Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Kemah, TX

Kemah is a town so small that many locals trade in their cars for golf carts. No interstates or busy intersections to cross so why not downsize into something so luxurious? Located on Galveston Bay the waterfront attracts many tourists and of course is a big draw for the people living here. The name translates to "wind in my face." Usually that would drive me a lot crazy but in a town so charming they can get away with anything here. The population of Kemah is just over 3,000 and the city hall looks like a beach house. There may not be a place to layout on the sand but you are still on waterfront property. Water sports, boating local shops and the boardwalk keep these residents happy.

The boardwalk, owned by Landry's Restaurants, is composed of eateries and carnival type rides to thrill. Choose either an unlimited ride pass or pay for single pass. Either way, the boardwalk bullet is the ride I would say is a must. Middle school children were crowding the lines but we still nestled our way into the top cart. Good thing you are limited by height and not age!

Hands in the air and our stomachs dropped with the first 92 foot drop. The coaster flies up to 51 miles per hour, but it felt faster than the interstate.

The coaster sits on one acre which makes it the most compact wooden coaster in the world.

If you are looking to break the chain restaurants

there are plenty of local spots on the South End. I put Tequila Mia's to the test. The patio brings out the best seats in the house. Palm trees spring through the wooden floowing toframe the stage on the many nights theire is live music. The menu is simple, the portions are perfect and the atmophere will make you feel right at home.

Waterwall Houston, TX

After strolling in the nearly 400 shops and five wings of the Galleria it was time to cool the jets. Even the air condition was starting to loose its effect. Houston's heat combined with the crowds and enticing store fronts really have led people to shop to the point off exhaustion. (learned from a security guard.) You can shop till you drop but I bet the Water Wall has allowed some people to rescue themselves. ..that and the indoor ice skating rink inside the Galleria. A fountain in the shape of a semi-circle will draw your eyes and eventually your body over to see the rushing water racing down the walls. You can get close enough to let the water mist on your face. This wall doesn't take many breaks pumping 78,500 gallons of recycled water about every three hours.Texas Oak, green fields and kids playing in the background surround the water feature. Standing 64 feet tall it's a perfect backdrop for the city.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Stranahan's Assembly Line

5,800 bottles of Stranahans whiskey were the way out the door. Shelves would soon be restocked with a fine Colorado whiskey. Something this big was done without the use of any automated machines, us workers were the machines for the day! 20 volunteers work the a.m. shift and 20 more come in to finish up the afternoon. It’s one day of bottling that happens once a month to make a complete human powered assembly line.
Empty bottles were filled, corked, labeled, sealed off and boxed! The assembly line was pumping out energy and filling case after case to fill up those pallets! I tried my hands at corking, then moved down the line to see if I had skills to sticker the bottles. Wellp, fumbled… bottles were getting backed up! These volunteers had it down smooth! The sticker was placed with pressure on the perfect point and slid on down the line. I had a few crooked ones that entered the reject pile...so I moved myself to a new department!
So why volunteer to work an assembly line? Well, for anyone who is a fan of Stranahans they are in for the bottle of free whiskey, and maybe the free pizza and VIP tour held afterwards! But I am sure for all of us; it was an experience and story to tell of Colorado’s first whiskey.
And owner and master distiller, Jake Norris is there working for the whole duration. And someone has to hand write on all those labels…thanks Jake!
*Uncommon knowledge: Stranahans can’t keep up with the demand. (Not surprising, I know!) The whiskey was once represented in 40 states, but now only in Colorado to make sure demand is met here. However, plans are in the making for this small time company to expand to branch back out. Which means the bottling crew won’t always be in existence the way it is now. Has to be a trade-off though, now the rest of the nation can re-discover the way Colorado does whiskey!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Lucky Mile Racing Series

