Celebrating 100 years of Our National Parks at Mesa Verde

Spruce Tree House Cliff Dwelling at Mesa Verde

Spruce Tree House Cliff Dwelling at Mesa Verde

Me Overlooking Spruce Tree House

Me Overlooking Spruce Tree House

Touring Mesa Verde National Park

Touring Mesa Verde National Park

You’ve probably heard that 2016 marks the one-hundred-year anniversary of the National Park Service. Often referred to as America’s Best Idea, there are more than four hundred parks within our beautiful country and I think fall is one of the best times to visit them. In celebration of this milestone, there’s one more entrance-free day left and I find it appropriate that this one takes place on Veteran’s Day, November 11.

To me, it feels like I’m living within a national park in my home of Telluride, Colorado. I believe that Ken Burns, renowned filmmaker of America’s National Park series and many other inspiring documentaries, feels similarly. Perhaps this is why he spends so much time in our little box canyon mountain town. I did an interview with him a while back on our national parks that is still very pertinent today. Do check it out here.

Even so, I love venturing out and exploring the real deal. Fortunately, we have a couple national parks in Colorado within about an hour-and-a-half drive of Telluride: Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park and Mesa Verde National Park. (The latter is also a World Heritage Site.) I visited the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park with my parents six years ago toward the end of a big southwest tour that also showcased Monument Valley and the Grand Canyon. Click here to read Touring the Southwest with My Parents, which features those two world-renowned destinations. At the end of that trip, I also visited the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park with them and I highlight this amazing national park in Part Four of a series of stories I did about rafting in the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. After you read about this little-known national park, check out Rafting and Roughing it on the Black Canyon of the Gunnison Part One, Part Two and Part Three–it was a big outdoor adventure that I hope to do again some day. You just might want to plan a similar trip there yourself.

Speaking of world famous sites, it always strikes me that at America’s National Parks I see an overwhelming number of foreigners. Sometimes I think they value what we have more than most of us. Possibly. In any event, I hope this story and the photos herein will prompt you to break out and savor what we are so blessed to behold within our nation’s borders. I also think it might be a great way to blow out some election overload!

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Going Forth with Fabulousness

Mom and Me Faking It Until We Make It

Mom and Me Faking It Until We Make It

I’m back. Or at least I hope so. This is by far the longest I’ve gone without posting a blog since I started Bonjour Colorado in 2008. Even throughout the craziness of working as a ski instructor at Telluride Ski Resort during epic snow years, I’ve never let so much time pass without being in touch. But I can’t begin to explain how upended my life has been these past months.

I never imagined that the death of one parent might trigger a whole series of events that would make my brain feel like mush. Honestly. (The six months leading up to this life-changing event were extremely stress inducing, however, the last few months have been mind numbing.)

I’ve barely been able to keep up with emails let alone string two sentences together for a story. I had a deadline for Forbes Travel a few weeks ago that I just kept putting off. I’ve never blown off deadlines like that but I felt like I couldn’t compose a proper sentence. Finally, I forced myself to sit down and commit to the act of writing. What first sounded like an instruction manual ended up reading with more of a flourish after an hour of tweaking, so that experience helped me to regain confidence in myself as someone that has not become totally unhinged.

From that point on, I swore I would write at least a couple of hours every day. It has been a couple of weeks and I’m just sitting down now to jot off a few lines. So much for deadlines and goals.

What have I been doing? Well, I guess the best response is I’ve been juggling a ton of physical, emotional and mental clutter. I’ve been seeking some kind of normalcy, some kind of routine while everything around me has been shifting and transforming like an iceberg in the Arctic during the month of July.

My father passed away in March and since then, there has been an endless series of to-dos, none of which have had much to do with my own work. I spent a sweet period of mourning this spring with my mother in upstate New York, during which time we started to adjust to the idea of Dad no longer being around while writing thank you notes to the many people that sent flowers, goodies, donations and mass cards. I also accompanied Mom to a lot of her doctors’ appointments and attempted to gain better knowledge of what was happening in her world.

