• Wings of Aloha Program Involves Tourists in Animal Rescue Efforts

    Date: 2014.08.08 | Category: vegetarian travel | Response: 0

    While at a recent event promoting Maui tourism, I met Candy Aluli, president of Aluli Public Relations. Candy lives in Maui and promotes several hotels and resorts there. The properties looked lovely, but what really interested me was her animal advocacy work.

     

    Candy told me about the Wings of Aloha program. This is an easy way for tourists to help with the overpopulation problem of stray dogs on Maui. I’d never really thought about it, but Maui is a small island. When dogs and cats keep breeding, where do all those puppies and kittens go?

     

    Alaska Airlines, Air Canada, Aloha Air Cargo and Hawaiian Airlines partner with shelters on the mainland to give excess pets a chance to find a home. If you’re flying from Maui to Portland on Alaska or Hawaiian, you can add one of these strays to your reservation. The great thing about it is it’s an easy, even lazy, way to help.

     

    Here’s how you do it:

    1. Contact Jamie Fitzpatrick jfitzpatrick@mauihumanesociety.org at the Maui Humane Society and give Jamie your name, phone number, email address, flight date and confirmation code. The MHS staff will contact their Portland rescue shelter partners – Pixie Project and Tender Care Animal Rescue across the border in Vancouver, Washington – and see if they can take the pet. If so, MHS contacts your airline and adds the pet to your reservation.
    2. MHS staff and the pet meet you at the airline check-in counter 2 hours before your flight. Staff checks in the pet, who will fly cargo.
    3. When you get to Portland, the rescue partner claims the pet in the baggage area.

     

    Simple! And you’re a hero.

  • 8 Fun Things to Do in Spokane

    Date: 2014.07.07 | Category: vegetarian, vegetarian travel | Response: 0

    Spokane is only a one-hour plane trip from Portland, or a half-day drive, but has a way different feel. I recently took my second trip there and had a very fun weekend. Here are a few highlights for visiting this 210,000-population Eastern Washington city.

     

    Visit the Falls                       

    spokane falls (1 of 1)Spokane is known for having the second largest urban waterfall in the U.S. Indeed, Spokane Falls is big and pounding. I forked over $7 to take a skyride over the falls, which was well worth it if you like skyrides. You get an aerial view, and your gondola will stop and hang for a while so you can admire the falls from various angles.

     

     

     

    Take a Bike Ridespokane bike (1 of 1)

    Riding a cruiser bike by the river was a highlight of my Spokane trip. I stayed at Ruby2, a very economical motel that was recently converted from a Howard Johnson. Free bikes for visitors! You can ride all along the river paths and poke around the Gonzaga campus.

     

    spokane geese 2 (1 of 1)Look for Wildlife

    While biking or walking by the river, you may encounter wildlife, such as these Canada geese and goslings. So fluffy! I also saw a wild-eyed orange cat with a snake hanging out of its mouth. Unfortunately, missed that photographic opportunity.

     

     

     

    Eat at Spokane’s Best Vegan Restaurant spokane boots interior (1 of 1)

    Boots Bakery is number one in Spokane, as far as I’m concerned. Fun, artsy place with excellent food. Enchilada pie! Curried lentils! Owner Alison Collins has been turning out delicious meals for Spokane’s vegans for two years now. And the city loves her for it. I hear there are a few other good places to get a vegan lunch or dinner in Spokane, but I mostly just ate Boots food during my stay.

     

     

    spokane lilac parade (1 of 1) spokane lilac parade 2 (1 of 1)See a Parade

    This only works if you plan ahead, or luck out with your timing and stumble onto a parade like I did. And what a parade: the Lilac Parade, biggest of the year. This night parade goes on. And on. And on. After two or three hours, I was paraded out and retired before the end. The Lilac Parade is heavy on military, and every group of veterans got a standing ovation. Also, lots of marching bands and floats.

     

     

     

    spokane carousel (1 of 1)

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Ride the Old Carousel

    While you’re downtown by the river, ride the 1909 carousel. Not only is it pretty and historic, it’s the fastest carousel I’ve ever been on. And even the outside animals go up and down.

