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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.

11 Things You Should Know Before Visiting Cozumel, Mexico

HeidiTown is all about Colorado and I have no plans to change my brand. However, it’s been nine years since I’ve been on a vacation abroad, and being a writer, it was impossible for me not to share my experience with you.

As most of you already know, Ryan and I spent last week celebrating my fortieth birthday on the island of Cozumel in Mexico. Cozumel is located in the Caribbean, and is a 45 minute ferry ride from Playa del Carmen.

11-things-you-should-know-before-visiting-cozumel-mexico-cozumel-sign-in-the-plaza

We stayed at El Cozumeleno Beach Resort on the north side of the island. We’ve been to Cozumel before and we like the north side because it’s just a 80 to 100 peso (about $5) taxi ride from San Miguel, Cozumel’s charming town.

As you might expect, when we travel in Mexico we love to explore, and if we do an all-inclusive, like on this trip, we spend a lot of time off-resort. This trip was no exception. Continue reading

Travel planning tips

As much as I love to travel, half the fun of a trip is planning it. It’s important not to over-plan my trips, however, because I want to leave room for exploration and discoveries. For instance, when my husband and I traveled to England for our honeymoon, I had much of the trip planned, but not every detail. There were specific places and museums on our must-see list, but we only booked the first two nights of our two week trip, because we wanted to be able to make some impromptu decisions.

suyalita mexico with a beer

An impromptu decision led to spending a day on the beach in Sayulita, Mexico. Photo by H.M. Kerr-Schlaefer, all rights reserved.

For instance, what if we discovered an adorable “free house” in Avebury, but we already had a bed and breakfast down the road booked for the night? We always leave a little room in our itinerary for having a wee bit of adventure.

That being said, on a backpacking trip in the Riviera Maya, Mexico our “adventure” was walking miles and miles on an abandoned stretch of road looking for a hotel in sweltering heat. This little mishap makes for an excellent story today, but at the time I was not a happy camper.

backpacking in mexico

Oh yes, that’s me. Backpacking in Mexico. Photo by Ryan Schlaefer.

When planning a trip it’s a good idea to have an outline of what you want to do and accomplish at your destination, but don’t get so attached to your schedule that there isn’t time for unplanned fun along the way (although, getting lost in Mexico isn’t necessarily the kind of fun I’d recommend).

PLAN AHEAD

My number one tip for planning the perfect trip is to plan ahead. It may sound exciting to do a last minute Vegas vacation, and it probably would be, but if you are planning your once-a-year family vacation, doing everything last minute will result in higher prices and more gray hair. Vacation time is precious and by throwing something together in the final hours you’re bound to be disappointed.

GOOGLE IT

It’s important to google your destination, but don’t google the heck out of it. There are so many travel websites out there it can be overwhelming to the point of a breakdown. My go-to site for years has been TripAdvisor.com. Browsing their reviews is very helpful when it comes to making a decision on a hotel or restaurant. Of course, you can’t believe everything you read on Trip Advisor, however, you can get a pretty accurate feeling about a place by sifting through reviews on this site.

cozumel hotel case viento

One of my best finds EVER on Trip Advisor. Casa Viento in Cozumel, Mexico. (www.casaviento.net) Photo by H.M. Kerr-Schlaefer.

ASK A LOCAL

Find someone like me – someone who writes about travel in the area that you are planning to visit. I field questions about Colorado on Twitter from potential tourists on a regular basis. How do you find someone like me? You might run across them while you are googling your destination, or you might ask a local tourism office if there is a regional travel expert they’d recommend following on Twitter or Facebook.

For instance, if you are headed to Santa Fe, New Mexico, I’d hook you up with the bloggers at Sante Fe Travelers.  This couple knows the town backwards and forwards, plus they are super nice.

Speaking of Twitter, it’s full of travel experts in the form of writers, bloggers and people in the tourism industry like hoteliers and restaurateurs. There’s a wealth of travel information on Twitter, if you know how to access it.

back streets of Puerto Vallarta

Exploring the back streets of Puero Vallarta, Mexico led to our discovery of the world’s most delicious guacamole. Photo by H.M. Kerr-Schlaefer.

CALL AHEAD

While I’m a huge advocate of social media and the Internet in general, sometimes it’s a good idea to get on the phone and talk to a real person.  More than once I’ve gotten bad information from a website that hasn’t been updated since it went live in 1996. Museum websites are notorious for this, as are other tourist attraction sites, especially in smaller communities.

If you book through a third party, like a Trip Advisor affiliate, I recommend calling the hotel directly, just to make sure they have your reservation. This can help avoid real disappointment.