Then as if my father was upstairs pulling strings, we learned that there was a serious offer on our house at Lake George in the Adirondacks. After having been on the market for almost five years, it seemed as though it was now time to sell. Well, you know what they say about death and moving.

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June in the Rockies: A Gorgeous Time of Year

The View of the Beautiful Funky Town of Telluride from Our Room at the New Sheridan

The View of the Beautiful Funky Town of Telluride from Our Room at the New Sheridan

Telluride Green and White

Telluride Green and White

Last Week in T-ride

Last Week in T-ride

I’m on Lake George in the Adirondacks now where I’ve been plunged into the luscious heat and humidity of an upstate New York summer. It feels glorious, especially as I sit here on the porch in a bathing suit and sarong typing away on my laptop. It has been quite the spring in Telluride, chilly and snowy all the way up through last Thursday. Of course you can never entirely put winter clothes away in the Rockies, but this year I needed good, sturdy boots right up to Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start of summer.

Views from the Neighborhood

Views from the Neighborhood

Spring View from the House

Spring View from the House

As much as I’m happy to be sitting here in bare feet wiggling my toes, I was thrilled to experience that extraordinary time of the year when the mountains emerge from their deep winter slumber before I left. I witnessed the fuzzy buds of the aspens pop into bright leaves as the crystalline snows melted on their branches. The play of spring light against the fresh yellow-green of the season and the pure white snow made for a dazzling display of nature. I was happy this all happened during a time when I was busy running about to do errands because the panoramic views on my drives were beyond breathtaking. Changes in the leaves occurred seemingly by the minute. Indeed, it’s a wonderful time of the year for the earth to reawaken, especially in the mountains of Colorado.

Telluride

Telluride

I thought I’d share with you here some images from this time of year taken this year and last. I also wanted to tell you about a little-known secret: June is one of the best times of the year in the Rockies. In Telluride, it’s when Bluegrass happens (the third week in June), but first and foremost, it’s the month of some of the best weather of the year. The hills are truly coming alive during this time and although it might rain some in June, we’re not yet soaked with the monsoonal flows that hit the mountains in July and August. Yes, it’s a splendiferous time of the year. And the summer crowds have not yet arrived. (Not that it ever becomes very crowded in Telluride.)

Nightcap at the New Sheridan

Nightcap at the New Sheridan

Our Room at the New Sheridan

Our Room at the New Sheridan

Feeling Cozy at the New Sheridan

Feeling Cozy at the New Sheridan

My Hotel and Dining Recommendation
Truly a destination hotel, the historic New Sheridan has long served as the hub of Telluride. And as much as I don’t like to play favorites, I would go so far as to say that this glittering establishment stands out as my all-time favorite place to be in Telluride. It’s the place to go to dine, drink, savor an elegant hotel stay and just while away some time as you watch the fun and playful doings of our beautiful mountain town unfold before you. I stayed here for a night almost year ago with my boyfriend, Steve, and it was one of the best staycations you could imagine. Highlights included late-night drinks at the bar, luxurious accommodations and a superb brunch in the Chop House Restaurant. So many of the sights, sounds and smells from that stay still tingle my senses; the pop, pop, pop of the opening of bubbly for the Sunday brunch still echo in my mind along with the stillness of the night as seen, heard and experienced from our beautiful room. A true bastion of tradition and refinement, the New Sheridan perfectly embodies the spirit of Old World grandeur and old mining town charm.

Beautiful Bathroom at the New Sheridan

Beautiful Bathroom at the New Sheridan

Heading to Brunch

Heading to Brunch

Brunch

Mimosas

Brunch

Brunch

Old Time-y Photos Line the Walls at the New Sheridan

Old Time-y Photos Line the Walls at the New Sheridan

Beau: A Fixture at this Fine Establishment

Beau: A Fixture at this Fine Establishment

The Town of Telluride Early June

The Town of Telluride Early June

When in Telluride, be sure to make your way to the recently opened New Sheridan rooftop bar, last summer’s talk of the town. Here are a couple of photos from a fun time I shared there last September with a good friend.