     

     

    Admire Old Neon

    I looked up an old photographer friend I hadn’t seen for years who lives in Spokane. He took me to the Garland neighborhood at night, where we had fun photographing Spokane’s best old neon signs.

    spokane neon 1 (1 of 1)spokane neon 3 (1 of 1) spokane neon 2 (1 of 1)

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Get in Touch with Your Spiritual Side

    Personally, I visited a lovely cathedral while in Spokane. But tweeting Jesus is an interesting idea.

    spokane jesus tweet (1 of 1)

  • Jumping Higher, Landing Better

    Date: 2014.06.18 | Category: fitness, product reviews | Response: 0

     

     

    These Dr. Scholl’s active series insoles are really nifty. The packaging claims to reduce shock by 40 %, helping folks with shin splints, runner’s knee and plantar fasciitis, and to relieve and prevent pain. Fortunately I don’t have those conditions, but I can definitely feel the difference. And while I have no reliable way to measure amount of impact, 40 % sounds reasonable.

    The directions tell you to tear out your insole, then put it on top of the Dr. Scholl’s insole, trace along the toe area of your original insole and trim the excess. Well, I’m not much for reading directions so I didn’t until just now. And I would balk at tearing out the insoles of my favorite Nikes, anyway, to try out an unknown quantity.  Instead, I crammed the Dr. Scholl’s insoles on top. At first my feet felt kind of cramped with the double insole. But running a few miles, a little jumping rope, a Bombay Jam and Zumba class later and the new insoles were thoroughly tamped down. I am enjoying the extra arch support and padding along the soles and have already recommended the insoles to my Bombay Jam classes several times.

    They retail for around $30, but I’ve found them online for closer to $20. The box advises swapping them out every six months. I’ve only used mine for a couple of weeks now so am not yet sure how long they’ll really last.

  • Vegans Can Eat Russian Food, Too: San Diego’s Pomegranate Café

    Date: 2014.05.30 | Category: vegetarian, vegetarian travel | Response: 0

    Pomegranate cafe 1 (1 of 1)I’ll get this out of the way first. Going to the Pomegranate Café can be confusing, because there are two of them not too far apart. But in this case, I’m talking about the Kafe Sobaka Restoran Pomegranate on Broadway in Golden Hill.

    This particular cafe offers something most Russian/Georgian eateries don’t: Lots of vegan food. The restaurant opened about a year ago and is run by an American wife/Georgian husband team. Gwen Bruck has long been vegetarian. So she and husband Marko Dhagshivili offer plenty of choices for plant lovers.

    The broth in the vegetarian borscht comes all the way from Israel, Gwen told me. There are at least seven vegan appetizers on the menu, including lobio, a pate of red beans, herbs, walnuts, tomatoes and onions, and pkhali, which is vegetables, herbs, lemon and garlic. I couldn’t figure out what to order, so I got a sampler of various appetizers.

    Pomegranate cafe 3 (1 of 1)

     

    My friend Kimberly, who lives in the neighborhood, always gets the same thing, a plate called Welcome to the Gulag. But she says it’s always a bit different. Basically it’s cabbage, potatoes and fake meat. Those are her blue fingernails in the photo.

    Pomegranate cafe 2 (1 of 1)

     

    If you eat dairy products, the ice cream comes highly recommended. This one is coffee with a side of rose jelly. Tastes just like roses.

    pomegranate ice cream (1 of 1)

    People tease me about making strong coffee. But even I had to admit this coffee was really strong. It was practically chewy. In fact, I might have not even finished it.

    Pomegranate cafe 4 (1 of 1)

    This place is really cute, with all sorts of fun touches. The menu is funny – dishes are priced in four sizes: communist, socialist, imperialist and anarchist, this last category meaning the price and amount change daily. Russian posters and instruments hang on the wall. And when it’s time for the bill, it comes inside a communist paperback.

    Pomegranate cafe 5 (1 of 1)

    Pomegranate cafe 6 (1 of 1)

    Pomegranate cafe 7 (1 of 1)

    If you’re a vegetarian or vegan visiting San Diego, don’t miss your chance to try some Russian food.

     

     

  • The Vegetarian Who Ate Denver

    Date: 2014.04.28 | Category: fitness, vegetarian, vegetarian travel, yoga | Response: 0

    Denver_11th St Hotel 1 (1 of 1)

    Part of the point of traveling is staying able to adapt to different conditions. Sometimes that means posh hotels and glamorous ecolodges in the jungle. Other times it means standing in the lobby of a sketchy downtown men’s hotel and having the clerk ask, “Will you need a towel?” Well, I’m staying three nights. A towel might come in handy. So I paid my three dollar towel deposit. Alas, I failed to pay my bathmat/washcloth/cup/soap deposit. It’s the rare hotel that doesn’t even give you soap.

