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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Yay for Skiing, Riding & Holiday Making in Telluride

Telluride, Colorado

Telluride, Colorado

Telluride Town All Wrapped Up for the Holidays

Telluride Town All Wrapped Up for the Holidays

Yay, it’s December! Yay, the ski area is open! Double yay, we have a good amount of fresh snow–a season total of over fifty inches so far! Yay, it’s the most beautiful time of the year in the most picturesque mountain town in America. Really. Telluride, Colorado gives festive new meaning all winter long and most especially right now and throughout these upcoming weeks.

Driving Toward the Mountain

Driving Toward the Mountain

Getting Closer

Getting Closer

After a super warm and dry November, the Telluride Ski Resort lifts are finally powering  us up to the tops of the mountains we love so dearly.

Do you remember how you felt on Christmas Eve when you were a child? Well, that’s how many of us have been feeling lately. The excitement is palpable; it seems that just the thought of cruising down the hill basking in the fun and freedom that’s part of most every on-mountain experience has half the town giddy. I woke up at 5:30 in the morning on opening day in anticipation of the thrill of being out on the hill.

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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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