Sunday, February 19, 2017

Roadside Pullout Ahead: Winter Wildlife Viewing in Yellowstone

          Yellowstone National Park has five entrances and 251 miles of roadways, but only one stretch of highway is plowed and open to vehicles from November until May—the 52 miles between the Montana towns of Gardiner and Cooke City.
          While traveling this road you may notice several vehicles parked in the plowed pull-out areas.  If you also see people outside in temperatures barely topping zero degrees, gazing through spotting scopes and long-lens cameras—pull over!  You're guaranteed to catch sight of amazing wildlife nearby.

Wildlife alert!  What did these people see?
Two wolves and a mountain lion on the far hillside.
We saw them too, through our spotting scope.
          Roadside pullouts are the places for photographing wildlife during the winter months in Yellowstone.  On a frigid January day Tim and I pulled into one of these parking spots near the Lamar River where we observed and photographed the following species.
          Click on any photo to enlarge.

Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep.  Notice how well
he blends in with the rock and snow.

This coyote was on her way to feast on a dead animal carcass,
uphill to the left.

Cow Moose browsing willows on the river bank.

This pair of Barrow's Goldeneye ducks is enjoying
their swim in the Lamar River.

As we drove away from the pullout we noticed
a badger following in bison tracks near the road.

         And the reward for getting up early and braving the cold by dressing in layers of long underwear, fleece tops and pants, neck warmers, wool gloves and wind-stopper parkas?
         A stop at 'The Bistro' in Cooke City for steaming mugs of hot chocolate.

The Bistro, on left, serves bone-warming hot chocolate.

         View more photos of Yellowstone's winter wildlife by visiting this previous post:

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Cross-country Travel Opportunity with Cotopaxi, the 'Gear for Good' Company

Can you see yourself traveling this open road?
If so the job opportunity (below) might be for you!

"Get Your Kicks...on Route 66." 
"See the USA in Your Chevrolet."
          These slogans from the mid-20th century represent America's love affair with the open road.

          Road trips are synonymous with independence, discovery and adventure.  Because of my blog's focus on adventure travel and exploration in the United States, I was encouraged by the Cotopaxi online community to share their "Road Warrior" position.

          Who is Cotopaxi?  Founded in 2013 in Salt Lake City, Utah, Cotopaxi designs, makes and sells outdoor gear, like these travel backpacks. Their stated goal is to make great gear, and to help alleviate poverty in the developing world by donating 2% of their revenue to promote health, education, and job skills training.

          A brief description of the employment opportunity:

          We’re on a mission to hire someone for the open road. He or she will travel around the country and visit every major U.S. city, living the ultimate adventure from coast to coast all while sharing their experience. They’ll travel around the country, encouraging people to find adventure and do good.
          Wow.  At one point in my life I would have jumped at the chance to apply for this job.  Which is why I agreed to write this post and spread the word about this exciting cross-country travel opportunity.


          Readers, are you interesting in applying for the Field Marketing Specialist job below?  And if not, do you know of friends or family who are looking for a unique position with a dynamic, socially conscious outdoor gear company?  If so, please forward the following information to them.

If you, a friend or family member are interested in applying for this position visit and click on Field Marketing Specialist under "Current Openings".

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Winter Scenes from the Big Island of Hawaii

          I love winter.  Really, I do. 

          Right this minute, from where I sit behind my computer in the living room I count: 

14 snowmen figurines
  6 “Let It Snow” signs
  3 cross-country skier/snowflake throws
  2  “Let It Snow” votive candle lamps
  2 stuffed moose on skis  
 1 stuffed bear on skis
 1 wooden snowman on skis and,
 1 snowman pillow.

          All strategically and lovingly placed atop a mantel, a desk, a glider, and several bookcases.

          But... I just spent an hour shoveling snow and chiseling ice from around my chicken coop and so, as a distraction from winter’s many pleasures, I present these photos from a November snorkeling adventure on the Big Island of Hawaii.


Tim takes the fish photos.  Here he's holding his
camera, flash and snorkel fins.

Ornate Butterflyfish

School of Raccoon Butterflyfish

Left to Right:  Yellowtail Coris, Blackspot Sergeant, Moorish Idols

Yellowtail Coris (top), Lagoon Triggerfish (bottom).

