Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Liz's Travel News and Views: Spokane Update, Old Fashioned Christmas and Holiday Cheer at Pagosa Hot Springs

Behind the Spokane Convention Center

Skybridge Now Connects New Hotel to Spokane Washington Convention Center
Things are growing for Spokane's Convention Center. The Davenport Grand Hotel was being built earlier this year when I visited this beautiful riverside area. 

This month, the skybridge connecting the Davenport Grand Hotel and the Spokane Convention Center was installed.  Joining the DoubleTree by Hilton Spokane City Center, the Davenport Grand Hotel will be the second connected hotel to the Spokane Convention Center. 

With an expansion project expected to be completed in January 2015, the Spokane Convention Center will total more than 500,000 square feet, including 120,000 square feet of exhibit space and 83,512 square feet of meeting space. The 17-story Davenport Grand Hotel is projected to be completed in summer 2015 and will have 62,500 square feet of meeting space. The 716-room hotel will be joining the Autograph Hotel Collection by Marriott. 

With the addition of the new hotel, a total of 1,100 rooms will be connected to the Convention Center. Additionally, the number of hotel rooms within eight blocks of the Convention Center rises to 3,300.

Christmas at Fort Vancouver in Vancouver, Washington
Friends and families can experience the sights and sounds of the 1840s fur trade Christmas season this Saturday, Dec. 13, at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site. The celebration is open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Regular admission rates apply: $3 for adults; free for youth 15 and under. For more information, call 360-816-6247 or click here. 

Activities include Christmas caroling by the Madrigal Singers, hands on activities for kids, games of the 1840s, and culinary demonstrations in the kitchen and in the Blacksmith Shop. Black powder weapon demonstrations are set for 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Click here for the full story from the Daily Insider.

Consider Pagosa Springs, Colorado for a winter getaway
Winter Fun at Pagosa Springs in Colorado
What a great idea for a family getaway. Plan your stay at The Springs Resort & Spa and take advantage of their package deals. The resort features steaming natural springs and a luxurious hotel. I had the pleasure of staying there one fall. 

You can soak in their world famous hot springs, explore the beauty of the Rockies and pamper yourself at their Spa.  

Polar Express Package: Take a magical journey to the North Pole... then return to soak in mystical steaming hot springs.  Enjoy hot chocolate and a treat served by your personal chefs, who will also read THE POLAR EXPRESS story on the way to the North Pole to pick up Santa! Sing Christmas carols, while Santa Clause gives each Child a gift! Rates start at $199 for a Family of 4! Train tickets purchased separately: $35/Adults, $12/Children.  Includes: 1- Night Stay at The Springs Resort & Spa. Polar Express Train Tickets - Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, Jolly Holiday Hot Drinks in the Phoenix Room Lounge: Hot Cocoa, Hot Toddies and more seasonal specials! And, last but not least, 24-Hour Access to 23 Natural Mineral Hot Springs.

Only Available December 12th - 14th, and December 16th - 20th. Use the Promo Code: POLAR
For More Package deals and to book, see the the Email announcement or visit their website. Or call 970-264-4168

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Top 5 Travel Experiences of 2014

As I look over the past year of travels, I have my clear favorites. These are my best travel experiences in the Pacific Northwest as that is where I have concentrated my exploration this past year. I have discovered a world class kite museum as well as culinary delights in Oregon and Washington.

Spokane Falls: Amazing in Spring
1. Spokane Washington. Spokane, the amazing River City in Central Washington, surprised me. As a child I remember arriving by train and seeing the lighted falls. I wasn't prepared for the changes Spokane Falls and the downtown area offered.

Spokane has a developed a vibrant, beautiful area along their urban river. You can enjoy viewing the rushing falls, shop the new River Park Square, and go wine tasting in the Cork District.

Even with this vitalization of the downtown area, Spokane has been careful to retain some of the historic architecture such as the beautifully restored iconic Davenport Hotel.  I enjoyed a walking tour of the area which took me by historic buildings and along the Spokane River. There is much to do and explore in Spokane.

2. Washington's Long Beach Peninsula. In SW Washington, you'll find the Long Beach Peninsula, a Depot Restaurant with the locally sourced cuisine of Chef Michael Lalewicz. 
The kites on the Long Beach Peninsula will surprise you.
destination for great sea food, exciting activities and amazing festivals. You can go clamming on the sandy beach, shoot photos of the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse and end your day in the cozy

The Long Beach Peninsula has an extensive list of enticing events. In the lead is the annual International Kite Festival. Long Beach is a great place to fly kites. You'll see competitors from around the world during the festival. Year 'round you can enjoy the colorful kites and displays at the two story kite museum, a must-visit when you are in Long Beach. 

