Colorado Denver Restaurants Romance & Relationships: Colorado Denver Restaurants Romance & Relationships
Just about a year ago, my boyfriend of four years, Stefano Togni, became American. Many people from both his personal and professional life—even some of his closest friends—had no idea that he wasn’t an American citizen. Indeed, this Italian-born man, known to most as Steve, appears as American as my dad (who is first generation American, born of Italian parents). Although he is fluent in the Italian language and culture, his speech doesn’t reveal a hint of an Italian accent. Plus, his enthusiasm for sports—including Monday night football—rivals that of every other red-blooded American guy. Indeed, he has lived in the United States since he was a senior in high school and aside from an almost unhealthy penchant for pasta, bread, salad and San Pelligrino one would never know that his American passport is as crisp as a new billfold.
Art & Culture Cycling Food & Wine French Life French Provinces Girl Talk Hotels Paris Restaurants Romance & Relationships Travel Writing & Books: Art & Culture Cycling Food & Wine French Life French Provinces Girl Talk Hotels Paris Restaurants Romance & Relationships Travel Writing & Books
Last year around this time, I celebrated a milestone birthday. I was grateful that I was feeling healthy and well, the most fit I’d been in ages and ten pounds thinner (a rarity for me since my weight never fluctuates). Here I am a year later having perhaps gained back five of those pounds—I don’t really know since I stopped weighing myself (a good sign of maturity). And now I’m two days away from another b-day with something far more significant to celebrate—a new book!
Twelve years. Yes, twelve years. I can’t believe it myself. It was twelve years ago that I began to plan a trip that would forever change my life. I actually took that trip in the fall of 2000. We all have transformative events and travels in our lives. I just happen to take a lot of notes on mine. “A Tour of the Heart: A Seductive Cycling Trip Through France” is the fruit of all that note taking and so much more.” Click here to see a preview and download excerpts. I hope you’ll enjoy the read. Books are rolling into bookstores now; be sure to ask for it if you don’t readily see it on the shelf. You can also purchase it as a paperback through amazon now or as an eBook on kindle.
Since it’s KOTO fundraising time and I love my NPR-station here in Telluride, Colorado, you can receive a free e-book with every $20. donation and a free paperback with every $30. donation. Books sell for $8. and $20. respectively. Contact me directly through this site to make your donation. Also, if you enjoy Travel Fun, my talk radio show on travel, and the podcasts of those interviews I post here on this blog, please make a pledge or donation to KOTO as well. For that also, it’s best to contact me directly. Community radio is a rare breed in the U.S. and ours is almost entirely supported by caring people like you.
I will be talking about “A Tour of the Heart: A Seductive Cycling Trip Through France,” on Travel Fun tomorrow, August 21, at 6 p.m. mountain time. You can also tune in on the Internet at KOTO.org at the time of the broadcast. I hope to post that interview as a podcast on this blog within the upcoming week.
One more thing: Click here to become a fan of A Tour of the Heart on Facebook.
Colorado Denver Girl Talk Romance & Relationships: Colorado Denver Girl Talk Romance & Relationships
leave a comment
Men. Women. Will we ever understand each other? Probably not. If we did, life would be boring. It’s best just to make fun of our missteps and miscommunication. That’s exactly what goes in in “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change,” playing at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. It’s been such a smashing hit that performances have been extended through October 14, 2012.
Podcasts Romance & Relationships Travel Writing & Books: Podcasts Romance & Relationships Travel Writing & Books
leave a comment
I interviewed Dr. Pepper Schwartz on my Travel Fun radio show a few years ago. In honor of Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d post this program here as a podcast, especially since most people I know are still looking for ways to spice up their lives at home and while traveling. As the co-author of “The Great Sex Weekend” and a nationally-recognized authority on sexuality, Dr. Pepper Schwartz knows how to speak intelligently about finding a healthy combination of sex, travel and fun. And if you tune in to our interview below, you’ll learn that romance plays a big role in a couple’s connection as well. (Did you hear that guys?)
“Every couple needs to get away to refocus on each other,” Dr. Schwartz emphasizes. “It’s important to remember they’re lovers and that they can surprise and delight each other,” she continues. If you go away, it’s a way of saying you’re going to focus on each other, Dr. Schwartz explains.
