Food & Wine Event in Los Cabos

Sabor a Cabo coming to southern tip of Baja California.

SaborACabo-logoOne way to deliciously fill part of the gap between the Thanksgiving and Christmas-New Year’s holidays is at the ninth annual  Sabor a Cabo (Flavors of Cabo) food and wine festival in Los Cabos from November 30 through December 6. For the first time it includes a weeklong series of ticketed events highlighting the renowned regional cuisine of Baja California Sur and the wines of Mexico’s celebrated Baja wine region. And did I mention that high-season lodging rates are not yet in effect then?

These schedule features Country Side Taste, November 30; Sunset Gourmet Gala prepared by Michelin Star Chefs and served aboard a luxurious yacht, December 2;  Oktobeer Fest showcasing artisanal beer, local cuisine and music,December 3; Wine & Art Walk in San Jose del Cabo (my favorite town in Los Cabos), December 4, and a Star Chef Dine-Around, December 5.  The main event on December 6 from 5 to 11 p.m. in the Sculpture Garden in Puerto Los Cabos features 50 participating restaurants putting out what organizers call the “best-of-the-best” of international cuisine and wine beneath the stars.

Confirmed are such world-renowned chefs as Federico Zanellato, chef and partner of Copenhagen’s NOMA Restaurant (ranked No. 1 in the world), and Richard Sandoval, whose 35+ restaurants world-wide include Zengo, Tamayo and two La Sandias in the Denver area and Venga Venga in Snownass. Also, Dieter Koshina, owner of Portugal’s Vilajoya Restaurant (ranked No. 22 in the world); Roberto Alcocer, chef/owner of Malva Restaurant in Ensenada, Mexico; Najat Kaanache, chef/owner of Souk Restaurant, Dallas and former chef of Spain’s sadly shuttered El Bulli Restaurant; Thierry Blouet, chef/owner of Restaurant de Los Artistas, Puerto Vallarta, and Eduardo Osuna, founder of non-profit organization Chef to the Rescue in Mexico.

Festival tickets, which are available online, are $100 for general admission tickets prior to September 30 and $125 thereafter. Special lounge area access tickets are $150, and seats at VIP tables are $1,000 per person.  All the money raised during the Saturday, December 6 gala are to l be donated to the Fire Department, the Red Cross and Children’s Foundation of Los Cabos.

Cross-posted to www.culinary-colorado.com.

AirBnB: First Time But Not the Last

Prague apartment more than meets expectations.

AirBnB-logoThe AirBnB listing promised an awesome view and a great location in central Prague. The photo looked good. The price was right (under $250 for four nights). There’s WiFi in the apartment. So after checking with friends who have not only stayed but also hosted via AirBnB, I was in. I corresponded a bit with Katrina, my hostess. When I arrived, her friend Martina let me in, showed me around and gave me the keys. Katrina, it turns out, is in Barcelona. That means that I have the whole apartment to myself — except, of course, Katrina’s own room.

The baronial door between two skateboard shops pretty much symbolizes Prague today --- a co-existence between the traditional and new.

The baronial door to Katrina’s apartment building is between two skateboard shops, which pretty much symbolizes Prague today — a co-existence between the timeless and the hip. The concrete rectangle with the steel railing is the entrance to the Metro.

The apartment is on the third floor. Since Europeans label the ground floor as 0, it is on what we would call the fourth floor. Taking into account that the ceilings are 10 or 12 feet high, it is like being on an American fifth or sixth floor. There is no elevator. I travel light, especially in summer, and had just one small roll-aboard, a small purse and a daypack for my netbook, assorted battery chargers, electrical cables and adapters. Still, I was grateful that Martina, who is probably half my age, offered to take my little suitcase. The ascent is worthwhile for the apartment’s artsy ambiance and great river view.

My room features high ceilings, a comfortable bed, a small desk and a bathroom that I might have had to share with my hostess if she were here.

My room features high ceilings, a comfortable bed, a small desk, fresh flowers and a bathroom that I might have had to share with Katrina if she were here.

Continue reading “AirBnB: First Time But Not the Last”

Luxury ‘Camp’ High Above The Broadmoor

 Luxury & comfort without opulence at 9,200 feet.

020The Broadmoor, the Five Star, Five Diamond luxury resort in Colorado Springs, has developed its rustic side. Cloud Camp is a new mountain aerie at 9,200 feet occupying one summit of Cheyenne Mountain. It opened on August 15, and I was lucky to be one of the first guests.

Its main lodge has but six guest rooms on the second floor. Eleven intimate cabins are tucked in among the trees, and some are cantilevered over the steep slope, giving guests the feeling of floating. The last accommodation to be completed will be the Fire Tower Suite, requiring an ascent of 153 steps. The bedroom occupies the entire top floor of the tower, with a living room below. It is an aerie above an aerie.

