Summer Sipping 2014

Chloe Wines

Chloe Wines

Summer is the season for wine festivals throughout much of the United States, especially in Colorado. June is particularly big in our Rocky Mountain state since the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen is taking place this weekend and the Telluride Wine Festival—under new direction—is happening next weekend. They’re both long-established events, terrific for sampling and savoring food and libations among the pros. Typically one walks away from these festivals with a go-to list of wines, spirits and restaurants to experience in the upcoming months. They also offer wonderful opportunities for socializing among fellow foodies and wine lovers in beautiful mountain settings.

For me, however, summer sipping feels best outdoors while gazing at a gorgeous mountain vista or inside relishing a delicious dinner of grilled meats and vegetables after having done a big hike. I’ve also been known to pack a good bottle and snacks and share a near-sacred moment with someone special out in a remote place. These treasured times create memories that last the longest for me.

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Telluride Bluegrass for All on KOTO

A Quintessential River View of Telluride Last Week Before the Crowds Arrived

A Quintessential River View of Telluride Last Week Before the Crowds Arrived

Oh yeah, it’s that delightfully delicious time of year again. It’s warm and sunny, lush and green and the rivers are running as fast and deep as a Peter Rowan refrain on a summer solstice night. For many, this is the best time of year in Telluride, Colorado and by tomorrow the population of town will swell to its annual peak as festivarians disembark for the 41st annual Telluride Bluegrass Festival.

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Colorado: A Stunning Place for Weddings

A Telluride Wedding by Merrick Chase

A Telluride Wedding by Merrick Chase

Graduations, anniversaries, engagements, weddings. ‘Tis the season for gatherings—big and small—to mark momentous occasions. I’ve noticed an influx of people from all over the country to Telluride to celebrate milestones, especially weddings, now that the weather has turned beautiful. Telluride, in fact, has become quite the place for destination weddings year-round with perhaps the exception of mid-spring since the leaves don’t typically pop until late May. I frequently meet people in and around Telluride and Telluride Mountain Village—often on the gondola which joins these two towns—that are here for a wedding. Many of the couples that opt to have weddings here and in other parts of Colorado have no particular attachment to the area except for their love of its beauty, the perfect backdrop for making a special day even more awe-inspiring.

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Talking Wild with Cheryl Strayed

Cheryl Looking Down at Crater Lake During Her Trek on the PCT

Cheryl Looking Down at Crater Lake During Her Trek on the PCT

I consider a movie to be good when I find myself thinking about it the next day. My barometer is the same for a book although with most good reads I find myself thinking about them while I’m reading them as well as in the days or weeks after I finish them. That’s been the case with Wild:  From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, by Cheryl Strayed, a superbly crafted memoir that dazzles your senses every step of the way. Her story moved me so much that I plan to read it again, something I never do. Although why wouldn’t I? From beginning to end, I was gripped by this powerful tale of transformation, this raw account of one woman’s life-changing journey both literally and figuratively. Plus, as I learned in Wild, Cheryl often reads books more than once, so I’m eager to crack hers second time around.

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Embracing Colorado Wilderness with Over the Hill Outfitters

The Great Colorado Outdoors:  Where Life is Best Viewed from a Horse

The Great Colorado Outdoors: Where Life is Best Experienced from a Horse

Spring has finally sprung—full-on—here in Colorado and despite the fact that it snowed about ten days ago, this week the thermometer has been registering summertime temps. Roadways over the highest mountain passes are being plowed for passage and outfitters of all sorts are preparing for the influx of summer visitors. There’s still some snow to be cleared from the steep mountain trails, however, with the warmth of our southwestern Colorado sun, all our glorious wilderness will soon be open to locals and vacationers alike.

My fellow ski instructor buddies have taken up their summer posts as guides, landscapers or in my case, as a full-time writer, to name a few. Mother nature and all of us fortunate enough to live in this beautiful country are transitioning nicely into summer. At the end of ski season, I sat down with Dennis Huis, a top ski instructor at Telluride Ski & Snowboard School, to hear about his flip side, the job he’s been doing every summer for about as long as he’s been in ski school world.

