Day 199: Potluck Perfection!

Day 199 of the Nowhere To Be Project left me with a ton of farmer’s market vegetable finds. What to do? The air was a bit cool and crisp today in the mountains so I decided to roast them. I was beyond hungry too (as usual) which gave me the idea to add some tofu to the mix. I ended up with an amazingly rich and flavorful feast to celebrate the arrival of fall. This dish is just perfect for potlucks because it satisfies vegans, vegetarians, and carnivores alike, it presents beautifully on a platter and best of all can be served hot or cold.

Instructions
1- Gather, wash and trim the seasonal vegetables you have on hand. I used a halved artichoke, asparagus, whole mushrooms, Belgian endive leaves and garlic cloves. I steamed the artichokes and endive briefly in water in the microwave to give them a head start since they take a bit longer to cook.
2- Arrange the vegetables on a foil lined baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil and a good balsamic vinegar before adding freshly ground salt and pepper to taste.
3- Toss cubed firm tofu (dried of all liquid by blotting with paper towels) in a small bowl with enough avocado oil to coat lightly and soy sauce to taste. Now add a bit of cornstarch to the bowl and toss gently before placing on a separate foil lined baking sheet.
4- Place both baking sheets in a 400 degree preheated oven and roast for about 45 minutes or until browned and crispy. For even more flavor, sprinkle the veggies with grated vegan parmesan cheese for the last five minutes of roasting. I also add fresh chopped herbs before serving for added zing.

Day 198: Did We Just Become Boondockers? KOA Steamboat Springs

Day 198 of the Nowhere To Be Project is dedicated to a full review of my recent stay at the KOA in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. First, a little background info…We reserved a deluxe full hook up RV spot online a few days before our arrival. The rate for each night was $61.89 plus tax and we stayed three nights. We visited in mid-September, but the park is open year round.

The Pool at KOA Steamboat Springs

The park is located on a busy highway just three miles from downtown Steamboat Springs. Our first night was spent in spot 69, but the trees on the spot blocked our satellite dish so we moved to spot 30 for the next two nights. The first spot was beside the busy highway. This created a 24 hour soundtrack of semis blowing by. The second spot backed up to a trailer park which created a 24 hour soundtrack of a very different type (use your imagination:). Unfortunately, spot 30 also had a serious problem with flies. I think this is the result of a dumpster on the trailer park side of the fence. This made outdoor dining impossible. Another issue was a complete lack of internet despite the fact that the website touts wifi access throughout the park.

Spot 30, our second home within the park. Just over the fence is a trailer park where a dumpster created a festival of flies for us.

The park offers a pool, hot tub, laundry room and shower rooms, all of which were clean. There is also a playground and putt putt golf (we didn’t partake in these activities). Perhaps the best feature of the KOA Steamboat Springs is the onsite bus stop. This makes it so easy to take advantage of the free bus to and from town.

Honestly, we usually shy away from KOA campgrounds because we’ve never really found one worth the price. We chose this one due to its proximity to town. My husband and I decided that we would not stay here again as it was crowded, noisy and very overpriced. Furthermore, we learned of several very scenic options for dry camping in the area which we think would offer a much more authentic mountain experience. And just like that, we seem to have transitioned from convenience campers to boondockers! I guess it is a process…

We’re seeking this type of view and solitude. I guess it’s the boondocking life for us from now on?!?

Day 197: Superveg

Author Celia Brooks with her latest book, Superveg!

On day 197 of the Nowhere To Be Project I had the pleasure of attending a book event with Celia Brooks, the author of Superveg (among many other titles). My favorite local book store, the Bookworm in Edwards, Colorado, hosted the fun veggie-centric evening to highlight Celia’s latest book. Superveg is so much more than a cookbook. It is a testimony of the author’s self-professed passion for vegetables.

The lovely Superveg spread at The Bookworm!
The Skinny B Smoothie was so fresh and sweet!