    But it’s also a rare hotel that charges you $48 – including tax and wifi – two blocks from the Denver Art Museum, with many wonders of the city a short walk away. And the Eleventh Avenue Hotel & Hostel isn’t really an old man’s hotel. It just kind of looks like one. Or is it? It’s been a long time since I’ve stayed at a place with a big sign over the counter listing the rules, including no alcohol and no visitors in your room.

    You can sleep in a dorm for $21. Or, if you’re uppity like me you can spring for a private room with private bath for $48. Women traveling alone should consider this option.

    Here are the pros of my chosen lodging, besides cost and convenient location:

    Friendly and helpful staff

    Separate hot and cold, just like my old sink!

    • Friendly and helpful staff
    • Fabulous old clawfoot tub
    • Wall-hung sink with separate hot and cold, just like I used to have
    • Hilariously matched carpet and bedspread, both maroon with ornate golden swirls
    • Tons of space for yoga
    • Closet
    • Common room with kitchen and couches down the hall
    • View from my window of colorful neon display at “Wine & Spirits,” the store across the street

     

    Cons:

    • Aforementioned lack of amenities (I’d at least like soap and a cup. So dirty! So thirsty!)
    • Kind of noisy between busy street and some party going on nearby
    • Flimsy lock (but if you put your chair in front, at least you’ll wake up if somebody tries to get in)
    • Spongy-feeling floor

     

    Of course saving money on lodging frees up the budget for plenty of vegetarian meals out. I found downtown Denver super easy to navigate from my hotel, both as a pedestrian and a vegetarian.

    City, O City is a vegetarian bar that serves food till past midnight! And it's only two or three blocks from the 11th Avenue Hotel.

    City, O City is a vegetarian bar that serves food till past midnight! And it’s only two or three blocks from the 11th Avenue Hotel.

    Watercourse is owned by the same folks as City, O City but is a bit more upscale. I got the Three Sisters Salad.

    Watercourse is owned by the same folks as City, O City but is a bit more upscale. I got the Three Sisters Salad.

    Sitting at the bar is a good way for a solo traveler to squeeze in on a busy Friday night at Watercourse.

    Sitting at the bar is a good way for a solo traveler to squeeze in on a busy Friday night at Watercourse.

    The fellow next to me was eating this mesquite tofu with sweet potato mash, creamed corn, shitake mushrooms and greens. Note the red drink behind. It's beer made from beets.

    The fellow next to me at Watercourse was eating this mesquite tofu with sweet potato mash, creamed corn, shitake mushrooms and greens. Note the red drink behind. It’s beer made from beets.

    Vietnamese tofu sandwich with jalapenos and sweet and sour dipping sauce from Udi's Cafe. This popular lunch spot has lots of veg and gluten-free items. Udi's, of course, is a famous maker of gluten-free bread.

    Vietnamese tofu sandwich with jalapenos and sweet and sour dipping sauce from Udi’s Cafe. This popular lunch spot has lots of veg and gluten-free items. Udi’s, of course, is a famous maker of gluten-free bread.

    Right off the tourist-packed 16th Street Pedestrian Mall, Little India offers a delicious refuge.

    Right off the tourist-packed 16th Street Pedestrian Mall, Little India offers a delicious refuge.

    I asked for my chana masala spicy, and Little India delivered.

    I asked for my chana masala spicy, and Little India delivered.

     

    After all that veg food, stop at Denver's massive REI for some outdoor activity gear.

    After all that veg food, stop at Denver’s massive REI for some outdoor activity gear.

    I was surprised to learn that Denver has a beach.

    I was surprised to learn that Denver has a beach.

    You can walk or bike along the Cherry Creek Trail.

    You can walk or bike along the Cherry Creek Trail.

     

     

    I wanted to check out Sunday mass at Denver's grand basilica. But I managed to set the alarm wrong.

    I wanted to check out Sunday mass at Denver’s grand basilica. But I managed to set the alarm wrong.

     

    Luckily, I got to a candlelight vinyasa class at Samadhi Yoga. I love their over-the-top ceiling treatment and giant Buddha head. They have a ton of daily classes.

