Book profile: Financial empowerment takes a vacation!


Tony Barthel and his wife Peggy own the Featherbed Railroad Bed and Breakfast Resort in Nice, California.

Nestled in Northern California’s wine country, the Featherbed Railroad is a collection of nine restored cabooses for rent on a five-acre wooded property on the banks of the Clear Lake.

Each caboose that sits among the resort’s centuries-old bay laurel trees has a unique theme.

La Loose Caboose is decked out in the lurid neon reds of a New Orleans bordello. The sign upon entering warns you to “beware pickpockets and loose women.”

Over in the Easy Rider caboose, the queen-size bed boasts a headboard made with motorcycle handlebars. Everywhere you look are the iconic orange, black, and chrome colors of Harley Davidson.

Moving from Hog-heads to Parrotheads, the TropiCaboose is decked out with a coconut color scheme, wicker furniture, and the music of Jimmy Buffett wafting in as if on a gentle breeze.

Many of the cabooses have in-room Jacuzzis and second-story cupola seating for two. The Featherbed takes its unique name from the genuine goose down bedding that comes standard in all accommodations.

Tony and Peggy became owners of the Featherbed five years ago. The Barthels had just sold their house in El Segundo, Calif., when they decided they wanted to build a B&B rather than wait to realize the retirement dream of owning one.

It was 2008 and they went under contract on a piece of property where they would construct their dream B&B. But fate intervened.

“We were in escrow on an avocado ranch and the whole thing burned down,” Tony says.


Later at an innkeepers’ conference, they learned it’s better to buy than to build. So Peggy saw the Featherbed for sale online and they visited—after convincing Tony to leave his beloved Southern California.

“We bought it in 2008 right at worst at time to buy a place,” Tony concedes. “It had sat on the market for two years with no bids.”

But today, the rest is history. Their dogs Zora and Ginger roam the property barking at squirrels. And there’s even a resident desert tortoise named after one of the Hobbits in the J. R. R. Tolkien fantasy novel The Lord of the Rings on the grounds.

Read more about Tony and Peggy in Clark Howard’s Living Large for the Long Haul, available in stores and as an e-book and audio book.

In the new volume, Clark relates 50 inspiring stories from real people who turned their financial fortunes around. From real estate to retirement savings, cars to travel, entrepreneurship to health care, Clark provides more than 200 powerful takeaways anyone can use to take control of their wallet and stretch a buck!

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