As the thermometer drops in the Roaring Fork Valley, sport shop clerks, restaurant owners and hotel managers in the town of Aspen study the sky, eager for signs of winter. Grey days are promising; black clouds could bring the season's first big snow.
A sliver of light peeked between the drapes of my hotel room and woke me. The sun was not yet above the horizon, and I watched a shrimp boat move slowly across the water, the arms holding its trawl nets spread wide. I squinted, looking for the halo of seabirds that follow a working shrimp boat, but the view was blurry in the dim light, as if the day was not yet ready to come into focus.
MINNEAPOLIS-Lisa Faletti-Watkins was wearing a hat from Fulton Brewery in Minneapolis. The growler in front of her wife, Sarah, was wrapped in a cozy from the Pitchfork Brewing in Hudson, Wis., one of the many places they visited from their Cottage Grove home in search of the best local beer.
Yves Gardiol is general manager of Badrutt's Palace Hotel (www.badruttspalace.com), the famous resort in St. Moritz, Switzerland. Gardiol, a 53-year-old native of Lausanne, Switzerland, has been at the Palace for a decade.
We'd been trudging across the mud flats at low tide for about 20 minutes with only the gentle crunch of footsteps when a loud sucking sound sliced the air. In almost perfect unison I lurched forward into the oyster-colored mud with a yip. Elbows forward and hands skyward to protect an assortment of cameras, a rush of squishy, sulfury mud met me halfway, cushioning my fall and releasing fumes that would knock over a camel.
Picking out the visitors who have labored their way to the top of one of the two volcanoes on this tiny island in Lake Nicaragua is not difficult. Just look for the people relaxing as aggressively as possible.
SEATTLE - Somehow, on four visits to Pike Place Market over three decades, I failed to learn where the brothel was. Nor did I hear how the first Starbucks did business for years in this neighborhood before selling its first cup of coffee. Clearly, I was missing a lot.
The Seattle waterfront wants you. Especially the Seattle Aquarium (Pier 59) and the Seattle Great Wheel (Pier 57), whose bright lights can be seen for miles. But if you're there when the weather is mild, you might want to consider Pier 52, the ferry terminal.
The Pike Place Market Historic District (85 Pike Place; (206) 682-7453, www.pikeplacemarket.org covers 9 acres and includes more than 200 vendors. The heart of the place for most tourists is just beneath the big orange Public Market Center sign and clock. Do pose for a photo with Rachel, the bronze charity piggy bank. Keep an eye out for flying fish (Pike Place Fish Market is a short toss away) and listen for music; buskers love this spot.
SEATTLE-The dark, rain-sodden days of November and the rest of the gloomy winter months are coming up fast. If you can't escape to somewhere sunny, you may as well embrace the foul weather and take a storm-watching vacation.
SEATTLE-Lee Lauckhart carries all the printed news that'll fit into his little stand, First & Pike News, at Pike Place Market. One of his big sellers? The raw components of the Seattle's nearby Gum Wall.