Category: USA

Colorado in the Fall

Colorado’s scenery is breathtaking.

I will always treasure the trip to Denver for the 2015 International Travel Writers Conference. The flight from Ft. Lauderdale to Denver on Southwest Airlines gave me time to catch up on some much needed sleep. Upon arrival, my husband and I took a shuttle to pick up our rental car. Prior to leaving Ft. Lauderdale, we had purchased a GPS and immediately set our destination. Of course we missed an exit leaving the airport and ended up circling the airport.

When we entered Denver, the Mile High City, I eagerly awaited our arrival at Castle Marne Bed and Breakfast. This Victorian built castle was indeed a castle, Luxurious with a ‘feeling of royalty”.
We were given a tour of the entire B&B.

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The city has multiple neighborhoods, urban, historic, modern, eclectic. Each distinct in character. Capitol Hill is where the government has its office and where the capitol is located. While in Denver we spent a night at The Capitol Hill Mansion B&B. It was a beautiful ‘Mansion’ both inside and out. The Victorian Era decor was elegant and each room was named after a Colorado wildflower.


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The Urban Area was a very ‘green area’ with a large park. We slept at the Queen Anne Urban B&B for an evening. All their vegetables and fruits served during the morning breakfast came from a plot of land where individual’s were able to grow ‘organic’ food.


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Denver is a very walkable city and bike friendly. In the Mall area, there are trolleys which travel from the Union Station to the end of the Mall area. Union Station is the Amtrack Station. Inside the station are shops, restaurants and the Historic Crawford Hotel.

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While traveling in Colorado, we made a day trip to Golden, Colorado. The Mother Cabrini Shrine was our destination.

The Mother Cabrini Shrine is in honor of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and St. Frances Xavier Cabrini.

Mother Cabrini came to Denver in 1902 and over 10 years purchased three tracts of land in Golden, Colorado. The first tract was purchased on Mount Vernon Canyon as a summer camp for the girls of the orphanage in 1909. Mother Cabrini returned in 1910 and 1912 to purchase the additional two tract of land. After this purchase the girls and Sisters at the orphanage climbed to the highest point of the mountains to enjoy the view and a picnic. The Sisters and girls informed Mother Cabrini that there was very little clean water. She asked the children to bring her white rocks and she arranged them in the form of a heart surmounted by a cross and used smaller stones to form a crown of thorns. Then she walked over to a large red rock and touched it with her cane. She told the children to dig a small hole beneath the rock and there appeared a spring. The spring was discovered the first part of September, 1912 and has never stopped running to this very day.

The bishop was informed of this account and commented upon the fact that ‘such a small, sickly Sister could find water in such a desert place if it was not that she was inspired by God. He designated this place as a miracle of a Saint’. He recommended that a grotto to Our Lady and chapel be built near the place the water was found.

Today a beautiful Church, Chapel, Cabrini Gardens, Cabrini Museum, Meditation Walk, Rosary Garden, Grotto Chapel, the Spring and Stairway of Prayer are located on the tracts of land.

The main Church/Chapel is dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and was completed in 1970. In the side, stained glass windows surround a rectangular room depicting the life of Mother Cabrini.


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The Cabrini Gardens are dedicated to Frances Xavier Cabrini. Here stands a statue of Mother Cabrini and children standing around her. This area had once been the orphanage building.

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The Cabrini Museum opened in 2014 in the area that was the ‘pump house’. This is the original tract purchased. The museum features a replica of Mother Cabrini’s bedroom and artifacts once used by Saint Cabrini.

The Meditation Walk is a place of reflection with a water display and seating for quiet contemplation.

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The Rosary Garden has beautiful landscaping and was the second tract she had purchased.

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The Grotto Chapel is a small chapel, a replica of the grotto at Lourdes in France where I traveled to 3 years ago. Originally build over the spring in 1929 it was replaced in 1959 with the present one. Here the Mother Cabrini altar, vigil candles and kneelers are enclosed. Visitors pray and ask her intercession with the Sacred Heart and the Blessed Mother. Here prayer requests are made. A statue of the Blessed Mother is mounted outside the chapel.

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The Spring water flows from beneath the stone and can be turned on and off with faucets. Drinking cups are there for drinking the cold spring water.

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The Stairway of Prayer has 373 steps leading up to the top of the Mount of the Sacred Heart. Benches are placed on the stone steps as rest and reflection places. At the top of the mountain is a twenty-two foot statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus carved by an Italian artist.  Below the statue in a glass enclosed shelf is the Heart of Stones.

