Monday, December 29, 2014

Happy New Year!





Do you have your travel plans set for 2015? I do! And I'm looking forward to a fun year of travel and blogging about it! And thank you to all of you who take time out of your day to read The Unpaved Road - I am so thankful for all of you!


Happy New Year and here's to a happy and healthy 2015!!!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Friday, December 19, 2014

Wrapping up 2014

I read alot of travel blogs. I'd say that most of them are written by full-time travelers though a few are like me - traveling whenever they get a chance. And stretching those holidays and vacation days to get the most travel out of them that you can. It's been a good year of travel for me. So I thought I would highlight the past year through photos.

January



I started the year off with a bang by winning a flyaway to Nashville sponsored by Clear Channel Communications which included airfare, hotel, a steak dinner, and front row seats to a Keith Urban concert. I took my mom and we stayed at the new and uber -cool Omni Hotel Nashville downtown. The steak dinner was at their steakhouse, The Voice auditions were going on across the street and Hatch Show Print is located inside the hotel. Oh, and did I mention I got to meet Keith Urban? Dream trip come true!

February/March

Went to visit family in West Palm Beach, Florida. Spent an afternoon on Worth Avenue (the Rodeo Drive of West Palm Beach) And my uncle scored us tickets to the Honda PGA Classic Gold Tournament. So I attended my first professional golf tournament - or really my first golf tournament. Beautiful weather and fun with family.

April

 April, I spent about five days in the Boston area. Visited Cape Cod and Cape Ann. And found my new favorite area of Boston, the North End. Had a fantastic dinner there and saw a wedding couple. Didn't make it to Mike's or Modern Pastry. I was way too full - next time though. Also visited the cute town of Concord, Mass. They don't make them any cuter than that. My first time to Cambridge and seeing Harvard, too. There is just so much to see and do in the Boston area that five days just doesn't do it justice.

May/June


 We had a weekend at the beach scheduled but had to cancel due to bad weather. My kids came home to visit. Saw fireworks over the lake where I live. Friends came to visit. And I attended my second professional golf tournament - crazy I know - when Mr UR scored practice tickets to The US Open in Pinehurst, NC.

July

The biggest trip of the year for me was a trip to the Upper Midwest to visit my 50th state! We flew into Chicago and spent a weekend there visiting Navy Pier, taking a boat ride on Lake Michigan and seeing the Bean at Millenium Park for the first time (my first visit was 30 years ago when there wasn't a Bean) Then we drove through Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Went to the Field of Dreams, the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, a Twins game, had lunch at the Minnesota Lake District, drove the North Shore of Lake Superior, cruised the Apostle Islands and visited friends in the North Woods of Wisconsin. Whew! We covered alot of ground (2400 miles in 10 days) and saw alot of new things. Quite a trip. And so much fun!

August



A weekend at the beach at Isle of Palms, South Carolina. Hot, hot weather. Lunch at Coconut Joe's. and an evening at Sullivan's Island. Relaxing. And hot. Did I mention it was hot?

September

In September we went to Colorado. A week traipsing around the beauty of Colorado in the fall. Spent a fun day in Vail, had a drink at one of the five best outdoor tiki bars in the Western US (according to Sunset magazine) in Dillon, drove Rocky Mountain National Park, had pineapple upside down pancakes at Snooze in Denver and toured New Belgium Brewing in Fort Collins. Another action packed vacation.

October/November




In October we had a family wedding. And in November we went to Panama City Beach, Florida to watch a friend compete in the Florida Ironman Triathalon. It was my first time to the Florida Panhandle Beaches. (And yes, the water really is that color) We didn't do any exploring but watching the race was amazing. A very long and grueling day for the competitiors - the temp was 45 degrees and windy at the start of the race so the swim was actually cancelled. And we visited Florida twice in November as we spent the Thanksgiving holiday there with family.

December

December will be spent at home. We have some friends stopping by. And all my kids are coming home for the holiday. I'll be one happy mom.


If you're interested in finding out how one couple stretches their vacation days to the max, The Traveling Canucks wrote an interesting article detailing that. How we balance Work, Family and Travel


You'll have noticed that all my travel this year was in the USA. Next year I have big plans - and am out of the country right off the bat. Stay tuned for that.

I'm linking up with Walking On Travels for part of #fridaypostcards

Thursday, December 11, 2014

A Colorado Christmas


My son moved to Colorado last year in the fall. Getting vacation time with a new job after a few months is pretty hard to come by, so we decided to drive - yes, drive - from South Carolina to Denver for the Christmas holidays. We enjoyed staying in a hotel for a few days but we didn't really want to be in a hotel for Christmas day. So we rented a cabin in Estes Park - Gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park - about an hour and a half north of Denver.





For those of us who usually don't have a White Christmas, the chance of staying in a Rocky Mountain cabin for Christmas with Snow was very appealing. 



Our cabin required a two night rental and was a 2 bedroom/2 bathroom unit with a full kitchen, patio, master tub with jets, fireplace, tv, dvd player, and a washer and dryer. For more info, go here

We arrived on Christmas Eve Day and decided to drop off our luggage and head into town to get our Christmas food. Estes Park in winter is quite different than the hubbub of summer. We weren't the only people out, but there were only a handful.








Unfortunately, if you wait to go to the only grocery store in a small town on Christmas Eve Day, the pickings are slim. We arrived to no turkeys or hams - so tacos for Christmas dinner it was! Unconventional, but memorable!

