Friday, October 24, 2014

Major renovations for La Cantera Hill Country Resort in San Antonio

La Cantera Hill Country Resort before renovations
I’ve visited La Cantera Hill Country Resort in SanAntonio and was duly impressed with the western elegance, colorful landscaping, and luxurious rooms. That was several years ago. Now the management company, DestinationHotels, has committed to a multi-million dollar transformation that will affect the entire footprint of the 250-acre facility that appeals to both business and leisure travelers, including families.

Public areas will also get a redesign
Changes include the construction of a new, freestanding destination spa, an extensive reconfiguration of the front entrance, lobby and lobby bar, and a complete redesign of the San Saba Courtyard including a new event lawn.  A junior ballroom, expanded meeting and convention space, redefined restaurants, bars and lounge concepts, and contemporary pools and family areas are also on tap in the most extensive reshaping of the resort since its opening in 1999.

"This substantial upgrade will allow the Resort to enhance its spectacular setting and the exceptional amenities guests have come to expect,” said Destination Hotels President and Chief Operating Officer Jamie Sabatier. "It will also continue to position La Cantera Hill Country Resort as a world-class destination.” 

Palmer Golf Course overlooks Six Flags over Texas theme park.
 “Because the magnitude and impact of the project will prevent our associates from providing our guests with our customary offerings and services, the resort will suspend overnight accommodations and restaurant operations during the major phase of construction from November 3, 2014 through early April 2015,” said resort Vice President and Managing Director John Spomer.  

“Both of our award-winning golf courses – the Resort Course and the Palmer Course – will remain open and operate as usual during the renovations, as will their respective clubhouses and adjacent event venues,” Spomer added.

Golf courses will remain open during the hotel transformation.
Perched atop one of the highest points around San Antonio, La Cantera Hill Country Resort offers sweeping views of the Texas Hill Country and a huge expanse of majestic Live Oak groves interrupted only by native Texas limestone outcroppings, golf course fairways, and sparkling pools.

Sunset is a beautiful time at one of the pools.
Over the past 15 years, San Antonio has enjoyed record growth, bringing a diverse group of visitors to the area. It is a popular escape not only for Texans, but also for visitors from around the world, and La Cantera aims to keep pace with the demand by updating the facility in this major undertaking. I’m anxious to see the changes next spring.

Information courtesy of Jill Byrd, KGBTexas
Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Culinary Colorado at Christmas

Shopping in winter in Boulder, CO
This holiday season delight in the relaxing welcome and festive feeling of a snow-covered, Colorado town. Enjoy endless opportunities for festive holiday events; gift the creativity of Colorado crafts and the divine taste of Colorado-made food, spirits and sweets. Embrace the essence of the season, connect with loved ones, and celebrate with a Uniquely Colorado Christmas.

Visit: From the foodie capitol, Boulder, to the undiscovered culinary corners of the state, Colorado is home to artisan chocolateers, bakers, crafters, brewers and people who live to create tasteful treats.

 Give: A gourmet gift basket from the up-and-coming culinary hotspot Fort Collins:
    •    Vern’s Toffee-- handcrafted, mouth-watering milk chocolate butter toffee,
    •    Craft beer--over 220 Colorado craft breweries offer diverse beer styles to choose from: Pilsners, IPA’s, stouts, ambers, porters, cask, Belgian, saisons and sour ales,
    •    Feisty Spirits--handcrafted whiskey made from locally grown grain,
    •    Honey--at the heart of agriculture is the honeybee and every region of Colorado boasts their own liquid gold flavored by the area’s wild flowers, blossoms and crops,
    •    Nuance Chocolate—from ethical cacao beans; roasted, ground and made into spirited artisanal chocolates,
    •    Old Towne Spice Shop—hand blended and ground spices from around the corner and world; gift boxes made by a local artist out of Pine Beetle Kill Wood,
    •    Cheese and Crackers-- artisan Mou Co cheeses or craft cheeses made from sheep, goat or cow’s milk make a decadent appetizer when paired with local chutney, jams and all natural Nita Crisp crackers.

