Wednesday, July 10, 2024

07-10-2024 RANDOM VAGABON ALERT - IF YOU FEEL THE NEED FOR SOUL FOOD WITH A TWIST - THIS IS THE PLACE

WE BELONG TOGETHER - OH MY!

I have never heard of a recipe like this - Shrimp, andouille sausage, chicken, and collard greens all tossed in a creamy alfredo sauce served over fettuccine. Well, this place serves this delicious creative culinary delight.


Now, to be truthful, I did not have We Belong Together. That's for the next time I eat at this cool, friendly, creative, high-quality restaurant with great service. 

From Jo Ellen's Web Site - All True!

"If ever a mother loved a son and a son loved a mother, then JoEllen's is it. Joe is the son and Ellen was the mother. Ellen poured all that she was into each of her six children, but she held a special place for Joe. Unfortunately, Ellen passed away in 2014 when we first began this journey of entrepreneurship. So that love and those memories now reside in JoEllen’s. . .a special place with great food, a warm and inviting atmosphere, and southern comfort that feels a lot like a warm hug a loving mother gives to her son. This is the foundation of JoEllen’s and this is what guides all aspects of who we are and the service we provide."

I can attest to every word. For Brunch, I had a make-your-own omelet with grits, toast, and coffee. Others at the table had Shrimp and Grits, Meatloaf, and other culinary delights. And our server was friendly and professional.

This place really gets it! It is one of the most creative food places I have ever had the pleasure of eating at. It's right downtown in part of Klemen Plaza with easy parking in the parking garage. For further proof that this restaurant can tickle your itch for innovative cuisine just click here for the MENU.

So, head downtown and have a creative dining experience. Trust me, you will need to plan a nap after brunch, lunch, or dinner! LOL!


D.L.Stafford

In honor of great Southern food - enjoy funny man Jim Gaffigan as he ruminates on the pleasures of eating with reckless abandon!






Thursday, July 4, 2024

7-4-24 THE DAY ALL AMERICANS - NORTH, SOUTH, EAST & WEST CELEBRATE THE GREATEST COUNTRY ON EARTH!

 USA - The Official Place of Refuge for Nomads With Dreams

The Grand Experiment is Still Grand!!

As we awake to another celebration of our founding this morning, I ponder the onslaught of attempts by powers, great and small, to destroy our great country, as well as our own self-inflicted wounds on the very freedoms that we have held up to the world for generations. When you view Lady Liberty or read of the sacrifices of men and women who have willingly fostered our freedoms, you must remind yourself that this country, this USA, came to be because men, rebels all, said ENOUGH!!  In a single act of incomparable bravery and genius, this nation was birthed to give refuge to the "Nomads" who wanted a better life in the new world, who wanted to worship their God in peace and determine their own destiny without government intervention.
 
Now this is not a political blog, but one cannot discuss this amazing country without some discussion of the one subject that is not supposed to be discussed in polite company. And when you watch the news or read a blog or do something really quaint like read a newspaper, you realize that we simply do not have any current-day Washingtons, Jeffersons, Franklins, Adams, or Hamiltons. No, we Americans shake our heads in flummoxed disbelief at the current crop of empty suits now running the place. I have a friend who believes the demise of this great country is imminent. It's not if but when. To that, I say - Balderdash!! If you have any knowledge of the history of this great country, you can rest assured that its greatness comes from its people, and their willingness to "throw the bums out" when righting the ship becomes necessary. With that greatest of documents to guide us, The US Constitution, we WILL defeat attacks of any kind on the virtues and ideas that came from the most unique concept of freedom ever envisioned by man. I am convinced we will, indeed, right this ship for generations to come. 

And What About Our Generations?  
Boomers, X'ers, Millenials/Y'ers, Z'ers,  and Alphas?


