Discovering Discovery Map

The Evolution of a Discovery Map

I hope you’ve had a chance to read my story Touring Country Stores in Stowe, Vermont with Mom. I think the photos are pretty nice, too. I give most of the credit to the subject matter–everywhere you turn there’s another photogenic scene in this endearing New England state.

Actually my main reason for heading up to northern Vermont was to meet the folks at Discovery Map. You can tell from my Touring Country Stores story, however, that mom and I were a bit sidetracked. Oops! Shopping and touring can do that to you, especially when it involves mothers and daughters in Vermont country stores.

Discovery Map

But just about forty minutes south of Stowe, on our drive home, we pulled into Waitsfield, Vermont, a charming town in the heart of the Green Mountains that serves as home to Discovery Map International. Whether the name is familiar to you or not, I’m sure you would recognize the cheery, hand-drawn maps that you pick up in travel destinations all over the U.S. You know–the colorful ones full of whimsy that highlight restaurants, shops, places of lodging, cultural sites and a flourish of other attractions?

A Veritable Library of Discovery Maps

Checking Out a Map

Looking in the Map Drawers

People might never imagine that most aspects of the production of these maps take place in a sleepy little town in rural Vermont. Yay! Their origins are as heartfelt and homespun as the maps themselves. With well more than a hundred maps throughout the country and beyond, it’s hard to believe that they are all born here. But it’s true and I hope you will enjoy meeting the team behind them through the photos in this post.

Since I started to write content for Discovery Map’s website, I’ve had a lot of email contact with Susan Klein, the oh-so efficient Operations Administrator who is clearly a multitasker extraordinaire. So, of course, I wanted to put a face to a name, even if it was just a brief encounter.

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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 Durango, Colorado

Durango: A Good ‘Ole Western Town

I’m back east now in upstate New York, trying to settle in after a whirlwind two-week trip to Colorado that was filled with lots of travel. During that time, I taped a few interviews for Travel Fun, my talk radio show on KOTO. I had the pleasure of doing one with Steve Gumble, founder of the renowned Telluride Blues & Brews Festival, which takes place every September. This time, however, we chatted about his new baby, the Telluride Jazz Festival, which kicks off tonight in Telluride and runs through Sunday. Had we had more time we would have talked about the Durango Blues Train, another big happening he created a handful of years ago. It is super fun and also one of my top reasons to visit Durango, Colorado. This year, the second Durango Blues Train of the season takes place August 18 & 19. Unfortunately these dates have sold out, too!  You can, however, start planning for next year. (Fortunately tickets are still available for Telluride Blues & Brews and Jazz.)

Yee-Haw

Yippee Ki Yay

A Recent Respite at The Office Spiritorium at the Strater Hotel

And you can still take the train most days. It’s true–Durango is all about the train, the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad to be exact. Add some blues musicians to that and a bunch of fun-loving people and you have an instant party. Durango is also about historic hotels such as the Strater and the Rochester as well as a whole wagon full of other fabulous sites, establishments and activities that exude the vibrant spirit of the West.

I’ve recently started to write content for Discovery Map, the cheery, hand-drawn maps you can pick up at resort destinations across the United States. They’re developing their website, which is where my destination descriptions can be found. So click Colorado’s Wild Side and Hit the Streets of Durango to read about my top reasons to visit Durango, Colorado. And when you go to visit, be sure to pick up a Discovery Map to help you find your way around this historic gem in southwestern Colorado.

Click here to listen to a previous Travel Fun interview with Steve Gumble where he talks about Telluride Blues & Brews and the Durango Blues Train. You can also read more of my Telluride Blues & Brews stories here.

For more of my stories on Durango and the outlying area, click here.

The Historic Strater Hotel

Basic Stupidity from United Airlines

The Supervisor and the Checkin Agent at United

With all the traveling I’ve been doing these past eighteen months–mostly going back and forth between upstate New York and Colorado–I guess I was due for a bad airline experience. Sure, I’ve had upsets this past year and a half, at least two that forced me to stay over at a connecting city because of a flight cancelled due to supposed mechanical problems. (I’m told that’s what airlines say and do these days when a plane isn’t packed to the gills.) But yesterday, I felt the full brunt of lousy customer service.

