July 13, 2013
May 30, 2012
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North Rim – Grand Canyon
This one has definitely been on my Bucket List. With a half-dozen trips to the South Rim I, like most Grand Canyon National Park visitors, had never been to the North Rim. We normally travel to the Canyon in late winter or early spring when the road into the north side is under several feet of snow. Visitor services at Grand Canyon Lodge are provided from mid-May to mid-October.
Many Canyon afficiandos profess a preference for the North Rim. First, the number of visitors is a small percentage of those at the South Rim creating a less hectic environment. The elevation on the north is more than 1000 feet higher than on the south and temperatures are generally more moderate.
Grand Canyon Lodge sits right on the rim, east and west terraces are ideal locations for photography, rest after a hike or just putting your feet up and watching the changing light.
Because our trip was planned at the last minute lodging in the park was not available , we made a day trip from Kanab, Utah – 80 miles one-way. In addition to gawking and taking lots of photos we walked out to Bright Angel Point, and made the 23-mile drive and 1-mile walk out to Cape Royal with a side trip to Imperial Point. After a light deli takeout dinner enjoyed on the terrace it was time to head back to Kanab. Check!
Note to self: Next time plan ahead and book two nights in one of the rim-side cabins to fully appreciate a North Rim experience.
May 17, 2012
Santa Fe Favorite – Inn at Vanessie
Formerly Water Street Inn
Sunset glow on the Inn at Vanessie
With dozens of trips to Santa fe, staying in a large variety of lodgings from chain motels to luxury hotel and private casita, without question I have a favorite. Under the new ownership the former Water Street Inn is now the Inn at Vanessie. Within easy walking distance of the Plaza, the 11 room bed and breakfast inn offers guests a calm respite from traffic, crowds, shopping and museums.
Each room has its own personality, features and decor. After staying in more than have of the rooms my first choice is always #4, a spacious first floor room with four-poster bed, kiva fireplace, sleeping blanco, chaise lounge and leather chairs – lots of places to curl up with a good book and/or a glass of wine. Creature comforts are always attended to with thoughtful service and amenities.
Next door is Vanessie of Santa Fe a long-time outstanding piano bar and dining room. I try to time my stays to hear Doug Montgomery, Santa Fe’s legendary piano man. A great reason to plan a New Mexico visit.
February 10, 2010
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Month of Love
Love is in the air at Denver’s Brown Palace Hotel the entire month of February. Sappy, simple or splendidly over the top – whatever style you choose the Brown Palace staff stands ready to accommodate.
Planning a proposal? Make your loved one feel like a movie star by setting the scene of a favorite romantic movie. For example, the “Open Me” scene from Serendipity. The package includes a luxurious guestroom overnight stay, rose petals to cover the room, candies placed throughout the room, four wrapped boxes from largest to smallest with the ring box placed in the smallest box, and champagne toast after she says yes. Priced starting at $249.
Remember the scene from Pretty Woman when Richard Gere pulls up in a white limo with music blaring and climbs through the moon-roof with flowers in hand to proclaim his love for Julia Roberts? Big spenders can purchase the Pretty Woman package with 6-hour white limo rental and chauffeur, a dozen roses, luxurious guestroom and champagne, starting at $969.
Want something unique and personal? “Your song” playing when you enter the room, favorite flowers, recreate a special date – there are a multitude of possibilities when you work with the hotel’s designated Love Director to plan your own special proposal.
It doesn’t have to be a proposal to add romantic touches to a Brown Palace stay. Consider one of these Romantic Room Additions:
- Rose Petal Turndown ($27): Create a romantic ambiance with scattered red rose petals on the bed.
- Heart Petal Turndown ($54): Surprise your loved one with a bed of red rose petals in the shape of a heart.
Initial Rose Petal Turndown ($54): Add a personalized romantic touch with your initials written in rose petals on the bed.
- Chocolate Fondue ($54): Spend a relaxing evening enjoying a delicious assortment of dipping items with chocolate fondue. Must be ordered 5 days prior to arrival.
- Bottle of Champagne (Starting at $54): Toast to your love with a bottle of bubbly.
- Bottle of Wine (Starting at ($54): Toast to your love with a bottle of red or white wine.
- Two Cocktails Delivered to Room or in Lobby ($28): Enjoy two cocktails in your room or in the beautiful atrium lobby. Cheers!