As we Boomers lament the latest crop of children who are now beginning to run the place, we discuss all the faults of the forty-somethings we have raised. And I must admit - it is somewhat disconcerting when one of those young Gen X'ers was asked, a few years back, by talk show host Jay Leno - Where is the Gaza Strip? They answered West Hollywood! Really? But we Boomers conveniently forget that we invented the basest of human traits - narcissism. You do remember Stephen Stills' mantra to self-indulgence - 
If you can't be with the one you love, love the one you're with - don't you? That one line and its impact on our culture is worth at least three credit hours of directed study on human behavior gone awry. As the most privileged, upwardly mobile generation, we grew up with TV, hot cars, and a vision of America that fit us like a glove. So, spare me the judgment of the "kids" that are working through their lives day by day in a world very different than the post-war world of optimism we seventy-somethings enjoyed. Numerous studies point out that this new generation is optimistic, hard-working, and more open to change than any generation before it. 

I recently had a long discussion about this with my forty-something kids. I am utterly convinced that this country, with all its challenges, is in good hands. These guys get it and will keep the dream alive. They may use their iPhones and iPads more than we wish, but they will pursue true happiness in their own way. It will just be - different! And on that note, I will share a text message from my son some twelve years ago  which reads as follows:
 
"Just landed in Denver - staying at The Curtis Hotel...be back Monday - Happy 4th - God Bless America!"

So, if you're a proud Boomer, you are more than likely blessed with the talking to, the loving of, and the caring for every age from old Boomer to young Alpha. And, guess what - Every generation will figure out the truth and ensure that everything remains copacetic! It's a new day! Whether it's on parchment or a smartphone, the love of this country means the same thing and it's ever-new. 
 
So - as you head out to Grandma's house or some other favorite place to celebrate this uniquely American day, I implore you to read our Declaration of Independence, written by one of history's greatest minds, Thomas Jefferson, at the ripe old age of thirty-three. A Gen Y'er we can all believe in. 
 
Oh, Say Can You See!
 
D.L. Stafford
 
Quote of The Week - "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."  Thomas Jefferson 
 
Video Artist of  The Week - I watched and listened to many amazing performances of our National Anthem and selected the one that brought tears of pride as I watched and listened to our nation's Joint Armed Forces Color Guard present the colors of the United States at the 2023 College Football National Championship followed by a powerful performance of The Star Spangled Banner by the Grammy Award Winning vocal group PENTATONIX.



Wednesday, July 3, 2024

07-03-24 DAYTONA - IT'S STILL THERE - WELL - KINDA PLUS - SOME THOUGHTS ON THE SMOKIES

First - a little personal travel history is in order. As a kid growing up in the fifties, with a stern, hard-working entrepreneurial father and a classic mother whom I adored, our family vacations were, well, not very exotic. Every summer, and I do mean every summer, Dad, Mom, my brother, and I would pack the car and head south to Daytona Beach for two weeks in early summer. Daytona Beach was THE place to go in the fifties and sixties before it became a tourist afterthought. Not that I don't have great memories of "The World's Most Famous Beach". I learned to swim there and saw my first real car race there. Even today, my brother is a rabid NASCAR fan. I learned what Nuttie Buddies were and I ate the best hotdogs on earth and washed them down with 6-ounce Cokes. But - the coolest thing of all? You could actually drive on the beach for free!! What more could a kid want?. 

FAST FORWARD 60+ YEARS!

Like they say - Things change. Nothing truer has ever been said about The World's Most Famous Beach. What once were hotels here there and everywhere are now condos here there and everywhere. And, you now must pay $20 to drive on the beach! The prices to rent a decent condo today will force you to take out a loan from your bank unless you have a high credit limit on your favorite credit card.

If you have a large crowd 
that needs 3-4 beds to sleep in, the best place to stay is not Daytona. As I shared last week - go North my fellow Vagabond - Ormand Beach! There are still some very nice hotels beachside on The World's Most Famous Beach, but, they are few and far between. Several years ago we stayed in a nice small place on the beach - Lotus Boutique Inn and Suites. There were some bad reviews after we stayed there, but, based on current reviews, they have revived their quality and service. And the prices are very reasonable.  Another nice hotel is the Delta Hotels Daytona Beach Oceanfront by Marriot. Comfortable, well-designed rooms with a large oceanfront balcony at reasonable prices will provide you and yours a pleasurable time at the beach.

