A Crazy Happy Holiday Season in Aspen, Telluride and Redstone

Hitting the Fresh Pow in Telluride

Fresh Powder Turns Today in Aspen

Yay, I knew that if I were to write this story, the snows would come! Telluride received 9 inches of fresh overnight, 11 inches the past 24 hours and 15 inches the last 48. And boy, was it needed. Aspen is enjoying a good blanketing as well. In addition to the fresh snow, let’s hope this signals a significant breaking down of the high pressure system that has been sitting over Colorado (and Utah, Arizona and New Mexico actually) for the past two months!

Yet despite the paltry snow conditions, the resorts have managed to crank out a good product.

The Top of Buttermilk this Week

Teaching Snowboarding at Buttermilk

I’m back in Aspen dealing with some family matters. I arrived here Thursday night, just a month after I flew in here from a very extended stay on the east coast. Wow, what a month it has been!

Happy Clients in Telluride at Christmas

Perfect Outside Dining Weather in Colorado this Winter

After an initial few days in Aspen in December, I threw myself into the busy-ness of gearing up for ski season; this entailed rounding up my ski clothing and gear, stocking the house with an almost winter’s-worth of provisions and working my ski legs back into shape by doing my Telluride Ski & Snowboard School training.

Ski School Training in Telluride

Piles of Provisions

A nasty cold almost thwarted the start to my ski instructing schedule but thanks to mega doses of Vitamin C, fluids and fresh, chopped garlic (yes, I even had two cloves for breakfast, lunch and dinner a couple of days–followed by a chaser of Listerine of course) I was able to knock it out of my system pretty fast. I pulled it together–training, shopping, cooking and even a little decorating–to embark upon a super busy holiday season that required me to teach skiing ten days in a row.

Winter Light Show in Telluride

Phew! We always go from to zero to 150mph in no time flat. But that’s life in a resort town, especially one that typically has its busiest week of the year between Christmas and New Year’s.

Torchlight Parade: A Telluride Tradition

Happy New Year to All

By now, you must be wondering when I’m going to mention the elephant in the room–the fact that we’ve all been going about business as usual without much help from Mother Nature. Yes, indeed, it has been shocking how little natural snow we’ve had. Up through the end of last week, the snow totals for the season in Aspen and Telluride rang in at barely 20 inches. Yikes!

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In Praise of Palisade and Colorado Peaches

Peach Syrup at Talon Winery

Ball: One of Many Fruit Stands in Palisade

Main Street Palisade

Pretty Palisade

I’ve been back east in upstate New York most of the summer. Probably the best part of being here is that I’m loving the warm, humid weather. It’s a welcome change from the chilly and rainy days that are so much a part of July and August in Telluride. (The monsoonal flow brings terrific moisture to our arid western climate but boy, can it bring on the blues, especially since it snows well into May in Colorado’s mountain towns and as much as I love the snow, I do require a good, long blast of heat in the summer.)

But what I miss most are the peaches.

Americans love to talk about Georgia peaches. But those in the know, know that Colorado peaches are the best. Sorry, Georgia. But I really am speaking the truth here. I might go so far as to say that our Colorado peaches are even better than those from Provence. Mon dieu!

Heading Out of Grand Junction

View from My Car

On My Way to Palisade

Palisade, Colorado, a charming little town just outside of Grand Junction, is the peach capital of our beautiful Rocky Mountain state. Don’t worry, temps there run about twenty degrees hotter than in our mountain towns and rain is scarce. (Thankfully the smartly irrigated lands off of the Colorado River provide a fertile environment for the growing of peaches, grapes and other delicious fruit.)

Pretty Palisade

So Palisade

I popped into Palisade on a weekday in early June on my way back from some doctoring in Grand Junction. (Yes, that’s life in the mountains; folks from our best known ski resort towns must travel about two and a half hours for tests and treatments, which most people have just a short drive from their home.) So I decided to make it fun and stop by some of the places that give this quaint little town much of its charm. The peaches weren’t in season yet, however, the cherries were plump, luscious and as sweet as candy.

