A Crazy Happy Holiday Season in Aspen, Telluride and Redstone

Hitting the Fresh Pow in Telluride

Fresh Powder Turns Today in Aspen

Yay, I knew that if I were to write this story, the snows would come! Telluride received 9 inches of fresh overnight, 11 inches the past 24 hours and 15 inches the last 48. And boy, was it needed. Aspen is enjoying a good blanketing as well. In addition to the fresh snow, let’s hope this signals a significant breaking down of the high pressure system that has been sitting over Colorado (and Utah, Arizona and New Mexico actually) for the past two months!

Yet despite the paltry snow conditions, the resorts have managed to crank out a good product.

The Top of Buttermilk this Week

Teaching Snowboarding at Buttermilk

I’m back in Aspen dealing with some family matters. I arrived here Thursday night, just a month after I flew in here from a very extended stay on the east coast. Wow, what a month it has been!

Happy Clients in Telluride at Christmas

Perfect Outside Dining Weather in Colorado this Winter

After an initial few days in Aspen in December, I threw myself into the busy-ness of gearing up for ski season; this entailed rounding up my ski clothing and gear, stocking the house with an almost winter’s-worth of provisions and working my ski legs back into shape by doing my Telluride Ski & Snowboard School training.

Ski School Training in Telluride

Piles of Provisions

A nasty cold almost thwarted the start to my ski instructing schedule but thanks to mega doses of Vitamin C, fluids and fresh, chopped garlic (yes, I even had two cloves for breakfast, lunch and dinner a couple of days–followed by a chaser of Listerine of course) I was able to knock it out of my system pretty fast. I pulled it together–training, shopping, cooking and even a little decorating–to embark upon a super busy holiday season that required me to teach skiing ten days in a row.

Winter Light Show in Telluride

Phew! We always go from to zero to 150mph in no time flat. But that’s life in a resort town, especially one that typically has its busiest week of the year between Christmas and New Year’s.

Torchlight Parade: A Telluride Tradition

Happy New Year to All

By now, you must be wondering when I’m going to mention the elephant in the room–the fact that we’ve all been going about business as usual without much help from Mother Nature. Yes, indeed, it has been shocking how little natural snow we’ve had. Up through the end of last week, the snow totals for the season in Aspen and Telluride rang in at barely 20 inches. Yikes!

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Visiting the Holiday Greens Show in Troy, New York with Mom

Mom Enjoying the Holiday Greens Show

A Patriotic Christmas

Home for the Holidays

The Grand Entranceway

I’m back in Colorado cherishing a very special holiday moment I shared with my mom in my hometown of Troy, New York just before I left. It was extraordinary for many reasons. It was the first time since 2001 that I was with my mother in December, which allowed us to do something Christmas-y together. (I moved to Colorado in January 2002 and became a ski instructor shortly thereafter. Once ski season starts, I hardly travel anywhere except perhaps to another ski destination.) I also relived childhood memories that I know have played a formative part in my life.

Mom and I picked up on a tradition that began some sixty-one years ago at the Holiday Greens Show, a glorious open house of sorts at the Hart-Cluett House, home to the Rensselaer County Historical Society. I believe mom started going to the Greens show from the beginning and she first brought me there some fifty years ago. Decorated from balustrade to mantelpiece with an abundance of fresh greens, Christmas trees, fresh and dried flowers and a treasure trove of memorabilia by the Van Rensselaer Garden Club, this mansion shimmers with all the beauty of the holidays every year for four days during the beginning of December. It’s like stepping onto a Hollywood set of a nineteenth-century film filled with elegance and grandeur, merrymaking and holiday charm.
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Bodacious Biarritz

Biarritz: Breathtakingly Beautiful

La Grande Plage

Bobbing Heads in the Surf Capital of Europe

Steve & Me

I took a trip of a lifetime with my boyfriend, Steve, a while ago and now seems like the right time to write about it.

It was stunning and dramatic, sweet and endearing, intense and oh-so memorable–all very much like our relationship. It left us in awe and amazed and full of desire for more.