Lucky meets lucky. One lucky has to do with running and the other pizza. The Lucky Mile Race Series in Louisville, Colorado an event you don't run across every day. It consists of four one mile timed runs held every Thursday night through the month of May. So yes the first two have passed but you can still get lucky on May 19th and May26th. Dig up your costume and come out in your Thursday best superhero costume or 80's outfit for the the following week. Awards are given at the end of the series. If you are over 21 you get a free prize even if you doddle the whole time..a free beer!
So where does the pizza come in? To some of your dismay it's not provided as fuel at the half mile marker. And the goal is not to see who can chow down the most slices without letting a side ache take them down. The race starts at the Lucky Pie in Louisville. This neighborhood restaurant joint has pizza so good it's getting runners to shave an average of ten seconds off their times because the thought of pizza is that good.
The race was started by Human Movement, an event management company who also runs Oktoberfest, the Colorado Relay and of course the Taste of Louisville Half Marathon coming up on June 4th. The race directors put this in mind wanting something simple.fast.easy. The race proceeds Louisville Elementary School but in more ways than monetarily. It gives kids the chance to come out every Thursday night and try to beat their personal best or race classmates. It's also a big draw for the community and really seems to bring what is already a tight knit community even tighter. But I will vouch..they are a friendly bunch...and you don't have to be a resident to get in on the mile, or the discount offered at Lucky Pie after. A win.win.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Touring Stranahan's, Denver

My cup looked as it was filled with GOLD! I followed our tour guides tip, breathed in with my nose and mouth and took a taste. It was smooooth! Yeeehaw! I was soon the newest fan of Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey.
If you live in Colorado, have visited Colorado, or ever plan on coming to Colorado… you should tune in. This 94 proof whiskey is the first micro distillery in ‘Rado, pretty rad. Right? And, one of the first in the country. Take a sip on that!
Hustle on over to the distillery off S. Kalamath in Denver, and you will soon see how the whiskey starts with barley from the Northern Rockies, and water from the Rocky Mountains and ends up as a premium whiskey. After being distilled and aged in 50-gallon tanks, the whiskey basically hibernates for two to five years in white oak barrels. It’s well rested and ready to party after it’s bottled up!
Twelve barrels are produced a week, and after about three weeks, ten to twelve barrels (5,000 bottles) make the cut and are bottled by hand. And check this out…you could be bottling the next batch. Twenty volunteers come in the morning, and twenty in the afternoon to bottle and label. If you want to be apart of the assembly line, visit this link
When you are looking at a slier topped bottle of Stranahan's take note of the batch number (up to 65 right now) and the unique comments on the label, always different in every batch.
Nothing mass about Stranahans, just about everything is done in house and local! Needless to say…they get the gold.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Create Denver

If you are familiar with Denver you know it’s easy to start rattling off a laundry list of reasons it’s one of the greatest cities. Another reason it’s at the top is because many people make the effort to support local artists and businesses. They run the gamete here and “Create Denver” is ready to capitalize on that. The event ran May 12th through the 15th. The goal is to support creative industries in Colorado from film, music, art galleries, graphic artists, fashion and any other artists!
Through the week the artists could come show off what they got from concerts, fashion shows or production. Today was the “Your Sunday Best.” Different artwork, clothing and jewelry were ready to be explored at the Grant Humphrey Mansion. Here any idea is worth a shot…or a full drink if it’s anything from Hula Moon. This company was started by two ladies who wanted to start concocting some more eccentric drinks…and they bring out something called the blueberry lavender lemon cooler—fresh lemon juice, lavender water, a splash of suga and fresh blueberry puree.
Denver is a place that encourages these enthusiastic artists to break the mold. Splashing flair on jewelry, pressing leather bracelets, or curving the paintbrush in a way that matches their mood further etches that art is to be appreciated. In Denver there are more than 120 art galleries, six art districts, 160 performance venues and over 180 film related businesses. There is no doubt we have the goods, now it’s just keeping alive what is already thriving. These creative enterprises help the economy grow and bring unique experiences to anyone whose willing to try. So how about that blueberry lemon lavender cooler? It’s even cooler than cool.

Crater, Utah

We have all heard it, “Get your Vitamins and Minerals!” Ok, ok, well it sure would be a lot easier if we could get those minerals simply by soaking in the mineral filled waters at the Crater Hot springs in Midway, Utah. A soak in the crystal clear waters sure sounds more enticing than a veggie platter and glass of O.J.

