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 Lake George, New York

Lake George, New York: the Queen of American Lakes

Sweet Minne Ha Ha

Stop it! I can’t believe the summer is winding down so fast. It seems like it’s especially unfair this year because in many parts of the country–including the northeast where I’ve been based–the weather has been rather cool and rainy up until this week, which is simply gorgeous! Thankfully there are still even more glorious late summer days ahead–I just know it.

Shepard Beach

View from the South End of the Lake

What was your favorite moment of the summer? One of my best was a weekend spent with an old friend–and a new one–at Lake George, New York. It was a nostalgic trip on many levels because I was returning to a beloved place with Margie, a friend I’ve known since I was a kid. Even better, Margie was also a big part of my childhood/early adult life at this beautiful Adirondack lake.

New and Old Friends: Me, Helena and Margie

Our families both had camps on Cleverdale, on the east side of the lake, and our summers were punctuated with days consumed with bombing around in speed boats and evenings passed trying to get into the Sans Souci, the local bar (We both were way too young, especially me; although in later years, we could hang out there. Then on big nights, we’d drive into Lake George Village for some rip roaring times.) Many a memorable moonlit night was marked by a girl’s sleepover on my family’s boathouse deck and on real wild ones, we’d head out in the rowboat and make a visit to the boy’s sleepover–oh my! more »

31 Aug 2017, 8:55am
Discovery Map Outdoor Adventures Restaurants The Outer Banks:
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Comments Off on Top Reasons to Go to the Outer Banks of North Carolina

Top Reasons to Go to the Outer Banks of North Carolina

Beachtime on the Outer Banks of North Carolina

OBX

A Little Beach Box

Outer Banks Eats

As we steam into the last great weekend of summer, most of us are woe to give up the hot, sultry moments in the sun. We don’t want to replace pumps and loafers with flip flops. We long for more, more, more time at the beach. We want to continue to throw on a shift or a pair of shorts and T-shirt over our swimsuits and belly up to a raw bar for some fresh seafood and beers.

This feels especially so in parts of the country–such as the northeast where I have been based–where the summer has been cool and more rainy and cloudy than usual. No, it just doesn’t seem fair; most of us yearn for more of that good ‘ole summertime feeling.

Good news is that you can find it in spades at North Carolina’s Outer Banks. I’ve visited these oh-so gorgeous barrier islands numerous times, mostly during the shoulder seasons of spring and fall, which in my opinion, is the best time to go. This is when you can avoid the crowds and enjoy more tranquil beach time. Sure, this part of the coast can be pounded during fall’s hurricane season (mostly in September), however, that’s good news for those into big surf. (Indeed, OBX is one of the surfing capitals of the U.S.)

Click here to read a bunch of my stories on the Outer Banks.

For a bucket-full of my fresh reasons on why to visit this beautiful destination, read my OBX write ups at DiscoveryMap.com:  OBX Surf, Sun and Fun and Tastes of the Outer Banks.

May summer last forever! Or at least until ski season hits.

Sunset Over Pamlico Sound

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

 
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