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14 Years of Anniversary Road Trips | 5 States, 2 Countries

Five years before I started HeidiTown, Ryan and I got married in in Golden, Colorado in May 2002. After honeymooning in England, we made a pact to spend each anniversary in a different state. That lasted a number of years until HeidiTown was in full swing and we were traveling nearly exclusively in Colorado.

14 Anniversary Trips. Arches National Park, Moab, Utah. HeidiTown.com

Corona Arch in Moab, Utah.

Now that HeidiTown has annexed six new states, I’m excited to start exploring the states surrounding Colorado again once again.

Since we’ve been taking a road trip on every anniversary for the last 14 years, I thought I’d share with you the 14 places we’ve visited in nearly 15 years of marriage.

On our first anniversary in 2003, we traveled to a small bed and breakfast at the foot of the Snowy Range near Centennial, Wyoming. We hiked on their expansive alpaca ranch, soaked in the hot tub and went on a horseback ride at a nearby ranch.

Unfortunately that bed and breakfast no longers exists, but this anniversary was a true getaway and one reason I think we both still associate trips to Wyoming with serenity.

In 2004, on our second anniversary, we went to Santa Fe, New Mexico, a city we both love and had previously visited. In fact, we visited Santa Fe a number of times before HeidiTown was established.

14 Anniversary Trips. Dreamcatcher B&B, Moab, Utah. HeidiTown.com

Dream Keeper Inn, Moab, Utah

We were off to Moab, Utah for anniversary number three in 2005. This was our second trip to Moab as we had stayed there when moving from Bellingham, Washington to Denver in 2000. This time we booked two nights at Dream Keeper Inn. This place will always hold a special place in my heart due to the fact that their backyard hammock has been my “happy place” ever since our visit.

In 2006, we decided on a Colorado destination. We booked a roundtrip ticket to Glenwood Springs on Amtrak and stayed in Hotel Colorado, a place we’d also stayed on a previous trip to Colorado in 1999. It remains one of our favorite hotels in the United States. It was a lovely, sunny trip that went a long way in cementing our love of Glenwood Springs.

14 Anniversary Trips. Amtrack to Glenwood Springs, Colorado. HeidiTown.com

Riding the Amtrak from Glenwood Springs to Union Station in Denver, Colorado.

The next year we went big. In fact, we went to Mexico twice in eight months over 2006 and 2007; first for my 30th birthday in October to Puerto Vallarta, and then to Riviera Maya for our fifth wedding anniversary. We traveled only with the packs on our backs and took colectivos everywhere we went – it was epic. We just went back for my 40th birthday and retraced our steps on our favorite island in Mexico, Cozumel.

14 Anniversary Trips, Cozumel 2007. HeidiTown.com

Sweatin’ it at the ruins in Tulum in 2007.

In 2008, we went back to Wyoming. This time our destination was Saratoga, Wyoming where we stayed at the Saratoga Resort & Spa and discovered the World’s Best Eggs Benedict at Lollypops. We golfed, had a couples massage and soaked. It was delightful. I still remember reading away an evening in front of the large outdoor fireplace on the lodge’s covered patio.

14 Anniversary Trips, golf at Saratgoa Resort, Wyoming. HeidiTown.com

Golfing in Saratoga, Wyoming.

Anniversary number seven was spent in Southwest Colorado where we toured Mesa Verde National Park and stayed in the charming town of Dolores. It was 2009, and we’ve always planned to go back to this beautiful pocket of Colorado, but still haven’t.

14 Anniversary Trips, Mese Verde National Park. HeidiTown.com

Mesa Verde National Park

In 2010, we headed out of state again, to a state I’m excited to start covering as HeidiTown. South Dakota is one of the most gorgeous and friendly places I’ve encountered.

We covered so much ground and did so much during this three night stay in South Dakota that I can’t even begin to tell you all about it here. We loved Deadwood, thought Custer State Park in May rivaled Yellowstone, except there aren’t any geysers, and were blown away by the scenery in South Dakota’s Black Hills.

14 Anniversary Trip. Custer State Park in South Dakota. HeidiTown.com

A traffic jam in Custer State Park.

We made our way to Mt. Princeton Hot Springs in Nathrop, Colorado in 2011 to celebrate our ninth year of marriage. This was a super laid back trip punctuated by an excursion to the ghost town of St. Elmo, just up the road from Mt. Princeton Hot Springs. We’ve been back twice, so yes, we like this Colorado hot springs destination a lot.