Art & Culture Food & Wine French Life French Provinces Girl Talk Paris Podcasts Romance & Relationships Travel: Art & Culture Food & Wine French Life French Provinces Girl Talk Paris Podcasts Romance & Relationships Travel
leave a comment
I don’t think there’s a woman out there that hasn’t dreamed about falling in love in Paris. C’mon, admit it to yourself. See, I told you—I’m sure you’ve allowed just a shred of this fantasy to play out in your head at least once in your life. Many women indulge themselves with full-blown visions of strolling hand-in-hand with a lover alongside the Seine or sharing a tête-à-tête in a cozy French bistrot over a savory coq au vin and a good Bordeaux with the man of her dreams. Others just allow a glimmer of a romance flash through their minds. I bet there are some men (those sensitive types!) that have thought wistfully about love in Paris as well. I may be biased but Paris is surely the most romantic city in the world.
What makes it so? Well, it would take a whole book to divulge that—the decor, the mood, the ambiance, the food and wine. Elizabeth Bard does just that in her book “Lunch in Paris: A Love Story with Recipes.” I found it to be a terrific read. And I know Paris, love and the whole bonne salade of it all. Elizabeth has done a wonderful job at describing the sights and tastes of the moveablefeast that is Paris. (I haven’t yet tried the recipes she shares, but they seem wonderful and quite easy which is actually what most French cooking is all about.) And of course, Elizabeth meets a love, a Frenchman, and we are swept into their lives like a tourist on a fourteen-day European tour. Fortunately she provides many opportunities for us to savor their moment as well.
Hotels Restaurants Romance & Relationships The Outer Banks Travel: Hotels Restaurants Romance & Relationships The Outer Banks Travel
Summer is on the wane. And if you’re like me, you’re looking forward to embracing fall while clinging to your favorite memories of summer. I shared my best trip this summer with my boyfriend, Steve, an overworked hotel general manager. It occurred late summer on the Outer Banks of North Carolina and it included everything you’d ever want from a great vacation. Yes, you guessed it! Just as Serge Gainsbourg sang in his late 1970’s hit “Sea, Sex and Sun,” we had all the key components of a perfect beach getaway.
Oh yes, we reveled in extraordinary surf, the main reason so many people love the Outer Banks. We also took immense pleasure in the beach throughout our entire stay. We feasted on seafood, lots of fried food, doughnuts and ice cream. (It is the South after all.) We savored swills of wine and frosty beers perched high on the dunes at sunset. We sipped tea together and marveled at the sunrise (they’re the best here) one morning when we managed to pry ourselves out of bed. We accompanied each other on long walks on the beach and drive-arounds to scout out the best surf spots of the day. We shopped for food, surf wax, salt water taffy and bikinis, potentially loaded forays that tested our togetherness, especially when the bikini was not found. We chilled in our modest—but wonderful—seaside apartment, cooking huge breakfasts, eating leftovers from our big nights out and listening to the Grateful Dead, Merle Haggard and other classic tunes. Our days were measured by the tides and the swells; our nights were punctuated by the moon and deep sleeps made possible by the incessant crashing of the surf outside our window. Either way, the presence of the wind and water lulled us into a continuous state of happiness, the sort of euphoric sense of well-being and relaxation that’s best achieved at the ocean or perhaps after a day on the slopes.
After my first visit to the Outer Banks two years ago, I wrote extensively about this magical place, but didn’t include a single address. And like the first time, I didn’t take a single note on this trip either. It was a vacation. Even travel writers need a vacation.
I can no longer, however, ignore my natural propensity to share travel information, even when it comes to the Outer Banks, my boyfriend’s special sanctuary that he’d prefer to keep to himself. There’s so much to chose from at this well-loved tourist destination that I’d like to point you in the right direction. The below establishments should prove to be a good start. We enjoyed them all and it’s my wish that you will, too.
And keep in mind that fall is a great time to visit the Outer Banks.
Days Inn Oceanfront Wright Brothers, Kill Devil Hills, 252-449-0827; they have houses, apartments and rooms for rent at reasonable prices right on the beach.
Awful Arthur’s Oyster Bar, Kill Devil Hills, 252-441-5955; we came here to feast on steamed clams, fried shrimp and fresh grilled flounder in our bathing suits (with coverups!) and flip flops. Now that’s a vacation!