School of Yellow Tang

Achilles Tang

Four-spot Butterflyfish


Saturday, December 10, 2016

Walking in a Winter Wonderland—Lake City, Colorado

Obsessing over planning a holiday menu to appease your vegan brother-in-law?  Wondering how to keep the egg nog away from Uncle Bill?  Fretting about picking the perfect gift for your spoiled niece?


Grab a pair of snowshoes and a companion—furry or otherwise—and head for the hills.
It's the perfect antidote for those holiday headaches.

Wishing you joy and wonder this holiday season!

Merry Christmas from Annie, Rita and Tim.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Eating Across America: From Bakeries to Barbecues

         In this era of divisiveness let's celebrate something that unites us:  Food.

         Since the year 2006 I have been traveling solo to a different state each year.  At roadside stands I've munched caramel apples in Rhode Island, pepperoni roll-ups in West Virginia and boiled peanuts in Florida.  In coffee shops, cafes and restaurants I've feasted on maple-bacon donuts in Maine, fried okra in Tennessee and sopapilla burgers in New Mexico.  I've enjoyed craft brewery beers in Vermont and fresh-baked pies in Iowa.

         America's great multi-cultural heritage is reflected in our food.  We love growing it, creating culinary delights, and even fusing one ethnicity to another—think Asian/Tex-Mex.

         Brew a cup of tea or pour a glass of wine, then travel along with me to discover the eateries and food which make America great, and strong.


After driving 40 miles from the nearest town, the chili and milkshakes
at The Chugwater Soda Fountain were most welcoming.


Cypress Corner Market, Apalachicola, Florida.
I can vouch for the Tupelo honey.  The boiled peanuts?  Not so much.


This Ponchatoula eatery is THE place for strawberry beignets.
Never had a beignet?  Read all about it here.


The Dinky Diner—yes, that's it's name—in Decatur City.
The turkey melt sandwich and the ginger bar dessert (for $8.00)
offered comfort food on a rainy evening.

You just know by looking at the crowd outside that this is going to be good.
I had a slice of peanut butter pie (heavenly) at this Amish bakery.


Pepperoni cheese roll-ups are a West Virginia specialty.
The roll-ups I had at Ken Dee's Hot Dog stand were out-of-this-world good.

The Ferguson Tea Room in Hurricane offers afternoon High Tea.

My High Tea luncheon consisted of a pot of raspberry tea, with
tomato basil mini sandwiches, lemon scones with poppy seed icing
and a pecan tassie (pecan pie in a small cup).


Breakfast tray delivered to my room at The Harmony House Farm B&B
in Little Compton.

This Pleasant View Orchards farm stand near Spragueville
provided me with the best caramel apple I've ever eaten.


A sopapilla burger and killer hot sauce at
Casa de Benavidez in Albuquerque.

Breakfast at the Gold Street Caffee in Albuquerque.
A three-egg omelet filled with salsa, cheese and red-chili bacon.

Dinner at the Resort at Cloudcroft.
I started with roasted jalapeƱo acorn squash soup
accompanied by a pomegranate margarita.
Need I say more?


The Capitol Grounds Cafe in Montpelier celebrates "The Lone Ranger" with Johnny Depp.
I had the egg and sausage sandwich on Red Hen bread—a white/wheat mix from
a local bakery.   The delectable sausage is also locally sourced from Tangletown
Farm where they "ethically raise meats".

The Tulsi Tea Room in Montpelier.  Mint iced tea, curry bowl-of-the-day,
matchstick carrots in an olive oil, cilantro masala sauce.
Oh, and a molasses-ginger cookie for dessert.

In Vermont there's a maple syrup stand on every highway and byway.
At this stand I ordered not maple syrup but, wait for it...a cup of
maple lemonade.

These crazy Russian girls were, indeed, crazy.
They would have to be to offer the cookie, below.

What's a "Better than Brad Pitt" cookie?  It's a double chocolate delight.
I had to eat one.  And you know what?  I agree.
Sorry Brad, I'd rather have this cookie!
.  Yes, it was that good.


If you suspect your arteries of being even a teensy bit clogged,
DO NOT EAT at this restaurant!
My dinner:  fried okra, fried catfish, fried hush puppies,
and, yes, fried corn-on-the-cob.

I wasn't going to stop at this lonely shack in the town of Moscow in south-central Tennessee.
I drove right by but then turned around.
A tiny, weathered, silver-haired lady took my order for a barbecue sandwich.
Want cole slaw on that?  Sure.  Hot sauce?  Sure.
And four dollars and a few minutes later I had a barbecue sandwich to die for.


