The Thrill of a Bike Race

The Start of the USA Pro Challenge in Aspen

The Start of the USA Pro Challenge in Aspen

Sexy Cyclists

Sexy Cyclists

More Good-Looking Guys

More Good-Looking Guys

I’m here at my desk amid piles and piles of papers, cards, brochures and miscellaneous other remnants from an action-packed trip to the USA Pro Challenge, which took place here in Colorado last week. I also just spent a couple of hours going through a slew of images from time spent at this exciting bike race. I met cyclists and bystanders, travel suppliers and promoters, journalists and commentators, fans of all ages, shapes and sizes, avid cycling enthusiasts, amateur bike riders and tons of folks just out for a good time.

There’s nothing like a big sporting event to bring people together, especially when it’s on wheels and it travels to different locations along the way. Many people followed the seven days of racing–an extraordinary route that began in Aspen and finished in Denver as it traversed some of the world’s highest mountain passes, most scenic valleys and most beloved Colorado destinations. I hit the USA Pro Challenge in Aspen, Crested Butte and Gunnison and boy, did I soak up every minute of fun I could find within that four-day period.

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Steve Gumble Brings Us Telluride Blues & Brews and More

Steve Gumble

Steve Gumble

There was a story in The New York Times a few days ago about the proliferation of music festivals all over the world within this past decade. In North America, you can count almost 850 for this year alone. People are crazy about music festivals and the all-encompassing experiences they offer, and promoters and musicians have found them to be profitable enterprises.

Telluride Blues & Brews Festival

Telluride Blues & Brews Festival

But no one puts on a festival like Telluride, Colorado. Sure, I’m biased because I live here. But ask anyone and they’ll likely tell you the same. Plus, most of our great Telluride festivals—from music to film—have been around for decades. So I was thrilled to do a Travel Fun interview with Steve Gumble, founder of Telluride Blues & Brews, one of our beloved festivals, to hear his story, how he got this now twenty-one-year-old festival going and to listen to him reminisce about some of the most memorable moments from his shows.

Click the play button below to listen to Steve chat about this world-renowned festival as well as the Durango Blues Train and Snowmass Mammoth Fest, two other terrific musical happenings he recently took on.

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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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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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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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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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Front Range Fun: Mountain Travel Symposium, Breckenridge and Keystone

Mountain Travel Movers and Shakers AKA T-ride's Top GMs in the Powder Line at Breck

Mountain Travel Movers and Shakers AKA T-ride’s Top GMs in the Powder Line at Breck

I’m back home after a terrific week on the Front Range of Colorado where I experienced  three different ski resorts, a few nice restaurants and some fun hobnobbing with the folks attending Mountain Travel Symposium (MTS), the largest and longest-running annual gathering of travel professionals in the world. The conference took place in Breckenridge, which served as an excellent base for discovering one of the biggest ski resorts of the country, neighboring ski resorts and the surrounding area. (The drive over Hoosier Pass, just outside of Breck, upon arrival and departure was especially beautiful and one that I definitely recommend.)

Now I feel like I have more of a sense of this part of our Rocky Mountain state—less than a two-hour drive from Denver. The majestic scenery and near limitless options for fun and adventure in these mountains help me to understand why so many people plan their travels around Front Range destinations. Crowds can be a big drawback, however if you go in April, you can enjoy primo spring skiing on half-empty mountains where lift lines only occur on powder days.

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Powderhorn: For Family Fun and Great Skiing at Half the Price

Major Pow Wow in Powderhorn

Major Pow Wow in Powderhorn

We’re in the throes of spring break madness here at most Colorado ski resorts and frankly I’m left wondering how a family of four does it these days. Between the price of lift tickets, lunches, instruction and overall travel expenses, a family ski vacation in Colorado can represent as much as a down payment on a house. I’m fully appreciative of the ski getaways I did with my family when I was a kid but still we went mostly to down-home ski areas in western Massachusetts and upstate New York, all a far cry from the destination resorts of the West. Mom and Dad would pack my bunch of brothers and me into the station wagon along with a picnic basket loaded with Mom’s homemade submarine sandwiches and peanut butter cookies and off we’d go for a fun day on the slopes.

Not a ski day goes by that I don’t feel a pinch of nostalgia for those simpler times, so I was especially thrilled to discover Powderhorn Mountain Resort, a terrific little ski area on the western slope of Colorado just a short drive from Grand Junction. I skied there recently with my dear friend Paula, another northeastern gal who shares the same fond memories as I about family ski trips of a more modest scale, and was delighted to discover the many charms of this little-known resort. From the parkas and pants for rent at the ski shop, to the cubbies and lockers for boots and other belongings to the sack lunch room to the enormous deck at the Sunset Grille to the lift tickets at half the price of major resorts, I loved the vibe of this place from the get-go.

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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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