Take a glimpse into ancient culture; destination: Mesa Verde National Park Cliff Dwellings

Mesa verde 12                                                                  Mesa Verde National Park is an incredible adventure into the past and a vast area of beautiful wilderness where you can hike, bike, and camp.   You can step into the world of the Ancestral Pueblo people at this amazing archeological site.   Discover and experience their world of 550 AD, where the pueblo people lived for over 700 years throughout this area.  Mesa Verde (Spanish for the Green Table)  is a spectacular site to visit.  Named rightly because its appears to be a large green table flat on the top typical of a Mesa.  This UNESCO World Heritage Site is located in Montezuma County, Colorado, United States.   The park was created in 1906 by President Theodore Roosevelt.   It is the largest archeological preserve in the U.S.  The park itself occupies 52,485 acres near the Four Corners and features some 600 cliff dwellings a numerous ruins of homes and villages.

mesa verde 4Mesa Verde 7Mesa Verde 8

Just the drive up to the ruins and you are gifted with incredible views of the whole county.  The winding road to the top will present you with vast skyline views of the Four Corners, wild flowers, and various wildlife along the way.  We were lucky enough to catch the local herd of wild horses in the park.  These animals are actually up for debate as to whether or not they are actually wild or feral from local reservation.

mesa verde 16Mesa Verde 15

Mesa Verde is better seen in various trips or a longer period of time.  We have decided to make several day trips to enable us to enjoy the expansive park properly.

mesa verde 5Today we opted for a trip with a short hike to one of the quieter parts of the park. The Wetherill Mesa is open from May through September.  We only made one stop to one of the self guided ruins known as the Step House.  It features an alcove, pit houses, and cliff dwelling.  There are rangers on site for questions.  The hike was fairly easy and about a 1 mile round trip.  The rangers will tell you to plan for about an hour.   There are two ways in, one features several levels of stairs and the other is flat with no stairs.  We opted for the longer way around using the stairs and are happy we did.  We were able to get some great views of the whole alcove as we hiked it.

Mesa Verde 7

Once in the dwelling site you are very close and are able to walk around the whole area.  They don’t allow standing on the walls but you are basically right inside the alcove in the historical site.  It’s pretty incredible to imagine the pueblo ancestral people living here.  You get to experience a little of what it might feel like as you walk in and around the Step House.   The Step House is named for the steps that are located next to the courtyard and dwellings.

step house 4

Between 1190 and 1270 most of the cliff dwellings were built.  There are community centers which have about 150 rooms to one room houses, kivas and courtyards. The structures are often built just fitting them in where they could with no real building plan.  The walls are single courses of stone.   To protect the walls and roof from weather erosion they are a limited height.   The Ancestral Pueblo only lived in the cliff dwellings for about 100 years.  Archeology study suggest that about the 1300’s Mesa Verde was abandoned.   Why they left is still being debated.   Where did they go?   They joined thousands of other ancestral people moving from what is today’s New Mexico and Arizona

step house 2 step house 8 step house 3 step house 5 step house 9

Mesa Verde is definitely a site to see, live, and experience.  You find incredible outdoor hikes, fantastic scenery, and a glimpse into the past of this great people and their history here in the southwestern United States.  National Parks are our treasure and should be trips on everyone’s bucket list.  You can’t beat them for incredible beauty, history and learning opportunities.  So for your next discovery destination try Mesa Verde National Park.

.

 

Alta Lakes Destination: Ghost Towns

High in a mystical alpine setting reminiscent of the book “The Mist of Avalon” you will find Alta Lakes and Alta Ghost Town.   This peaceful, quiet, and serene area is located on the back side of Telluride Ski Resort and Palmyra Peak.  On an easy day trip from Telluride, Dolores, or Cortez, you are able to enjoy camping, fly fishing, hiking, and a little history on a visit to this incredible Lake in the summertime   I have never been in the winter but they say it’s one of the prettiest places to go snowmobiling in the Telluride area.

