Day 153 of the Nowhere To Be Project marked my 47th year of life and the fourth day of our British Isles Explorer voyage onboard the Viking Sky. The morning was spent at the spa as we cruised the English Channel. A deep-tissue massage followed by a few minutes in the hydrotherapy pool gave me a lot of time for reflection. I am so grateful for the life I’ve had, especially for the many low points. It is easy to wish away bad days, but without those I probably wouldn’t be as profoundly appreciative of the good ones. Speaking of good days, my husband and I raised a glass to at least 47 more years as we floated in the infinity pool and watched the world go by. Can life possibly get any better?
On Day 140 of the Nowhere To Be Project I enjoyed another fantastic meal and just had to share it with you! I dined at White Bison in Vail. The restaurant’s namesake (the White Bison) is sacred in Native American culture, reportedly bringing great abundance to those who spot one. I’ve visited this restaurant a handful of times, mostly due to their outstanding open air terrace overlooking Gore Creek. Today’s experience was so pleasant that the view became secondary. Similar to most other restaurants in Vail, their menu is meat-centric. The difference at White Bison is that the staff and chef go above and beyond to accommodate the dietary needs of their diners. This level of service, paired with a desire to please their patrons, is so refreshing in an area where that authenticity is often absent.
We chose three menu items to share, all of which were already meat and egg free. Minor tweaks in the preparation made them dairy free as well. This amazing feast began with an appetizer of their flavorful crispy French fries. We usually don’t eat fries, but we spotted these on a fellow diner’s table and just had to try them. They were excellent!
Next we had the charred Caesar salad without cheese or anchovies, and with the addition of a nice vegan garlic dressing. Again, this dish was outstanding. The watermelon seeds and paper thin fresh beet slices helped to make this a standout. Even more char on the romaine lettuce would not be a bad thing though.
Finally, we shared the gnocchi which was drizzled with a luscious truffle oil. The dish was very unique with the addition of baby carrots, fava beans and snap peas. The savory blend of flavors was like nothing we’ve ever tasted. It quickly became our favorite recent meal and something that we will absolutely order again.
Be sure to try White Bison on your next visit to Vail!
As always, opinions and experiences are mine. I am never compensated in any way.
Day 137 of the Nowhere To Be Project was all about burgers (not the first time and sure won’t be the last:). Legend has it that the hamburger was created in Hamburg, Germany when ground beef was mixed with garlic and onions and served in an open-faced sandwich. This may be the case, but as a chronic world traveler and part-time hamburglar, I can confidently say that America has commandeered ownership of the hamburger. It’s no surprise then that a U.S. company has created what they call the Beyond Burger. The Beyond Burger is a very popular plant-based hamburger patty. It is the brainchild of the Beyond Meat Company, an innovator in plant-based options. The Beyond Burger is nicknamed the “bleeding burger” because its appearance and texture resemble that of a traditional beef hamburger. With the growing interest in healthier plant-based options, the Beyond Burger has become a very hot commodity with many stores struggling to keep it in stock. It is also popping in at many chain restaurants in the U.S. and the U.K.
As a burger-loving vegan, I prepare Beyond Burgers quite frequently. I either pan fry them or grill them. In my opinion, the pan frying gives them more flavor and a rich crust.
I am always trying to add a new twist each time I make them and today, I must say that I took the burger way, way beyond in the best of ways.
To begin, I warmed a tablespoon of avocado oil in a nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Next, I added sliced white button mushrooms to the pan, sprinkled them with a bit of garlic salt and sautéed them until they were just shy of crispy. I then placed a thawed Beyond Burger patty in the same pan, cooking it for about three to four minutes on each side. During the final minute of cooking, I spooned two tablespoons of Treeline soft french-style herb-garlic nut cheese on top of the patty and covered the pan with a lid. Once the cheese had warmed, I popped the patty onto thick piece of toasted sourdough bread coated in a layer of dijon mustard. The final touch was made when the mushrooms were spooned over the burger and a second slice of sourdough was placed on top. Yum!