Orchard Valley Farms in Paonia.  This tidy little stand offered a few great finds:
artisinal farmstead cheese, local honey and wine.


Congdon's Donuts in Wells.
A maple cream and a powdered donut, a butter-crunch donut hole
and fresh hot coffee.  What's not to like?

The lazy lobster (already picked from the shell) meal at
Billy's Chowder House in Wells.
Delicious.  The lobster tasted fresh-caught, the potato tasted fresh-dug,
and the green beans tasted fresh-picked.  Can't beat that.

To my American readers (and maybe my international readers as well)—are you dismayed by the events of last week?  Overjoyed?  I don't believe we can count on politicians to "fix" things for us.
But remember this:  We'll always have pie.

Pie is served all day at the Little Switzerland Bakery in McGregor, Iowa.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Mainely Murders Bookstore, Kennebunk, Maine

         Searching for tales of mystery, murder and mayhem this Halloween?  Then check out Mainely Murders bookstore in Kennebunk, Maine.

         I discovered Mainely Murders while touring Maine on a warm August day.  Open doors and an employee reading under a shade canopy enticed me to stop in.  
         "Welcome," said the employee.  "I'll describe our store to you."  

         "Outside we have garden-themed murders and culinary mysteries.  And here's a section devoted to murders involving or solved by cats and dogs.  And, in case you're wondering, the cats and dogs are NEVER the victims," she said.

          I entered the small clapboard building and Ann, the bookstore's owner, took over the narrative:

         "Here's a section devoted to murders written by Maine authors, or taking place in Maine.  We have New England murders, classic American and classic British Isles murder mysteries, Agatha Christie's works, Sherlock Holmes mysteries, European mysteries, South American murder mysteries, Medieval murders, Contemporary American mysteries, Alphabetized-by-author-not-any-particular-genre murders."

         All categorized, all organized.

        "We have over 10,000 books in our inventory," Ann said.  "But we only display about 3500.  So, if you don't see something, ask!"

         After my Mainely Murders tutorial I had to buy at least one book.  I browsed the shop for awhile and then did indeed by a book (or three).    

         What better way to spend Halloween than by curling up with a good mystery while awaiting little goblins and ghouls.

         Happy Haunting!

Here's the perfect gift for a Halloween/World Series celebration—
baseball-themed murder mysteries.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Nevada Beyond the Neon: The Bruneau and Reese Rivers

         Two rivers share the spotlight for this final post in the Nevada Beyond the Neon series.  

         The Bruneau meanders beneath phyllite cliffs in northeastern Nevada before changing character in Idaho.  The Idaho Bruneau churns through canyons carved into ancient lava flows, providing a thrilling whitewater rafting experience. The Nevada Bruneau invites trout fishermen on a leisurely stroll though placid waters.

Casting the Bruneau on a July evening.

          We prefer the Nevada experience and have camped by the river watching hawks soar the cerulean sky while frogs croaked from water’s edge.  One evening we listened from inside the tent as cowboys drove herds of cattle across the water and through our camp.

Our peaceful camp along the Bruneau—until an evening
cattle drive came through with galloping horses
and barking dogs.

Bruneau River landscape.

Campsite along another section of the Bruneau.

This small section of the Bruneau holds
good-sized trout.

          The Reese River is contained entirely within the Great Basin.  Its waters will never reach the sea and the river seems satisfied with this simple fact.  Located south of Austin in the Arc Dome Wilderness area of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, the Reese is a backpacker's and horse-packer's dream.  
         We backpacked the Cow Canyon Trail along the river and set up camp among the willows.  Broad-tailed hummingbirds buzzed our campsite, and yellow warblers called from the brush.  

Cow Canyon Trailhead.  This trail, with commanding views of the Arc Dome
Wilderness, descends and ascends along the Reese River.

Prolific wildflowers along the trail.

Setting up camp alongside the Reese River.

Fishing for trout in the Reese River.

The results of Tim's efforts: a delicious
rainbow trout fillet for dinner.

            If you’re searching for Blue Ribbon Trout streams or a whitewater adventure, you won’t find them on Nevada's Bruneau or Reese.  But what you will find are those qualities so common in Nevada’s backcountry—peace, tranquility, and a deep connection with the natural world.  

Tim gazes across the wilderness to Arc Dome's 11,300 foot Peak.