Dennis talks about his work as a guide on pack trips with Over the Hill Outfitters in Durango, Colorado in my Travel Fun interview below. Click on the play button  to listen to what he has to say about life on the trail. People from all over the world learn about the true definition of “getting away from it all” on these five-day horse trips into the Weminuche Wilderness, the largest wilderness area in Colorado which encompasses a significant part of the rugged San Juan Mountains, some of the most spectacular peaks in the United States.

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The Riches of Paris and The Riches of France Now eBooks

The Riches of Paris:  A Shopping and Touring Guide

The Riches of Paris: A Shopping and Touring Guide

If you’re headed to Paris soon or are just an armchair traveler that enjoys curling up with your eBook, may I recommend my books, The Riches of Paris:  A Shopping and Touring Guide and The Riches of France:  A Shopping and Touring Guide to the French Provinces. They’re perfect for Francophiles interested in knowing more about the places they’re discovering.

The eBook versions of my classic guidebooks come just in time for spring/summer travels to the French capital and the provinces of France. How handy it is to pull them up on your mobile device or eBook reader to find out about the most interesting places and products to savor.

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Keep the Beat Going with a Dancing with the Stars Pro in Colorado

Here's to Fun and Dance

Smiles from the DWS Judges: Here’s to Fun and Dance

How about that “Dancing with the Stars” finale this week? Did you have your fill of beautiful moves, heart thumping music, flashy costumes and cheeky judges? No wonder this highly entertaining TV show  on ABC has kept much of America enthralled for almost two decades. The creativity, athleticism and sheer vibe of the dance productions is incredibly inspirational and motivating. It’s, in fact, one of my secret desires to be a star on the show. Perhaps if I sell enough books, that will happen!

In the meantime, I guess the closest I—-or most anyone else—-can get to being a part of such a dynamic happening is to attend the Karina Smirnoff DanceFIT-KS workshop at The Westin Riverfront Beaver Creek June 13 through 15. Yes, this successful dancer/choreographer of ABC’s global hit “Dancing with the Stars,” will soon be here in Colorado to lead a unique, customized fitness experience that’s open to everyone including singles and couples of all ages and fitness levels. The classes are sure to be inspiring and physically effective because of this beauty and lifestyle expert’s signature approach to total body fitness. From a Meet & Greet cocktail party to a special screening of Across Grace Alley, a short film starring Karina, to Salsa, Cha Cha, cardio classes and more, this three-day event promises to provide many memorable moments.

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Pagosa Paradise: A World-Class Hot Springs Destination

Pagosa Springs By Night

Pagosa Springs By Night

At the end of big Western travels that sliced through five Rocky Mountain states in the fall of 2001, I landed in Pagosa Springs, Colorado. And breathed a big sigh of contentment. It was the last stop on a three-week reconnaissance adventure with the goal of finding where to settle in the West. The tour extended from Montana to Wyoming to Utah to Arizona and then up to Colorado. On the heels of 9/11 and in the aftermath of an accumulation of personal upsets, the West beckoned this East Coast gal, yet I had little idea of where to go. I yearned for more sunshine, the great outdoors, the mentality and the lifestyle of the West, and there’s no doubt I was in need of healing. More than I even realized. And I think that’s largely why Pagosa Springs, Colorado resonated so strongly with me.

Less than three months later on January 1, 2002, I lumbered over Wolf Creek Pass at the Continental Divide with my partner at that time in a huge rental truck, nervous and excited about starting a new life in the West. In all, I lived a year and a half in Pagosa before moving to Telluride, Colorado where I’ve been for almost eleven years. Pagosa served as a wonderful introduction to my new life out West:  its sunshine, spectacular scenery and low-key, hometown feel nurtured me immensely and there’s no doubt that Pagosa’s hot springs played a big role in helping me to gain a better sense of wellbeing. Each trip to the hot springs always made me feel renewed and refreshed, cleansed from the garbage that often bogs one down on the road called life.

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