14 Anniversary Trips, Mt. Princeton Hot Springs, Colorado. HeidiTown.com

Mt. Princeton Hot Springs

We stayed at the Brown Palace in Denver for our 10th anniversary, which was appropriate because this is where we stayed after our wedding day and before we flew to England for our honeymoon. We did a package here that included a night’s stay and tickets to the show at the Denver Art Museum, which was Yves St. Laurent. I wrote about the weekend here.

We went back to Glenwood Springs for our 11th anniversary because we’d been invited to the 125th anniversary of Glenwood Hot Springs Pool. By 2013, HeidiTown was in full swing, and so I wrote about this excursion here too. We can’t get enough of Glenwood Springs. After spending two anniversaries there, as well as other stays, it will always be a special place for us.

Glenwood Springs Hot Springs Pool in May 2015. HeidiTown.com

Glenwood Hot Springs Pool

Our 12th anniversary was in Denver. We had season tickets to the Colorado Symphony in 2014, and so we combined an outing to the symphony with a stay at the Curtis Hotel and steak at Morton’s Steakhouse. Again, this is an anniversary trip I wrote about here.

In 2015, our anniversary and HeidiTown Fest in Ouray, Colorado were in the same week, so we made that trip our annual anniversary getaway.

14 Anniversary Trips, HeidiTown Fest in Ouray, 2015. HeidiTown.com

HeidiTown Fest 2015, celebrating with all the attendees.

Last year’s anniversary, number 14, was especially memorable. We decided to do an off-the-grid getaway at Dinosaur National Monument in Northwest Colorado with our old dog Xena. We spent two nights camping in Echo Park and one night in nearby Rangely. I wrote a series of articles about this trip, including a popular piece on Rangely, Colorado.

Easy hiking around Echo Park, Dinosaur National Monument. On the trail to the confluence. HeidiTown.com

Dinosaur National Monument, one of the most beautiful and remote spots in Colorado.

In May, we’ll be celebrating our 15th wedding anniversary. I’m scheduled to give a presentation on tourism advocacy in La Junta, Colorado at the SOCO Tourism Summit on the day of our anniversary. We plan to explore the La Junta area and from there we might continue the road trip for a couple of days. Not sure if we’ll head into New Mexico or stay in Colorado, but you can be sure that I’ll write about it here.

If you have any questions about any of these destinations, please feel free to ask in the comment section below. I love helping people trip plan.

When Visiting Aspen, Colorado, Eat All the Things

No matter when you plan to visit Aspen, Colorado — winter, spring, summer or fall — plan to spend some time and money on dining. You won’t regret it.

Before we visited this winter, I had no idea Aspen was such a foodie town, and I’m not kidding when I suggest that you should go there and eat all the things. Seriously, forget about the diet and don’t cry over carbs, just eat everything and be happy.

When Visit Aspen, Colorado, Eat All the Things, photo courtesy of Meat & Cheese, HeidiTown.com

Photo courtesy of Meat & Cheese.

While nothing in Aspen is cheap, the bar is set high for good food in this resort town, and it’s nearly impossible to have a bad meal here.

When in Aspen, you must go to Meat & Cheese. The restaurant was opened in late 2014, by the founders of Avalanche Cheese Company, and these folks know their cheese and meats.

When Visiting Aspen, Colorado, Eat All the Things, Meat & Cheese courtesy photo. HeidiTown.com

Meat & Cheese, courtesy photo.

Of course, when at Meat & Cheese, a restaurant and farm shop, you must order the Meat & Cheese board, which serves two, and follow it up with one of the restaurant’s creative entrees such as coffee chocolate rubbed short ribs or the rotisserie chicken (the best I’ve ever had). Continue reading

Surprise! You Can Afford to Shop in Aspen, Colorado

If you’re in the market for a pair of shoes that cost more than my first car, Aspen is certainly the place to go. However, I was surprised to find a number of shops selling affordable items in this high-end town.

Surprise! You Can Afford to Shop in Aspen, Colorado. Mountain Flowers. HeidiTown.com

We visited Aspen in January during Wintersköl, their annual winter festival that features snow sculpting, a canine fashion show, on slope fun and more.

While in Aspen, I discovered that if you poke around, you can find some fun little shops scattered amongst the big fancy names we’re all familiar with from New York Fashion Week.

Here are some of my favorite Aspen shopping finds. I’d love to learn about your favorite Aspen stores in the comment section.

