Monday, November 30, 2015

November 2015

One last month left in 2015! And it's time to wrap up November - here we go!


I spent a fun day south of Asheville, North Carolina touring a few small towns and buying some apples at the farm stands there. My in-laws sold their house in Florida so we spent a week there helping pack up. Not a huge travel month, but they can't all be can they? Next month is a big one for travel - and I'm very excited!

Besides a delicious turkey meal for Thanksgiving, my favorite food I ate was at Coconut Jack's in southern Florida. Coconut Jack's is a bayfront restaurant specializing in seafood  - though I chose the blackened chicken and it was wonderful. Mr UR went for the seafood platter which he thought was pretty good but not excellent. Fantastic ambiance and service though.( Most other meals were routine eat-at-home or Thanksgiving leftovers.)

I read three books this month:

Winter Street and Winter Stroll which were both by Elin Hildebrand. Taking place on the island of Nantucket off the coast of Massachusetts, I enjoyed these two Christmas books. (There is to be one more to come next year to complete the trilogy) I have read quite a few books by Elin Hildebrand - almost all of them take place on Nantucket or in Massachusetts- and I've liked all that I have read.

This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance by Jonathan Evison. What a fun and quirky book! A really easy and quick read, this book is about a woman who goes on a cruise after her husband's death and is forced to take a look back at her life through various events.

So there you have it - November! And on to December...

How was your November? Any great travel, eats or reads?

Thursday, November 26, 2015

New Belgium Brewing Company

In 1989 New Belgium Brewing Company co-founder Jeff Lebesch traveled to Europe and toured around on his" fat tire" bicycle trying various beers. He particularly liked the Belgian style ales and asked the monks at an abbey if they would teach him how to brew. He was headed home soon and the monks had a busy schedule. But he didn't give up and went back to the abbey where they spent the day teaching him about their brewing process. Which he brought home to the United States - Fort Collins, Colorado to be exact - and with his ex-wife Kim, started New Belgium Brewing Company.

Though tours of New Belgium are free, reservations are required. And book as soon as you know you want to go because they are booked months in advance. We drove up to Fort Collins from Denver. New Belgium has outdoor tables overlooking their spot on the Cache du Poudrer River. We hung out a bit in the bar/store of the brewing company while awaiting our tour. You can order a beer or buy souvenirs or mail a postcard home - New Belgium picks up the postage

There were about 40 people in our tour group. Your tour guide picks five beers for you to sample at stops along the way in the brewer - and they are regular small glasses of beer not a shot glass size.. We saw the manufacturing process and sampled beers including a "sour" beer which are quite popular, and  supposedly expensive.

Outside Magazine has regularly picked New Belgium as one of it's top companies to work for in the USA. They have a "wellness committee" which meets regularly to plan activities for employees to participate in such as bike tours. They also have a "fun director" who placed a climbing wall in their facility.( Employees are also able to drink beer at the bar if they would like to during working hours) They emphasize eco-friendly power and hope to be entirely wind powered in the future.And employee ownership is offered. Due to all of the perks, employee turnover is incredibly low.

I'd read that you would receive a fat tire bicycle if you became an employee owner, but I think our tour guide told us that you received your fat tire bike after one year of working there.

At the end of the tour, you can slide down the elementary school style twisty slide to head back to the bar and order your favorite of the beers you tried. Our tour guide was fantastic and I enjoyed learning about New Belgium and it's manufacturing of Fat Tire and it's other ales.

I'm linking up with : Travel Photo Thursday at Budget Travelers Sandbox, Weekend Travel Inspiration at Reflections Enroute and Weekend Wanderlust at A Brit and A Southerner!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind?

One of the most romanticized ways of American life is probably that of the cowboy. Life on the range, riding all day, camping out at night playing the harmonica around the campfire, eating meals from the cookwagon, living the life of a nomad - seems pretty great. In reality, Texas cattlemen would drive their herd northward to the railhead of the Kansas Pacific Railway where they were then shipped eastward. The trip was hazardous for both cattle and cowboy - it could take 2 to 3 months and 2 major rivers had to be crossed, along with Indian attacks and cattle stampedes. One of the towns on this cattle driving trail was Fort Worth, Texas. And the Stockyards area of Fort Worth shows visitors what it was like back in the day.

We recently attended a wedding in the Dallas -Fort Worth area, and decided to go check out what the Stockyards had to offer. Located outside the city of Fort Worth, the Stockyards hold daily cattle drives (with the exception of Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas) at 11:30 and 4:00. Cowboys drive the cattle from one end of the Stockyards district to the holding pen at the other end, as it would have been done way back when. There are restaurants, hotels, shops, bull riding and The World's Largest Honky Tonk, Billy Bob's.

Our first stop was Billy Bob's. I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. We had thought we might eat lunch here but it was still a bit early for lunch and Billy Bob's was just getting started for the day, cleaning up from a concert the night before.(Be forewarned: There is a $2 fee per person just to enter, even in the daytime.) We walked around and took photos trying to imagine what it was like at night. So off we went to see to the rest of The Stockyards.

