Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Wearin O' the Green in the Emerald Isle 2010 - The Short and Sweet Version

PM Saturday – Departed wintery Denver, CO, for London Heathrow on British Airways

March 14, Sunday – Arrived at London Heathrow; Transferred from Terminal 5 to Terminal 1; Arrived in Dublin, Ireland mid morning; Finally found the hotel location; Late lunch/early dinner at the Jameson Distillery restaurant (Happy Irish Mother’s Day!!)

March 15, Monday – Toured Christchurch; Located the Essex Street Tourism office; Cruised Grafton Street; Rode the Luas to tour the Guinness Brewery

March 16, Tuesday – Visited the Irish National Museum of Decorative Arts at Collins Barracks; Leisurely walk to the Temple Bar area for lunch; Brief walk to Dublin Castle; Brisk walk back in late afternoon for the Jameson Distillery tour and tasting<

March 17, Wednesday – Happy St Patrick’s Day!!  Parade viewing on Dame Street; High afternoon tea at the Westbury Hotel; Wandering the festive streets of Dublin; Dinner at O’Shea’s on the banks of the River Liffey

March 18, Thursday – Day tour to the Cliffs of Moher and the Burren; Lunchtime at a Doolin carvery; Drive around Galway Bay and back again to Dublin; Supper at Dirty Grace’s Bar

March 19, Friday – Ah, the full Irish breakfast at O’Shea’s; Bus trip to Dun Laoghaire and a walk on the pier; Sighting of a seal at the harbor; Lunch in the harbor town; Back to Dublin for last minute souvenirs

March 20 , Saturday – Off to London Heathrow…Will our British Airways flight back to the States take off on schedule or will the strike delay our homecoming?

To find out more about the above adventure, check out the Extended edition of “Wearin O’ the Green in the Emerald Isle 2010” coming to a blog on www.TallyHo-Traveller.com soon (as soon as my editor approves the final draft…)!!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The 23rd Annual Rocky Mountain Mustang Round-Up Weekend in Steamboat Springs