Nutritious Nita Crisp crackers are made with wheat or smelt.
Do:  Learn about the local Ft. Collins food scene: The Gardens on the Creek for the Garden of Lights Tour, Laughing Buck Farm for Family Fun Days, Copoco’s for a beekeeping class, or nearby Haystack Mountain Goat Farm for a creamery tour and cheese making class.  Visit a local craft brewery for a tasting and tour; from New Belgium to High Hops, the Fort Collins area has over 13 craft brewers!
Fort Collins is well-known for its craft breweries.

Get in a holiday mood
with cinnamon eggnog.
Make: Prepare a homemade feast using handcrafted local ingredients: Honey-Spiced Glaze for your Christmas turkey, a Colorado cheese plate with fresh local cheeses, warm up with Fireside Eggnog made with Longmont Dairy Cinnamon Eggnog and a splash of craft Colorado spirits from Feisty Spirits or CopperMuse. Find produce, meats and more at Fort Collins Winter Farmers’ Market

Information courtesy of Anne Klein, Colorado tourism
Photos from Beverly Burmeier, highlighted businesses, and Boulder CVB


Sunday, October 12, 2014

Relaxation and solitude at Blue Sky Ranch

Ever had one of those weeks where you felt like checking out of normal life for a couple of days? If you’ve ever thought “Make the World Go Away” should be your theme song, there’s a place where you can escape pressures and commitments—and come away refreshed by the simple beauty of nature.
No, it’s not a luxury spa, where you might be pampered with hot Vischy showers and cool massage therapies—but surrounded by a bevy of equally stressed and anxious clients.

Entrance to Blue Sky Ranch, 20 minutes from Park City
If you truly want to get away for awhile, go to Blue Sky Ranch near the mountain resort of ParkCity, Utah and stay in the 24-foot diameter Antelope Yurt on this 3,500-acre working ranch. Located high on a remote hill, the tent-like yurt has views of mountains and meadows  that extend for miles in some of the most stunning landscapes around.
Antelope Yurt is made of canvas in the typical circular shape.
My husband and I recently spent two nights in this ancient type of mobile home. Originating in Mongolia, the yurt was more than a home to Central Asian nomads. It was their centering point in the universe, and they slept with feet pointing towards the south-facing door.

The central roof ring was durable, made of wood, and often passed down for generations. This “crown” or opening allowed a connection with the outside world. Roof poles hooked into the crown and lashed onto the criss-cross lattice walls, which gave the structure shape. For these nomads, the yurt was one of the eternal circles of their lives.
The center crown at Antelope Yurt lets light and the outside world in.
AntelopeYurt, currently the only accommodation at Blue Sky Ranch, is a modernized version with canvas walls that feature window flaps for light and air circulation. Furnished with two sets of bunk beds, one with a lower queen-sized bed, comfortable chairs, tables, kitchen utensils, and a wood-burning stove, the yurt provides a good example of the glamour camping trend called "glamping."
Sleeping accommodations were quite comfortable in the yurt.
Even though daytime temperatures were in the 70s during our stay, night temps dipped into the 40s, so warmth from the stove was welcome in early morning. Actually, the sun  warmed the outside air more quickly than the stove heated the inside.

The yurt was actually quite spacious.
Yes, there were some rustic features: Bathroom was an outhouse, there was no running water (so no shower), cooking was done on the outside grill, and there was no refrigeration (like camping). On the plus side: We did have solar power for lights and outlets for charging electronics. The bed was comfortable, especially snuggling under cozy blankets. Hiking trails and scenery in the area were beautiful, and the solitude was refreshing.
While this mountain retreat is a great way to “make the world go away” and rejuvenate your mind, body, and soul, you don’t have to be isolated during your stay. There are a variety of activities at Blue Sky Ranch (also open to the public) that will get you close to nature while in the company of other adventurers.

