Wednesday, January 31, 2018

How the Dosh App Saved My Night

...and Made Me Money

I’ve been using Dosh for months now and, truthfully, I’ve just gotten a little money here and there. I’d certainly never turn down cash, but I just didn’t have a lot I could use it for.

I know that over $15 million has been given out to Dosh users. I heard from people who have made thousands in money back and referrals.

I’m not in that group, but I’m also not one to give up easily. I’m glad I didn’t because this month Dosh gave me significant cash back – and some place to sleep.

In one night I found out what three million Dosh users already knew, the app is easy to use, offers great deals, and gives you cash for doing very little.

I was up in Green Bay, Wisconsin (story to come soon on that great trip). It had been a perfect weekend with a special friend and the weather cooperated the whole time.

I arrived at the airport a few hours early for my flights and was immediately greeted with the news that my flight was delayed. I would have about five hours to sit in Green Bay airport.

My ride was already on his way back to his home two hours away so that wasn’t an option. I was ready to get home, but thought I better make the best of it. I found a nice, comfortable desk with wi-fi and electricity. What more did I need?

I caught up with work and phone calls only to find that the flight wasn’t going to head out for another hour. I would not make the night’s last connecting flight to Champaign.

Since it was a weather problem where I was changing planes (Chicago), American Airlines was not responsible for putting me up overnight. I had a quick moment of panic. Cash was tight, and I had no idea what it was going to cost for a last-minute hotel.

As I waited online to secure my flight for the morning, I remembered the Dosh app. Not only did they have good deals on hotels, but there’s a $25 discount on your first hotel booking!

Before the person in front of me had finished getting their next flight secured, I had a room at the Radisson Conference Center Green Bay. Dosh had shown me a last minute available rate of only $74 for a room I’d get cash back on plus a $25 bonus for booking my first hotel through the application!

As if this wasn’t good enough, the hotel was just across the street from the airport and, within minutes, they sent a free shuttle to pick me up (and there was a shuttle to take me back to the airport for my early morning flight).

 I had a nice, convenient room without aggravation and, after my cash back, it was costing less than $50.

It’s no wonder Dosh has been all over Forbes, Business Insider, USA Today, and websites like The Pennyhoarder. It’s one of the easiest ways out there to make money.

Don’t wait any longer. If you haven’t downloaded the Dosh application yet, do it right now, sign up and (securely) enter your credit cards. Then, start telling your friends about it for some quick cash back. 

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Friday, January 19, 2018

Music, Food and Celebrities at Inaugural Bourbon and Beyond Festival

When I was first approached to cover the first Bourbon & Beyond Festival, I was attracted to the unique combination of music, food, and bourbon, in a city known for the latter.  

Once I received the itinerary, I was sold, and contacted Louisville Tourism about making a trip.

The huge list of performers for Bourbon & Beyond had a lot of great names, but there were two in particular that sealed the deal for me: Stevie Nicks and Eddie Vedder, both on my bucket list.

Brittany, Jamie, and I had breakfast in the lounge at the Louisville Marriott East. Lounge access for breakfast and snacks before dinner was a great benefit to staying on the executive floor.

We drove over to Champions Park so we could arrive and get settled early for the first day of Bourbon & Beyond. It was a good thing we did.

The only major complaint I had about this festival did not change during the weekend: the parking. It was just a giant mess.

Fortunately, just about everything between getting to and from morning parking and night departing were one-of-a-kind experiences.

We were lucky that the press headquarters was located in the VIP section.
Since we were early, I decided to grab something from the food trucks in the VIP area before I got too busy.

I picked up a coffee from Blackbird Espresso and picked a place to get something for lunch.

I decided on the Zoom Zoom Yum Truck and got a Gyro Bowl. It was absolutely delicious.

The press tent was a bit of a reunion in with Danielle Eddy and Dan Dunn, who were on my very first press trip to Cognac, France.

Dan was there with his Drinky Time Radio Show crew and we caught up for a few minutes before the first performer came on.

I had also seen them both at Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans and, ironically, in Kentucky on the American WhiskeyTrail press trip.

Dave Cavalier had contacted me prior to the Bourbon & Beyond Festival to make sure I caught his act. I really enjoyed it and the crowd agreed with me as he opened up the festival.

Dave and I had a great chat for this Beat article I wrote before I headed to the Main Stage (the festival had a great system of alternating stages so that you weren’t waiting for setup between acts.

Chris Robinson, formerly of the Black Crows, was on stage with his Brotherhood band. I caught some of the act before I had to head back to the press tent.

The other interview I arranged was with Kenny Wayne Shepherd.
It went great and I especially loved what he said about his most famous song, which also happens to be one of my favorites – Blue on Black. You can read the whole interview here.

I got to see Kenny Wayne perform a few minutes later, doing that song and Heat of the Sun with his band. He really is one of the best guitarists out there.

It was really hot and there was a break before I had other artists to see, so we decided to head back to the hotel for a while.
On the way out, we stopped to check out some of the interesting booths around the grounds.

I was happily surprised to see a lot of charities and a lot of places with handmade goods.

We stopped at the Rock Out for Rescue booth to buy some tee-shirts.

Given the fact that the word “bourbon” was clearly stated in the title of this event, there was no shortage of bars set up at Champions Park.

You could get just about any bourbon you desired, straight or in a cocktail, as well as cocktails at the Tiki Bar and some beer outlets.

The Water stations were also welcome in the heat of Louisville, as was the gelato.

After some snacks at the hotel and a change of clothing, we were back at Bourbon & Beyond for the headliners.

First up was former Pearl Jam lead, Eddie Vedder.

He sang quite a few of the band’s songs, including Wishlist, Elderly Woman Behind the Counter, and I Wish I Was.

He also did a fantastic rendition of Neil Young’s Rocking in the Free World.