0821131431

Your journey begins as you detour off the highway 145 towards a clearly marked sign that says Alta.  You might want to have a 4 wheel drive or at least a high profile vehicle as the roads up to the lake are pretty rough. We did not have to place our vehicle in 4 wheel drive but the high profile helped.   The lakes are past Alta’s Ghost town which is an old mining town with many buildings still standing. It’s is said the first place alternating current was used. (Think Tesla)   There are many old historic buildings you can not only photograph but get really close too.  The have reinforced the boarding house but many others are in various stages of dilapidation.   There has been an ongoing battle on whether or not to let the buildings be destroyed for residential purposes or try and save them for a beautiful piece of Colorado’s mining history.  Right now the town is on the side of Alta and it looks like they will be kept. 

0821131429a

Travel a little farther up the mountain at the elevation of 10,000 plus you will find Alta Lakes. These are alpine mountain lakes at their finest.    It is here Colorado shines as its ruggedness and pristine beauty will capture your imagination with the sensation of time standing still.   The awe inspiring 10,000 feet views are some of the best the world has to offer.   We arrived when a fine mist was falling over the lake and the water was as still as glass.  There was a slight chill in the air as this mist fell upon us.  It seem to create a surreal feeling that while we were in this Mountain Alpine forest we were in a world of the past and present all at the same time.

Alta Lakes 3

Alta Lakes and Ghost town provides you much in the way of things to do.  You can pitch a tent, and spend the time exploring this area as there is plenty of camping.  For the budget minded camping spots are free and some even have grills next to them and they are all surrounding the Lake.   This is a great visit if you are in the area.  Something slightly out of the way but well worth the detour.   Alta Lakes where you can camp, fly fish, paddle board, and hike and experience the pristine beauty in the incredible Colorado mountains.

0821131428

Travel with T

Travel with T

Travel with T

A Year with Marriott Gold destination: JW Scottsdale Camelback Inn and Resort

May 22, 2015 We are traveling through the Southwest today on our way to Phoenix. The desert is filled with wildflowers from the recent rains to our area. We are booked at the JW Marriott Scottsdale/Camelback Resort. It’s a AAA 5 Five Diamond Resort and has been for 25 consecutive years.   This is a significant achievement for a hotel.

We made a reservation using our military government rate. Which came in at 113.00 plus taxes and resort fees and or course parking. A great rate for this property and not often found.  They do make it up with all the other fees built in after you arrive though.  The resort is at summer rates which are very economical due to the temps being pretty warm in Phoenix at this time of year. I have never stayed at this JW so it will be interesting to learn what they offer.

There own description of the property is “Vibrant and serene, bold and enchanting, the JW Marriott Scottsdale Camelback Inn Resort & Spa embraces the future and welcomes the next generation of guests into its harmonious blend of creature comforts with a storied history.”

From my research it looks like they have a hiking trail right off the resort, a golf course near the property, a spa and several pools.

As we arrive in Scottsdale it’s absolutely beautiful weather.  It’s May but it’s about 81 degrees.  It’s typically well into the 90’s and 100’s.  Coming from Colorado where it’s in the 30’s to 40’s in the morning, I really don’t mind.   When you walk into the JW, Marriott or Ritz you are given a welcome and a thanks for being a gold member this simple little touch is nice.

The Marriott is at the base of the Scottsdale Mountains it is a fantastic property. The property features separate bungalows and they are by no means little bungalows. Each with it’s own private entrance.

The landscape is desert influenced with water features and simulated dry creek beds. It is definitely a little oasis in the desert. Our room is spacious and has it’s own outdoor patio. We arrived using our Gold status and military rate versus travel agent benefits. They were very busy and we were given a standard room, no upgrade that we can see. We did ask for a different room on Sunday evening as we will be having our children join us. We were offered a one bedroom suite at no rate increase. Being a Gold Member has it’s perks but it takes 50 stays to do it. So far this is our second amazing upgrade, the first being the fantastic JW Miami.

We settled into our room.  The bungalows seem very large, almost similar to stay a larger studio apartment.  The bathroom is in a separate area and features beautiful tile work in a modern updated style including a glass shower enclosure.  A separate area is adjacent with a make up area and a large closet.  The room features large southwestern style furniture.

