Climbing to the Top

How many steps are you willing to take to make it to top? I am talking about to the top of the tallest brick lighthouse in North America. The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse in Buxton, NC. You can’t actually make it to the very top, because the last 20 steps are reserved for the coast guard only. You see the old, tall, twice moved tower is still in operation, guiding ships safely through the “Graveyard of the Atlantic.”
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So when my family decided we were climbing this guy, I wasn’t too concerned about the 248 iron steps to the top or the 30 mph+ winds that couls rip you off the top. Okay maybe a little concerned, I mean our rental house in Duck has two sets of 14 stairs and the 56 stair round trip is pretty discouraging when all you want is a bottle of water or to find your little cousin. Either way I convinced myself that it was nothing. I have been running 2 miles every morning so take that lighthouse.
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I also want to add another honorary 50 steps. Why? Cape Hatteras is a mere hour and a half drive from our quaint beach village and once we arrived another hour and 40 minutes to make the trek. You can occupy sometime in the giftshop or museum learning how they moved the striped giant to save it from being eaten by the ocean. So like I said 50 honorary steps.

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The climb itself started off dark and humid. Every 31 steps you reach platform with a window and cool breeze. I quickly passed the first few, but by platform 4 my heart was racing and I thought it might never end. I am pretty sure we made it to the top in inder 15 minutes and the view was fantastic. We all felt as though we accomplished an amazing feat and to tell you the truth the climb was fairly easy. Less than 20 minutes later we were in the car searching for lunch.

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Would you make the climb?

Sunrise on the Ocean

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This morning the Husb and I crawled out of bed to watch the sunrise. We walked down the private lane in our pjs while the sky slowly brightened. The sky was so many brilliant colors and so bright that B thought we had already missed it.

There is nothing worse than thinking you left the comfort of your warm twin bunk bed only to miss the sun rise. (Yes for a night we squeezed into a bunk bed thinking it would be better than the air mattress in the living room. FYI its not. I would much rather wake up to the smell of breakfast at 6am than lose half the feeling of my body, while squeezed in a bunk til 9am).

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Shortly after finding a set of stairs to sit on, a little dot appeared on the horizon. This isn’t a trip I will make every morning, but just once it was worth it. Besides falling back asleep after witnessing the sun rise for one more day was just as sweet as waking up.

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How many sunrises have you crawled out of bed for?

Finding the cure for crabs in Nagshead, NC

The outerbanks it’s filled with crabs from the sandy beaches to the steam buckets. When you have had enough it is probably time to make a stop at King Tut’s Weiner Hut. This local favorite has fun dog creations, tasty burgers, and cold beers on tap.

Get out of the summer heat and into this Egyptian paradise. Puss your time with pool, pingpong, Wii, or a plethora of other fun indoor games.

I recommend the fried Guinness dog on a stick or classic chili and cheese dog. Wash it down with a cold OBX or frosty bottle of soda. King Tut’s is my pick for lunch in Nagshead.

CBS hits America’s Sweet Tooth

get your bake on
Photo courtesy of CBS The American Baking Competition

What do a firefighter, photographer, and homemaker have in common? What about an attorney, advertiser, and home health care provider? No clue? Let’s add a  college student, retiree, project manager, and a baking enthusiast. Now mix in chef Marcela Valladolid, star baker Paul Hollywood, and sprinkle comedian Jeff Foxworthy. CBS found the perfect recipe with these 13 people and created a new series “THE AMERICAN BAKING COMPETITION”.

I  sat down with host Jeff Foxworthy (largest selling comedic-recording artist) and judge chef Marcella Valladolid (host of Mexican Made Easy and bestselling cookbook author) to chat about CBS’ new show “THE AMERICAN BAKING COMPETITION,” premiering this Wednesday, May 29th at 8:00pm.Lunch with Jeff and Marcela

Jeff knows the right things to say to get the bakers stories flowing and sometimes the tears. He shared with us his desire to know people’s stories as the reason for joining the show. He originally turned down the offer, but after watching just one episode of the UK format “THE GREAT BRITISH BAKE OFF,” he was sold. Chef Marcela shared with Jeff the secret of bakers: they are givers and their bakes are labors of love. Week after week, as the bakers compete to be the “star baker,” the audience will get a glimpse of their histories, passions, and skills.