Superveg presents the 25 vegetables Celia has selected as “super” based on their nutritional makeup and general utility. It just so happens that stunning photography and delicious and uber-nutricious recipes are included in this lovely anthology. Celia Brooks simply brims with exuberance, which makes her love letter to vegetables all the more appealing. The author is a vegetarian, but many of her Superveg recipes are vegan. Never fear though fellow vegans…she includes vegan substitutions for those that are not! I absolutely cannot wait to try everything!

A delicious micro-broccoli salad with lemon and mint made by the one and only Celia Brooks!

Day 196: Steamboat Springs

Day 196 of the Nowhere To Be Project marked the end of our brief stay in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. This wasn’t my first visit to this mountain town, but it was the first time I’ve visited without skiing as the main goal. I would describe Steamboat as a town that became a ski destination rather than the reverse. What I mean by this is that the whole town is not based solely on ski revenue as so many other ski towns seem to be. The downtown (old town) area has very relaxed blue collar feel to it despite the fact that the historic homes sell for millions. A local told me that the old run down homes are lovingly nicknamed “the downtown dumps”. The highlights of my time downtown were several cool examples of street art and a beautiful stone Catholic church that just screams “mountain town”!

There is a main drag in the old town area with a few rustic lodging options and countless boutiques and restaurants. Steamboat is dotted with umpteen bus stops for the free town bus which makes getting around a snap. A few miles from the busy downtown is the ski area. Right now is shoulder season as they transition from summer to winter mountain sports, so almost nothing was open and a lot of construction was taking place. While I wouldn’t describe the ski area with the same label of “blue collar”, it certainly isn’t glamorous or uppity like so many other Colorado ski towns. If you’re looking for a relaxed and comfortable mountain town to pass some time, Steamboat Springs could be your spot!

Day 195: Strawberry Park Hot Springs

Day 195 of the Nowhere To Be Project was spent at the lovely Strawberry Park Hot Springs in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. This wonderful year-round treat is nestled within the mountains and costs just $15 per person to enjoy for a full day’s access (cash or check only). The ornate property has a rustic spa feel with a natural stone tri-level spring fed pool. The pool is surrounded by ample lounging space and there are massages available on site as well. The Strawberry Park Hot Springs complex offers changing rooms, rest rooms and even tiny houses for rent!

It was breathtaking to feel the hot spring (very, very hot directly at the source) water on my skin as I gazed up at the ever-changing color of the rustling aspen leaves. This experience left me feeling refreshed and renewed and I can only imagine how that would be amplified after a long day of skiing. Be sure to treat yourself to a natural hot spring sometime if you haven’t already. You will not be sorry!

Day 194: Yampa River Botanic Park

Day 194 of the Nowhere To Be Project led me to the beautiful Yampa River Botanic Park. This public alpine garden is situated at 6800 feet in the Colorado town of Steamboat Springs. The stunning natural resource is run entirely by volunteers on a mountainside parcel of donated land. The rambling garden is divided into “neighborhoods”, each named after the factors that make it unique (e.g. rainbow, wind, reflecting, sundial, etc.). The remarkable reflection pond reminded me of Claude Monet’s in Giverny, France and the Fairy Garden was an absolute delight! However, my favorite part of the garden was the medicinal section where trees, plants and herbs useful in natural healing are featured.

Entry to the Yampa River Botanic Garden is free, but donations are encouraged as it operates solely on the generosity of the community and visitors. I easily spent over an hour at the garden before a strong thunderstorm came through and sent me on my way. Do not miss this quiet and unassuming treasure in the northern Colorado mountains! yampariverbotanicpark.org

Day 193: Review of Lazy Acres RV Park and Bear Trap Cafe, Riverside, Wyoming

On day 193 of the Nowhere To Be Project we checked out of Lazy Acres RV Park in Riverside, Wyoming after spending one sleepy night here. Riverside is a tiny town adjacent to Encampment. The RV park is actually situated on the Encampment River. The owner of the park, Leroy, could be one of the friendliest people I’ve ever met and he clearly takes pride in his tiny enclave of rustic campsites. The pet friendly park offers reasonably priced full hook up RV spots (about $40 per night) and cabins for rent. Clean shower houses are there for the taking and just across the road is the Bear Trap Café.