We arrived later in the afternoon, so by the time we got settled, it was close to dinner.  We opted for drinks and dinner at the outdoor venue adjacent to the lobby and restaurants. It was very crowded and took us a while to be served. Having been in the industry it was definitely justified as the place was completely packed. Everything just seemed to take a little longer. Once we were served the food was excellent.  We had their appetizer Queso Fundido and a signature Blood Orange Margarita brought in a bucket style glass. Both were delicious. Paul enjoyed their Signature Fajitas and the grand kids pizza.

After dinner, we opted for a trip to the pool.   It was late so it was pretty empty.  The area is very large yet had an intimate setting.   It’s perfectly designed with rock features complementing the desert scenery.  The pool has views of the surrounding mountains which are stunning in the evening.  After the pool it was off to sleep after our long day.

I was up before 6:00 A.M. and went back to the courtyard area to watch the early the morning sun rising over what I presume is Camelback Mountain. They have the standard Starbucks on site so I sat as I waited for it to open at 6 am. Only one other gentleman besides myself waiting to feel up our senses with the aroma and taste of coffee.   The wait staff were good and the coffee was just what I needed to continue on with my blogging for the morning.

JW does it right again with this Southwestern property. It’s absolutely gorgeous with just the right amount and balance of eco friendly zeroscaping and a touch of the oasis in the center of the property with it’s delightful water features.

It’s definitely family friendly with much to do in the way of children, putt-putt golf, a pool that provides water toys such as floating pads and noodles, and a small park. For the adults it has romantic southwestern style large rooms with adjacent outdoor patios. A large ample outdoor seating area to imbibe in some wonderful spirits such as signature margaritas, a steakhouse, a casual dining experience, and the jack rabbit pool bar.

My overall impression is…. I loved it.  The property is fantastic and the description of being serene hits the mark.   I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it and I will be going back.  Also, thanks for the Sunday upgrade to the one bedroom loft, it was just what we needed for the grandkids to join us for the evening.

A Year with Marriott Gold destination: Courtyard Avondale, Arizona

It’s April 22nd and I am in Arizona Avondale to be specific at the Courtyard Marriott. On my year journey with gold I have noticed at the Courtyard your status does not matter or that is the way it appears. It’s rare from what I can determine to be upgraded.   This the 4th time I have stayed at a Courtyard and I the breakfast that comes with Gold is usually not available at the Courtyard.   At this hotel I was not even thanked for being Gold.

The young woman at the desk was very nice though and made my check in easy. The hotel itself is very nice and looks new. Everything is well appointed and decorated. The Lobby is large and nicely decorated.  Ajacent to the Lobby is the business center with plenty of computers.  It is conveniently close to the Bistro for that morning cup of coffee, breakfast or pastry.   For the business center I did not check to see if there was a charge so I am not sure about that.

I used several of the hotel amenities and I will review each in order of use. My first was the Bistro which is open for breakfast and dinner. I visited it for both breakfast and for dinner. For breakfast my grandchildren joined me and we basically ordered ala carte. The staff seemed a little overwhelmed maybe although it did not seem that busy. Having worked in food and beverage I feel I have a little better eye than most. What might have happened is they just slowed down and were in catch up mode.

The Bistro serves Starbucks Coffee but did not really seem very familiar with the Starbucks sizing or drinks. I gave them my Starbucks mug and they were not sure exactly what to charge me. They decided it should be a Grande. The staff itself was friendly but not exceeding to excellent. I really never felt at anytime anyone went above and beyond. Yet they were ok. I felt no different than if I had went to Denny’s to eat.

My next amenity to use was the pool. It was beautiful, very appropriately laid out and large for a smaller hotel. I used the pool and the Jacuzzi both were immaculate and I give credit to the grounds crew for it. There were towels available and beautiful lawn chairs and at that time we were the only guest there. Thoroughly enjoyed it.

For the evening of the first night I used the internet using the high speed access given with my gold account and it functioned perfectly.  I had no issues and the speed was very good.