So there you have some of my best travel planning tips. If you want to get lost in Mexico please feel free to disregard everything I’ve written.   If you have any questions or suggestions, leave them in the comment section.

Cinco de Mayo in Colorado & a look ahead at May festivals – HeidiTown.com on KRFC 88.9 FM

This HeidiTown.com radio segment on KRFC 88.9 FM discusses where to celebrate Cinco de Mayo in Colorado and takes a look ahead at May, including Mother’s Day Weekend and one of the state’s most unique, and perhaps most gross, festivals.

Read the transcript of this week’s show below, or listen to the audio here.

***

Hi, my name is Heidi and I’m the Mayor of HeidiTown.com, a blog about events, festivals and travel around Colorado.

Last week I had the opportunity to visit History Colorado during media day. I am very impressed with what they have done at this new facility and I have blogged about it, so be sure to go to the Museum section on HeidiTown. History Colorado officially opened to the public this past Saturday so be sure to plan a visit to this new Denver landmark.
mexican flagThis weekend, May 4 through May 6 is also Cinco de Mayo. This holiday is often thought to be Mexican Independence day, but that’s not true. It actually commemorates the Battle of Puebla which took place on May 5, 1862.

This year is the 150th anniversary of the battle. So why is this holiday so widely celebrated in the United States? Well, much like St. Patrick’s Day, it has become a commercial boon for liquor companies and restaurants, however, I don’t want to undermine the holiday’s significance as a celebration of Mexican culture, and there’s no better way to see this in action than at the Denver Cinco De Mayo in Civic Center Park.

This is the 25th Denver Cinco De Mayo and the two day festival is the largest of its kind in the United States. Families can immerse themselves in Mexican culture including dance, music, crafts, and of course, lots of deliciously tempting food. Get all the info at CincoDeMayoDenver.com.

Here in Fort Collins, I mentioned last week that there will be a high end Cinco de Mayo artisan show in the Agave Room above the Rio Grande restaurant. The show runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and art lovers and collectors shouldn’t miss it.

The Northern Colorado Cinco de Mayo Festival 2012 runs Friday through Sunday with events happening in various venues, but mostly at the Northside Aztlan Community Center and Heritage Park. For the schedule go to FortCollinsCincoDeMayo.com.

Towns and neighborhoods around Colorado will be celebrating Cinco de Mayo, so there may be an event near you.

As I mentioned last week, this weekend is also the Estes Park Duck Races, more at EPDuckRace.org and the 74th Annual Music and Blossom Festival in Canon City. Details at CCBlossomFestival.com.

Also, don’t forget that it’s First Friday Art Walk in communities from Fort Collins to Pueblo to Steamboat Springs, so use it as an excuse to leave the kids with a sitter, grab some dinner in your downtown with your honey and enjoy some art and culture.

And now for our planning ahead section, which will grow as the festival season starts revving up. I’m going to start telling you about events well ahead of time so that you can plan your summer travel calendar.

Montrose Food & Wine Festival logo 2012Mother’s Day weekend has several events that Mom will love…

First, on May 10 through 12, it’s the 9th Annual Montrose Wine & Food Festival. The festival includes cooking demonstrations, entertainment and of course, lots of wine. Learn more at MontroseWineFestival.com.

Also Mother’s Day weekend, it’s the Downtown Art & Jazz Festival in Grand Junction, which is breathtakingly beautiful at this time of year. Listen to jazz by local and national artists, watch artistic demonstrations and shop artisan booths. Go to DowntownGJ.org for details.

There are two festivals on the 3rd weekend in May that are worth the gas money.

The Wild Wild West Festival in Pueblo is an event with a nationally televised bull riding competition at the center of it all. If you like cowboys, don’t miss this festival – it’s put together with families in mind. More at WildWildWestFestival.com.

Mike the Headless Chicken Festival logo 2012

Click this logo to go to Mike's Facebook page.

And last up, in the planning ahead section, you’ve probably heard of this festival before because it has received national and international attention. Mike was a famous chicken that was said to have lived without his head for 18 months “¦ okay, it’s sort of gross, and today I think it would be considered animal cruelty, but in the mid forties Mike became a celebrity simply by not dying when his head was chopped off.

I’m not sure how long the fine folks of Fruita, Colorado have been celebrating poor Mike, but I’m told that attending Mike the Headless Chicken Festival is a no-brainer… ANYWAAAY… this year’s event is May 18 and 19th and to learn all about this wacky celebration of a poor headless chicken go to MiketheHeadlessChicken.org.