When asked if she learned anything new from the amateur bakers, Marcela was excited to share her amazement with flavor combinations and techniques of cooking she had never seen before. One of the most memorable recipes was the Chocolate Chili Cookie. I hope this is a recipe that CBS releases, because it sounds delicious. Jeff and Marcela both shared a fondness for bread week. I have never made bread, but hope to learn a thing or two.

I cannot wait for tomorrow night’s premier. You can catch a sneak peek here.

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Enter Bermuda

I am back in the saddle again and a red eye to Bermuda is the best way break my traveling self in. Typical travel to Bermuda will include a flight to one of the many east coast cities that provide direct flights to this off shore colony.

Late Wednesday night I hopped on my plane and snuggled in my red Delta blanket, it felt like a few minutes later that the Captain announced our descent to Atlanta.I stumbled half awake to the other end of the Atlanta airport and found myself a yummy bagel and iced coffee. Random Trivia: How does a true New Yorker eat a bagel?

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I settled down at my empty gate for a long winters nap. Actually, this is one of the few times I have not been stuck in the Atlanta airport for more time than my layover. About an hour in to the wait my fellow travel companions started to appear. Lesley Carter of Bucket List Productions found my photo on Facebook and introduced herself. She was soon followed by Dave (Dave’s Travel Corner), Carolyn (Healthy Voyager), and Stefanie (Mommy Musings). I always cherish meeting fellow writers and travelers.

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Three hours I was stepping into the Bermuda sun. The air was warm and inviting. My first experience was with the friendly customs officer who told me to the difference between a dark & stormy and a stormy & dark. The amount of rum, do you know which is a splash and which is a a lot?

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Travel around Bermuda for visitors is by taxi, bus, or scooter. While waiting for more travelers, we braved the main road to get a closer look at the water. My driver was informative and friendly. He filled us in on the general facts of Bermuda.
1. White roofs, made of limestone, gather and filter rain water to fill each home’s personal water tank.
2. Scooters are not recommended unless you are an experienced rider and know how to drive safely on the left.
3. Bermudian hospitality consists of buying visitors a drink and then a few more.
4. Local business men dress traditional colonial shorts, knee-highs, collared shirt, tie, and blazer.
5. Most Bermudians shop off shore because of the high cost to buy imported goods.

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I settled into my large Gold status room at the Fairmont Hamilton Princess and took a cozy nap in my king sized bed. I woke up refreshed and ready for cocktails. Fairmont Hamilton has a sister property in the southern part of Bermuda, the Fairmont South Hampton. The hotels run a ferry between the two properties a few times a day. We caught the final voyage and floated into “The Dock” in The Waterlot Inn. This is one of the oldest restaurants on the Island and they know how to treat you right. The evening was filled with the sounds of water lapping against the dock, a talented ukulele player, and travel talk. I left dinner exhausted and fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.

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Not bad for my first day in Bermuda and getting back to travel. Do you have any thing you’ve let slip away? It’s always a good time to jump right in.

Sleeping in Paso – Hotels not to Miss

I like to sleep in the Oaks when I pass through and there are a few places I love to rest my weary, sometimes wine heavy head.

Paso Robles Inn:

As a member of the Historic Hotels of America, the Paso Robles Inn has been in service for over a century. They wanted to serve travelers along the El Camino Real with a bed and a hot spring. The traditions are still in practice in either the Deluxe Spa Rooms or two Room Suites where you can enjoy the healing powers of the hot springs.

Towel Animals in Paso Robles
This little guy was waiting to meet me at the Paso Robles Inn.

My room at the Inn leaves nothing to be desired. I have all the amenities including a hot spring hot tub, fireplace, mini fridge, and flat screen tv. While my wine country immersion does not leave a lot of time to sit in my hotel room, the 45 minutes between wine trailing and dinner was just enough time for a soak in my hot tub. They aren’t kidding when they talk about healing powers. I went from wine soaked and travel weary to refreshed and awake. Just make sure you use the scented oils and rinse afterwards, because the mineral smell is strong.

The Paso Robles Inn Steakhouse has a great breakfast menu. I ate in their main dining room one day and in the Cattlemen’s Lounge the next due to Pioneer day overflow. I enjoyed the ranch size portions and the wonderful service. They have it all from giant fruit plates to a cheesy egg sandwich I gobbled down.

Downtime can be spent strolling the gorgeous grounds or  kicking back and reading the copy of The History of the Paso Robles Inn: More than a Century of Pride by Ann Martin Bowler in every room. This book is well written with great historical facts and wonderful pictures.

Historic Hotel of America, Ballroom, Paso Robles Inn
The only original building left at the Paso Robles Inn.

Book your Stay At:

Paso Robles Inn
1103 Spring St
(805) 238-4707
http://www.pasoroblesinn.com

La Quinta Inn & Suites:

I like traveling with my dog and sometimes it is hard to find a mid-range hotel that makes Oliver as comfortable as possible. La Quinta is situated a few miles east of downtown near a handful of wineries. The don’t charge extra for your dog and provide a large grassy area with doggy bags to walk your pup.

La Quinta, Dog Park, Paso Robles
Oliver enjoying the plush dog area.

They provide a complimentary breakfast every morning and while it isn’t gourmet, the food is edible. I really enjoyed making my own waffles every morning and spreading my new pumpkin port butter from Jack Creek Farms. The dining area is the only place dogs are not allowed, due to health code, but you can always grab your food and eat in the lobby if you want to be with your pal.

The La Quinta has a wonderful wine gift shop and free wine & gourmet cheese reception each Monday through Thursday evenings from 5:30pm – 7:00pm. This weekday happy hour is just the thing you need to unwind.

I stayed here with my husband for our 6th anniversary and even though its a La Quinta it has at least 4 star quality. Our king size bed was plush and spacious. The suite came with a pull out couch and there was still more than enough room for Oliver’s crate. It is such a comfortable hotel to relax in between wine tasting and dinner.

Book your stay:

La Quinta Inn & Suites
2615 Buena Vista Dr
(805) 239-3004

http://www.lq.com/lq/properties/propertyProfile.do?ident=LQ832&propld=832

Thirsty Thursday: A Testimony to the Layered Complexity of Burgundian Styled Pinot Noir

The Wine Shepherd
Passionate Vigneron Marc Goldberg

Marc Goldberg first tasted the “magic” of Burgundy at 17, he courted his wife Maggie D’Ambrosia with a bottle of Domaine de la Romanee-Conti 1959, and a 1976 Hoffman Mountain Ranch Pinot Noir solidified their dream to make Burgundian-style Pinot Noir in the United States. Together with passion and a love for Pinot Noir the radiant couple started Windward Vineyard.

Marc describes himself as the Wine Shepherd. He believes the vineyard makes it and his job is to make sure nothing bad happens along the way. This may sound like a laid back approach to viticulture, but when dealing with the heart-break grape, Marc has his work cut out for him.

Maggie D’Ambrosia, Windward Vineyard Owner

Windward Vineyard strives to stay true to the monopole style of Burgundy. This means they put an umbrella of protection over the vineyard from start to finish. In order to put Monopole on the label Windward must have complete control of their vines start to finish, use only estate fruit, and never sell a grape.

Just Making Some Wine

The estate is a small 15 acre lot and averages 2000 cases a year. Small production and low yield is a specific technique used to coax the complex layers of Pinot Noir into a sensuous Burgundy. Their 2008 Estate Monopole Pinot Noir is a wonderfully balanced wine, very fruit forward with Windward’s signature peacock tail finish. The Estate’s youngest wine, a 2010 Monopole,opens with minerals and strawberry and lingers over your tongue. I have to admit that I would be happy to enjoy any vintage from Windward.

Newly Renovated Windward Truck

Over the years Marc and Maggie have received a number of accolades including 2012s Paso Robles Wine Industry Persons of the Year. After meeting them and tasting their wines it comes as no surprise. If they aren’t working with the grapes, you will find the couple filling the tasting room with warmth and hospitality. They understand the community of Paso and promote the sharing of knowledge in order to help the entire region grow.

Marc and Maggie started the Pinot & Paella Festival which gives 100% of its proceeds back to the community. It is a sold out event every June, featuring more than 20 Paso Robles Pinot Noirs and 20 local chefs. It is a great way to promote Paso Pinots, the Paso Robles AVA, and give back to the community they are blessed to be a part of.

Windward Vineyard is a must stop in my mind when traveling through Paso Robles. It is a unique offering found in the region. Anyone itching to try a bottle before they can make it to Paso can purchase a bottle or 10 online.