Kelly’s Restaurant & Tavern, Nags Head, 252-441-4116; enjoy fine dining and a happening night life at this renowned OBX establishment.
Thank you to Three Dog Ink and Gulf Stream Creative for the use of the photos in this post.
Food & Wine Romance & Relationships Skiing & Snowboarding: Food & Wine Romance & Relationships Skiing & Snowboarding
leave a comment
I just woke up from a nap. I fell into a Mimosa-induced sleep later on this morning which plunged me into end-of-the-ski-season images intertwined with the royal wedding. What an adventure! I’m glad though that both are finally over. Now I can finally keep distractions to a minimum.
But what glorious diversions they have been! There’s little I can say about today’s marriage of William and Kate that has not been uttered by the innumerable commentators who have weighed in on this grand event. Sublime. Inspirational. Faiytale-like. Heartfelt. Never-to-be-forgotten.
I can, however, offer you my recipe of scrambled eggs. Yes, scrambled eggs, the perfect brunch food in case you weren’t able to prepare a proper spread during the wee hours of this morning. Inspired by les oeufs brouillés served in France on occasions big and small, the secret to these eggs is in their cooking—long and slow over extremely low heat. This worked out perfectly this morning since it mattered more to me to remain glued in front of the T.V. than to be slaving over the stove. So here goes:
-Crack eggs into a bowl and beat vigorously.
-Add whatever strikes your fancy. Today I made them with chunks of cheddar cheese and ham, fines herbes and white pepper. (Be careful of adding salt if you add something salty such as ham or smoked salmon.)
-Pour the egg mixture into a very buttery, nonstick pan that has been heated on the lowest possible heat.
-Cook the eggs, stirring occasionally. Depending on how many eggs you put in the pan, cooking time should be about a half hour. No rushing!
-Spoon onto pretty porcelain plates and sprinkle with chopped parsley or chive for added effect. Serve immediately.
Voilà! If you do these eggs right, the result should be the creamiest scrambled eggs you’ll ever taste. I served mine today with sautéed asparagus and buttered English muffins. But of course. The tea and scones were consumed as the prelude.
Here’s wishing you and the newlyweds many wonderful meals filled with life’s sweet and savory. And, of course, a lifetime full of love.
Mountain Living Outdoor Adventures Romance & Relationships The Rockies: Mountain Living Outdoor Adventures Romance & Relationships The Rockies
leave a comment
Only a handful of experiences in life—at least ones that occur over a forty-eight hour period—may be considered transformative. The below is part four of one of mine. My journey on the Gunnison River gripped me with so much passion and awe that I’ve chosen to share it with you in its unabbreviated version. I’ve posted this story in four parts. I hope you’ll be with me and enjoy it throughout. You can read all parts in (reverse) sequence in the category Outdoor Adventures.
From Smith Fork on, the waters flattened out some three miles to the take-out. The canyon opens wide to pink sandstone walls here, a gentle float that doesn’t require the wearing of life preservers or much attention paid toward the river’s movements. Now it was time for us all to just loll about on the raft. We looked back at Ryan in the gear boat, no longer worried that he’d make it through the turbulent waters without a hitch; he rowed along calmly just like us. By now we had all downshifted into supreme relax mode, the kind of lulling feeling you have after having gone through something fairly intense and completely stimulating.
Talk of showers was beginning by now although I believe it was Jen who initiated it first. I quietly scoffed at the idea of using a blow dryer. I had been transformed in less than forty-eight hours. My skin glowed with a golden, bronze-y tone and although I hadn’t bathed much, the river kept me feeling cool and fresh. I even forgot about my grey hairs and was actually beginning to enjoy “peeing in the woods.” But it was the canyon walls, the bobbing in the raft and the riverside meals I had enjoyed the most. I also had become very endeared to my fellow campers and guides and felt delighted that we had all shared such conviviality and affection toward each other in such an inspiring setting. Camping and rafting do bring you better in touch with nature and your fellow man. And certainly one of the best places to do it is in the Black Canyon of the Gunnison River.