On my second day my room was never cleaned. I was out of the room from 9 to 230 and when I returned they still had not cleaned my room. I placed my used towels outside and I placed the sign on the door saying that I did not need the room serviced.  I had spent the day at the Phoenix wild animal park with the grandkids and I wanted to nap before the evening.

My last evening we used the Bistro again and although the food is good the service is not that great. We ordered dinner choosing a  variety of things including pizza and the gentleman who took care of us was very nice. We decided to sit outside the lobby area in the patio and when our food was brought it was handed to us in packages.  We actually had to come to the lobby patio door to get it.  It was not served or even brought but handed through the door and the excuse was that it was locked and he did not have the key. It was the middle of evening not yet dusk. There were people in the lobby and outside patio and the door was locked?  Not a very good impression or experience.  The food itself was very good and the pizza was excellent.

The property itself looks immaculate, everything is taken care of and it shows.  The staff are what I am coming to expect from a Courtyard.  I really have no complaints except the food being handed through the outside patio door.  A good quality stay at the Courtyard Avondale where gold appears to have no added benefits.

A Year with Marriott Gold destination: JW Marriott Houston Galleria

My year of Marriott Gold, destination: JW Marriot Houston Galleria

It’s April and we’re in Houston for one evening.  We’re getting ready to board the Emerald Princess for our voyage to the beautiful western Caribbean and some of my favorite islands (Belize, Cozumel, and Rotan Honduras).  For this Gold journey we chose the Marriott’s JW Houston Galleria.  Newly renovated, 23 stories, and reported to have luxurious accommodations.  Our anticipation is always heightened at the opportunity for Gold upgrades,  we are hoping not to be disappointed with just a standard room.  We really never know if we are going to be upgraded and usually just book a standard room and wait and see.  So far our best upgrade has been the JW Miami.  We were placed in a suite with wall to wall windows overlooking the incredible bay.  It reminded us of a penthouse on the top floor complete with a marble tiled bathroom. It will be hard for anyone else to compete with that but we are in Houston waiting to see.  Does Houston have what it takes to outdo Miami?

JW Marriot Houston Galleria is placed in one of the most famous shopping districts in the world only minutes to attractions like Minute Maid Park.  You can walk to more than 200 exclusive stores that surround it.  Fine dining and entertainment are only minutes away and we even managed to find a Catholic Church right around the corner for Easter Sunday Mass.

For our upgrade we were placed in a higher floor on the concierge level.   We were too late in the evening to enjoy any of what they had to offer.  The hotel features a state of the art fitness center with a view of the city.  It was definitely nice and I enjoyed my elliptical program while gazing out into the city.  The additional amenities we used were Starbucks in the morning. The barista was pleasant and enjoyable to talk with.  Breakfast was the buffet restaurant where the management and hostess were outgoing and friendly.  In the lobby lounge bar the service was sub-par and we eventually got our drinks from the bar.  It was the only area I found of the hotel to be lacking.

Our room itself was spacious but not noticeably different or luxurious, it was on a higher floor.  I have to say I didn’t pay too much attention to the down comforters, custom duvets or the rich cotton linens.  All in all I enjoyed my stay but they really didn’t exceed my expectations or deliver the type of service we experienced in Miami.  It is a great hotel in a great area.   Perfect location for our Easter Day visit to Saint Michaels Catholic Church.

Jw Houston Pool

JW Houston Bedroom

You Betta Belize it!! Destination: Caye Caulker

Caye Caulker, Belize 021                                                         In December, 2014, we decided to do a family cruise. We had everyone from grandma to godchild and everything in between. There were 10 of us total. We chose the Carnival Glory for the price really.    Some of the younger ones were on a tighter budget and this was a great fit.  Our cruise would feature an area known as the Western Caribbean and is visited by several different cruise lines.

If you have never been on a Carnival Ship they are known for being fun.  They are called the fun ship and everything is geared towards that aspect.  The Glory is no expection.  You will walk in and the first thing that greats you are the colors.  They are always bright and you will notice that they use a lot of purples, reds, greens and blues, the colors of Carnival.    It was the first week of December and so the ship was decked out in it’s Christmas splendor.                           Christimas Deco on Glory

 

Cruising for someone like me where you are able to see and visit lots of different places for one price is great.   When you cruise you are presented with lots of options to do as much or as little as you want.  You don’t even have to get off this ship if you choose not too.  For this trip our Islands of choice were Cozumel in Mexico, Rotan in Honduras, and Caye Caulker in Belize.  Caye Caulker is only available once you get to Belize City at the port.

