Monthly Archives: May 2009

Old Faithful Inn – Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

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

Chihuly Nature of Glass, Desert Botanical Garden – Phoenix, Arizona

Dale Chihuly Nature of Glass Exhibit

Final Days

Dale Chihuly’s phenomenally successful Nature of Glass exhibit at Phoenix’s Desert Botanical Garden closes May 31, 2009. For six months visitors have oohed and aahed over the colorful glass creations in the desert garden setting. Cameras have captured millions of memorable images, overviews to close-ups. I’ve arranged some of our favorites into four slide shows. I hope you have time to sit back and view the Nature of Glass.

Click “View Full Album,” on the following page click “Slide Show.” At the end of each slide show double click the back arrow to return to the blog post.

The Sun - N - Front Page

The first album begins with Desert Towers outside the garden entrance which mirrors the region’s yuccas and agave. The exhibit’s centerpiece – The Sun – brings more than 1,000 separate pieces of glass together into a 14-foot-tall explosion of color and form. Note how flower and cactus plantings compliment Scorpion Tails and Bamboo. Bet you can identify which of the  installations is named Mexican Hat and Horn Tower and The Moon.



Red Stems in Courtyard - Front Page

Reeds, tiger lilies, heron and horns, fiddleheads, ferns and fiori (Italian for flowers) appear in a multitude of rich colors. I find it fascinating how the glass integrates into the gardens.



Chiostro di Sant'Apollonia Chandelier - Front Page

The term chandelier takes on new meaning after you’ve viewed Chihuly’s creations. Hundreds, even thousands in some cases, of individual pieces attached to a frame almost defy description. We’ve seen numbers of Chihuly chandeliers in public buildings and previous exhibitions but there was something about seeing them in the outdoor setting that took our appreciation to a higher level. My favorite was the blue Chiostro di Sant’ Apollonia Chandelier pictured above.



Blue and Purple Boat - Front Page

Boats and floats in the desert? The juxtaposition may break the norm but three installations were special crowd pleasers. It’s nearly impossible to pick a favorite between Blue and Purple Boat and Boat and Floats.

We made two visits to Chihuly’s Nature of Glass at Desert Botanical Gardens during our Arizona trip. If we lived closer I’d be there this weekend for final oohs and aahs.


By night the glass and gardens offered totally different visuals. To see additional night photos check out my earlier blog, Nature of Glass by Night.

The Sun -  Night2

*Colorado Weekend* – May 29-31, 2009

Shake, Paddle and Grow

The last weekend of May looks to be a bit quieter, a respite between Memorial Day and Summer with a capital S. Even so, Colorado paddles, peddles and belly dances, celebrates fiber and roses, and listens to bluegrass and ethnic music .

  • Victory Bicycle Classic – Boulder, May 31. Ride with Olympian Davis Phinney and other cycling legends on either a 40- or 60-mile route, event benefits the Davis Phinney Foundation for Parkinson’s.
  • International Music Fest – Brush, May 30. From salsa and Japanese drumming to music of Eastern Europe held at the Morgan County Fairgrounds from 11am – 5pm.
  • Izzy Fest 2009 – Durango, May 30-31. Al Mafra Four Corners Belly Dance sponsors dance workshops with Isidora Bushkovski on May 31, performance May 30 at Smiley Theatre.
  • Glenwood Springs Whitewater Park US Freestsyle Kayak Team Trials – Glenwood Springs, May 30-31. The best kayakers in the country compete at the acclaimed Glenwood Springs Whitewater Park on the Colorado River. Winners will qualify for the World Freestyle Championship in Switzerland
  • Clear Creek History Park Blacksmith Demo Day – Golden, May 30. A Golden blacksmith shop first opened in 1859. Watch demonstrations of these time honored skills, free admission.
  • Fiber Fest – Pagosa Springs, May 30-31. Spinning, weaving knitting, felting of animal fibers – alpacas, llamas, angora and cashmere goats, churro and Cotswold sheep, angora rabbits and Scottish cattle – workshops, demonstrations, fashion show and Navajo rug auction fill the weekend.
  • Palisade Parade of Roses – Palisade, May 30-31. Judging and awards, rose workshops, tour of roses, Sunday brunch at Varaison Vineyards & Winery.
  • Bluegrass on the River – Pueblo, May 29-31. Two stages of bluegrass entertainment at the Nature & Raptor Center of Pueblo at this 20th annual event.

Nick’s Tomatoe Pie – Jupiter, Florida

Nick’s Summer Stimulus Package

Nick's Tomato Pie Sign

The Friday Palm Beach Post overflowed with restaurant ads, most of them announcing special pricing – sunset dinners, week night specials, free desserts, etc. One that caught our attention was the summer stimulus special at Nick’s Tomatoe Pie on Indiantown Road in Jupiter.

We’ve stopped at Nick’s once before with positive results so decided to stimulate our appetites. We’d skipped lunch plus it was our last evening in Florida; we were ready to sit back and exhale. Cold drinks were served along with a loaf of bread accompanied with roasted garlic cloves in olive oil. The bread is in a white paper sack, no knife for cutting, the tear off a chunk method is used here. A bowl of the Joe “Mow the Lawn”  green salad served family style soon arrives.