Scenery on one of our hikes on the ranch.
You can go horseback riding (which we did), trap shooting, mountain biking, fly fishing, and hiking. The ranch has a signature program called “Cowboy for a Day” during which participants learn basic horsemanship and help move cows to pasture.  Corporate and team-building activities as well as family events like reunions and weddings are popular at the on-site Tavern, an original 1800s cabin located in an open meadow surrounded by woods and mountains.
We rode horses to the Tavern; then sat on the porch while
eating lunch. What a great spot to enjoy the ranch's scenery.

The High West Distillery on property is almost complete and will be opened in November. For visitors who prefer more standard accommodations than the yurt, a hotel and event center are in early construction stages. Plans are to develop Blue Sky Ranch into a complete destination offering guests a true mountain experience in both summer and winter.

There are many trails to ride horses or mountain bike at
Blue Sky Ranch.
 Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier
Read other travel stories at Austin Adventure Travel



Thursday, October 9, 2014

Christmas in Colorado

Whether you live in or near Colorado or just love to visit there (Texans do!), Christmas is a great time to embrace the of the season in this beautiful state. 
Historic settlements, forts and mining towns illuminate their history with twinkling lights against a backdrop of freshly fallen snow. Picture horse-drawn sleigh rides on rustic dude ranches, festive Christmas parades, bustling food halls, steaming hot springs, and handcrafted gifts for a special Colorado Christmas.

Here’s a collection of holiday ideas from different areas of Colorado, with suggestions for a special place to visit, a gift to give, an experience to enjoy, and something you make that creates lasting memories.

Snow fun in Silverton

Visit:  A snowy Colorado mountain town.

Embrace the season and have fun on a Mountain Boys Sled
Give: Pair a sleek, handmade Mountain Boys Sled with cozy, locally made hats, gloves, socks, and mittens made from cuddly woolen fleece.

Do: Head to the tiny town of old mining town of Silverton and experience Colorado’s legendary fresh powder on a sled or sleigh ride. Check the calendar for full moon hikes and events as the mountains glisten in the glow.

Make:  Fill your thermos with a warm Colorado Toddy:  1½ oz. Colorado Honey Bourbon, spoonful of Honeyville honey and a lemon garnish. Kiddos in tow? Try pre-made hot chocolate from Animas Chocolate Company.

Cowboy Christmas

Visit: Celebrate Christmas at a Colorado dude and guest ranch.

Give: Colorado-made Crescent Moon snowshoes for traipsing across the snowy fields. For those cozy evenings by the fire, snuggle up with a good book or a knitting project.

Do: Dude ranches are magical when blanketed in snow under blue skies. Settle into Latigo Trails for sleigh rides, snowshoe hikes, bonfires and more.

Make: Let the wranglers at Latigo Trails help you handle authentic branding irons to create your unique family brand; then burn it onto the ranch wall and onto a wooden block to take home.

Twinkling Traditions

Visit: Colorado’s past to discover heritage holiday traditions

Give: When Slovenians settled in Pueblo, Colorado, they introduced cultural and culinary traditions that are still alive today. One such culinary delight is the sweet dessert, Potica, especially popular during the holiday season. Stop by Mauro Farms or find your favorite baker and pick-up a loaf of this festive bread for your holiday feast.

Do: Experience the most festive and elaborate lighting on November 29 for Pueblo's Parade of Lights. Don your jingle bells to keep with this year’s theme: Silver Bells!

Natural hot springs are great for soothing bodies year-round.
Ouray in fall.
Photo from Colorado Come to Life
Make: Wake up with the sun and coffee from Solar Roast Coffee  – the world’s only commercial solar-powered coffee roaster. Participate in a traditional cupping or simply hang out in the roasting room and roast your own solar coffee from green bean to cup. Take home a bag of your personal roast coffee to serve in a pottery coffee mug you made at Cup and Bowl.

Princely Pampering

Visit: Colorado has over 22 natural hot springs and mineral waters with breathtaking mountain backdrops and star-studded skies.

