Friday, July 22, 2016

FABULOUS VAIL IN THE SUMMER

I LOVE Vail in the summer! Vail has evolved into a fabulous world class all season resort with superb accommodations, fine cuisine, entertainment, and great activities. If you enjoy the outdoors there are plenty of trails for hiking and biking.


You can be on trails like this after just an hour and 45 minute drive from Denver.


If you are new to Vail's 8022' altitude, take a few days to acclimate before taking on challenging hiking or biking routes. Avoid altitude sickness by drinking lots of water. 
You will love the plethora of colorful alpine flowers on the trails or in Vail Village.


The famous "Berry Picker" trail is a favorite path for hikers and those trying to "PR" with their fastest speed ascent. At a little over 3+ miles and with a 2209' elevation gain, your heart and lungs will definitely be pumping!



Our daughter Stacy and her husband love "Berry Picker" and she set her PR of 56:07 last week! She began at the Eagle Bahn Gondola in Vail Village and finished at the ticket area of the Epic Discovery Adventure.  She is an accomplished athlete as she made the U.S. Triathlon Team for the World Championships at Portugal's Madeira Island before she had children. She is one tough lady!


I like to hike or bike in the morning when the air is cool and crisp. It is common for the weather to be warm and sunny during the day with thunderstorms in the late afternoon. I took this image as I rode East out of Vail Village. 


Piney River Ranch is a 12 mile rough road drive north of Vail Village and offers hiking trails near the lake. There are a number of hiking trails and great BBQ at the restaurant. 


For a real western experience ride horses with a guide at Piney River Ranch.

Another favorite hike is to Booth Falls just east of Vail.


Vail is one of my favorite places to cycle! You can choose easy flat trails around town or very challenging routes like riding east up to the summit of Vail pass at 10,662'. There are many bike rental companies for road, mountain bikes or fat tire cruisers. Some people like to take their bikes up on the gondolas and then ride down.


This is the Vail Pass bike trail on the east side toward Copper Mountain.


If taking it easy is your deal then an easy stroll is the perfect idea! I hope you have the opportunity to visit this beautiful area of our state!

***Come by and say "Hi" if you are in Denver at the Wesco Fabrics warehouse or our showroom at the Denver Design Districrt on South Broadway.

Images: Dick Gentry, blog.vail.com (Jack Affleck) ,All trail Josh Buckman, Summitbiking.org, Piney River Ranch, Stacy Mullikin


Friday, July 15, 2016

AN ISLAND OF ENCHANTMENT

Earlier in the year when my good friend Philippe suggested we take a bike trip to the Italian lakes I was immediately on board. We had a free morning before our first ride in the afternoon on Lago Maggiore so we decided to take the ferry to visit Isola Madre.  This is the largest of the Borromean Islands and has been on my travel radar for a long time. We took the morning ferry from Verbania and began our little adventure.

The weather was magical as we began our journey. I have visited Lake Lugano and Como in the past, but this was my first time to visit beautiful Lago Maggiore.


Our first stop was "Villa Taranto".


The Villa's gardens, which are open to the public, were established in 1931 by Scotsman Neil Eacharn and contain thousands of plant species. 


 Next stop, "Isola Madre." 19th century French novelist Gustave Flaubert said, "It is the most voluptuous place I have ever seen in the world. Nature enchants you with a thousand unknown fascinations and you feel in a state of rare sensuality and refinement."


The Borromean Islands have been owned by the Borromeo family since the 16th century. They are one of the most important families in Italy to this day. In the 16th c. a large part of Northern Italy was called the Borromeo State and the family had full political and military power.


A unique Mediterranean micro-climate allows an amazing variety of tropical flora including palm trees, magnolias, lemon trees, and flowering plants everywhere. We paid a small entrance fee and wandered around on gravel paths. A wonderful fragrance filled the air.

We rounded a corner to find a sylvan glade with grass intensely green and soft.


Rare white peacocks love showing off their regal plumage.


I stopped to admire the gardens and the pond below. Frogs hopped on the lily pads and croaked at full volume.


Philippe admires the entrance to the 16th c. Palazzo Borromeo.


The palazzo is open to the public and is beautifully decorated with period furnishings and 16-19th c. paintings. A rare collection of marionettes and early puppet theaters are on display.


The dining room with a magnificent Murano glass chandelier was fabulous!


There is a small restaurant for lunch and every table has incredible views!



It is time to catch the return ferry to Verbania and get psyched for our week of cycling around the Italian Lakes. Lago Maggiore and Isola Madre were fabulous and exceeded all expectations. I understand you can rent the island for weddings! That would be some party!


Images: Dick Gentry, Brand Italia