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Festival Survival Guide for Smart People

It’s that time of year. What time of year? It’s time to party!

I’ve spent years telling you to never forget sunscreen and to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate, so I decided to write a different sort of festival survival guide. Without further ado, here’s my festival survival guide for smart people.

Festival Survival Guide for Smart People. Snowmass Mammoth Festival, Colorado. HeidiTown.com

Festival Apps are the Bomb

Many festivals now have an app to help you get around their event. These apps include things like the event schedule, breweries in attendance, food truck lists, etc. Continue reading

Top 5 tips for attending a Colorado winter festival

I was asked recently to write a “tips for attending winter festivals” post. Well, I had already written that post way back in 2014. Since it has some great winter festival survival tips I decided I’d re-post the original article.  

The following post originally appeared on HeidiTown.com on February 7, 2014.

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I was prompted to write this post after an experience I had last month during Breckenridge’s Ullr Festival. For the first time ever I experienced the terrible symptoms of severe dehydration. As a longtime Coloradan, I am embarrassed to admit this, but it happened and it’s NOT fun.

On our second night in town, after soaking in the beautiful hot tubs at Grand Timber Lodge, we went out to dinner where I started to feel shaky and nauseated. I thought I was coming down with the flu. I didn’t touch dinner and had to head back to our condo early where I crawled into bed with intense muscle cramps and aches all over my body.

The next day I was fine, a bit weak, but otherwise back to normal. When I searched my symptoms on Google, I discovered that I had suffered from dehydration. Usually I drink a ton of water, but on this trip I was so busy with Nordic skiing and partying that hydration had skipped my mind. It won’t happen again.

This long story leads me to tip number 1, which is HYDRATE! HYDRATE! HYDRATE!

Beer at Breckenridge Brewery. HeidiTown.com

It’s delicious, but it’s not water. Drink one of these and follow it up with a pint of water.

Colorado is at elevation – all of it – but especially in the mountains where most of the great winter festivals take place. Dehydration can happen to anyone, even a Colorado resident – case in point -but those coming from outside the state should be even more conscientious of this issue. 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.

Dispelling the myths about staying at a bed & breakfast

When I was a child, my family used to vacation each year on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. We always stayed at the same bed and breakfast, and I have wonderful memories of our stays there. As an adult, I continue to choose this style of lodging when I am on vacation, especially when visiting smaller towns around Colorado.

Over the years, Ryan and I have stayed at bed and breakfasts in the United States, and across Great Britain. We love bed and breakfasts, but I realize that a lot of you are hesitant about this type of vacation lodging.

Here are some of the common fears I hear about bed and breakfast, and my responses to each:

Rose Street B&B Georgetown, Colorado

Rose Street B&B in Georgetown, Colorado. Photo by H.M. Kerr-Schlaefer, all rights reserved.

“I will feel like I’m invading someone’s home.”

Only once have I had the experience of feeling like a nuisance when staying at a bed and breakfast and this took place in England. Sometimes the line between bed and breakfasts and “renting a room in a house” becomes blurred, and this was one of those times. But this was an exception. This had never been our experience before and has never been our experience after at any bed and breakfast in England or stateside.

Typically, we choose a room with our own bathroom and have even had rooms with their own private entrance. Breakfast is usually served in a dining room where you may or may not meet other guests at the establishment. Most bed and breakfasts in the United States take pride in making delicious and memorable meals. Ryan and I still rave about the breakfast we had on the terrace at Hughes Hacienda in Colorado Springs.

“People will get all up in my business.”

I think this is the #1 fear I hear from my friends. They think that a bed and breakfast will lack privacy or that they will be forced into extensive conversations with perfect strangers. I can tell you that a bed and breakfast experience is what YOU make of it. Most proprietors are friendly and enjoy people, otherwise they wouldn’t be in this profession.

However, most proprietors are very intuitive as to their guests’ level of comfort in chatting, and will not push their guests into conversation, especially if a guest appears to be a more private type of person.

arch in Moab

Thanks to the proprietors of Dream Keeper Inn, we were able to find out about this amazing hike in Moab, Utah.

