Mc Elmo Canyon and it’s Winery:Destination Sutcliff Vineyards

Winters grip is upon us here in Colorado and the temperatures it seems are often lately in the single digits.   The tree’s are stark and barren and there is a foot or so of snow on the ground.  It’s cold and outside not much warmth to be found.   I intended to write this during the summer months but it never came to fruition.  So I sit in the warmth of our home nestled close to the fire as I pull the fleece coverlet over my toes.


As I sit here and enjoy the warmth I find myself dreaming of wine and decide to pour myself a glass of the nice Cab Franc that was sent in my shipment of wine.Its my 3rd shipment that I have received.   Enjoying the taste I find myself reminiscing of my visit to Mc Elmo’s Sutcliff Vineyards.


Situated in the backdrop of Ancient Canyons and the Sleeping Ute Mountain of Colorado you will find this little gem.

Roughly 36 acres of Merlot, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Petit Verdot are grown. The vineyards produce what wine that is what I have heard described as handcrafted in an old world style.   This is not your large scale winery but a vineyard and winery created and developed with the careful and meticulous eye of it’s owner.


With a passion only others dream about you will find the owner John Sutcliff the winery’s namesake.  When he speaks it is with such emotion and his desire for you to understand his dream is felt.  He lives it, breaths, it and loves it and it is part of him and he is part of it.  We enjoyed a wonderful afternoon of wine tasting and conversation with this interesting gentleman.


From his welsh roots to his history of working in some of the finest restaurants he can be at times mesmerizing.   He explains the history of the wine he makes and how it was not always this palatable.  It was only when he brought in a winemaker by the name of Joe Buckle the beauty of Sutcliff Vineyards was released to full potential.  Creating the wines they have today.


They wines are simply wonderful and influenced with the uniqueness of the Ancient Canyons and the winemakers themselves.  It’s almost as if the Canyon has produced wines that are handcrafted with the spirit of west.


Not all the wines produced at Sutcliff Vineyards are developed from the canyon grapes.  Some outsourcing is done and the choices are meticulously done to compliment Sutcliff’s unique style.


Throughout the summer various events happen at the winery and on a summer afternoon the drive is lovely.  It is a wonderful place to spend the afternoon.  For those who would enjoy a meal.  Call and schedule ahead and you will enjoy afternoon of delightful cuisine from locally sources items paired with delicious wine of course.   Oh and take friends because wine is always better with friends.


If you are visiting Southwestern Colorado, take a moment and visit Sutcliff Vineyards make a afternoon of it.   You can really spend more than an afternoon in the area.  From Mc Elmo Canyon and it’s winery’s to Mesa Verde National Park the area is filled with not only incredible beauty but with the history of the Southwest.   We have excellent Jeep trails, hiking trails, and wonderful fishing.

Come visit I would love to show you around.  As always if you need help booking a hotel, trip, or anything else I am available.   Or you can do it yourself with my booking site at which is how I fund my blogging.

Cheers and I hope to see you at Sutcliff Vineyards and Southwest Colorado.!



Why Germany should be on your travel radar!

In Paris I found fashion, history, and beauty and in Germany along the Rhine I have found a picturesque beauty that people often think about when looking at the Rhine.  My story is from the eyes of a River Cruise through the Rhine from

The weather for the first part of our trip has been classic winter slightly misty but not too cold at all.


View from Marksburg Castle, Koblenz

As the mist rolls over the Rhine it provides a beautiful romantic backdrop. Some say it is dreary  I tend to think romance and it feels my soul with warmth.  Not the warmth of a summer day but that of a warm hearth fire as I sit drinking warm wine or as most would say gluhwein.  A combination of red wine (sometimes white) mulled spices, and oranges.  It is available throughout Europe really during the Christmas Season at all the Christmas Markets.


Europe’s Christmas Markets these are a bucket list item

I am in love with the small villages along this portion of the Rhine.  They are absolutely incredible.  Dating back centuries for many which traveling from the US is quite different than what we are used too.    This history of occupation that the various places go through a lesson all by itself.