    Luckily, I got to a candlelight vinyasa class at Samadhi Yoga. I love their over-the-top ceiling treatment and giant Buddha head. They have a ton of daily classes.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • Compression pants are sort of sexy. And maybe healing

    Date: 2014.04.15 | Category: fitness, product reviews | Response: 0

     

    I recently got a pair of Saucony AMP PRO2 running pants to try out. These high tech compression pants are made with a fabric called Celliant, which claims to increase oxygen in the body and give you more energy.

    John J. Phillips is the innovator behind the use of Celliant in clothing. Phillips used to own a bedding store, and was intrigued by mattress protectors made from Celliant. He teamed up with a California-based company called Hologenix, whose founder wanted to develop fabric that improved blood circulation using Asian healing techniques. Together, they launched the use of Celliant Energy Textiles. Press materials claim that Celliant is “the first fabric that converts the body’s own energy inwards to heal itself.”

    Whoa. Let me take the pants into my lab and check out these claims.

    Okay, my only lab is the gym and the running track. I have no way to evaluate whether these pants are harnessing my body’s healing energy. But I do like them quite a bit.

    First, they’re silky soft. Second, the compression is light and pleasant. I was worried they’d feel like a girdle, but they’re totally comfortable. Also, they’re flattering. I don’t usually wear such form-fitting pants. But judging from the hooting and whistling of my class when I wore them while demonstrating a butt exercise, they look okay. And if you’re running errands post-gym, you can pull a skirt over them and wear them like tights.

  • Humane Advisor: One Woman’s Fight to Save Strays at Travel Destinations

    Date: 2014.04.08 | Category: vegetarian travel | Response: 0

    Diana Webster is on a mission: She wants the world’s stray animals to be cared for humanely. Of course, this is a huge goal. So she’s focusing on tourist areas and enlisting the help of tourists and travel professionals around the world to find a humane solution to the sad problem. She’s formed an organization called Humane Advisor to consult on stray issues, and is also the driving force behind the growing LinkedIn group Business Professionals for Animal Welfare.

    Diana took some time out of her campaigning efforts to answer my questions about her work.

    Teresa Bergen: Tell me just a little about the dog in Mexico that started it all.

    Diana Webster: In 2006, during a vacation in Cancun, I met a female dog that was very obviously starving to death. She came up to me and nuzzled my hand. I believe she was telling me in her own way, “See how I’m suffering? Please find a way to help me and the millions of other dogs like me!” It was very frustrating being in a foreign country and not knowing how to save her. I still get teary about it. So I got involved with helping strays and telling people like me how to help strays because of her, the little white dog I call Nova.

    Teresa: How did Humane Advisor come about?

    Diana:  I wanted to let tourists know how they can help strays because there was no information available about what to do when I met Nova. I also wanted to tell the stories of people like Ricardo Pimentel of Tierra de Animales sanctuary near Cancun, and Sue Silva of Playa Animal Rescue in Playa del Carmen, who save hundreds and hundreds of animals in the Yucatan every year. Raising awareness and educating people on the challenges and the solutions is crucial for change to happen and that’s what Humane Advisor is all about. And very importantly, I wanted to offer tourist destinations, hotels/resorts, and travel companies some ideas about what they could do to help, too. To that end, I created a Hotel and Resort Guide to Feral and Stray Management that is being referenced by several large tour operators and hotel chains in Europe and that is available for download at Humane Advisor.com.

    It’s been an amazing journey from the first few blogs I wrote sharing my personal experience with Nova. I’ve had the honor of interviewing many dedicated animal advocates and business people. My website and blog has received thousands of views from visitors located in nearly 100 countries so it’s clear that there are a lot of people out there who have had experiences like mine with a stray that deeply affected them, not only just at the time of the encounter but also long after they returned home from their vacations. At Humane Advisor, we encourage anyone who has had an encounter to contact us and share their story and also share on social media. Sharing your story could inspire other people to get involved and help.

    Teresa:  How do you find people to connect with and promote your cause of better lives for strays?

