Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Admiring Tom Mangelsen's Images of Nature

More than 15 years ago our family went skiing in Park City, Utah. As a neophyte on the slopes, I was happy to give my muscles a rest each evening while exploring the shops lining Main Street of this historic silver-mining town.
Main Street in Park City, Utah has many shopping and dining venues.
On one evening walk I discovered the incredible work of nature photographer Tom Mangelsen.

Mangelsen’s Images of Nature Gallery has been located on Park City's Historic Main Street for over 25 years, making it one of the oldest galleries there. Mangelsen’s work is also displayed in seven other galleries scattered across Midwest and Western states.
More than just a photographer, Mangelsen is a biologist by education and training with a commitment to conservation. He has traveled throughout the world for nearly 40 years observing and photographing places and animals. His scenic landscapes and wildlife images have earned many awards, including display at the Smithsonian Institution.

As a young boy observing geese and ducks on the Platte River of Nebraska, Mangelsen learned that patience was essential for photographing in the field. His understanding of animal behavior and willingness to wait for the unexpected moment have allowed him to create artistic images with his camera.

Without knowing anything about his background at the time, I fell in love with stunning images of his that captured the illusive moments of wild animal antics that photographers yearn for.
So, on a recent visit to Park City, I sought out his gallery to admire photos that captured my imagination many years before. Of course, Mangelsen has added many more from his travels, including several books that showcase some of his most prized and collectible prints.

The question for me was: Would I find an image so endearing that I would actually purchase an authentic, signed, limited edition print? Not surprisingly, the answer was yes. But there was an additional reason one particular photo spoke to me.
Mangelsen had photographed polar bears in Churchill,Canada several times over the years. Some of his photos of mama bears and cubs shot during spring excursions were on display and caught my eye--most likely because we had a trip to Churchill planned for the next month. What could be more enticing than a photo of the very bears we were journeying to see?

Now I’m the proud owner of a print called “Back Seat Driver,” which features a mother bear and her two cubs in the snow, one cub climbing onto her back for a ride. It’s adorable. But more than that it’s an image only a photographer with many years experience would likely capture. Even so, I’m hoping to add more of my own polar bear photos to the collection.
Photos from Beverly Burmeier, Mangelsen's web site, and ebay.



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


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, anne.klein@madebyhco.com

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 www.vouchercloud.net 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.