School Was Just Around The Corner

Then as the dog days became  
longer and school was looming, we packed the car and headed north to the Smoky Mountains for two weeks of camping in the great outdoors. Sleeping in a tent, the bears, the streams, the woods, and even the simple food - I loved every minute. As a result of those times with my family in The Great Smoky Mountains, I have always been a lover of the outdoors and will forever 
be drawn to the hinterland.  

On our late summer trips north, because my father was a lover of music, he would tune the radio to the John R. Radio Show which played mostly rhythm and blues. Listening to that music on AM from WLAC Nashville and the legendary voice of John R. while riding in the back seat of the big car was always a treat to my ears. 
Of course, things have changed in the busiest National Park in the United States with 15.7 million visitors a year! You can pick and choose dozens of things to do as you travel The Blue Ridge Parkway. If you want to camp, there are dozens of campgrounds to choose from - just click Where to Camp in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

One question that must be asked if you go to the Smokies - Is Gatlinburg Tacky? Here's one local's opinion - "Yes, it can be. But here’s the important thing: There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Gatlinburg is like the Walt Whitman quote, it contains multitudes. It can be upscale, bordering on classy. Also, it can be fun, rambunctious, and energetic. Certainly, it can be educational, thrilling, and beautiful. But it can also be tacky. Tacky is, of course, subjective. Most places that attract tourists can be pretty tacky." So, if you feel the need - visit Gatlinburg and buy something you probably don't need! LOL!

If you are in need of enjoying America without traveling a long way - load up and go to the Smokies.

D.L.Stafford

Mountain Music is alive and well in this hip, progressive era of artists, such as Taylor Swift, circling the globe. Ugh! I am not a fan. Take a listen to one of the greatest Blue Grass songs ever written by the Blue Grass Legend Ralph Stanley - A Man of Constant Sorrow as performed by Allison Krauss and Union Station with Dan Tyminski.





 
 

 

Wednesday, June 26, 2024

06-26-24 LET'S GO - TWO CARS - FAMILY OF SEVEN - ORMOND BEACH - GREAT WEATHER - COOL KIDS !!!!

THE BEACH - THE PLACE - THE KIDS - THE FOOD - THE LAUGHS - ALL GOOD

Nothing makes you appreciate what shows up in your path as you wander down the road of life like kids and family. I must brag on my family - I have two amazing 40-something kids who make their parents proud every single day. They are both hard-working, successful people who have grown up to impress. I have the opportunity to see this quite often. However, as all Vagabonds know, travel with anyone, particularly kids, has ups and downs. The comic Jim Gaffigan captures the essence of the downside with some funny takes on traveling with his five kids.

I cannot agree with Mr. Gaffigan. It's all about attitude. There are several aspects of kids on vacation - they are usually loud, demanding, and intensely interested in a world they have yet to experience. So, you must have an attitude that enjoys loudness and kids always in motion. Watching my seven-year-old read all day fills his grandmother, known as Ya Ya, with immense pride. She is an obsessive reader with a book always close by 24-7. I read too, but, I'm not ridiculous! Then, of course, the latest addition to our family, our fifteen-month-old grandson had a blast. The beach, the laughter, and the love all around ensured that the boy completely enjoyed himself on his first trip to Ormond Beach. And yes, he was loud and involved.

For a "crew" with Grandma and Grandpa, their kids, and their kids' kids, you're going to need a nice three-bedroom for sleeping, eating, and having lots of fun on the beach. And a nice oceanfront balcony doesn't hurt. I highly recommend Ormond Beach to ensure your posse enjoys the beach, the sun, and the water. It's more exclusive, without the crazy stuff that happens on Daytona Beach to the South. My daughter-in-law, a very smart Nomad, found the perfect place - The Ormondy Condominium - with three bedrooms, three baths, and a large oceanfront balcony. She found it through VRBO . Traveling requires some creativity to get it right! The place had just been completely renovated with comfortable beds, large bathrooms/showers, and nice furniture in well-designed spaces.

In all honesty - everybody in my family LOOOVES the beach! I do not. The inactivity of lying on the beach on a hot day is just something I have never enjoyed. My primary job on this trip was the never-ending trips to  Publix about a half mile from the condo. It worked to perfection - they all went down to the beach to enjoy the nice breeze while I was always coming and going to get various groceries as needed. There was one trip with my daughter-in-law. That was a unique experience - Oat Milk and many other "special" food items to ensure her kids don't end up in the emergency room! LOL!! When I wasn't in transit, I simply enjoyed a nice glass of Pinot Gris on the balcony.