He’s making friends with the locals, too!

The Bear Trap carries on the rustic cowboy theme that we experienced at Lazy Acres. As the only dining option for miles, it is filled with local ranchers. I imagine that the popular bar is the seat of the social scene in this part of Wyoming. The food and service at the café are what one would expect in an out of the way corner of the west…lots of meat and fried potatoes! My husband sure enjoyed his huge rib eye with tater tots! Thankfully, they offered a good salad to satisfy me (probably the only vegan for one hundred miles, haha).

The Bear Trap Café

Both Lazy Acres RV Park and Bear Trap Café warrant a visit if you’re seeking an authentic Wyoming vibe!

Just a local cowboy doing his thing!

Day 192: Encampment, Wyoming

We rolled into Encampment, Wyoming on day 192 of the Nowhere To Be Project. You probably haven’t heard of it and we likely wouldn’t care to be here if we were not chasing down family ties. In the early 1960’s, my father-in-law was stationed here with the USAF. We don’t know much about why they brought him to this deserted one street town because he refused to discuss anything that was classified (even 50 years later). He’s gone now, but we could just see him saddled up at the Cowboy Bar with his buddies. It was the only place in town at the time and has since burned to the ground. I know this because I visited the Encampment Museum. There, I was lucky to be filled in on what life in Encampment would have been like back then by the two friendly local ladies who run it.

Another image stuck with me as well. My mother-in-law (an Air Force flight nurse) was pregnant with her second child while they were stationed in dusty old Encampment. Low and behold, she went into labor while her husband was on duty and proceeded to drive herself all the way to Laramie while in active labor! At 87, she’s still as feisty as she was then! It’s stories like these that make me so incredibly grateful for all those who serve our country, past and present! They sacrifice so much for us all and we must take the time to show them how much we love and appreciate them.

Day 191: Fall, Here You Come Again

Day 191 of the Nowhere To be Project placed us back in our beloved RV, the Tiny Dancer, Too. If you’ve been reading my recent posts, you know that I’m totally obsessed with autumn. In the mountains of Colorado, we’ve been getting an early taste of the awesome beauty of fall with cooler air, bursting colors and festivals galore. Everything good comes to an end (including fall), but we are going to do our best to enjoy every minute of it.

With that goal in mind, we’re going to roam up to Wyoming and see what’s happening up there before making our way home very slowly through Colorful Colorado. I literally have the words of my beloved Dolly Parton in my mind (Here you come again…and there I go!) as we roll along in search of anything and everything autumn. Much, much more to come…

Day 190: Review of Vail’s Tavern on the Square (a sort of vegan dining option)

I dined at Tavern on the Square on Day 190 of the Nowhere To Be Project. The Tavern is a casual yet upscale dining option in Vail. It is attached to The Arrabelle, a luxury hotel owned by Vail Resorts (Rock Resorts) located in the Lionshead corridor. The prices are a bit inflated in keeping with the local norms. I was alerted to the fact that they offer a full vegan menu by the “Vanilla Bean” app and decided to give it a go for dinner.

We dined outside on the patio with a lovely glass of Malbec and a breathtaking view of the mountain which was alight with stunning fall colors. After we were seated, I asked the server for the vegan menu. He apologetically confessed that it has been scaled down significantly for the off season. He went on to list a few salads, a hummus appetizer, the Impossible Burger, and sorbet as the obvious vegan options. I chose the Impossible Burger with a side salad.

I’ve eaten many Impossible Burgers and they are always enjoyable. This one, although extremely dry, was tasty. The bread to meat ratio was really off though, with way too much bread. My husband had a cheeseburger which came with the same huge bun. The difference being that his burger had about four times the amount of meat that my Impossible Burger did, making the bun a much better fit for his meal. A vegan cheese option and/or a vegan “special sauce” would definitely add some flavor to the Impossible Burger and might help to reduce the dryness.

The service was very attentive and the million dollar view was well worth the trip. I’ll more than likely visit Tavern on the Square again, if for no other reason than to lay eyes on their elusive “vegan menu”.