Enjoying Drinks at the New Sheridan Rooftop Bar

Enjoying Drinks at the New Sheridan Rooftop Bar

Here's to a Fun Summer Scene

Here’s to a Fun Summer Scene

For more on the New Sheridan, read New Sheridan Hotel:  Telluride’s Historic Gem.

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Two Favorite Paris Restaurants: Le Vaudeville and Julien

Le Vaudeville Terrace

Le Vaudeville Terrace

Le Vaudeville au Soir

Le Vaudeville au Soir

The Barman at Julien

The Barman at Julien

Art Nouveau Splendor at Julien

Art Nouveau Splendor at Julien

Last week there was a NYT piece circulating on the internet about how Paris’s high-end restaurants are experiencing a bit of une crise. Some blamed the aftermath of the Paris attacks while others blatantly stated that there’s no need to blow your budget on a fancy-schmancy night out when there are so many wonderful meals to be enjoyed at a host of other restaurants, brasseries, bistrots and cafés in the French capital. Clearly, it doesn’t have to be all about whether un resto has a star or not.

This social media conversation prompted me to think about two of my favorite Paris restaurants: Le Vaudeville and Julien. These landmark establishments rank as what the French would call une valeur sûre, or a sure value. Indeed, when you dine–for lunch or dinner–at either of them you know you’re going to delight in a fine meal in a lively setting served with aplomb. The décor of each ranks among the most historic of Paris and a moment passed here will dazzle both your eyes and spirit. It’s no wonder these long-established restaurants are considered institutions in a city that boasts some of the finest dining experiences in the whole world.

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Nights Out in Albany and Saratoga Springs, New York

Sam Bush Giving It His All at The Egg

Sam Bush Giving It His All at The Egg

My Mom and I laid low during the few weeks after my father passed away in March at our family home in Troy, New York. Then I said, “Let’s have some fun.”

After a few minutes of reflection, Mom said, “Yes, I’d like to break out and enjoy myself. Although don’t take too many pictures because officially I’m in mourning.”

The heck with old conventions–we’re no longer entrenched in the burdensome customs of the Victorian Age; Mom was long overdue for a little gaiety in her life. (I do, however, think there’s a lot to be said for the nineteenth-century tradition of wearing black for at least a year. It indicated to people ‘I’m vulnerable. Be kind to me.’ But I suppose that’s a thing of the past–people would just think we dressed very New Yorkish. Or Goth.)

So I checked out what was happening in the capital district area, the region that encompasses Albany, Schenectady and Troy as well as the event listings for Saratoga Springs, New York, the quaint old town just forty-five minutes north of us where I lived five years prior to moving to Colorado. Of course I zeroed in on what interested me the most in the Entertainment section of the Times Union; fortunately Mom and I have very similar tastes.

I snatched up tickets for a Sam Bush concert at The Egg in Albany and a book event featuring Augusten Burroughs, put on by the renowned Northshire Bookstore in Saratoga. Mom agreed to treat us to dinner and suddenly we felt excited about life again. With all the care-taking Mom did for Dad the past six months, there’s no doubt that these plans promised to buoy her back to more fun-loving days.

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Be Not Afraid

My Father on Lake George , New York in 2008

My Father on Lake George , New York in 2008

It has been just over four weeks since my father passed away. Even though I have been almost frightfully composed, I still feel like I’m in a blur. I think I’m in the midst of processing so much.

I do want to broadcast, however, to not be afraid. My father almost died on the eve of the millennium, then in 2008 and then at the end of 2014. So I had plenty of time to ponder his eventual passing. Plus, he was 89 years old. Yet even with this mental preparation, I always imagined I’d be in pieces upon hearing the news and then, of course, at his funeral and then in the days and weeks that followed. But no, I’ve felt a calm and resiliency that has surprised me.