The Castles throughout the Rhine are amazing and you will not tire of seeing and hearing about their history.  From the Katz and Maus Castles to Pflz fortress that sits on a rock in the middle of the river.

Marksburg Castle

Cologne is I am sure a favorite of many as it’s history is rich.  The Roman’s founded Colonia Agrippina their first settlement.  Christianity was introduced here with the Roman’s and this city became a seat for the Bishop.  There are many left over vestiges such as Roman walls and such along the street.  The Cathedral is an amazing site to see with it’s Gothic Archetecture.   The background story is that it was begun in the year 1248 and continued over many years finally being finished in 1880.   It largely escaped damage that completely ravaged the city during World War II.  It’s iconic two soaring spires symbolize the city.

View from Cologne Cathdral
Cologne City Lights from Cathedral
View from Top of Cologne Cathedral

As you proceed along the Rhine you will come to Koblenz, the Middle Rhine and Rudesheim.   This is where you will discover Marksburg Castle which overlooks a town called Braubach.   The castle itself is one of the best preserved onthe Rhine.   It was never besieged by enemies due to it’s remarkable fortification.   It really looks like it did when it was built about 700 years earlier.



One of my favorite things in the winter and Christmas Season are Europe’s and Germany’s Christmas Markets.  They fill the streets and many are placed right by the local Cathedral which presents a stunning back drop to the market itself.


You are able to pick up many items such as ornaments, gloves, scarves, and lots of local craft items.   My favorite though is the food it is varied to the region and is presented in a stunning array of colors and designs.   For a foodie this is absolutely amazing and the food is fantastic.  From pastries, to cheeses, to sausages, and much more your mouth will be watering.   Then of course you top it all off with a glass of Gluhwein and paradise has arrived.

Many of these Christmas Markets are set with the Cathedral in the background which brings a stunning historic beauty to the scene.  Nothing compares really.  If you have not been it is a must trip.  Early in the season of Advent is not bad.  We arrived just after the season started and the markets were filled but still manageable.


If you are looking for a great way to see Germany, I would love to say Viking!   It is a fantastic way to see quite a number of places in the short amount of time you might have.   It’s a blend of various cities, styles, and culture all wrapped up in one trip.  This was from our Rhine Getaway trip.

Go on and open it

Go on and open the door! Once you do you will never be the same.

I would love to hear if you have been to Europe’s Christmas Markets and if not I would love to help you go.  After all this is how I make me living.   Ready to book give me a call.


Traveling through Baja California:Destination Ensenada Wineries


Cetto Winery

Wineries in obscure places that are completely out of the way are my favorite.   I happened to be spending a little time around Ensenada when I found out they have wineries.  Ensenada is in Baja, California a long time destination for Southern Calif weekend vacationers.  I had been there several times and never made it past the Buffaladora, the restaurants and the bars.  I really never took a moment to discover they offer so much more.


To my delight, I discovered they housed several local wineries.  In the valleys of San Vicente, Santo Tomas and Guadalupe is what is refereed to as the wine growing region of Baja California.  Just about 90% of Mexico’s table wines come out of this region.  Including Bodegas de Santo Tomas, founded in 1888.


It appears that much of the Baja peninsula has a semi-desert climate.  You only have to drive through to notice this.  Yet, in Ensenada’s region there is a cold marine current, providing a Mediterranean climate, and it is ideal for growing wine grapes here.  Ensenada has warm summers and mild winters, and many sunny days with cool nights especially during the growing season.  I have learned that every wine growing area tends to produce a style of wine unique to there region.


Many of the wines in this region have obtained international recognition, and are even exported to Europe, the United States, and Canada.  It’s really an amazing little place right down the southern coast.   We happened on it by chance really.  We were on a Princess Cruise and it was listed as one of the excursions.  So I was like wine yeah I am on top of it.   Drug the husband along and could not have had a better trip.


