Garden Love

Nina's Garden

Nina’s Garden

I’ve been feeling much love these past days. It’s a different sort of love. It’s a love shared around a theme:  gardening. This is rather new to me, since I’ve never been much of a gardener. I love visiting beautiful gardens and receiving a bouquet of flowers counts as one of my greatest joys in life, but getting down and dirty with the soil has never been my forté. Now, however, I’m much more enthusiastic, perhaps it’s because this year I decided to add vegetables and herbs to my potted plants. This year I yearn to see the fruits of my efforts and I’m crossing my fingers for an abundant harvest of tomatoes, peppers, basil, melon, pumpkins and more. As I sit at my desk, I’m sending love to all my little plants with the hope that they will defy the challenges of living at over 9,500 feet and that somehow they will miraculously thrive.

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Telluride Bluegrass Bliss and How You Can Attend this Great Festival

Me Enjoying All Aspects of the Festival

Me Enjoying All Aspects of the Festival

Our little town of Telluride, Colorado emptied out with all the fury of a Sam Bush mandolin solo on Monday. I’m sure that everyone that attended the Telluride Bluegrass Festival last weekend left with hearts filled and a patchwork of tunes in their head. Post Bluegrass here in T-ride has been sweet and mellow with friends and acquaintances sharing experiences about how delightful Bluegrass was for them this year. Bluegrass marks the official start of summer in Telluride and indeed it feels like locals have blossomed into brighter, more cheerful beings.

Accolades have been flowing like the San Miguel in June for KOTO’s broadcast of the festival. This year the sound quality and interviews were better than ever. Folks streamed the show live from all over the world, enabling them to be connected to our little mountain town and to enjoy some of the best music around. All of the acts except for Ray LaMontagne—-who ended up being a downer for many and was practically booed off the stage—-allowed KOTO to broadcast their sets. Even good ‘ole Stevie Winwood, whom I was lucky to see Friday night, made his superlative quality show available to all. Thank you to KOTO and Planet Bluegrass for making this happen.

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La Marmotte and 221 South Oak: Two Lovely Telluride Restaurants Inside and Out

Delectable Dish from La Marmotte

Delectable Dish from La Marmotte

It’s Bluegrass weekend in Telluride, Colorado, the real start of summer, and from now through Labor Day our little mountain destination will be buzzing with visitors, second home owners and even locals delighting in all that our fabulous town has to offer. Telluride’s vibrant culinary scene is part of what makes T-ride standout and between this historic, old mining town and Telluride Mountain Village, the selection of restaurants is vast. The crowds can be as well, so be sure to reserve your table as far in advance as possible—especially at the more highly regarded restaurants such as the two I outline below:  La Marmotte and 221 South Oak. Both of these long-established Telluride favorites also have outdoor patios where securing a table can pose even more of a challenge on busy weekends. But do, because if the weather is cooperating, these are two of the most prized fresh air spaces in Telluride.

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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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