I mean it–be not afraid. Do not live in fear of something that will come, something that you have no control over. Those heartbreaking moments do happen in our lives and it’s unproductive to anticipate–with dread–how we will handle them. We all have an inner strength that knows no boundaries. For me, I feel that my father’s passing has helped me to get in touch with the stuff I’m made of–I am Frank Angelo Clemente’s daughter.

He was a devoted family man, an accomplished businessman and un passionnée of skiing, tennis, exercise, food, Broadway show tunes, the English language and even French. But most of all, he was extremely kind and steady, compassionate and thoughtful and always appreciative and grateful for what he had and for what other people did for him.
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Ski Dreams

Vail After One of Our Big Spring Snowstorms

Vail After One of Our Big Spring Snowstorms

I dreamed of skiing last night. I felt the joy of doing sweet turns on soft, slushy snow on a bright and sunny spring day. The sky appeared bluer than blue, even bluer than a Colorado sky, making the scene feel surreal. It was, of course, just a dream. But still, when I woke up, I felt the sense of freedom and exhilaration one feels after doing some great turns on the slopes. Those feelings are fleeting now but it was swell while it lasted.

I chatted on the phone with my boyfriend yesterday and he told me the skiing is fabulous in Keystone. “Nice corn snow, Hun. Really great spring skiing,” he emphasized.

I guess those words have stuck with me, particularly since I remember with great fondness a week of skiing we shared at Keystone and Breck, A-Basin and Vail this time of year a couple of years ago.

Actually I’ve been following the Colorado ski season ever since it suddenly ended for me on March 22, the day my father passed away.

Some might think that winter is over and so is the skiing. But those in the know, know that some of the best days may be relished throughout the end of March and all the way into the better part of April in the West. Those can be big snow weeks and with the base that most Colorado ski resorts have benefited from this season, even without fresh pow, the good skiing can go on and on and on.

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Goodbye to Dad

Dad Taking His First Look at the Grand Canyon in 2010

Dad Taking His First Look at the Grand Canyon in 2010

Yesterday was a tough day. From the first look at the notifications on my phone, I woke up sad about the news of the terrorist attacks in Belgium. My heart goes out to Belgium, my Belgian friends, Europe and to all of humanity in general. It’s hard not to feel down about the state of world affairs today.

I headed out to ski–to teach a lesson to a little boy I had been with the past few days–and experienced the worst day on the mountain of this season. It was windy, icy and horribly bleak. Fortunately I was skiing with a joyful six-year-old who was thrilled to be on the hill, no matter the conditions.

We stopped for a hot chocolate break. I settled my little guy into his seat at the table with another instructor and his young charge. Just as I was plopping the marshmallows into the chocolate at the beverage counter, I got the call. Yes, THE CALL. The one I had always dreaded, the one that informed me of the passing of my father. It was, of course, from Mom. We spoke no more than a couple of minutes and although this was unexpected news, I got it right away. Mom and I connected on this and then we let each other go.

I almost passed my boy off to another instructor but I decided to keep him; I chose to complete my assignment, largely because we had done some serious bonding and I didn’t want the last part of his Telluride Ski School experience to be with someone new. I shed some tears with other members of my Ski School family while my little dude twirled ice cubes in his frothy drink. We then headed out to ski.

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    This blog is a personal blog written and edited by Maribeth Clemente. This blog sometimes accepts forms of cash advertising, sponsorship, paid insertions or other forms of compensation. The compensation received may influence the advertising content, topics or posts made in this blog. That content, advertising space or post may not always be identified as paid or sponsored content. The owner of this blog is sometimes compensated to provide opinion on products, services, Web sites and various other topics. Even though the owner of this blog receives compensation for certain posts or advertisements, she always gives her honest opinions, findings, beliefs or experiences on those topics or products. The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely the blogger's own. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer, provider or party in question. This blog does not contain any content which might present a conflict of interest.
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