After driving by the crater I found myself frantically searching for my Epi Pen, the crater looks that much like the biggest and baddest beehive you have ever seen. How could you not buzz in for a quick look? I dipped my hand in the smooth waters and had to hold off from grabbing as much air as I could muster and cannon balling right in. You can only handle the heat of a hot tub for so long, but these warm waters are between 90 and 96 degrees and will keep you captivated!

Miners took advantage of the waters in the 1800’s. After a long day in the cold, or working hard in the mines they could soothe their aching muscles. Picturing miners in the crater seems historic enough, but the history of the crater started to develop 10,000 years ago. Melted snow from the Wasatch Mountain slid into the earth, and two miles below the earth the water was heated and sent back towards the blue skies. As it heated it was packed with minerals, which formed the limestone dome to reach 55 feet!

But the depth of the water is deeper than the dome is tall. A trip to the bottom will have you 65 feet underground; of course this requires the scuba gear. This is the only warm water place to receive your scuba certification in the U.S. so you most likely see some Scuba Steve’s on your trip, or perhaps you will be one of them, goggles and all.

The dome brought the community of miners together, where they could relax, soak and dream of finding riches, if they hadn’t already. Maybe some already had and cannon balled right in to celebrate!

Alpine Coaster Park City

If you find yourself at one of the most majestic mountains in the world, wouldn’t you want to ride down it? And have speed on your side? Yes, sure you could ski, or board down, and when that sun comes out again, hike or bike down… but there is something for all seasons! And that my friends, is the Alpine Coaster at Park City Mountain Resort. And believe me, you won’t just be coasting; you will one step away from questioning if you are flying.

At speeds of 30 miles an hour you are twisting, turning and gripping on so tight your knuckles will be as white as the snow painted mountains that you catch a nano second glimpses of at every corner. And take advantage…this is Utah’s only Alpine Coaster.

The adrenaline rush is only 20 bucks, and is a great way to experience the mountain magic if skiing and boarding aren’t in your plans for the day. Just remember…no brakes till you see the yellow flags at the end!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

CitySolve Urban Race

So there is a race that tests wits and sheer brilliance over strength and endurance.The CitySolve Urban Race moves across the country and the city of Denver was lucky enough to get a splash of the fun. You will find your mind racing more than your feet as you try to crack and solve riddles along the way with your partner. The smart ones and most competitive come with maps of the city and also public transportation. The only way you are permitted to get around is on foot and city busses...no skateboards, roller shoes or roller blades so don't even try!
Between cross-word puzzles, clues and even some math you are led across the city to ten check points. There are also two bonus checkpoints to help make up for a clue you just couldn't wrap your brains around.
Landing at places like the Tilted Kilt was easy...here you get to pose with a firefighter fit enough to land a spot in the stations calender. Fitting as the proceeds of the race go to Fired Up For Kids. This organization benefits the children's hospital burn unit.
We even played a game of Yahtzee at one checkpoint and ended up at places like Fado's, JR's, Gov's Park...places you would just want to be anyways. Don't be afraid to grab a stranger on the street to ask for help or even call the smartest of your friends.
After collecting pictures at the checkpoints it was time to head back to the finish line at Stoney's with the over 300 teams.
If 5,000 dollars raises your brows you can enter for the grand championship in Las Vegas. It's not until November fifth which means you have plenty of time to prepare.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Los Angeles Luncheon

We were singing Shalala lala in the morning and still Shalala lala into the sunshine and into the evening. The city of the angels was in sight. L.A., Los Angeles--the center of pretty much everything. Fashion, entertainment, technology, education...and always great people watching. You will tally the landmarks that pile the streets... the Kodak Theater, Hollywood Sign, Hollywood Boulevard, Dodger Stadium. I am sure you could add in a long list of more.
What draws so many people to this city? It seems that it is here that anything goes. One out of every six residents works in the creative industry. Boredom is impossible. Especially when are 54 film festivals a year here. That's more than one a week.
How can this city even keep up with itself?
You will be dodging traffic and at all hours of the day, night and sometimes even middle of the night. But it's all you can do to sit back and take it in. Who knows you might even find the handprints or the name of your favorite star somewhere on the sidewalk. But try to keep your head up from searching the sidewalk or they may just pass you right on by.

