Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! I'm thankful for you, dear readers - thanks for taking the time to stop by here every week ! I'm wishing you all the best in 2017!!!


We'll be back to our regularly scheduled programming next week! Up and coming on the blog: covering our California Road Trip, a visit to New York City and the Outer Banks. 

Where are you going in 2017? Checking anything off of your travel wish list? 


Thursday, December 22, 2016

The Best of 2016!!!

Another year has flown by and it's time to review my destinations of 2016. Can you believe it? The first half of 2016 was light on travel - as I've mentioned before we moved my in-laws from Florida to North Carolina and Mr. UR was busy preparing for that. But once June hit, we were off and running. Let's see where 2016 took us-

A winter Outer Banks weekend
The Outer Banks are barrier islands off of the coast of North Carolina. Known for their lighthouses, Cape Hatteras National Seashore, the Wright Brothers Memorial and great beaches, the Outer Banks make a great holiday destination with lots of vacation rentals. We spent an off season weekend there last February staying at the Sanderling Resort, voted one of the top 10 resorts in North Carolina. The weather was cold but we managed to drive Cape Hatteras National Seashore and enjoy the hot tub at the resort. One of the best caveats to visiting there off-season - No Traffic!

St. Petersburg Beach, Florida
We spent a week with friends at their condo in St. Pete Beach, Florida. A relaxing, fun week full of happy hours, my first visit to the Salvador Dali Museum, plenty of pool time, a night brewery hopping and a Fathers Day sailboat ride on Boca Ciega Bay. Much fun was had by all.

Nashville, Tennessee
I've been visiting Nashville for over 20 years - way before it was uber cool - but I wanted to take Mr. UR there for the CMA Music Fest for the first time. Nashville ranks as my favorite city and I discover someplace new everytime I go there. This time, besides attending the Music Fest, I visited two neighborhoods that were new to me - the Gulch and Hillsboro Village - and visited the replica of The Parthenon. I also took a WalkEatNash food walking tour which was really a highlight of the week.

Southwestern Colorado
We flew to Denver for a great fare on Frontier's new service between Charlotte and Denver to visit my son and his girlfriend. We drove down to Southwestern Colorado staying in a cabin on a guest ranch and visited Telluride, Durango, and Ouray. We also rafted the Animas River and did a hike in Telluride - which was way over my experience level. But I made it . Barely.

Savannah and Hilton Head Island
My oldest daughter flew home from Boston for a visit and we made a road trip to Savannah and Hilton Head. We celebrated her younger sisters birthday in Savannah and had a beach day on Hilton Head. Fun. And it had been a hot minute since I had been to either.

New York City
We helped move our daughter to New York. We stayed in Lower Manhattan, an area I had never explored. And I explored a bit of Brooklyn also. I walked across the Brooklyn Bridge for the first time, celebrated my 53rd birthday at an adorable little restaurant in the East Village and made not one, but two trips to Ikea. It was a whirlwind week and there will be more to come on this later - and there will be much more on New York in the blog as we'll be headed there quite a bit now.

A family visit for me to Ohio. I visited with my dad's younger sister and brother who live in Columbus and was able to have dinner with two of my cousins. I also attended a high school reunion. So. much. fun. It had been way too long since I had been "home."

California Road Trip
I didn't make it to any new countries this year but it had been 15 years since I had been to Northern California. We did a 2 week road trip starting in Monterey, driving Big Sur, spent 2 days in Yosemite - my favorite national park - hit Lake Tahoe for my first time and ended in Wine Country.  Wine Country ranks up there with one of my favorite places ever. I told Mr. UR that I had found my calling - visiting wineries in beautiful weather in beautiful country - Sign Me Up!

Our last trip of the year was a trip to visit friends outside of Baltimore. We had a group of 12 and we attended two football games. A fantastic weekend with friends - some we hadn't seen in years and years - and a few winery visits in the Maryland countryside thrown in, too. We stopped at a few wineries in Virginia and walked the pedestrian mall in the cool city of Charlottesville, Virginia on the way home.

Once again, I am grateful for all the places I was able to go and see and do. Considering that we really didn't start going anywhere until June, we packed alot into the last 6 months of the year.

Plans are in the works for 2017 already. The biggest news is our trip to Korea - a new country for both of us - to visit our daughter, who is living in Seoul. We have plans to spend about 5 days in Seoul and then travel south to Jeju Island for some beach time. Have you been to Korea? Any travel tips for me?

How about you? What was your favorite trip of 2016? What are your travel plans for 2017? Let me know in the comments!

This post is part of a link-up with: Travel Photo Thursday at Budget Travelers Sandbox, The Weekend Wanderlust Travel Blog Party and Weekend Travel Inspiration at Malaysian Meanders!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Spending Christmas in Colorado - Denver, Breckenridge and Vail

We drove from Asheville, North Carolina to Denver, Colorado for the Christmas holidays last year. ( You can read about our road trip here) We - Mr. UR, myself and our youngest - spent 2 1/2 days driving across the Midwest to arrive in Denver to visit our son and his girlfriend, who live in Denver, and our middle daughter who flew in from Boston. We spent a few days in Denver and then drove west to Breckenridge where we rented a condo for the holiday. (The original condo we had rented on unfortunately had a fire a month before we arrived and the owner found us another condo in the same development at the last minute) Here's a recap of our holiday and some things to do in Colorado at Christmastime.