- Chocolate Covered Strawberries ($24): Enjoy a sweet treat with strawberries kissed by creamy chocolate.
- Bath Bliss ($43): Draw a relaxing bath with soothing bath salts, two candles, and bubble bath.
An aphrodisiac inspired 4-course dinner highlights the Palace Arms’ menu February 12-14. They’re sure you’ll love every bite. The other Friday and Saturday nights of February lovers can indulge in the 6-course Month of Love dinner.
Relax together with the 50-Minute Swedish Couples Massage in the spa’s romantic couple’s room. Throughout the month women will be treated to a glass of champagne, truffles and a rose with every spa service. Or, how about the Chocolate Covered Cherry Scrub – a chocolate scented body scrub followed by soothing cherry oil? Pampering deluxe.
Love is in the air – get sappy at the
“Affairs of the Heart” Tours
Photos courtesy of the Brown Palace Hotel.
February 9, 2010
Although February is Month of Love at Denver’s Brown Palace Hotel they recognize not everyone feels romantic. For those recovering from a recent breakup, tossing the bum out on his ear or divorce the hotel offers the Love Stinks package. The guest can decompress with a stress relieve massage, enjoy a make-your-own cocktail mix of mojito, martini or cosmo, receive a copy of the “Love Stinks” single by J. Geils and a copy of the book, He’s Just Not That Into You: the No-Excuses Truth to Understanding Guys.
Treat yourself or give a gift to a friend who needs a self-pity party.
Photo courtesy of the Brown Palace Hotel.
December 31, 2009
Travel Memories 2009
December 31, 2009 – A look back on 2009 events, people, places and food worthy of remembering and repeating. With five extended trips to Florida for my elderly mother we didn’t get to all the places planned or on the wish list; yet, close to home, familiar haunts, new discoveries and experiences provide rich and rewarding memories.
Ohme Gardens – Wenatchee, Washington: Granddaughter Jasmine was excited to share this unique hillside garden above Wenatchee and the Columbia River. We spent a couple of hours exploring the trails through the evergreen oasis that started as a private dream and evolved into county park treasure.
Taos Guest House – Taos, New Mexico: While Bob attended the Kilborn painting workshop Nancy regained a level of sanity and serenity in this ideal casita rental. Casa de la Abuelas is within walking distance of Taos Plaza, museums, unique shopping and excellent Southwestern fare.
Shrimp Diabla, Los Mayas – Santa Fe, New Mexico: I’m hooked on their Plantain Enchiladas Mole but Bob’s Shrimp Diabla entre lured me to try something new. Jumbo shrimp sautéed with vegetables attractively served in a creamy chipotle sauce with Spanish rice and avocado – luscious! Add in the welcoming host and live music for an enjoyable Santa Fe evening.
Staybridge Suites – USA: InterContinental Hotels brand designed as extended-stay facilities offers additional space and amenities over the typical hotel/motel room. Our first Staybridge Suites visit was in Las Cruces, New Mexico; since then we’ve also stayed in facilities in Portland, St. Louis and Colorado Springs. Hint: excellent weekend prices.
Chihuly Nature of Glass, Desert Botanical Garden – Phoenix, Arizona: The incredible, creative glass sculptures by Dale Chihuly drew huge crowds to Phoenix’s Desert Botanical Garden. The special exhibit was one of the main motivations for our late winter Arizona trip.We made both day and night visits for photo opportunities. The garden is currently raising funds to purchase Chihuly’s Desert Towers for permanent installation outside the main entrance.
Bananas Praline French Toast, Hurricane Cafe – Juno Beach, Florida: My idea of the perfect breakfast – thick slices of bread dipped in cinnamon and vanilla egg mixture hot off the grill with sliced bananas and their homemade praline sauce. Add an order of smoked bacon and a tall glass of milk – divine. Judy, Janis and I discovered this place in January and have since been back for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Quality food, friendly service, unassuming and affordable – what more could one want? See previous post for more details.
Golden Aspen – Gunnison County, Colorado: A mid-September weekend trip to Crested Butte provided a golden opportunity for photos of mountainsides of golden aspen. Side trips to Gothic, Ohio Pass, Cumberland Pass, Tincup and Taylor Reservoir filled the autumn days. The best part was sharing the adventures with sons Eric and Michael. We came across the decaying remains of a log cabin with a pine tree growing inside the window frame, someone had decorated it with Christmas ornaments. Eric capture the family photo.