If you do choose to engage the bed and breakfast proprietors, and I suggest that you do, they are a wealth of information about the area in which you are staying. During our stay at Dream Keeper Inn, in Moab, Utah, the owners knew all the best local hikes, and were a big help in assisting us in picking a wonderful hike to see a hidden arch.

You can also choose whether or not to engage the other guests, who you will likely only run into during breakfast service. Many bed and breakfasts have multiple tables, although some seat everyone together. We have met the most interesting people over the years, and have had a blast sharing travel stories with Australians in Bath, England and with New Yorkers during  a stay in Georgetown, Colorado.

“B&B’s are too expensive.”

This is a complete misnomer. With the price of hotel lodging today, bed and breakfasts are often competitive when it comes to price. Plus, you get a free, full breakfast every day of your stay, which will easily cost more than $20 at a restaurant.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love staying at a nice hotel, and we do not choose bed and breakfasts on every trip we take. However, they are a nice change up from the traditional hotel room, and can create memorable stories that will last you a lifetime.

HeidiTown on the Radio: Travel tips from my article in Independent Traveler

heidi in a red hat

My #1 tip and most simple is to always pack a hat. Here I am on a road trip to Manitou Springs, Colorado. (Photo by Ryan Schlaefer)

It’s time for another segment of HeidiTown on KRFC 88.9 FM. These shows air weekly on Wednesdays and Fridays.

This week I am sharing with you my “Five Travel Tips for Lazy People” from an article I wrote last summer for  IndependentTraveler.com, one of the world’s oldest travel websites.  It’s an interactive traveler’s exchange and comprehensive online travel guide for people who enjoy planning their own trips. They have lots of great travel insights and I encourage you to add them to your RSS feed and follow them on Facebook  and Twitter.

Without further ado, listen to this week’s segment HERE.

Weekly radio show includes festival tips!

Colorado Brewers' Festival in Fort Collins, Colorado

A volunteer serves up beer at the Colorado Brewers' Festival in Fort Collins, Colorado. This festival of beer is June 23-24, 2012. (Photo courtesy of the Fort Collins DBA)

The transcripts from my show on KRFC 88.9 FM will no longer be posted here on the blog.

As a reminder, the radio show will no longer be a laundry list of events happening around Colorado. To keep up with the numerous number of events and festivals that occur year round here,  make sure you hook up with the HeidiTown’s Facebook page.

I will still be blogging about festivals here on the blog, but as I wrote in a previous post, I felt the blog was turning into a calendar of events, and this was never the intention. I want to get back to what I do best and that’s good writing about Colorado.

At the beginning of each week, I will upload the radio show here. The show will be on various topics surrounding travel, festivals and perhaps even some interviews.

To hear this week’s segment where I outline my tips for going to festivals this summer, CLICK HERE.

HeidiTown.com on the radio – What to do in Colorado this weekend, April 13-15, 2012 & beyond

The weekends seem to be flying by at a frightfully fast rate!  I can’t believe that it is already mid-April.  The following is the transcript from my weekly radio show on KRFC 88.9 FM. You can either read the transcript below or listen to the audio of the show HERE.

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MyHandleBar 2012

The HeidiTown.com MyHandleBar gang after our Fort Collins ride. Photo by Alex, our bike "driver" extraordinaire.

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

As we head into the busy summer festival season I want to hand out some advice. If you are planning an event, don’t forget to calendar it online in newspapers up and down the Front Range.

I am surprised by how many organizations will make fliers, put the event in their newsletter and even create a Facebook event invite, but fail to calendar their festival in a local newspaper. This is a small and easy step for you to take and I promise, it will help with your event. I rely heavily on calendars and so does the festival going public. I LOVE social media, but if that should be an additional way to get your message out – don’t forget about the tried and true methods.

Okay, now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, on to regular scheduled programming!

If you were in Old Town Fort Collins a couple weekends ago, you might have got a glimpse of my rowdy HeidiTown gang on board the MyHandleBar. This is a unique way to do a brewery crawl. MyHandleBar bike is new to Fort Collins as of last summer and this was my third ride.  If you want to see your adult friends giggle like school children this s pring and summer, get them on the MyHandleBar. There’s also a bike running in Boulder. Find out more at MyHandleBar.com.