    Diana:  I’m currently conducting a campaign to bring data from my 2013 Humane Research Council-funded research report and survey of tourists who encountered stray cats and dogs while vacationing, to the attention of the tourism industry. Travel businesses need to know that their customers care about animals at tourist destinations. Especially because the survey showed that 34% of tourists surveyed were upset by seeing stray cats and dogs while a whopping 41% were less likely to return to tourist destinations with strays, numbers that clearly present what could be a substantial economic impact on tourism. In my campaign, I’m asking travel companies to sign a letter to tourism offices at destinations where strays are common, asking them to partner with local animal welfare groups, and provide resources to fund sterilization campaigns, rescue and rehabilitation, and education programs for strays. Another great solution that tourist destinations could invest in would be cost-effective new technologies like Spay Food™ which is a non surgical sterilization formula being developed by 600 Million Stray Dogs Need You. The campaign asks for help for the strays not only because it is the right thing to do but also because it affects tourism’s bottom line.

    Teresa:  What has been the response to your campaign so far?

    Diana:  Non-U.S. travel companies have been surprisingly more receptive but the initial response from several tour operators in the U.S. is promising and has already led to several exciting new programs. It would be great if a tourism industry leader (or leaders) would step forward to champion this campaign. Someone high profile like Richard Branson or influential like TripAdvisor President Stephen Kaufer could get the attention of the tourism industry to get on board for helping strays. That would be awesome!

    Teresa:  What is your background in the tourism industry?

    Diana:  I worked with a major airline for twenty years where I was in sales and marketing—outside sales to travel agencies and corporations and reservation sales to passengers. Recently, I have done marketing consulting for travel industry vendors, in between going back to school to become an attorney and trying to save all the stray dogs in the world. J

    Teresa:  I’ve noticed an attitude like people in the developing world have bigger problems than worrying about animal suffering. Do you think this attitude is changing?

    Diana:  Definitely. At the spay/neuter clinics in Mexico that I’ve volunteered at, hundreds of local people in some of the poorest neighborhoods, would wait for hours in the hot sun to bring their beloved family pets or the village dog for surgery. I’ve seen pillow cases full of stray kittens that locals gathered up to be sterilized and cardboard boxes full of puppies brought in to be fixed. It’s obvious they want their animals to be cared for along with their families because not only do they love their pets but also because strays present health and safety issues for communities in developing countries. Which is why when I get the question “why don’t you work to help people instead of animals?” my answer is “helping animals helps people.”

    Teresa:  Any big successes you’d like to share?

    Diana:  Yes! Humane Advisor recently began working with tour operator AdventureWomen, to take their groups to visit animal welfare groups at destinations they travel to like Tanzania, Uganda, and Bhutan to raise awareness and encourage support. The program is also now going to be offered to tour operators at many other tourist destinations around the world.

    Teresa:  Anything else you’d like to say about your work?

    Diana:  I’d just like to say that if every tourist that cared about animals told their airline, hotel, tour operator, and favorite travel review sites that tourism needed to step up and support saving animals, it could change the world for strays. The uproar over the Sochi dogs was huge and made a lot of people take notice and take action. Keep the outrage going! There are mass killings of strays like Sochi happening at nearly every major international sporting event and routinely at your favorite tourist destination. Heck, we euthanize millions of healthy stray dogs here in the U.S. every year. Use your buying power and let any business that you patronize know that you will vote with your wallet by buying from companies that are committed to animal welfare and share your commitment with your network of family, friends, and colleagues. Get animal welfare on every business agenda. Start now because one person really can make a difference. Your voice could be the tipping point for saving strays.

  • A Roundup of Newish Wellness Books

    Date: 2014.03.23 | Category: fitness, product reviews | Response: 0

    Wellness books have a way of piling up in my house. While I value wellness books and often agree to review them, when I get the chance to read I’m somehow more prone to pick up a thriller or to see what’s going on in the world of tween vampires. So I’ve been a little tardy turning my attention to these four newish books. Here’s a quick look.

     

    Your Mind is What Your Brain Does for a Living

    By Steven Jay Fogel with Bruce Rosin

     

    This is a useful book that starts out simplistically. The author claims he lived most of his young life not realizing that feelings aren’t facts or that much of what he did was unconsciously influenced by early programming, especially of the parental kind. Duh. But if you’re either 1. entirely non self-reflective so this is news to you, too, or 2. patient enough to keep reading, better stuff awaits past the intro. The author talks about what happens chemically in the brain to keep unwanted behavioral patterns in place, such as hormones secreted when we please our parents. A scary thought, that. Much of the book focuses on how to override our programming. Fogel also likes frog in hot water stories. That is, the apocryphal idea that if you heat a pot of water very slowly, a frog will acclimate until she’s boiled alive. If you’ve spent too much time in soul-sucking, dead end relationships, this might not seem so apocryphal. Fogel and Rosin concoct an engaging, conversational tone, with lots of personal stories of Fogel’s marriage and family to illustrate his points.