Our son's girlfriend generously donated her Christmas tree (and all its ornaments) for us to enjoy in the cabin - thank goodness or we would not have had a tree! (Notice all the gift bags - I brought all the ones I had since they were easier to transport than rolls of wrapping paper!)


It was a very cozy Christmas! Lots of lounging, tacos for dinner, easy gift wrapping and lots of Christmas movies while the snow fell outside. One of my favorites of all time!



Linking up with #fridaypostcards

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Ybor City

Have you heard of Ybor City? Unless you are from Florida or of Cuban heritage, Ybor City probably isn't on your radar. But what a cool place to visit.



Ybor City is an historical neighborhood located northeast of Tampa. Originally a neighborhood settled by Italians, Spanish and Cuban immigrants, it was the hub of cigar factories where millions of cigars were rolled each year. In fact, you can still watch artisans hand roll cigars there.







Once a thriving urban area, it's  decline began around World War II. In recent years, it has become a thriving area again, especially for outdoor cafe's and nightclubs. Of course, there is shopping, a movie theatre and the ever present cigars to purchase.









But the most famous thing that Ybor City is known for is the Cuban Sandwich. Usually made of ham, salami, roast pork, mustard or mayo, and pickles on Cuban bread, Ybor City holds the Cuban Sandwich Festival every year. And it has beat out Miami as the Cuban Sandwich capital in a vote by Florida residents.









We visited the Tampa Brewing Company and sat outside on it's patio enjoying the Christmas decorations.Then it was on to the highlight of our visit - Gaspar's Grotto where we had the above Cuban Sandwich on one of their outdoor patios.



If you're up for a fun day strolling historical streets or an evening going out for Latin food, then Ybor City is your place. The Tampa Cigar Heritage Festival takes place in Mid November. For more info about Ybor City, head here

Friday, November 28, 2014

Plymouth Rock





"Here is a stone  of which the feet of a few outcasts pressed for an instant, and the stone becomes famous: it is treasured by a great nation; it's very dust is treasured as a relic."   Alexis De Toqueville, 1835






The numbers 1620 are carved into it. It has been moved more than a few times.Only one-third of it's original size, it has broken and split many times. It's final resting spot is under a canopy on the water. For a rock, it's pretty darned famous. Plymouth Rock is supposedly where the first religious freedom seekers from Europe set foot into the New World of the United States. 



For Americans, it is a symbol of the beginning of our nation. Legend has it that those first Pilgrims arrived  on The Mayflower and set foot on this rock. Then to celebrate the first harvest in their new land, they had a great feast to celebrate their new found freedom. Thanksgiving.





The rock was moved from the waterfront to the town square of Plymouth in 1774 as a symbol of liberty for  the 13 Colonies who were ready to gain independence. When it was placed in the wagon to be moved, it split. It was moved again in the 1830's to it's place back on the waterfront where it remains to this day. Part of Pilgrim Memorial State Park, run by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, you can visit not only Plymouth Rock but also a replica of the Mayflower, The Mayflower II.. 



Happy Thanksgiving from The Unpaved Road! If you're celebrating tomorrow, I hope you have the happiest of holidays!



Linking up with #fridaypostcards ! Go check it out!!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Denver



I had never been to Denver before until last year, and now I have been twice. My son moved there a year ago and we have been able to visit at Christmas time and now this past fall. Totally different city each time of course, due to the weather. The first visit we went to the Christmas Market, the ice skating rink, ate dinner and did a little shopping at the 16th Street Mall. In a beautiful snowfall with really large, fluffy flakes. And the above picture shows it this past fall. Gorgeous sunny day, didn't need a coat, lots of people outside.....and no snow.




Our second visit to Denver we rambled down the 16th Street Mall again - this time we didn't do any shopping. Just enjoyed the sunshine and some piano playing. Did you know Denver has pianos all down the 16th Street Mall for your playing and listening enjoyment? They do! And they have decorated bulls all over the city, too. We stopped for a drink at a Champagne Bar at Larimer Square. (I don't know why we didn't do Larimer Square at Christmas - I'm sure it looks beautiful all lit up - but I'm guessing we ran out of time.) Larimer Square is shops and restaurants with a couple outdoor cafes. A really cute area of the city.







I've been obsessed with the big blue bear looking into the Denver Convention Center since I first heard about it. I don't know why. And we didn't get a chance to see it on our first visit so everyone humored me and walked over to see it. It's called "I See What You Mean" and I even heard that The Ladies Fancywork Society of Denver created a huge blue crocheted ball to shackle to the bear as another art installation. Which was promptly stolen.



Next we headed to Wynkoop Brewery which was the first craft brewery in Denver. There's outdoor seating and an upstairs pool table. Beer. Food. But we didn't eat as we were headed to the Cherry Cricket in the Cherry Creek area for some of Denver's best burgers. Only healthy eating when on vacation.

A fun day in Denver. And I still haven't made it to The Tattered Cover Bookstore, the newly revamped Union Station, the Denver Mint or a Rockies Game. Always more to see and do.

We did however make it to Snooze....a breakfast, lunch and brunch place made famous by a MTV Real World cast who apparently ate there all the time while filming. I don't know about that but I can easily say that their Pineapple Upside-Down Pancakes were out of this world!



From the menu:" Buttermilk pancakes with  carmelized pineapple chunks, housemade vanilla creme anglaise and cinnamon butter." Oh my, my! One of the best pancakes ever! If you go: There are four Denver locations. They do not take reservations. Be prepared for a long wait. We went around 11am on a weekday morning and had a 30 minute wait so weekends must be a bear.


Linking up with  #fridaypostcards!!!!