On that note… if you missed anything on today’s show, I post the transcripts every week at HeidiTown.com.

As always I would encourage you to join the town’s block party at Facebook.com/HeidiTown.comOnFB, and follow me on Twitter @HeidiTown. You can also circle the town on Google Plus.

Thank you for listening. Until next week, I will see you online and quite possibly at a festival near you!

Cinco de Mayo Colorado

cinco de mayo sombreroFor most residents of the United States, Cinco de Mayo means heading to the nearest Mexican restaurant and indulging in multiple margaritas. However, the 5th of May celebration is much more than just tortilla chips and margs.

Cinco de Mayo is a Mexican holiday commemorating the victory of the Mexican militia over the French army at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. It is not, as many people think, Mexican Independence Day – that’s September 16.

In Mexico, Cinco de Mayo is a regional celebration with most festivities happening in the state of Puebla.

Of course, that’s all good and dandy, but here in Colorado we like to dance, drink and party it up on Cinco de Mayo, and here’s where to go for all the festivities and to get a taste of Mexican culture.

Cinco de Mayo Celebration,  Denver, CO – Civic Park

This two-day event starts on Saturday, May 7 at 10 a.m. and runs through Sunday. With over 300 vendors, music, dancing and lots of food, this is Colorado’s largest 5th of May celebration.

Cinco de Mayo with Fiesta,  Broomfield, CO – Broomfield Auditorium

www.broomfield.org

This is the final program in the Culture-Feast free concert series. Come and celebration traditional Cinco de Mayo with the one of the premier dance companies in Colorado. This production is scheduled for Sunday, May 1 at 2 p.m.

Cinco de Mayo Fiesta,  Fort Collins, CO – Civic Center Park

www.fortcollinscincodemayo.com

This family event includes food, crafts and lots of music. Bring a lawn chair and settle in to enjoy the fun. This event is from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, May 7, 2011.

27th Annual Cinco de Mayo, Greeley, CO – Island Grove Regional Park

The Latino Chamber of Northern Colorado is putting on this fiesta that includes everything from a parade to a  jalapeño-eating contest, food vendors, 75 shopping booths , a petting zoo and even rapper E.M.P. Greeley is serious about Cinco de Mayo, so this should be a great event.

Cinco de Mayo,  Longmont, CO – Roosevelt Park

www.longmontcincodemayo.org

This free, family-friendly festival will be held Saturday, May 7 and features food, shopping, a car show, a Chihuahua contest and entertainment.

Cinco de Mayo,  Loveland, CO – Foote Lagoon

www.ci.loveland.co.us

The City of Loveland is putting together this free event scheduled for May 7, from 12 to 5 p.m. This small festival includes music, performers, food and fun for the kiddos.

Cinco de Mayo at the Mile High Marketplace,  Henderson, CO

www.milehighmarketplace.com

On Sunday, May 1, the Mile High Marketplace and Estrella TV will host a Cinco de Mayo party from 12:30 to 5 p.m. Admission $3, with free for children under 12.

***

Note from the Mayor: There are many, many more Cinco de Mayo festivities across Colorado. I have no doubt that you can find one near you!

“Blind Descent” exploring the deepest caves on earth

While I do not intend to write regular book reviews on HeidiTown, if the mood strikes, I will share a book with my readers. I am currently reading “Blind Descent” by James M. Tabor, a writer and former on-camera host of the PBS series, “The Great Outdoors.”

Tabor’s previous book, “Forever on the Mountain,” is about the 1967 climb of Alaska’s Mt. McKinley, a trip that resulted in 7 lives lost, making it the most tragic climbing accident in American history.    

Tabor’s new book chronicles the adventures of a different sort of explorer, the men and women who seek to find the deepest caves on earth. While we are accustom to hearing about climbers who attempt to summit the highest peaks in the world, these extreme cavers receive little if any publicity for their exploration, even though their feats are just as hazardous, if not more, than scaling K2 or Everest.

I often read books in this genre, but seldom do I find one as well-written as “Blind Descent.” Tabor rappels the reader into the ever-present darkness of these “super caves,” and at times it is a terrifying experience. These extreme cavers spend days upon days underground in the name of science and discovery, but also adventure.

Not only does Tabor take us on these caving explorations, but he also explores the personal lives of these extreme cavers. He gives the reader an inside look at what drives a person to do this type of dangerous activity, and what they are willing to risk, and lose, in order to fulfill their goals.      

As a state full of explorers and adventurers, I believe “Blind Descent” will appeal to many of HeidiTown’s Colorado readers.

I highly recommend this book. To learn more visit www.jamesmtabor.com.  

 

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