Explore Booksellers

Do you think the old-fashion bookstore is a thing of the past? It’s alive and well in Aspen at Explore Booksellers. This the kind of place that welcomes the reader and encourages them to stay awhile. Continue reading

Finding the Real Aspen

I am ashamed to admit that an iconic Colorado town has been missing from my HeidiTown travels and it’s entirely my fault. After six years of traveling the state, up until this month, I had only ever been to Aspen for an afternoon.

Finding the Real Aspen, HeidiTown.com. The deck at Sundeck Restaurant on Aspen Mountain

The deck at Sundeck Restaurant on Aspen Mountain in Aspen, Colorado.

To be honest, I was intimidated by Aspen.

I’m a laid-back, West Coast girl. I grew up in small towns in Oregon and Washington, far from the glitzy streets of LA or cultured avenues of NYC. I’m all about jeans and t-shirts. I get a manicure once a year, and I’ve only ever had one French manicure and that was for my wedding.

I was truly worried that I’d feel out of place.

We finally visited Aspen for a three-night stay earlier this month during Wintersköl, and while the town was all the things that I’d imaged it would be — women in fancy fur, high end shops catering to the mega rich and $20 cocktails — under the glossy surface, Aspen is a real town, with real people and real Colorado charm. It is, in fact, much more laid back than I expected. Continue reading

Trinidad, Colorado, It’s Not What You Think

This is not a post about the island in the Caribbean. This is a post about Trinidad, Colorado. You may have heard about it. Over the years, Trinidad became well-known as the sex change capital of the United States.

Trinidad, Colorado, it's not what you think

ArtoCade on Commercial Street in downtown Trinidad, Colorado.

Interestingly, the clinic that put the town on the map for sex change surgery, moved to California a number of years ago, but preconceptions die hard, especially when a town’s sex change reputation is big enough to have made it onto an episode of South Park.

Before I visited Trinidad this past summer, it was 1) the sex change capital of the United States 2) a place I drove through on my way to New Mexico and 3) the place my friend Amanda, who makes the world’s best green chile, grew up.

After visiting Trinidad, I’ve developed an entirely new perspective on the town. It’s a place where no one is a stranger, where art thrives and history runs deep, where waiters sing and the positive energy is so thick it’s hard not to get caught up in its flow. Continue reading

The Truth About the Towns on Colorado’s Worst Places to Live List

I recently read an article online where the author highlighted what he claimed were the “10 Worst Places to Live in Colorado.” It was unclear as to whether he had visited all ten towns, and as it appears he resides outside of Colorado, I am skeptical.

The Truth About the Towns on Colorado's Worst Placese to Live List

Trinidad, Colorado

He wrote that he based his article on statistics, although he sprinkled non-statistic based comments throughout the piece.

The word “worst” denotes something very bad, and when the word is used to describe a place, most people would immediately check the place off their visit list. The more I thought about this, the more the article bothered me.

I’ve met the people in these communities and walked the streets of these towns, and I am here to tell you that many of the folks who live in these places are fiercely proud of their towns, and rightly so. Not only are there wonderful reasons to visit each of these Colorado towns, I believe all of them would be a great place to call home.

After some consideration, I decided to highlight some of the best things each of the towns on this “worst” list have to offer. And I have taken the liberty if of putting the following towns in alphabetical order (this is not as they appeared on the original list).

Alamosa, Colorado

I spent a long weekend in Alamosa last winter during Rio Frio Ice Fest, an event that features a 5K race on the frozen Rio Grande River. Continue reading

Featured Festival: NoCo Mini Maker Faire 2016

Maker

Noun

1. A person or thing that makes or produces something

“A cabinetmaker”

          Synonyms; creator, manufacturer, constructor, builder, producer, fabricator, inventor, architect, designer

         “The makers of fine furniture”

2. God; the Creator

noco_mmf_logos_logo

I have a real affinity for makers. After all, my husband designs and builds furniture, so “making stuff” plays an important role in our lives.

A decade ago, the first Maker Faire was held in California. Since then, the movement has grown, and today there are maker faires across the world. A Maker Faire is a celebration of arts, crafts, engineering, science projects and the DIY mindset.

The 4th NoCo Mini Maker Faire, held in Loveland, Colorado, continues to grow, and with growth comes change. This year, the event is being held in a new location, inside the First National Bank Building at The Ranch Events Complex.