Between 1866 and 1890 more than four million cattle were trailed through Fort Worth which was the last major stop for rest and supplies before hitting the Red River and Indian Territory. Fort Worth soon became known as Cowtown - and the rowdy area of disrepute south of the Courthouse became known as "Hell's Half Acre."

The Stockyards area has it's own visitor center so you can get a lay of the land. Known for it's steak dinners, Cattlemen's Steakhouse has been around since 1947 and has parking for patrons.( Pricey but supposedly fantastic - we didn't eat here) You can also see the marker for The Chisholm Trail, catch a glimpse of the original railroad (now it goes through shops and restaurants) and even catch a cowboy hanging out on a street corner. And don't forget about the cattle drives at 11:30 and 4:30! There's roving entertainment, too. We had lunch at The White Elephant Saloon and listened to some music while watching a coupla dancers glide across the wooden dance floor.

The Stockyards is a fun outing - especially for kids, or kids at heart. I knew very little about cowboy history or way of life before I visited - and I learned alot. So if you're enamored of cowboy culture, or even if it's not your cup of tea, give The Stockyards a try. You might be surprised to find out how much you can learn - or how much you'll enjoy it!

PS Bragging rights to whoever can name the singer of  this post's title - Without.Googling. It . Cause that doesn't count!

I'm linking up with : Travel Photo Thursday at Budget Travelers Sandbox, The Weekly Postcard at Travel Notes and Beyond, Weekend Travel Inspiration at Reflections Enroute and Weekend Wanderlust at A Brit and A Southerner ! Go visit them for some travel inspiration!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Lake Mead, Hoover Dam and Boulder City

Mr. Unpaved Road's college degree is in engineering. Twenty years ago, when we first visited Hoover Dam, he geeked out over touring the dam. My brain just doesn't work that way - and as impressive as the dam is,  I prefer to hear the history of the dam and about the people who built it. On this visit, we  drove from southern Utah through some of the most desolate area I have ever driven through, passing the incredibly low Lake Mead, to arrive at Hoover Dam and The Mike O Callaghan-Pat Tillman Bridge.

We started out in St. George, Utah with Las Vegas as our destination. After a stop at Valley of Fire State Park - more to come on that incredible place later - we thought we would stop for a drink and snack somewhere along the lake. Not knowing how incredibly desolate this area is, we came up empty handed in the snack department but found some great views of Lake Mead. The lake levels of Lake Mead are so low right now that they would need 10 years of an incredible amount of snowfall for the lake to  fill up to it's normal level.

Our next stop was at the Lake Mead Visitor Center, which was closed. Womp womp. So we went in search of the viewing area of the Mike O Callaghan-Pat Tillman bridge. Without knowing it, we drove right over the bridge. It's very difficult to tell that you are on anything but a regular bridge or roadway when driving over it. After turning around, we found the parking lot for the viewing area. 

There is a free exhibit detailing the building of the bridge named after former Nevada governor Mike O Callaghan and Pat Tillman, the Arizona football player who volunteered  for the US Army and was killed by friendly fire. The bridge is an arch bridge that spans the Colorado River and is unique in the way it was built (2 pieces of the arch were separately placed and put together) And I am totally oversimplifying it. It is a modern construction wonder! The bridge replaces a road that went over the actual dam which was inadequate for the amount of traffic it carried.

I'm not a fan of heights but I was on board to cross the walkway and view Hoover Dam down below. Until I got to the top. Then I handed Mr. UR the camera and said "Have at it". He thought I was kidding. I wasn't. It was really, really high and windy. Really, really windy.  So the photos below are credited to the husband.

Then we were off to drive down to the dam. It was too late in the day to take a tour but no worries as we had already done that the last time we visited. 

This photo shows the very low water levels of Lake Mead.

Now it was really time to eat. So we went into the cute, and very retro, downtown of Boulder City to have a meal at Boulder City Brewing Company. They have a showing of a documentary about building the dam on a loop at the restaurant - and outdoor seating available. Cool place with good food.

Boulder City sprang up from the need for housing, schools and shops for the dam builders and their families. Some of the original houses from the 1930's have remained relatively unchanged.

I would have loved to have more time to explore Boulder City and it's downtown - but we were off to Vegas, baby! And besides, it was getting dark!

How about you? Have you toured Hoover Dam? Did you walk across the walkway on the Mike O Callaghan-Pat Tillman bridge? ( I know I'm not the only one to ever chicken out - there were some others waiting with me on the side of the bridge!)

And now some housekeeping: If you want to follow The Unpaved Road on bloglovin we have a new button on the top right column - above the About Me section - to make it easy for you. Just click the button and it will lead you to the Bloglovin site where you can be updated everytime there is a new post

I'm linking up! Please visit Travel Photo Thursday at Budget Travelers Sandbox,  The Weekly Postcard at Travel Notes and Beyond, Weekend Travel Inspiration at Reflections Enroute  and Weekend Wanderlust at A Brit and A Southerner!