Chihuly art at the Denver Botanic Gardens…last days!

Don’t miss this display of fantasy art glass at the Denver Botanic Gardens which ends November 30, 2014!

Perennial Fiori

Perennial Fiori

It is delightful to walk through the autumn gardens with the sparkling accents of Dale Chihuly’s stunning art pieces.

Turquoise Reeds

Turquoise Reeds

We found the early morning to be a less crowded time to visit. Mid-day would be a good time for photography. Don’t miss the colorful surprises in the conservatory.

Float Boat

Float Boat

Overheard from a child: “These sculptures look like Dr. Seuss books!” Exactly! Enjoy the fantasy!

Monet Pool Fiori

Monet Pool Fiori

Details: http://chihuly.denver.org/

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Want a quiet break from the lively Las Vegas action? Try this nearby destination!

Clark County Heritage Museum

Clark County Heritage Museum

The Clark County Heritage Museum gives you a look into the heritage of Las Vegas and the surrounding Clark County area. An exhibit hall explores the history of the area.

Train display

Train display

Outside there is a trail through the Ghost Town buildings which have been moved onto the museum grounds. A railroad exhibit features Union Pacific Railroad engine #4442, built by the Baldwin Locomotive Works in 1918.

Candlelight Wedding Chapel

Candlelight Wedding Chapel

Heritage Street with its historically furnished homes is amazing. You will feel you have walked right into the past. The charming Candlelight Wedding Chapel provides an interesting story about Las Vegas weddings.

Path through Mojave Gardens

Path through Mojave Gardens.

Another highlight is the meandering path of the Mojave Gardens. We enjoyed this quiet walk through the desert, listening to the sounds of the water features.

Water features in the garden.

Water features in the garden.

Displays of desert plants

Displays of desert plants

Displays of desert plants include identification markers.

Rabbits 1

Rabbit

We saw rabbits and various lizards on our walk.

Details:

Clark County Heritage Museum

http://www.clarkcountynv.gov/depts/parks/pages/clark-county-museum.aspx

1830 South Boulder Highway, Henderson, NV

702-455-7955

Open 9:00 to 4:30

Admission: $2.00

 

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Peaceful time to visit GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK……

 

GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK

GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK

If you prefer to avoid crowds, the off-season is a good time to visit the Grand Canyon. Last month, we camped and hiked in the park, finding plenty of quiet time.

Bright Angel Trail

Bright Angel Trail

HIKING

This is the popular Bright Angel Trail which begins on the South Rim near Bright Angel Lodge and El Tovar Hotel. Though there were other hikers, some of whom had hiked to Phantom Ranch at the bottom of the canyon, we still had times when we were alone on the wide (and somewhat steep) trail. Wear shoes or boots with good traction. Know your limits, remembering that the hike back up the trail is more difficult than the descent. Hiking poles are valuable, especially on the way back up. Be very sure to fill your water bottle before you start down the trail.

Friendly wildlife....but don't give them a treat, no matter how charming they are!

Friendly wildlife….but don’t give them a treat, no matter how charming they are!

WALKING

We found the walks along the rim trails very peaceful with the amazing views of this geologic masterpiece and with interesting wildlife, like this friendly bird. The path from the Yavapai Geology Museum to the South Kaibab Trail head was practically deserted.  With the shuttle bus system serving the rim trails, we could hop on board for a ride when we wanted a bit of rest. Very convenient! Just remember to bring a water bottle and know where the water fill-up stations are located. Besides wearing comfortable footwear, bring a waterproof jacket in case weather conditions change.

CAMPING

We didn’t have any problem getting a great camping site without reservations, but we checked online to be sure there were plenty of available sites before we went into the park. If you want a spot with hook-ups, a reservation in Trailer Village is a good idea. Again the campground was quiet….even quiet enough for this elk to visit us during breakfast.

Our breakfast visitor!

Our breakfast visitor!

Check http://www.nps.gov/grca to plan your trip to the Grand Canyon. Hope you enjoy your Quiet Travels!

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Discover the Biopark Zoo in Albuquerque, New Mexico and meet CHOPPER!

The zoo has a new resident–“little” Chopper, a baby rhinoceros, born October 30. He made his zoo debut on February 16.

Baby rhino, Chopper! A cutie!

Baby rhino, Chopper! A cutie!

Riding the train around the zoo gives you a good overview of the exhibits.

Ride the zoo train for a tour of the zoo.

Ride the zoo train for a tour of the zoo.

Look for this beautiful stained glass while you’re exploring.

Did you see this beautiful stained glass?

Beautiful stained glass!

Hours: 9:00 to 5:00

Admission: $12.50 with discounts for children, New Mexico residents and those over 65.

903 10th Street, Albuquerque, New Mexico   (505) 768-2000

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Breakfast in Durango, Colorado.

Entrance to Jean-Pierre Bakery, Durango, Colorado.

Entrance to Jean-Pierre Bakery, Durango, Colorado.

