Tantalizing Taste and Tranquility in Taos

Orlando's Birdhouse - BWe’ve arrived for our long anticipated yearly sojourn in Taos, New Mexico. Next week Bob attends a watercolor workshop given by Taos resident artist/potter Stephen Kilborn. Driving from Colorado our traditional first stop is lunch at Orlando’s, a personal favorite consistently serving excellent New Mexican fare.

Today we savored every tantalizing taste – Bob a shredded beef chimichanga, Nancy a combination platter of cheese and onion enchilada in a blue corn tortilla, chile relleno and a shredded beef taco in soft shell blue corn tortillas, accompanied by posole and beans. Yum! Although many Orlando’s menu items are ones similar to those found on Tex-Mex menus there’s a world of difference in the rich New Mexican flavors.

Orlando's Diners - BFilled to the gills, we declined one of the homemade dessert treats. During our Taos visit I’m planning on several more visits to enjoy the shredded beef burrito, the fish tacos and grilled shrimp burrito plus dessert at least once. The flan is always exceptional and the frozen avocado pie uniquely refreshing.

Birdhouses at Casa - BFor the third year we’re delighted to settle into Casa de Las Abuelas, an adobe guest house. I’ll share more about this exceptional property in a separate posting. The convenient yet secluded location provides much needed tranquility after a day of travel, museum and gallery visits, or outdoor activity. After threatening afternoon skies we peacefully watched evening descend as mere whiffs of clouds inched across the sky. A perfect beginning to a Taos vacation.

Nancy on Patio - B

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.

Brown Palace Bride 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.

Brown Palace Suite 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.

Every Sunday in February Ellyngton’s brunch becomes a Chocolate Brunch decadently featuring chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate. Champagne and live muCouples Massage - Spa - Brown Palacesic add to an unforgettable special occasion.

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.

Brown Palace Puppy Love You can even show your pet how much you love them with Puppy Love. Brown Palace dog bowls and plush dog bed to use during their stay and heart-shaped gourmet bones included in the package.

Love is in the air – get sappy at the

Brown Palace.

 

Related Post:

“Affairs of the Heart” Tours

Love Stinks

 

Photos courtesy of the Brown Palace Hotel.

Love Stinks

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 caBrown Palace Massagen 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.

Related Posts:

“Affairs of the Heart” Tours

Month of Love

Photo courtesy of the Brown Palace Hotel.

Wisdom & Dinner with Farmers in Dell

Dell, Montana – That Is

Wisdom is a small ranching community in southwestern Montana sWisdom Sign for Blogituated 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 latBitterroots for Bloge 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.
  • Stop in St. Regis, Montana for a late breakfast at the Huckleberry Patch Restaurant in the St. Regis Travel Center. Big Hole National BattlefieldThe huckleberry pancakes were light, fluffy and filled with the sweet/tart berries. Huckleberry fudge and twists were added to the road food collection.
  • 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.
  • Wisdom
  • Calf-A 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.

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.
  • Columbia River from Ferry 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.Fort Clatsop
  • 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.
  • Cannon Beach Sunset 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?

Road Trip to the Pacific Northwest

After a week long visit with family in Spokane and an expensive new clutch in the car we set off for a few days in Portland and Cannon Beach on the Oregon coast.

  • A long but interesting drive from Spokane to Portland via I-90 to Ellensburg, south to Yakima then, US97 down to Goldendale and the Columbia River. We cross the river to I-84 on the Oregon side at Rufus.
  • Just when I was wondering what was growing in the field ahead a sign said that for the next 14 miles crops would be identified in the fence lines. In those few miles east of Moses Lake we saw alfalfa, timothy, wheat, sweet corn, peas, potatoes and peppermint.
  • Columbia River - The Dallas Driving down the Columbia we realize what a major transportation route we’re following. Large barges of grain head downriver. Trains haul freight across the country along railroad tracks on both sides of the river. Car and truck traffic hums along I-84; on the Washington side a scenic two-lane highway threads down the gorge.
  • A late lunch at the Windseeker Restaurant in The Dallas, Oregon. Off the beaten path, the Windseeker sits amidst beautiful gardens above the Columbia River. Seafood chowder and halibut sandwiches fuel our afternoon adventures.
  • The Columbia River Gorge is a must-do American road trip. The geography changes from high dessert and lava fields to thundering waterfalls and towering forests, all with views of Mt. Hood, Mt. Adams and Mt. St. Helens.
  • A quick check-in and bag drop at the Staybridge Suites-Portland Airport.
  • Totem at Lelooska Cultural Center Afternoon treat of a triple-berry smoothie and late night halibut sandwich at Burgerville in Woodland, Washington.
  • Visit to the museum and gallery at the Lelooska Cultural Center in Ariel, Washington plus the privilege of attending an evening living history program. The Lelooska family shares the traditional masks, stories, songs and dances of the Sewide lineage of the Kwakwaka’wakw. The evening in the cedar ceremonial house  lit with flickering firelight never ceases to educate, entertain and inspire.

