Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving: What a Beautiful Turkey!

Tom Turkey

I photographed this beautiful turkey while doing an article on Boondocker Farms in Oregon. This free-range turkey had a good life roaming amidst the other animals and the blueberry plants.

At Boondockers, on beautiful pastureland, you'll find out about the rare heritage poultry raised there. They have Ancona, Saxony, and Silver Appleyard ducks. But what is unusual is that these ducks, free to roam enclosed pastureland, are guarded by beautiful Great Pyrenees dogs.

Evan and Rachel, the owners, are knowledgeable and creative. Talk to them awhile and you'll learn how they farm and how they raise their animals. These farm animals are raised for eggs and meats and they are provided with a very good life. This is reassuring.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

#Optoutside and Enjoy the Beauty of Nature this Friday

It might be a trip to the dog park. Or, a hike in the Columbia Gorge. I don't know yet. But what I do know is that I’m joining REI and a million other people in enjoying a day outside this Friday. I think their #optoutside campaign is a great one.

A few weeks ago, REI told their employees they would be closing this Black Friday and paying them to do what they love most—spend time
outside. They also invited their members and community partners to #OptOutside. The response has been amazing.

Nearly a million people have raised their hands to join in, and more are signing on every day, along with many organizations, park systems and outdoor companies.

While the rest of the world is navigating crowded shopping malls (Yuck!), REI hopes to see you in the great outdoors. They also invite you to share your outdoor experiences by using the hashtag #OptOutside on social media, and to show your support for the movement at if you haven’t already.

Please join me in celebrating those on the list below that have chosen to #OptOutside.

Park Systems

Meetup (Join more than
350 Meetups across the U.S.)


Join the nearly 1 million people choosing to #OptOutside this Black Friday at

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Nouveau Division Crawl 2015: Celebrating France, Oregon and the newly harvested wines

The weather warmed and spirits, dampened by the terrorist attacks in Paris, lightened a little last Thursday night. The Nouveau Division Crawl, now in its second year, was the place to be for wine enthusiasts, foodies and those who just wanted an excuse to socialize.

It’s traditional to taste the first wine of the vintage on the third Thursday of each November, so the SE Wine Collective decided to take the party to the streets and set up a cruise along Portland’s restaurant row.

I parked a block away and walked up to the SE Wine Collective to sign in and experience my first tastings of the evening. A sparkling Eiffel Tower decoration and the tricolor flag of France welcomed everyone. Inside the barrel room five tasting stations were set up.

Each of the participating locations for the evening would host a tasting of a new wine such as Beaujolais/Gamay Nouveau and a delicious bite representing their cuisine.

Needless to say, the party atmosphere at the SE Wine Collective kept me there well into the first hour. Chef Althea Grey Potter sent me out into the night with a delicious bite of pork belly confit with smoked butternut squash purée and a smile.

Before participants reached the corner, they were offered Pizza Margherita from Cibo.

And then it was a short few blocks to another favorite, Boulangerie St. Honoré, for a savory smoked pork loin with rose-apple butter, apple and fennel slaw paired with a real French Beaujolais Nouveau. Crawl participants were serenaded as we sipped and ate.

The wine kept flowing and the food kept being served all the way down SE Division. Pedi cabs were on duty to get you back to your car or to transport you along the street.

I ended my evening with a Nouveau Pinot Sorbet at Salt & Straw. As I enjoyed the sorbet on a cone, I couldn’t help but notice all the Thanksgiving flavors on the chalkboard. Salt & Straw has gone over the top with creativity again this season.

The pours and bites were more than generous. Participants enjoyed an evening of fun, food and new wine for $25 each (pre-purchased tickets) which is very easy on the pocketbook.

And, for those who managed to visit all seven stops on the crawl and return a completed punch card that same day to the SE Wine Collective, they received a complimentary wine tasting flight for a later use!

This year’s participants in the festivities included Cibo, Imperial Bottle Shop, Pizza Maria, Salt &Straw, Southeast Wine Collective, St. Honoré Boulangerie, Sunshine Tavern, Woodsman Tavern and more.

I highly recommend this event and urge you to watch for next year’s Nouveau Division Crawl. I came away this year with good memories of the cheerful purveyors as well as good food and wine during what had been a difficult week in the world.