Here are a few events that I’ve previously mentioned that are now upon us. This is the weekend of April 13th through the 15th, 2012.

The Arvada Kite Festival is this Saturday. I think this looks like the perfect event for a family outing. Visit ArvadaFestivals.com for all the details.

Shotski Steamboat Cardboard Classic

Our human-sized SHOTSKI at the 2008 Cardboard Classic in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Photo by Ryan Schlaefer.

One of my favorite mountain mud season events is also this weekend. The 32nd Annual Cardboard Classic is part of Springalicious in Steamboat Springs. If you have been considering heading up to the Boat, this is the weekend to do it. The 5th Annual Splashdown Pond Skimming Competition is on Sunday, so make a road trip out of it! There are also live bands playing all weekend. More info at Steamboat.com.

Back here in Fort Collins I have posted a review of “The Sound of Music” now on stage at Midtown Art Center. I won’t give anything away except to say that the kids steal the show and I had one of my best meals I’ve had at this venue! Read the entire review on HeidiTown.com.

And now for something completely adorable! The Plumb Farm Learning Center in Greeley celebrates spring with its annual Baby Animal Days happening now through April 21. During Baby Animal Days families are invited to the farm to see llamas, alpacas, goats, lambs, cows, horses, pigs, rabbits, chicks and ducks. Baby animals will be everywhere so if you child is anything like me when I was a kid they will be overwhelmed with delight. The event is open daily through April 21st. Visit GreeleyGov.com/museums/BabyAnimalDays.

Lastly, in our planning ahead section…

Elton John Pinball Machine Manitou Springs Colorado

An interesting Elton John pinball machine at the Penny Arcade in Manitou Springs, Colorado. Photo by H.M. Kerr-Schlaefer, all rights reserved.

This next event is for all you pinball wizards and groupies. At the end of the month, it’s the Rocky Mountain Pinball Showdown. That’s Friday, April 27th through Sunday April 29th.

I blogged about this event last year on HeidiTown. There are over 100 pinball machines on display – no quarters need to play. There are also exhibitors from around the country including pinball sellers, buyers, specialists and a lot more. If you are a fan of pinball, you don’t want to miss the Rocky Mountain Pinball Showdown at the Embassy Suites at the Denver Tech Center. Get more information at PinBallShowdown.com.

And by the way, every week I post a transcript of this show on HeidiTown, so if you need missed something, or need a web address, you can look it up there.

That’s all the time I have for this week. Remember, you can follow me on Twitter @HeidiTown, circle the town on Google Plus, or join the town’s block party on Facebook at Facebook.com/HeidiTown.comonFB.

Thanks for listening and until next time, I will see you online!

The Mayor’s tips for attending summer festivals

I’ve been attending festivals since I was just a kid. Our family favorite was the Pacific Northwest Scottish Highland Games & Clan Gathering in Enumclaw, Washington. We also attended regional and community events, such as the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival in Mt. Vernon, Washington.

As an adult, I attend festivals in Colorado year round, but summer is always extra special. There’s nothing better than dusty festival feet at the end of a long hot day in the sun.

Colorado Renaissance Festival HeidiTown 98

As a “professional” festival goer, I’d like to give you my best advice for making the most of summer festivals. Here are some things I’ve learned over the years that I hope you will find useful.

First, get there early. This is especially important for big events such as Colorado Renaissance Festival in Larkspur. There are several reasons to be an early festival bird. It’s cooler in the morning, and I find that most events are less crowded early on in the day. At events such as Renaissance Festival, vendors and entertainers are often more chipper and accommodating in the morning, before crowds and heat have taken a toll.

Colorado Renaissance Festival HeidiTown 20

A craftsman at the Colorado Renaissance Festival in 2013.

If you are attending a music festival and it’s important to get a good seat or a premium piece of acreage for your blanket, then getting there early may make your entire experience more memorable.

Second, talk to people. Many festivals have a theme, such as cars, beer, music, barbecue, etc. I get a lot more out of an event if I engage with people. I’ve chatted with brewers at beer festivals, cooks at chili cook offs, and artists at artsy fests. I always come away with a sense that I got a peek behind the curtain and that makes the whole event more memorable.