Right now–the latter part of August–is considered the height of peach season and this weekend the Palisade Peach Festival will be in full bloom. Colorado Mountain Winefest goes off here September 14-17.

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One Sensational Colorado Spa and Six Perfect Pools

Warwick Denver Hotel

Many people come to Colorado in the summer to hike, bike, jeep, fish and sit outside to enjoy great concerts amid breathtaking scenery. Yes, Colorado ranks supreme for all that, however, this Rocky Mountain state also boasts some of the best pools and spas in the country. They’re terrific because of the mountains.

Mountain Lodge Telluride

Most of the pools highlighted below are backdropped by scenery eloquently described by Katharine Lee Bates in “America the Beautiful.” And because of the purple mountain majesties where we work our bodies to near exhaustion, it’s important to have glorious pools and spas where we can relax and rejuvenate. We have a good amount of them in Colorado, all of which are attached to prized hotels and resorts.

The Peaks Pool in Telluride

See the photos and my blurbs below to begin your journey through some of the best hydrotherapy offerings in Colorado. Whether you’re going to these establishments for a stay, a treatment or a day pass (often in conjunction with poolside dining), go ahead and plan your travels around them. The benefits you derive from these mountain oases will carry you well past the end of your vacation. And best of all: Most of these pools are open year-round because they’re heated.

The Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch Resort

The Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch Pool and Spa in Beaver Creek
My boyfriend, Steve, and I experienced The Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch Spa a while ago during a spring ski getaway. I wrote about it at Pick a Spa, Pick a Ski Destination. We loved it then, however, recently we had an even more extraordinary experience, since we logged some delicious pool time as well.

Ritz-y Pool

Poolside Offerings

Oh, the pool. Drawn in by its black lines, we knew this stunning, infinity pool was the place for us. We arrived at lunchtime on a busy Friday and were thrilled to see that there was still a designated lane where we could do laps away from the din of Marco-Polo and all the other activity that characterizes a day at the pool in summer.

Steve diligently knocked out his sixty lengths while I bronzed, something I rarely find the time to do. I decided to forgo my workout because I had already sunk deeply into a lolling around mood, one enhanced by a stack of magazines and my phone turned off. (It actually went dead because of the heat.)

Bottoms Up

Food tastes best when eaten outside, particularly in the summer when salty chips and fries are de rigueur. We feasted on fish tacos and a grilled chicken wrap served in large Bento-type boxes that far exceeded your average poolside chow. (My phone had died by the time the food arrived, however, I did take a snapshot of the menu!)

Since this is Colorado, the clouds rolled in practically on cue by mid afternoon. Pas de problème. We just snuggled up to their poolside bar and sipped a frothy one, a beer that we found very amusing because it was a perfect pour by Bottoms Up. Many guesses later, we discovered that a magnet holds the key to the beer not bottoming out. You might have seen these beers at stadiums and now it appears they’re gaining popularity at certain mountainside resorts. (Just think après ski/large volumes of beer served/perfect every time.)

Steve and Me at the Poolside Bar of The Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch

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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.)


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

Pampered, Privileged and Fun-Loving Vail

Solaris Residences in Vail

Private Terrace at Solaris

More Stylin’ at Solaris

Maybe you’re a part of the one percent and are looking for a great lodging recommendation in Colorado. Maybe you just want to peek behind closed doors to see how the ultra rich vacation. Or, maybe you just want some insider tips on where to find some family fun in Vail, Colorado. Either way, please read on and enjoy my pictures.

Sleeping in Style

Sweet Dreams

Like many other travelers, the ultra rich have discovered the joys of vacationing in our mountain towns winter and summer. What’s changed in recent years, however, is that in addition to staying in hotels and houses, they like to stay–or reside in–residences. I’m talking full-service spreads that can make them feel at home in sprawling style while delighting in the benefits of the amenities of a full-service hotel.

