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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Reflections on My Ten Years as a Ski Instructor

Celebrating My Tenth Anniversary with Ski School Top Dogs

Celebrating My Tenth Anniversary with Ski School Top Dogs

As I ease back into my writer’s life, I’ve been considering my other life:  that of a Telluride Ski & Snowboard School instructor. The mountain closed just over two weeks ago and I again turned in my uniform with a big sigh of relief. I’m always grateful when I finish the season without having had an injured student or client on my watch. And I’m always relieved when I wind up unscathed myself (except for a variety of aches and pains and gross fatigue). I’m grateful that this has been the case for the past ten seasons:  My sterling record of safety has remained intact.

That’s not to say I don’t challenge my charges and sure, I’ve had some tricky moments of over-terraining just like all the other instructors on our mountain and elsewhere. But fortunately, everyone has come “back to the barn” safe and sound and seemingly happy from their ski experience with me.

But way beyond my actual job as a ski instructor, I can’t help pondering what this newly adopted profession means to me, especially after a decade of working day after day on the mountain with children and adults beneath sunny skies, bitter cold, balmy weather and blustery snowstorms. It has made me a better person; it has made me more whole. I was never very athletic and the physicality of this job has given me strength and confidence that spills over to other areas of my life. I have embraced the notion of self empowerment through sports, a concept that I came to know late in life, one of the themes of my travel memoir/love story A Tour of the Heart:  A Seductive Cycling Trip Through France.

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The Joy of Nordic Skiing

Steve Hindman on His Skinny Skis

Steve Hindman on His Skinny Skis

I sat down with DeAnne Gabriel and Steve Hindman, two professional nordic ski instructors, back in February to do a Travel Fun interview. They shared a wagonload of tips about cross country skiing from how and where to do it in and around Telluride, Colorado to recommendations for first timers.

As we approach the end of the alpine ski season here in Telluride, I thought I’d post the interview below as a podcast since April and May provide many great opportunities for heading out to embrace the glide.

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