For example, last year at Greeley’s Oktoberfest my husband and I had a fantastic conversation with the people who were running the Germans from Russia booth. It made the entire event more meaningful when I realized just how many Northern Coloradoans have strong German ties.

Third, don’t be afraid to dance. Have you ever been at an event where you’ve witnessed a small child dancing wildly to the band? We have all seen this, but when’s the last time you danced? A festival is a celebration and we should approach these types of affairs with that in mind. Whether it’s dancing or just tapping your toe, it’s okay to let loose and have a little fun while festivalling (pretty sure I just made that word up, but I like it).

Twig the Fairy at Colorado Renaissance Festival. HeidiTown.com

What to Pack:

Sunscreen – Always, always pack sunscreen, and if you do forget this important item, ask someone to share.
Bug repellant – Here’s an item that I often overlook and then regret. It may be stinky, but it’s far better than coming home all itchy.
Cash – We live in a world where credit cards are widely accepted, but not in festival land.
Camera – Most of us have smart phones with photo capability, but I still pack a camera to every event.

Here’s a tip for the ladies. Bring a purse you can secure over your shoulder and don’t have to carry in your hand.

For more fun festival info check out these festival related articles by Hip Mountain Mama:

Festivals with Kids: 10 Tips

We’ve got your festival gear!

Win a signed copy of “A Fly Fishing Guide to Rocky Mountain National Park”

Fly Fishing RMNPFather’s Day is less than two weeks away, so I thought it was the perfect time for this giveaway.

Fly-fishing is a popular Colorado pastime, and for good reason. The Colorado Rockies provide some of the most pristine rivers in the world, and some of the best are in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Coloradoan Steve Schweitzer started hiking and fishing RMNP eleven years ago. He kept meticulous notes about his hikes and the fish he caught. These trips and notes became the inspiration for “A Fly Fishing Guide to Rocky Mountain National Park.”

Schweitzer’s book was released in February 2011, and features 260 photographs, and 150 destinations along 48 trail systems with RMNP. It outlines each hike, including information on trail difficulty.

“It’s as much of a hiking guide as a fishing guide,” Schweitzer said.

First and foremost, the book answers the question, “Where do I want to fish today?” The book has ten tools to help answer this question. It also includes fully illustrated, full color topographic maps, tips for anglers, hatch charts and a detailed pattern listing for over 100 unique and highly effective flies.

For the Colorado fly fisherman of fisherwoman, “A Fly Fishing Guide to Rocky Mountain National Park” is a must-read. For the rest of us, it’s a beautiful book about one of America’s greatest national parks and is full of helpful hiking information.

This week you have the chance to win a signed copy of this book here at HeidiTown.com. To be entered, you must tell me your favorite “fish story” in the comment story below. If you don’t have a fish story, make one up!

A winner will be chosen at random on Friday, June 10 at 3 p.m.

Here’s an example of a true fish story. My dad, younger brother and I were fishing a river in northwest Washington State, and because I was still learning the art of fly fishing, my line kept getting caught in a bush near the river’s edge. Frustrated, I blurted out the “f” word. I froze. Under no circumstance was this acceptable language in my family. However, my dad simply looked at me, shook his head and went back to fishing – leaving me to untangle the line from the bush.

To get a sneak peak inside the “A Fly Fishing Guide to Rocky Mountain National Park,” or to place a book order, visit www.flyfishingrmnp.com.

Good luck & happy fishing!

 

Vegas Baby!

Caesars Palace. Photo by H.M. Kerr-Schlaefer

Caesars Palace. Photo by H.M. Kerr-Schlaefer

It seems Las Vegas is all the rage. The Travel Channel never seems to run out of shows about Sin City, and every online travel site has numerous articles on it. It’s even been feature in the movies, most recently “The Hangover“ (2009).

There’s no doubt Vegas is the place to be, so HeidiTown has decided to add to the discussion.

I was in Vegas last February. It was a business and pleasure trip, so my husband tagged along. It was my second trip to Sin City, and my husband’s third, fourth or fifth, I’m not exactly sure”¦ continue reading this review for great Vegas travel tips.

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