I experienced the above adventure just over a year ago and wrote most of the story shortly thereafter. Steve, Glenn, Jen and I returned a month ago for a second time around. This time Jen’s slightly younger brother Andrew (who happens to work for Martha Stewart!), flew in from New York to join us. Ryan headed up the journey as lead guide. Rick had left Black Canyon Anglers during the year to start a new life in environmental work in the Pacific Northwest. Josh, another expert river runner and most affable guy, teamed up with Ryan as the second guide. Josh has been “riding rivers” for years in addition to working his day job as a realtor. We came to know Ryan better on this trip and enjoyed goofing around with him and Josh, both on the water and off: Although forever professional, both approached most of our doings with a more laid back attitude, setting the tone for a more relaxed trip overall. With the two of them, we even got into some kid-like shenanigans such as jumping off cliffs into the river, something that Rick surely would have discouraged.
Andrew complemented our cozy, already formed group very well. And in the end, it was he who furnished us with the best camping poop story of all. Indeed our fascination with the groover continued and this time around, we went so far as to ask the guys who’s job it was to take care of it upon return to the lodge. (Like all duties, they share that one with the same whoever-gets-to-it-first attitude that’s applied to the rest of the numerous river trip chores.)
So how was it for me second time around? Totally awesome, once again. I rarely do the same trip twice unless it’s to Paris or to ski in T-ride, but this one is truly super special. I didn’t feel the same sense of wonder I felt first time around since I was no longer a virgin rafter/camper on the Gunnison River. But it still felt extraordinary to me and this time I had the added sensation of “coming home.” It has definitely helped me to be less of a Parisian princess as well. This time I experienced less separation anxiety over my dry bag being tossed in the gear boat, but then again I got smart and brought a mini dry bag as a “purse.” (No one snickered about this either since most everyone asked me to hold something of theirs in my little ditty bag as we traveled along the river.) This time I had my hair colored shortly before the trip (hence, no need for mascara touch ups) but I did experience a big breakthrough in not looking at myself in a mirror at any time during the trip. I actually had forgotten my compact—but I’ll take kudos whenever possible.
Jen asked me halfway through this last trip if I was coming back next year, an almost inconceivable thought since I rarely do any travels twice, let alone three times. I’m thinking about it though since experiencing this stunningly beautiful remote wilderness location with the expertise of two top-notch guides and a fun group of fellow campers makes for a most memorable getaway. Next time though I’ll be sure to outfit myself with a good pair of river shoes (first time around it was sneakers, then this time Teva flip flops—what am I thinking?) Progress has been made though since this last time I hardly thought twice about an eventual scorpion in my tent and actually didn’t ponder the pygmy rattlesnake once. And peeing outside beneath the stars appeared almost romantic. Wow, maybe I should go again. Am I becoming more Rocky Mountain girl than Parisian sophisticate? Whoah, whoah, not so fast, my dear.
Black Canyon Anglers, 970-835-5050, BlackCanyonAnglers.com
River trips are typically conducted May through early October; float trips tend to be best from July on. Day trips are also possible.
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, 970-641-2337
This part of the Black Canyon, just outside of Montrose is the widest, tallest and perhaps the most awe-inspiring. (Experienced riders and rafters run the lower canyon in the Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area as we did.) Open year-round, the Visitor Center here is an excellent place to begin your visit to this relatively little-known National Park. Then drive the South Rim Road to various lookout points where you’ll find great places to hike and picnic. I’ll be writing more about the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park in the not-too-distant future.
“Our surroundings were of the wildest possible description. The roar of the water…was constantly in our ears, and the walls of the canyon, towering half mile in height above us, were seemingly vertical. Occasionally a rock would fall from one side or the other, with a roar and crash, exploding like a ton of dynamite when it struck bottom, making us think our last day had come.”
Abraham Lincoln Fellow, 1901
In 1901 Abraham Lincoln Fellows and William Torrence floated the Gunnison River (named in honor of Captain John W. Gunnison who lead an expedition here in 1873-74, but bypassed the gorge in search of a river crossing). They traveled thirty-three miles on a rubber mattress in nine days and determined that construction of an irrigation tunnel was feasible. Despite a handful of installations, the Black Canyon of the Gunnison has remained amazingly unspoiled today. A true gem of southwestern Colorado, a wonder of the United States.
Latest dispatch from Josh ten days after our last trip:
There was a tremendous storm that hit the Gunnison Gorge last Thursday. Several of the washes turned into torrents of water and boulders. Caddis Camp, where we stayed the night, is no longer a camping spot. Alll the sand was washed away and it is now a pile of debris and rocks. You have to respect mother nature!
Thank you to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park for the above image.