Moonlight Beach Walk – Cannon Beach, Oregon: As couples snuggle near bonfires the incoming tide teases our toes during an evening beach stroll. Sandpipers patrol the beach as tufted puffins and cormorants join a multitude of sea birds nesting on Haystack Rock for the night. Over the years Cannon Beach has become a favorite Oregon coast destination. This year’s visit was too short but rewarding the two nights we did have. No trip to Cannon Beach is complete without Sailor Jack Muffins from the Cannon Beach Bakery.
Heard Museum Indian Market – Phoenix, Arizona: For more than 50 years the Heard Museum Guild has sponsored one of the premier Indian fairs and markets in the country. This was the first time we had a trip coincided with Indian Market. Strict entry requirements ensure the quality and authenticity of work from more than 700 American Indian artists – styles range from classic traditional to cutting-edge contemporary. It was a busy day with shopping, entertainment, food and activities.
Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument – Mountainair, New Mexico: We had never before stopped at the four sites of this National Monument in Central New Mexico. After visiting Abo, Quarai and the Visitor Center in Mountainair one afternoon we went back to next morning to see the largest of the abandoned mission communities at Gran Quivira.
Caspian Cafe – Colorado Springs, Colorado: I’ve raved about this Colorado Springs restaurant in a previous post. My mouth waters just thinking about the Friday night Mediterranean herb and sundried tomato crusted prime rib. I hope we’re back soon.
San Xavier del Bac Mission (without scaffolding) – Tucson, Arizona: Our timing was perfect for seeing and photographing the White Dove of the Desert without the scaffolding that’s been in place for years while extensive preservation and restoration work was completed on the west tower. A few weeks later work was scheduled to start on the east tower. Don’t fail to see the spectacular interior and the museum in back when you visit.
Georgia O’Keeffe and Ansel Adams: Natural Affinities, Norton Art Museum – West Palm Beach, Florida: It seemed strange to be seeing this exhibit in West Palm Beach since both artists focused so much of their work on the American West. Fascinating to compare the works of photographer and oil painter often interpreting the same subject. I’ve visited the Norton many time over the years my mother lived in the area. This is where I first saw the artistic glass creations of Dale Chihuly and love sitting under the glass ceiling permanently installed at the museum.
Wisdom’s Cafe – Tumicacori, Arizona: Please read my previous post about dinner at Wisdom’s – great margaritas, good food, their famous fruit burro plus friendly owners, staff and clientele. After dinner here we understood why this restaurant seemingly in the middle of rural Arizona bustles with business.
Lelooska Family Evening Program – Ariel, Washington: Another fortuitous timing event this year, we were in the Portland area the night the Lelooska family gave their last evening living history program of the spring 2009 season. We’ve attended other programs and events at the Cultural Center through the years and each one leaves us enriched and inspired. The scent of burning cedar, tiny sparks flying skyward, the deep resonance of the drum fill the senses as dancers enter wearing traditional Northwest Coast Indian masks. Members of the Lelooska family have shared the stories, culture, songs and dances for four decades with school children and the public. This is an amazing family effort it’s a privilege to witness. Before or after the program be sure to visit the museum.
Christmas Tree Lighting, Broadmoor Hotel – Colorado Springs, Colorado: The Broadmoor Hotel’s annual tree lighting set the festive mood for the Christmas holiday season. Held the Saturday evening after Thanksgiving, the event includes music, entertainment, hot chocolate, cookies, ice sculpture, the magical moment with the tree sparkles with light and, of course, Santa. Inside and out, the hotel, restaurants, shops and grounds are dressed in holiday finery including a new gingerbread village every year.
Tubac Golf Resort – Tubac, Arizona: I once stayed here on a press trip and have always wanted to return for a less hectic visit, this was the year. Although neither of us play golf Bob liked the resort as much as I did and we extended our stay. The resort lies along the banks of the Santa Cruz River on the historic Otero Ranch. Giant cottonwoods shade greens, patios and courtyards. Accommodations range from spacious posada single rooms to casitas with separate living areas, one bedroom suites and the three bedroom Otero House. Featured in the movie, Tin Cup, the 27 hole course draws golfers from around the world. In addition, guests enjoy a spa and salon, fitness center, shops and restaurants. Nearby you’ll find hiking, world-class bird watching, horseback riding, wineries and the thriving artist community of Tubac.