Imagine closing off the entire main street of a town for an entire Saturday morning and afternoon… well, that’s just what happened Father’s Day weekend in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, this June. Never having visited this oasis in the middle of the Rocky Mountains before, this Western event was just the start to a memorable family weekend (and subsequent Father’s Day gift).
We started our trip to Steamboat Springs at rush hour on Friday afternoon. After surviving sluggish traffic due to an accident near Boulder and creeping through Golden, we were finally moving on Interstate I-70. The pace was fast, considering it was a Friday afternoon, for traffic heading into the mountains to try and escape the summer heat of the Front Range. Upon arriving in Silverthorne we exited at mile marker 205, made a brief stop for snacks and drinks and started the 37.6 miles drive north on Colorado Hwy 9 to Kremmling. This portion of the drive was a gorgeous one with hillsides dotted with vivid blue lupines, lavender water iris and yellow wildflowers. Getting closer to Kremmling, the rain settled in, but the road was in very good condition so we travelled onward. Once in Kremmling we turned west onto US Hwy 40 and completed our trip into Steamboat Springs 51 miles later, surprised at the amount of snow still present around the Rabbit Ears Pass area before descending into the valley where Steamboat Springs resides.
Our hotel, the Hampton Inn and Suites, was easy to find, thanks to the very reliable travel directions on the hotel’s website. After parking next to the Inn I climbed up the full flight of stairs to the lobby registration area. The evening reception manager was patiently waiting our arrival and was very pleasant and understanding about the late arrival. Noticing his surname on the Registration Desk board, I discovered he was a distant cousin to a close family friend. What a serendipitous beginning to the weekend!
After getting directions to our room, we grabbed our travel duffels and headed to the 2 bed family suite that I had booked on the Internet. Upon unlocking the door to our room, we discovered this was, indeed, a rare find. The suite contained 2 king beds, a sitting area with a sofa, table and chair with ottoman. We also had two full bathrooms and a vanity area that included a mini-refrigerator, microwave and coffeemaker. There was a small sideroom that could have easily housed a double air mattress for additional people. We, however, used this as a changing/luggage storage area. Since it was getting late we decided to go to a Qdoba Mexican restaurant we had seen on the way into town. Little did we know this Qdoba was the State Patrol’s stop of choice for the evening. After much needed sustenance, we headed back to our hotel room for the remainder of the evening.
Saturday we woke to a sunshine filled blue sky with the promise of some afternoon rain. Downstairs in the common area next to Registration a hot “courtesy” breakfast was waiting – cereals, pastries, muffins, fresh fruits, self-service waffles, several different juices, teas and coffee were only some of the choices for those of us just (mentally) waking up to start the day. After finishing breakfast, I inquired at the front desk about sidewalk availability to walk into the main part of town. The desk manager informed me about a paved bike path just a block away from the back parking lot of the hotel that would lead us conveniently to the Main Street festivities which were only a quarter of a mile away! The bike path was a pleasant winding walk along the fast-flowing Yampa River, complete with meeting a new canine friend (or two). It was also an easy way to erase some of the morning’s breakfast calories as well.
Once on Lincoln Avenue, the main street of Steamboat Springs, we were impressed by the sheer number of Mustangs lining both sides as well as the middle of the street – there were well over 300 cars total at the official show as well as many other Mustangs just cruising town. One of the first cars we viewed was the same year and model as our son’s – a 1993 Mustang LX. It was in superb condition for its age. The owner was a very personable female from Lakewood, Colorado, who obviously appreciated her car. After walking the length of downtown Lincoln Avenue and talking with numerous owners of cars at the show, we decided to eat lunch at the Old Town Pub and Restaurant at the corner of 6th and Lincoln Avenue.
The history of this establishment is a very colorful and varied one. Built in 1904 as the Albany Hotel, this structure subsequently was used as the town’s first hospital, then a post office, general store and finally a movie theater. The second floor of this two story Victorian building was even used, at one time, as a dance hall. In 1983 the Old Town Pub & Restaurant took up residency and still remains there today. Proprietors Matt and Lizzie Larock currently operate the business. I am attest to the fact the fried mushrooms are very tasty (and so is the Bailey’s coffee).
After lunch we meandered back via the bike path to the Hampton Inn and Suites and decided to enjoy one of the three outdoor hot tubs on-site to soak and re-energize ourselves. To our amazement, we were the only ones using this facility and were enjoying both the soothing warm waters and the conversation, until it was time to leave the pool area due to an impending afternoon storm.
After some quiet downtime we decided to go exploring and find somewhere to eat for dinner. Luckily, I had found a restaurant that fit all our criteria for the evening and was relatively easy to find. Saketumi is a self-proclaimed “sushi/asian fusion” restaurant that, according to their website, flies in the freshest fish daily. I was somewhat dubious about the freshness claim since we were in a landlocked area right in the middle of the USA, but we were all game to try the food anyway. The food at Saketumi was one of the highlights of this trip – the miso soup was very flavorful and the plum wine very potent. Everything we ate was extremely fresh and well-prepared, especially the Bula roll, Saketumi’s best selling roll. A delectable roll of panko fried shrimp, crab, avocado and tuna, served with a sweet soy and spicy aioli sauce, the Bula roll was just heavenly. My husband and son agreed that the sashimi assortment they ordered was not only very fresh, but a high quality selection of fish as well. Given the popularity of this restaurant, the fact that Saketumi is housed in a small “intimate” space and does not take reservations, it is strongly recommended to arrive at its opening time of 5:30 pm in order to get a seat (before starvation sets in). Just bring a healthy credit card limit or plenty of cash because prices are not inexpensive (did I mention that the fish is flown in daily to landlocked Steamboat Springs?!?), but even waiting an hour or so would be well worth it; the food is just that good.
After a restful night’s sleep, we decided to forego the Hampton’s ample “courtesy” breakfast and try a recommended breakfast eatery, Freshies, which was less than a block to the north of the hotel. We walked over and were seated just before the main breakfast crowd arrived. There was a large selection of both breakfast, brunch, smoothie and beverage choices to meet just about any dietary need. My ham, egg and cheese croissant was incredibly fresh and the coffee was delightful (must have been the local area water they used to brew the coffee). I could have drank the entire pot but, since we were going to be on the road to home soon, good reason kicked in and I elected not to do so. Soon after we reluctantly checked out of our weekend hideaway, bid “adieu” to Steamboat Springs and headed on down US Highway 40 to home, going by way of Granby and Winter Park (but that’s a story best told another day…).
Rocky Mountain Mustang Round-Up
PO Box 21706
Denver, CO 80221
Old Town Pub & Restaurant
600 Lincoln Avenue
Steamboat Springs, Colorado 80487
Phone: 970-879-2101
1875 Ski Time Square Drive
Torian Plum Plaza, Steamboat Springs, CO 80487
Phone: 970-870-1019
595 S Lincoln Avenue
Steamboat Springs, Colorado 80487
Phone: 970-879-8099

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A Summer Sunday at Arapahoe Park Races