When you are ready to go home (IF you are ready to go home) stop at Jesse's Seafood market in Ilwaco for some fresh off-the-boat seafood to take home and cook.

SE Wine Collective
3. Portland's SE Division Street Restaurant and Wine Scene. SE Portland is an up and coming culinary center with a great neighborhood vibe. The SE Wine Collective makes wines in their urban winery and serves up great small plates at their tasting bar. In the summer, enjoy sitting outdoors on the sidewalk sipping your favorite selections. In fall, you might find an exciting event such as the recent Nouveau Division Crawl with wine, seasonal food and music.

SE Division has become a popular place to open a restaurant. The newly trendy street is home to such foodie destinations as St. Honoré Boulangerie, Lauretta Jean's, Block + Tackle, Son of a Biscuit and Cibo.

Wahclella Falls
4. Hiking the Columbia River Gorge. Every other June, the Columbia River Walking Club hosts a mega event, spanning four days. With maps in hand, walkers and hikers discover the beauty of the waterfall trails gracing Oregon's spectacular Columbia River Gorge.

It's a great way to enjoy such amazing sights as Multnomah Falls, Dry Creek Falls and Wahclella Falls. The trails are measured and rated so you won't over-do unnecessarily. My favorite, event or not, is the beautiful Multnomah Falls, just a short drive east of Portland.

5. Washington's Olympic Peninsula. Rain forests, Native American culture and a wild and exciting coastline are features of the Olympic Peninsula.

A great destination for hikers and walkers is the Hoh Rain Forest.

View at sunset from Kalaloch Lodge
The Olympic Peninsula is also known as home of the popular Twilight series. You can visit sites described in the books and stop by to chat with locals at the Forks Visitor Center.

When you aren't out hiking or kayaking, a great place to stay and dine is the scenic Kalaloch Lodge.

Photos copyright: Elizabeth R. Rose Photography

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Thanksgiving Weekend in Santa Fe: Winter Indian Market 2014

One of the highlights of the winter season in Santa Fe is the Annual Winter Indian Market. The Southwestern Association for Indian Arts (SWAIA) presents the 9th Annual Winter Indian Market®, Thanksgiving Weekend, November 29-30 at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center from 10 a.m. –5 p.m. The event will be located at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center. 201 W. Marcy. Admission: $10 daily / $15 weekend pass. Members and children (under 12) are free.

This smaller, more intimate version of the summer Santa Fe Indian Market® features  approximately 200 Native American artists including potters, carvers, basket makers, beadworkers, sculptors, painters, jewelers, weavers, photographers and mixed media artists. Many of the award-winning artists from the 2014 Santa Fe Indian Market® will be participating including Lola Cody (Navajo), who won Best of Show for textiles. At Winter Indian Market®, you buy directly from the artists. The participants in this invitational show are juried from summer market assuring a great selection of high quality Native fine art.

As part of the Winter Indian Market®, SWAIA is hosting the first annual Festival of Trees benefit. Local businesses, Native artists and individuals have donated fully decorated trees to be auctioned off over the weekend. Among them are Things Finer, Rob and Elizabeth Pettus, Rio Grande Jewelry Supply, Buffalo Thunder Resort and Casino, Nocona Burgess and family, and the Santa Fe Indian Market® / SWAIA tree with artist donated ornaments. 

Immediately following the close of Winter Indian Market® on Saturday night, there is a benefit reception and concert featuring Iron Horse, a new collaboration by award-winning Native rock musicians Robby Romero and Robert Mirabal. Sat Nov 29, 5-7. Tickets are $15 at the door.
The Santa Fe Indian Center has partnered with SWAIA to host a children’s activity table and there will also be free gift wrapping available. Both will be available throughout the weekend along with special live cultural, traditional and contemporary performances.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

December Holidays in Santa Fe: 2014 Calendar of Events

Santa Fe is a great place to be for the holidays. Walking Canyon Road on Christmas Eve is not to be missed!