Antonio Mendoza – Santa Fe, New Mexico: We’ve admired the musical talents of master guitarist Antonio Mendoza for decades. We’ve seen him in venues around Santa Fe and purchased tapes and CDs. Over the years we’ve travel many miles accompanied by his music. This summer we saw him once again performing at Los Mayas. Visiting with him during a break we learned of his artistic talents and came home with several prints of his original paintings – landscapes to roosters. In my eyes Antonio went from musical icon to friend – a wonderful reward of travel.
Tracking Memories – Portland, Oregon & Vancouver, Washington: We had only one day but filled every minute with visits to favorite places from the many visits when we had family living in Portland. We started the day across the Columbia River at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site including the reconstructed Hudson Bay Company’s trading post and Officers’ Row. Bob had to have lunch at Philadelphia’s in the Sellwood Neighborhood. Next was a shopping trip to the Columbia Outlet in Lake Oswego followed by a scenic drive to Washington Park. With no rain and roses in bloom every attraction in the park was busy this June Sunday – zoo, rose garden, Japanese garden, arboretum, forestry and children’s museum. Trader Joe’s was an important stop since we’re deprived in Colorado being Joe-less. Between each destination we drove circuitous routes checking out former haunts. Our dinner destination had to be Pho Van for Vietnamese noodle bowl, egg rolls and creamy ginger brulee. A day of memories well remembered.
Old Faithful Inn – Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming: The fates were with me when I snagged a last minute reservation at Old Faithful Inn on our route between Denver and Spokane. The venerable, historic inn isn’t the most luxurious in the park but seems like one of those things one should do at least once in their life. The rustic-style inn rambles off in several directions from the massive lobby with giant stone fireplace. I like to climb two floors above and observe the beehive of activity from my quiet balcony perch. Another treat is heading to the second-floor front porch to await Old Faithful Geyser’s next eruption. Staying in the inn meant I could catch a nighttime spew when most of the tourists have departed.
Not bad memories for an “off” year. Plus we revisited a number of places I included in my 2008 review – Water Street Inn and pianist Doug Montgomery in Santa Fe, Wyoming’s Elk Mountain Hotel, John G’s breakfast in Lake Worth, Florida, Passkey’s in Pueblo and Sunbird brunch in Colorado Springs. As I trip down my 2009 memory lane I’m reminded of how grateful I am to have opportunities to travel, see America’s bounty of natural wonders, meet extraordinary people experience welcoming hospitality. Bring on 2010 and new adventures.
July 26, 2009
The drive from Denver to Taos couldn’t have been easier; or, legally faster. Just 4-1/2 hours after pulling out of the driveway we were pulling into Orlando’s parking lot for lunch in Taos. This is a personal favorite for great Northern New Mexico cuisine. Watch for an Orlando’s blog tomorrow.
We rented an adobe casita, Casa de Las Abuelas, for the week sight unseen. No disappointments here, I already know I won’t want to leave at the end of the week. A detailed blog will follow soon.
After an orientation for the Stephen Kilborn painting workshop Bob’s attending this week we joined friends Dolores and Orrel for dinner at Doc Martins in the Taos Inn.
The day’s been a nearly perfect start to a much anticipated week. After a rather difficult summer I’m not even going to feel guilty as I unwind, rest, dine and seek the perfect margarita.
June 27, 2009
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Wisdom & Dinner with Farmers in Dell
Dell, Montana – That Is
Wisdom is a small ranching community in southwestern Montana situated in a broad green valley (at least in June) surrounded by the Bitterroot, Beaverhead and Pioneer Mountains. Big Hole National Battlefield, a segment of Nez Perce National Historical Park, is about 10 miles to the west. Each time we pass through I hope a bit of Wisdom will rub off.
Our drive from Spokane, Washington to Idaho Falls, Idaho totaled 530 miles today, mostly under sunny or partly cloudy skies. Rain in the late afternoon along I-15 in southern Montana and Idaho. We later learned that Idaho Falls had lots of rain, some hail and flooding. Glad we arrived late and after that excitement.
The road construction between Hamilton and Lolo, Montana that was such a pain last year is complete. It was smooth sailing from Missoula to Hamilton.