We got a chance to visit 3 of the wineries in the area  La Casa Dona Lupe  and L.A. Cetto use old-world methods, and we came to learn that both have become pioneers in Mexico’s wine development.    Both wineries have been plying their craft for hundreds of years and are highly respected for their expertise in the production of sherry, wine and brandy. Oh and in case you think you are going away empty handed you are given a souvenir wine bottle as a gift to take with you.   Visit and winery and then get a bottle of free wine can’t beat that.

Dona Lupe Wine

All in all a great little one day trip if you are visiting the area and one of the best excursions we have been on.  Simplistic yet wonderful and FREE wine.  dona lupe wine 1

This is the lovely Dona Lupe who has been running her winery for quite some time.  She was gracious enough to pose for a picture.


The cruise itself was traveling to Puerto Vallarta, Cabo San Lucas, and it’s final leg of the journey was Ensenada.  I would love to help you take a journey to visit Ensenada’s winery’s either on a cruise or on your own.


-8 degrees is nothing when you have a Redwood

Jeep and Redwood

Winter and a 5th wheel are not always used in the same sentence and especially winter in the negative range.   Yet, with our Redwood it has been nothing but complete comfort.   Winter in the Four Corners area of Colorado can be mild or can be brutal and this year our first year in our Redwood it has been brutal.  We have seen quite a significant amount of snow and just this past week we have been in negative digits.

Winter Wonderland
Just a little snow

We chose the Redwood because it was rated as four season and I am pretty certain the four season they were talking about was not in the negatives.  I can only tell you that that it lives up to its claim in every aspect.

Winter Wonderland 2
With a Redwood and a Jeep we got this covered

We made the required adjustments and prepped it for winter.  We heat traced the water and wrapped it in insulation.  I should say the husband did this really as the only thing I did was help hold the insulation so he could place it on the water.   This definitely helped and thus far we have had no issues.  We have a small heater in the underbelly which is also insulated and heated but because of the extremes we wanted to be sure we were thoroughly prepared.

Just a little snow

During winter especially a cold winter in Colorado our stick built home would usually have a pipe bust.  At least one either outside or inside.  The Redwood so far has not had an issue

Lot’s of vacancies here

It is absolutely amazing and has been completely comfortable.   It is actually warmer in winter than our stick built 2500 sq foot home.    We have one fireplace in the living area and one in the bedroom and both run off electricity.   These have kept the Redwood completely warm.   Only when it has been in the single digits has the propane heater even come on.  We set it at 65 and this has been more than warm enough.

Not many have this idea for their own Redwood life.

I really have to say testing it out has been pleasant and we have yet to encounter any significant issues.   The Redwood maintains its heat well and the two fireplaces hold up to the most frigid temperatures.   It does have a few little drafts mostly in the lower areas of the floors but nothing that is a game changer.  It would be interesting to figure out where the drafts are actually coming from.Overall we are happy with its performance in winter with really nothing to complain about.  It will now be interesting at the opposite of the spectrum and see how it holds up in the summer months maybe in some place like Lake Havasu.   I am pretty confident that if it does this well in winter we won’t be disappointed in summer.  Only time will tell.A

For the Luxury Minimalist this life offers complete mobility in or out of the US.  I am completely satisfied with selling our large home and all the ENTRAPMENT’S that come along with it. Now we enjoy our luxury studio and we hit the road whenever we desire.   As for regrets I have none.  Affordable luxury lifestyle without breaking the bank offers me opportunity travel, travel, travel.   As always if you are in need of any questions answered send me an email.   Would love to book your next travel adventure around the world or around the corner.

rv redwood

You have to be prepared!

A Year with Marriott Gold destination: Renaissance Paris Verdome

DSC_0612Aaaah Paris I love you!   I could not have made a better choice than the Renaissance Paris Verdome.   A fairly small somewhat boutique property located close to the Seine River and many of the tourist destinations are only a short walk.