I have not been compensated in any way for this post and have no vested interest in Beyond Meat or Treeline Cheese. As always, I write about my perspective alone.
On day 135 of the Nowhere To Be Project, Vail, Colorado (my chosen hometown) was bestowed with the elusive title of “sustainable destination”. This is quite an honor considering that no other mountain resorts in the world have the right to carry the moniker. Exciting, I know, but what does it really mean?
We’ve all seen the signs in hotels asking us to reuse towels to save water, but true sustainability goes way beyond that. A sustainable destination is one that focuses on environmental, cultural and economic preservation. In other words, formal procedures must be in place to protect and preserve nature, wildlife, regional history and customs, and to contribute to and support the local economy.
In Vail, plastic bags were banned quite some time ago and every public waste receptacle provides an education on items that can be recycled versus those that will end up in a landfill. There is also a profound focus on the restoration and preservation of natural resources and wildlife. Citizens benefit not only from an outstanding quality of life here in the mountains, but from a fabulous public transportation system and a push toward environmentally responsible affordable housing. All of these things (and many more) helped contribute to the title of sustainable destination.
All of the hoopla made me wonder how many travelers really consider sustainability when choosing a destination. According to recent research, that number hovers at just over half! As a frequent camper, the practice of “leave no trace” is a personal mantra, but I had no idea that so many other travelers prioritized it as well. It demonstrates that a zero footprint approach to travel should not end when the tent is packed away and the fact that one of the most popular resort towns in the world sees this is very encouraging.
As a constant traveler, I understand the assumptions and misconceptions that people have about the jet-set lifestyle. This flawed thinking literally robs people of travel…”I can’t afford it”, “I’m too busy” and so on. Therefore, the focus of day 133 of the Nowhere To Be Project is the notion that travel is accessible to everyone, all the time.
People assume that travel is only for the wealthy. This couldn’t be further from the truth because travel comes in all shapes, sizes and price points. It is what you make it. I’ve splurged a few times on what might be considered luxury trips. More frequently though, I’ve camped for free with just a book and a backpack full of homemade treats. I’ve also hopped on last minute cruises where one all-inclusive week at sea can cost much less than one on land. Low cost travel is a real possibility for the diligent and prepared. For some things it pays to plan well in advance, while others require the ability to get up and go on a moment’s notice. Some think that frequent travel is limited to the very young and very old. TRAVEL IS NOT JUST FOR COLLEGE KIDS AND OLD CRONIES!!! While constant travel has become easier since my retirement, I never let life get in the way of my wanderlust. For example, my kids are very well-traveled because I never saw them as a barrier to travel. Some people think that it is too much of a pain to pack up the kids (and the diaper bag, playpen, toys, etc.), but I always viewed their presence as a bonus. I strived to use travel as a learning tool because I believe that it teaches us much more than any textbook ever could. The time crunch of working full time and accommodating busy schedules can certainly make long trips more fleeting, but day or weekend getaways are always a possibility. It could be as simple as a Saturday visit to a state park in an adjacent county, or a house swap weekend with a family in a bordering state. There are those who think that travel is self-indulgent and that any extra money should be squirreled away for a rainy day. I am all about living beneath my means. What I mean by this is that the spending choices we make each day can profoundly impact our financial bottom line. Over time, a frugal approach really adds up and opens the door to travel. For instance, I’d rather make my own coffee each morning (whether at home or on the road) and take trips. I refuse to spend $10 a day at Starbucks not only because I like my coffee better, but because over time it would rob me of travel opportunities. Case in point, I flew to Paris round trip last year for $300. I just can’t imagine who’d choose thirty days of prepared coffee over Paris!
What excuses do you use to rob yourself of travel?
Day 132 of the Nowhere To Be Project brought me the sudden realization that I pretty much live out of a bag. I do have a home base that is filled with a lifetime of memories and possessions, but with a life of near constant travel, my suitcase definitely gets much more use than my closet. Even when I’m home (as I have been for the past couple weeks), I keep the bag packed.