Give: Pampering products for a basket of self-spa. In historic downtown Salida, Vital Living offers natural bath and body care products and teas. Heal All Salve is a must-have for a mountain visitor or Calendula Crème from Green Earth Farm in Saguache. Deliver your treats in a handmade Feed Sack Bag available at a "must see" Salida market: The Ploughboy.

Do: Soak under the stars at Mount Princeton Hot Springs and relax with an Arkansas River Hot Stone Massage.

Learn to make a variety of cheeses at Mountain Goat Lodge.
Photo from Mountain Goat Lodge
Make:  Stay the night at Mountain Goat Lodge and participate in a cheese making class. Take home soft, fresh cheeses for your holiday appetizer plate and stock up on goat milk-based stocking stuffers.

Information courtesy of Anne Klein, Colorado tourism,

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Two attractions to see in Salt Lake City

Red Butte Garden
Red Butte Garden, Utah's Botanical Garden and State Arboretum
One morning during our recent tour of Salt Lake City, Utah, we visited Red Butte Garden, which happened to to be one of the lovliest botanical gardens I’ve seen. Located just 11 minutes from downtown, this beautifully landscaped space is set against a stunning backdrop of the Wasatch Mountains.

Eleven themed gardens are set along well-maintained paths in Red Butte, which has the distinction of being Utah’s Botanical Garden and State Arboretum. Take time to meander gently through the medicinal garden, all-season garden, children’s garden, herb garden, fragrant garden, and more—each a complete garden space with benches and water features to entice visitors to linger.
Outstanding plantings along the Floral Walk in Red Butte Garden
A large pond draws visitors to the far end of the Dumke Floral Walk, a marvelous expanse filled with berms (mini-hillsides) exploding with various hues of the rainbow. Blue, white, pink, red, purple, orange—we saw many shades of flowering and foliage plants in. Tall spiky specimens shadowed low-growing varieties that spilled over the walkway.

Plan to spend at least an hour at Red Butte Garden. If you have more time, bring a book to read or a snack to enjoy as you sit awhile and absorb the calming effects of nature’s beauty.
Ponds and waterfalls create serene spaces to enjoy in
Utah's Red Butte Garden
For those who crave more action, several trails on the outskirts of the garden lead to natural areas and beyond and provide expansive views of the landscape. Quarry Trail, Prospect Point, and Oak Tunnel are possible routes to take for more activity.
300 Wakara Way, Salt Lake City
 Natural History Museum

Copper tiles and large expanses of glass decorate
The Natural History Museum of Utah.

Just minutes from Red Butte Garden, you’ll find an extraordinary building, The Natural History Museum of Utah at The Rio Tinto Center of The University of Utah. Perched high on the foothills overlooking Salt Lake City, the museum’s exterior is covered with stunning copper tiles that gleam a bright golden-green in the sunlight. Excavated in 2009 from Kennecott’sBingham Canyon Mine, just 22 miles to the west, copper makes the architectural icon both beautiful and sustainable.
The spacious interior of The Natural History Museum
has clean, contemporary features.
Exhibits in the modernistic building  include historic artifacts, science specimens, and hands-on experiences that relate Utah’s unique natural history. One easy way to tour the museum is to sign on to the museum’s Wi-Fi and use the Trailhead to Utah smartphone guide to help you explore numbered markers or to dig deeper into the stories behind the exhibits.

On five floors you’ll see exhibits that cover Native Voices, First Peoples, Sky, Life, Land, Great Salt Lake, and more. Take a few minutes to wander out on the Sky Terrace on level 5 for exquisite views of Salt Lake City and the mountains beyond. A special exhibit called The Horse, which also focuses on the Utes, is currently on display in the museum’s gallery through January 4, 2015.
View of Salt Lake City and the Wasatch Mountains through
windows at The Natural History Museum of Utah.
As part of the University system, the museum is designed with labs that provide space for scientific research and education, a distinction that makes the museum even more valuable to the area.
301 Wakara Way, Salt Lake City
Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Americans prefer U.S. destinations for vacation

According to new research, the USA tops vacation destination choices for Americans.  Dubai and Bahamas Islands were next, with European destinations further down the top ten list.
National parks such as Grand Tetons are favorite destinations
for many Americans.
The study was carried out by in order to find out more about the lifestyle habits and holiday choices of US citizens, especially those looking for discounts when planning a vacation. Via email 2,852 American adults aged 18 and over took part in the survey, all of whom had booked at least one vacation during the last three years.