So, the clan loved every minute of our trip to Ormond Beach. Never a dull moment and minimal crying. LOL! 

D.L.Stafford

thenomadARCHITECT

There's only one group to put on the record player when you're discussing Beach Music - The Beach Boys! I concur with a great quote by the actress and musician  Zooey Deschanel - "I remember having this friend in school who said she didn't like the Beach Boys. And in that moment I knew we couldn't be friends anymore." 

I had the distinct pleasure of seeing this innovative group in the early seventies at Tully Gym at Florida State University with my girlfriend, now wife. Back then you could bring your own bottle of wine! My My - things have indeed changed! In honor of all Vagabonds who love the beach - The Beach Boys perform on The Ed Sullivan Show - 1964 - I GET AROUND!





Wednesday, June 19, 2024

06-19-24 THE SUN, THE SEA, THE VIBE, THE PLEASURE, THE ROMANCE - JUST TAKE YOUR ONE & ONLY TO THIS PLACE


PORTUGAL IS MAGICAL & ROMANTIC

One of the interesting things about travel in Europe is the size and diversity of the countries. The United Kingdom is 40 times smaller than the United States. Italy is about the size of New Mexico. Spain is one of the largest countries in Europe - about the size of Texas. Greece is smaller than Louisiana. France is 18 times smaller than the US. And Portugal, one of the smallest countries in Europe, is about the size of Maine. So, what do all these comparisons mean? Traveling in all of these countries is easy and immensely pleasurable. You spend far less time traveling and far more time exploring all of the ancient and modern places in European countries.

Areias Do Seixo Hotel

santa cruz Portugal

Today's post is about a special place for romantics who love to relax and enjoy being with and exploring with their significant other in one of the most interesting parts of the world. If you want glitz and glamour don't go to this place. If you desire unique beauty and pleasure - sign up and go. The  Areias do Sexio is not cheap.  However, IMHO, it is worth every penny. Even though I stress Value and Excellence in this travel blog, sometimes all Vagabonds have to go above and beyond, especially for a special occasion with the one you love. We went in early May six years ago and the prices were respectable. Mid-fall, when the weather is still pleasurable,  is another good time to go for lower prices. 

So - What To Do?        

Just look out the floor-to-ceiling glass from your Love Room, your Tree Room, or your Land Room and you will see one of the most compelling ocean views ever created by nature. If you like walking in nature, put on your walking shoes and enjoy. You can rent a bike and ride through an enchanting habitat. I'm not a surfer, but, if you are so inclined, you can rent a surfboard and hang ten! You might want to reserve a spot with The Body & Mind Studio for Yoga, Pilates, Massage, and other activities for a holistic approach to physical and mental balance. They have a very cool restaurant, Noah Surf House, which serves up delicious choices of interesting cuisine. And, at the end of the day, head to the Rooftop for some flavors from the sea and a nice wine to enjoy the sunset over the Atlantic and watch the stars come out.  It's Romantic to the nth power! 

As an architect and an obsessive traveler, I look for places with great design, comfort, interesting food, and things to do. The Areias Do Seixo Hotel has everything you may desire to ensure your time there is distinctive and pleasurable. The hotel, the seashore, the natural environment and the people serving you will ensure your visit to this interesting country will be memorable.

“Travel opens your heart, broadens your mind, and fills your life with stories to tell.”  Paula Bendfeldt

D.L.Stafford 

thenomadARCHITECT

This week's tune was written by the great Bob Dylan in 1997 and is performed by the great Garth Brooks. It is one of the most romantic songs ever written and it has been recorded by many great artists. This arrangement by Garth, accompanying himself with only an acoustic guitar, is one of the best versions I have ever heard. I hope you enjoy it - TO MAKE YOU FEEL MY LOVE.



Wednesday, June 12, 2024

06-12-24 - PORTUGAL - NOMADS CAN LIVE LARGE IN A UNIQUE HOTEL & ENJOY THE ALENJETO REGION

I am an architect. I love great design. I passionately love modern design. This place, The Ecork Hotel, shows the elegance, and minimalist grammar of great modern architecture. In addition to the sophisticated design, this hotel is the perfect place to lay your weary head after a day of enjoying the Alentejo Region.


