For Off-Season and Year-Round Enchantment: Taos, New Mexico

Contemplating Nature's Beauty at Hacienda del Sol in Taos

Contemplating Nature’s Beauty at Hacienda del Sol in Taos, New Mexico

Ahhh-hhh, off-season. Anyone that has lived in a resort town knows the true meaning of off-season. Whether it occurs in the winter or summer, spring or fall, this lull in peak travel times provides a much-needed respite from the busy-ness of high season. In Telluride, Colorado it means tons of available parking spaces, no lines at the Post Office or grocery store and a certain quietude akin to a ghost town, something that delights some and bores the heck out of others.

Most don’t mind this downturn of activity, since many take advantage of our seasonal slowdown (during the spring and fall) to go off and seek fun for themselves elsewhere. Since the mountain closed two weeks ago, we’re in the throws of off-season now, also referred to as shoulder season and in the case of the spring off-season, mud season.

Many people take off for exotic locales for as many as six weeks travel; others find their bliss within a two- to six-hour drive from our southwestern Colorado mountain town. Indeed, we’re located just a few hours away from some of the best recreation around in Utah, Arizona and New Mexico, all sunny and warm destinations this time of year where spring arrives with the intensity of the desert sun.

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Thanksgiving Reflections on a Connecticut Coastal Town Vacation

Mom and I at One of Our Favorite Culinary Discoveries of Our Trip

Mom and I at One of the Favorite Culinary Discoveries of Our Trip

Mom Enjoying Chowder in Mystic Connecticut

Mom Enjoying Chowder in Mystic, Connecticut

Thanksgiving. A time to be grateful. I practice gratitude all year long—it’s what gets me through some of the toughest times. But around Thanksgiving, it’s nice to serve up a few extra helpings.

I’m grateful for my parents still being a part of my life right now. And I’m particularly thinking about my mother who just two days ago underwent a double knee replacement at the age of eighty. The pain must have been really bad for her to have opted for such surgery. I pray that she heals well and that her two brand new knees make a difference in her life.

I’m thinking back to a trip we took together last June, the first travels we’d done together—just the two of us—in a few years. We were like two girls on the run—Thelma and Louise wannabes looking to cut loose. Mom, as my Dad’s constant companion, hadn’t been out on a fun getaway with me, her “best-est” travel buddy in years. (Plus, most of her friends have passed away, so her vacationing days are few and far between.) We’ve always traveled tons together and getting back on track to long car rides filled with constant chatter, leisurely meals showcasing regional specialities, hotel stays where we’d talk into the wee hours of the morning and shopping forays where we’d experience the best of female bonding was all long overdue. Mom and I have always shared similar tastes:  I am my mother’s daughter par excellence. So there’s little dissension about what to do and where to go; we view the world and its surroundings through a similar lens, especially when it comes to travel.

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Susan Herrmann Loomis: On Rue Tatin in Normandy

Susan Herrmann Loomis with a Tarte Tatin, Her Signature Dessert

Susan Herrmann Loomis with a Tarte Tatin, Her Signature Dessert

L'Heure de l'Apéritif at Susan's Cooking School

L’Heure de l’Apéritif at Susan’s Cooking School

“Apples are a huge part of the cooking here in Normandy,” says cookbook author Susan Herrmann Loomis on the phone from France during a Travel Fun interview with me.

And to most of us they’re such a big part of fall and Thanksgiving, so tune into the our chat below if you’d like to add a French twist to your holiday feasting. I met Susan briefly some twenty-five years (yes—a quarter of a century) in Paris at an American women’s function when I first moved to the French capital. At that time she was working as an assistant to Patricia Wells on The Food Lover’s Guide to Paris, one of my all-time favorite books.

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America the Beautiful and Pikes Peak Cog Railway

Pikes Peak Cog Railway

Pikes Peak Cog Railway

In honor of Election Day, I thought I’d write about what’s really great about America—aside from our great democratic process. I could list a lot, but here I’d like to report on our breathtaking scenery, our magnificent vistas. There’s so much of it from sea to shining sea and most definitely here in the Rocky Mountain West. It was indeed from atop Pikes Peak, the 14,115-foot mountain in Colorado’s Front Range, just ten miles from Colorado Springs, that thirty-six-year-old English professor Katherine Lee Bates found inspiration for the poem “Pikes Peak” in 1893. This work would eventually be modified a few times over to become “America the Beautiful,” our National Hymn.

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A Happy Ending to My Own Horror Story

A Small Section of My Face: A Gruesome Reality

A Small Section of My Face: A Gruesome Reality

Happy Halloween everyone! I hope it’s a fun one for you and your loved ones.

I’ve been out of touch the past couple of weeks, since I’ve been dealing with my own ghoulish happenings. Truly ghastly and yes, I felt like I was wearing a mask of sorts for a whole week. I looked like a monster and it seemed like I was living a nightmare.

Unlike most Halloween doings, this wasn’t fun at all. The whole dreadful experience did, however, force me to step back and be even more thankful for what I have in my life—my own good health and the people that love and support me every day. It also reinforced my feelings of compassion. I’ve always considered myself a caring and compassionate person yet now I’m even more so because I had a good taste of what it’s like to look like a freak.

