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.
Favorite Art Museum Visit – Fine Arts Center, Colorado Springs, Colorado — An extensive renovation and expansion blends well with the original Art Deco building. Increased exhibit space allows presentation of larger, more important traveling exhibits as well as greater visibility for the excellent permanent collection, including Chihuly glass.
Best Scenery – Glacier National Park, Montana — Craggy peaks, glacier carved valleys, waterfalls, rushing rivers, lakes, wildlife – the natural majesty of Glacier unfolds around every corner. Five days only scratched the surface of exploring one of our national treasures.
Wildflowers Aplenty – Gothic Road, Crested Butte, Colorado — July in Colorado after record winter snows proved to be a banner year for wildflowers. Crested Butte celebrates with a festival every July. The road to Gothic and beyond offers great locations for photographs.
Best Beach Breakfast – John G’s,Lake Worth, Florida — Serving breakfast and lunch across from the Lake Worth public beach since 1973, John G’s draws beach bums and Palm Beach society arriving via limo. I love the stuffed croissant served with hash browns (my sister says the best ever) and fresh fruit bowl or juice. It’s crowded, the ambiance is very seventies and you’ll have to stand outside to wait in line unless you’re very lucky but it’s all worth it. The seafood at lunch is also notable.
Best Rushing Water – Spokane River in June, Downtown Spokane, Washington — The Spokane River rushes through downtown Spokane plunging over falls and dams as it heads to the Columbia River. Especially during spring runoff after a winter of record snowfall, the water volume and power inspires awe. Trails and pedestrian bridges offer great viewpoints.
Notable National Historic Site – Golden Spike NHS, Utah — Not on the beaten path, we headed here on the advice of family and friends without a lot of expectations. We ended up spending the entire afternoon. The site commemorates the completion of the first transcontinental railroad. Replicas of the two steam locomotives – The Jupiter and No. 119 – that met here in 1869 make the experience come to life as they puff and chug along the rail line. Interpreters do an excellent job relating the historic background and significance as well as personal antidotes.
Surprising Musical Event –Southern Colorado Handbell Festival Concert, Colorado Springs, Colorado — We happened to be in Colorado Springs for the weekend, checked out events calendar and learned of this free handbell concert. More than 350 bell ringers from five or six states spent the weekend in workshops and practice. The resulting concert was amazing.
Best B&B – Big Sky Bed & Breakfast, Hamilton, Montana — Hamilton sits in the Bitterroot Valley south of Missoula. Big Sky B&B sits above the valley with fantastic views of the BitterrootMountains and Continental Divide. Everything about the B&B is clean and comfortable. Innkeepers Linda and Tom know the area well and gladly point you in the right direction. From welcoming snack to the full homemade breakfast we loved our stay and will return.
Most Unusual Museum – Idaho Potato Museum, Blackfoot, Idaho — We paid homage to the potato with a stop at this museum located in Blackfoot’s stone railroad depot. Displays showed us everything from potato history to planting and marketing and the largest potato chip. As a memento every visitor leaves with a box of hash browns.
Best Scenic Highway – Beartooth Highway, Montana and Wyoming — Perhaps the most scenic byway in the the country, the Beartooth Highway winds from Red Lodge, Montana to Cooke City, Wyoming. Sharp switchbacks may intimidate the faint of heart but views from high above timberline surrounded by alpine tundra make you feel like you’re at the top of the world.