Day 222: Magical Moab

Day 222 of the Nowhere To Be Project happened in one of the world’s most majestic settings: Moab, Utah. I have visited Moab previously in the heat of June and simply could not wait to return in the RV during the crisp air of autumn. The day began in line at the entrance of the awesome and extremely popular Arches National Park. The things you’ll see here are probably unlike anything you’ve seen before (in the best way possible). The beauty of this place is nothing short of inspiring! It is $30 per vehicle and there are ample stops for photographs, hikes, restrooms and picnicking. We spent about four hours touring the full length of the park. The pooch had to stay in the RV for most of our time at Arches due to their limited pet access, but thankfully the day was cold and windy so he was fine in the RV. I would not have felt comfortable visiting with him in the heat of summer even with air conditioning.

From Arches we headed toward stunning Canyonlands National Park. This park is also $30 per car for entry, but is not nearly as large as Arches. We spent about an hour and half touring the length of Canyonlands. Whatever you do, be sure to stay the course until the very end because that is where the magic happens! Just outside of the gates of Canyondlands is Dead Horse Point Park, another must-see Moab destination. I wasn’t surprised to learn that the ending scene of Thelma and Louise (where they take their permanent plunge) was filmed at Dead Horse Point. It is surely a breathtaking corner of our little world. Both Canyonlands and Dead Horse Point offer campsites, shaded picnic areas, restrooms and hiking/biking options. My only regret from today is that I’m in an area with limited service which means my lovely photographs can’t be fully shared…just one of the challenges of off-road blogging, I guess:-)!

Day 215: Winter is a Bully

I awoke on day 215 of the Nowhere To Be Project to snow-covered peaks hovering above me. It is so lovely to be surrounded by postcard beauty, but I’m just not ready for winter yet. Autumn is simply too precious to be cut short by an over-eager winter. Sweaters and colorful falling leaves and crisp (not freezing) air have just arrived and yet they are already being overshadowed by snowflakes! Maybe (hopefully) winter just needed to fire off a warning shot to let us know it is lying in wait. Just a few more weeks, please?

Day 212: Coffee at Dawn

Day 211 of the Nowhere To Be Project completely escaped me. I guess I’ve been too focused on indulging in all the yummy offers during Vail’s restaurant week. With that, Day 212 began with an amazing sunrise in the mountains. As the colors illuminated the sky, I sipped my coffee and munched on my vegan scrambled eggs on sourdough. Mornings like this make the 6am wake up call from the dog a bit easier to swallow. Did you find beauty n your day today?

Coffee at Dawn!

Day 210: Sipping Sangria

Day 210 of the Nowhere To Be Project was spent lazily sipping sangria at Blue Moose Pizzeria in the Lionshead corridor of Vail. While the sangria was effervescent, fruity and refreshing, the best part was the price, $2.18. This was just one more wonderful promotion for Vail’s restaurant week. There are still several days left to enjoy affordable food in Vail and that’s not something we can say very often! Cheers!

Day 209: Can’t Every Week Be Restaurant Week in Vail?

Every year at this time, something wonderful happens in Vail. It is called restaurant week! Most restaurants in town slash prices or offer specials specific to the year. This year $20.18 is the magic number!

My first round of restaurant week took place on day 209 of the Nowhere To Be Project at Sweet Basil. Sweet Basil is a staple in town and is widely known as Vail’s best fine dining restaurant. I have been to Sweet Basil many times over the years, but my daughter had yet to try it. Restaurant week inspired Sweet Basil to create a special three course meal for $20.18 and my daughter and I gave it a go for lunch. There were two choices for the first two courses, but the dessert course was a given. The appetizer course presented a choice between a caesar salad with egg or roasted cauliflower soup. The entree course consisted of either a pork sandwich with fries or a mixed green salad with roasted chicken. Finally, the dessert coarse was a trio of banana and citrus sorbet.

Roasted Cauliflower Soup

My daughter chose the cauliflower soup and the pork sandwich. Since the only strictly vegan option on the special menu was the sorbet, I decided to go with an off menu salad instead. I did sneak a few fries and some sorbet from my daughter though, both of which were outstanding. The roasted cauliflower soup was my daughter’s favorite part of the meal. It certainly had a lovely presentation and aroma. To me, the pork sandwich looked like old fashioned Shake and Bake pork chops. According to my daughter, the bread was the best part of that sandwich. Personally, I would have been thrilled to see vegan choices included among the restaurant week specials and was shocked that there weren’t even vegetarian options on offer. Nonetheless, we had a wonderful time and enjoyed a lovely creekside lunch for under fifty dollars in Vail. That could only happen during Vail’s restaurant week!

My Daughter’s Choice: Pork Sandwich with Fries
The Sorbet!

Day 208: Seductive Silence

On day 208 of the Nowhere To Be Project I dined alone as I so often do. In my mind, there are very few dinner companions as alluring as a good book. As I sat in bliss, eating and reading, the conversations of those around me seeped into my awareness. Some were bantering on about recent events in what sounded like a catch-up chat. Others whispered with gossip-filled glee. One elderly woman was happily spewing word after word and sentence after sentence, so much so that I wondered how she was managing to squeeze in bites of her meal. She just sounded so thrilled to be in the presence of others. A conversation like that would have completely exhausted me today. I guess that’s another benefit of retirement, I no longer have to speak for my dinner.