More than 100 Makers converge on Loveland for this event, which kicks off with an adults-only party on Friday, October 7, called Sparks & Spirits. Cocktails will be provided by local distillers and entertainers include Rubens Tube fire and music, interactive light art from Solid State Depot and Mystica body paint.

Featured Festival NoCo Mini Maker Faire Mystica body paint

One of my favorite gin makers, Golden Moon Distillery, will be there, along with a nice lineup of other Colorado makers of fine spirits such as Syntax Spirits from Greeley. Distiller, Heather Bean, makes small-batch vodka, whiskey and rum from grain-to-glass using all Colorado ingredients.

Featured Festival NoCo Mini Maker Faire Sparks & Spirits fire art

The Noco Mini Maker Faire is an family affair. On Saturday and Sunday, children are more than welcome and in fact, encouraged to attend. A maker faire is an excellent place for a inquisitive child. 

Featured Festival NoCo Mini Makers Faire is for children too

Attendees will be inspired, awed and intrigued. Some makers are students, while others are adults. Exhibits include everything from social robotics from Robauto to creative music makers, Serenity Forge. In addition, there will be several community art projects including a Chalkboard Art Car where guests can give voice to their creative expression. And fresh from Burning Man, no one will be able to miss the 30-foot DaVinci Flying Machine.

featured-festival-noco-mini-maker-faire-legos

Attendees can expect to spend hours strolling through the event, chatting with makers and getting hands on with various projects and games.

A maker event is where the left and right brain merge to create amazing, innovative and beautiful things.

NoCo Mini Maker Faire

October 8-9, 2016

Location: The Ranch Events Complex, Loveland, Colorado

Advanced ticket prices $10 adults, $6 child/student

Sparks & Spirits, Friday evening, October 7

Advanced ticket price $50

CLICK HERE to purchase tickets

MakerFaireNoCo.com

Join this event on Facebook

Follow @NocoMakerFaire on Twitter

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Featured Festival spots on HeidiTown.com are paid advertisements. Interested in having your festival or event considered for a feature? Email TheMayor@HeidiTown.com.

Five Things To Do In Pagosa Springs This Summer

Last week I was a speaker at a tourism conference in Pagosa Springs, and it was a good reminder of the total awesomeness of this Southwest Colorado town.

Pagosa Springs should be on your must-visit list this summer and here are five things you need to do once you get there.

1. Float the river in Pagosa Springs

The best way to take advantage of a river that runs directly through a town is to float it. The San Juan River is the source of all good stuff in Pagosa Springs and is a big summertime attraction.

five things to do in pagosa springs this summer. tube the san juan river. HeidiTown.com

The best time to float the river is in July and August when the water levels are lower. Bring your own tube or check out this Pagosa Springs’ website for how to go about floating the San Juan River. Continue reading

The Best Taco I Ever Ate in Colorado

I’ll be the first to admit that I used this title as click bait. I knew that those of you with favorite taco shops around Colorado were going to click the link, and if you didn’t see your favorite taco listed you would school me on taco greatness.

The Best Taco I Ever Ate in Colorado. Fish taco at Kip's Cantina in Pagosa Springs. HeidiTown.com

Kip’s Cantina, fish tacos

Here’s the thing. “Best of” lists about food are crap and I can say that because I’ve written one in the past. Everyone has a different set of taste buds, not to mention we are influenced by things ambiance and the people we were dining with.

With that being said,  I shall reveal three of the most memorable tacos I’ve eaten in Colorado. I’m sure I’ve had other delicious tacos, but these are the ones that immediately come to mind, and whether that makes them the “best” or not, I refuse to be the judge. Continue reading

A sleigh ride at Snow Mountain Ranch

You’ve heard about it in songs and perhaps you’ve seen it in a movie or commercials, but did you know that you can do it right here in Colorado? Several places around Colorado offer horse and sleigh rides, and earlier this winter we got to experience an outing at Snow Mountain Ranch, a beautiful YMCA of the Rockies property in Grand County, Colorado.

A sleigh ride at snow mountain ranch. Natalie & Rufio. HeidiTown.com

We arrived at Sombrero Stables a little before our scheduled excursion. All the draft horse teams were lined up, waiting to be hitched to their sleighs for multiple afternoon outings, so we walked down the line giving head scratches and taking photos.

I fell in love with draft horses while writing a series of articles about  Norwegian Fjords for a Colorado newspaper. Draft horses are called “gentle giants” for a reason; their demeanor is calm and they are unlike any other horse I’ve been around. I love their chill personalities. Continue reading

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