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Handmade for Woman and Home
Posts in travels
Boulder, Utah 2011

So the second and final part of our trip was three nights in Boulder, Utah. Our adventures there were beautiful and peaceful and, of course, filled with nature and ridiculously amazing food. Our need for a bit of wondrous site-seeing was fulfilled with several drives through the Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument. This is miles of roads weaving through red rocks and deep canyons, many of which lead you down into the north side of Lake Powell. When it got a little too hot in the car, we would park and walk down to the river running alongside the road, cooling ourselves in the pools and sunning like lizards on the rocks.

We stayed at Boulder Mountain Lodge, which in and of itself is really worth the trip alone. The lodge is family and pet friendly, has a hot tub, comfortable rooms and beautiful grounds. The kid’s favorite part of the day was getting badminton rackets and a birdie from the front office and attempting to hit over the too-high net in the middle of the field. They also managed to talk The Mr. into croquet one evening as well.

But the true highlight of Utah was… well, the food of course. Boulder Mountain Lodge is home to Hell’s Backbone Grill, a restaurant started in 2000 by Blake Spalding and Jennifer Castle. I won’t go into too much detail except to say that if you have a chance, go! And if you don’t, at the very least, check out their cookbook, With a Measure of Grace.  And, if you plan to go and stay at the Lodge, do your self a favor and book two nights (or more) right up front because one just isn’t enough. You need at least two dinners and two breakfasts at Hell’s Backbone to really experience the restaurant. The menu is heavily inspired by the flavors and dishes of the Southwest and the ingredients are all local and organic, many of which are grown personally by the owners.

Needless to say, my food (creamy enchiladas, cornmeal encrusted trout, a vibrant red beet salad, a plate of radishes and rosemary infused local cheddar, pueblo rice, steaming hot posole, butterscotch pudding with homemade pine nut brittle…) all disappeared so quickly that I didn’t even think to take pictures. I suppose I should plan that for next time… there will most definitely be a next time.

In the meantime, I’ll just whip up some new concoction from the cookbook and daydream about next year’s trip!

Crested Butte 2011

We’ve just returned home from our annual trip to Crested Butte, Colorado. Every year we find our way there – we used to go in the Fall as the leaves changed – now we go in the summer as the last of the wild flowers fade. We are able to head out for a nice long stretch and get back just in time for school to begin.

Crested Butte has come to mean so much to us, and that goes far beyond the beauty of the town and the surrounding terrain. We have come to love quite a few people there just like they are part of our group of friends here at home. It’s amazing how you can meet someone and see them only a few times over the span of two weeks a year and somehow still feel so deeply connected.

The Mr. and I find ourselves looking forward to this trip months in advance with a bit of giddy excitement similar to the kids’ before our other annual trip to visit the cousins and go to Disneyland! While The Mr. spends the weeks before reminding himself of all the trails and planning the routes he wants to cover on his bike, I spend time (honestly!) thinking about wild flowers, coffee and food.

Seriously, the coffee and food in this town are worth the trip alone – people in CB are serious about both, but mostly the coffee. While the main street is lined with some pretty wonderful restaurants and really any kind of food you could possibly want, it’s the two coffee spots in town that truly draw you in. Coffee is a ritual here - I love that! It reminds me of growing up in the City, being in high school and college, getting a latte and sitting down for a real conversation and losing track of time. Something I rarely do these days!

When we are in CB, we find ourselves walking over to the main street in the morning and getting coffee and actually lingering over it, enjoying a little people watching. We get the kids donuts, find them a dog to pet or some raspberries to pick and then we have more than a few precious moments to savor nearly every sip of the brew. The Mr. gets his usual strong latte (extra shots involved!) and I enjoy an Americano with lots of cream (there doesn’t seem to be any drip in this town and that’s OK!). This year I even found myself adding a little raw sugar, making the whole cup pleasantly tangy and the last few sips truly sweet.

And the wild flowers? Well, they are off the hook in CB. Really! It’s the wild flower capital of Colorado, in fact, with a wild flower festival in July. This year in particular I knew we would be in for a treat because of the late winter. It seems no matter where we were – rivers, lakes, trails, dry land, wet land – there were flowers. And not just flowers, but crazy beautiful flowers. Flowers in colors that can only be found in nature. Fields of delicate Sunflowers standing at attention facing the Sun as he moves across the afternoon sky. Sprays of Columbine and Larkspur jutting out between the rocks. Blue Flax and white Flox sprinkled along the edges of a trail. Wispy stalks of Penstemon waving in the mountain breeze and Yarrow growing higher than it will ever get in my own backyard. All of this and more still thriving amongst slightly melancholy bunches of already spent, but still sadly beautiful Black-Eyed Susans. All so truly breathtaking!

Leaving CB is always bittersweet. Losing all of that unscheduled time, time to roam and be both active and a bit lazy. Knowing that we will soon be back in the land of work and school and driving everywhere. And most of all, saying goodbye to friends we won’t see for another year. However, we always leave refreshed by more time in nature, adding to that we get at home. We reach our limit on restaurant dinners and trips to the adventure park on the mountain. The kids want to get back to their toys and friends their own age. I find myself newly inspired to get back to my sewing machine and my own kitchen. The Mr. starts getting nervous about time away from work and antsy being away from his man-cave (a.k.a. our garage). And the dog I’m sure yearns to follow the sun beams around his own familiar backyard.

So much can be said for having a different adventure in a new place every time you leave home. But the same is true of having a place you can go again and again to get a refill on all those things that make life new and fresh once more.

family, travelsJennifer