Day 126: Coming Home to the Alps at Almresi, Vail

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.

Day 123: Finding Zen at Vail’s Betty Ford Alpine Gardens

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.

Day 39: Better and Happier

“Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier” Mother Teresa

I usually begin my day with a cup of coffee as I get caught up with the world. Day 39 of the Nowhere To Be Project started the exact same way, but instead of feeling ready to greet the day, I wanted to crawl back into bed to avoid the negativity that engulfed me. Between the television and social media, everything was bad. The only saving grace was the pet page in the local newspaper that introduced me to a friendly-looking neighborhood pupper who likes to roll in the snow. Most of us dread days that start out with a negative tone because it then darkens everything we do that day.

Sadly, we cannot control the tone of mainstream media. However, we can choose to be positive influencers on social media. I know some people think a sardonic tone is interesting or even funny. I don’t. Why post hate-filled or cruel messages when you can spread sunshine? Why follow or like those toxic people? It is not enjoyable to read others who criticize everything and everyone. It just breeds hate and vitriol. No wonder my bed beckoned this morning.

I refuse to engage with negative material on social media. This is not necessarily a Pollyanna approach, but a conscious choice toward gratitude. I just keep scrolling. Like attracts like. I have bad days too, but I don’t see the benefit of posting about them. Choosing to share good vibes might just make a major difference in another’s day. More than that though, actively choosing to focus on the good rather than the bad will change you. It will profoundly alter your mood, your life and even your relationships. Such a simple fix, isn’t it?

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Day 15: Being a Cookie

Day 15 of the Nowhere To Be Project had me at my usual Tuesday afternoon spot, the hospital. I volunteer one day a week as the pusher of cookies. Basically, I visit everyone in the hospital with my trolley, offering freshly baked cookies and lemonade. The goal is to provide a very small boost to those who need it most.

The most interesting aspect of this job is the way people react to me. Initially, most are standoffish (some being downright annoyed) as I enter their rooms. This all shifts when I explain that I am a volunteer wielding free cookies and lemonade. Their faces instantly change, relaxing into hungry grins as they reach out for my wares. It never ceases to amaze me just how much simple pleasure these confections provide.

We could all learn a lot from these cookies, couldn’t we? They’re sweet. They are given unconditionally. They’re comforting. They’re even medicinal in a way because they create a sense of normalcy that is harshly lacking in an inpatient setting. How different would my days be if I could offer cookies to everyone I encountered? I can imagine myself hurling cookies along the highway or tossing them to my fellow patrons on the bus. On second thought, maybe I’ll just start with a smile for all those who cross my path.

Being a Cookie

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Day 4: Humble and Kind

One of my favorite aspects of travel is the ability to learn from other cultures. Today I was enlightened on the Hawaiian principle of Ha’aha’a (pronounced hah-ah-hah-ah). Basically, this cultural tenet encourages people to serve others while avoiding all accolades and self-promotion. I learned about Ha’aha’a at a traditional lu’au. The concept is rooted in the responsibilities of the tribal chief. In ancient Hawaiian culture, the chief held an obligation to serve his people with complete dedication and humility, shunning all praise and avoiding any feelings of pride.

As a mother, wife and former educator, I found this ideal so completely relatable. I nurtured my children, husband and even my students with everything I had. I strived to build them up and tried to help them soar without any vested interest. Their accomplishments have given me such joy that I never felt the need to seek nor acknowledge my own. It has been said by many that we benefit much more from giving than from receiving and I wholeheartedly agree. It can be so incredibly tough to feel that everything you do each day is solely for others and that your needs are completely cast aside. Yet the feelings generated by watching those you love achieve their dreams is far more satisfying than any individual achievement could ever be. Just imagine how different our world would be if everyone practiced a bit of ha’aha’a each day. Why not start today? #alwaysbehumbleandkind