For Off-Season and Year-Round Enchantment: Taos, New Mexico

Contemplating Nature's Beauty at Hacienda del Sol in Taos

Contemplating Nature’s Beauty at Hacienda del Sol in Taos, New Mexico

Ahhh-hhh, off-season. Anyone that has lived in a resort town knows the true meaning of off-season. Whether it occurs in the winter or summer, spring or fall, this lull in peak travel times provides a much-needed respite from the busy-ness of high season. In Telluride, Colorado it means tons of available parking spaces, no lines at the Post Office or grocery store and a certain quietude akin to a ghost town, something that delights some and bores the heck out of others.

Most don’t mind this downturn of activity, since many take advantage of our seasonal slowdown (during the spring and fall) to go off and seek fun for themselves elsewhere. Since the mountain closed two weeks ago, we’re in the throws of off-season now, also referred to as shoulder season and in the case of the spring off-season, mud season.

Many people take off for exotic locales for as many as six weeks travel; others find their bliss within a two- to six-hour drive from our southwestern Colorado mountain town. Indeed, we’re located just a few hours away from some of the best recreation around in Utah, Arizona and New Mexico, all sunny and warm destinations this time of year where spring arrives with the intensity of the desert sun.

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Front Range Fun: Mountain Travel Symposium, Breckenridge and Keystone

Mountain Travel Movers and Shakers AKA T-ride's Top GMs in the Powder Line at Breck

Mountain Travel Movers and Shakers AKA T-ride’s Top GMs in the Powder Line at Breck

I’m back home after a terrific week on the Front Range of Colorado where I experienced  three different ski resorts, a few nice restaurants and some fun hobnobbing with the folks attending Mountain Travel Symposium (MTS), the largest and longest-running annual gathering of travel professionals in the world. The conference took place in Breckenridge, which served as an excellent base for discovering one of the biggest ski resorts of the country, neighboring ski resorts and the surrounding area. (The drive over Hoosier Pass, just outside of Breck, upon arrival and departure was especially beautiful and one that I definitely recommend.)

Now I feel like I have more of a sense of this part of our Rocky Mountain state—less than a two-hour drive from Denver. The majestic scenery and near limitless options for fun and adventure in these mountains help me to understand why so many people plan their travels around Front Range destinations. Crowds can be a big drawback, however if you go in April, you can enjoy primo spring skiing on half-empty mountains where lift lines only occur on powder days.

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KOTO Fundraising: Fun and Great Giveaways

KOTO Radio:  The Soul of Telluride, Colorado

KOTO Radio: The Soul of Telluride, Colorado

Join me today, Thursday, March 20,  A LITTLE EARLIER at about 6:20 pm (through 7pm) in Telluride, Colorado and within the outlying area and on the internet for my Travel Fun talk radio show. This will be a special live show for KOTO fundraising featuring a variety of movers and shakers from Telluride’s hospitality/tourism world. I will be giving away lots of great premiums including lodging stays, restaurant and retail gift certificates, books and even ski lift tickets in exchange for a donation to KOTO.

KOTO is a local NPR station and one of the few entirely community supported radio stations in the country. Please consider making a contribution to KOTO, so that we can keep community radio alive and well in America. That’s also a way of showing your support for Travel Fun!  Please email me from my Contacts Page with your pledge or donation. Many of my Travel Fun interviews are posted on this blog as podcasts here.

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Powderhorn: For Family Fun and Great Skiing at Half the Price

Major Pow Wow in Powderhorn

Major Pow Wow in Powderhorn

We’re in the throes of spring break madness here at most Colorado ski resorts and frankly I’m left wondering how a family of four does it these days. Between the price of lift tickets, lunches, instruction and overall travel expenses, a family ski vacation in Colorado can represent as much as a down payment on a house. I’m fully appreciative of the ski getaways I did with my family when I was a kid but still we went mostly to down-home ski areas in western Massachusetts and upstate New York, all a far cry from the destination resorts of the West. Mom and Dad would pack my bunch of brothers and me into the station wagon along with a picnic basket loaded with Mom’s homemade submarine sandwiches and peanut butter cookies and off we’d go for a fun day on the slopes.

Not a ski day goes by that I don’t feel a pinch of nostalgia for those simpler times, so I was especially thrilled to discover Powderhorn Mountain Resort, a terrific little ski area on the western slope of Colorado just a short drive from Grand Junction. I skied there recently with my dear friend Paula, another northeastern gal who shares the same fond memories as I about family ski trips of a more modest scale, and was delighted to discover the many charms of this little-known resort. From the parkas and pants for rent at the ski shop, to the cubbies and lockers for boots and other belongings to the sack lunch room to the enormous deck at the Sunset Grille to the lift tickets at half the price of major resorts, I loved the vibe of this place from the get-go.

