Thursday, September 11, 2014

“Happy” on El Camino de Santiago

This Camino video is worth the watch! If you haven’t walked Camino before, it may help explain why I entitled one of the chapters in my book “Ecstatic Joy.” Click here.Filed under: Uncategorized

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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

IFWTWA awards scholarship fund to El Salvador culinary arts school

Doug MacKenzie, Maralyn Hill and Herve' Laurent (L-R) in Mesa, Ariz.
One more aspiring chef will be able to attend culinary arts school in the developing nation of El Salvador thanks to the International Food Wine and Travel Writers Association. Yesterday French Master Chef Herve’ Laurent received a check for $500 dollars for the scholarship fund at the SCARTS School of Culinary Arts. Douglas MacKenzie and Maralyn Hill, board members of the International Food Wine and Travel Writers Association (IFWTWA) at an outdoor ceremony at Rancho de Tia Rosa restaurant in Mesa, Ariz., presented the check.

“The school helps people who don’t have so many possibilities,” said Chef Herve’. The school offers affordable tuition to those who live where the average monthly income is $250 according the Master Chef.

Students from the culinary school have found careers at the better restaurants of Lima, Peru; Barcelona and Madrid, Spain; and New Your City, New York. Other graduates are opening restaurants in and around San Salvador, El Salvador where the school of culinary arts is located. “Many people want to open restaurants, we give them the keys to do that,” explained the chef. The SCARTS School of Culinary Arts trains aspiring chefs in business practices and restaurant management as well as artistic forms of cooking. “Business is not a joke,” emphasized Chef Herve’ and thanking members of IFWTWA.

“Latin American cuisine is moving a lot. This is an example of what we now enjoy – American and Latin American food,” said the renowned chef pointing to the colorful spread of food prepared by the Rancho de Tia Rosa. The restaurant is known for its long list of fruit salsas including the pineapple salsa that was served on the delicious sautéed shrimp tacos. Chef Herve raved about the Spinach Enchiladas made with fresh cooked spinach, onions and pinon nuts in a creamy chile sauce.
Flan at Rancho de Tia Rosa, Mesa, AZ

Chef Herve’ taught at Le Cordon Bleu, London and Paul Bocuse Institute in Lyon, France before opening the school in El Salvador. The event was hosted by Visit Mesa, City Limitless and Visit Phoenix.
Christmas time starts now at Rancho de Tia Rosa.
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Churros and homemade vanilla bean ice cream.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Gordon Lightfoot retweets article written by Stacey Wittig aka Vagabonding Lulu

          View the travel article by clicking here.  

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Looking out the window of seat 9A on tonight's flight into Shreveport, Louisiana, I thought to myself, "I could be in a foreign country." The thick forests below broken by watery bayous something I had never seen before. Sure, I've been to New Orleans. Many times. But I've never seen such a large expanse of water wilderness. Perhaps I was flying over portions of Kisatchie National Forest -- I am not sure.

What I am sure of is that I am now -- for the first time ever -- in Shreveport, Louisiana at the Hilton Shreveport which is located downtown. I have a beautiful view of the Red River from my eighth floor guest room. The view from the rooftop swimming pool is also exciting. I watched the sun set over the lights of a tall refinery.

The Hilton Shreveport has free shuttle service from the airport -- about a 10 minute drive. My room is spacious with nice desk space -- good for the writer in me. The in-room coffee, iron, micro wave and fridge are all welcome amenities for the business traveler. That khaki skirt that I packed for tomorrow's tour of the Forts Randolf and Buhlow State Historic Site might need a pressing. And the Cuisinart coffee machine promises a good "wake me up" in the morning.
 Check back tomorrow for my report on the fort and how the Confederates used slave labor to build them.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Best bag for Spring Break converts from suitcase to backpack

For those of you planning a hiking adventure for Spring Break, here is the perfect bag for you: eBags Mother Lode TLS Weekender Convertible that is designed for the active traveler. My eBags Mother Lode TLS Weekender Convertible is made durable nylon the color of western skies called Tropical Turquoise.