I arrived with some trepidation at the airport to check in at United for my Albany to Chicago to Denver travel itinerary. I had already received a few updates stating that my flight was delayed due to thunderstorms in Chicago. OK, that’s acceptable, that’s an act of nature that has forced me to be grounded in Chicago several times before. That’s not the fault of the airlines. These storms goofed up the arrival of the inbound flight to Albany, so I just had to take a deep breath and hope for the best.

But the real trouble began when the checkin agent told me I had to check my rolling carryon at checkin. “Are you serious?” I exclaimed. “That’s not at all what I was told.”

United’s Basic Economy

“You have a Basic Economy ticket and that’s what you have to do,” the agent replied without a hint of an apology.

I proceeded to explain to him that I knew I had a Basic Economy ticket and that’s why I packed the way I did. I booked it two months ago and checked the restrictions four times over with the agent I spoke with on the phone. (I always do check, double check to practically ad nauseam. My father was in WWII and he said that was the rule of the land–no one could afford any mistakes. And I learned well from Dad.) Since this is a new reduced fare that United recently launched, I questioned the agent up and down and then planned my strategy accordingly.

It was my understanding that I was not allowed to check a bag although I could check a carryon at the gate at the cost of $50. each way ($25. for the bag; $25. for the handling fee). I thought it odd that I’d be paying for anything at the gate but the agent I spoke with was insistent upon that. (She did have a thick accent, so in retrospect, I can only think something was lost in our ability to understand each other.)

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Travel, Grief and Reunions

Mom’s Ratatouille: the Best Kind of Comfort Food

As many Americans hit the road this holiday weekend, it’s good to remember that not everyone you encounter is traveling for pleasure. Despite the sea of shorts, flip flops and skimpy T-shirts, not everyone is headed for summertime fun. Travel encompasses a flood of circumstances and situations, complexities that compound the stress of hitting the road in a multitude of ways.

This is fresh in my mind because just a week ago I scrambled to move up an established departure date to the east coast (from Colorado) by four days. Within twenty-four hours, I had to make the changes to my travel arrangements, which included rescheduling the flight (for me and my cat), my ride to the airport–a one-and-a-half-hour drive–as well as my pick up, my hotel stay the night before and packing and organizing for a three-and-a-half-week stay, all of which needed to be accomplished while under a certain amount of duress. Phew! It was hectic. I even had to work in a veterinary visit in order for my kitty to obtain a current health certificate for his travels.

It was worth it though, since this change allowed me to be home in time for the funeral of my uncle.

Oops, did I catch you off guard?

I often say that if you want to create an awkward moment in a conversation, bring up death and dying.

Well, I hope you’ll read on because death and dying are a part of life. And as I become older, it seems as though I have to face this more and more. And no matter how old someone is, the loss of this person still brings up a heap of emotions. Since I have learned of the passing of a loved one from afar numerous times and then have had to pull it together for a long flight home, I’d like to share with you some tips that might help to console you or a loved one during such tender times. more »

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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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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Glamping Through Breast Cancer Fears

Doing the Two-and-a-Half-Hour Drive to Grand Junction for My Mammogram First Time Around

Doing the Two-and-a-Half-Hour Drive to Grand Junction for My Mammogram First Time Around

Serving Myself a Wine in Fruita, Colorado

Serving Myself a Wine in Fruita, Colorado

My world shifted into a surreal-like state of uncertainty three weeks ago when I learned that I needed a second mammogram after my first one revealed troublesome findings. I was called back for a second mammo a year and a half ago, so at first I wasn’t overly concerned.

This time though I could clearly see the area that the radiologist told me appeared suspicious. “Your breasts look like chocolate milk, so it’s hard to see clearly,” she continued. I studied the section she indicated and thought that indeed the spot in question looked like flecks of cream clumped upon my frothy chest.

My heart rate quickened despite the fact that I exchanged casual small talk with her as she performed the second mammogram. Calm down, I said to myself. There’s nothing to worry about. Don’t automatically think about breast cancer.

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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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