Intimate cabins among the trees and rocks. The landscape has been left as natural as possible.

Intimate cabins among the trees and rocks. The landscape has been left as natural as possible.

The 8,000-square-foot main lodge recalls the grand historic timber and stone lodges of the American West, with massive public spaces, soaring ceilings and rough-hewn beams. Designed for both relaxation and contemplation, it manages to feel both baronial and intimate. Comfortable sofas, armchairs and rockers encourage conversation, board games, reading and general socializing. Stone fireplaces on each end, enormous ceiling fixtures overhead and Western art and Indian artifacts on the walls create an ambiance of relaxed elegance. The enormous table in the center can seat 30. Smaller tables for two or four are in an adjacent dining area, and there are additional tables outside as well.

Opening staff on the stairs of Cloud Camp.

Opening staff on the stairs of Cloud Camp.

Continue reading “Luxury ‘Camp’ High Above The Broadmoor”

Happy Birthday, Smokey Bear

New Mexico village boasts Smokey’s museum and park.

SmokeyBearOn August 9, 1944, the image of Smokey Bear was born, when the U.S. Forest Service and the Ad Council settled on him as a mascot for their fire-prevention efforts. Six years later, firefighters rescued a real orphaned baby bear that was clinging to a charred tree in a devastating blaze in New Mexico’s Lincoln National Forest. The bear, which had badly burned paws, nicknamed Hotfoot and taken to Santa Fe for treatment. When his story became known — more slowly than today — he was rechristened Smokey Bear, personifying the character created during World War II. Smokey was then moved to the National Zoo Washington, DC.

After receiving millions of visitors a the zoo, Smokey died in 1976, and though another rescued cub took his place, he never found the fame of the original Smokey. After his death, the bear’s body was returned to its home in the Lincoln National Forest, where he was buried without fanfare. Meanwhile, the Smokey Bear Museum had opened in 1961 in the village of Capitan in south-central New Mexico. The museum, housed in a rustic one-room building, is filled with Smokey memorabilia, photos and posters that chronicle the history of Smokey Bear and his message to prevent forest fires, along with the inevitable gift shop chock full of Smokey souvenirs. By the way, it’s Smokey Bear, not Smokey the Bear. The definite article was added by songwriters who needed an extra syllable.

Smokey Bear Museum, near the state-run Smokey Bear Historical Park.

Smokey Bear Museum, near the state-run Smokey Bear Historical Park.

Where to find it? At 102 Smokey Bear Boulevard, on the north side of New Mexico Highway 380, just west of the intersection with State Highway 48, and just east of the Smokey Bear Historical Park, where the famous little cub’s grave is found. Operated by the state Forestry Department, it features a visitor center with exhibits about forest health, forest fires, wildland/urban interface issues, fire ecology, the history of the Cooperative Forest Fire Prevention Program and a theater showing a 10-minute film discussing today’s fire and forest health issues. An outdoor exhibit features six of the vegetative life zones found in New Mexico, an outdoor amphitheater that is used for educational programs for school groups and the final resting place of the “living symbol” Smokey Bear. Also located at the park is a playground, picnic area with group shelters and the original train depot for the Village of Capitan. Entry is a modest $2 for adults and $1 for children.

Unless you happen to be in Capitan, it’s too late now, but for the record, the grand opening and dedication of the renovated visitors center, guest lecturers and a cake honoring the recent 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act and of course, the 70th birthday of Smokey Bear’s campaign. Also, celebrations today at the Smokey Bear Ranger Station in Ruidoso.

Sand Creek Massacre Commemorations Begin

150th anniversary of proclamation that set off senseless slaughter.

SandCreekMassacre-sign2Let’s remember that the United States Park Service not only protects wild and beautiful places but also historic sites, documenting the good, the bad and the ugly in American history. It has been 150 years, since war between Volunteer U.S. Army units and the Cheyenne and Arapaho boiled up and swept the High Plains. To seek public support for his war efforts, Territorial Governor John Evans issued a June Proclamation asking “peaceful Indians” to report to U.S. Army forts, most Cheyenne and Arapaho had just received that message before he offered a new declaration to the settlers in Colorado. It was ill-intentioned in the first place, but then went wrong besides.

A modest memorial commemorates a dreadful event.

A modest memorial commemorates a dreadful event.

As the Park Service explains, “The August 11 proclamation stated that Evans authorized the citizens of Colorado ‘to kill and destroy, as enemies of the country… all hostile Indians.’ This edict argued that peaceful Plains Indians had received sufficient time to report to the forts; therefore independent citizens were justified in attacking hostile Indians and seizing goods from them.

“As a consequence of these actions, war on the Plains continued even as peace chiefs sought a way to negotiate with Colorado’s leadership. Soon, elements of the First and Third Regiments attacked Sand Creek’s peaceful village, killing women and children, poisoning relations, and destroying the peace process for years.”

