[PORTAL, ARIZONA] — Chiricahua National Monument is one of the least visited national parks in the United States. When I heard that fact I said “I am definitely in.” You can see why, tucked into this vast, barren southwestern corner of the US, you’re not “going through” here on the way to somewhere else, you came here for a reason. And so did we. This is the high desert down here, with elevations starting around 5,000 feet and going up to 7500 ft inside the park, so it’s a lot cooler than the surrounding flat desert. Refuel in Portal Arizona Portal is the gateway to the southern side of national monument, with its own funky lodge/grocery store/bar/restaurant right at the foot of the
[RODEO, NEW MEXICO] — A coupla weekends ago, I went on a bird-watching road trip along the southern Arizona and New Mexico border with my best college buddies. Three were into birding, two of us were along for the beer. We flew into Tucson and headed straight south, stopping at popular birding spots along the way to Nogales and the Mexican border. Then we dog-legged left and skirted the border the whole way until we crossed in New Mexico and the dusty town of Rodeo, with watchful Border Patrol hidden around every curve. We stopped in Patagonia, Tombstone, Bixbee and finally crossed the border in New Mexico to stay at the Painted Pony Resort in the dusty town of Rodeo. This time of year, this part of southern
[GATEWAY, COLORADO] — Okay, where the hell did this place come from? Gateway Canyons Resort. Out of nowhere this over-the-top location has popped out of the blue over the last couple of years. Once the private ranch of the founder of the Discovery Channel, he has slowly built this from a small, in-the-know conference center with a handful of rooms into a full-on resort, adding chunks of rooms and facilities each year until it is now one of the best resorts I’ve been to in the U.S. This is Colorado?? I thought it was all about mountains and skiing? Yup. But then there’s here. Western Colorado is a blurred line into the canyony parts of Utah. An hour south of ridgy Grand Junction — Colorado’s Orchard
[TABERNASH, COLORADO] — If you’re looking for a Colorado ranch getaway, away from the slopes, but close enough, Devil’s Thumb Ranch is what you’re looking for. Outside the ski resort of Winter Park and just past the little town of Tabernash, Devil’s Thumb is setup to be its own self-contained year-round mountain resort. Focused in winter on the 100km of groomed cross-country ski trails, spa and other cold activities. There’s 100km of groomed cross-country ski trails like this at Devil’s Thumb Ranch, weaving in and around 6,000 glorious acres on a big ranch not far from the Continental Divide* in Colorado. At 8,500ft (2,600m) elevation you not only see your breath, but breathlessly feel it too, under the big bluebird sky. You can scoot and
[KEARNEY, NEBRASKA] — When you first get to the river, it’s 6am and pitch black. You feel your way down a path, heading toward The Noise. You want to get there before they see you coming. Slowly, the shrieks get louder and louder as the first light slowly begins to open its eyes. Suddenly, you start to make out shapes stepping out of the darkness. Big dark masses grow more detailed the lighter it gets. What you thought was an island or sandbar is actually a throbbing, humming mass of birddom. And they suddenly appear out of the darkness, like the invasion of Normandy on DDay. Hundreds of thousands of them, nearly covering the shallow river from shore to shore. We wait while the first pilot
[HANA, MAUI] — I was in Maui in 2015, the week before Thanksgiving scoping out a new project and got a chance to stay at the cool Travaasa experiential resort on the totally chill side of the island, at the receiving end of the Road to Hana. A lot of people take the white-knuckle drive, turn around and drive back the same day. But Hana is a world away from the Resort Crazy, white sock/white sneakers and muscle shirts (when did those come back in style? And why?) at the other end of the island. This is the way to do it. I love me some nice hotels and seek them out all over, but few can compare with the views of these bungalows, smack overlooking
[HANA, MAUI] — I was scoping out a project in Hawaii and stayed at Travaasa, a new experiential hotel brand with an amazing location in Austin and a second here, in Hana. I’m not a big fan of all the high-rise hotels in the crowded parts of Maui, but this place is much, much different. Travaasa is an “experiential resort” so they do cool stuff beyond having the best spa in Hawaii. Besides free yoga and a killer workout space overlooking the sea, there are lessons on Hawaiian throw net fishing, outrigger canoeing, culinary classes, horseback riding and a dozen other cool experiences. In addition to geeking out over pools and nice hotels, I’m completely OBSESSED with flying, so what got me was the glider experience, long
A big thanks to the famous Zina and Soly of But No Dessert who nominated me for the Liebster Award. An award given to travel bloggers by other travel bloggers. They were both recently named by the Huffington Post as the “Top Travel Couples You Should Be Following on Instagram” Each Liebster Award is a special nomination to help spread the word about new travel bloggers and travel websites, like mine, to other travel bloggers. I’m am completely honored and humbled that world travelers But No Dessert would consider my humble site. Below you will find my answers to Zina’s interview, the nomination rules, and my nomination to spread the good word. Here is my virtual interview with Zina: ZINA: How did your blog page come
[KANSAS FLINT HILLS] — Out in the middle of Kansas lies the Flint Hills, hundreds of thousands of acres of treeless, rolling hills with few fences and even fewer people, houses or signs of man. For generations these hills have remained the same, the soil to thick with rocks and limestone, they’ve never been plowed. Some of those thousands of acres have been preserved in the National Tallgrass Prairie Preserve, owned by the Nature Conservancy and co-managed with the National Park Service, you can visit the original homestead house and walk its open lands. See some buffalo and feel the wind. It is almost zen like in it’s emptiness and calm. You should go here. #tallgrassprairie #flinthills