Nick's Tomato Pie Judy and I often share entrees. On this evening we choose shrimp parmigiana served with penne pasta and marinara sauce and rigatoni with prosciutto and peas in a vodka sauce. I don’t think I’ve ever seen shrimp parmigiana on a menu before. There were jumbo shrimp lightly breaded and sautéed in olive oil – absolutely delicious. We also loved the vodka sauce, tearing off additional pieces of bread to soak up every last drop.

For future reference I confirmed with our waitress that next time we could order the shrimp parmigiana with the rigatoni and vodka sauce. I consider that a plan.

Full of bread and pasta we skipped dessert. On our last visit I ordered cannoli to go – well worth the calories.

The dining room wears lots of red, white and green and Sinatra posters with matching music. Booth and table seating with white paper table covering – the easiest way to clean up all those bread crumbs.

Service was efficient but indifferent. I very much dislike a service person slapping something down on the table as if it’s a huge bother and they have better things to do. Our waitress was guilty of little or no eye contact and a minimum of communications. We’re use to friendlier Western hospitality.

Nick’s shrimp parmigiana and the  summer stimulus gives plenty of reason to return.

When You Go: Nick’s Tomatoe Pie, 1697 W. Indiantown Rd. (at Maplewood Dr.), Jupiter, Florida, 561-744-8935.

Nick's Tomatoe Pie - Jupiter, Florida
Nick’s Tomatoe Pie – Jupiter, Florida

Colorado Carousel Society Promotion

Ride Five – Colorado Carousels

Toddler on Rexburg Carousel From the thrill of a toddler’s first ride to the nostalgia of senior citizens, carousels hold a magical place in our hearts. The menagerie of carved animals, elaborate painted ornamentation, bright lights and distinctive music set the scene for an enchanted excursion. The Colorado Carousel Society encourages our whimsical journeys with a Ride Five promotion this summer.

Between May 30 and Labor Day (September 7), 2009 participants will have a special coupon punched at each carousel they ride. After completing five qualified rides the punched coupon is mailed to the society to be entered into a drawing for prizes.

Three of the five rides must be on antique carousels. Thousands of hand-carBob on Spokane Carouselved carousels  operated across the country in  the 1920s. Today fewer than 160 historic ones remain; six in Colorado, built between 1905 and 1928.

Jasmine on Denver Zoo CarouselThe Denver Zoo is home to the contemporary Endangered Species Carousel with 48 hand-carved wooden animals – lions and tigers and bears, oh my!

The Carousel of Happiness in Nederland plans to open before the end of 2009, sporting 36 newly carved animals on an antique 1910 Looff frame. unique animals include a moose, coyote, frog, alpaca, a flying pig and kangaroo with boxing gloves. A seated gorilla with outstretched arm waits to give a rider in a wheelchair a hug.Visiting this work in progress will qualify as a ride.

Three fiberglass reproduction carousels can also be found in Colorado.Cheyenne Mt. Zoo Carousel

Ride 5 kicks off May 30th at Elitch Gardens. Participants can pick up coupons at the carousels or print them from the Colorado Carousel Society website. Each carousel will have a distinctive punch, completed coupons must be mailed by September 15 to be eligiNancy with Brass Ringble for the prize drawing.

I plan to grab the brass ring this summer and Ride 5. Come along for the ride and join me?



Carousels in Colorado
Carousels in Colorado


Culinary Rafting Adventure – Gunnison, Colorado

Dinner Float Trip

Three Rivers Outfitters – Garlic Mike’s

Rafting Taylor River Combine a scenic float down the Gunnison River with a tasty dinner at Garlic Mike’s for a memorable summer excursion. Begin the adventure from Three Rivers Resort in  Almont at 4pm.

After a 10-mile trip downriver you’ll arrive at the riverside restaurant approximately 5:30 for a feast including focaccia bread with garlic spread, soup or salad, choice of entree from a special menu, dessert and non-alcoholic drink.

Garlic Mike's Logo The dinner float trip is available any night of the week with 24-hour notice and a minimum of four people. Cost is $53 per person, $33 for ages 10 and under. The float trip is perfect for multi-generational family groups.

Garlic Mike Accolades for Garlic Mike’s include awards for best waiter and chef to best restaurant, date place and wedding reception. Owner/chef Mike Busse proclaims this the best Italian food west of Jersey – from which he hails. The restaurant is open for dinner seven nights a week with indoor and outside dining available in summer. For more than a decade Garlic Mike’s has been a family favorite whenever we’re in the Crested Butte/Gunnison area.

Located at the confluence of the Taylor River and East River forming the Gunnison, Three Rivers Resort offers cabin and jeep rentals in addition to outfitting services for fishing, rafting and kayaking. For more adventure they’ll book horseback rides, rock climbing instruction, hot air ballooning, mountain bike and hiking guides or offer trail suggestions for the more independent outdoor enthusiast.