Savvy travelers—such as Conde Nast Traveler readers who this month voted Santa Fe a Top Ten Destination in the World—know that the December holiday season is the time when the city’s multicultural traditions shine brightest. The festive spirit is everywhere in The City Different—from the snow-topped mountains and Ski Santa Fe to the unbelievable hot chocolate in the shops along The Chocolate Trail—with many hotels offering holiday rates that provide further incentive to visit.
Santa Fe, which means “Holy Faith,” celebrates with a cavalcade of lights, displays, performance, cuisine and treats with nearly every day bringing a unique event from the endlessly creative, social and welcoming local Santa Feans. 

Here are just a few of the most notable highlights from a season that features over three dozen marquee yule opportunities:
Native American Dances
Ceremonial Native American dances are beautiful and spiritual to watch. There are many of them at nearby pueblos during the holiday season, starting in mid-December and especially on Christmas Eve and Day.  Visit The Museum of Indian Arts & Culture for listings and important etiquette for these religious events. 

December 4, 2014 to January 3, 2015 – GLOW At The Santa Fe Botanical Garden
      Where Pueblo dances are the most ancient of Santa Fe winter culture, GLOW is the newest example of modern innovation. This Winter Lights Event In The Garden is now in its second year and has partnered with Joe Dean of Lumenscapes Illuminated Media to create dazzling and extravagant displays of magical lighting. GLOW is a holiday family event with Santa making a guest appearance on Friday nights. Entrance to GLOW is by admission. Children twelve and under are free. 

December 12, 2014 – Christmas At The Palace 
     The Palace of the Governors, a 400-year-old adobe building that once housed Spanish officials, is a magical setting for this old-fashioned Christmas party.  Spanish and Native American traditions are celebrated accompanied by music, entertainment and hot cider for all, plus a special visit by Mr. & Mrs. Claus. For more information, visit The New Mexico History Museum

December 14, 2014 – Las Posadas
This centuries-old Spanish tradition takes place at night, outdoors on the festively decorated historic Santa Fe Plaza. The folk play depicts the search for shelter by Mary and Joseph on Christmas Eve. The crowd carries candles and follows the action, including energetically booing the love-to-hate devils. Everyone is invited for cookies and cider after at the Palace of the Governors. For more information, please visit The New Mexico History Museum.

Christmas Eve Midnight Mass
This mass at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi is a colorful, musical event that incorporates an old Spanish tale about an aged rooster who greeted the Christ Child with his joyful crow. The cathedral itself is lavishly decorated and lit reflecting its Native American and Spanish heritage.
      Santa Fe glitters with twinkling amber lights on Christmas Eve. Humble materials—paper bags weighted with sand and filled with candles–line streets, fences, rooftops, and entire neighborhoods. The only way to describe the effect is pure magic. The Plaza is decked in 1,000 farolitos at dusk as revelers gather for cookies and cider. From there, many take night walks to the top of the Cross of the Martyrs lit with farolitos and luminarias or small bonfires. The Christmas Eve walk is along Canyon Road, renowned world-class home of artists and galleries, and through the Eastside neighborhoods where every surface is covered with farolitos while luminarias burn surrounded by carolers. 

There’s much more. For a complete list, please visit “Holidays in Santa Fe.”

Photography Copyright: Elizabeth R. Rose

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Planning a trip to Spokane just got easier - Use Utrip

When you're planning a trip, you can use travel guides, lots of online research or just hope for the best. can use Utrip -- a new, free travel planning tool that's as fun to use as it is amazing. 

Now, visitors to the Spokane region can use Utrip to create the perfect Inland Northwest experience. Utrip has just added Washington's second-biggest city to its roster of world-class destinations, which includes San Francisco, Seattle, London, Barcelona and more. (Spokane is the smallest city in the Utrip lineup!)

Travelers can access the Spokane Utrip travel planning technology from the homepage. Users can also use the hashtag #PlanSpokane on social media to share their own trip planning experience and to explore other users' trips. 

Utrip is a free travel planning platform that brings together the best in artificial intelligence and human experience, making it easy for travelers to create their perfect trip. Founded in Seattle, WA in 2012, Utrip's predictive technology works on a vast travel database that has been curated by local experts. 

Once a traveler indicates their interests and budget, Utrip's algorithm sorts through millions of combinations of must-see sites, activities and restaurant recommendations to deliver personalized itineraries - in minutes. 

Travelers may then book lodging and share their itineraries with friends. Utrip's companion mobile app provides access to itineraries, directions and personalized recommendations on the go. Utrip PRO, the white-labeled version, allows businesses to offer personalized travel planning on their sites. To learn more about Utrip or to plan your next adventure, visit