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 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 188: Fall Color

Day 188 ushered in the first day of obvious color change among the Aspen leaves in Vail. Change is in the air and the leaves are doing their thing with color! Just imagine green, yellow, orange, pink and red as far as your eyes can see. That is our incredible reality right now. Even more exciting is that we are at the center of the bullseye of fall color right now which means that we can chase the color in any direction from the mountains for a few weeks to extend our leaf-peeping delight. My husband and I are heading out in our RV in a few days to do that very thing and I AM SO EXCITED! Have I mentioned that autumn is my absolute favorite?

Day 187: Oktoberfest – Part One

Day 187 of the Nowhere To Be Project had us chanting “Prost” in the middle of Lionshead Village in Vail. This celebration was part one of Vail’s double duty Oktoberfest festivities. The Vail Village celebration is scheduled to take place next weekend. Three days of costume contests, stein holding competitions, bratwurst eating contests and live music gave Vail a very Bavarian feel. Add to that thousands of people (and dogs) downing German food and beer in the crisp almost-fall air and you’ve got yourself a street party. Can’t wait to do it again next weekend!

If you decide to visit Vail for Oktoberfest, be sure to stop at the ID and Token tent first. Once you’ve exchanged dollar for dollar in tokens, plan on spending about $7 per beer and $4-10 per dish to imbibe. Parking and all Oktoberfest-related entertainment is free.

Vegan German Potato Salad!

Day 186: $100,000 Cars, Everybody’s Got ‘Em

On Day 186 of the Nowhere To Be Project my husband and I attended the Wheels and Wings Festival in Eagle, Colorado. The festival was threefold: part car show, part air show and part live auction. It was held beside the runway at the regional Eagle Airport. My dad was a dragster turned car dealer, so I’ve been around cars (especially fast ones) all my life. And as the mom of an aerospace engineer, I’ve had my fair share of airplanes as well. With that history behind me, I would give the Wheels and Wings Festival a big thumbs up.

There were so many beautiful old cars, many of which won ribbons in the show. The variety of airplanes was not as rich, but the obvious effort toward aviation education was appreciated. I especially loved watching the local Civil Air Patrol commandeer their first flight as it reminded me of when my son’s chapter did the very same thing. The auction was very entertaining as well with many of the classic cars creating bidding wars among the spectators. I had my eye on a beautiful old Corvette, but the $100,000 price tag put it way out of my reach. The food trucks (one with vegan options) added the finishing touch on an already perfect afternoon.

Day 185: Estes Park, Colorado

Day 185 of the Nowhere To Be Project was spent roaming the streets of beautiful Estes Park, Colorado. This charming lake and mountain town is just 70 miles from Denver and boasts easy access to Rocky Mountain National Park. The downtown area offers large green open spaces, ample parking and is dotted with small boutiques and eateries.

I was lucky enough to visit when a local market was being held which granted me the chance to load up on local vegetables and crafts. As an RVer, I was most impressed by the designated area in town for RV and bus parking (this almost never happens:). If you’re traveling to Northern Colorado, a visit to scenic and friendly Estes Park is a must!

Day 169: A Local’s Guide to Hidden Orlando

Yesterday, I was on an airplane listening to some of my fellow passengers discuss their plans for their time in Orlando. Not surprisingly, they were all discussing the theme parks. I was born and raised in Central Florida and am here to tell you that there is so much more to the area than Mickey Mouse and Harry Potter. Therefore, I’ve decided to spend day 169 of the Nowhere To Be Project highlighting some of my favorite spots in greater Orlando.

Wekiwa Springs State Park

1- Wekiwa Springs State Park: If you’re interested in seeing what Florida was like for the Timucauns (way before Walt Disney moved in), take a drive to Wekiwa Springs (pronounced Wuh-kie-vuh). It is about 45 minutes drive from the theme parks and just twenty minutes from downtown. I grew up just a mile or so from the springs and visited regularly as an escape from the heat. Because Wekiwa is a natural spring, the water remains at 72 degrees year-round. Be careful while swimming because the rocks do get slippery and wildlife is abundant (yes, snakes and alligators)! Be sure to rent a canoe and paddle down to the island marina for a bite to eat. Feeding the raccoons there as a kid was a highlight of my youth. That was before we realized how detrimental it is to feed wildlife!

2- Cassadaga: Cassadaga’s nickname is the “psychic capital of the world” which tells you about some of what you’ll fine there. Aside from the spiritualists, it is an old artsy town filled with history and mystery. Many believe that the unique energy in this town is residual from the early Native American settlers who once inhabited the land. The town itself is anchored by an old hotel and is peppered with quirky shops, many of which have resident mediums. As teenagers, my friends and I would come to town looking for ghosts. We never found any, but always met interesting people. I still find the town, its scenery, and its residents fascinating. I recommend that visitors take a few hours to check it out for themselves.

3- New Smyrna Beach: Cocoa Beach and Daytona Beach may get all of the glory (and people) in terms of Central Florida beaches, but New Smyrna Beach is the favorite of locals. During the week, the town and beach are mostly sleepy, yet can become quite crowded on weekends and holidays. Don’t worry about hauling your stuff to the sand because you can pull your car right onto the beach here. Try to park close to the jetties for challenging swimming and surfing. Be sure to stop at Frozen Gold on your way out of town for a chilly treat.

New Smyrna Beach