The beautiful Bitterroot Valley and Lost Trail Pass entice us to plan to spend more time exploring the region.
Dinner at Yesterday’s Calf-A in Dell, Montana. Each year thousands come to the little red school house for the homemade meals and one-room school atmosphere. We both wanted chicken fried steak. Fortunately I remember the breakfast portions were huge and asked about size. We ordered an extra salad and split a platter sized piece of tender meat accompanied by mashed potatoes and sliced carrots.
At last, at rest in the Holiday Inn Express in Idaho Falls, Idaho.
The best laid plans for an interesting return trip to Denver have been scrubbed. We’re on a direct route so that I can fly to Florida for daughter duty.
June 15, 2009
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To the Sea, To the Sea
“Ocian in view! O! the joy.” Wrote Capt. William Clark in his journal on November 7, 1805. I know that joy today as we arrive in Cannon Beach after several years absence.
- We drive along the Washington side of the Columbia River from Longview to Cathlamet.
- A spur of the moment decision finds us waiting on the Puget Island Ferry, the last ferry operating on the Lower Columbia. The ferry departs Puget Island on the Washington side of the river on the hour. Stopping to absorb the surroundings is a nice alternative to rushing down the highway.
- We listen to local conversation as the ferry operators chat with the regulars and tease the children. We overhear the lady in the pickup next to us on her cell phone; she’s asking if someone was in Denver when they had the 4” of rain and hail. Our eyebrows shoot up, knowing we need to check this out.
- Nine cars and trucks make the 11am crossing. Ten minutes and $3 brings us to Westport, Oregon.
- The sun shines on Astoria, Oregon today. On previous visits, under grey, wet skies I’ve always thought of Astoria as rather forlorn. The town seems much cheerier under bright blue skies.
- Lunch at the Gunderson’s Cannery Cafe on the dock of the Sixth Street viewing tower. I order crab cakes, Bob salmon cakes and we share. To my amazement I preferred the salmon.
- Lewis and Clark National Park encompasses seven national historic sites plus state parks in Oregon and Washington, all significantly tied to the Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery. The corps spent the winter of 1805-06 at the quickly erected Fort Clatsop. It was a forlorn 106-day stay with rain all but 12 days, illness and scant supplies.
- We browse museum displays, watch an orientation movie, visit the replica fort and walk trails through the thick forests. Unfortunately the ranger programs don’t start until next week.
- Arriving in Cannon Beach we check into our oceanfront accommodations at Tolovana Inn.
- Happily nested, we decide to eat on the property at Mo’s. Famous for their clam chowder, Mo’s Seafood Restaurants dot the Oregon coast.
- What better way to end the day than a sunset beach walk?
May 5, 2009
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Jump on this Deal
Sheraton Steamboat Resort
Get a jump start on summer plans with this stimulus deal at the Sheraton Steamboat Resort in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. “Room Rates Equal to Your Birth Year” celebrates the year you were born with a special offer on your second and third night stays. First night rates from $109, second and third nights equal to your birth year; for example if you were born in 1950 you’ll receive the second and third nights of your stay for $50. Invite mom or grandma – the older the better!
Valid for stays between June 4 – December 31, 2009.
Rates for second and third night stays will be confirmed at check-in upon presentation of valid ID.
Maximum three consecutive nights on this promotion, best available rate prevails thereafter.
When booking, use promo code NBR.
- Golf ‘Til You Drop
- Reserve & Relax – and save up to 20%
- Better Tomorrows: Stay one Night and the Next is 50% off
- Weekend Getaway Package
- Romance Package
- Family Package – Kids Eat Free
Need more space? Check into the newly renovated luxury villas with full kitchen, separate dining area, private balconies and two or three bedrooms.
I love Steamboat Springs in summer. Countless outdoor activities keep visitors as busy as they choose – biking, golf, hiking, kayaking, fishing, horseback riding, tube through town on the Yampa River. Want to just relax? Soak in one of the hot springs, browse the shelves of Off the Beaten Path Bookstore, wander pathways in the Yampa River Botanical Park, attend a Strings Music Festival concert or schedule a spa treatment. Combined with great dining options, special events, festivals, fresh air and sunshine you’ll be delighted you jumped on one of the Sheraton Steamboat Resort’s affordable summer packages.