Note: As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with a complimentary event ticket for the purpose of review. While it has not influenced this review, the writer believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Santa Fe has Snow, Farolitos and Special Package Deals for Winter Vacations

Head to Santa Fe New Mexico for the holiday season and be welcomed with hotel and spa packages crafted for travelers to experience a wealth of enticing “City Different” amenities.

With Ski Santa Fe already packed with fresh snow and opening on Thanksgiving Day with a full roster of special events including the Santa Fe Winter Indian Market, world-famous Canyon Road Farolito Walk, the first ever New Year’s Eve On The Plaza, the inaugural Santa Fe Foodie Classic in January, and much more, Santa Fe visitors can choose from many special indoor and outdoor activities to forge memories for a lifetime.

Hotel Santa Fe The Hacienda & Spa Fa-La-La-La-Ah! Holiday Relaxation Package
Hotel Santa Fe The Hacienda & Spa is helping travelers keep the fun in the holidays and eliminate stress. Now through December 31, the hotel is offering the Fa-La-La-La-Ah! Holiday Relaxation Package, which starts at $479 and includes:
·         Two (2) nights’ accommodations
·         Continental breakfast each morning for two
·         Two (2) one-hour Cielo massages
*Rates based on double occupancy. Taxes, resort fee, beverages and gratuities not included.

Reservations: (855) 825-9876 or

Inn and Spa at Loretto, A Destination HotelWinter Wonderland Package
This season the Inn and Spa at Loretto is offering the new Winter Wonderland package designed to enchant and inspire for an unforgettable city adventure. Rates start at $209 per night and include:
·         Overnight accommodations of guests’ choice, ranging from traditional rooms to the Penthouse Suite
·         Entry to The Loretto Chapel, home of the miraculous staircase
·         $50 food and beverage credit to be used in any of the hotel’s culinary outlets including Luminaria, The Living Room and room service
·         Complimentary sample of The Spa at Loretto’s most popular hand crafted oil: Winter.
·         Local’s List of ‘must see, must do’ Santa Fe Activities
·         Limited Edition handmade, one-of-a kind, Christmas Ornament of the Inn and Spa at Loretto

Offer valid through March 31, 2016. Not valid with any other offers and does not include the Inn’s daily service fee ($15) or valet ($21). Other restrictions may apply.

Reservations: (505) 984-7997 or

The Lodge is perched on a hilltop overlooking downtown Santa Fe, with views of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains—a boutique New Mexico hotel with a warm and relaxed atmosphere. The package is valid now through March 31. Rates start at $69 per night and include:
·         Overnight accommodations
·         Storage for all ski and snowboarding gear
·         Breakfast burrito for two (2) daily
·         Shuttle service to Santa Fe Plaza
·         Complimentary Wi-Fi and parking
·          Local Treasures card – Offers an exclusive 15% discount at New Mexico's best shops, boutiques, restaurants and attractions

*Mention code SNOWGOOD to book this package

Reservations: (888)-563-4373 or

Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado Santa FeStay Four, Ski Free Package
Participate in a ski-filled winter in New Mexico in luxury with this new package. After an exciting day on the slopes, guests can return to a luxurious casita and enjoy a crackling fire prepared by the fireplace butler. This package requires a four-night minimum stay and must be booked at least seven days in advance. Rates start at $329 per night and include:
·         Luxurious overnight accommodations in a casita
·         Two (2) adult three-day lift tickets to Ski Santa Fe
·         One $50 resort credit per room

Package is valid December 6, 2015 – March 31, 2016.

Reservations: (505) 946-5700 or

Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort & Spa Winter Dreaming Package
Visitors can warm up while still taking in Santa Fe’s natural beauty at Ojo Caliente, home to the world’s only hot spring with four kinds of mineral waters. Visit one of the oldest natural health resorts in the U.S. where rates start at $399 and include:
·         Overnight accommodations in a plaza, pueblo, or Cliffside suite
·         Complimentary access to the private Kiva Pool
·         Two (2) 50-minute Essence of Ojo custom massages
·         Two (2) passes to a yoga class of guests choice
·         50-minutes in a private outdoor pool with Kiva Fireplace
·         S’mores for two to enjoy at the Outdoor Fire Pit
·         Unlimited access to mud area, steam and sauna, and all mineral pools

*Based on double occupancy. Tax and gratuity additional. Subject to availability. Package valid now through February 29, 2016.