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Dealing with Altitude Issues at Our High Mountain Destinations

Almost Summer at Mountain Lodge Telluride

The Town of Telluride, Colorado: Fun at 8,750 Feet

Me Feeling Happy and High at the Delightful Rooftop Bar at the New Sheridan Hotel

I’m long overdue in talking about how to combat the effects of high elevation with you. I apologize. Please forgive me.

In some ways, I’m new to the game myself. Although I’ve lived at heights as great as almost 10,000 feet for fifteen and a half years, I’m somewhat new to a magical little pill that has made a world of difference for me: It’s a diuretic called Diamox.

It was just a year ago that I began taking Diamox, a prescription medicine long touted to me by my ski clients but somehow I was lax in asking my doctor for a script. I finally did last spring and have used it many times this past year as I’ve traveled in and out of Telluride many times. At the risk of sounding like a drug pusher, ask your doctor about it and see if it’s good for you.

In other ways, I’m not at all new to the effects of elevation on my body. I think I first felt them when I went to the Alps during the time I was living in France. I was slammed with a headache that carried all the force of an avalanche down Mont Blanc. Ever since then, I take precautionary aspirins when I first arrive at elevation, even before the head pounding sets in.

But the Alps are nothing–at least in terms of height–to the Rockies. And I found that out when I moved here. Sure, after a few days I adjust to our thin air (about 30% less oxygen when you’re at over 9,000 feet), but if I leave a high destination for over a week, I have to reacclimatize each time, sometimes with effects worse than other times.

It’s no wonder I was fascinated with a Travel Fun interview I did many years ago with Dr. Peter Hackett, a world renowned high altitude expert and director of the Institute for High Altitude Medicine here in Telluride. I am rebroadcasting that interview on KOTO at 6:30pm MST today. Dr. Hackett, a leading authority on altitude illness with years of experience on big expeditions in Colorado, the Himalayas, Denali and South America, talks about his experiences along with, Don Bowie, one of the world’s top climbers. Don also shares sketchy elevation issues he has succumbed to during some of his adventures. It’s important to note that elevation sickness is genetic; it has nothing to do with what kind of shape you’re in.

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January 2017: One of the Snowiest on Record for Colorado

Spectacular Telluride Weather

Spectacular Telluride Weather

Our Cold and Snowy Mountain Town

Our Cold and Snowy Mountain Town

Cold and Snow Make for Great Skiing

Cold and Snow Make for Great Skiing



Into the Mist

Into the Mist

Whoa! What a month it has been. With over eight feet of snow that fell in Telluride–as well as tons in other mountain towns of Colorado–the skiing and riding have been epic. It seems as though visitors and locals have been alternatively stoked and exhausted. It takes a lot of energy to plow through all that fresh powder whether it’s on the slopes, in your driveway, on your deck or on the snow-packed roads you travel on to go to work. (I’m an exceptional driver on our windy, mountain roads, especially with the help of my Arctic Claw snow tires, however, many aren’t, so it takes an infinite amount of patience to putz behind slow-moving vehicles when driving to work in such wintry conditions. That’s after the morning departure has already been greatly delayed by having to defrost and clean off the car. No, the start-of-the-day routine in the dead of winter in the Rockies is not for sissies.)

My Windshield

My Windshield

January: A Big Month for Ongoing Ski Instructor Training

January: A Big Month for Ongoing Ski Instructor Training

Avalanche Control Work on Ajax

Avalanche Control Work on Ajax Mountain

But we made it! The past few days have almost felt like spring. Sure, there will still be a lot of cold and snow left to this winter–let’s hope so at least–but I doubt we’ll see a string of days like the many we just endured in January. It must have been one of the greyest months on record, too. And as much as I like the cold and snow, there was many a morning when I felt a sense of dread about going out and freezing my butt off yet again. No matter how many layers I wore and despite electric boot warmers, boot gloves and hand warmers, it was hard most days to shake off the chill. When the sun doesn’t shine here in Colorado, it can feel mighty cold indeed. more »

Online Shopping Recommendations Holidays 2016

A Trove of Alpen Treasures at Alpen Schatz

A Trove of Alpen Treasures at Alpen Schatz

OK, admit it. You haven’t finished your holiday shopping yet. And if you’re like many people, you haven’t even begun. That’s the case for me this year, which also explains why I’m late in posting my annual round up of online boutiques. Phew, I’ve been busy settling in after having been away from Colorado for over five months and more recently focusing on ski training and instructing–that always takes priority, especially when we have such glorious snow!

