Roy Rogers had his Trigger, The Lone Ranger his Silver and Issy has… me. Hi ho! But no away.
Issy is pulling to the right while my posse heads left. Great cowboy me.
The outlaw will be safely out of Dodge before I even get a trot on.
My home, home for today is on The Home Ranch, above Steamboat Springs in Colorado where Cowboy Mike is trying to teach me how to ride.
The problem he tells me is that I’m pulling back instead of releasing the reins and I’m confusing poor Issy.
She should be in charge.
And isn’t that always so?
And then, all at once, gently, graciously, Issy decides she is ready, and steers me across HER ranch.
In the foothills of the majestic snow-capped Rocky Mountains.
The sun is beating down on the Western plains and I have no place to get to and I’m gettin’ there slow.
If this is what they call the pioneering spirit, then saddle ’er up and call me Jimmy.
Another Jimmy, Civil War veteran Colonel James Harvey Crawford was brimming o’er with pio- neering spirit too back in the day in Missouri.
After reading in his local newspaper of a hermit with a story,
Joseph Westcott, who lived among the Ute Nation in the North-west Coloradan valleys below the Rockies.
Way out West
And waxed lyrical to the reporter who came upon him in his travels about his idyllic surroundings.
Reading of the reporter’s adventures that day, James Harvey Crawford decided to uproot his family and go in search of the fabled hermit.
You can learn more at the Tread of the Pioneers Museum about James and wife Maggie, who discovered the hot springs.
It is quite a story of how they built the community of Steamboat Springs where we’re staying.
And you’ll also learn about Edward Curtis who came to curate the life of the Ute Nation in the early 20th Century.
And whose photographs and narrative were lost to us for decades, until they were unearthed in a Boston bookstore cellar in the Seventies.
Then there’s agent Nathan Meeker whose zealotry almost destroyed the Ute way of life. Thankfully, he failed, and the Ute now thrive in Southern Colorado.
But what of the New Pioneers, Carl Howesen, the Flying Norseman, Barnum & Bailey’s Ski Sailor who brought ski jumping to Steamboat?
And of the Olympic ski champions, among their number Billy Kidd (no, seriously).
Alas, we do not get to stay Home, home on The Home Ranch.
Where the deer (we spy one crouching by a tree on our horse trek, she didn’t bat an eye lid) and my horse Issy and her friends roam.
At $8,000 a week for a couple with every frontiersman’s activity included, you’d better hope you win the lottery.
But we did get to view the Western-themed cabin rooms with their ‘take-home with you’ views of the Rockies.
If they had ever thought of placing TVs in the rooms they just as quickly dismissed the idea.
And just as well too, although if your kids want to stay connected to the unreal world (families of four can stay for $15,000) then there is wi-fi!
We hardly slummed it though, staying in the comfortable Holiday Inn in Steamboat.
Spring into action
The power showers are reviving, although I would recommend bathing outdoors.
In the Colonel’s hot-water natural springs under the starry Colorado skies.
It is the perfect way for a cowboy to ease his saddle sores after a day riding the plains.
I only hope though that Issy is enjoying a good relaxing wade in the cool Rocky Mountain waters.
We also get to enjoy the Embassy Suites in Boulder and the Elizabeth Hotel in Fort Collins where you’ll even get a record player in your bedroom.
So, what of hipster university town and home of Mork & Mindy, Boulder?
I’ve got this covered
It is a gentle coach ride from Springboat, a pleasant ride through gorgeous country.
Even better on board Issy. Maybe next time!
We were more than happy though with our driver Michael who was calm and charm personified.
As he drove us along this enchanting route and stretched his time schedule to breaking point to let us to take shot after shot of the Rockies.
Being greeted as Sir may seem old-fashioned in our overfamiliar age.
Here for the beer
But mannerliness is just the Colorado way.
We found it in Avery where brewery beer archaeologist Travis (I want his life) and Park Rangers Josh, Wade and Dakota entertained, exercised and fed us in Eldorado Park.
And in the sumptuously bearded Mike (it’s a mountain name) and David.
They welcomed us to Chautauqua Park and the Flatirons, the five rock features that were thus named by the pioneering women who settled here.
Coloradans, I figure, must have been first in line when God was giving out the gifts.
Handsome, charming, sporty (old or young, they can rock-climb free-hand, buck broncos, ride horses, ski, of course, kayak and raft, and more of that later).
And cook. Man, can they cook.
In fact, every second adventurer seems to run a restaurant when they’re not out conquering the Great Outdoors.
Back Indoors and Laid-back Lenny has brought us chi latte, in his Tajikistan Dushanbe Teahouse.
The Teahouse is a cultural curio, a gift from Boulder’s twin city in the former USSR (who knew?).
In the interests of of internationalism, I am working on getting him to put Lyons and Barry’s on the menu too.
Lenny and his fellow Coloradans truly are culinary pioneers.
Clark, of bespoke dining experience, Local Table Tours shows us more on his grub crawl along Pearl Street.
Fennel salad in one, shrimp in another, all washed down with the best Colorado wine and their famous IPA craft beers.
Each pit stop throughout Colorado has a dish you’d want to take home with you.
Salt & Lime in Steamboat restored my faith in Mexican food after a student summer selling tacos in Boston.
While Dakota’s rhubarb cookies were another highlight and one I vow to make (or get the Indomitable Mrs M to make).
I take a turn, as unlikely as that is, at baking in Fort Collins, in Ginger & Baker.
Bake me a cake
Under the watchful eye of Deb who takes guests for a class and then serves you up your own creation after your meal.
A real slice of American pie.
While these new pioneers of cooking and baking continue to make waves in their crafts, it was time for us to make ours.
On the very French Powder river where trappers transported hides and furs on flimsy wooden rafts in days of old.
Thankfully, we have modern rubber rafts and we have safety in numbers…
Seven of us clinging to the side of our tub rowing like Furies, as the river rocks us.
We finish our day as all cowboys do, drinking beer, eating beans, singing and dancing by a camp fire.
Or in the absence of that, on the coach to the airport where the Chinese members of our party lead us in bus karaoke.
Taylor sings Fly Me To The Moon, ably accompanied by Sarah and Coloradan Jennifer, our new family for these three days.
Before Chinese Judy channels her inner Coloradan with a rousing John Denver which I try to sing along to but find myself choking up.
Frantically looking for the words to Home on the Range over intermittent wi-fi I pass my go.
We are a party of Chinese, Jordanians, Australians, Germans, French, Danish, Canadians, Americans, of course, Irish and one Irish-Scot.
Heading out West on our wagon, singing songs and filled with dreams. We are the New Frontiersmen.
HOW TO GET THERE: Jim flew Aer Lingus Dublin-London return and British Airways London-Denver return. Try €1,461.72 as a paired economy ticket for sample dates of July 12-19 (subject to fluctuation). Irish airports allow you pre-clearance from customs before you land. (http://www.aerlingus.com).
WHERE TO STAY: The Embassy Suites, Boulder (www.embassysuites3.hilton. com), king bed non-suite room. From $249 a night (€210); Holiday Inn, Steamboat Springs (www.ihg. com) from $204.25 (€172.737), king bed, Elizabeth Hotel, Fort Collins (www.mariott.com). From $177 (€149) for king room.
Sante… say it before you take the glass to your lips and afterwards and raise a fat wallet to the host who has bought you the drinks. It’s Beer Day today.
What do you mean that’s just another name for Saturday?
Now that’s the way the Flemish toast. And in Ieper they go to Tom’s Bierhaus. Simon here has been there before and I dare say has drunk every one of Tom’s 120 or so beers at least once.
While you and I might have our own glass behind the bar, Simon, who is a guide with GTI The Group Travel Specialists whom I visited the World War I battlefields in Flanders and The Somme with a couple of years ago, has this wonderfully shaped drinking vessel. Visit www.gti-ireland.com.
Other great beerologists I know… the dude in Boulder, Colorado, who persuaded the University to employ him to go to the Middle East, Italy and Greece to research booze and the different recipes from the ancient tomes and then recreate them. Visit www.colorado.com.
Dragon’s Den, anybody? I’m in.
He’ll definitely be at the Great American Beer Festival, the largest in the USA, in Denver from October 4-6.
You can sample over 4,000 different beers.
Don’t tell Flemish Tom, or maybe do!
Find the lady
When my Dear Old Mum and Dad got to me, their youngest, they decided that the best way to ensure that they had holidays to themselves was to pack me over to my cousins in Dublin.
From where we would then head off to a mobile home in Salthill for our holidays.
Among the treats in store were a trip to Knock, swimming in Spiddal, and one of my faves, a trip to the Galway Races where I would watch in awe and lose a punt or two on the card hucksters who would lure you in with their Find the Lady scam.
If Galway Races are one of your must-do events of the summer then you’ll want a tip as to where to stay.
The plush Hotel Meyrick is in an ideal location on Eyre Square ad has fantastic packages during the week of July 29 to the last day of the races on Saturday, August 3.
For the full schedule of events, live music, dining options, information on this year’s Most Stylish Ladies Day event and the travel packages available at the hotel, visit www.hotelmeyrick.ie or call (01) 91564041.
I should be so lucky
As a bonzer Sheila, Kylie Minogue loves her sport so it should come as little surprise that she will be headlining the entertainment at the Emirates Airlines Dubai Rugby Sevens in December.
For AED400 (€96) for Friday or AED500 (€120) for the entire weekend fans at the 50th anniversary of the Dubai Sevens can enjoy a feast of music and sport.
Emirates Holidays is offering return flights from Dublin with Emirates, three nights at the four-star Zabeel House Al See with breakfast and entry tickets to the Emirates Airlines Dubai Rugby Sevens for Friday and Saturday which includes that unmissable Kylie concert.
The Sevens will take place from December 5-7 and the Irish team will be expected to be among the favourites.
For flights to Dubai direct from Dublin visit www.emirates.ie, for Emirates Holidays bookings including event tickets visit www.emiratesholidays.ie or call the Emirates Holidays call centre on (01) 800 800 740. Tickets for the events and more information, visit www.dubairugby7sc.om.
Shout of Africa
Congratulations to my friend, oft-time contributor to my Irish Daily Mail section when I was there and general Jacko of all trades, Michelle Jackson, on being shortlisted for the blogger’s award at the coming Experience Africa convention in London.
Jacko Kerouac, another name I have bequeathed her, is a great lover of South Africa, and I fell head over heels for the country too on my recent visit to the Eastern Cape.
I’d been told about the great rate of exchange and fantastic cost of living before I went and can now vouch too that the landscapes, history, culture and food and drink are only matched by the wonderful, open and smiling people.
Escape2.ie and Air France are offering a seven-night city break from €1,189pp staying at the 5* Taj Cape Town with luxurious spa and top-class dining. Depart September, prices from €1189pp.
Or spend ten nights combining Cape Town with a safari.
The Aquila Private Game Reserve offers a range of game drives, giving you the chance to spot lions, elephants, leopards and much more. Depart between September 2019 and April 2020, excluding December, price from €2059pp.
Visit www.Escape2.ie or call (01) 435 0096. And visit www.thenoveltraveller.com.
Ola Sara, mia amiga!
You’ll be glad to know that I’m off to Spain at the end of the month. Sara, the media darling of the Spanish Tourism Office in Dublin has long been chiding me that I am wont to send writers rather than go myself to Espana.
But I do love Spain, it’s just that when I do go there there’s a danger that I won’t come back.
All of which makes this Sunway offer all the more alluring as you do the major mainland attractions in just eight days.
Take in Barcelona, Madrid, Toledo, Cordoba, Seville, Granada and Valencia
Departure dates – June 29, August 10, 24, September 7, 14 and 21, October 12. Prices from €939pp, single supplement €375pp. Book (01) 231 1800 or check www.sunway.ie.
Say a little prayer
I need a miracle(s). And the best place for that is Lourdes.
I’m also reliably informed that there are a bevvy (if that’s the right collective noun) of Irish bars there… a lot of thirsty pilgrims I guess. All of which chimes in nicely with Beer Day.
So I’m going to fill myself with wholly spirit. See you next week. I’ll leave you in the capable hands of the Scary One.