Henderson Mine…Second Attempt

December 4, 2016

Well, I’m 0-2 in trying to reach Henderson Mine in the winter…bummer! I went last spring with David, but we never found it despite being above treeline and walking around. This time, Diana, Jim and I made an attempt. I really thought we’d be able to reach it this time.

We started up Butler Gulch trail on packed snow through a forest of evergreens whose branches were adorned in snow. The sun poked through fast moving clouds as we climbed a somewhat steep grade. We followed the swithbacks at a slow steady pace until we started to leave the treeline.

The wind picked up dramatically and snow whipped across the trail stinging our faces. Our hands instantly turned cold despite heavy gloves and mittens, so we broke out hand warmers. We continued in the open space for only a short while more as we suddenly began sinking to our knees.

At this point, none of us wanted to sit down to strap on our snow shoes as we knew we’d only get colder, especially our hands and feet. In addition, our camelback hoses were freezing up. If we didn’t drink water about every five minutes, we were working hard to get ice out of our bite piece. The final straw for me was, one of the many off-leash dogs on the trail jumped up on me while getting ice and snow all over my camera lens. I tried in vain to remove the ice enough for clear photos, but that turned out to be an excercise in futility. It was time to turn around!

In the summer-time, we rarely ever turn around. We feel like there isn’t much of an excuse not to reach our destination (unless it is lightning). In the winter, however, we don’t mind trying another time. It isn’t worth getting hypothermia! Covered in four layers of clothes, none of us were particularly warm, and it seemed like we’d only get colder with thick, gray clouds enveloping the surrounding peaks.

I’m glad we threw in the towel as by the end of the hike, we walked through light snow. At least we got outside in the beautiful mountains and got some exercise. Our four to five mile hike felt like eight, but overall it was a very pretty scene. ETB

For notecards, key chains or photos on canvas, visit http://www.notablenotecards.com or http://www.etsy.com/shop/nichenotecards
Mountain Goat Keychain thumbnail

From Turkey to Trails

November 22-26, 2016

What a lovely Thanksgiving Week. It was so nice! It started on Tuesday with pre-Thanksgiving at my sister Christian’s house. We sat outside by her firepit which kept us warm on a nippy night and enjoyed a fantastic dinner which included beef tenderloin, salad, potatoes, brussel sprouts and squash souffle. And who can forget the truffles. I wish I would have taken more pictures, but I did capture a few folks watching a funny Thanksgiving video from Jimmy Kimmel.

Thanksgiving Day was packed full! I started the morning running a 5K that supported research for Prader-Willi Syndrome. While I wasn’t familiar with Prader-Willi Syndrome, the Denver Turkey Trot was farther away, slightly longer and supported United Way which according to the charity chart I saw, doesn’t give out as much money as I’d prefer, so the 5k in Stapleton won my participation. I later found out Prader-Willi Syndrome is a genetic disorder. While I was taking cover from the ice-cold wind behind a building near the start, I met a nice lady from Castle Rock whose grand-daughter suffered from the disorder. It felt good to help out, even if it was just a little. For more on Prader-Willi, click here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prader-Willi_syndrome.

The start of the race began at 10:15 beneath clear blue skies. Those who know me, know I’m not fond of cold weather, so admittedly I checked the forecast before I signed up! I can’t say I would have run if it were snowing. The only challenge was the wind, but once I got started, it kept me at a moderate temperature the whole way which was very nice. I enjoyed the course as well, as I hadn’t run around the park system in this area, and there were several encouraging signs along the way. The race was staffed with great volunteers that pointed us in the proper direction and handed out water near the half-way point. There was also unofficial volunteer stand that gave out Wild Turkey Shots!

20161124_175011568_ios-beth

I finished up in a respectable time given I hardly ever run, and headed back to the house to finish up a few side dishes for Thanksgiving at Moria’s. I whipped up a sweet potato casserole and frozen chocolate pie to add to her yummy meal which included turkey, green beans, mashed potatoes, pecan pie and pumpkin pie. We ate while watching the Cowboy game, which was quite good in my eyes! I’m thankful for awesome friends.

After hanging out with friends, I headed up to Breckenridge to take advantage of this unseasonably warm weather. While I’m certain skiers are disappointed, I was happy to be able to hike on only a thin layer of snow without spikes or snowshoes! I took my first hike on opt-outside black Friday. When I awoke it was 12 degrees…BRRR. I didn’t expect it to be that cold. Fortunately, with only a 5.6 mile hike planned to Sallie Barber Mine, then down to Sallie Barber Road, and back, I had the luxury to wait until late morning when the temperature made it above freezing!

I can’t say that the trail was terribly exciting. The service road crosses a creek and then ascends around 400 feet through a forest to the mine over 1.45 miles. I’m glad I hiked this trail in the winter with a light layer of snow rather than climbing a dirt road in the summer as I think the snow made it prettier. Skiers seemed to enjoy their morning exercise and the dogs were in heaven as the raced through the snow.

I found myself relieved to reach the mine. Starting the hike above 10,000 feet was little rough on my oxygen intake. Anyway, for some reason, mines intrigue me. The Sallie Barber Mine was a small, but relatively long-time producer of zinc and other minerals. It opened in the early 1880’s and was abandoned in 1911 and reopened for a short time during World War I. I love inspecting all the mining equipment and the old structures.