The backpack straps hide away in a neat zipper compartment for tangle-free airport handling. Shoulder straps zip away so they can't get caught in those nasty airport baggage conveyors. If you don't want to check your bag, no worries. The 21.5"x14"x9" will easily fit in the overhead compartment. I prefer this bag as a carry-on because it has a special compartment for my laptop and a pocket on top for easy access to my travel documents.

But the functionality of this bag does not end there. Once at your destination, empty the eBags Mother Lode TLS Weekender Convertible, zip up the expansion gusset to make it 1.5" smaller, tighten up the outside compression straps and unzip the padded shoulder straps. Now you have a day pack that will hold your windbreaker, sunscreen, lunch and water. Put one water bottle in the easy-to-reach hide away water bottle pouch.

I wish I would have had this little gem on last month's trip to India. The only thing that it is missing is wheels to pull it through the airport. But if it had wheels, it wouldn't make for a light-weight backpack. As it is, it weighs in at only 3 pounds, 11 ounces making it my recommendation for "Best Bag for Spring Break Getaway."

At the writing of this review, the sturdy eBag was priced $99.99 at eBags.

Stacey Wittig is an Arizona travel writer that loves to give free travel tips, Don't miss the next great tip by subscribing in the upper right.

Monday, January 14, 2013

One of the World's Best Places for Bird Watching?

Where is one of the the best place for birding watching? It may just be one of the last places you might think of -- the Arizona desert.

Southeastern Arizona’s Sky Islands are environmentally diverse and some of the best places in the world for bird watchers to find extremely wide ranges of bird species. Sky islands are isolated mountains that are dramatically and environmentally different from their surrounding lowland deserts. The mountains offer diverse habitats that attract a vast amount of migratory bird species. For birders and nature lovers, southeast Arizona provides a rich opportunity to discover many species and enjoy the great outdoors. An hour and a half east of Tucson, the Chiricahua Mountains -- a significant Sky Island -- ascends from the arid Chihuahuan Desert and transitions to grassland, oak-pine woodland, pine forest and finally to spruce-fir-aspen forest at its higher elevations.

For birding and lodging in the Chiricahua Mountains, Sunglow Ranch, a boutique guest ranch resort, is a birder’s paradise. It is located in the foothills of the Chiricahua Mountains at 5,340 feet in elevation. Sunglow offers guests inspired lodging and dining in its hideaway setting. Birders can also relax with a variety of other activities including astronomy, hiking, biking, horse riding, fishing, swimming and a spa. Running water, a pond, bird feeders, onsite trails and birding stations makes Sunglow Ranch a frequent venue for visitors and birds alike.

Turkey Creek which flows through the ranchlands offers phenomenal birding. Over 500 bird species have been reported at and around Sunglow Ranch where mountain streams large bird populations are present all year.

Nearby, the Wings Over WILLCOX Birding and Nature festival is hosted the third week in January, Wednesday through Sunday. Seminars, photo contests, birding workshops, tours, and activities for birders and nature enthusiast of all backgrounds are offered.

The WILLCOX Playa is arguably the best shorebird and waterfowl watching area in Southern Arizona. The Playa is a large, shallow, dry lakebed located seven miles south of Willcox in Cochise County, Arizona. The Apache Station Wildlife Area, located 8.5 miles south of I-10 on US 191, is probably one the best spots on the WILLCOX Playa, and the easiest to access.

For an outstanding experience in birding and lodging in the Chiricahua Mountains Sky Island, Sunglow
Ranch provides visitors with breathtaking views, inclusive meals and an experience to be remembered.
Sunglow Ranch EARNED BOTH the Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence and the Travelers’ Choice Award for 2012, chosen as one of the “Top 25 Relaxation/Spa Hotels in the United States” For more information on Sunglow Ranch call: (520) 824-3334
Stacey "Vagabonding Lulu" Wittig is an Arizona travel writer based in Flagstaff, AZ. Get more travel tips by "Subscribing" to this site.