But I can no longer procrastinate. So I’ll be ordering today and tomorrow from many of the purveyors below and having gifts sent directly to loved ones. Most still guarantee Christmas arrival. And if not, c’est la vie, if the package arrives between Christmas and New Year’s that’s good, too. The important thing is to keep it simple and enjoy the process.

Now that I have Amazon Prime, I’ve been ordering lots of stuff in an attempt to stock our pantry for the winter season. Their one-click shopping and free shipping is super convenient, however, it’s totally charmless.

Gift-y Soaps from Fresh Soap Company

Gift-y Soaps from Fresh Soap Company

When it comes to gifting (for myself and others), I like more ambiance. You’ll find it in my curated selection below of favorite online boutiques. All offer a 10% discount to Bonjour Colorado readers. Be sure to mention it to the shop and/or type Bonjour into the coupon code section. Here’s a brief overview; for more detailed descriptions, visit my Online Shopping Page.

Ruth and Her Mouth-Watering Toffee

Ruth and Her Mouth-Watering Toffee

Homemade Toffee from Ruth's Toffee

Homemade Toffee from Ruth’s Toffee

Ruth’s Toffee
To me, toffee and Christmas go together like cookies and egg nog. Shop at Ruth’s Toffee for some of the best homemade toffee this side of the pond.

Cow Bells and Sleigh Bells Ringing at Alpen Schatz

Cow Bells and Sleigh Bells Ringing at Alpen Schatz

Lots of Gift Ideas for the Pups at Alpen Schatz

Lots of Gift Ideas for the Pups at Alpen Schatz

Signed Copies of My Travel Memoir Are Sold at Alpen Schatz

Signed Copies of My Travel Memoir Are Sold at Alpen Schatz

Alpen Schatz
I love this festive shop chockfull off alpine treasures for the home, men, women, children and your most regal pets. Visiting this site is like opening an Old World Christmas box brimming with gift ideas galore. You can also buy signed copies of my travel memoir, A Tour of the Heart:  A Seductive Cycling Trip Through France, at Alpen Schatz, too.

Purrfect Play Paradise

Purrfect Play Paradise

Purrfect Play
Our little fur babies deserve the best and you’ll find it here in the form of handmade toys for cats and dogs. Purrfect Play’s organic catnip-filled play thingies are the best around.

Champagne and Chocolates from Henri's Reserve

Champagne and Chocolates from Henri’s Reserve

Henri’s Reserve Boutique
Celebrate Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanzaa, the New Year or just life in general with a primo bottle of champagne. Send off a beautifully-packaged bottle, gift set or enrollment to Henri’s Reserve Champagne Club to your friends, business contacts and loved ones. Cheers!

Fresh Soap Company Holiday Goods

Fresh Soap Company Holiday Goods

Fresh Soap Company
There’s nothing like pretty soap and you’ll find a beautiful selection of natural and handmade soaps, potions and lotions at this Colorado-based company.

Bowie Memorabilia from The Autograph Source

Bowie Memorabilia from The Autograph Source

The Autograph Source
Looking for something out of the ordinary? Try a piece of memorabilia signed by a famous–or infamous–person. The Autograph Source gives originality new meaning with every signature.

My Guy is All About REI

My Guy is All About REI

Want to look like or outfit a loved one with an authentic, outdoorsy look? Go to REI. Check out my description and links directly at the bottom of my Online Shopping Page.

Remember to use the coupon code Bonjour with all the above purveyors (excepting REI) for your additional 10% discount.

Happy shopping and happy holidays to you!

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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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