As a professor, I lectured for a living. I had to be wordy, funny, engaging, energetic and affable. If I failed, my students failed by zoning out and missing key content. I was paid to be an extrovert. Over time, this was incredibly draining because my natural inclination is toward introversion. I would come home after a day of lecturing for eight hours and stare at the television, not really watching it, but needing its drone to unwind my brain. After today’s solo meal I stumbled over the most wondrous blue pumpkins. They were sort of hidden and I’d no doubt have missed them if I’d been with another, embroiled in conversation. Not to be hyperbolic, but these pumpkins were the most beautiful shade of grey-blue-lavender that I’ve ever seen! Their seductive color not only reminded me of the beauty of silence, but reinforced the value of solitude. There’s just so much to see in the world, so many blue pumpkins, and I’d hate to miss a thing.

Day 207: The Hidden Secret of Colorado’s Priciest Town

Day 207 of the Nowhere To Be Project was the best Sunday of late. It began as most of my days do with coffee by the fire followed by a thigh-busting Peloton ride. Then it was on to a lovely creekside lunch with my daughter and a walk through the second to last farmer’s market of the season. Finally, a long windy walk with the pup through layers of crunchy fallen leaves closed out the day in quiet solitude with nary a person in sight.

The perfection that was today represents most Vail days at this time of year. This leads me to Vail’s best kept secret: October is the optimal time to visit. There’s a saying around town that people come for the winter, but stay for the summer. That may be true, but is very short-sighted because it doesn’t mention the glorious month of October. October is a time when the leaf-peepers are mostly gone, and when the town looks to the locals instead of the tourists to fill the coffers. I can confidently say that there are more dogs than people in Vail in October! This means that everything is ON SALE. From restaurant week (more on that later in the week) to the end-of-the-season sales in most shops and hotels, bargains abound. In short, prices in Vail fall with the quaking Aspen leaves. That first snowflake will usher in the harsh reality of living in one of the priciest communities around (recently ranked #1 most expensive in Colorado), so get here now if you’re like me and live for the bargain!

He loves having the mountain to himself!

Day 206: For the Love of… Avocado

It should come as no surprise that the avocado has become more popular than ever. It is everywhere and many have a ‘love it’ or ‘hate it’ attitude toward the fruit (yes, it is a fruit). Over the the past few weeks, I have been seeing a new avocado option, deep fried avocado, pop up on countless restaurant menus. I’ve tried it in the deep fried state on its own as an appetizer, in tacos, and on toast. Today, day 206 of the Nowhere To Be Project, brought me to the delicacy that is a fried avocado burger! It was so good that I’ve begun test trials of frying avocado at home. I’ll be sure to let you know how it goes, but in the meantime be sure seek out any and all sources of fried avocado and try them at once.

Day 205: Hobby Oriented Travel

On day 205 of the Nowhere To Be Project I visited an adorable new shop in the Vail Valley called Maker+Stitch. The Edwards, Colorado boutique’s website describes it as a yarn shop. It certainly does have a bounty of beautiful yarn from all over the world. It also has a few ready-made pieces for sale. I loved literally everything they had available for purchase, but as a knitter with very primitive skills I don’t yet feel worthy of a $20 or $30 skein. Thankfully, they offer classes, workshops and other events focused on teaching and learning needle crafts. I hope to try a class in hopes of improving my skills to a level that would warrant fine yarn. Perhaps even better than the classes are their planned retreats which strive to combine the inspiration that only nature can provide with needle work. These outings take advantage of the beauty of the Vail valley to inspire creativity and may include a hike, snowshoeing, or even skiing.

One of the many walls of yarn at Maker+Stitch

My visit to Maker+Stitch reminded me how fun it is to incorporate hobbies into travel. I would love to plan an entire trip around knitting, or genealogy, or hiking, but have yet to do so. I always try to include my hobbies in some way on my travels (e.g. knitting while on the road in the RV, hunting down cemeteries for genealogy, etc.) but have never planned a trip entirely around a hobby. Have you? If so, I’d love to hear all about it. Feel free to reach out via twitter, instagram or email (nowheretobeproject@gmail.com) with your hobby travel experiences and ideas.

Day 202: Plays Well With Food

Unusually, day 202 of the Nowhere To Be Project was not a travel day. That, of course, means that it was all about food. When I’m not traveling (and eating), I’m cooking at home (and eating). Food is most definitely a passion and since becoming vegan nearly a year and a half ago, I’ve had to renegotiate recipes and favorite meals. I’m not a salad eater nor am I a preachy vegan because I believe that everyone is entitled to their own lifestyle, food included. However, I know that eating more vegetables is never a bad thing. I wasn’t raised on vegetables (unless they were canned, haha), so it has been a transition to say the least. All I can say is that I’ve never felt better in my life and I chose to “go vegan” primarily for health reasons. Guess what? It’s working! My most recent blood work reveals superior levels on every single measure. Furthermore, I have no vitamin deficiencies despite the lack of the animal products and (somewhat frustratingly) my weight has stayed about the same. People often ask me how a true foodie can possibly avoid animal products. Here’s a glimpse into a recent day…

BREAKFAST

Soy “eggs” scrambled with soft herbed nut cheese, root vegetable hash browns and avocado

LUNCH

Crepes stuffed with sautéed veggies and cashew mascarpone-at the Café at the Bookworm of Edwards

DINNER

Baked ravioli, stuffed asparagus and herbed toast

As you can see, no matter where I am I eat well. As a constant traveler, I’m forever trying new foods and hunting down vegan options wherever I go. I’m always happy to share my home recipes if you’re interested. Just reach out via email at nowheretobeproject@gmail.com, twitter or instagram.