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I have visited many shrines during my travels and I marvel at the beauty of this shrine surrounded by the Rocky Mountains and soaring green foliage.

If you ever visit Denver, take this side trip to Golden up the long winding, narrow road to the Shrine of Mother Cabrini.





September in Vail, Colorado    (check out Photo Gallery for additional Vail pics)

Vail is normally considered a “Winter Season” destination.  I recently vacationed in Vail and the weather was pleasant and the city was not crowded. Vail has East to West Vail, Cascade Village, Vail Village and Golden Peak. I write about Lionshead Village in a separate post.

The Rocky Mountains with the dark green foliage, light green grassy ski slopes and the leaves a brilliant yellow was breathtaking.

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While there, I went to the Farmers Market in  the Vail Village.  Individual white tented venues were colorful with fresh vegetables, fruit, flowers and homemade bakery. Walking down the cobblestone paved streets were vendors displaying craft items, leather cut belts, wooden built statues, wine vineyard tasting stations and bakery booths. The recent Winner of ‘Cupcake Wars’ was from the Vail area and had dozens of delectable cupcakes for purchase. My husband and I chose 2 chocolate cupcakes with melt in your mouth fillings. Sitting on one of the benches nearby, we devoured them sharing our choices. I wanted to buy ‘more’ but the warm weather would have melted the frosting within minutes. The cupcakes were ‘finger licking good’ as we licked the frosting from our fingers. Sticky, but ohhh so good!


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Three wineries were present serving samples of their vineyard wines. The Colorado wines were available for bottle purchase. Needless to say, I selected two red wines to imbibe during our stay in the area. (Grappa fine wines & spirits)

Vail has unlimited options for accommodations. The large log condos and Lodges were located in the city center and on the surrounding rocky cliffs. The immense size and beauty of the condos and homes welcome guests year around. Every weekend, activities are planned in Vail to ensure a bustling community throughout every season. Shops and restaurants were open and visitors enjoyed a leisurely stroll through the shops and beautiful view outdoor patio seating for meals or a glass of wine.

Vail is definitely ‘for the dogs’. It appeared everyone had a pet on a leash. Pet ‘dispensers’ were located along the pathways. Dogs were not allowed on the grass. I met a man who had his rescue dog with him in training in Vail. During the winter, he vacationed in my city training other dogs for service. What a coincidence!

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While sitting on a patio sipping wine, I watched the ski lifts going up and down the ski hills giving visitors a beautiful view of the city and mountain area. I could imagine the ‘in Season’ crowds lining up dressed in their ski apparel to head up the mountain for that exhilarating ski down the mountainside. How crowded and ‘party-like’ the atmosphere must be!

There are bistros, a Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, Joe’s Deli, Pepi’s Bar and Restaurant, Pazzo’s Pizzeria and shops for purchasing souvenirs, shirts and a pet boutique, of course!

Vail Village is a place where I could easily ‘set down roots’. The Village (even without snow) is a picture postcard I did not want to step out of. I could easily see myself retiring here or vacationing yearly.

A few suggestions for visiting Vail…..drink lots of water. The elevations are high and you need to stay hydrated. Good quality walking shoes are a must. Don’t forget your credit cards for all the shopping sales available!

West Vail has a Sushi restaurant, bank, Liquormart, Ramen Bar, Barbershop, Gas station, hair salon and Ace hardware. Accommodations are also located in this area. (Holistic Vail Cascade Resort and Spa)

ASPEN, COLORADO…NOT JUST A WINTER DESTINATION      (Check out Photo Gallery for more Photographs of ASPEN)

You hear the city name of Aspen and what do you think?

Snowy ski slopes, skiing, snowboarding, warm jackets, hats, mittens, scarves, headbands, heavy socks and ski boots. How about hot chocolate, bonfires, iced eyebrows, red cheeks, dry lips, facial sunscreen and ‘anything’ that will keep you warm!

Well, Summer and Fall is a different scene. Warm, comfortable days for walking and shopping has an array of name brand and designer labels (exclusive, luxury) to consignment shops and thrift stores. sitting on patios in the sun with a glass of wine or beer, shorts, sandals, short sleeve shirts, maybe an umbrella and riding up the Silver Queen Gondola and not having to wait in lines! Hiking, biking, golf, tennis, horseback riding, rafting, kayaking are the fresh air outdoor activities.  There are 7 popular hiking trails and 3 classic road bike rides.