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The Laundry: Sophisticated Dining and Sipping in Steamboat

Specialty Cocktail at The Laundry

Specialty Cocktail at The Laundry

An essential part of any ski getaway involves a great night out on the town, preferably in  one of the best restaurants/bars of the mountain destination you’re visiting. I’m confident I hit the mark on a recent trip to Steamboat Springs, Colorado when I spent a superlative soirée at The Laundry, a former laundry located down by the creek in town. Handsomely converted into a swanky kitchen and cocktail place where most everything is housemade, this old, brick-walled building presents an inviting scene where contemporary touches of hip lighting and rhythmic music offset a warm interior filled with wooden tables and barn siding. Much like the homemade fruit chutney served with the Mescal-cured house salmon (one of the signature dishes of this innovative restaurant) or the house-crafted smoked banana-infused bourbon, most everything here seems to be about juxtapositions.

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Skiing Steamboat Powder

Skiing Fresh Pow in Steamboat

Skiing Fresh Pow in Steamboat

My Powder Hound

My Powder Hound

Woo-hoo! There’s nothing like skiing fresh powder, especially when it’s the nice champagne powder we have here in Colorado, the dry, glittering fluff you float through like a glider rollicking on air drafts above a mountain peak. We’ve been having wonderful winter snowstorms here in our Rocky Mountain state with snow totals reaching over two feet at most resorts within a twenty-four hour period at the end of last week and then another biggie that hit just yesterday. I was teaching skiing here in Telluride throughout the biggest pow period and although I wasn’t able to have the fun I’d have on my own, I did enjoy introducing some intermediate skiers to their first powder day—a whole different experience from skiing groomers.

I had the biggest powder day of my life almost a month ago in Steamboat Springs, a resort that’s been particularly well served in the fluffy white stuff this year. My boyfriend, Steve, and I hit it right and managed to arrive just ahead of road closures and other inconveniences caused by a very big dump. They had such a snow event in the area that people had a hard time finding their way to the slopes (especially if they had to cross Rabbit Ears Pass). Fortunately we were staying slopeside in the newly renovated Sheraton Steamboat Resort, the best property of its kind at this popular mountain destination both due to its superb location and the quality of the establishment and services provided. We were thrilled to find ourselves in a contemporary-styled, one-bedroom condo hotel unit where we were able to sprawl out for three days. (A ski trip always involves a lot of clothing and gear even if you’re a seasoned traveler staying for a short while.)

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Thanksgiving Reflections on a Connecticut Coastal Town Vacation

Mom and I at One of Our Favorite Culinary Discoveries of Our Trip

Mom and I at One of the Favorite Culinary Discoveries of Our Trip

Mom Enjoying Chowder in Mystic Connecticut

Mom Enjoying Chowder in Mystic, Connecticut

Thanksgiving. A time to be grateful. I practice gratitude all year long—it’s what gets me through some of the toughest times. But around Thanksgiving, it’s nice to serve up a few extra helpings.

I’m grateful for my parents still being a part of my life right now. And I’m particularly thinking about my mother who just two days ago underwent a double knee replacement at the age of eighty. The pain must have been really bad for her to have opted for such surgery. I pray that she heals well and that her two brand new knees make a difference in her life.

I’m thinking back to a trip we took together last June, the first travels we’d done together—just the two of us—in a few years. We were like two girls on the run—Thelma and Louise wannabes looking to cut loose. Mom, as my Dad’s constant companion, hadn’t been out on a fun getaway with me, her “best-est” travel buddy in years. (Plus, most of her friends have passed away, so her vacationing days are few and far between.) We’ve always traveled tons together and getting back on track to long car rides filled with constant chatter, leisurely meals showcasing regional specialities, hotel stays where we’d talk into the wee hours of the morning and shopping forays where we’d experience the best of female bonding was all long overdue. Mom and I have always shared similar tastes:  I am my mother’s daughter par excellence. So there’s little dissension about what to do and where to go; we view the world and its surroundings through a similar lens, especially when it comes to travel.

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What to Do Before or After the Pikes Peak Cog Railway

Old Colorado City:  A Good Choice for the Holidays

Old Colorado City: A Good Choice for the Holidays

The Pikes Peak Cog Railway station is located in Manitou Springs, Colorado, near Colorado Springs. Be sure to allow time before or after your ride on this legendary route to explore this funky little town. I spotted a bumper sticker here that sums up this super liberal, crystal shop-filled town perfectly:  Keep Manitou Weird. It’s a refreshing change from conservative Colorado Springs and I love it. You’ll find lots of funky shops and good eateries within this picturesque hippie haven, including The Dulcimer Shop, a creaky little store on main street that showcases its own handcrafted stringed instruments and other random items such as old photos of Jerry Garcia. After all the hardship Manitou Springs experienced in the floods of this past summer, I especially encourage you to patronize these businesses which count on a healthy, tourist-based economy more than ever. As you walk around town today, you can still see how badly Manitou was hit and how vulnerable they are to future flood damage.

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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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