We both chose the destination; I chose France and Steve narrowed it down to Biarritz, an oceanside resort in southwest France in the Basque region that I had only visited once–very briefly–on a cold winter’s day during the research phase of my book The Riches of France: A Shopping and Touring Guide to the French Provinces. At that time, I did just a cursory tour of the town, one that was more focused on the boutiques of Biarritz than its spectacular coastal scene and its sensational surf.

Biarritz Beauty

Gorgeous

With Steve, it was all about the surf. No surprise there, since this is where the waves roil in with the greatest, most consistent force in all of Europe. And Steve is big on surfing. It sounded like the perfect fit to me; he had the surf and I had France. What came as a surprise, however, was how he became so taken with the whole French experience and the French themselves.

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Touring Country Stores in Stowe, Vermont with Mom

Mom and I Shopping in Vermont

Since 1895: Shaw’s General Store

Vermont Country Road

Mom at Stowe Mercantile

My how I’ve been blessed with being back East this fall. The weather has been glorious throughout upstate New York and New England. (I think it has actually been pretty beautiful along the whole East Coast with the exception of down south.) We’ve been experiencing true Indian summer weather–East Indian, in fact, with some days hitting temps as high as 90 degrees!

The annual autumnal festival of colors with regard to leaf peeping has started late this year. (The abundance of jewel-toned mums, however, rates among one of the most spectacular I’ve ever seen. I we don’t have such a display in Colorado.) A brilliant kaleidoscope of fall colors is just now emerging in many parts of the Northeast.

Designer Mum

Magnificent Mums

This fall is not likely to rank among the most spectacular, since many of the maple trees have been stricken with a fungus that has made their foliage look blah. Plus, we have not yet had enough chilly nights to force the color to change into eye-popping hues of red, orange and gold. But isn’t fall always beautiful? I think so. For me, it has already been memorable.

Brick-Toned Beauty Before the Leaves Even Change

Ready for Winter at Nebraska Knoll Sugar Farm

That’s because two weeks ago mom and I headed out for a road trip to Vermont. It was just a two-night stay, however, we packed a lot in. My mother and I have always traveled a good amount together but this was the first real getaway of its kind in two years. There’s no doubt that as you grow older, home offers greater appeal and traveling seems like more of a chore.

Still, mom rose to the occasion and off to Vermont we went. We beat the path that we had tamped down–heading northeast out Route 7 from Troy, New York–for many years throughout our lives. This time, however, we were venturing far beyond our usual destinations of Bennington, Arlington and Manchester, Vermont. This time we were headed way up. Three-and-a-half-hours up.

“I always wanted to go to Stowe,” mom told me as I navigated the sinewy roads of the Green Mountain state, by then dashing along Route 100 past Rutland. (Yes, mom thought I was going too fast around the innumerable bends in the road.)

Pumpkin Potpourri at Cold Hollow Cider Mill

“Really? I didn’t know that.”

“Yes, I wanted your father to take us all there on a ski trip.”

“Wow, that’s the first time I’ve heard that,” I said. I remember the very first time I skied. I had a terrible time. It was so cold and the equipment felt so heavy. But I remember the lodge and the whole ambiance. I just loved the cozy scene in Vermont. I think it was during a New Year’s holiday. I think I was about five–is that right, mom?”

Stowe and Skiing Go Together Like Rolling Hills and Vermont

And so we prattled on, trading thoughts and memories about what we loved so much about Vermont.

Salt and Pepper Shakers from Stowe Mercantile

In truth, most of our mother/daughter escapes to Vermont revolved around day trips. We’d leave early in the day, enjoy the scenic drive, have lunch in a country inn and then poke about in quaint shops. We’d return with the car loaded with goods and goodies, a mostly made-in-Vermont haul that we’d have to sneak in to keep out of sight from “the boys” and my father (six fellas in all). It was female bonding at its best. Sure, we’d share cider and syrup with them but many of our treasures were stashed away in order to avoid looking like spendthrifts.

In truth, we didn’t buy a whole lot, mostly wool sweaters, candles and knickknacks. It was how and where we bought everything that had the most significance for mom and me. It was out of these forays to Vermont country stores that my love for shopping and touring in authentic places was born. So many of these bastions of tradition and charm spoke to me, so much so that I could hardly tolerate shopping and browsing in department stores or other big, impersonal retail outlets the rest of the time.