Caye Caulker Mangroves

One of the things you can do if you want to experience the local areas and the various ports are excursions   We opted for the non ship excursion ran by Belize Express Tours.  There are various options here when doing excursions.  You can reserve them from the ship, with your travel agent,  and you can use the ships website, and of course you can call the line itself.   You can even wait to the last minute and reserve on ship.  The only issue in waiting until the last minute is if your ship is booked the excursion you want might not be available.  An important feature of booking with the cruise line is you are covered in case something happens which causes you to be late.   They will even fly you to the next port (no charge) if you are really late. You also can go out into the port and find tours.  You have to be careful in choosing and if you are new to cruising your best bet might be to go with what he ship offers.  They usually have a great selection to choose from.

Snorkeling Tour in Caye Caulker, Belize

Belize is an english speaking country with a diverse population. It’s a small country with only a little over 300,000 people.  It’s a prime choice for Americans, Europeans, and Canadians to retire due to its lower cost of living.   The city itself has no natural beaches so if you are expecting to see a tropical beach paradise you might be in for a shock.  This is definitely not your Virgin Islands although it has it’s own charm and beauty.   The port is designed for cruise ships and it has all your standard little shops and venues.   If you want to experience Belize culture and life take a little tour of the city.  The picturesque beauty of Belize can be found in the surrounding areas  within its jungles and especially some of the Islands off the coast.

Our choice for this trip was snorkeling off of Caye Caulker, a mangrove covered Island and we could not have made a better choice.   Our excursion was right from the dock in Belize City and roughly 50 dollars per person. Our tour guide was great and the trip to Caye Caulker is about 45 minutes from the mainland on open water.  The area we chose was Shark and Stingray Alley.  While on the boat you are able to see various smaller Islands and even some of the local aquatic wild life like Tarpon.  We arrived on a small dock on the little Island that is not bigger than 5-7 miles at is longest. You can actually see from one side of the Island to another from the dock. WE LOVED IT!!!! The Island is home to a variety of Islanders and a well loved place for the budget traveler. Backpackers flock here for the laid back atmosphere and the price.  They have quite a number of hostels that offer sun, fun, beach, and a VERY relaxed Island life style. There are no cars on the Island, lots of bikes and of course walking is the mode of travel.

Caye Caulker not mine  Caye Caulker  snorkelling (9)

Belize is home to one of the longest reef’s in the Western Hemisphere with 290 km in length of unspoiled beauty.  Your snorkeling is right off the reef and we  got to swim with nurse sharks and sting rays.   It’s an easy snorkel and although one area has a little bit of a current over all it’s a great area.  Perfect for families and teens too.  You will be able to see, touch, and swim with these magnificent creatures.  They will swim below and around you and you will have to take care not to step on some of the rays as the area is pretty shallow.  Having snorkeled in the Caribbean I was used to seeing various rays, sharks, and other aquatic life so it was not as unnerving to me as it was to some of the others on our trip.  They seemed to find it a little weird to be swimming next to a nurse shark and above a group of sting rays.

After snorkeling you again board the boat back to the mainland where you are treated to fresh fruit and rum punch.  Overall a great trip to Belize, a country with a laid back life style, and beautiful  people.  Belize a place to visit that an be great for a budget travel while visiting some of fantastic Islands and barrier reef’s there are.

If you happen to find your self in Belize make sure to visit this enchanting, little Island  If you have a chance “you betta Belize it”!

