I was feeling bad for my pooch today, day 134 of the Nowhere To Be Project. We rescued him nine years ago after he was found (as a puppy) wandering the streets of Orlando. He had been abandoned by his mother and was malnourished. I think that this is when his wanderlust began because since then he has visited 41 states and one foreign country. The only time he does not accompany us on our travels is when we fly. At 90 pounds, he’s just too big to bring on board and I refuse to cage him in cargo. That will change should I ever win the lottery…I’ll buy a private jet so he can see the world!
I was feeling sorry for him today because he loves travel as much as we do and has been home bound for the past several weeks. While he loves the long hikes and brief car rides we squeeze in each day, he just doesn’t get the same thrill as that of life on the road. He especially loves staying at Kimpton hotels (he’s been to more than three-quarters of their U.S. locations) because they out and out pamper their four-legged guests. His bunk on our R.V. runs a close second likely because it has a panoramic window to the world (see photo above).
The good news is that he’ll be knocking off the remainder of the continental United States by early March of 2019. Not bad for a pup that was days away from being euthanized, huh? Adopt don’t shop! You never know, you might just find your next travel partner.
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?
On Day 128 of the Nowhere To Be Project I found myself smack dab in the middle of a travelhole. Travelhole is the word I use to describe non-travel days. I also use it more broadly to verbalize the gap between trips. With three weeks since my last big trip and twenty days until my next, I’m in the throes of a travelhole. For travel addicts like me, a travelhole can be exacerbated when there are no planned travel days on the horizon. This conundrum could lead to the terminal travelcoma, an unconsciousness of sorts where travel is at a stand still. This must be avoided at all costs!
One benefit of my travel addiction is that I’ve learned a few tricks for keeping the desperation of a travelhole at bay. Here goes:
1️⃣ Visit a new-to-you place in your hometown. Seeing new things (even in familiar places) keeps the travel flame burning.
2️⃣ Replicate the best meal you’ve eaten while traveling. The scents and tastes of travel lay dormant during a travelhole and a luscious bite can help revive them.
3️⃣ Listen to the music of a favorite travel destination. Getting lost in a groove to the tune of a well-loved country can take you back in time to the moment where you first fell in love.
4️⃣ Create a vision board adorned with maps, photographs, quotes, fabric swatches, recipes and anything else that will inspire you to plan a new trip, or to refine already booked vacations. Seeing it helps to transform dreams into reality!
5️⃣ Follow and engage on social media with a few travel bloggers who share similar goals. Connecting with people who are passionate about travel will help keep your wanderlust intact and safe from a travelhole!
On day 126 of the Nowhere To Be Project I lunched at one my favorite emerging restaurants in Vail, Almresi. It has not been around as long as the old standards La Tour and Sweet Basil, but what it lacks in age it more than makes up for in passion. Stepping into Almresi always makes me feel as if I’ve dropped in on a dear friend in the Swiss Alps. The ambiance is solidly European with no detail overlooked. Every corner of this beautiful space is pleasing to the eye and spirit, from the etched crystal stemware to the lovely family style booths to the all-season outdoor dining deck. The superbly trained staff hail from Austria and Germany and dress in the most beautiful Dirndl and Lederhosen, adding to the authenticity at Almresi.
I have visited the restaurant many times over the past year and a half and have never been disappointed. The food is unique, fresh and delicious, and the staff is always willing to make accommodations to satisfy my vegan diet. For example, today I had a fig and arugula tarte flambé. The dish is typically prepared with goat cheese, but I was able to substitute that with a yummy balsamic reduction. It was outstanding and rivaled any I’ve enjoyed in the Alsace region. The bar is fabulous as well (hello gluhwein!), especially as an après ski option.
Almresi is always at the top of my list when entertaining out of town guests and I love the space so much that I would consider hosting a private gathering there as well. If you’re looking for a one-of-kind dining experience in Vail, head to Almresi. If you’re short on time you can grab a yummy baked good or pretzel at their adorable outdoor Resi-To-Go counter.
As always, I share my personal, unbiased experiences and am never compensated in any way, shape or form.
On Day 124 of the Nowhere To Be Project we headed up to Leadville. Leadville is about 45 minutes by car from Vail and is a couple thousand feet higher in elevation. Leadville, a city that was once rich in silver, was founded in the late 1800s. At its peak, Leadville rivaled Denver for the most populous city in Colorado.
Leadville’s current claims to fame are largely based in folklore of the past. For instance, Doc Holliday had some raucous times there before heading on to Glenwood Springs. The historic Tabor Opera House, Delaware Hotel and Silver Dollar Saloon are rumored to be haunted. I inquired with the front desk clerk at the hotel (still in operation) and was told rather brusquely that “ghosts aren’t real”.
Whether they are real or not, ghosts might be the only inhabitants that could still find some sparkle in Leadville. Sadly, it is one of those places that you pass through on the way to somewhere else. The views on the way up and down are well worth the ride (making the local railroad and bike trails popular with tourists), but I would be hard-pressed to recommend it as a destination in and of itself.
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 122 of the Nowhere To Be Project I took a break from the still crowded sidewalks of Vail to visit the town of Minturn. This tucked away town is just a few miles from Vail, but feels as if it is a world away. I’ve been visiting Minturn for 40+ years and in all that time it has managed to hang on to its rebellious spirit.
If Vail is primped and puckered, Minturn is well-worn and drooling. Minturn has just refused to shake its anti-establishment vibe in the face of the resortization (did I just create a word?) of mountain towns and that most definitely adds to its appeal.
Minturn was established in the late 1800s as a mining and railroad town. The mine and the rails are long gone, but the pioneer spirit remains in the town’s historic buildings, rushing waters and narrow streets. Situated at the confluence of Gore Creek and the Eagle River, restaurants and shops of assorted varieties dot Minturn’s Main Street. On summer Saturdays from 9am until 2pm local artisans, growers and food trucks flood the Minturn Farmer’s Market. The selection rivals other summer markets in the Vail Valley and prices are a tad lower. Simply stated, Minturn is a fun spot to wander for a few hours, especially if you’re looking to give your wallet a break from the highfalutin surrounding ski towns.
On Day 116 of the Nowhere To Be Project I found myself at my very favorite summer market, the Vail Farmer’s Market. The market winds through the village and is stocked with fresh fruits and veggies, beautiful blooms, a vast variety of handcrafted local foods, goods and art. Patrons walk the streets to the tune of live jazz music and the sounds of the rushing water in Gore Creek while marveling at the blossoming flower baskets perched in every nook and cranny of this lovely alpine town. Among my favorite finds are the local Palisades peaches, the amazing juices and snacks at the all vegan Green Elephant Juicery and the cute hand painted clogs by the Swedish Clog Cabin (I’ve literally been a fan of their designs since I began walking:-). Vail’s summer market is always ranked among the best farmer’s markets in the west and as a connoisseur of sorts, I would place it among the top in the whole world. People come from all around the globe to visit the wondrous mountain village of Vail and those who are lucky enough to be here on a summer Sunday soon realize that the Vail Farmer’s Market is a must see!
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.
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.