Reflections on the Day – Dubois to Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Posted 6/5 – No Internet connecions in Yellowstone

Reflections

 

  • A cozy and comfortable night at Twin Pines Lodge & Cabins in Dubois plus a continental breakfast.
  • Explore Dubois – from the cemetery to the Conoco.
  • Drive the Togwotee Trail – US26/287 to Moran Junction.
  • Only two short delays for construction along the Togwotee Trail route – the completed sections (19 miles) are huge improvements.
  • Descending Togwotee Pass and the remarkable first view of the Tetons.
  • Oxbow Bend Viewpoint – great views of Snake River and the Teton Range, today we had remarkably clear reflections – see above photo.
  • Lunch at Jackson Lake Lodge – Grand Teton National Park
  • Grant Village Visitors Center – Yellowstone National Park
  • Reservation at Old Faithful Inn – easy check-in, helpful and congenial staff.
  • Old Faithful eruptions – we watched three.
  • Dinner in Old Faithful Inn Dining Room – The roasted red pepper with smoked gouda soup was the highlight.
  • After dinner walk around the Old Faithful area checking out gift shops and guest facilities.
  •  Followed by relaxing on the 3rd-floor balcony watching people, gazing down into the crackling fire and noting architectual details of the historic lodge.
  • One final geyser eruption before retreating to our room.
  • Wildlife of the day included deer nibbling on spring aspen leaves, elk slowing ambling across the road, an osprey sitting on her nest and a mountain bluebird flitting from limb to limb.

Centennial, Colorado – Dubois, Wyoming

  • We had to slow down for miles of thick fog between Fort Collins and Laramie.
  • Early June is ideal for crossing Wyoming – recent rains have turned everything green.
  • National Bighorn Sheep Interpretive Center – Dubois, worth the stop.
  • Sheri Howe – Go Togwotee Trail Public Involvement Specialist – learned about the Togwotee Trail Poject, major improvements to 38 miles of US26/287, a major and scenic route to Yellowstone and Grand Tetons National Parks.
  • Sundance Cafe – Exceptional food, chef/staff and atmosphere, loved this place.
  • Twin Pines Lodge & Cabins – #23, Kitten Creek, cozy and comfortable.

Painted Ladies

 

Being easily entertained I found this sign interesting. Perhaps they don’t make cowboys like they used to, can you imagine John Wayne being caught at the Painted Ladies Salon?

Snag a Cancellation – It Works!

Old Faithful Inn Exterior In a previous blog I shared hints from Xanterra Parks and Resorts for securing reservations at some of the country’s best National Park Lodges. “Be persistent,”  they say, “Rooms open up due to a variety of reasons. You might be the lucky one to re-book that room.” Today was my lucky day – I snagged a reservation at Old Faithful Inn on June 4th.

We’ve had the privilege of staying at Lake Yellowstone Hotel, Old Faithful Snow Lodge and Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel but never the venerable Old Faithful Inn. As a young girl I remember lunch there on my family’s first trip West in the 1950s. Two years ago our Yellowstone National Park vacation included lunch and a interpretive tour of the inn. An overnight was on our “Some Day” list.

Old Faithful Inn Interior 2 In a few days we’re leaving on a road trip to the Pacific Northwest. Two months ago I checked the Xanterra website for a room at Old Faithful Inn without success; I looked again 30 days out since that’s when group tour operators must release rooms they’ve booked but haven’t filled. The last few weeks I’ve occasionally searched the website for availability. No luck until this morning when almost as an after thought I logged on. There it was, a room with two doubles and private bath. It didn’t take long to request and confirm our reservation. Old Faithful Geyser

One additional hint I’d share is to register on the Xanterra site with your information when you begin your searches. That way you’re in the system and can quickly make a reservation when something opens up. Try it – maybe it will be your lucky day.

Xanterra Parks and Resorts operates nine lodges within Yellowstone National Park as well as restaurants, gift shops and activities. Plan your visit at their Yellowstone specific website. They are also official concessionaires at Grand Canyon, Zion, Bryce Canyon, Death Valley and Crater Lake National Parks.

Old Faithful Inn - Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
Old Faithful Inn – Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

$99 Sundays

Hey guys, still stumped on what to give your wife for Mother’s Day? Denver’s Hotel Monaco announces a great $99 Sundays rate starting Mother’s Day and continuing every Sunday through September 7, 2009.

$99 Sundays include:

  • Hotel Monaco - Goldfish Deluxe overnight accommodations at the Hotel Monaco Denver
  • Morning coffee and tea service in the hotel’s living room-style lobby
  • Hosted evening wine reception
  • Standard high-speed wired and wireless Internet access
  • In-room “Guppy Love” goldfish companion, available upon request
  • Kimpton’s Hotel Monaco signature amenities

Hotel Monaco Denver - Entrance“Now, more than ever, we want our guest to experience Mile High Fun at a price that works for everyone,” said Von de Luna, Hotel Monaco Denver general manager. The downtown boutique hotel holds the AAA Four-Diamond rating.

Want to truly indulge Mom? Dine in the hotel’s acclaimed restaurant, Panzanno or schedule a spa treatment at the on-site Renaissance Aveda Spa and Salon.

When You Go: For more information or reservations, please visit the Hotel Monaco Denver website and enter SUN into the rate code box, or call 800-990-1303 and request the $99 Sundays” rate.

Read an earlier Where To Go – Travel USA blog on the Hotel Monaco Denver.

Photos Courtesy Hotel Monaco Denver.

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