Little did I know that these excursions would plant the seeds for me to found Chic Promenade, a Paris shopping service where I organized visits behind-the-scenes at the big names as well as tours to the off-the-beaten-path boutiques of the French capital. I later went on to write three guidebooks on Paris and one on the French provinces. (Read about The Riches of Paris: A Shopping and Touring Guide and The Riches of France: A Shopping and Touring Guide to the French Provinces as well as my travel memoir, A Tour of the Heart: A Seductive Cycling Trip Through France at Maribeth’s Books.)

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Top Reasons to Go to Lake George, New York

Lake George, New York: the Queen of American Lakes

Sweet Minne Ha Ha

Stop it! I can’t believe the summer is winding down so fast. It seems like it’s especially unfair this year because in many parts of the country–including the northeast where I’ve been based–the weather has been rather cool and rainy up until this week, which is simply gorgeous! Thankfully there are still even more glorious late summer days ahead–I just know it.

Shepard Beach

View from the South End of the Lake

What was your favorite moment of the summer? One of my best was a weekend spent with an old friend–and a new one–at Lake George, New York. It was a nostalgic trip on many levels because I was returning to a beloved place with Margie, a friend I’ve known since I was a kid. Even better, Margie was also a big part of my childhood/early adult life at this beautiful Adirondack lake.

New and Old Friends: Me, Helena and Margie

Our families both had camps on Cleverdale, on the east side of the lake, and our summers were punctuated with days consumed with bombing around in speed boats and evenings passed trying to get into the Sans Souci, the local bar (We both were way too young, especially me; although in later years, we could hang out there. Then on big nights, we’d drive into Lake George Village for some rip roaring times.) Many a memorable moonlit night was marked by a girl’s sleepover on my family’s boathouse deck and on real wild ones, we’d head out in the rowboat and make a visit to the boy’s sleepover–oh my! more »

31 Aug 2017, 8:55am
Discovery Map Outdoor Adventures Restaurants The Outer Banks:
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Comments Off on Top Reasons to Go to the Outer Banks of North Carolina

Top Reasons to Go to the Outer Banks of North Carolina

Beachtime on the Outer Banks of North Carolina

OBX

A Little Beach Box

Outer Banks Eats

As we steam into the last great weekend of summer, most of us are woe to give up the hot, sultry moments in the sun. We don’t want to replace pumps and loafers with flip flops. We long for more, more, more time at the beach. We want to continue to throw on a shift or a pair of shorts and T-shirt over our swimsuits and belly up to a raw bar for some fresh seafood and beers.

This feels especially so in parts of the country–such as the northeast where I have been based–where the summer has been cool and more rainy and cloudy than usual. No, it just doesn’t seem fair; most of us yearn for more of that good ‘ole summertime feeling.

Good news is that you can find it in spades at North Carolina’s Outer Banks. I’ve visited these oh-so gorgeous barrier islands numerous times, mostly during the shoulder seasons of spring and fall, which in my opinion, is the best time to go. This is when you can avoid the crowds and enjoy more tranquil beach time. Sure, this part of the coast can be pounded during fall’s hurricane season (mostly in September), however, that’s good news for those into big surf. (Indeed, OBX is one of the surfing capitals of the U.S.)

Click here to read a bunch of my stories on the Outer Banks.

For a bucket-full of my fresh reasons on why to visit this beautiful destination, read my OBX write ups at DiscoveryMap.com:  OBX Surf, Sun and Fun and Tastes of the Outer Banks.

May summer last forever! Or at least until ski season hits.

Sunset Over Pamlico Sound

In Praise of Palisade and Colorado Peaches

Peach Syrup at Talon Winery

Ball: One of Many Fruit Stands in Palisade

Main Street Palisade

Pretty Palisade

I’ve been back east in upstate New York most of the summer. Probably the best part of being here is that I’m loving the warm, humid weather. It’s a welcome change from the chilly and rainy days that are so much a part of July and August in Telluride. (The monsoonal flow brings terrific moisture to our arid western climate but boy, can it bring on the blues, especially since it snows well into May in Colorado’s mountain towns and as much as I love the snow, I do require a good, long blast of heat in the summer.)

But what I miss most are the peaches.

Americans love to talk about Georgia peaches. But those in the know, know that Colorado peaches are the best. Sorry, Georgia. But I really am speaking the truth here. I might go so far as to say that our Colorado peaches are even better than those from Provence. Mon dieu!

Heading Out of Grand Junction

View from My Car

On My Way to Palisade

Palisade, Colorado, a charming little town just outside of Grand Junction, is the peach capital of our beautiful Rocky Mountain state. Don’t worry, temps there run about twenty degrees hotter than in our mountain towns and rain is scarce. (Thankfully the smartly irrigated lands off of the Colorado River provide a fertile environment for the growing of peaches, grapes and other delicious fruit.)

Pretty Palisade

So Palisade

I popped into Palisade on a weekday in early June on my way back from some doctoring in Grand Junction. (Yes, that’s life in the mountains; folks from our best known ski resort towns must travel about two and a half hours for tests and treatments, which most people have just a short drive from their home.) So I decided to make it fun and stop by some of the places that give this quaint little town much of its charm. The peaches weren’t in season yet, however, the cherries were plump, luscious and as sweet as candy.

Right now–the latter part of August–is considered the height of peach season and this weekend the Palisade Peach Festival will be in full bloom. Colorado Mountain Winefest goes off here September 14-17.

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One Sensational Colorado Spa and Six Perfect Pools

Warwick Denver Hotel

Many people come to Colorado in the summer to hike, bike, jeep, fish and sit outside to enjoy great concerts amid breathtaking scenery. Yes, Colorado ranks supreme for all that, however, this Rocky Mountain state also boasts some of the best pools and spas in the country. They’re terrific because of the mountains.

Mountain Lodge Telluride

Most of the pools highlighted below are backdropped by scenery eloquently described by Katharine Lee Bates in “America the Beautiful.” And because of the purple mountain majesties where we work our bodies to near exhaustion, it’s important to have glorious pools and spas where we can relax and rejuvenate. We have a good amount of them in Colorado, all of which are attached to prized hotels and resorts.

The Peaks Pool in Telluride

See the photos and my blurbs below to begin your journey through some of the best hydrotherapy offerings in Colorado. Whether you’re going to these establishments for a stay, a treatment or a day pass (often in conjunction with poolside dining), go ahead and plan your travels around them. The benefits you derive from these mountain oases will carry you well past the end of your vacation. And best of all: Most of these pools are open year-round because they’re heated.

The Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch Resort

The Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch Pool and Spa in Beaver Creek
My boyfriend, Steve, and I experienced The Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch Spa a while ago during a spring ski getaway. I wrote about it at Pick a Spa, Pick a Ski Destination. We loved it then, however, recently we had an even more extraordinary experience, since we logged some delicious pool time as well.

Ritz-y Pool

Poolside Offerings

Oh, the pool. Drawn in by its black lines, we knew this stunning, infinity pool was the place for us. We arrived at lunchtime on a busy Friday and were thrilled to see that there was still a designated lane where we could do laps away from the din of Marco-Polo and all the other activity that characterizes a day at the pool in summer.

Steve diligently knocked out his sixty lengths while I bronzed, something I rarely find the time to do. I decided to forgo my workout because I had already sunk deeply into a lolling around mood, one enhanced by a stack of magazines and my phone turned off. (It actually went dead because of the heat.)

Bottoms Up

Food tastes best when eaten outside, particularly in the summer when salty chips and fries are de rigueur. We feasted on fish tacos and a grilled chicken wrap served in large Bento-type boxes that far exceeded your average poolside chow. (My phone had died by the time the food arrived, however, I did take a snapshot of the menu!)

Since this is Colorado, the clouds rolled in practically on cue by mid afternoon. Pas de problème. We just snuggled up to their poolside bar and sipped a frothy one, a beer that we found very amusing because it was a perfect pour by Bottoms Up. Many guesses later, we discovered that a magnet holds the key to the beer not bottoming out. You might have seen these beers at stadiums and now it appears they’re gaining popularity at certain mountainside resorts. (Just think après ski/large volumes of beer served/perfect every time.)

Steve and Me at the Poolside Bar of The Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch

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