Before riding the Durango and Silverton train to Cascade Canyon, we stop for breakfast at Jean-Pierre Bakery, just a block north of the train station.

Brick and exposed wooden beams create a warm atmosphere for the cafe.

Brick and exposed wooden beams create a warm atmosphere for the cafe.

Our table is right by the fireplace, perfect for this cold winter morning.

Bacon and swiss cheese quiche served with buttery croissant and fresh fruit.

Bacon and swiss cheese quiche served with buttery croissant and fresh fruit.

Great coffee and croissants!  The quiche is delicious, served with fresh fruit.  Before we leave, we grab a bag of treats to savor later in the day.  A treat! 

Selection of French pastries at Jean-Pierre Bakery.

Selection of French pastries at Jean-Pierre Bakery.

www.jeanpierrebakery.com

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Durango Nordic Center–an afternoon of snowshoe whispers……

Signs along the snowshoe trail at Durango Nordic Center.

Signs along the snowshoe trail at Durango Nordic Center.

The Durango Nordic Center offers a quiet (if it is not a race day) taste of snowshoe trails or cross-country ski trails at a location convenient to Durango, Colorado.  The turnoff to the center is just north of the main entrance to the Durango Mountain Resort, on the east side of U.S. Highway 550, a few miles north of Durango.

The center, offering lessons and equipment rentals, provides for an easy adventure.  Trail fees cover 21 km of groomed trails for classic and skating varieties of skiing or a 5 km loop for snowshoes.  The trails pass some residential areas and then into the forested slopes.  Picnic tables are scattered throughout, so bring a snack or a lunch to refuel.  The office offers a cozy and warm gathering area either pre- or post- ski.

Great way to spend a sunny morning or afternoon in the quiet snow!

Call  (970) 385-2114 for more information or to arrange lessons, both group and private.

 

Mountain views along the snowshoe trail at the Durango Nordic Center.

Mountain views along the snowshoe trail at the Durango Nordic Center.

 

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Posole recipe from the Strater Hotel, Durango, Colorado

Delightful breakfast-eggs, pastries and posole!

Delightful breakfast-eggs, pastries and posole!

After our stay at the Strater Hotel, we received their recipe for the delicious posole served at breakfast.  Courtesy of the Strater Hotel, we offer their recipe to our readers.  Enjoy!

Posole Marcello

Made especially at the Strater Hotel.

Posole soup is a traditional Southwestern dish.  Popular in New Mexico and old Mexico for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  Legend has it that it is a good cure for “The Morning After.”

Ingredients:

1-2 lbs. of Pork (cubed or diced) or a combination of Pork and Chicken

1 Onion, chopped

1 Small cans (or frozen for fresher taste) of Hominy (more if desired)

*1-Pint Mild Bueno Red Chili

2 Tablespoons Oregano (more if desired)

*14-16 Ounces Chicken Base

½  Gallon of Water

2 Tablespoons Cumin (more if desired)

Salt and Pepper to taste

Sear the meat until it is cooked enough to shred.  Combine the Hominy chopped onion, red chili, oregano, chicken base, water and cumin.  Season to taste.  Bring to a boil and then lower the temperature and simmer until ready to serve.

*Bueno Red Chili can be found in most grocery stores that sell Mexican food.

*Chicken base can be found in the grocery store.  Be careful not to use too much as it is salty.

A crock-pot is ideal for cooking this soup as it prevents sticking.

You may add Basil for touch of Italian flavor if you wish.

This recipe serves about 6 to 10 people.

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Celebration in DURANGO!

We’re spending this January weekend in one of our favorite places…Durango, Colorado.  Arriving in time for a quick breakfast, we grab fragrant coffee and buttermilk bars at Durango Coffee (www.cooksandcoffee.com), and then pick up our tickets for our Cascade Canyon trip on the Durango-Silverton Railroad.  (www.durangotrain.com) We find our seats among the cheerful crowd of families and couples ready for a winter adventure.

Leaving the Durango train station.

Leaving the Durango train station.

“All aboard!”  We leave the station amid the steam and chugging of the old locomotive, enjoying the sights as we pass through town along the Animas River, watching ducks and kayakers brave the ice covering most of the water.  The scenery is beautiful as we climb into the snow-covered forest and along the cliff face where the Animas far below us has cut the deep canyon.

The Durango & Silverton Railroad--along the Highline section.

The Durango & Silverton Railroad–along the Highline section.

In the open car, we feel the near zero temperatures and smell the whiffs of coal smoke from the engine.  After a couple of hours we arrive at the turn-around point, Cascade Canyon Wye.  Here we get off the train for lunch.  We could have lunch in the pavilion by the fire, but the sun is shining and feels surprisingly warm, so we choose the river side picnic tables as our dining spot.  We have brought turkey wraps, but the concession car offers a variety of lunch items.  Afterwards, we have time to walk through the snow to the foot bridge which crosses the Animas River.  Then it is time to board the train for the ride back to Durango.

Beautiful brick historic hotel.

Beautiful brick historic hotel.