[KANSAS FLINT HILLS] — In the middle of Kansas, the breadbasket of the US, lies the Flint Hills — hundreds of thousands of acres of tallgrass prairies, open rangeland with very few trees, even less fences and the best grazing land in the country. The Flying W Ranch and the Clover Cliff Ranch in Chase County, Kansas has put on this cool shindig with their cousins and neighbors since ’96. Called Flames in the Flint Hills, they attract a couple of hundred people from all over the country every year. The Flying W is a 7,000 acre working cattle ranch, with about 50 horses, hundreds of cattle, bunkhouses for guests and cool events all throughout the year. Every summer, ranchers ship cattle from as far away as
[GATEWAY, COLORADO] — Okay, where the hell did this place come from? Gateway Canyons Resort. Out of nowhere this over-the-top resort has popped out of the blue over the last couple of years. Once the private ranch of the founder of the Discovery Channel, he has slowly built this from a small, in-the-know conference center with a handful of rooms into a full-on resort, adding chunks of rooms and facilities each year until it is now one of the best resorts I’ve been to in the U.S. This is Colorado?? I thought it was all about mountains and skiing? Yup. But then there’s here. Gateway Canyons. Western Colorado is a blurred line into the canyony parts of Utah. An hour south of ridgy Grand Junction
[CANYON POINT, UTAH] — This is a nice easy hour hike, right off the highway just north of Amangiri on Hwy 89. The Paria Rimrocks Toadstool hoodoos are just a hoot. It’s like the background for a Road Runner cartoon. You park the car and hike up through deep rust colored stratified rocks that are fun just to ramble up and over and discover great niches of rock formations. Continue further up and off the trail and the canyon walls form a great amphitheater. Keep poking around and one alcove will open up to the most magical little isolated bowl with dozens of toadstools. The all white coloration is almost vertigo-inducing in its refection of the light. And with hardly anyone else around (we only had
[CANYON POINT, ARIZONA] — About 30 minutes outside of Page, Arizona — home of the Lake Powell dam — is the second Aman Resorts property in the United States. Based in Asia, Aman is the best of the best hotel chains on the planet and they’ve been rapidly expanding to dream destinations all over the world, almost always in distant and spectacular locations like this one. Aman Resorts are known for their understated Zen architecture and vibe and this one fits right into that. The location and buildings are the heroes here. The hotel is isolated in its own valley, 600 acres set amid Utah’s most stunning scenery, surrounded by towering canyon walls, with no sign of man for miles. It. Is. Spectacular. Every detail
(New York) — Each summer there’s a new epic art installation at Madison Square Park that is subtle, but always blows you away. This year, there’s a new installation by Orly Genger based on thousand and thousands of miles of tied knots of lobster rope, looping around the trees in vibrant colors that mess with your brain.
(New York) — It’s been a year or two since my last visit, but thought I’d try The Bowery Hotel again. Still an awesome place to hang out and catch the scene. You’re in it. All sorts of fun people watching, seeing some famous people…and wondering who everyone else is. And enjoy when the paparazzi pop out between the plantings and get disappointed when it is just you. But also fun to check out the NYPost and see who was staying there at the same time and you didn’t even realize it. The rooms are just very well done, some big, some small. But even the small ones are little jewel boxes. And about the best water pressure in the city. Check out the restaurant
(West Hollywood) — On a quick business trip to Los Angeles, booked a cool hotel I’d always read about and featured often in Vanity Fair: the Sunset Tower hotel. Always loved this building for years, but have never stayed here. Luckily, I booked it on my favorite go-to hotel booking site, TabletHotels.com which isn’t your typical booking site, each hotel is vetted by the company and its users. Always dependable for the coolest hotels. When I checked in, the delightful front desk attendant casually mentioned a free glass of champagne, free breakfast and a very subtle “and we upgraded you to a penthouse room.” “Thank you very much” I said, not realizing what that really meant. I wheeled my stuff out of the elevator, opened
(Lake Travis, Austin) — If you’re looking to get out a little bit, check out the zipline at the leaky Lake Travis. Nice little company with great people, with a great course over the coves and peaks of Lake Travis.
(Lake Travis, Austin) — Seriously, almost every night, perfect sunsets. This is one money-maker, a ginormous restaurant on a hilltop overlooking the leaky Lake Travis outside Austin. The Oasis. Drinks are cold, lots of room, the drinks are better than the food. But well worth the jaw-dropping sunsets and the jaw-dropping size of this joint. It really is cool. Get their early, the sun drops fast.
(Austin) — Austin keeps going and going. And growing and growing. I know all my local friends bemoan the influx of new people, Californication and other bad elements, but really, there is so much cool stuff going on here, it puts most of the rest of the country to shame. Celebrate it. Make sure you check out the South Congress retail strip, uhhhh along South Congress. So many cool shops to browse and buy. Dip into the housing stock around there, some of the best in the country. From the food truck yards to the shops to the restaurants, a great place to kill a half a day and walk away feeling good about what’s goin’ on. And humble your own neighborhood. Everyone’s friendly, the
(Austin) — It’s been many years since I was in Austin and decided to hit back the Hotel San Jose, one of the first DIY boutique hotels in the country, carved out of an old motel. It helped revitalize the whole South Congress hip strip of Austin into one of the Soul Centers of the Universe of Cool, blahblahblah, you’ve read all about it, it’s in every guidebook and website about Austin. It still works. Spartan, hip but makes you feel good. The scene around the patio at night is festive and like family, even though you may not know anybody. Get a room in the back for a little more quiet.