Everyone seems to be making lists this week. I’ve looked back over this year’s travel experiences and put together highlights and favorites. We didn’t travel as much as usual in 2008 but many fine memories were made along the way.
Best Historic Inn – Elk Mountain Hotel in Elk Mountain, Wyoming — A superbly restored 1905 historic hotel combining the elegance of a by-gone era with the comforts and amenities of the 21st century. Three miles from Interstate 80 but a world away, surrounded by ranchland, this was the best escape we could have imagined. A graduate of l’Ecole de Cordon Bleu in Paris, Owner/Chef Susan Prescott-Havers, presents an incredible fine dining experience. Susan and husband Arthur are congenial hosts with fascinating backgrounds. An amazing retreat we plan to repeat.
Dream Room – Water Street Inn, Santa Fe, New Mexico – Room 4—We’ve slept around at this Inn for years, staying in many different rooms. This year we found the one I’ll want on every future visit. All the best features we’ve come to expect at our favorite Santa Fe lodging plus spacious room, kiva fireplace, king four-poster bed, sleeping banco, and chaise lounge create my idea of perfection.
The transition from Merle’s Alignment to Merle’s Restaurant is complete. After opening in November the eatery quickly became the new hot spot in downtown Littleton. We made our first visit today for lunch. With lots of buzz about the burgers we couldn’t resist. Bob ordered the Mountain Burger with mushrooms, smoked peppered bacon and Swiss cheese. I chose Mark’s Burger with Anaheim chilies, guacamole and Monterey Jack cheese. Both were worthy of the buzz. Meat for burgers is ground fresh daily, bun was fresh and an appropriate size. A pet peeve of mine is a bun that overwhelms the meat or one too small to cover the patty.
While in Evergreen yesterday we stopped at Creekside Cellars for a late lunch. We weren’t the only ones, they were slammed. Obviously not a routine Monday, everyone seems to still be on holiday except the hard working Creekside staff. The tasting room/cafe isn’t large and the popularity of both the wine and food attracts loyal followers. The favorite summer seating, on the deck overhanging Bear Creek, was even filled on this sunny and warm December day.
For generations Evergreen Lake has been a favorite winter destination for Denver area families. The lake is frozen and open for 2010 winter recreation. There’s plenty of room for hockey practice and pick-up games, beginner and serious skaters as well as those who do more ice standing than skating.
The log Lake House offers lots of benches for lacing up skates, rental skates, hockey supplies, and a snack bar. It’s a great place to warm up or crisp winter days.
When You Go: Skate fees are $5 or less per session depending on age. Season passes and ten punch cards are available. The lake and lake house are part of the Evergreen Park and Recreation District. Their website gives little information;call the skating hotline, 720-880-1391 before heading to the lake.
Four Castle Rock local artists have their work displayed on banners hanging from downtown light poles. The public voted to select the artworks from among 20 finalists participating in the “Art on the Street” program sponsored by the Town of Castle Rock. During the 2008-09 fall and winter: “Is that you, Deer?” a wood burning by Fritz Anders, Dix Morris’ pastel “Morning has Broken”, an oil painting “Hay There” by Sarah Phippen and Mark C. Williams’ photograph “Crystal River” have been digitally rendered onto the banners.
On this bright sunny Saturday between Christmas and New Years we decided on a drive and leisurely lunch. Castle Rock became the destination. Hearing Warren Byrne comment on his restaurant show about the Christmas decorations at Augustine Grill we decided to make a return visit.
The Augustine Grill is located in a 1902 Victorian home near Castle Rock’s courthouse square. We were immediately seated in the Main Dining Room, a bright open space with lots of windows, a gas fireplace and Christmas tree reaching to the ceiling. The room was nearly filled at a little after 1:00 pm.