By now you might be wondering what happened to me. Well, I had a terrible reaction to some medication that literally fried my face off from the inside out. My whole visage burned and swelled and itched and cracked and peeled like a moist riverbed dried up beneath the mid-day Mojave Desert sun. It hurt like hell; only large and regular doses of self medicating could make me somewhat comfortable. It was so unsightly that it made a child gape at me wide-eyed at the Medical Center and my dermatologist exclaim, “Wow, I’ve never seen such a reaction.” I did, however, feel an overflowing of compassion from folks at the pharmacy and other doctors’ offices which I frequented a lot that week because there was no easy fix. I truly sensed that people poured there heart out to me whether they said anything or not. My attempts at hiding behind the disguise of a pink fleece hoodie proved futile and after my third visit to the pharmacy, I just let it all hang out like a terribly over ripe peach dangling from the limb of a tree. At one point, I had to pop into a market for cat food and perhaps in an effort to reach out to me, the cashier kindly complimented me on my scarf.

I just wanted to lie on my couch and retreat into my own world, generously applying cold compresses and oil to my face every half hour while listening to Mozart and sipping wine.

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Visiting My Beautiful Adirondack Lake with the Lake George Steamboat Company

Fall:  A Stunning Time to Take a Boat Ride on Lake George, New York

Fall: A Stunning Time to Take a Boat Ride on Lake George, New York

Golden Vistas

Golden Vistas

I’m back in Colorado after my three-week trip to the Adirondacks in upstate New York. It’s gorgeous here in the Rockies and  it looks like the fall foliage will peak this weekend in most areas. All next week should be spectacular as well, especially since it snowed last night and with the sun shining again the vistas resemble sugarcoated autumnal Candy Lands resplendent with red, orange, yellow, green and blue (the sky, of course).

Part of my heart, however, remains at Lake George, dubbed “The Queen of American Lakes” by Thomas Jefferson. I spent my time in the Adirondacks with my parents where they’ve had a second home on Lake George for over forty years. While I was there, I was busy doing my writer thing and helping them out, however, I seized every opportunity to embrace the beauty, wonder and comforting spirit of the lake, a crystalline body of water whose heavenly scent and silky feel I can still conjure in my senses. After having spent a dozen fat summers there while growing up and having returned for both brief and extended visits ever since, to me, Lake George feels like an old friend, a dear companion that always welcomes me home with heaps of love and reassurance. Even after eleven years in Paris and almost twelve in Colorado, I never tire of this lake and its shores; its beauty, grace, resilience and sometimes turbulent force continue to amaze me.

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Bike Race Spectating, Colorado Touring, Book Promoting, Travel Adventures Galore Oh My

Taking a Break from Book Promoting Along the Barriers at the Vail Time Trial of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge

Taking a Break from Book Promoting Along the Barriers at the Vail Time Trial of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge

“Have you decided what you’d like to order?” the server of Spencer’s, the signature restaurant of Beaver Run Resort in Breckenridge, asked me.

“I’ll have the snake,” I said.

When he looked at me in a bewildered manner, I realized my words weren’t matching my thoughts and then I corrected my order. “Oh, I meant to say steak.  Yes, steak. I’m sorry, I’m just so weary.”

“No problem,” he replied and seemingly just minutes later I was served one of the most succulent steaks ever. I gobbled it down along with a heap of Yukon Gold mashed potatoes, fresh green beans and a big gulp of red wine. I felt exhausted and much in need of sustenance and this unassuming restaurant delivered.

My Travel Memoir/Love Story that Features France and Highlights Colorado

My Travel Memoir/Love Story that Features France and Highlights Colorado

I had been on the road a few days by the time I reached Breckenridge and realized that following a major sporting event, especially one that changes locales daily required a lot of hustling about, but then adding a book promo tour to it was like doubling town. I had been busy much of the summer promoting my new book, A Tour of the Heart:  A Seductive Cycling Trip Through France, although I saved the biggest push for the end when I’d scheduled a number of events and publicity opportunities in conjunction with the USA Pro Challenge, a major bike race which was marking its third year in Colorado. It seemed like a good fit, so why not give it a go? My core audience seems to be made up of outdoor enthusiasts and discriminating travelers, just the kind of people you find showing up for this big cycling event, especially in Aspen, Beaver Creek and Vail.

I set out in Misty, my old 1993 Subaru with over 250,000 miles to her credit, late Sunday, August 18, for Redstone, Colorado, a delightful little mountain town just under an hour from Aspen. From Telluride, the drive ranks as one of the finest in Colorado, punctuated by bucolic farmland scenery in and around Paonia and dramatic mountain vistas up and over McClure Pass. I arrived at the warm and cozy Redstone Inn to find its bar and restaurant bustling with Sunday evening diners. more »

Traveling Like a Pampered Pet and Other Tales from the Road

Tino and DaVinci at Home at Country Lodge Montrose

Tino and DaVinci at Home at Country Lodge Montrose

DaVinci Warming Up My Bed

DaVinci Warming Up My Bed

Ahhhhh, travel. It often means the best of times and the worst of times—typically all within the same day. Living in Telluride, Colorado, a remote mountain town, poses added challenges, especially when it comes to airports and airlines. On the plus side, the Montrose/Telluride airport is small and easy to deal with—the kind of place where you can get away with showing up just minutes before boarding your flight. The hour-and-a-half drive there from Telluride also ranks as one of the most scenic in the country—perhaps the world—affording dramatic views of 14,000 foot peaks and sprawling ranches right out of a Ralph Lauren advertisement. (Actually you do drive by the Double RL Ranch, Ralph and Ricky Lauren’s spread, on your way to Telluride from Montrose.) Also, once you arrive in T-ride and discover the raw beauty of this unspoiled place, the fact that there’s not a stoplight within fifty miles or a big box store or other signs of “the masses,” you realize the effort required to get there is more than worth it. The advantages to finding paradise in a remote locale are innumerable, particularly in the winter when visitors and locals alike praise the mountain for its many fine qualities including the fact that you ski or ride right up to the lift at Telluride Ski Resort without even having to pause long enough to snag a Kleenex in line.

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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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