Caye CaulkerBelize WelcomeCay Caulker 2

A Year with Marriott Gold destination: Courtyard San Antonio River Walk

san antonio rw4                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               A year of Marriott Gold destination:  Courtyard San Antonio, Texas River Walk

Our journey was spent in the Downtown Marriott River Walk which is a Courtyard. It is somewhat small or narrow which makes it slightly in my opinion uncomfortable. It’s slightly old and has less attractive features than other Courtyards. The staff were nice but no one really stood out.  Our room was on a higher floor which is a standard upgrade for gold.  This does not mean much in the grand scheme of things.  I understand it is a selling point but the room does not have to have to be a nicer room it just has to be on an upper floor.  So you could in general receive an upper room floor overlooking concrete or air conditioning ducts.  This actually was the case when I booked the Pueblo downtown Courtyard.

So at the Downtown Marriott River Walk the highlight of the hotel is that it’s on the River Walk.  It is in a great location to start any journey to the various bars, restaurants, and activities on the River Walk.   I received nothing for being a gold member and barely even an acknowledgement. I was not overly impressed. On the contrary the Marriott River Center was beautiful and looked amazing!  I will definitely have to try that hotel before my year is out.  Just to compare the two.

san antonio missions 2  What a fantastic city! San Antonio is the quintessential American city. It’s a perfect blend of old and new all coming together in a sophistication of western city life. With its River Walk, missions, and history you could spend well over a week just viewing the city’s historical sights. The market downtown is where you want to go for your “REAL” Mexican food and it also has a panderia which is a Mexican bakery. For night life pubs and dance clubs abound in and around the River Walk and it’s lit up at night in more way’s then one. There are five missions there and they are a sight not to miss.  They represent the history and heritage of the city itself. San Antonio is one of the first cites I have seen embrace its history to the fullest. This is where the Alamo is and the missions are one of the jewels of the city. The city itself is truly a melting pot of America.  In it you will discover a wonderful blend of people, each embracing a San Antonio lifestyle. Not only is the city welcomed and developed its Latin roots but its German heritage too.  It all seems to be incorporated into a beautiful mixture of proud history and culture.

If you have a chance San Antonio should be on your bucket list. You will not be disappointed.   As for the Courtyard Marriott San Antonio if you want to be right on the River Walksan antonio rw 2 at a decent price point this is the place.  Just don’t expect too much.  Grab a drink and sit outside taking in the scenery, sights, and sounds of San Antonio.   That is what you will enjoy the most

san antonio missionssan antonio rw3san antonio rw4

Hello world! Start Here

Welcome to Travel with T your destination discovery agent.  I am Teresa, my blog is all about travel.   My husband Paul is along for the ride.   From budget to luxury, from backpacking to tours, it’s all about the discovery.   So goes our eclectic journeys and we will share with you some of our experiences.   I started this blog to help promote my work as a Destination Discovery Agent also known as a Travel Agent.  So there is a booking button up top if you care to use it.  Or if you would like after you trekked through my site and would like help discovering your destination, give me a call I would be happy to help you.

I will be taking you along my own journey’s but also will be adding post from some of my fellow travelers.  I will feature a special area for my year with Marriott Gold where I will be blogging about Marriott’s Loyalty program.  I have not made the top Platinum level but I have achieved gold and so I will take you through my year utilizing that little perk.  Is the loyalty worth it?  I don’t know yet we will have to see.  I will discuss points, perks, travel hacking, loyalty programs, and military or space A travel.

All about cruising, as I and my husband love to cruise we will take you along for the ride.  We usually travel with Princess, but have done Carnival also.  Stay tuned as we share with you the benefits of being a Black card Elite Cruiser on Princess.

Jeeping for adventure will be a standard feature for our blog as we ask you to buckle up and experience some to the best jeep country Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, and Arizona have to offer.

Military, for those of you out there who have yet to discover the benefits of being retired military and what, where, and how, we can travel.  Or maybe for the old pro’s of space a travel you can share some of your travel hacks.

So Welcome and thank you for taking the time to visit with me.  Buckle up and lets go a little unconventional.  Lets travel slow, travel fast, lets space a it, lets hike, lets jeep, lets fly, lets cruise, lets spend the night in the city, in the country, in the US, or out in the big vast world, lets fall asleep under the stars, or in a 5 diamond hotel, because really what it comes down to is it’s all about Destination Discovery.

%d bloggers like this: