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The attached RV adventure travel article PDF for download first appeared in the March / April edition of Escapees Magazine.

Escapees is the world’s largest RVer club and provides resources and support for living the mobile lifestyle.

The article begins:

“Few people realize that the RVing lifestyle isn’t exclusively reserved for the rich or retired grown-ups. When we tell them that anyone can travel the country and live on the road at any age, they’re puzzled until we enlighten them about cost-saving measures like “work-camping.

Workamping is a terrific way to offset the expense of traveling while getting to know a region. It’s also one of the main ways we can afford to enjoy life on the road, decades before retirement.”

Download the entire work-camping tips article to read more about this unique live / work arrangement.

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This Colorado travel tips article first appeared in the winter 2012 edition of GoColorado.com.

Hungry for a foodie vacation? Durango restaurants can take you on an affordable culinary journey that spans the globe. With almost as many places to eat per capita as San Francisco, you can pack for an adventure from the Himalayas to Japan, Italy to Mexico. This little mountain town has less than 20,000 residents, but the local food scene is incredibly diverse. However, that’s not really surprising considering that many locals are urban transplants whose epicurean tastes are visible in the variety of global cuisine and gourmet eateries.

Wherever you decide to begin, first, visit DurangoDowntown.com or DurangoMenu.com for a sneak preview of menus and coupon deals from nearly all local cafes and restaurants. Next, read “Dishing it Out,” the Durango Herald newspaper’s food column featuring local culinary news of the week.

For a budget-friendly meal, visit Nini’s Taqueria where you can enjoy a variety of Mexican food and salsas.

When your trip itinerary is complete, leave your car keys at home because it’s cheap and convenient to get around this relatively flat town by biking, walking or riding the Durango “T” public transit system.

Downtown Durango is clearly the heart of the community and many people refer to it as the town’s “living room.” With a strong “Shop Local” attitude by residents, independent local businesses thrive in the area’s lovingly restored historic commercial district. You can spend an entire day perusing downtown’s boutiques and art galleries, but when hunger calls, you’ll have a tough time choosing where to eat. Here are a few suggestions:

NiNi’s Taqueria

When you have more month than money left after payday, head to NiNi’s Taqueria for an affordable and tasty Mexican food experience at less than $10 an entree. Linger over the colorful mix-and-match menu options of meat, chicken, pork or fish tacos and burritos while you sip a mango margarita. Be sure to order chips and guacamole so you can taste test NiNi’s extensive salsa menu showcasing homemade blends ranging from Mango-Lime to Tomatillo-Jalapeno or Mango-Habanero.

NiNi’s also has a kid’s menu, meal-sized quesadillas and a Southwestern Fish Chowder to heat up those cold winter nights. Should you have trouble deciding what to order, just ask the friendly staff for suggestions.

Ken & Sue’s

One of Durango’s most celebrated locally-owned restaurants is Ken & Sue’s, a contemporary American bistro with an award-winning wine list and diverse menu that offers something for practically every taste and diet preference.

The restaurant’s casually elegant ambiance is the perfect setting for a romantic, candle-lit dinner for two or a festive group get-together on the charming all-season back patio, making it an extremely popular destination where reservations are highly advised for dinner-hour dining.

While it’s not the least expensive restaurant in Durango, the wide price range of dinner and lunch entrees ensures that everyone can find something in their budget to savor. Popular favorites include Ginger-Chicken Potsticker appetizers with Hoisin Sauce, Aunt Lydia’s Meatloaf and Cilantro-Crusted Halibut.

Whichever item you select, your experience is guaranteed to be in good hands by a wait staff that is personally schooled in a competitive, four-week application and training course given by owners Ken and Sue.

The Himalayan Cafe

Durango is a mecca for high-altitude climbing and recreation enthusiasts, attracting daring souls from around the globe like Karma Tenzing Bhotia.

As proprietor of the Himalayan Cafe, this former Sherpa and renowned Nepalese chef specializes in cuisine from Nepal, Tibet and India. One such meal is Himalayan’s Yak Stew, made from the meat of locally-owned yaks, and clay oven-roasted Kathmandu Sekuwa, a chicken dish featuring common Nepalese ingredients of mint, cilantro, ginger, garlic, yogurt, and lemon juice.

For one of the best ways to sample all of the best creations by Bhotia, visit during lunch hour for the daily $9.99 all-you-can-eat buffet. If you can’t make it for lunch, show up afterward when the cafe offers half-price appetizers and $2 draught beer between 3 pm and 5 pm. If you visit during the dinner hour, be prepared to linger since wait staff takes time to carefully prepare every meal fresh to order.

Sushitarian

If you believe that it’s a bad idea to eat at a sushi bar in a landlocked state, Sushitarian will force you to reconsider that assumption. As the more casual destination of Durango’s two sushi bars, Sushitarian is also the more affordable with daily happy hour specials on food and adult beverages from their full bar.

Their creative approach is unusual in small town, as chefs work diligently to turn out favorites like the Uma-tama (Grilled Unagi and Tamago with a sweet eel sauce) and a lobster roll drizzled with eel sauce. Sushitarian is also a popular draw for the budget-oriented crowd because of regular deals like the “Lunch Punch Card,” which gives frequent diners a free lunch after the 10th one.

The Durango Diner

Fewer dining experiences are more satisfying than heaps of genuine American comfort food, which is why the Durango Diner has been feeding the heart and souls of visitors and locals for over 35 years. This old-fashioned American institution is heralded by everyone from Gourmet Magazine to the Denver Post because of its Southwestern-infused menu items like green chile burritos and kitchen sink omelette with smothered with green chili or gravy.

The Durango Diner’s formica counter top with swivel stools and self-serve coffee machine hearken back to days gone by but the restaurant’s budget prices and classic menu items are as timeless as ever.

 

This Colorado travel guide article first appeared in winter, 2012 at GoColorado.com.

Keystone’s reputation as an outstanding skiing and mountain biking region often overshadows other fun things to do in Summit County, but whether you visit during winter or summer, you’ll find plenty of recreation options besides these two popular activities. If you’re looking for a family-friendly entertainment option, exploring nearby ghost towns can be a fascinating experience for any age.

Visiting many of Colorado’s best ghost towns often requires four-wheel drive access, but if your vehicle isn’t capable of going off road, a few local rental companies can get you there. Renting a jeep or ATV is an exhilarating experience, but before you do, take an honest assessment of your off-road experience: if you have none at all, consider the hassle-free experience that a guided tour guide can offer. When you pay a local to show you around, you’re not just getting a ride to the ghost town, but you’ll also get an educational experience that guide books alone can’t offer.

Should you decide to see ghost towns near Keystone without an escort, always pack extra gear, food and water. If you get stuck, it could be hours or even days before someone reaches you since cell phone service is unreliable in many places.

To Montezuma and Back in a Day

Montezuma is one of the most accessible ghost towns near Keystone and nearly any two-wheel-drive cars can get there. Once you’ve arrived, you’ll enjoy one of the most complete and most realistic glimpses into Colorado’s colorful mining past.

Situated at nearly 10,000 feet elevation, Keystone was founded around 1865 by mining prospectors who braved the 13,000 foot peaks of Loveland Pass to cash in on the local silver mining boom. By 1880, Montezuma was the largest town in the region, but when silver prices fell, the population dwindled. Over a century later, only a few dozen summer residents remain in homes built among weathered ruins that include a general store and a school house still in use by locals.

Montezuma is only about six miles from the Keystone resort area, making it accessible during winter or summer. Take Highway 6 (also known as Loveland Pass) east from Keystone to Montezuma Road and six miles later, you’re there. Heartier souls can hop on a mountain bike and ride uphill on a forested path that winds along the Snake River up to Montezuma.