You may be wondering what the heck is in this always-at-the-ready travel bag? Besides about ten monochromatic mix and match (always black except for summer when white is prominent) wardrobe staples, I have several must have items with me always.
1- Small Toiletry Kit stocked with essentials: medication, toothbrush, SPF moisturizer and lip gloss. I use a zippered clutch that doubles as a purse with a pop of color.
2- Eye-mask and Earplugs – I protect good sleep no matter where I might be in the world! These two are sleep’s best friends!
3- Inflatable Pillow and DreamSack – These small luxuries are the (slightly larger) natural extensions of the eye-mask and earplugs. They take just a few cubic inches of space yet create a clean sleeping space anywhere.
4- Smartphone with Charger – A globally-enabled smartphone is a no-brainer. It provides basic tools like a compass and flashlight along with the ability to communicate and stay entertained. Mine is loaded with favorite travel and entertainment apps.
5- Noise Canceling Headphones – The tiny pocket headphones that we all use everyday may seem more practical for some travelers, but I find that they are not as effective in noisy conditions…R.V., airplane, ship, etc. Noise canceling headphones make movies, music and audio books a possibility in any setting.
On Day 131 of the Nowhere To Be Project I took a mental vacation with the help of the souvenirs that grace my home. I’m not talking about the typical types of mementos collected by tourists. While I’m traveling, you won’t find me within a mile of a souvenir shop selling t-shirts and stuffed animals. I’m speaking of the meaningful trinkets that hold the power to magically transport me back in time to the joy of a specific locale.
One of my favorite practices while visiting a new place is connecting with the terrain. That might mean gathering sand and shells on a beach, mining small rocks from a mountain trail or retrieving a feather in the forest. These free and priceless items literally carry the DNA of a place. This makes them perfect souvenirs. As a bonus, they usually won’t take up much space in your suitcase!
When I’m not trekking through foreign landscapes on my travels, I’m looking for the local artisans. Street markets, fairs and thrift shops are usually the best places to find one-of-a-kind objects to reflect the uniqueness of a place. Over the years I’ve purchased watercolor paintings, handmade ceramic tiles, carvings, and needlework, among so many other things, to grace my home and warm my heart. What could be better than cozying up under a shawl that was painstakingly knitted by the hands of an elderly Russian grandmother? One perk of buying these types of homespun souvenirs is the direct support of the local economy.
In sum, I believe that souvenirs should reflect the people and experiences gathered through travel. How could a tacky t-shirt ever accomplish that?
What are your favorite types of souvenirs and where do you find them?
Day 130 of the Nowhere To Be Project fell on a Sunday. No matter where I am in the world, summer Sundays are synonymous with farmer’s markets. Buying local food directly from the source provides an unmatched opportunity for cultural immersion. If you’re like me, you worship food and understand that it, alone, holds the key to truly understanding the nuances of a locale.
The farmer’s market in Vail today was bursting with heirloom tomatoes, fresh basil and squash. These flavors reminded me of a delicious Tuscan Panzanella I once experienced (yes, food should be an experience!). With that sensory memory as my inspiration I created a quick yet magnificent slow cooker lasagna. It is naturally plant-based and dairy-free, and to be completely honest, it is so decadent that you wouldn’t have known it if I hadn’t told you! Enjoy and be sure to share!
TUSCAN PANZANELLA LASAGNA🌿🍅
1/2 pound assorted varieties of squash, thinly sliced*
1/2 pound ripe heirloom tomatoes, sliced
4 cups of your favorite homemade or store-bought marinara sauce**
1 ball of fresh plant-based mozzarella cheese, sliced***
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
Oven ready dried lasagna noodles****
Extra Virgin Olive Oil, salt & pepper, to taste
-Begin by drizzling a bit of the EVOO into the slow cooker.
-Add a ladle full of tomato sauce to the slow cooker.
-Crack the lasagna noodles to fit the slow cooker, creating a single layer on top of the sauce.
-Drizzle a tad more EVOO on top of the dried pasta.
