The Dark Horse, Boulder, Colorado

A great candidate for Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. Tonight is burger madness night!

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I had the Jiffy Burger, peanut butter, provolone, bacon, lettuce, tomato, pickles- it was great

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Best Western Boulder, CO

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Yes, this is exactly what the room looks like, without the flowers. This is a great place, the customer service is amazing. I must admit the exterior had me expecting a pretty average place, yet the experience at the front desk on to the first impression of the room was quite a pleasant surprise. And there is a great over-stuffed chair, one of my favorite amenities.

If you are in the area, check it out Best Western Inn, Boulder, CO

Travel, its the little things that make it work

It’s the little things! Salt and herbs transform a palatable dish into a special meal. Accessories make the outfit. Frequent flier perks, attitude, and the little things make travel a whole lot better.

Travel, especially air travel, is one of those things that it is fashionable to complain about. It is interesting that those who complain the most are quite often those who fly the least. It does make sense though, when you are not as familiar with how the whole process works it can be frustrating, and when you are in an environment that is unfamiliar it is hard to know what to expect.

I offer the infrequent flier just two tips to enhance the experience

  1. Allow yourself more time at the airport.
  2. Go with the flow, don’t fight the system; you do get a lot more by being nice than by complaining. The reality is that sometimes it will not go smoothly, sometimes maybe not even be fair, that is just the way it is.

Now for those of us who have decided to make frequent travel part of our life, a few thoughts:

Never complain.

I have travelled for over 20 years and stayed positive about it, how? I refuse to complain. As I write this I am on a morning flight, not the travel I had planned, I missed a connection and spent the night in Denver, one of my least favorite airports. Yet I refuse to complain. It is like the Dark Side of the Force, once you start down the road of complaining you end up negative and frustrated, I have seen it over and over again.

We frequent fliers are doing this because we chose to do it, we knew it was part of the job when we signed on; it is part of our life. If the travel is that overwhelming or uncomfortable then it is time to dust off the resume and start looking for a change.

Loyalty has its perks

If travel is to be part of your life then be loyal to one airline, or group. I am a huge Alaska Air fan, when it comes to USA carriers I think they are the best. Their frequent flier program connects you to Delta, American, Quantas, and a number of others. By combining all your miles in one account they accumulate faster and you reach premier status sooner.

With premier status you earn the little things that make it better. Early boarding so there is room in the overhead, upgrades to first-class, on Alaska a free beverage in coach, free checked baggage, premier seating, and when things do go wrong they do give preference to the frequent fliers who have and will be back next week on another trip.

Join the club. My Alaska Boardroom membership is the best money I spend each year. Food, drink, wifi, quiet. And reciprocal arrangements with Delta Crown Rooms means I get to use their rooms when traveling on Delta, or when in an airport that does not have an Alaska room.

Accessories that matter

Each traveler will have his or her own list of what makes life on the road more comfortable; here is my list:

  • Headphones that either block or cancel noise; they don’t have to be Bose to be good. Many nights after a long day I sit back on the plane, put headphones on, click on a Spotify playlist and relax. How often at home do you get the luxury of listening to whatever music you want, uninterrupted for an hour or two? (A mini-speaker for your computer makes the hotel room a lot better as well.)
  • My mini-iPad. How did I get along without it? Reader, documents, games, videos, music, Netflix, soccer and rugby. Enough said.
  • Glassware. I carry a real glass cup for tea, and an acrylic wine glass. Tea out of a glass cup is so much better than paper, and if I am in a place for a few days I buy a bottle of wine for the room, and have a real glass to drink it out of.
  • Good tea. I never rely on what is in the room. Great tea out of a familiar cup is a great way to start the day
  • Sketchpad and watercolors. Life is too short to work all day and then work all night in a hotel room. So even a quick sketch now and then breaks it all up and reminds me of what is important.

Abraham Lincoln said, “Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” The Christopherson corollary to that is, “Most people enjoy travel about as much as they make up their minds to enjoy travel.”

Bacon, roasted squash, and spinach salad – a weeknight treat

In the refrigerator there were a few slices of bacon, a small Delicata Squash, and some spinach that needed using, the motivation and genesis of an idea that worked out well.

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I cut the bacon into pieces approximately ¼” wide and lightly cooked them, but not long enough to brown. While the bacon cooked I peeled the squash. Quick tip: Use a potato peeler instead of a knife to peel squash.

I diced the squash into 1/2″ cubes. Then mixed the bacon and the squash cubes in a glass baking dish, drizzled with a small amount of olive oil and placed in a 400F convection oven. (Next time I think I will just add the squash to the fry pan and place the whole pan in the oven)

When the squash was almost soft I put water on to poach eggs, one per serving.

All that was left was assembly. A pile of spinach leaves, either raw or very lightly steamed, then the squash and bacon mix on top, followed by the poached egg. Garnished with a bit of Parmesan cheese and dinner was served.

Quick and easy, not too many dishes – my kind of weekday dinner.

I bought a walking stick in Avignon

Down a narrow lane near the Palais de Papes, on the rue de la Monnaie, you will find a small wine shop, the Cave du Bouffart. Through a narrow door, down a few steps, into a space the size of a compact bedroom is a wonderful selection of local wines and wine paraphernalia, where you will be greeted by the most pleasant, “bonjour!”

There next to the counter stood a bin of dark, glistening walking sticks, more attractive at the moment than the wine. I picked one out, aware that getting a five foot stick with a semi-pointed end through all the security checks between Avignon and Seattle would be a challenge. The proprietor explained that it was made of chestnut, the stain is like a deep cherry, engraved with “Cave du Bouffart, Avignon.”

There is something about a walking stick that says slow down. Whether it is a ramble up a mountain trail, or strolling elegantly down Oxford Street in London, a stick in one’s hand defies hurry. I walked down the rue de la Monnaie, stick in hand, it’s metal tip taping on the old stone pavement, each metallic tap reinforcing my commitment to slow down, to remember the pace of Provence in the hype of Seattle.

My stick tapped along the streets of Gordes, through vineyards, up the path leading to the chapel in Moustiers Sainte Marie. I carried it on the train from Lyon to Paris, and then Paris to London, and all the way home to Seattle.

If Sting can carry a walking stick in “An Englishman in New York” then I just might start carrying mine down the streets of Seattle.