After wandering around the mine for a bit, I considered turning around and shortening my hike to only three miles. Then I thought, don’t be ridiculous, it is beautiful outside! So I continued on as originally planned. I strolled down the hill to Sallie Barber Road and then turned around to climb back up and over to get back to my car. What I didn’t know about the trail, is that it connects to several other trails in the area. It appears it would be easy to make a variety of loops. I’ll have to look into those options next time. But for now, I enjoyed opting outside and planned another hike for Saturday. http://www.protrails.com/trail/370/summit-county-eagle-county-clear-creek-county-french-gulch-road-to-sallie-barber-mine

On Saturday, I drove from Breckenridge to Silverthorne to hike to Lily Pad Lake. There are several trails that lead to Lily Pad Lake, so it is important not to trust Google Maps unless input the GPS coordinates! I eventually found the trailhead just past the Buffalo Cabins Trailhead.

The Lily Pad Lake Trail started out like the Sallie Barber trail, a wide ascending road. This road provided a fantastic view of Dillon Reservoir below. Soon the trail entered a vast lodge pole pine forest that I really loved. While it is difficult to see so many fallen trees that have succumbed to the pine beetle, they are quite remarkable covered in snow.

As I followed the path through the forest, I took careful steps across a few creeks that were frozen over yet I could hear water running beneath. The stroll was so tranquil and only interrupted occasionally by a squirrel chirping or a fellow hiker enjoying nature. Soon I reached the desitination. It should really be named Lily Pad Lakes, as there are two, the first one being much smaller than the second. I chose to have lunch at the second one as it was much prettier to me. What a peaceful place. I think I will return on summer trek via a different trail. A great week! ETB
http://www.protrails.com/trail/385/summit-county-eagle-county-clear-creek-county-lily-pad-lake

If I told you your cell phone bill would be free for the rest of your life if you referred 4 people to your carrier, would you do it?

Do you want to travel more often?

If so, this vacation club is for you!

Get the gist here: http://www.ratpacknation.net/pages/can-i-do-it

Want more details, click here: http://smartcardprelaunch.com/

To browse experiences or to sign up, click here: http://www.bethbankhead.dreamtrips.com

For more information, email me.

For notecards, key chains or photos on canvas, visit www.notablenotecards.com or www.etsy.com/shop/nichenotecards

elk website copy

On and Off the Vegas Strip

November 12-13, 2016

Well I think most people would talk about gambling and clubbing after they visit Vegas.  I, on the otherhand, prefer the dining and shows in Vegas, though I think the food may be more expensive in Vegas than New York.

Ann, my tennis partner, and I traveled to Vegas to run the Rock’n Roll 10K.  Given neither of us had trained much at all, we were trying our hardest to rest up for the event on Sunday night, but the casinos are so big, we still managed to talk nearly 6 miles a day!  And that was with the help of a taxi and the monorail.

Aside from lounging poolside at Bellagio, we ate and went to see Carrot Top.  Our first meal of our trip came at lunchtime on Saturday.  We stopped at Morels French Steak House and Bistro on our way back from the expo at the convention center where we picked up our race packet.

Morels is located in the Venetian and has a lovely second story patio.  We thought it would be a great place for people watching and the menu was appealing.  I picked the mussels which came with fantastic fries and Ann opted for a shrimp salad with a side of fries.  The portions were enormous and we loaded up since we’d be burning countless calories tomorrow.

After a relaxing, yet somewhat cool afternoon at the Bellagio pool and a stroll through the atrium to admire the Thanksgiving decorations, we dressed up for dinner at Julian Serrano Tapas at the Aria.  We were a bit more discerning about dinner, and spent a short time researching restaurants on Yelp.  This one got high ratings and Spanish food sounded good to me, so we reserved a table.  Little did I know Julian Serrano is an award-winning chef who recently guided a team on the popular Top Chef TV show to victory.  Apparently he is going viral…but I wasn’t following the trend.

The restaurants in Vegas are giant!  We opted to sit at the bar to enjoy the atmosphere.  The service at Julian Serrano was impeccable.  The bartender could rattle off every detail of each dish on the extensive menu.  Our tapas were served extremely quickly.  We were shocked at the speed.  The cheese stuff peppers were excellent.  Ann loved the tuna cones so much we got a second order, and I loved the shrimp black rice.  The tenderloin was extremely tender as well.  The paella looked out of this world, but we had plans for Carrot Top later, and paella required planning (60 minute preparation).  While we probably had enough time, we chose to eat at a leisurely pace rather than wait and then rush.

Carrot Top plays at the Luxor, so after dinner, we headed south on the strip, but not before we admired the semi-circle of Lamborghini’s parked outside of the Aria.  According to the license plates, most of them seemed to be owned by “Gia Lai”.  For car enthusiasts, this was so cool!

20161113_032312079_ios-lambourginies

Carrot Top is a character.  He uses props for most of his act, and I have to say he had us in stitches!  I wish I could even remember even one of his jokes, but he talks SUPER fast, and many wouldn’t be appropriate for the content on this blog anyway!  From the Luxor, we took a taxi back to the Bellagio and called it a night.  We didn’t even gamble!  I brought $100 to waste on the slots, but I managed to save it.

Our eating continued the next day at Palio for breakfast.  The berries were outstanding and the pastries looked divine.  I mean the nutella pocket and almond croissant were huge.  I really wanted one, but behaved.

We ended up back at the Venetian around lunch time.  Ann wanted to do a little shopping at a favorite store.  We ended up at Il Fornaio (a chain) for a carbo-load.  Our pasta was quite tasty and our server was even more interesting.  She used to ride horses with the Canadian Olympic team and her husband was the chef at One-O-One, the best fish restaurant in London.  He has also been a chef for President Elect Trump and might have a chance to cook at the White House!

With lunch over, we prepared for our race.  We pinned our bib number to our running shirts and attached the tracker to our shoe.  We walked over to the monorail at the Flamingo which took us to the SLS, the last stop on the train and the start of the 10K.  I learned a lot about the public transportation at this time.  There is a tram that goes around the City Center and it is reachable while weaving through the Bellagio.  The monorail, however, is different an operates on the opposite side of the street.

The station at the Flamingo was packed.  We could hardly squeeze off the escalator.  45,000 runners were going in different directions.  Those running the 10K headed north to the start line, while those running the half and full marathon headed south.  It was a little confusing!

We reached the start line about 45 minutes before the 4pm start time and milled around the area on the clear sunny afternoon.  We began the race with a view of the Stratosphere.  I must say the roller coasters on the top of that building are terrifying!

One of the fun parts of this race, was the fact we left the Las Vegas strip and got to see other places.  We ran by the famous A Little White Chapel where Michael Jordan and Joan Collins were married.  We passed by more chapels as well as the famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop where the TV show Pawn Stars is filmed.

Soon we turned down the old Las Vegas Strip and eventually we ended up on the current Las Vegas Strip.  I’ve never run a race in the afternoon/evening.  They usually start at the crack of dawn.  This was fun to run by all the lights with the street closed to traffic!  We celebrated our finish with a beer before we treated ourselves to sushi at Yellowtail in Bellagio.

I ate here two years ago, and generally don’t return to the same places because I like to try different options, but this restaurant was so good, I wanted to return.  I hoped that the food was just as good and met my expectations.  It didn’t disappoint.  While they change the menu regularly, the tuna pizza always stays under the appetizers.  Yes, it sounds terrible, but two years ago the waitress recommended it to us when we wanted one last dish and we had wished we’d ordered it first as we might have gotten two!  This time we got it first, and I’m happy to say it was decadent.  So was my “protein” roll…solid sushi…no rice.  Perfect!

Not only is the food great at Yellowtail, so is the view.  We got to see the Bellagio fountain show every 15 minutes.  It was a perfect way to end a short weekend in Vegas.  ETB

If I told you your cell phone bill would be free for the rest of your life if you referred 4 people to your carrier, would you do it?

Do you want to travel more often?

If so, this vacation club is for you!

Get the gist here: http://www.ratpacknation.net/pages/can-i-do-it

Want more details, click here: http://smartcardprelaunch.com/

To browse experiences or to sign up, click here: http://www.bethbankhead.dreamtrips.com

For more information, email me.

For notecards, key chains or photos on canvas, visit www.notablenotecards.com or www.etsy.com/shop/nichenotecards
boots website copy

 

A Day at Devil’s Backbone

November 10, 2016

I took the nicest hike with Ellie today.  I take care of her Mondays-Thursdays, so she sort feels like mine.  She loves humans, but isn’t quite as fond of other dogs.  Ellie is a Plott Hound, a breed of which I have never heard.  She is an extremely well behaved dog.

Unfortunately, my friends couldn’t join me this week.  They were headed out of town, have friends in town, renovating their house, and training a new puppy.  But it was good, because it gave me a chance to play around with my DSLR.  I haven’t used my good camera for over six months, as I don’t want to slow people down on hikes, though I have recently been inspired to practice as a friend asked me if I would photograph their wedding in Montana!

I feel so flattered and nervous at the same time.  I’ve never shot a wedding, nor do I spend too much time with people as my subjects.  Nature is my bread and butter.  Anyway, I’m very excited about it.

On to the hike…today I decided to visit Devil’s Backbone Open Space.  It is located near Loveland, just south of Fort Collins.  We don’t generally travel north for hiking unless we head a little west as well toward Rocky Mountain National Park.  I definitely was not familiar with the area.  The forecast called for a windy day.  As such, Ellie and I waited until 9am to drive the hour north to give the air temperature a chance to warm up.

Upon arrival at the open space, I studied the posted map.  There were a variety of trails that connected to one another.  I opted for a combination of three loops, Wild Loop, Hunter Loop, and Laughing Horse Loop.  The total mileage added up to 4.9 miles.

We started out on the red, sandstone path on the interpretive Wild Loop Trail.  Generally I’m not that fond of interpretive trails because they feel commercialized, but this trail felt different.  The uneven, rocky path along with a simple numbered posts and brochures available at the trailhead were very well done by Larimer County Open Lands Program.

The Devil’s Backbone is composed of gray-brown to tan Dakota Sandstones of the Lytle Formation which is between 100-115 years old.  It is home to a variety of nesting birds, including red-tailed hawks, prairie falcons, swallows, a pair of ravens, and a great horned owl.  Apparently, it is rare to find a pair of nesting ravens in this area.  Today, I saw hawks soaring in the cool breeze over the rock formation.

In fact, the cool breeze was most welcome.  It turned out to be very warm for a November day beneath clear, blue skies.  I made several water stops for Ellie, who seemed to always have her tongue swinging in the wind as she trotted along with me.

The rocks that create the Devil’s Backbone sure look like they would be fun to climb, though climbing isn’t allowed.  I was happy to find that the trail did lead us quite close to the keyhole so we could get a better look at the formation and the views to the west that include Long’s Peak, a 14er.  I can’ only imagine how pretty the view would have been if there was a bit more snow in the mountains, but as a non-skier, I’m not complaining about the unseasonably warm weather.The keyhole was formed by erosion of coarse-grained rocks that were weaker than the rocks around the hole.

From the key hole and rock formation, we continued on to Hunter Loop and then to Laughing Horse Loop over rolling prairie peppered with dormant bushes, golden praire grass, and cacti that had finished blooming.  I bet during the right season, the flowers and color along the trail would be lovely.  Since we were quietly strolling along the trail, we were blessed to spot a few deer!

I really enjoyed going at my own pace and testing out different settings on my camera. It has been a while since I hiked alone.  I think I did a substantially good job of wearing out Ellie as well.  It was quite a peaceful day!  ETB

websites: http://larimer.org/parks/bbone.cfm

If I told you your cell phone bill would be free for the rest of your life if you referred 4 people to your carrier, would you do it?

Do you want to travel more often?

If so, this vacation club is for you!

Get the gist here: http://www.ratpacknation.net/pages/can-i-do-it

Want more details, click here: http://smartcardprelaunch.com/

To browse experiences or to sign up, click here: http://www.bethbankhead.dreamtrips.com

For more information, email me.

For notecards, key chains or photos on canvas, visit www.notablenotecards.com or www.etsy.com/shop/nichenotecards

GPS-Guided Travel App Available at GPSMyCity

November 7, 2016

I’m pleased to announce another one of my blog posts has been turned into an app and is available on GPSMyCity.

You may wonder, “What’s the big deal? I can read the travel post on your blog.” Well, yes, assuming you have access to the internet, you can read my article on my blog.

But what if you don’t have access to the internet? Do you really want to use your data? Better yet, what if you are in a different country, and you don’t have a cell service plan for the place you are visiting?

This is where the new travel app concept offered by GPSMyCity is quite useful. GPSMyCity produces city walk apps for nearly 500 cities worldwide. Want to see the sites in Paris? There’s an app for that. Want to try different restaurants in Malaga, Spain? There’s an app for that. You can download each travel article for FREE and read it whenever you like…in the airport, on the plane or street corner, or wherever!

20161102_045928000_ios-small

Should you wish to have a GPS-guided tour and map along with the article, all you have to do is upgrade for $1.99.

20161102_050852000_ios

For a limited time (Nov 7-13, 2016), my app article “Oslo, Norway and the Outskirts” is available to upgrade to a GPS-guided article for FREE!

To get your FREE upgraded app, just click on the link below and follow the instructions to download the GPSMyCity app. You will then be taken to the page for the article app – click on Upgrade and the app will be automatically linked to an offline map and the GPS navigator.

Oslo, Norway and the Outskirts
http://www.gpsmycity.com/dlnk/?view=guide&id=15534&aff=1001ldon

Don’t forget the rest of my articles that are available on GPSMyCity:

Adventure in Albuquerque, New Mexico
http://www.gpsmycity.com/dlnk/?view=guide&id=2174&aff=1001ldon

A Day Tour of Bangkok, Thailand
http://www.gpsmycity.com/dlnk/?view=guide&id=2164&aff=1001ldon

Castles in Copenhagen, Denmark
http://www.gpsmycity.com/dlnk/?view=guide&id=2084&aff=1001ldon

Cycling in Copenhagen, Denmark
http://www.gpsmycity.com/dlnk/?view=guide&id=2074&aff=1001ldon

Cruising Around Gdansk, Poland
http://www.gpsmycity.com/dlnk/?view=guide&id=2034&aff=1001ldon

The Markets and Cathedrals of Granada, Nicaragua
http://www.gpsmycity.com/dlnk/?view=guide&id=2124&aff=1001ldon

Dubai, UAE and Its International Appeal
http://www.gpsmycity.com/dlnk/?view=guide&id=2094&aff=1001ldon

Adventures in Paris, France
http://www.gpsmycity.com/dlnk/?view=guide&id=2134&aff=1001ldon

Adventures in Paris, France Part 2
http://www.gpsmycity.com/dlnk/?view=guide&id=2154&aff=1001ldon

Sightseeing in Stockholm, Sweden
http://www.gpsmycity.com/dlnk/?view=guide&id=2044&aff=1001ldon

Imperial St. Petersburg, Russia
http://www.gpsmycity.com/dlnk/?view=guide&id=2104&aff=1001ldon

Loved Tallinn, Estonia!
http://www.gpsmycity.com/dlnk/?view=guide&id=2054&aff=1001ldon

Tour of Tombstone, Arizona
http://www.gpsmycity.com/dlnk/?view=guide&id=2814&aff=1001ldon

Strolling Around Santiago, Chile
http://www.gpsmycity.com/dlnk/?view=guide&id=2834&aff=1001ldon

A Walking Tour of Narita, Japan
http://www.gpsmycity.com/dlnk/?view=guide&id=2844&aff=1001ldon

If I told you your cell phone bill would be free for the rest of your life if you referred 4 people to your carrier, would you do it?

Do you want to travel more often?

If so, this vacation club is for you!

Get the gist here: http://www.ratpacknation.net/pages/can-i-do-it

Want more details, click here: http://smartcardprelaunch.com/

To browse experiences or to sign up, click here: http://www.bethbankhead.dreamtrips.com

For more information, email me.

Ya Mon…Negril, Jamaica!

October 26-30, 2016

What a relaxing trip to Jamaica!

The travel started out a bit rough, having to arrive at the airport at 4:30am only to be helped by a grouchy Southwest Airlines ticket agent. This was a bit disappointing to me, as generally the customer service is quite spectacular which is a big reason why I use the company. Not to mention I worked there years ago in Revenue Management and Pricing.

After a weak “hello”, the older woman asked me in a condescending tone, “Do you have your passport?” It was almost like she thought I wouldn’t! Then after I received the boarding pass, I asked if she could reprint it with TSA precheck since I have global entry.

She agreed and asked for my known traveler ID. I said, “I don’t have it with me, but it is in my SWA profile.”

“No it isn’t,” she argued.

I replied, “Yes, it is. It is also in my American Airlines and United profile.”

“Well, we have a new system, and it isn’t showing.”

I said, “Ok, I can look at my profile and get it for you. Should I step aside and let others go ahead?”

“No”

After a while, she became impatient and said, “It is the TT number.”

Thinking to myself it isn’t the TT number, I replied, “I’m very aware of what it is. It is in my profile. I just can’t see it on my mobile device. If I had a computer, I could look it up.”

By this time, the agent next to her overheard the conversation, and quickly pointed to her computer screen while directing her to “scroll down.”

Low and behold, there was my known traveler ID!

She replied, “Well it’s your passport number.”

To which I replied, “No it isn’t.”

And the other agent chimed in, “It starts with a 9. It’s not a TT number or passport number.”

So, the older woman proceeded to type the number into this new system, only to tell me it doesn’t work. I later found out she left off a 0. But anyway, she needs some training!

The good news is, the only way my morning could go after that exchange, was up!

The rest of the travel day went smoothly. I met my mom in Houston. Both of our flights were on time. We experienced the friendly Southwest service thereafter. We cruised through immigration/customs in Montego Bay and found transportation desk #16 where our hotel, Idle Awhile, had arranged our $80 taxi ride to Negril, the common fee.

We were directed outside, where our driver Chris found us. He was a friendly chap. He almost always had two conversations going on at once. One on is cell and another one with us as he listened to our comments.

He asked where we were from and when I replied Colorado, he responded, “Marijuana is legal there now, did you bring any?”

I said, “Well it’s not legal federally. So no I didn’t bring any. And besides, if I really wanted some, I’m pretty sure I could get some Mary Jane here.”

He started laughing and told a story, “One time I picked up a guy and he asked me if there was marijuana here, and I told him that’s like asking an Asian is there rice in Asia!”

He was funny! We sat in quite a bit of congestion near Montego Bay as the cruise ship was in port. Eventually we got out of town on the two way road with lots of potholes. We enjoyed the view of some lovely estates, the aqua water, and some small, somewhat dilapidated towns as we made room for many school children walking down the side of the road.

After about 1.5 hours in the car as we were nearing Negril, I asked, “Where do you live?”

Remarkably, he answered, “Right here!”

I couldn’t have timed that better.

We finally made it to Idle Awhile and were greeted by a friendly staff. They gave us a water bottle, took our bags to our room, and then pointed out the features in it. Then they told us the bar staff was waiting for us, so we could enjoy a welcome drink! Pointing down the pathway, they said, “The bar is down by the beach.”

20161026_225940444_ios-walkway

What a lovely view at dusk. We enjoyed our drink and came back for dinner around 6. Our meal was pretty good. It wasn’t the best fish I had ever had, but it certainly wasn’t bad. And I got to try a Jamaican food I had never had, Bammy. Bammy is a Jamaican cassava flatbread. It reminded me almost of polenta. But it was good.

20161026_230423014_ios-dinner

After dinner we headed back to the room to relax and watch the Cubs after a long travel day. The tree frogs were chirping in full force. I shined the flash light on my phone on several trees until I finally found one. I was hoping it would have been vibrant green and purple or something. This one was just the usual greenish brown frog. They sure did create a nice chorus.

The room included a lovely porch with a hammock, a comfortable king size bed, a loft, a sitting area, bathroom, and kitchenette. It was nice, though a little dark for those who can’t see.

We both couldn’t wait until morning to set our eyes on Seven Mile Beach, ranked #1 on TripAdvisor for Things to Do in Negril. The beach didn’t disappoint. Though the morning was slightly overcast, the sand beach glimmered by the calm turquoise water. The hotel staff set beach chairs out for us beneath an umbrella. What I loved about the plastic beach lounger was the cushion for it was a white foam raft. If we got hot, we could just pick up the raft and go float in the Caribbean!

We found after strolling along the beach for some time, that many of the nice hotels provided the white float with the beach chairs. I think this was a brilliant idea! Back on the chairs while reading our books, many vendors approached us…”fruit, juice, parasail, glass bottom boat tour, bracelet?” they would ask. A polite “No Thank You” sent them away. I’ve heard in Montego Bay and Ocho Rios the vendors are more aggressive. In Negril, they are friendly!

Our days and nights, frankly were uneventful! We simply relaxed which was unusual but nice for me after being very busy at home in recent weeks. Instead of eating at the hotel this evening, we tried Jamaican food at Best of the West across the street from the hotel. All locals sat at the bar. We were the only tourists, and we took a two person table. I ordered the jerk chicken which was fantastic. My mom ordered the pork. It was almost black in color and SUPER hot. I only took one bite! I don’t know how she ate any of it. Once again, the locals couldn’t have been nicer and were pleased to take our photo.

The next day was more of the same…laying out on the beach while reading. We also tried another new food I’d never heard of, ackee. It is a fruit in the soapberry family, but to me it almost tasted like squash. We switched it up the final day and took the complimentary shuttle up to the Idle Awhile Cliff resort. This resort had a pool just next to the cliffs. When we first arrived in the late morning, we had a choice of any lounge chair around the small lap pool. Only four more people joined us at the pool over the course of the day. The sun was blazing and the breeze was cooling making for perfect afternoon. Our lobster salad was spectacular.

We hung out all day and chatted with a couple from Upstate New York. They have been coming to Jamaica for over ten years. In fact, most the people we met were repeat clients of the hotel. The nice part about the cliffs was the tranquility. There weren’t any vendors. In fact, the couple at the pool told us, they stay at the cliffs first to mellow out, and then they move down to the beach later! If we were staying for longer than a few days, that would have been a good option.

I also believe, if I had wanted an active vacation, Ocho Rios may have been a better choice. While I didn’t even lay eyes on Ocho Rios, I think the hiking and river rafting and such is closer to this area and wouldn’t require an all day commitment with at least four hours in the car like it would take from Negril. I could return to Jamaica and try an active vacation. At the same time, there are so many places to see in the world, I have to keep traveling. Anyway, despite a few migraines, it was a nice way to spend time with my mom! ETB

Want to travel sooner? Check out this video about an awesome vacation club and PM me: http://www.ratpacknation.net/pages/can-i-do-it

Need a hostess gift for Thanksgiving, a stocking stuffer, or Christmas cards, visit www.notablenotecards.com or www.etsy.com/shop/nichenotecards or just PM if there is a custom order you want.

maple leaf website copy

Beautiful Beaver Brook/Chavez Trail Loop

October 20, 2016

Beaver Brook/Chavez Trail
Fees: None
Website: http://www.gohikeco.com/2012/03/beaver-brookchavez-loop-genesee-park.htmlElevation: 8,605-10,744 feet (below treeline)
Distance: 3.9 miles
Elevation: 6,552 to 7,641ft

Today Tanya and I went for a hike in Genessee Park. What I love most about Genessee Park is how close it is to Denver, yet all the views are of the mountains and none are of the City. I feel like I have driven a few hours into the mountains instead of 30 minutes.

We opted for a short hike this week and tried out the 3.9 mile Beaver Brook/Chavez Trail Loop. I had read that the Chavez Trail was marked with braille signs for the blind, so I made the poor assumption that the path would relatively flat. It was not! I had brought along Toby, a beautiful Great Dane/Lab mix, and with his steady pull on the leash, I didn’t feel that safe climbing down the steep, rocky terrain, so I let him off the leash.

He went wild! I don’t think I’ve ever seen a dog go so bonkers on a trail. Generally, if they need to get some energy out, they run back and forth on the trail. Toby, however, ran in loops while going up and down the mountain (way off the trail). He leapt over fallen trees like a deer and splashed through the creek. Most of the time I could hear or see him, but sometimes I wondered if was coming back! Fortunately, there wasn’t in the parking lot on this chilly morning, so he had the freedom to run.

Speaking of chilly, when we driving up to the trail, my outside thermometer suggested it was 36 degrees outside. What?!? We didn’t gain that much altitude. Both of us were in denial thinking something was wrong with my car, but we didn’t even make it to the trailhead before we added layers, a hat, and gloves! It was our first cold morning of fall I think.

Our hike was absolutely lovely. We followed the path all the way down through the conifer forest to a quaint creek. We were happy to be hiking this trail at the end of the season as several places required creek crossings without a bridge. The water was low enough that we could walk across beaver dams and rocks without getting our feet wet.

Not long after we made it to the bottom of the canyon, we had to climb back up. This was good because I could finally put Toby on the leash (and get a little help ascending). It was warming up a bit, so we expected to see fellow hikers soon, and we did. We also saw a nice waterfall and enjoyed expansive views through the trees.

I was pleasantly surprised by the Beaver Brook/Chavez Trail Loop. For place to go near Denver, this hike might be one of the prettiest. I highly recommend it! ETB

Photographic notecards and key chains can be found at www.notablenotecards.com or www.etsy.com/shop/nichenotecards

reflections website copy

Beautiful Hike to Upper Cataract Lake

October 16, 2016

Surprise Trailhead
Fees: None
Website: http://www.protrails.com/trail/450/summit-county-eagle-county-clear-creek-county-upper-cataract-lake-and-cat-lake
Elevation: 8,605-10,744 feet (below treeline)
Distance: 10.9 miles
Hours: Any…Careful for hunting season

I had such a great weekend! On Saturday, I went up to Schussbaumer, a ski chalet in Breckenridge, for a work party. There was hardly any work to do, so I just got to enjoy a relaxing day in the mountains and got to catch up with my friend Cat. I love that its just a short roadtrip for me to enjoy the Rocky Mountains…no flying across the USA.

I stayed the night at the chalet, and met up with Cat the next morning. We started out with a great breakfast at Clint’s. We were good and got eggs, but the muffins and cinnamon rolls sure looked delicious!! It was probably better to load up on protein since we planned on a 10.9 mile hike to Upper Cataract Lake.

Uniquely, just a month ago, a few of my fellow hikers and I aimed to hike Lower Cataract Lake, but accidentally ended up on the Upper Cataract trail (Surprise Trailhead), but we were limited on time and weren’t able to get to any of the lakes on the route. The last time I hiked the trail, we stopped at the trail intersection at mile 2.7 for a 5.4 mile jaunt as we admired the colorful aspens. This time, we climbed up the steep trail peppered with aspen leaves as they had already fallen. Then we entered the conifer forest laden with fallen trees.

The sun was out and the sky was clear on this 65 degree day. We worked up a sweat as we tackled the sharp grade. At the trail intersection, we turned right and continued climbing, though the terrain began to level out. As we were walking along, it was about time for a bathroom break. We scanned to our left and were surprised to see a lake concealed by thick timber! The name of the lake was appropriate…Surprise Lake.

We didn’t expect to reach it so soon, nor did the landscape seem to suggest we’d stumble across a lake here. Lily covered, it was quite different than the alpine lakes we generally strive to reach. We stopped for a short while, but the sweat on our backs coupled with the cool breeze encouraged us to continue.

It wasn’t long before my stomach started to grumble. Of course, we wanted to reach a lake but we stopped for a snack. We originally thought Surprise Lake was just a random pond, so we thought we would be at another body of water within the hour. Not so. We kept going and going while crossing a few streams. We even descended over the ridge toward a talus field.

On this side of the ridge, the wind was relentless. We gave into the elements and stopped for our hat, gloves, and puffy jacket. We also decided on a snack because we weren’t certain when we’d see the lake. Then Cat pointed to the right as she looked through the trees below and questioned, “Wait, is that a lake?”

Sure enough, it was! We threw our packs on and headed down the trail as we admired Eagles Nest Peak lightly dusted in snow. Soon we turned the corner and enjoyed a remarkable view of Cat Lake. At the time, we thought this was Upper Cataract Lake, but when we reached another trail junction, the sign suggested otherwise.

We were pretty cold at this time and weren’t willing to hike much farther, so we figured we’d actually read the description of the trail that we had on our phones! We warmed up a bit at the trail junction as we stood in the sun with some protection from the wind. This new warmth coupled with the good news that Upper Cataract Lake was only a tenth of a mile up the trail rejuvenated our spirits.

First we found a small pond and then a large lake tucked beneath the towering mountains. As much as we would have liked to sit by the lake for lunch, the wind was brutal! We climbed over a small, rocky ridge to find shelter and enjoyed a lovely view while we soaked in the sun. It’s amazing how cold 65 can feel with 40 mile per hour winds!

On our way back, we opted not to explore Cat Lake though the shore sure looked beautiful. We climbed back up the trail past the talus field and soon descended to the other side where we began shedding layers and enjoyed a pleasant walk back to the parking lot. It was a great day and gorgeous hike. We were pleasantly surprised by all the lakes! I’d highly recommend this trail especially during the fall color change. ETB

Need a hostess gift for Halloween or Thanksgiving…how about some notecards? www.notablenotecards.com or www.etsy.com/shop/nichenotecards

fall colors website copy

Family, Friends, Food, the Fair, and Football in Dallas!

October 7-9, 2016

Wow! What a fun long weekend in Dallas. Dallas is known for its restaurants and I must say we participated in an eat-a-thon! We got in late Thursday night. Love Field was a zoo. Bart and my mom were nice enough to pick us up from the airport.

The eating started first thing Friday morning. I met my step-mom, brother and sister-in-law at Angela’s, a diner style restaurant very close to my old house. They make the best basic breakfast…eggs, bacon, hashbrowns, and toast. And the price is right!

My friend Suman was able to join me for lunch. We met my old work colleagues downtown as I had a craving for Chef Wang’s. This chinese food place is so good it’s only open from 11-2, Monday-Friday. There is nothing fancy about it. There is line for ordering and a line for pick up. I recommend the spicy green bean chicken which isn’t on the menu. It was really fun to see my colleagues too. It had been a while! I’m excited a few of them may come to Denver in December.

As if I hadn’t eaten enough already, I couldn’t skip dinner. Suman, my mom and Bart, Debby and Norb, and I enjoyed a nice dinner at Lark on the Park. The cauliflower soup was rich and delicious and the mussels were spicy and tender. We really enjoyed the food and atmosphere. Giant chalk boards lined the walls and different artists drew their creation on them. Each chalk art was listed on the back of the menu. What a cool idea.

We capped off the night with drinks at Savor Gastropub which provides a lovely view of Klyde Warren Park. It was my first time to finally go to Klyde Warren Park. Built in the last five years after I moved from Dallas, it covers Woodall Rogers Freeway. I couldn’t figure out how it was going to work. It seemed like it would be loud and it wouldn’t attract many people. I was wrong. The park is beautiful and the restaurants are great! I loved seeing it and we had such a nice night.

20161008_020723284_ios-girls

Suman and I got a break from food on Saturday morning…a much needed relief since we were headed to the State Fair of Texas. We scheduled attending the fair on the same day the Texas OU game was playing. We weren’t sure what to expect because it can be a mad house with 92,000 college fans attending the game. We opted to take the Dart Light Rail from the Market Center Location to the Martin Luther King stop. This was a good choice as there was plenty of parking at market center and we only had to walk three blocks or so to the main entrance.

Suman bought our fair tickets online. Not only did we save some money, we skipped the long lines and walked right in! She bought the food coupons online as well which we had to pick up at a hospitality building. This was a bit more challenging, but no matter where we purchased food coupons, there was a line.