Arch de Triump as you walk down the Champs de Elysee
Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral

Upon entrance you are greeted by door man a welcome sight in various metropolitan cities.   As you walk through to the front desk you are greeted with classic and modern design of the Renaissance brand.   It’s colorful yet not overstated with a perfect blend of sleek and fashionable furnishings.

Renaissance Paris Verdome

We were greeted by a lovely young woman who checked us in flawlessly.   She provided us a simple upgrade being Marriott Gold members and thanked us.  She also provided us with a map of the city, highlighting the popular destinations.  She was the consummate host and spoke eloquent English.

Marriott’s Renaissance Paris Verdome Front welcome area


The hotel itself only has six floors and we were placed on the 6th floor.    The room was classic European which means even with the upgrade it was small.  Yet, perfect and simplistic in design.


Renaissance Paris Verdome


We had a courtyard style view meaning we were in the inner portion of the hotel with a view overlooking the center lobby area.  The windows opened which I am sure in summer is wonderful.  In winter though we did not need it.


Marriott Renaissance Paris Verdome

We received our normal high speed or enhanced wifi with our Marriott Gold.

We also had turned down service in the evening and our lovely caretaker would do this for me.

Marriott’s turn down service

Breakfast is included here for Gold members and we were presented with choice to enjoy it in the hotel of if you choose not too the points are applied to your account.   The choice is standard European with cheeses, meats, yet also bacon, eggs and my favorite the basque inspired tomato dish which I loved but unfortunately I did not get a picture of it.

Breakfast at the Marriott Paris Verdome
Breakfast Buffet Marriott’s Renaissance Paris Verdome

Every small detail is taken care of if you happen to look around.  The small little extra’s are a nice touch and well received by this weary traveler.

Nice little touch Candy Bar


All and all this was a fantastic stay and a great property that is located pretty close to the center of everything.  Yes you will pay more but you are in the heart of the city.   You never need to pay for transit because everything is in walking distance of the hotel.   For my Gold viewpoint upgrade, turn down, wifi, breakfast a pretty good option.  Especially this time being I used points for both my nights great little perk for the luxury minimalist.

River Seine Paris France

As always let me know if I can assist you with booking.  Or if you are a do it yourself person please feel free to use my booking site.

Cruising it’s all about Princess or maybe “The Princess”


Puerto Vallarta on Princess Cruises

We have been cruising for several years now and have quite a number under our belt. Our choice being Princess for there superb service, classically beautiful design, destinations, and military friendliness.   For the ultimate experience and pampering you really can’t beat it.  For instance I am a Elite member and this includes yup a free mini bar set up.



For the luxury minimalist it is a very nice room especially if you book a balcony.   I get to bring two YES two bottles of wine on board and I really love my wine.   I have a room steward who comes to take care of my room twice a day.  I can order room service to be served on my balcony if I booked one over looking that big beautiful ocean.   Or I can have them open my wine as I just sit and relax in ultimate comfort.  It really has a lot of featured comforts that can’t be beat.

On the Ruby Princess Ocean View with obstruction ok ok it’s a little messy.


For this cruise we chose a ocean view obstructed room on the Ruby Princess and it was cabin E632.   We had a great window and there was hardly any obstruction at all.   A little noise in the morning from the opening of the storage door below but really nothing.  When you book an ocean view obstructed you can just about get anything.  It can be completely obstructed to really nothing to speak of.  I try to usually go on line and make sure I am getting a room that is not totally blocked.   This is always a great value and is comparable to a interior room and less than a full ocean view in price.   It’s a great deal if you are not spending a lot of time in the room.

E532 Ocean View Obstructed on the Ruby Princess Can you see the obstruction?
E632 Ocean View Obstructed on the Ruby Princess Can you see the obstruction?

I chose the ocean view obstructed because we were traveling with a group this time and was pretty sure I would not be in the room too much.  I was not disappointed as this view was great!  The cabin fantastic.

