiddos to KID FRIENDLY MECCAS such as Disneyland and Disneyworld, Legoland, Grand Canyon, or Universal Studios? These places are CREATED to cater to the needs of whiny overactive children of all kinds. Please, for the love of all that is fun in the adult world, LEAVE YOUR CHITLINS AT HOME next time you want to go party it up in Sin City and let us all enjoy our escape from reality for however long we are there. 

This is the foundation upon which Las Vegas was built. Escape from reality and play, spend, gamble, shop, drink, dine, dance, enjoy and go wild like there’s no tomorrow. I can assure you, when the Mob ran Vegas, it was not a town marketed for Family Friendly Vacations. Give us back our adult playground. I beg of you. Ol’ Blue Eyes and his predecessors like Benjamin Siegel would back me up on this one, guaranteed. 

Broaden Your Horizons at the Broad in Downtown LA


Who would think that 9 months after opening in 2015, The Broad (pronounced “BRODE”) museum would still have endless lines of people waiting to get inside? I made a hilariously amateur move, as I naively thought I could get in on Free Museum Day in January. What a joke! The line was approximately 4 HOURS long. UHHH no thank you. In fact, this museum is still so popular, it is strongly advised that you reserve your spot online the moment they are released for the following month. While admission is free, your time is not, so do yourself a favor and snag a timed admission! 

I lucked out on June 1st, and secured a 3:30pm admission on Friday July 1st! Score! Of course, that meant I had to drive downtown on a Friday afternoon (ugly!) but it was so worth it! Check in was a breeze, they allowe you a 30-minute grace period in case you’re stuck in traffic (like I was) and running late. Scanned my ticket and I walked right in. Just like that! 

The Broad is a contemporary art museum located in downtown Los Angeles, financed solely by philanthropist Eli Broad in the ballpark of $140 million. Broad and his wife generously invite the public in to view their personal art collection of over 2,000 pieces. Housed in a very unmistakeable honeycomb structure, the building also houses special exhibits (including the ultimate elusive Infinity Room) as well as the administrative offices for the Broad Foundation. Conveniently located next door to the Walt Disney Concert Hall and across the street from LA’s MOCA, this block has quickly become a downtown mecca for art and music. 

Spotlighting artists such as Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Jeff Koons, Takashi Murakami, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring just to name a few. I was thoroughly impressed with every aspect of my long awaited visit to The Broad and my next challenge will be to get inside that Infinity Room for my 45 seconds of zen self-reflection.  

Exploring art is such an essential component to expanding your world view and discovering new and different concepts of beauty. Everyone should make the concerted effort to see art, at least once in a while. And LA is certainly not limited in the amount of art to explore. Art is life and it is all around you. Enjoy!