We arrived at the fair just after 11 which was perfect timing as that was the scheduled kick off time for the game. I have to say, this might be the best time ever to attend the fair as everyone was inside the Cotton Bowl while we were walking around trying out fair food and looking at the exhibits. I don’t believe we tried anything healthy at the fair. Our snacks included Fletcher’s Corn Dogs (has to be Fletcher’s), a fried Twinkie – YUM, a fried Reeses, and a fried Snickers! I’m not sure the four hours we spent walking around counter acted all those calories, but who is counting. I mean we were at the largest State Fair in North America.

fried Twinkie

fried Twinkie

The exhibits were nice. I was particularly amazed by the cow made of 1,000 pounds of butter that sold for $130,000! Of course, we had to stop to take a picture with Big Tex, the iconic cowboy. We visited the livestock show and the Clydesdales, and opted to stay for the pig races at 3pm. It was hilarious to watch them race to the finish for an Oreo as their ears flopped! It was even worth maneuvering through the mass crowd that let out of the football game, though I don’t think I’d do that again.


I began to wonder if we had made a mistake staying at the fair this long as we walked back toward the entrance weaving our way through now ridiculous lines at Fletcher’s. Eventually we made it to the Martin Luther King station to find a long line waiting on the light rail, but to our surprise we got on the train and got the last two seats! It turned out to be a glorious afternoon of weather too, so we couldn’t have had better luck enjoying the State Fair of Texas.

So to add more unhealthy food to our diet, we met my old soccer team at Blue Goose in Addison for some TexMex! You can’t go wrong with chips, salsa, and margaritas. And reminiscing over the dumb things we did in our twenties had my sides aching I was laughing so hard. What fun!

Well, we awoke to more food. The morning called for us to catch up with my SCUBA buddies at the Oasis on Greenville Ave. I had never been here, and I was pleasantly surprised by breakfast. Another diner style type, as I prefer bacon, eggs, and hashbrowns at a reasonable price over a fru-fru omelette. My breakfast was cooked to perfection. The consensus was the french toast and the pancakes were also quite tasty. It was fun to catch up with my friends. I need to get them to go on another SCUBA trip, but it seems they’ve traded in the tropics for ice cold Sweden this winter. I expect they will see the Northern Lights!

Our final outing for the three day weekend was the Cowboys-Bengals game at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. I think it has been almost two years since I made it to a game. Of course the billion dollar stadium is known for how nice it is with its collection of art and impressive facilities, but I’m more interested in football. The Cowboys played a great game. What a way to cap off the weekend! ETB

Interested in affordable travel? Check this travel company out: https://bethbankhead.dreamtrips.com/

Need a gift…how about photographic notecards or key chains…www.notablenotecards.com or www.etsy.com/shop/nichenotecards

longhorn website copy

Exciting Travel Opportunities!

Since I write a travel blog, I thought I’d share an awesome opportunity I came across recently.

I just joined a travel club. I’ve never really been into clubs or interested in any business that requires a monthly fee, but my mind changed when I saw this opportunity.

This club is the largest private travel company in the world and has won several awards. Its model is similar to Costco or Sam’s. It purchases travel in bulk and passes along the savings to its members. I just saved $300 on my airfare to Jordan compared to the lowest price offered on Kayak and nearly $1,000 compared to the same itinerary on Kayak!

There are three choices of membership levels…silver, gold, and platinum. I’ve listed a bullet point description of the options below.

In summary:

The basic membership ($100 down, $25/month) includes:
1. the dreamtrips
2. booking engine for your own travel which includes Southwest Airlines
3. rate shrinker (rebooks you if their software finds a lower price at a later date and passes savings to you)
4. flight accident insurance

Gold ($200 down, $50/month) includes (most popular):
The basic membership plus:
1. Concierge that will help you with anything, not just travel. Need new tires? Call them.
2. Net rates which removes all travel agent fees
3. If net rates are not available, you get commissions back in form of points
4. Online Shopping mall where you get 3-6% back on your purchases. Christmas is coming!! Virtually every major retailer is on the site

Platinum ($300 down, $100/month) includes (I will likely upgrade to this one):
The above plus:
1. Early booking access to trips
2. Upgraded dreamtrip experiences
3. Platinum only dreamtrips
4. Teledoc: video conference with doctor if sick
5. Roadside Assistance
6. Emergency Evacuation Services
7. Id Resolution if lost or stolen (at home or abroad)
8. Apply more points to trips

Aside from the awesome benefits that the club provides, what I love about the club membership is two-fold.
1. Any money you put into the club is given back to you in the form of points which can be applied to trips, so the monthly fees become a form of a vacation savings plan as you are paying yourself.
2. If you sign up four people, your monthly fees are waived, but this isn’t required. You can simply enjoy the cost savings of the membership.

Their are even more opportunities on the business side, but I won’t get into that right now. I’ll just share a few links for anyone interested in traveling all over the world at affordable prices while staying in 4 and 5 star resorts!

This link shows dreamtrips and the booking engine for your own travel. It doesn’t provide pricing unless you are a member. If you don’t see a trip you like, wait a week…they add 50 trips every Thursday!

https://bethbankhead.dreamtrips.com/

This short video describes the club and all the points you get to make your trips even cheaper (like shopping at the online mall and eating out at participating restaurants).

http://www.vacationsooner.com/5min/

The short video is someone else on our team explaining the club.

http://www.ratpacknation.net/pages/can-i-do-it

Comment on this page or message me if you want more information. ETB