E 532 Ruby Princess Ocean view with Obstruction
E 632 Ruby Princess Ocean view with Obstruction

Our cruise this time was to the Mexican Rivera our stops were Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan, and Cabo San Lucas.   I have to say my favorite used to be Puerto Vallarta but I really enjoyed Mazatlan this time.  We chose a self guided taxi ride that took us throughout the city and out to the beach area to somewhere called Playa Bruja area.   We stopped and had lunch at a little place right on the beach.

Matzatlan, Mexico Playa Bruja
Matzatlan, Mexico Playa Bruha

The food was classic seafood style Mexican.  I chose grilled lobster which was very good.  Now I have to say that is was not as good as the little lobster village down in Baja California called Puerto Nuevo but it was close.  I was serenaded upon request of course as I enjoyed my lunch with great company.


Cruising with Friends is always good

If you have never taken a cruise it is wonderful and one of my husbands favorite vacations.  He really enjoys the idea of unpacking once yet seeing multiple places.  It’s great if you just want to step your foot into various places before you make a longer trip.  In the United States our vacation time is some of the shortest in the working world so most try to make the most of the short time.   A cruise is perfect in this aspect because you can see a lot in a relatively small time frame.

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico Photo Credit Travel with T

For those who just want to enjoy the sea it’s perfect.  You can stroll upon the decks or sit in the International Café and enjoy a cup of freshly brewed coffee or a nice cup of loose leaf tea.  There is no better place on ship for my favorite past time people watching then the Piazza.

Wine is better on a Cruise
Wine is better on a Cruise Photo Credit Travel with T
Piazza on the Ruby Princess Photo Credit Teresa Halsey Hollar
Piazza on the Ruby Princess Photo Credit Teresa Halsey Hollar

As always if you enjoyed my review of Princess and would like more information please contact me.  I would love to help you book your destination discovery.



River Cruising for the Luxury minimalist can we say Viking

DSC_0272 Christmas Markets along the Rhine

Winter, Christmas, Rhine, and River Cruising these definitely are a few of my favorite things.   So when we were scheduled to be in Europe we opted  to pick up a last minute river cruise cancellation.  The deal was not too bad especially for a luxury minimalist as we paid sale price for the cruise due to the last minute cancellation.  It averaged out to a 50 percent reduction on the full cost of the cruise.  Not to bad for my luxury taste and a shoestring budget.

IMG_1640IMG_1635Our Veranda Room

We had a veranda class room which means it has a classic room with a seating area.   What this means is we had an actual balcony with chairs outside to sit at if we chose.  It’s not your typical balcony style as cruise ships have but actually not bad at all.  Also floor to ceiling window glass makes for an incredible cruising experience.   Another popular choice is a French balcony which would have not had the little Veranda sitting area.  It still has the wall to wall window that opens up to provide fresh air (in warmer months) and you are able to lean over a little and enjoy the sights, sounds and experience river cruising gazing at the scenery.   Completely budget friendly and you still have great views.  I would not hesitate to book this style at all.

DSC_0068 Middle Rhine

I have to say being an avid ocean cruiser I did not know what to expect although expected that I would like it.  River cruises always appear to cost more than an average cruise and when you try and compare the two it’s really apples to oranges.   River Cruises are a different product all together and much different really than a ocean cruise.  In my humble opinion there appears to be more bang for your buck with River Cruising than ocean.  Definitely worth the cost.  You are able to see more and do more than a typical style vacation where you are trying to get from one point to another.  In River Cruising it’s taken care of for you.

IMG_1648 One of my favorite people

Viking Cruises did not disappoint me in any way.  From the moment we walked aboard until the moment we departed.  You are presented with a much more intimate form of cruising.  The vessels are smaller and the service is impeccable.   Your price includes not only your floating hotel but your meals, not to exclude wine and beer at dinner and at lunch, but also your tours in every stop you make.  You even have the option to purchase additional tours while you are in the various ports.  Transport to and from the different areas if needed is also included.  This might be somewhere that has a city center that may be a little farther away from the dock.   On an ocean cruise you arrive and you are on your own unless you have purchased or purchase on shore a pre-planned tour package or transport.