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Aspen in the ‘off season’ is quiet, ‘sale signs’ appear on store windows, reservations are not needed at most os the 100 restaurants which offer choices from haute cuisine to pub grub. The Spa’s offer a variety of massage packages, treatments ranging from oxygen rooms to yoga. The street pathways are not crowded. Rental units are reduced and the quantity of available accommodations are abundant.

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What is Aspen? The scenery is magnificent with majestic high peaks of the Rocky Mountains and the lush green grass in the valley with streams running through. The homes (many 3 or 4 stories high) sit on the cliffs. Luxurious condos and cabins are located ‘in the action of the city’ and on the roads leading  to the downtown. A historical hotel is located on Main Street and there are museums and some historical sights to visit but the main emphasis is built around the concept of sport activities, specifically Winter Season. The John Denver Santuary is located by the Rio Grande Park. The John Denver Memorial includes many of his songs etched into the rocks. Nestled along the river, pack a picnic lunch and enjoy the serenity and tranquility of the area.

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DENVER BOTANICAL GARDENS     (Check out Photo Gallery for additional photographs)

The Denver Botanical Garden in Denver is considered the largest and finest botanic garden in the country. Located in downtown Denver on York Street between 9th and 11th Street, Denver’s Botanical Garden transformed an old cemetery in the center of the city. The gardens opened in 1959 as a year round attraction. The Boettcher Memorial Tropical Conservatory was dedicated in 1966 as a tropical and sub-tropical exhibit building. It became a Denver landmark in 1973.

The gardens and conservatory buildings continued to grow remaining environmentally friendly with water conservation and biological pest control. Today, there are three locations; Denver Botanical, Chatfield and Mt. Goliath.

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The Denver Botanical Gardens was my choice to explore. I have been to other gardens in the past but this landmark was immense, educational and beautifully designed.

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  • There are eleven Facilities from the Visitor Center to the Discovery Center, Waring House, Greenhouse Complex and Science Pyramid to name a few.
  • There are 17 Gardens of the West with floral species all named by plaques next to the variety.
  • The Internationally Inspired Gardens housed the Bonsai Pavilion and Tea Garden surrounded by a Tea House and Japanese Garden. The Rock Alpine Garden and South African Plaza had indigenous plants representative of that locale.
  • The Ornamental Gardens is the largest collection of fragrant flowers, herbs, rose garden, orangery with indoor waterfalls, scripture garden, romantic gardens with seating under a canopy of fragrant floral vines defining an alcove area, a sensory garden and the victorian secret garden.
  • The bees and birds walk through the oak grove, shady lane and woodland mosaic was the Shady Garden. On a warm day, this area was a welcome relief.
  • The Water Gardens with the garden waterways, four towers pool and the Monet pool was soothing with the sound of movement of the water.

While at the Gardens was an exhibit THE NATURE OF HORSES by Deborah Butterfield; (May 23-Oct,18, 2015). Deborah connection to horses traces back to her youth. She attended the University of California and received an MFA. Her focus and inspiration in art was with horses both abstract and in a unique way. Her ‘horse sculptures’ are abstract and combines sticks, mud, metal and wood. The use of these natural materials led her to bronze casting. Excluding one, all the horse sculptures throughout the Gardens are bronze cast from her original wooden assembled horses. They are a marvel to behold. The intricacy of her work is unlike any other in design and emotional aesthetic appeal.

Like really STINKY, rotten eggs smells? You should have been at the Gardens to experience the CORPSE FLOWER and Garden. This plant began as a seed in 2002 and was transferred to the Gardens in 2007. It was  repotted on 5/2015.  After May, it began to grow more than 2″ per day and reached a height of 5’3″. The Corpse Flower (titan arum) opened on August 19, 2015 with a foul odor that lasted 48 hours and then closed. A video of the progression of this ‘blooming’ can be seen at their website.

The Offshoot’s Cafe provides food and beverages with picnic tables under enormous trees. Shady and a great place to converse with others from all over the world.

Study programs and services are offered year round…’see, smell, touch’….

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The Denver Botanic Gardens and two other Gardens have activities planned seasonally the entire year. I highly recommend that you place these Gardens on your ‘must see bucket list’ if you travel to Denver, Colorado.

Denver Botanical Gardens

10th and York Street

Denver, Colorado