The Wyman Hotel circa 1902

IMG_1156 (2)Set in the incredible back drop of some of the most spectacular mountains in Colorado you will find the sleepy little town of Silverton.  Left over from the bye gone mining days of Colorado’s history.  This little place was once on the way to become one of Colorado’s next ghost town until it’s incredible beauty was rediscovered.

It’s picturesque setting, towering backdrop, and fantastic outdoor activities make it an ideal destination for a weekend jaunt.  We have visited before but we both enjoy coming back to discover new adventures, trails, and we love to jump back in time if only for a minute.

So when the opportunity presented itself with a business trip for the husband, I took the opportunity for a visit midweek. Not wanting to make a return visit to the Grand Hotel and being I had heard great things about the Wyman we booked a room.

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I was not disappointed.   The building itself is well over 100 years old the hotel not quite that.  It features authentic furnishings that represent the early 1900’s.   The Lady herself looks to have been quite a grand dame when she was originally built.   She was not a hotel in the beginning but more of a gathering place with a ballroom and meeting areas.

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I can almost hear the music playing in what would have been ballrooms upstairs not because this Grand Dame is haunted, but because when you walk in you appreciate the history she represents.   In today’s throw away society it is nice to see an appreciation and care for a piece of history.

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I can’t help but imagine what it would be like in the days of old the hustle and bustle of those coming and going in the little town.  The dust of the streets settling on everything as the buggy’s and mule teams ride by.  Miners coming with the promise of treasure and finding the alpine setting rugged and unforgiving of the slightest mistake.  Yet the beauty unparralled to anything.

The room we itself was cozy and comfortable.  A definite improvement from our previous stay in Silverton.   The room was nicely decorated in period style comfort and the bed was excellent.   It’s October so the mornings are brisk but the room maintained heat well for a 100 year old building.

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Breakfast was wonderful and every detail was looked after.  After some of my meal experiences here in Silverton I was pleasantly surprised. The table was set beautifully and I loved the name plate touch.   For breakfast this morning the feature was wonderfully delicious quiche filled with green chili and just the right amount of seasonings.  The berry filled smoothie to start was delicious too.  Cecilia was a wonderful host in the breakfast area attending to our every request, even the ice tea request at 8 in the morning.  She was bright, happy, and took extra care of every guest present.  What a genuine smile and sense of warmth.

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We were only able to spend one night here but we both are looking for our next opportunity to visit.  We would not hesitate to come and visit The Wyman again and she is a beautifully refined lady.  Her ages shows a little but it only adds to her warmth. For the luxury minimalist side I look forward to being able to spend the afternoon and enjoy tea and or wine in the evening hour.  As this grand damn provides afternoon tea and or wine with your room price.

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The Man Way the Woman Way:Dinner

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I am a foodie, a glorified living breathing, focused driven, food maven.  I love everything about food and beverage.  It’s a passion in line with travel for me.  So I try and combine the two whenever possible.  That way I am living in my ultimate happy dream state when they coincide.

My husband on the other hand is NOT a foodie and he likes to travel but does not have the desire for it that I do.  Oh he goes, and he eats, and he enjoys, but neither are his passion.

Sometimes I sit back and contemplate, just how my happy dream state might not actually coincide with my husbands happy dream state.  In that mine is this happy state of bliss and his closer to maybe a nightmare at times courtesy of yours truly.

It’s ok we both grasp this about each other and are perfectly comfortable in our discomfort.  It’s not like we are newlyweds in a constant state of wedded bliss. We get it.

So when it comes to dinner my idea is this wonderful experience complete with wine of course.  It looks somewhat like this.

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My husbands his is more like this.

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You can see where the two might collide.  His idea is more in line with what I like to refer to it as hospital food.  Get the can open it and cook it until the item is close to mush.  Put salt and pepper on it and it is good to go.  Pile a bunch on the plate and there it is dinner.  Oh I forgot throw a piece of meat next too it and some canned biscuits.  It’s DINNER. The man way.

His idea of dinner at home consist of a salad, a piece of meat, canned vegetables, and those beautiful canned biscuits.  This is perfectly acceptable according to him.  Now I am not talking the fluffy nice canned biscuits but the 20 cent canned biscuits that look like a hockey puck.  Oh wait my gosh there .89cents.

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Any way this is his idea of a fine dinner.  Cut of meat are you kidding!  No concept here.  It’s all the same to him.

Now as you can imagine this idea does not fit into my dream.  As a matter of fact this is close to my own nightmare.  When traveling this is the last thing I want to see.  Yet, he is like a heat seeking missile focused on these type of places.  Buffet or the one with the store inside;his favorite.  A must stop anytime we are traveling in the US.  Now I like the store inside but I can open a can as well as anyone.  I just prefer not too.

This is where his man way and my woman way conflict.

You see my idea is simply on a completely different scale.  I like to experience food and embrace every little nuance that surrounds it.   I want to experience aroma, texture, color, and presentation.   It’s my woman way.  So for dinner I often love to be the consummate cook and often I wait until my husband the man is gone to create some of my finest meals.

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I love to shop at the local farmers market, or an organic market.  I prefer nice cuts of meats grass-fed preferred.  I like the occasional wild game and love to add wine to anything I am cooking.  No can’s opened on my watch.  I like sweetly inspired ingredients of the nicest quality, and a nice bottle of wine to finish off the meal.

It’s relaxing, it’s peaceful, and it completes my idea of dinner.

This week my husband has been traveling for work and not at home at our little 5th wheel little love nest.  He is in Durango, Colorado responding to the toxic river spill. Sad really but that’s another story for another day.

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I took this opportunity to indulge in not only winery visits but to create some new dinner experiences.  These are the moments I can be the most creative.  Pan Seared Buffalo with a Cabernet Shallot Reduction Sauce and Sweet Potato Apricot Fritters with Peach Salsa and drizzled with a Chipotle lime sauce and served with Alcantara Vineyards 2013 Petite Sirah.  Exquisite, divine and completely wonderful.

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This is my idea of dinner!  Compliments of Travel with T the luxury minimalist and the “Woman’s Way”.  No canned biscuits in sight, no vegetables that come out of a can, and nothing piled high on top of a plate.  Bon Appetite!

So if you happen to see us at that place with the store in it known for what it calls home-style country flavor, know that it is the man way that won out.   I gave in because marriage is compromise, love, and understanding  or maybe it was because of the shopping.

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

Mesa Verde National Park is an incredible adventure into the past but also a vast area of beautiful wilderness where you can hike, bike, and camp

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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Travel with T
Travel with T
Travel with T

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.

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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.

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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.

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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”!

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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

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