Incredible architecture is a calling card
in Dubai.
All respondents were first asked, “Have you been on vacation outside of the USA in the last 18 months?” to which three quarters of respondents (74%) stated that they hadn’t left the USA for a vacation in the last 18 months.
The survey then asked respondents to identify their favorite holiday destinations, places that they had been to or would like to go to in the future. The respondents were provided with a list of locations and asked to select all that applied with these preferred holiday destinations:

1.       Destinations within the USA – 68%
2.       The Bahamas Islands – 44%
3.       Dubai, United Arab Emirates – 41%
4.       London, England – 39%
5.       Cancun, Mexico – 32%
6.       Paris, France – 29%
7.       Sydney, Australia – 27%
8.       Montego Bay, Jamaica – 18%
9.       Bangkok, Thailand – 15%
10.   Vancouver, Canada – 12%

The Eiffel Tower is an icon of Paris
that people want to see.
The respondents who had selected ‘Destinations within the USA’ as one of their favourites, were then asked to provide the reasons why they liked to vacation in their home country. The majority of respondents (86%) stated that they ‘enjoy the food and culture in the USA’ or that ‘the USA has everything I want from a vacation’ (77%), while a third stated that they enjoy ‘exploring different parts of my own country’ (31%).
 “The USA is a huge country with so much to offer and something to please everyone. From beaches and great hiking places to art galleries and city skyscrapers, there is so much diversity and excitement. It’s no wonder that it tops the charts,” says Matthew Wood of vouchercloud.

If you’re looking for discounts and special offers to help make your vacation more affordable, whether in the USA or elsewhere in the world, check the website.  “Everything from shows in Vegas to dinners in NYC can be done on a budget,” Wood adds.
Kayaks and stand-up paddle boards in the shadow of Vancouver's skyline.
Information courtesy of Leanne Bryan, 10 Yetis Public Relations

Photos by Beverly Burmeier, from my own travels.

Monday, September 29, 2014

5 reasons to visit Albuquerque in autumn

Autumn is a “magical” season in Albuquerque, New Mexico; it’s the time of year that locals look forward to and welcome visitors for a variety of special occasions. Here are five reasons why autumn in Albuquerque is amazing:

Balloon glow attracts visitors during the fiesta.
Albuquerque International BalloonFiesta. More than 500 hot air balloons dot the skies during this annual event. Early risers can witness the mass ascension events, eat world-famous breakfast burritos, and see the sun rise over the Sandia Mountains. In the evenings, balloons stay on the ground for “glow” events, allowing visitors to see these beauties up close. There will also be concerts, competitions and new special shapes, including an orca and a snail. This year’s event runs October 4-12.

Chile Roasting Season Snap, crackle and pop! It’s what you’ll hear when visiting dozens of locations throughout the city where chiles are roasting. Fall is chile harvest season, and visitors will see roasters set up everywhere, from the grocery store to farmers’ markets and restaurants Go to a local restaurant that incorporates them into dishes, from donuts to stuffed sopapillas.
You don't have to look far to find chiles in Albuquerque.

Fall colors from many angles  Albuquerque’s location in a river valley and its altitude – more than a mile high – mean that the city has many deciduous trees, from cottonwood to aspen. To see the trees up close, take a bike tour along the Rio Grande River on the city’s well-known Bosque Trail, a paddling tour on the river, or a breathtaking tram ride to the top of 10,000-foot-high Sandia Mountains. A drive on the Sandia Crest National Scenic Byway to the range’s highest point will provide spectacular fall color.