Dramatic skies over the Plains that the been home to the Cheyenne and other groups forever, but when they were in the white pioneers' way, tragedy ensued.

Dramatic skies over the Plains that the been home to the Cheyenne and other groups forever, but when they were in the white pioneers’ way, tragedy ensued.

The proclamation set off the Massacre that occurred in November and has been a stain on Colorado’s history for a century and a half. The Sand Creek Massacre Historic Site commemorates the tragedy. Click here to read more about the fatal proclamation and the Third Colorado Cavalry, or better, visit the Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site outside of Eads, Colorado. I cannot help but find tragic parallels between the Sand Creek tragedy and the events going on now in Gaza.

Art Everywhere — But Where?

Nationwide “art exhibition” on billboards and other places.

ArtEverywhere2014-logoTomorrow, August 4, is the rollout of Art Everywhere US, billed as “the world’s largest art show” and described as “a public celebration of great American art exhibited on thousands of out of home (OOH) advertising displays across America. OOH displays include billboards, bus shelters, subway posters and much more.” It was inspired by Art Everywhere UK.

"American Gothic" behind a staircase.

“American Gothic” behind a staircase.

Five important American art museums selected works that represent American history and culture, and the American public was invited to vote for their favorite artworks, 58 of which are featured in the Art Everywhere US campaign that is about to launch in New York’s Times Square. Where else will works appear? I don’t know, and the organizers aren’t telling exactly (except to say that theywill be in all 50 states), so you’ll just have to be on the lookout. It’s like a national scavenger hunt for famous American artworks.

 

Vasquez Creek is ‘Old-New’ Inn at Winter Park

Devil’s Thumb Ranch reopens classic inn as Vasquez Creek Inn.

VasquezCreekInn-logoThe family-owned Gasthaus Eichler was for decade a simple, lovely little Winter Park inn and fine Austro-German restaurant on the main floor. Hans and Hannelore Eichler got into the hospitality business in 1980 and built the distinctive chalet-style gasthaus in 1987. Now in their mid-70s, they retired and sold the property, which is right on US 40 across from Hideaway Park and five minutes from downtown Winter Park. It has been renamed Vasquez Creek Inn.

The Gasthaus Eichler had a definite chalet design. Photos of the new Vasquez Creek Inn are not yet available.

The Gasthaus Eichler had a definite chalet design. Photos of the new Vasquez Creek Inn are not yet available.

The Winter Park Fraser Chamber of Commerce recently named Hans and Hanne Eichler as the Fraser Valley’s Pioneers of the Year. In selling to Bob and Suzanne Fanch, owners of Devil’s Thumb Ranch in nearby Tabernash, the Eichlers couldn’t have left their inn in better hands. The Fanches, who have carefully and respectfully rebuilt and expanded Devil’s Thumb Ranch in nearby Tabernash, have a track record of environmentally aware renovations and updates.

The restaurant component of the old Eichler’s has been completely renovated and is becoming Volario’s, offering a casual bistro-style dining experience with menus described as “Spanish-influenced Northern Mountain Italian cuisine.” It is scheduled to open in mid-August for happy hour and dinner. Dining options include scratch-made pastas, pizzas, cheeses and charcuterie, along with  microbrews, creative cocktails and extensive European, domestic and Australian wine selections.  Guests can choose from dining in the restaurant, bar or on the new creekside patio.  A new private dining room with open kitchen viewing provides additional options for up to 40 people, and there’s a hot tub along Vasquez Creek for guests.

Room rates start at $175 per night, including daily European-style Continental breakfast. Summer visitors can enjoy the myriad activities at nearby Winter Park Resort or Rocky Mountain National Park, roughly 45 minutes away. The Vasquez Creek Inn is located at 78786 US Hwy 40, Winter Park, Colorado 80482; 970-722-1188.

Airlines’ Extra Fees Soar Ever Higher

Extra revenues are passengers’ burdens.

smarter-travel-logoSmarterTravel.com posted “Airlines with the Most Extra Fees,” citing a new study by industry consulting firm IdeaWorks. which “found that the airlines’ ancillary fees had increased by almost 1,200 percent between 2007 and 2013, from $2.45 billion to $31.5 billion,” adding that “lthough the overall trend is clear, and inescapable, not all airlines are equally oppressive when it comes to tagging every imaginable atomic particle of air travel with a surcharge. There are more and less egregious gougers. According to the report, on a per-person basis, the airlines imposing the highest fees are as follows:”

  • $55.61. Jet2.com (a UK company that bundles travel components and thereby  manages to hide extra fees)
  • $51.22.  Spirit (a US nickel-and-dime champ that I flew this past spring — and never again)
  • $45.67. Qantas
  • $44.87. Allegiant (from what I understand, a Spirit-like carrier)
  • $44.43. AirAsia
  • $40.97. United (no surprise)
  • $38.93. Korean Air
  • $34.41. Wizz Air
  • $33.92. Virgin Atlantic
  • $32.61. Alaska Air Group

Most dispiriting of all are the add-ons by low-fare domestic carriers, because the extra fees are a hefty percentage of the fare. When a robust add-on is charged for long and pricy trans-Pacific or even trans-Atlantic flights, the percentage isn’t quite so bad. I’d rather pay an extra $35-$45 to, say, Qantas or Korean Air than to Spirit.

Buffalo Bill Days Are Here

Great Western showman celebrated Golden.

BuffaloBillDays-logoBuffalo Bill Cody was probably buried atop Lookout Mountain in Golden, though there are those he believe that a posse of Wyomingites spirited his casket to his namesake town of Cody. If so, they didn’t erect a marker. Golden, however, has a commanding monument.

Rocks, rocks and more rocks mark Buffalo Bill's Grave atop Lookout Mountain high over Golden, Colorado.

Rocks, rocks and more rocks mark Buffalo Bill’s Grave atop Lookout Mountain high over Golden, Colorado.

Golden also honors the great showman with Buffalo Bill Days, (July 23-27), a huge celebration that turns 60 this year and has never looked better. The local Lions Club organizes this free annual festival, which is jam-packed with Western entertainment, live music, kids’ activities, food trucks, beer garden, muttin bustin’ and the beloved Best of the West parade. Beginning with a simple trail ride up to Buffalo Bill’s Grave in the 1940s, Buffalo Bill Days has turned into a multi-day that includes:

  • Best of the West Parade- A highlight of the festival, the Best of the West Parade starts at 10 a.m. on Saturday, July 26. A feast for the eyes, you’ll see trotting horses, colorful Old West characters and fanfare, collectible cars, real cowboys, Native American dancers, and more. Saddle on up to Washington Avenue in beautiful historic downtown Golden early – you won’t want to miss the fun.
  • Cody’s Wild West- In the spirit of the original traveling show that brought the Wild West to the world, this year’s Cody’s Wild West reflects a rugged American spirit and originality. Western performers make up this 90-minute extravaganza on the west end of the Lions Park Ball Fields on 10th Street on Saturday, July 26 at 12:30 p.m. 
  • Live Music- The entertainment starts at 5 p.m. on Friday, July 25 with live music by Chris Daniels and the Kings and continues all weekend in Parfet Park in downtown Golden. Brad Lee Schroeder is the featured band on Saturday night along with other local bands. The Long Run “Colorado’s Tribute to the Eagles” closes out Sunday from 2 to 5 p.m.
  • Muttin Bustin’- If you haven’t seen muttin bustin’ before, make sure that you don’t miss this raucous show and Buffalo Bill Days tradition. On Sunday, July 27 at 11 a.m. children aged five to seven years strap on a helmet and vest and hang on to a sprinting sheep for as long as possible in Lions Park.
  • Car Shows- Though Buffalo Bill was known for his horsemanship, it’s safe to say that he would have appreciated the gorgeous automobiles in the classic and orphaned car shows on Sunday, July 27 beginning at 10 a.m. on the Clear Creek Bridge to 14th on Washington Avenue.

FoMoInfo contact the Buffalo Bill Days Committee, 303-279-3342.

Colorado’s First Summer Tubing Hill

Snow Mountain Ranch debuts summer joy ride — I mean, joyful summer ride.

SNW-SnowMtRanch-logoSnow tubing is an increasingly popular adjunct to skiing and snowboarding at ski resorts across the country. Now Colorado’s Snow Mountain Ranch, a huge YMCA-run facility in Colorado’s Grand County, has inaugurated the state’s first summer tubing hill — and the third in the country after Sunrise, Arizona, and Red River, New Mexico. The hill mimics a snow surface using SnowFlex technology and has been an 11-month build-out.  A tow ferries tubes and riders up the hill.

Colorado's first summer tubing hill at Snow Mountain Ranch/YMCA of the Rockies.

Colorado’s first summer tubing hill at Snow Mountain Ranch/YMCA of the Rockies.

Guests staying at Snow Mountain Ranch can slide down the hill at no cost, while members of YMCA of the Rockies or any other YMCA (with proof of membership) buying day pass can use the tubing hill for $15 per person. Fees for other day visitors are $35 for age 13 and older; $25 for ages 6 to 12, and $15 for ages  3 to 5. It includes access to the mini-golf course, tennis courts, indoor pool and sauna, hiking and biking trails, free family programs and much more. The facility is just off US 40 between the Winter Park Resort and Granby at 1101 County Road 53,  Granby, CO 80446;  970-887-2152.