     

    The Happy Life Checklist: 654 Ways to Find Your Bliss

    By Amy Spencer

     

    This bright little book will find at least one way to cheer up just about anybody. Spencer, a writer, felt a certain satisfaction finishing everything on her to-do list. But did that make her happy? No. She realized she wasn’t making time for all the little things that make her happy because they weren’t on her list. So she started adding them. The more she thought of small ways to be happy, the longer the list got. Her book is divided into 10 sections on subjects such as vitality, love, grace and confidence. A few examples I like:

    Try a sport you’re certain you’d be terrible at.

    Make up a secret handshake with someone you love.

    Learn to say something positive in another language.

    Be the welcoming face in the crowd.

     

    Your Best Brain Ever: A Complete Guide and Workout

    By Michael S. Sweeney with 58 brain health boosters by Cynthia R. Green, PhD

     

    This is a really fun book about the brain and how to improve the functioning of yours. It starts out with some basic explanation of the brain. Most of the book alternates between exercises to improve your brain power – such as memories games, activities where you race a clock, eye exercises – and anecdotes about cases of people with weird brain problems. If your brain has a short attention span, this book is great because you can pick it up in the middle and read a self-contained page. And who doesn’t like a story about weird brain-related experiences?

     

    Whole Health: A Holistic Approach to Healing for the 21st Century

    By Mark Mincolla, PhD

     

    This is an in-depth book by a man who does natural healing based on Chinese medicine and EMF, which is Electromagnetic Muscle Testing. It’s full of information on Chinese medicine and energy healing. This would be a very valuable book to someone wanting to gain this knowledge. At this point in my life, having to learn these entirely new organizing principles of health makes my eyes cross, so I can’t really judge. But if this is your thing, I suspect it’s quite a good resource. The appendixes are full of interesting items, such as a long list of recommended supplements and dietary restrictions for everything from HIV to PMS to preventing your hair from turning gray.

     

  • Door County in Winter

    Date: 2014.03.05 | Category: vegetarian travel | Response: 0

    Door County barnscape

     

    Snow has never been my friend. In fact, I’ve lived a remarkably snow-avoidant life. So when I got the opportunity to visit Door County, Wisconsin in the freezing winter, my first thought was, that’s crazy. But I’d heard it was a beautiful place – at least in summer – and I found myself considering. Maybe it was finally time to befriend snow. Or at least make its acquaintance.

     

    Gear

    I had two deathly fears of spending time in snowy Wisconsin: one, I’d die of frostbite (or at least lose several digits); or two, my comrades would do me in because of my incessant whining about the cold. So I took full advantage of a massive sale at the Columbia Sportswear Outlet  Store before leaving Portland. I got several pieces of their thermal reflective omni-heat gear, which is supposed to reflect your own body heat back to you, thus retaining it. The hat and long-sleeved top worked pretty well. But the gloves were useless for somebody like me with Raynaud’s Syndrome, a circulatory problem in the fingers and toes. However, I did find the most awesome concept in boots: heated by a rechargeable battery! You can recharge them via wall socket or computer through a USB. I chose the wall socket as these boots would probably make my laptop explode. With 200 grams of insulation, I hardly needed to turn my heated boots on at all. I borrowed a long, padded North Face coat from my cousin. That coat was a lifesaver!

    Once I got to Wisconsin, I learned the secret to keeping my hands warm was pairing those weird chemical hand warmers with mittens. But they don’t work so well with gloves. The mittens allow the warmth to spread up to your fingers.

    Snowshoeing

    Door County is a 75-mile peninsula that sticks out into frigid Lake Michigan. I managed to get up and down the peninsula quite a bit in my long weekend. Here are a few highlights.

    I stayed three nights at the Country House Resort. It was mostly deserted in winter. Check out the cold lakeshore!

    view from Country House Resort

    But they had the perfect set-up for me: A warming tank right beside the bed. And a super comfortable pillow-top mattress.

    Country House Resort jacuzzi tub

    When I’m in a cold place – or anywhere else – I always crave coffee. Door County Coffee & Tea provides the region with some of its finest caffeine. I visited twice during my stay. It was the only place in Door County that I dared to ask, “Do you have soymilk?” And the answer? Yes!