Reservations: (505) 583-2233 or

For more information on holiday offerings and hotel deals, visit

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Photo: Quiet Time in a Taos Gallery

A local takes a break in a quiet corner of a Taos art gallery.
The tourists come and go but in the off season, the locals resume their lives
in beautiful Taos, New Mexico

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

New! The Santa Fe Foodie Classic

Eating in Santa Fe is always a delight. And we've always enjoyed the food and drink festivals. So here's something new to enjoy:

The City Different, long a favored destination for lovers of unique modern and traditional cuisine, announces a new culinary event: The Santa Fe Foodie Classic. This three-day event will be produced by Heritage Productions, LLC, from January 15 - 17, 2016.

The event kicks off at the historic Eldorado Hotel & Spa with a “7 Deadly Sins” dinner. The decadent dinner format includes seven gourmet courses by Eldorado’s resident Head Chef Tony Smith with seven complementary wine pairings. World-class Flamenco, brilliant venue design, and extravagant pairings will be a celebration of the most vibrant of New Mexico offerings.

The festival continues Saturday the 16th with a tasting of New Mexico’s craft beers paired with artisan cheeses followed by a “Meet The Wine Maker” seminar. The afternoon’s Grand Tasting event will be held at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center and include food and beverage experts showcasing the best of Northern New Mexico cuisine. Saturday concludes with an after party at the Eldorado’s new CAVA Lounge.

On Sunday the 17th the renowned Santa Fe School Of Cooking will host a cooking demonstration in the morning. That afternoon, three local chefs selected by food critics from those participating in the Grand Tasting will compete in a three-course secret basket competition. The winner will receive a trip to FOOD & WINE Classic in Aspen.

For tickets and information, please visit

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Travel Writers Tour the Four Corners Area of the Southwest (Photos)

A small group of adventuresome travel writers enjoyed the Southwest US recently on a press trip. Here are some photos posted on the Western U.S. Travel Facebook page:

Friday, November 6, 2015

Portland's Acadia New Orleans Bistro: Warm up with Amazing Gumbos

Acadia New Orleans Bistro
Warm destination on a rainy evening
How about a little Cajun/Creole comfort food? As our weather starts to migrate into chillier temperatures, Acadia chef/owner Seamus Foran’s mind turns to gumbo.  In honor of the famous Treme Gumbo Festival that takes place in New Orleans this time of year, Seamus has created a flight of gumbos for November 13-14th.  The flight will include:

Seafood Gumbo – Acadia’s "go-to" gumbo, made with a dark roux, which provides a depth of flavor that gumbo is known for, balanced out by a combination of shellfish and chicken stock. This is THE New Orleans gumbo.  Acadia will serve its seafood gumbo with shrimp, crawfish and Louisiana blue crab.

Cajun Gumbo – This is a style of gumbo popular in the southwestern region of Louisiana, which is more of a thick tomato-based stew. Occasionally seafood will be included but more a more typical recipe (and the one chef Seamus will use) will feature chicken and Andouille sausage.

Gumbo Z'herbs – This was a version of gumbo that grew in popularity with the Catholic population of southern Louisiana. Served during the Lent, this version traditionally contained no meat, though ironically it did involve a stock made from smoked ham hocks. Z'herbs is made with any kind of green leaf-like vegetable one can find: kale, mustard greens, collards, chards, turnip/carrot/beet/radish tops, cabbage, lettuces and spinach can all be used. As Lenten restrictions lightened in the past few generations, this dish lost popularity. But they are bringing it back!

We stopped in to Acadia on NE Fremont to see if these gumbos lived up to the luscious descriptions. It was my first visit to Acadia, a pleasant neighborhood restaurant with a contemporary vibe. It was raining and we ducked in the door and sat by the window enjoying the last light of day. We perused the wine list which offered both local and international wines.

I was pleasantly surprised to be offered a full tasting menu starting with Acadia’s Louisiana BBQ Shrimp, luscious large head-on shrimp swimming in a Cajun pepper sauce. No wonder this shrimp dish has such a following! We enjoyed a glass of Oregon wine and warmed up with the zesty shrimp and ample French bread to take care of any remaining sauce!