Huntington Beach

When you hear Huntington Beach any local would think 'rad surfing.' It's one place to go if you want to see some serious athletes take on the waves...and not just beginners struggling to find their balance. One reason the waves are so prime is because they come from distant hurricanes...something good comes from those winds.
Huntington Beach is the largest beach city in Orange County. If you run the length of the beach you would hit 8.5 miles, and then of course you have to return to where you started so you are topping 17 miles and by then you might as well just run a marathon. I mean if you were going to do it anywhere this is the spot.
Huntington Beach wasn't always the tourist destination boasting shops, restaurants and a pier that it is today. It once was used to her cattle. And later was used for agricultural purposes...mainly growing celery and sugar beets. The beets may be long gone but this is still a sweet place to stop by...even if you just zone out on the beach

Duke's Huntington Beach

We were on the waterfront at the Huntington Beach Pier.

And to make it an extravagant evening at it's finest we were dining at Duke's. Some may brush this off as the name of a place where to fill up while enjoying the sunset and surfers slide into the waves. But to some Duke's is worth going because of who Duke is. He is one of Hawaii's most notable...he is the "Father of International Surfing."

He won an Olympic Gold Medal at only 21 years old. And beyond surfing he has also gained fame for being a competitive swimmer. The hall of Fame has seen him twice for swimming and surfing.

A creed he started is still practiced. To greet friends, loved ones and strangers with Aloha, which means with love.

And the food also is made with some love. From every type of fresh fish spiced up to most any way you can imagine you will leave content and feel the same in the classy beach house atmosphere. And when it comes to deserts...don't be afraid to try them all. It's just science that if there are five people, you need five deserts. Right? And that of course includes the hula pie...beware you may break out in dance after indulging!

Monday, May 9, 2011


Meet Traces. A show that rivals Cirque du Soleil. If you get your kicks through acrobatics and circus style performances...take a seat. A small cast of six men and one lady will leave you astonished and questioning if they are all really human. They thrust their entire bodies thorough small hoops and land like it ain't no thang. Or maybe you will be more awed when they leap up sky high poles with such spark and energy you will have to re situate yourself...especially after they streamline down the pole with flying speeds..gripping only their feet to stop just a quarter of an inch before they would hit the floor. Or how about stepping inside a hula hoop as tall as the performers and spinning in every direction at speeds that would make any normal person dizzy.

Pieces of their lives are incorporated as a microphone falls from the ceiling telling you things that are funny and honest. You start to get the feeling this group is tight knit..even when off the stage. And lucky for our group they stayed on stage at the Space Theater after the shows end for a question and answer. It was up close and personal to see the athletic performers and actors in their true element and answering questions exactly as they would to friends. My final question for them, "Are you accepting interns?" This type of performance can be contagious and I caught the bug.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

A trip down Broadway's Memory Lane

I can’t imagine my life without my Mother Dearest. Taking a trip to Ashland, Kansas for her class reunion this summer was extremely enlightening. I stood a dirt mound that was once a swimming pool, and learned this is where my Mom learned how to swim. To walk down the halls of where she went to school, to stop at the locker she shacked up at, and to see places she played and ate brought in a lot of perspective, and You hear ‘You got to see it to believe it, ‘ but I would say ‘You got see it to learn it.’

Well, you can also see to learn by taking a trip to an antique shop. South Broadway houses enough that you could have your whole day planned, shop to shop till you really might just drop! Or just wander through a few stores with someone who is precious to you, and also at least a couple decades older than you ☺ and surely something old will be found to teach you something new.

I watched as my Mom’s hands grabbed some metal plates that looked like a shoe could slide right in. Her eyes lit up as she looked at the familiar object. They almost looked like foot braces to me! Turns out I was quite off…these were some old time roller-skates! What a jam my Madre must have had on puppies similar to those.

Or what about the creativity kids concocted? There were decorations made with the tops of coke cans, something my Mom also participated in. We even found similar antiques to what my Mom carries on from her parents.

The technology is a changing and we have more turbo style skates now, but the stories remain, and they are definitely worth a look into. Whether an old time game like marbles, a dusty little book, or an old time kitchen utensil, I am sure you will walk out just a little bit closer with who you came in with.