I have to say Eddie Vedder was even better than I expected him to be.  

The Steve Miller Band came on next with many of the hits he is famous for, including Take the Money and Run. 

He kept the crowd singing and dancing. He also brought in Kenny Wayne Shepherd for Stranger Blues.

We left right after Steve Miller finished. It had been a long, but, fun, day and we knew we had to return to the Louisville Marriott for a good night’s rest before day two of Bourbon & Beyond.

On stage photos by Brittany Lambright.

Check out my videos from Bourbon & Beyond on my YouTube Channel.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Long Awaited Return to Louisville

I couldn’t believe when I looked it up that it had actually been seven years since I was in Louisville, Kentucky.

It was one of those places I had looked forward to returning to soon, but never got around to it.

When I had the chance to cover the first annual Bourbon & Beyond Festival, I knew it was also a chance to get back to a Kentucky favorite, which happens to be only a few hours away from my home in Champaign.

Brittany, Jamie, and I headed out first thing on Friday morning, so we could get to Louisville in time for a full day.

The tourism board had helped me arrange some fun and unique things to do.

Day one was set downtown and our first stop was someplace none of us had ever been, the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory.

To say that this place makes baseball bats would be a huge understatement. It is a baseball lover’s must – and I happen to be one.

We had a private tour through the museum and factory as we watched the bats being made from start to finish.

We also learned about the history of making bats in Louisville, and saw some owned by famous players, such as Ty Cobb, Barry Bonds, and Kris Bryant.

This Mets fan was especially excited to see the one signed by Mookie Wilson.

In addition to the history and the factory, the Louisville Slugger Museum has some fun and interactive exhibits.

You can try out some real bats in the Batter Up cage, while the younger set can enjoy Big League, Little Bricks.

I enjoyed the Lego recreation of baseball parks around the country.

We left the museum with our own sample bats and headed down the street to the Muhammad Ali Center.

“The Greatest,” as he is frequently referred by, is the what this museum is built around, but you will find so much more here than a tribute to a boxer.

It’s a place you can easily spend the day.

You’ll learn about the history of Cassius Clay and how he became Muhammad Ali.

It includes everything he did on his spiritual journey, and the causes and charities he contributed to.

The center also has exhibits that allow you to see if you can punch the bag as fast as Ali, test out a boxing ring, and work on your footwork.

The Muhammad Ali Center also has films about the champ and a chance to chose and watch many of his boxing matches.

We left downtown and headed over to Champions Park to pick up our credentials for the Bourbon & Beyond Festival, stopping for a quick dinner on the way back.

We then checked into our home for the next three days, the Marriott Louisville East, ending our day with our first beautiful Kentucky sunset.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Great Experience All-Around Ace Hotel Chicago

I’ve been trying to spend more time enjoying my travels and less time running through them in exhaustion. A recent trip to check out the new Ace Hotel Chicago was a perfect example.

The Ace Hotel is located in the West Loop, an up and coming neighborhood where Chicago’s Google headquarters also happens to be located.

With a sleek design, Ace blends in and you probably wouldn’t even know it was there if you weren’t looking for a place to stay and a great meal. I was there for both.

The rooms at Ace are ultra-modern in d├ęcor and amenities. What’s old is new again, from retro (a radio) to boxes (of water). 

Everything has clean, square lines, but you’ll known you are in 2017 when you see an abundance of outlets and a package of (free) condoms on the minibar.

I brought along friends Brittany and Jamie to share the room, but they were heading out and I had the evening all to myself.

I was scheduled for dinner at the Ace Hotel’s City Mouse restaurant. I had heard about the farm fresh ingredients and creative chef, so I was very excited to check it out.

I was not disappointed in dinner. The food was indeed unique and delicious.

I started with an order of the cornbread with parmesan butter, crispy on the outside, moist and rich on the inside. It went well with the New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc (my favorite wine) they had on tap.

My first course was a marinated zucchini salad with rice dumplings. 

The salad was zesty and the dumplings light, for well-orchestrated flavor.

I stayed with the light and fresh theme and chose the Corn Mezzaluna for my main course. Mezzaluna is a thin, ravioli-like pasta and this one was accompanied by a sweet corn sauce and tomatoes.

I took the waitresses recommendation and ordered the Sugar Plum Torte for dessert. 

It was covered in a honey-whipped ricotta and had a side of plum thyme sorbet.

After dinner, I took a ride in the elevator to check out the rooftop bar. Waydown has outdoor seating and a fantastic view of the Chicago skyline. 

It also has a glass-enclosed bar that can be open year-round.

Waydown has an interesting cocktail list and small plates. There’s also live music some evenings to make it even more cozy.

I slept very well in my Ace Hotel room and returned to City Mouse in the morning with Brittany and Jamie.

I had taken a look at the menu before we went and, quite honestly, I was baffled! 

To say it is unusual is probably an understatement, but we decided to try a little bit of almost everything on the menu!

First, we chose three from the “pastry” selection: A Bacon Dill Twist, a Caramel Cinnamon Roll, and a gluten-free chocolate donut.

I’m not a big bacon eater, but I really enjoyed the mixed flavors in the twist. The cinnamon roll was luscious. As for the donut, I never would have guessed it was gluten-free if I didn’t know.

I decided to nibble and not get a main course, but my friends picked two really good ones.

For Brittany, it was the Gas Station Sandwich – egg, hash browns, cheese, and sausage, with grape jelly. Jamie had the Brunch Burrito (my favorite), which was a tortilla filled with scrambled eggs, black beans, roast pork, pineapple, and chihuahua cheese.

It was nice to be able to spend a night and day just enjoying a hotel, and the Ace Chicago is one worth going to. 

Check for the best prices at Ace Hotel Chicago on TripAdvisor.