When the second course arrived… an arugula salad with mustard greens, thinly sliced gala apples, kohlrabi, pecans and Portland Creamery goat cheese… I was developing admiration for Chef Seamus’ dedication to out-of-the-garden fresh and locally sourced creations.

When the Gumbo Flight was served I reminisced about my times on the Gulf Coast and the hole-in-the-wall local seafood places, often near the shrimp boat docks, where we found gumbos and jambalayas with a spicy red sauce. The Cajun Country Chicken and Andouille Sausage Gumbo brought me right back to those days. That was my favorite of the three gumbos we tasted. However, all were excellent with multiple layers of flavors.

When we were served the dessert, a hearty, sweet vanilla bean bread pudding with salted whiskey caramel sauce, I knew Acadia was the type of place that took great care with their offerings and their service.

It was a great first experience.  We left the restaurant to return to the damp night air feeling warm inside and marveling at the cuisine we had encountered… perfect for a rainy Portland day.

Whether you are in the mood for a taste of the Gulf Coast or just want to experience a special Portland neighborhood restaurant, a visit to Acadia should be in your plans this season.

Their Gumbo Weekend is a great excuse to make that reservation for November 13th and 14th , Friday or Saturday.  The Gumbo Flight will be available for $16, and a la carte portions for $10 each. And, if you miss this fun event, you’ll always find some gumbos on the menu. Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler!

More Information
Acadia: A New Orleans Bistro
1303 NE Fremont St. Portland, OR

Note: As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with a meal for the purpose of review. While it has not influenced this review, the writer believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Photos of the Southwest: Buffalo Dancer at Acoma Pueblo

Photo Copyright: Elizabeth R. Rose
When we visited Acoma Pueblo we were treated to a Buffalo Dance at the Sky City Cultural Center & Haak'u Museum.

Olympic Peninsula historic lodges offer wine weekends

Historic Crescent Lake Lodge is hosting November
and December wine dinners.
Washington State is the nation's second largest wine producer and is ranked among the world's top wine regions. The Olympic Peninsula, only two hours northwest of Seattle, is home to 10 award-winning wineries, each with a rich family heritage. 

Lake Crescent Lodge is hosting two upcoming wine tasting weekends, Nov. 20-21 and Dec. 4-5, 2015 that will be a great opportunity for visitors to taste the wines of Washington State Wine Country.

Nestled close to Olympic National Park and Forest, the artisan wineries of the Olympic Peninsula make a visit to the Northwest a must-do experience. There are also a variety of places to stay in or near Olympic National Park that offer extensive local wine lists.

Lake Crescent Lodge has a large local wine offering, serving over 30 local wines from Harbinger Cellars, Camaraderie Cellars and Olympic Cellars all in Port Angeles, WA as well as Maryhill Winery in Goldendale, WA, which was named the 2015 Pacific Northwest Winery of the Year by Wine Press Northwest.

Two upcoming wine weekends will allow visitors to interact with the wine producers and sample a variety of wines from local wineries (*Advance reservations required):
       November 20-21, 2015 hosted by Camaraderie Cellars
       Friday Wine Tasting Reception 5-6:30 pm
       Saturday Wine Maker Dinner 6 pm
       December 4-5, 2015 hosted by Olympic Cellars
       Friday Wine Tasting Reception 5-6:30 pm
       Saturday Wine Maker Dinner 6 pm

In addition, Lake Quinault Lodge, just two hours south of Lake Crescent Lodge, also serves over 25 local wines including varieties from Maryhill Cellars which is the house label, Barnard Griffin Winery, Columbia Crest Winery, Townshend Cellar, L’Ecole No. 41, Cougar Crest Winery, Snoqualmie Vineyards, Caderetta Winery and Canoe Ridge Vineyard. Pairing a nice Washington State wine with a decadent meal at the Roosevelt Dining Room completes the visit to Olympic National Park and Forest.

Additional properties that also offer a varied selection of local Washington wines are Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort, open March to Oct, and Log Cabin Resort, open May to Sept. For more information visit, or call 866.297.7367.