"What do you want to do for your birthday this weekend?" was the question of the month frequently asked this August from my family. After pondering all of the possible places and activities to be enjoyed in this part of Colorado, watching an exciting afternoon of horse racing at Arapahoe Park in Aurora, Colorado, was my ultimate decision.
We travelled from the north Denver metro area to the Arapahoe Park track via tollway E-470 with a minimum of traffic – a small wonder for the Denver metro area! Free parking was readily available in a large marked parking area next to the park’s grandstand facility. Once inside the doors we elected to celebrate at the track’s Reserved Clubhouse level instead of the general admission grandstand seats. What a bargain! For $12 USD we purchased a daily racing program and our party of 5 adults sat in the air conditioned luxury of our own private "box" (table with 5 padded chairs) complete with a personal TV monitor and Ryan, our personal waiter, for the afternoon. A fun, pampered beginning to 4 hours of excitement and possible betting-profit!
We arrived at our "box" about 30 minutes before the start of Race #1. The others in our party decided to find some snacks while I scoped out essentials such as the betting area and restrooms. After a short stretch of my legs I arrived back at our clubhouse table to find nachos laden with cheese and the yummiest onion rings waiting. Our waiter, Ryan, made periodic trips to our box during the course of the afternoon, willing and eager to bring us burgers, hotdogs, brats or (bar) alcoholic beverages – whatever we desired to enhance the afternoon’s enjoyment.
At 1 PM sharp the track’s PA system played the National Anthem. Everyone readily rose during the presentation and erupted into spontaneous applause as the last note played. What a fantastic start to the official beginning of the afternoon!
Arapahoe Park’s claim to fame is that it is Colorado’s only home to live Thoroughbred, Quarter horse, Arabian, Paint and Appaloosa horse racing. The day’s Race #1 featured Quarter horses racing a sprint of 350 yards on the dirt track directly in front of the grandstands. Just prior to the running of Race #1 my husband handed me a $20 bill and said "Happy Birthday—enjoy the betting". This being said, I had already decided to "mentally" place a bet on a horse from the race as practice before betting any real money. As the horses were being led to the paddock for saddling I explained to my Mom and daughter exactly how to read the printed racing program for today’s festivities and we each set about to see who could predict the winner. We watched eagerly as the horses and their riders (“Riders Up” for all you novices) were led onto the track for the Post Parade. A buzz of anticipation rose among the crowd while the horses were loaded into the starting gate. Then…a few short seconds later the bell rang, gates flew open and 10 horses exploded into a flat-out full sprint lasting about 19 seconds.
After thunderously crossing the finish line directly in front of our view, my daughter turned and said, "that was fast," (when asked if she enjoyed Race #1). The winner, El Muneco Vision, was pulling away from the others at the finish line but a photo was needed to determine the second ("place" for you bettors) horse, Wildecard, who finished just a nose in front of A Zestee Brisco, the third place ("Show") finisher.
It became apparent by mid-afternoon that both my husband and daughter's systems of determining the winners were more consistant than mine—especially for Race #3 where my daughter, A Colorado State University music major, picked a horse named Miss Music Major, who, coincidentally, won that race, but what a fun way to celebrate a birthday on a summer weekend; 10 exciting races over 4 hours! The perfect ending to this fantastic afternoon was the triple rainbow we saw when exiting the racetrack grounds at day’s end.

Arapahoe Park
26000 E Quincy Avenue
Aurora, Colorado 80016
(303) 690-2400

The Cobra-Ferrari Wars

The Shelby American Collection’s 15th Anniversary Bash
On a breezy warm August afternoon in Gunbarrel, otherwise known as North Boulder, Colorado, a select group of Mustang and Ferrari car racing enthusiasts were privileged to attend a momentous fundraiser in support of pioneer racer Carroll Shelby’s Mustang car museum.
Cars for viewing (and drooling over) at this 15th anniversary event included sleek Ferraris, sporty Ford Mustang GT 500s, locally owned vintage 1960s series Cobras, select one-of-a-kind Corvettes, a distinguished older Jaguar, a well preserved (and still running) 1953 Cunningham-style Ferrari and a newer model 2011 Aston Martin V12 Vantage that was so sophisticated and refined, it seemed that James Bond would show up at any moment. Alas, James Bond was NOT in attendance, but even better for those 1960s racing enthusiasts, a featured special guest, Bob Bondurant, was.
Bob Bondurant raced cars back in the same 1960s time period as Carroll Shelby and their contemporaries. He was among the first American race car drivers to help overthrow Ferrari’s dominance in the European racing circuit. In 1995, Shelby and his team became the first US manufacturer to beat Ferrari during the FIA World Sports Car Manufacturers Championship series of racing.
Many victories and decades later, Bob Bondurant is the current owner of the Bob Bondurant Racing School based in Chandler, Arizona. Bob was gracious in meeting with his many awestruck admirers at this 15th anniversary gala event and patiently answered a few questions from those gathered around him before moving on to the museum area.
Other notable activities at this 15th anniversary celebration included an on-site barbeque with open bar by Green’s Point Catering out of Longmont, Colorado and admission to the on-site Shelby American Collection of Mustang cars. The Museum also hosted a silent auction featuring Shelby Cobra-related posters and memorabilia. I placed a bid on the exquisitely crafted lead crystal Mustang car model but, sadly, was outbid, much to my husband’s relief. Outside the Museum, a band performed '60s tunes to which all could rock and roll. Nostalgia was the word of the day to those in attendance!
Presently open to the public only on Saturdays with an admission of $5 USD per person, the Shelby Mustang American Collection Museum highlights the history that Carroll Shelby’s Cobra cars played in smashing Ferrari’s road racing dominance until 1995. A historic collection of vintage Cobras and GT Mustangs are featured at this museum with pictoral and printed documentation of selected races from the era.

Shelby American Collection
5020 Chaparral Court
Boulder, Colorado 80301
(303) 516-9565
Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving, Gate 3
20000 South Maricopa Rd
Chandler, AZ 85226
(480) 403-7600