-Use the 1/2 of the sliced mozzarella to create the filling for the first layer of the lasagna, topping it with another layer of dried pasta and a ladle of sauce.
-Use the sliced squash to create the second layer of the lasagna, dusting it with EVOO, salt and pepper before adding another layer of dried pasta and more marinara.
-Arrange the sliced tomatoes in a single layer directly on top of the dried pasta.
-Sprinkle the chopped basil and garlic on top of the tomatoes along with another light dusting of EVOO, salt and pepper.
-Crumble the remaining mozzarella on top of the tomatoes before pouring the remaining sauce in the slow cooker.
-Cook on high for two hours and then turn the heat to low and cook for another hour or so, until brown and bubbly.
-Let the lasagna sit at room temperature in the slow cooker crock for 30 minutes before serving.
-Serve with garlic bread to mop up every morsel of deliciousness!
*I used patty pan and zucchini squash.
**Victoria White Linen is a wonderful option (and what I used) for simple marinara sauce.
***Miyoko’s makes an amazing vegan mozzarella that tastes and melts just like dairy cheese. I used this in the dish.
****Never assume that any pasta is vegan as many are made with eggs. I used Pastamoré dried lasagna noodles, purchased at the farmer’s market.
On day 129 of the Nowhere To be Project we scheduled a tour of the original Jameson Whiskey Distillery in Dublin. We’ll be visiting Ireland in a few weeks and knew that it was an essential excursion. No matter where we are in the world, one of our favorite things to do is to seek out the local vintages, brews and spirits. We usually prefer to do it in local pubs because they usually provide an intimate connection to the culture of a place, but visiting distilleries, microbrews and vineyards offers unique opportunities for connecting more deeply with the libations of a locale as well. Some of our favorite tastes along the way have been the wines of France, the vodka of Russia, the Kölsch in Cologne, Germany Related Blog Post and the gluhwein of the European Christmas markets. We’re currently abstaining from alcohol as a sort of cleanse for the liver before the storm that will undoubtedly ensue on our upcoming British Isles Explorer voyage on the Viking Sky. If traveling tipsy is wrong, we certainly don’t want to be right.
On Day 127 of the Nowhere To Be Project coffee was on my mind. I am NOT a Starbucks person. I am certain the Starbuck’s fans are now hurling spit balls at the screen, but hear me out. You could be in any Starbucks in the world and it would look, feel, smell and taste the same. I know some people love that type of predictability hence the popularity of worldwide chains. I, however, cannot stand it. In my mind, there is no place better for connecting with a culture than the local independent coffee shop, whether it be in Paris, Vienna or Vail, Colorado.
There are a few independent coffee shops in the Vail Valley. Yeti’s Grind has a cozy location in Vail Village, and another in Eagle. It offers mostly standard brews and a limited snack-type menu. My favorite thing about Yeti’s Grind is their local feel and adorable branded merchandise.
The Bookworm Cafe is located in Edwards, housed within a popular bookstore. They share the local vibe of Yeti’s Grind, but add a kitcheny feel to it. In other words, sipping coffee here makes one feel as if they’re in a friend’s kitchen. The Bookworm Cafe has good coffee, but amazing soups! This makes their monthly soup subscription popular with locals.
My new favorite coffee shop is actually more of a market. Hovey & Harrison is a relative newcomer in the Vail Valley with just over one year of business under their belts. I would describe their bright and open space as industrial farmhouse. It includes a market section with fresh fruits and vegetables, a space for prepared meals and spices to go, and a bakery/cafe. The cafe offers an interesting and thoughtful menu chock full of unique coffees, teas, beers and wines. I am happy to share that I enjoyed the best latte of my life at Hovey & Harrison. The drink was a ginger-turmeric latte and it was fabulous beyond words with a smooth, mild and ever so slightly spicy taste. I would have liked it even more if the almond milk used to create it was unsweetened. That leads me to the only bit of advice I might offer the pros at my new favorite, please add a non-sweetened plant milk to the list of options for those who, like me, try to limit sugar in their diets.