Perfect weather for a mountain hike
Spectacular weather. Most October days are clear and sunny, with highs in the 70s and lows around 50. Humidity is nearly nonexistent, meaning conditions are ideal for spending time outside. If you’re up early to take in a balloon ride or hike, dress in warm layers for the cool mornings; then peel them off as the sun comes up. Don’t miss the sunsets – some of the most stunning in the world, due to big skies, beautiful clouds, and a landscape featuring mountains that turn watermelon pink as the sun goes down.

Take the tram to the top if Sandia Mountain.
Special Events From pumpkin patches to corn mazes and ghost hunts, Albuquerque is a great city for fall traditions. There are several arts and cultural festivals, including events with a Native American focus and a Greek-inspired celebration. One of the most colorful events in fall is Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, which is used to honor deceased loved ones. Brightly decorated skulls can be seen everywhere including jewelry, art, and even as face painting!
Information courtesy of Heather Briganti, Albuquerque Convention & Visitors Bureau

Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier


Sunday, September 28, 2014

Friday, September 26, 2014

4 days, 4 events: Gruene Music and Wine Festival

Mark your calendars for October 9-12, 2014 and raise your glass. The 28th Annual Gruene Music & Wine Festival, presented by Gruene Hall and KNBT 92.1 FM, is right around the corner.  It’s just a quick hour’s drive from Austin in a historic section of the Lone Star state near New Braunfels. Come for a weekend full of Texas music, wine and food, all to benefit the United Way of Comal County. Tickets may be purchased at    

Events Schedule
That’s Right, It’s Not From Texas - Thursday, October 9th
5:30 - 7:30pm: The Grapevine – Kick-off event featuring New World & German wines, live jazz music and, best of all, spectacular “Not From Texas” vacation package door prizes including trips to Savannah, GA; Orlando, FL; Kansas City, KS and more.
8:00pm: Gruene Hall – Uncle Lucius
Rockin’ With Texas Wine & Food – Friday, October 10th
5:30 - 8:30pm: Gruene Hall – Private show and meet ‘n’ greet with Robert Earl Keen, catered dinner by Gristmill River Restaurant and a wine tasting with McPherson Cellars, Texas Southwind Winery and Texas Hills Wineries. Silent auction and The Great Guitar Auction with autographed guitars by George Strait, Willie Nelson, Robert Earl Keen, The Mavericks, Lyle Lovett, Patty Griffin, Joe Ely, Lisa Marie Presley, Jerry Jeff Walker, Joe Ely, The Old 97’s, Stoney LaRue, Chris Isaak, Kim Wilson of the Fabulous Thunderbirds and The Departed with Cody Canada and Seth James.
9:30pm: Gruene Hall – Robert Earl Keen
Texas Tastings & Tunes – Saturday, October 11th
Noon – 6:00pm: The Grapevine Grounds – Taste over 90 different Texas wines from over 30 different wineries, grab a snack in Le Cordon Gruene Food Alley and shop the craft market all to the beat of live, original Texas music.
9:00pm: Gruene Hall – Cory Morrow
Texas-Style Music Fest – Sunday, October 12th
10:30am – Noon: Gruene Hall – Gospel Brunch with a Texas Twist catered by the Gristmill River Restaurant
1:00 – 6:00pm: The Grapevine Grounds – Brew-n-Que with the very best in beer and Texas BBQ. Original Texas tunes showcased live throughout the day.
2:00 – 10:00pm: Gruene Hall – Eight full hours of the very best in Americana music on two stages.
Among the 32 confirmed wineries that will have tastings and bottles for sale are Bell Springs, Fall Creek, Georgetown, Grape Creek, Pedernales Cellars, Pleasant Hill, Stone House Vineyard, Three Dudes, Val Verde, Westcave, and many more. For complete listings of all vendors, please visit
Information and photos courtesy of Katie Molack, marketing consultant for Gruene Historic District.






Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Looking ahead for air travel

If you were an airline passenger during the past year, you’d  probably agree that flying has become more tedious and less pleasant all around.  There really is less room between seats, not to mention that the seats themselves are smaller. Airlines have reconfigured cabins to accommodate more seats, even taking space from bathrooms to allow for more seats.  Road rage has given way to seat rage as travelers battle over whether to recline or not.

Overhead storage? It’s diminishing, too, and passengers must scramble to find a spot for their carry-on bag. Adding to the frustration, some airlines are now imposing fees for gate checking bags that don’t fit.
Add in additional fees for extra leg room, checking baggage, purchasing food items in transit, and additional security fees, and it’s no wonder many travelers are grumpy before they even board the plane.

Despite all that, Dean Headley, Airline Quality Rating co-author and associate professor of marketing at Wichita State University, says industry airline performance quality has generally improved each year since 2007. In 2013 airline performance was steady, with improvement trends during the first five months (December had the worst monthly ratings, however).
Recent airline consolidations will require time before it can be determined whether these mega-carriers provide better service for travelers—historically, that’s questionable.

In the meantime, the following ratings by the Airline Quality Rating system might prove helpful for booking your next flight: In 2013, the best performing airlines across the combined AQR categories were Virgin America, Jet Blue, Hawaiian, Delta, and Alaska. Hawaiian was best in on-time performance. Jet Blue and Virgin America were best in avoiding denied boardings. Virgin America was best in baggage handling. Southwest had the lowest rate of customer complaints.

The worst performing airlines across the combined AQR categories in 2013 were American Eagle, SkyWest, Express Jet, United, and Frontier. American Eagle, ExpressJet, and Frontier had the worst on-time performances. SkyWest had the worst rate of denied boardings. American Eagle had the highest rate of mishandled baggage. Frontier had the highest rate of customer complaints.

The best things you can do as a traveler are plan ahead and then bring your most patient attitude to the terminal.


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Living on the edge at Taft Point in Yosemite National Park

Sometimes the only way to believe in forever is to see it firsthand.

Looking 3,000 feet down into Yosemite Valley
from Taft Point
I read this quote in a magazine ad on the wild and wonderful charms of  West Virginia, a state I've never visited. It reminded me of  another wild and wonderful sight from my travels.

At the end of the Taft Point Trail in Yosemite National Park is a spot that perfectly fits the quote: You can see forever. In fact, you’ll have heart-thumping views of the Yosemite Valley 3000 feet below while roaming among huge granite boulders overlooking sheer drop-offs.

This 2.2-mile round-trip hike starts from the same trailhead as Sentinel Dome Trail on Glacier Point Road. It meanders in the opposite direction through a thick green forest (shady and cool despite warm afternoon temperatures) and briefly climbs up a granite rock face to the top of Taft Point's cliff.
The hike starts out on a forested path.

From about 8,000 feet elevation you have sweeping vistas of the Valley, ElCapitan, and Yosemite's north rim. But what is most striking is the incredible sense of awe you feel at the vastness stretching out in front of and below you. With a strong wind blowing--and only one small guardrail--you also need a healthy respect for the potential danger of the site.
Only one small guardrail keeps
visitors back from the edge.
Among the features of this hike are the fissures or cracks created by centuries of geologic upheaval--some trapping huge boulders between the rock walls—just waiting for an earthquake to shake them loose.

Boulders have been stuck in
rock fissures for centuries.
Amazingly, our party of three had this entire scene to ourselves. We wandered over the rock  surface, and I tempted the fates a bit bydangling  my feet over the edge (I looked out not down!).  We lingered awhile on elevated rocks just soaking  in the serenity and peacefulness of this immense, isolated spot. Even in a national park visited by four million people annually, it’s possible to feel alone and at one with nature.

Taft Point Trail  isn’t a difficult hike; but if you take children, be sure to keep an eye on them at the top! There’s plenty of room to roam, which is fine as long as they don’t lose their footing or get close to the edge.
Sharp, jagged rocks form sheer cliffs
at Taft Point in Yosemite.

Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier

Read more travel stories at Striped Pot
and Austin Adventure Travel