If snow’s on the ground when you arrive in Keystone, you can strap on a pair of skis or snowshoes and explore nearby Deer Creek, a popular option for families with kids. Or, head to the more isolated Peru Creek for an adventurous back country adventure. If you have a four wheel drive vehicle and more time to explore, two other isolated ghost town ruins are nearby:

Saints John ghost town is just two miles past Montezuma and is easily reached by the novice off-roader. This former company town was most notable because it lacked the requisite mining town saloon, but instead offered residents a library with over 300 books.

Go deeper into the forest, and you’ll find Wild Irishman Camp, a relatively intact ghost town with ruins that include several cabins, silver mining structures and outhouses. Getting there requires a bit more technical four-wheeling expertise and good map reading skills.

Whether you arrive at Keystone area ghost towns by foot, ski, snow show, jeep or mountain bike, the surrounding area offers an unlimited selection of recreation activities any time of year. Before heading out, call or visit the nearby U.S. Forest Service office in Silverthorne for directions and current trail conditions.

The following article first appeared in GoColorado, an adventure travel guide for favorite spots and off-the-beaten-path destinations in the Centennial State. This region of Colorado is one of my all-time favorites.

 

Take a drive through rural Western Colorado and you’ll encounter more horses than humans, but when you vacation in Crested Butte, you’ll be astounded at the array of gourmet restaurant choices in this hamlet of fewer than 2,000 locals. In fact, restaurants in Crested Butte are so plentiful that restaurateurs showcase two large food festivals during the year, the Wine and Food Festival and Restaurant Week.

Whenever you arrive, you’ll enjoy a surprisingly ample assortment of independently-owned dining options that will keep your palette entertained seven days a week. Most are open year-round, and nearly all of Crested Butte’s patio restaurants welcome humans to dine alongside their well-behaved dogs.

Journey to the Himalayas at Sherpa Cafe

Crested Butte’s craggy alpine backdrop is the perfect setting to embark on a culinary journey to the Himalayan Mountains of Nepal. Depart for your trip at Sherpa Café on 3rd Street, which serves a spicy blend of Indian and Nepalese cooking. Step inside to inhale the exotic aromas of curries and masala and you’ll immediately know why locals gave this relatively new restaurant their seal of approval in 2010 when they voted it “Best Ethnic Food in Crested Butte.”

A snowy view of downtown Crested Butte

The enchanting flavors of Nepalese and Indian cooking are presented in a dazzling menu that includes the region’s best native cuisine, such as momo, a snack consisting of wrapped dumpling filled with veggies or meats that’s typically sold by food cart vendors.

Other adventurous indulgences include Tibetan noodles, sherpa fried rice, and Thenthuk, a noodle stew with vegetables and meats. All of these traditional dishes are less than $13 each, and there are many options for both vegetarians and meat-eaters.

Carnivores Delight in Elegant Dining at Maxwell’s

Crested Butte’s reputation as a laid-back, casual resort town makes it such an attractive escape from the buzz of Colorado’s busier resort destinations. However, when you’re looking for a first class experience to celebrate with friends and family, Maxwell’s fits the bill.

Located on Elk Avenue in the historic region, this upscale restaurant caters to a carnivore’s palette by presenting an array of high quality, hand-cut meat-based entrees ranging from 18 oz. rib eye steaks to racks of lamb. Executive Chef David Wooding infuses all his dishes with a blend of his favorite ethnic cuisines which can range from American Southern to French to Italian, depending on the day’s produce harvest.

But do leave your vegetarian friends at home; they’ll go hungry unless they’re content choosing from a seafood dish or two, or entree salads topped with goat cheese or smoked salmon. Maxwell’s is open seven days a week for dinner starting at 5:00 pm.

Reach Nirvana at Ryce Asian Bistro

When you’re in the mood for Asian cuisine, but can’t decide between Thai, Chinese or Japanese, Ryce Asian Bistro is a perfect place to delve into all three at once. This relative newcomer in Crested Butte’s restaurant scene is known for its hearty and reasonably priced Asian-based entrees made from the freshest ingredients, such as Chinese or Vietnamese eggrolls, lemongrass chicken and tropical favorites like coconut shrimp over rice.