This boutique hotel, with only fifty-six rooms, has it all - great design, outdoor and indoor swimming pools, spa, Turkish Bath, sauna, gym, rooftop bar, and one of the most interesting environments to explore and enjoy. Portugal is the largest producer and importer of cork in the world, and it is seen everywhere at Ecork.

From Ecork Hotel's Website:

"Among cork oaks, holm oaks, and native vegetation, it is the ideal destination for those looking for a sensory experience associated with the comfort, flavors, and colors of the Alentejo landscape. Here you will find the ideal conditions to enjoy a sabbatical break, as a couple or with the whole family. Regardless of the company, a peaceful and relaxing stay is always guaranteed for leisure or business."

Of course - All Wanderers need stuff to do. Walks, massages, swimming, day trips, etc., etc.. Ecork delivers everything. Whatever you and yours want to do, this hotel can provide. Take a quick short drive to the World Heritage City Evora, a member of the Network of Oldest European Cities. Additionally, the hotel is about an hour from Lisbon, the capital of Portugal. Like all large cities, there is a lot to see and do. 

This hotel, in one of the most unique environments I have ever seen, is on my Top 10 List of places to stay before you die. And its price? A Suite Deluxe - from $108 / night - complete with a gorgeous interior,  comfy bed, large shower, and nice terrace to enjoy the views. You also have access to the luxurious spa. 

So, get crackin' and enjoy this hotel and one of the most beautiful landscapes in Europe. Next week we enjoy a very cool hotel on the Atlantic coast.

D.L.Stafford

thenomadARCHITECT

This week's tune is by the multi-award-winning British Folk Rock Band - Mumford and Sons. With innovative writing and performing this band turns out great power rock with a folk underpinning. They take rock music to a completely different place for their loyal listeners. We had the pleasure of hearing them along with 9,000 of our closest friends at Red Rock Amphitheatre about thirty minutes from Denver. Just copy th link below. The blog people are not cooperarting this week.

https://youtu.be/rGKfrgqWcv0?si=G_jsVyLJCJQIj2M0


Wednesday, June 5, 2024

06/05/24 - A very wise traveler once said - “I followed my heart and it led me to Portugal.”

OUR PERSONAL EXPERIENCE IN PORTUGAL - WHEN YOU'RE TRAVELING WITH THE ONE YOU LOVE, JUST POUR SOME LOCAL VINHO AND ENJOY ROMANCE AT ITS BEST.

We had enjoyed a trip to the amazing country of Greece on the island of Santorini. If you want to read about that beautiful and interesting place just click - Santorini! The people, the food, the buildings, and the colors of this romantic island make travel a truly pleasurable experience.

We took a fairly quick flight from Athens to Lisbon, rented a car, and drove to the cool, inexpensive Convento Hotel in the small fishing village of Olhao in the Southern region of Algarve. We checked into a large double room with easy access to a small light-filled courtyard and a rooftop pool with views everywhere. This place confirms this blog's always-opined viewpoint of travel - All Vagabonds must travel for high pleasure at low cost. Our first-rate designed room is $165 in today's high-cost world.

There we were! A shorefront boutique hotel with views to die for. Beautiful sand, beautiful waves, and the sound of nature with my one and only. Plus, there are many things to see and do in this small village with beautiful buildings, some great museums and restaurants everywhere. 

After three nights of pleasure in Southern Portugal, we headed north to one of the most interesting areas of Portugal to enjoy a first-class stay in an absolutely modern hotel just outside the ancient city of  Evora. I'll give some thoughts and opinions on this place and hotel next week.
 
When in doubt all Wanderers must just get up and GO!

D.L.Stafford

“I have found out there ain't no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them.” - Mark Twain

Travel Tune of The Week - From one of the greatest drummers in the world of jazz - Buddy Rich and his Big Band perform a classic jazz tune written by Weather Report - Birdland. We had the distinct pleasure of hearing Buddy Rich and his band perform this classic and many other great tunes while in architecture school.