We check into the historic Strater Hotel, opened in 1888 by Henry Strater, a young pharmacist who believed in the promise of this mining town.  (www.strater.com)

Entrance to the Straler Hotel.

Entrance to the Straler Hotel.

Four stories high and built of native red brick, it is indeed a landmark of the town.  Inside, the lobby is welcoming with charming seating areas which bring to mind thoughts of Victorian days.

Fireplace in the seating area.

Fireplace in the seating area.

One area features a fireplace where the burning fire draws us to its warmth.  The rooms vary in size, all unique and furnished with walnut antiques.  Though there is an elevator, it is more interesting to climb the stairs exploring the maze of hallways.  The stairs provide a workout in place of an exercise room.  There is a private Jacuzzi on a lower level which can be reserved.  Overlooking Main Street, Room 222 was a favorite of Louis L’Amour.  While writing the Sackett family stories, he appreciated the lively piano music coming from the saloon below to keep his thoughts moving along.  We’ll stay in “his” room next time.

Victorian room with American Walnut antiques

Victorian room with American Walnut antiques

Before dinner, we have time to browse along Main Street, stopping in at Claude Steelman’s photography gallery and at Maria’s Bookshop, one of our favorite independent book stores.  (www.mariasbookshop.com)

The Mahogany Grille is our choice this time for a celebratory dinner.  (www.mahoganygrille.com)

Mirrored buffet in the Mahogany Grille.

Mirrored buffet in the Mahogany Grille.

We are seated in a booth for two with brick walls, stained glass and artwork surrounding us.

Charming stained glass in the restaurant.

Charming stained glass in the restaurant.

As Nate pours a sample glass of Durango Mango Martini, he tells us of the Chateaubriand special served on Saturdays during the winter.  We can’t resist.  After our salads featuring prosciutto wrapped figs served with a selection of breads (and an amazing Kalamata Olive Tapenade), Chef Blake wheels a cart to our table to finish our entrée.   He gives us a mini-cooking class as he details each addition to the sauce–clarified butter, mushrooms, shallots, then flamed with wine.  Cold butter is whisked in, melding the sauce, then a bunch of bright spinach is tossed in for a quick finish.  He carves our meat which is perfectly done to our order of “between medium and medium rare.”  Plated with Yukon Gold potatoes, the dish looks and tastes perfect.  For dessert, Nate brings us their Chocolate Avalanche…brownies topped with chocolate ice cream, mascarpone cheese with a drizzle of chocolate sauce.  What a way to celebrate!

Dessert-Chocolate Avalanche

Dessert-Chocolate Avalanche

We’re saving the charming bar, The Office Spiritorium, and the Diamond Belle Saloon for another time.

Coffee is available on each floor in the morning to allow guest convenient access for a wake up drink.  We indulge in the continental breakfast buffet set up in a hallway between the hotel and the restaurant.  There is a nice selection of pastries, scrambled eggs, oatmeal, waffles—and posole, one of our favorite treats.  Seating is in the restaurant where orange juice, tea and very good coffee is available.  As I scoop up the red chile soup, the waiter asks if I would like the recipe….yes, please!  What a great memory to take home from our celebration in Durango.

Delightful breakfast-eggs, pastries and posole!

Delightful breakfast-eggs, pastries and posole!

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Trip to Albuquerque, New Mexico

It is a beautiful early winter day to drive into Albuquerque, New Mexico.  We check into the Albuquerque Marriott just off of I-40.  Our room has a view of the city and a wide expanse of the blue New Mexico sky.  This is a great location for a get-away, with shopping and dining within walking distance from the hotel.  Coronado Center Mall, with Macy’s and Barnes and Noble, is just down the street.  The shopping district ABQ Uptown is a couple of blocks away, with Williams-Sonoma, Pottery Barn and various clothing shops, J. Jill, Talbots and Ann Taylor among them.  Dining choices are varied.  We decide on The Melting Pot for a fantastic fondue experience.  We order the “Big Night Out” which starts with a beer/cheddar cheese fondue served with bread, veggies and apples.  The California Salad with candied pecan and gorgonzola cheese is delicious.  The spinach salad is another good choice.  Then our waiter instructs us in how to cook our entrees—steak slices, shrimp, buffalo chicken and marinated pork.  Finally… the dessert fondue, decisions, decisions!  We decide on the Flaming Turtle—perfect—a milk chocolate-caramel (and flamed at the table) fondue with candied pecans sprinkled on top.  We dip brownies, cheesecake, strawberries, crispy treats and Oreo dusted marshmallows in the delicious sauce.  What a celebration!

Beautiful Sandia Mountains east of Albuquerque. Sandia means “watermelon” in Spanish and the mountains may be so named because of the pink color of these mountains at sunset.

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Weekend in Taos.

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Walkway at El Monte Sagrado, Taos, New Mexico. Water girls at El Monte Sagrado, Taos, New Mexico. El Meze Restuarant near Taos, New Mexico. Turquoise door near a patio table at El Meze. Tim’s Trio of Tapas at El Meze. … Continue reading

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