Locals rave about the staff’s exceptionally friendly service, outstanding quality of ingredients, and Ryce’s made-to-order menu choices that are served hot upon ordering, seven days a week. All entrees are priced at under $20, which makes Ryce a fun, inexpensive place to eat.

Travel to the Tropics at Montanya Distillers

Colorado might seem like an odd place to launch a rum distillery, but the founders of Montanya Distillers don’t think so. The elements that create their award-winning rum are distinctly local and include distilling with spring-fed water 350 feet beneath the town, high altitude fermentation, infusing each batch with a shot of caramelized honey from the San Juan Mountains and aging in whiskey barrels from the Stranahan’s whiskey distillery in Denver.

Founders Karen and Brice Hoskin recently relocated their alpine rum enterprise from Silverton into Crested Butte’s Historic Powerhouse on Elk Avenue, where their larger facility can ferment, distill, age, bottle, package and ship to 30 U.S. states. Visitors can tour the distillery, then enjoy a rum tasting at the bar every day beginning at 3:30 pm.

Let Loose with Lively Locals at Eco-Friendly Brick Oven Pizzeria and Pub

Brick Oven Pizzeria and Pub is one of Crested Butte’s oldest and most lively watering holes featuring pizza by the slice or whole, in addition to hearty sub sandwiches, juicy hamburgers and a long list of bar snacks for grown-ups and kids.

For health-conscious eaters, there’s an array of choices in Brick Oven’s gluten-free menu that even features non-dairy cheese options for vegans. Whatever you consume at Brick Oven, you can feel good about it; the environmentally-conscious owners go out of their way to reduce the restaurant’s carbon footprint, including repurposing their fryer grease into bio-fuel, choosing consumables made with recycled and biodegradable materials and utilizing local Colorado produce when the season’s just right.

Keep in mind that if you’re looking for a quiet place to talk, this lively hangout isn’t the place. The exuberant crowd is often cheering over several sporting events on an array of large HDTVs, and celebrations are an hourly occurrence at one of the town’s best settings for letting loose with friends and family.

Rise and Shine at the EastSide Bistro

Crested Butte’s quaint downtown area features several places to lounge over coffee or a hearty American breakfast, but when you want a more elegant way to start your day, the popular EastSide Bistro on Sixth Street is a good choice on weekends. Every Saturday and Sunday between 10:00 am and 2:00 pm, the restaurant presents a gourmet selection of brunch-style entrees ranging from a decadent indulgence of Deconstructed Glazed Jelly Doughnuts to heartier Mexican fare like chilaquiles, which consists of tortilla chips sautéed with Mole Poblano, eggs and queso cheese. Reservations are suggested if you want to experience this long-time favorite of the Crested Butte restaurant scene.

If You Go

To find out more about the Crested Butte Wine and Food Festival: http://www.crestedbuttewine.com

Get more information about Crested Butte Restaurant Week: http://www.cbchamber.com/crested-butte-restaurant-week.html

Sherpa Cafe
313 3rd Street, Crested Butte, CO 81224
Open every day. http://sherpacafecrestedbutte.com
970-349-0443

Maxwell’s
226 Elk Avenue, Crested Butte 81224
Open every day. http://www.maxwellscb.com
970-349-1221

Ryce Asian Bistro
120 Elk Avenue, Unit B, Crested Butte, CO
Open every day. http://www.ryceasianbistro.com
970-349-9888

Montanya Distillery and Tasting Room
130 Elk Avenue, Crested Butte, CO 81224
Open every day starting at 3:30pm-8:30pm. http://www.montanyarum.com
970-799-3206

Brick Oven Pizzeria and Pub
229 Elk Ave. Crested Butte, CO 81224
Open every day. http://www.brickovencb.com
970-349-5044

EastSide Bistro
435 Sixth St. Crested Butte, CO 81224
Open for dinner Wed – Sat 5pm
Saturday & Sunday brunch 10 to 2pm. http://www.eastsidebistro.com
970-349-9699

 

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