I spent day 123 of the Nowhere To Be Project at the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens in Vail. I come here quite often and today it provided a lovely escape from the hubub of the Sunday Farmer’s Market. The botanical garden is the world’s highest at an impressive 8200 feet. Alpine plants from around the world are featured in this scenic and peaceful space.
The gardens were named in honor of First Lady Betty Ford who contributed her time and talents to their formation. She and her husband, President Gerald Ford (38), spent a great deal of time in Vail. When I was a little girl, it was not at all uncommon to see them surrounded by Secret Service in town and on the slopes. The garden opened in 1988 and has been delighting visitors ever since. There is no cost to enter although donations are appreciated and the park is open year round from dawn to dusk. Plan on spending an hour or two at the gardens, the adjacent museum/shoppe and the educational center. Be sure to pack a picnic to fully enjoy Ford Park just steps from the gardens.
On Day 114 of the Nowhere To Be Project I spent the evening at one of my very favorite summer activities in Vail, Bravo!Vail Music Festival. This amazing concert series brings renowned orchestras and musicians from around the world to Vail for short residencies. There are an average of three concerts a week, each offering a different theme. Tonight’s show was “Women Who Rock” performed by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. It included tunes from bad ass rocker babes like Janis Joplin, Pat Benetar and Joan Jett!
I am a season pass holder and attend as many shows as possible throughout the summer. I pack a picnic and spread a quilt out on the pristine lawn at Vail’s Ford Amphitheater. There’s nothing quite like the sound of beautiful music floating through the aspen trees and up into the mountains. If you ever find yourself in Vail in the summer, Bravo!Vail should be at the top of your “to do” list.
Most travelers, myself included, spend a lot of their time searching for the perfect spot. It might be a locale, a resort, a restaurant, a chair on the beach, or even a parking spot. Perfection is in the eye of the beholder and what seems just right for one may be the exact opposite for another. Take a second to consider what these might be for you:
❤️your perfect spot for watching the sun rise or set
❤️your perfect spot for being one with nature (sea, mountains, lakes, forests, plains…whatever lights your fancy)
❤️your perfect spot for feeling at peace
❤️your perfect spot for feeling inspired
❤️the place where you can truly be yourself
Okay, where is your spot? How did you find it? Maybe you’re not quite sure yet and if that’s the case, keep on searching!
On Day 109 of the Nowhere To Be Project I languished in the luxury of my perfect spot. I awoke to a beautiful sunrise over the mountains. I had coffee on the deck as I listened to the rushing of the nearby waterfall. I meandered through the village enjoying the farmer’s market packed with fresh local foods. I’ll doze off tonight to the cool mountain breeze flooding through my open window. My perfect spot is Vail, Colorado. It is my chosen hometown. Give it a visit if you’ve never been. You never know, it might just be your perfect spot too.
Day 108 of the Nowhere To Be Project took place largely on the top of Vail Mountain. This is because once we reached it after two hours of climbing, our legs were too tired too budge from our scenic perch. We hiked one of our very favorite trails, Berry Picker. It gets it name from the plethora of wild raspberries that line the path. It is a 3.2 mile climb through breathtaking terrain and ending at Eagle’s Nest. I’ve been hiking this trail for over 40 years and never tire of its challenge.
Today marked the first hike of the season and that one is always the toughest. The altitude paired with the ascent help make the climb a trek in all senses of the word. Many people choose to take the gondola to the top and hike down, but I always do the reverse. I want to earn that view because it makes me appreciate it more. That’s the thing with life and travel. We must amble through the rough patches tirelessly to be capable of feeling true gratitude for all of the lovely flat ground.
On Day 105 of the Nowhere To Be Project I was faced with a new side effect of constant travel. It came in the form of well-worn jeans that decided that today was the day they’d simply refuse to button. This happens to everyone, right? My mind immediately attempted to rationalize the affront by blaming the dryer for shrinking the pants, but deep down I knew that my Nowhere To Be Project lifestyle was the real culprit.
A life of constant travel brings temptation in so many forms. Food is a big one because for me, truly experiencing a place hinges on indulging in local dishes. Add to these bites the local wines that absolutely must be tried and I’m headed for trouble. So, even though I exercise daily and follow a plant-based diet, the jet-setting mojo is catching up with me. What to do?
Well, as tempting as it is, I’m not going to buy bigger pants and I will always aggressively shun the Spanx-life. I also refuse to change my pace of travel because who knows how long the opportunity to wander aimlessly will last? I will, however, do my very best to add additional exercise (e.g. more cardio and at least twenty burpees a day) and cut back on portion sizes a bit until that button on my jeans relents. How do you battle the side effects of fun?
I went to see the new comedy film “I Feel Pretty” on day 47 of the Nowhere To Be Project. It was really, really funny. Amy Schumer was hysterical, of course. The laughs went much deeper than her comedic talents though. Most women, no matter their size, shape or appearance, can relate to the insecurities faced by the main character, Renee. In the film, it takes a blow on the head to twist her self-doubt into abundant confidence. As a result of the concussion, she is no longer able to see her perceived flaws. Instead, she sees herself as beautiful for the very first time and this changes everything for her. The reality is that her appearance never changed, but her attitude and behavior did. She became confident, capable and accessible because she saw herself as more valuable and this changed the way people responded to her.
There is a scene early in the film where Renee stands in front of a mirror and glares at herself with disgust. Most of us are guilty of paying much more attention to our physical flaws than to our social, emotional and spiritual strengths. There isn’t a person on earth who lacks unique gifts and we should spend more time celebrating them. For some reason, it is easier to see the good in others than it is to feel self love. There is a line in the film where Renee wonders what life is like for those who are “undeniably pretty”. The truth is that we are all undeniably pretty in some way. Just imagine what you could do if you could only see the good in yourself.
Nearly four hours of Day 33 of the Nowhere To be Project was spent at a salon. I am not great at keeping up with my hair and it had reached the point where a salon intervention was essential. I was raised in a home where my Mom and her sisters loved the salon experience. They referred to their favorite salon as “the beauty shop” and visited it at least once a week. Just think of Truvy’s salon in the film “Steel Magnolias” and you’ll know what the beauty shop was like back then. It was bustling with women, activity, aromas, curlers and most of all gossip.
My time at the salon on this day taught me that things have not changed at all at the beauty shop. The hum of the dryers are drowned out only by town gossip. In the four hours that I was imprisoned in my chair, I learned of personality conflicts within the salon, marriage and parenting woes, terminal cancers, weight struggles, money problems and one impending proposal of marriage. What is it about a beauty shop that draws out the most personal details of one’s life?
I suspect that the answer lies in vulnerability. We enter the salon and we’re stripped of our attire and placed in robes. We’re plucked, dunked, painted, cut and blown as we glare at hideous mirror reflections of ourselves throughout the metamorphosis. It is then that the stories and scandals tumble from our lips. Through the chatter, we’re restyled and fortified in ways that we didn’t know we needed. The experience almost convinces us that Miss Truvy was right when she stated, “there’s no such thing as natural beauty”. Almost.