Book your dinner float trip by calling either Three River Resort at 888-761-3474 or 970-641-1303, or Garlic Mike’s at 970-641-2493.

Gunnison & Almont, Colorado

Gunnison & Almont, Colorado

Colorado Gold Rush – Denver International Airport, Colorado

 Colorado Gold Rush

150th Anniversary Exhibit

1859 – “Gold is found everywhere, and you can make your fortune.”

The word was out, gold had been found near the confluence of Cherry Creek and the South Platte River – near the center of present day Denver, Colorado. The rush was on to head to the hills in search of wealth producing veins of the precious metal. "Pikes Peak or Bust" became the rallying cry for prospectors with a serious case of gold fever.

Now through August 2009 an exhibit along the walkway to concoDIA Gold Rushurse A at Denver International Airport commemorates the sesquicentennial of the Colorado Gold Rush. Books and maps show supply lists and routes followed by hopeful emigrants. Letters and diaries detail successes and failures, longing and love, sorrow and humor. Photographs record changes in the land and the men and women who gave birth to Denver and Colorado.

The exhibition is located between the main terminal and concourse A, before the security screening area, making it accessible for everyone visiting the airport. Passing through Denver, seeing someone off or picking up an arriving passenger at DIA, take time to discover the story of Colorado’s Gold Rush.

Denver International Airport - Colorado
Denver International Airport – Colorado

Benson Sculpture Garden – Loveland, Colorado

View Benson Sculptrue Garden

Loveland – A Work of Art

To view a 15-picture slide show of a small sampling of over 130 works installed at Benson Sculpture Garden click "View Full Album" above, followed by "Slide Show" on the next screen.

Benson Sculpture Garden, Loveland’s largest sculpture venue, is located at 29th Street and Aspen Drive (east of Taft Avenue) in Loveland, Colorado. Loveland High Plains Art Council sponsors the annual Sculpture in the Park Show and Sale the second weekend of August. This is the largest outdoor juried sculpture show in the United States. Proceeds from the sale go towards purchase artwork for the garden as well as park improvements and landscaping.

Loveland’s Art in Public Places Program is a gift to local citizens and visitors from around the world. Additional sculptures can be found throughout the city – sport complexes, civic buildings, businesses, bridges and parks.

Benson Sculpture Garden - Loveland, Colorado
Benson Sculpture Garden – Loveland, Colorado

*Colorado Weekend* – May 23-25, 2009

 Colorado Events, Festivals and Happenings

Memorial Day Weekend 2009

I’m adding a new feature on Where To Go – Travel USA. Throughout the summer I plan to post a few special events, festivals or happenings around the state of Colorado for the upcoming weekend.

Memorial Day Weekend kicks off with events all around the state – art, sports, outdoor recreation, history and beer gain attention this weekend. Get out and have some fun.


Mounts Botanical Garden – West Palm Beach, Florida

I’ve Never Seen Anything Like It

Angel Trumpet

An afternoon walk through the Mounts Botanical Garden in West Palm Beach elicits a constant comment of, "I’ve never seen anything like this before." Featuring more than 2,000 tropical and subtropical plants from six continents the gardens hold many mysteries for two ladies from the Rocky Mountains.

Scents of OleanderDriving down Military Trail, it’s easy to miss the entrance to the garden. The 14-acre botanical oasis is nearly hidden among strip malls, parking lots and the local driver’s license office. Once inside the gate that busy world is left behind as the sweet smell of oleander catches our attention.

The garden has a feature I haven’t come across before, the Oncell System allows you to phone a designated number from your cell phone for a brief introduction to the garden. As you proceed, if you see an area of interest with a numbered post, you may redial the phone number and then the post number for information on that garden section. A new take on self-guided/guided tours.

Red Pineapple - 72Palms sway overhead as we wander through rose, herb, palm and tropical foliage gardens. We search for small labels identifying angel trumpet, ponytail palm, and rainbow eucalyptus. Some plants are unusual variations of the familiar; a huge prickly pear variety demonstrates what happens when a cactus grows in a humid climate with lots of rain. Orchids trail from the crook of a tree and complex delicate blossoms adorn the tips of ugly twisted, thorny stems. We assign descriptive names to unique unidentified foliage – wilted cabbage, Jurassic Park platter, and torpedo palm.

Two White Flowers - 72Red Thorny Stem Flower - 72 Orchids - 72

We were the last two to leave the garden at closing, I’m sure we’ll be back in a different season and will once again utter, "I’ve never seen anything like it."

Palm Cone - 72When You Go: Mounts Botanical Garden is located at 559 North Military Trail (between Belvedere Rd. and Southern Blvd.), West Pam Beach, 561-233-1757. Admission is free, a $5 per person donation is suggested. The Gardens are open Monday through Saturday 8am – 4pm and on Sunday noon – 4pm. Closed on holidays recognized by Palm Beach County.

Mounts Botanical Garden - West Palm Beach, Florida
Mounts Botanical Garden – West Palm Beach, Florida