    Door County Coffee & Tea

     

    I took a tour of the coffee operation. It was very educational. I learned about decaf processes, saw how flavored coffee is made and witnessed the machine that bags the coffee. But I also stumbled upon an intriguing secret: Toucans and parrots deliver the coffee beans to Wisconsin, as pictured in this back-room delivery diagram. I hope Customs doesn’t read my blog!

    Door County Coffee painting

     

    I went snowshoeing in two places, both very beautiful, the Ridges Sanctuary and Whitefish Dunes State Park. It was my first snowshoeing experience. Since I managed to retain all my digits and even stay upright, it was a raging success. But was that wind off Lake Michigan ever cold! I heard all too much of those three dirty words: wind chill factor.

    Ridges Sanctuary with frozen Lake Michigan in the background

    Ridges Sanctuary with frozen Lake Michigan in the background

    My snowshoeing expedition at Ridges. Photo by Tamra Bolton.

    My snowshoeing expedition at Ridges. Photo by Tamra Bolton.

    The second day I learned to walk up and down hills at Whitefish Dunes State Park.

    The second day I learned to snowshoe up and down hills at Whitefish Dunes State Park.

    Here I show off my winter gear beside a recreation of a wigwam. Nomadic people lived in similar structures about 700 years ago.

    Here I show off my winter gear beside a recreation of a wigwam. Nomadic people lived in similar structures about 700 years ago.

    Snowmobiles

    I also went for a snowmobile ride. John Zettel, owner of Zettel’s Sales and Service, has been renting, fixing and selling snowmobiles for about three decades. One things his years of experience have taught him is that when somebody comes in and asks for the fastest snowmobile, he’d better give that guy the slowest. He was full of good cautionary tales about wipeouts and expensive damage to snowmobiles. Moral of the story? Stay on the trail and obey the speed limit, which is 55 on most trails. Slower in places where snowmobilers share trails with cross-country skiers and snowshoers.

    John Zettel, a font of snowmobile stories and wisdom. His snowmobile club is responsible for the upkeep on 31 miles of trails.

    John Zettel, a font of snowmobile stories and wisdom. His snowmobile club is responsible for the upkeep on 31 miles of trails.

    Snowmobile suits are not sexy, no matter how I try. Photo by Rob Klepper

    Snowmobile suits are not sexy, not matter how I try. Photo by Rob Klepper

    snowmobiles

     

    Will I Starve?

    If you’ve read this far, you’re probably wondering if there is vegetarian food in Door County. I was immensely relieved to learn that yes, most restaurants have a vegetarian dish or two. And some even feed vegans.

     

    Vegan black bean chili at the Inn at Cedar Crossing in downtown Sturgeon Bay.

    Vegan black bean chili at the Inn at Cedar Crossing in downtown Sturgeon Bay.

    House-made veggie burger at Shipwrecked Brew Pub. With sweet potato fries, to get your Vitamin A and grease quota at the same time!

    House-made veggie burger at Shipwrecked Brew Pub. With sweet potato fries, you get your Vitamin A and grease quota at the same time!

    Bread pudding made with Butterfingers at Shipwrecked. I only thought about eating this. Took a photo instead. Still wondering if I made the right choice.

    Bread pudding made with Butterfingers at Shipwrecked. I only thought about eating this. Took a photo instead. Still wondering if I made the right choice.

    Wild Tomato has tons of choices for veg folks. Even vegan cheese and sausage for pizza toppings.  This is the wood-fired vegetable Cobb salad.

    Wild Tomato has tons of choices for veg folks. Even vegan cheese and sausage for pizza toppings. This is the wood-fired vegetable Cobb salad.

    Bruschetta with eggplant from Neighborhood Pub and Grill in Sturgeon Bay. Open till 2 am.

    Bruschetta with eggplant from Neighborhood Pub and Grill in Sturgeon Bay. Open till 2 am.

    Door County Art

    Much as I enjoyed snowshoeing, temperatures were falling. Going inside started to seem like a good idea. So I spent an artsy afternoon. First I visited the Peninsula School of Art in Fish Creek, a nonprofit art center that offers classes to adults and students. Winter is pretty quiet at the school. About the only thing that was going on was a watercolor miniatures class. But in warmer months they bring in teachers from around the country. Peninsula has a gorgeous round main building plus outbuildings.  Every summer they host a plein air painting festival. Now in its eighth year, 40 artists will come from the US and beyond beginning July 20 to paint Door County landscapes.