IMG_1652  Chef’s were always awesome on Viking Kvasir

Of course the luxury  minimalist is always looking for not only a little luxury but also value in the product she is purchasing.   Viking river cruise on the Rhine supplied just that.   Hotel rooms are not only smaller In Europe but very expensive if you want to be close to the city centers.   At 50 plus being the luxury minimalist I prefer not to choose to stay at a hostel.  Which would completely offer affordability but not much on luxury.  I am just fine staying at a nice hotel in the center of town adjacent and close to things. Because train, tram, and bus travel adds up when you are trying to see various places.

So river cruising is a great value for the money.  Your floating hotel is with you, your transportation is provided, you have a tour guide if you want to take advantage of it, your meals are included, and to top if off so are drinks.  Well beer and wine at least for lunch and dinner.  Give me wine and I am sold.  Ok, so the picture is of a beer but you get the point.

IMG_1654 My typical lunch beverage

IMG_1653Lunch on the Aquavit Terrace served daily

So once you can get over the sticker price shock and then start to realize the value of the service you are being given and you understand the said value it’s really a fantastic option.   I cannot think of one area where Viking failed me.  From start to finish the product was top notch.   Service was everything that it had promised and more.   There was not one moment that anything we needed was not available or easily acquired.   I never let on I was in the travel industry as not to change their perception or mine.

DSC_0108 Scenic Cruising at it’s finest

On a River Cruise similar to an Ocean Cruise they have what is known as the Program Director except the program director on a river cruise is completely accessible and is on the ground when you depart the ship.  He or she and the concierge make sure everything is in order on the ground, that everything is coordinating and that the local tour guides are there, ready, and have everything they need too.   They make sure you understand they are available and even go on various tours with you.  It’s pretty cool really and you are taken care of very well.  It’s that extra little step to make sure you have a wonderful time.  You will never be lost, and losing valuable time up trying to find things, places, streets, hotels, trams, buses and everything else that goes along with that.   When you only have so much time for your vacation and are using your hard earned cash this makes all the difference in the world.

IMG_2049 German food while we were in Cologne

Meals on board are exceptional with a nightly dinner for all in the main dining area.  Often featuring local cuisine styles and chef inspired creations.   Most of the evenings we chose what the chef recommended and were completely satisfied and often delighted.  It’s fine dining and more.

IMG_1700 Enjoying our evening with wine of course

We chose Vikings “Rhine Getaway” River Cruise which began in Amsterdam with a visit to Kinderdijk for a visit to Netherlands UNESCO Windmills.  We were then on to Cologne, Germany for a visit to Colognes magnificent Gothic Cathedral dating 1248 another UNESCO site.  It was then on to Koblenz and a tour of Marksburg Castle which took around 700 years to build.  We traveled down to Rudesheim gliding along the most scenic portion of the Rhine filled with medieval  castles, quaint little towns, picturesque countryside, while passing the Lorelei, a legendary rock formation rising 440 feet above the river.   From this it was on to Heidelbery & Speyer and then on to Strasbourg, France.

DSC_0298 Strasbourg, France Photo Credit

The final two stops were the Black Forest in Germany and concluding in Basel, Switzerland.    So in 8 days you will see 4 countries, amazing history, as well as some of the most amazing scenery in the region.  Christmas if fantastic for seeing this region often with less traffic then the summer season.  Not to mention those fabulous Christmas Markets.

IMG_1744 View from Cathedral to Christmas Market Photo Credit

In the next part of this series I will delve a little more into the sights and sounds of the Christmas Markets and the places themselves.

As always if you have any interest in any kind of travel please don’t hesitate to let me know.  I would be happy to help you book as that is how I make  living.