The Denver Art Museum - I had found a coupon online for free family admission to the Denver Art Museum. We spent a fun afternoon discovering this huge museum located downtown. After visiting the museum, we ate at Lime: A Mexican Cantina located in the Denver Pavilions, also located downtown.

Denver Christmas Market - This was my second visit to the Denver Christmas Market. I haven't been to any other Christmas Market so my comparisons are limited, but I really enjoy visiting here. We had some gluhwein (warm, spiced wine) and walked around the outdoor booths smelling all the roasting nuts and delicious scents. There is a small ice rink across from the market with very low prices for skating and rental - I think it's $5 total.

Denver Botanical Gardens - The Denver Botanical Gardens has an awesome Christmas lights display. Just beautiful. I really enjoyed walking around and seeing the lights one evening. I highly recommend a trip there to see the lights. 

Denver City Hall Christmas Lights -  Denver's City Hall all lit up is quite the sight to behold. Lit up in multicolored lights with Christmas music playing, you can walk or drive by City Hall and really get into the Christmas spirit - if you aren't already!

Our condo rental in Breckenridge was located just outside of town on the shuttle bus line. It had plenty of room for the 7 of us and a kitchen to make Christmas dinner - which when we spend it in Colorado has turned into a tradition of Christmas tacos (ha ha long story!) We had more than enough snow to have a White Christmas and we enjoyed playing out in it since we rarely get snow where we live.

Breckenridge is a small ski town about 80 miles west of Denver via I-70. (It should take about 2 hours to drive as long as you don't run into bad weather or ski traffic) A former mining town, Breckenridge is known for it's skiing and it's Main Street which is the Breckenridge National Historic District lined with shops,restaurants and galleries. We didn't spend alot of time in town - we spent more time at the condo - but we did go into town on Christmas evening. We stopped in at the Oxygen Bar - which is really, truly a bar where you receive oxygen to deal with the altitude - and had drinks at Burke and Riley's Irish Pub.

Vail is a ski town located about 40 minutes further west of Breckenridge on I-70. It's modeled to look like a Bavarian mountain town and is known for it's lavishly priced ski slopes, lodging and shops. (There are three fur shops in the small town) We drove over on Christmas Eve to have a walk around and experience Vail for the holidays. There were loads of people out doing the same and it had a bustling Christmas spirit vibe going on. A few fun facts about Vail: you will hear many languages as you walk about as it's an international destination, there is free parking in the parking garage in Vail and you won't notice any snow on the sidewalks because they are heated. Yes, heated. No need for shoveling here! 

And as a special treat, the skies opened up and it started snowing just as we were leaving. A peaceful, snowy Christmas Eve and we were all together. Nothing better.

This post is part of a link-up with: Travel Photo Thursday at Budget Travelers Sandbox, Weekend Travel Inspiration at Albom Adventures and Weekend Wanderlust Facebook Travel Blog Party!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Tuba Christmas in Denver

In 1974, Harvey Phillips started a yearly tribute to his teacher and mentor, William J. Bell, who was born on Christmas Day in 1902. Held worldwide, Tuba Christmas is a concert of Christmas music performed by Tube and Euphonium instrumentalists.

I'm not quite sure where I first heard about this but I knew I wanted to attend.Happily, I found out that there would be a Tuba Christmas in Denver while we were there visiting over Christmas last year. A bit quirky, fun, Christmasy and free to attend, it was right up my alley.

Tube and Euphonium players are invited to attend and perform each year. (You can download the sheet music from the Tuba Christmas website and be aware there is a $10 registration fee required for musicians)

We arrived a few minutes before the concert started and stood for several Christmas songs along with a small crowd in a plaza in downtown Denver. There were several family members playing together - moms and sons, dads and daughters, three generations of musicians and even the youngest, who I believe was 11 and the oldest, who was in their 80's. They also announced those who had been playing in Tuba Christmas for years. 

It was short, quirky and fun! If you're interested in attending a Tuba Christmas this year, check here to see if your city or one near you is participating.

I hope everyone's holiday preparations are going well. It's been a week of hiccups here at The Unpaved Road - I pulled a calf muscle putting up Christmas decorations - yes, putting up Christmas decorations - we had to send a car to the scrap yard and my computer was having some problems. But I'm counting my blessings for only small problems! 
If you celebrate Christmas, where will you be celebrating this year?

This post is part of a link-up with: Travel Photo Thursday at Budget Travelers Sandbox, Weekend Travel Inspiration at Reflections Enroute, The Weekly Postcard at Travel Notes and Beyond and Weekend Wanderlust Travel Blog Party!