    Peninsula Art School

    This dragon was part of a kids' art show at Peninsula School of Art.

    This dragon was part of a kids’ art show at Peninsula School of Art.

    Next came the really fun part of the art afternoon, a visit to the Hands On Art Studio. Artists Cy and Karon Turnbladh own this amazing complex of drop-in art studios. Even with no training or special aptitude, anybody can show up and make a metal sculpture, jewelry, pottery, mosaic or fused glass piece.

    Cy bought the abandoned farm about 17 years ago. The 100 year-old farmhouse lacked electricity and plumbing. The couple has done wonders with this place. It appeals to kids and adults of all ages. “Even the sullen teenagers get into it,” Cy said. He loves walking into a room full of families working on art and finding it pin-drop quiet with concentration. He thinks most adults haven’t done art for so long, they’re scared of it. Hands On gives them a friendly atmosphere, access to tools, materials and guidance, and lots of encouragement.

    You can choose projects of varying sizes and prices, from a piece of jewelry for a few bucks all the way up to big sculptures that will set you back a few hundred.

    This is the fused glass studio, where I spent a fun part of my day.

    This is the fused glass studio, where I spent a fun part of my day.

    A glass artist at work on a bowl.

    A glass artist at work on a bowl.

    Hands On makes things really easy. You assemble your piece, they stick it in the kiln. If you’re local or going to be in the area for a while, you can pick up your work. Or if you’re a tourist like me, they’ll ship your work when it’s ready. I made the piece below, which should be showing up any day now via UPS. After firing in the kiln they’ll put it in a metal stand. I plan to use it as yard art. If it comes out good enough, perhaps I’ll be inspired to weed!

    my fused glass

    A good place to make pottery or get your cat fix. I saw three of them. Cats, that is. I saw about 300 pieces of pottery.

    A good place to make pottery or get your cat fix. I saw three of them. Cats, that is. I saw about 300 pieces of pottery.

    But these cats have ambition. So they might not be sticking around the pottery studio for long.

    But these cats have ambition. So they might not be sticking around the pottery studio for long.

    This beautiful silo covered with art tiles is a tribute to Cy's late mother.

    This beautiful silo covered with art tiles is a tribute to Cy’s late mother.

     

    So, are you convinced yet? Door County is well worth a visit.

    Snow and I will probably never be BFFs. But despite my curiosity to see Door County in the spring with its dragonflies and dwarf irises, or to take a summer dip in Lake Michigan, I really enjoyed the quiet of the quiet season. I suspect it’s a pretty nice  place to visit any time of year.

     

     

     

  • My Search for Fitness Fashion Continues with the Chilly Jilly Duelette

    Date: 2014.02.26 | Category: fitness, product reviews | Response: 0

    This accessory called a duelette doubles as a bracelet and hair holder. It’s made for people like me, who throw their hair in a ponytail when they go to the gym, then later suddenly realize their hair would look better down, or their scalp feels stretched to headache proportions from being pulled back too long. They take off the hair holder and either throw it down on their desk, if they’re home writing, or on the passenger seat, if they’re driving. Or they put it around their wrist, which both looks stupid and cuts off circulation.

    Enter Chilly Jilly hair holder. This elastic band is decorated with gold and/or silver-plated beads. The knotted ends have an additional sliding bead for adjustment. It’s a great idea. But the execution isn’t quite there.

    Granted, it looks better than a regular hair holder. But it’s not that pretty, especially the white one I received as a sample. And the ends that stick out are kind of scruffy looking. To avoid cutting off circulation, it’s much looser than a regular hair elastic, which is good from a bracelet point of view. However, this backfires when you put it in your hair. I wrapped it around my ponytail three times. My hair is fairly thick but very straight, which might partially account for why the duelette wanted to slide off. Really, it has that feeling of a sad old stretched elastic that’s on its last leg, bound for the trash bin. I kept trying to tighten it by pulling on the beads. It survived a weight lifting class, holding my hair in a very loose ponytail. But I had to jettison it halfway through Bombay Jam. Don’t even think about jumping rope in this.

    Now if you want to use this accessory for a low, non-athletic ponytail at the nape of your neck, it might work okay. The duelette comes in black or white with gold, silver or a combination of the two beads. Chilly Jilly also makes lounge pants, gloves and jackets. All can roll up and fit into tiny drawstring bags.