On day 129 of the Nowhere To be Project we scheduled a tour of the original Jameson Whiskey Distillery in Dublin. We’ll be visiting Ireland in a few weeks and knew that it was an essential excursion. No matter where we are in the world, one of our favorite things to do is to seek out the local vintages, brews and spirits. We usually prefer to do it in local pubs because they usually provide an intimate connection to the culture of a place, but visiting distilleries, microbrews and vineyards offers unique opportunities for connecting more deeply with the libations of a locale as well. Some of our favorite tastes along the way have been the wines of France, the vodka of Russia, the Kölsch in Cologne, Germany Related Blog Post and the gluhwein of the European Christmas markets. We’re currently abstaining from alcohol as a sort of cleanse for the liver before the storm that will undoubtedly ensue on our upcoming British Isles Explorer voyage on the Viking Sky. If traveling tipsy is wrong, we certainly don’t want to be right.
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 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.
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?
On Day 104 of the Nowhere To Be Project I received “good mail”. When I was a kid, all mail was exciting! I had a pen pal that shared the foreign-to-me ins and outs of rural life through her letters. I also belonged to a book club that had me running to the mailbox with glee on delivery days. These days, mail is rarely exciting. No one really writes letters anymore and my box is usually filled with bills instead of books. Today, the contents of my mailbox brought back the childhood joy of mail with the delivery of my cruise documents from Viking!
In August, my husband and I will take our first ocean cruise with Viking. We’ve taken five river cruises with Viking and have been impressed and beyond pleased each and every time. We’ve also taken oodles of ocean cruises over the years on other lines. Ocean cruises were especially appealing when the kids were little because there was literally something to keep everyone entertained. As we’ve all grown older, we traded in the huge ocean liners for smaller, more intimate travel adventures (river cruises, small group tours, RV trips and so on). While the Viking ships are still very small compared to the mega liners, they offer more amenities and a broader range of itineraries than is possible on a tiny river vessel. The British Isles Explorer itinerary was the draw for us: Norway, England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland. Of those countries, England is the only one I’ve already visited!
Truth be told, we are a tad bit worried that the things that attracted us to Viking initially will change…small ships, very few passengers, cultural immersion, educational opportunities, etc. I’m literally chomping at the bit to answer these unknowns and am extremely hopeful that Viking will deliver excellence once again! It is so thrilling to have the British Isles journey in my sights and I promise to share a blow by blow of the highs, the lows and even the in-betweens.
I spent day 101 of the Nowhere To Be Project in Mount Dora, Florida. It sits at a whopping 184 feet above sea level which is most definitely considered high altitude in Florida. I’ve been coming to this town for years because is represents one of the last strip-mall free corridors in the state. The charming downtown district is situated adjacent to Lake Dora and was founded in the mid 1800s by Dora Ann Drawdy who arrived there from Georgia in search of the frontier life.
These days you’ll find a scenic scattering of independently owned shoppes and restaurants throughout town. My personal favorites are the Hospice Hope Chest, where all proceeds support palliative care, and Goblin Market, an adorable restaurant with a cool library treehouse vibe. Their menu is not rich with vegan options though (hint, hint to the proprietors), so I’m mostly limited to salad when dining with them since my transition to a plant-based diet. There are many options for lodging as well including several b&bs and a hotel making it a very popular weekend and wedding destination.
It was 93 degrees with full humidity during my visit this afternoon which made the open air design quite stifling, but useful for the loss of a bit of water weight, haha. Mount Dora is a wonderful stop for those who are seeking an authentic taste of old Florida, but I would recommend visiting during winter months unless you’re interested in a nonstop steam bath. Welcome to the swamp sauna that is Central Florida for the better part of nine months each year!
Day 92 of the Nowhere To Be Project was spent in Leland, an historic fishing village in the upper peninsula of Michigan. It is a quaint bevy of boutiques and restaurants. We popped into The Cove restaurant for lunch after admiring the sweet 1963 Corvette Stingray sitting out front. As we were enjoying a glass of local wine and contemplating the menu, a gentleman approached us and asked if we’d be willing to comment on our meals for a television program he’s producing called Seaside Snacks & Shacks. I’ve not seen the program, but was told that it airs on Food Network and the Cooking Channel. It just so happens that I skipped the shower, hairbrush and makeup this morning, so I was hesitant. I did brush my teeth, so that was a plus! Against my better judgement, my husband convinced me to do it (he’s always getting me into trouble:). It was all very quick and simple…some lights, microphones, a large camera and about ten minutes of questions. I guess we’ll see if my unintended grunge look makes the cut in July when the show airs.
Today made me think of all the uberbloggers I follow who always look like supermodels! Do they travel with stylists and lighting experts, or what? I am so busy enjoying the adventures of each day that I don’t have a lot of time left for primping. It wouldn’t be that practical for me either. I rode my scooter ten miles from the RV Park today to reach Leland, leaving my hair authentically wind blown! For some reason, I feel like something would be lost in the experiences if I was worrying about my appearance each day. What do you think? Should bloggers strive for magazine cover perfection, or should they just be real?
On Day 81 of the Nowhere To Be Project we left Jersey City in the rain and made our way to Newark to drop my son at the airport. From there, we drove to Greenwich, Connecticut in search of food. We found plenty options, but none had RV parking. Boo boo! I was super bummed because the shopping in Greenwich looked very enticing. I think my husband was secretly happy that Greenwich isn’t at all RV friendly 😉.
After driving through several more scenic townships in Connecticut, we headed north toward Bishop’s Orchard in Guilford. We reserved the spot through Harvest Hosts, a membership program that allows free overnight camping at farms, orchards and vineyards. In exchange for the complimentary camping, guests are asked to purchase something from the host. That was easy at the market at Bishop’s Orchard! They have live plants, fresh produce, a bakery, meals-to-go and an extensive selection of wine, among countless other things. They even create and sell their own yarn! Even better, we are parked for the night next to llamas for crying out loud! The air is crisp and cool making tonight the perfect one to shut off the A/C and open the windows! I think I can smell the sweet fragrant apples already. Who knew that orchard camping was a thing?!?