If you're in southern Montana, you'll want to check out Tippet Rise. Music, art, and outdoor adventure await at this incredible working ranch.
What do you call a piece of art that doubles as an impromptu concert venue and a scratching post for itchy cattle? Well, the artists call it The Domo and it’s one of 12 enormous sculptures on 12,000 acres of ranch land at Montana’s Tippet Rise Art Center.
Tippet Rise, not far from Billings, Montana, is a working ranch, an open-air sculpture park, a fantastic spot for hiking and biking and - most notably - a world-class classical music venue. The music barn (yes, barn!) has acoustics designed to mimic Mozart’s favourite concert halls and it may just be the finest intimate classical music venue in the world. Artistic ambitions extend to the spectacular sculptures, including The Domo, which welcomes human, animal, and musical interaction. And if that wasn’t enough, Tippet Rise is now one of Montana’s greenest destinations.
I was fortunate to visit in 2019. It was a rainy, windy day but the dramatic weather conditions only made my visit all the more atmospheric (if you'll pardon the pun...) I was also treated to a short performance in the Olivier Music Barn and enjoyed its wonderful warm acoustics first hand. You don't often see destinations that combine rugged outdoor fun, exquisite classical music, and commanding modern art in one package but after my visit, I can't imagine it any other way.
In 2022, four new sculptures will be calling Tippet Rise home and in-person music will be back after nearly three years. There's never been a more exciting time to visit! Here are the different ways you can explore this memorable destination.
This easy-to-make chickpea and sweet potato stew is perfect for travel, whether you're making dinner at the cottage or campground, contributing to a hostel potluck, or just need a quick meal at home after a long road trip.
This delicious, easy-to-make flexible chickpea and sweet potato stew is the perfect travel meal. It comes together in about 20 minutes and it freezes beautifully. All of the ingredients are very frugal and available just about anywhere in the world. You don't need any special equipment at all and you can make it in the most humble of kitchens. Oh, and did I mention that it's delicious!? This is wholesome, hearty, stick-to-ya kind of food that will have you reaching for another bowl.
I have to confess that, while this is the ideal dish to make in an RV or at campground or in a rental home or cottage or hostel kitchen, I consider it an old reliable standby for when I'm actually home. If you're about to go away for a few weeks and you're staring at a sparse fridge and considering takeout, this stew will save you. The same can be said for when you return. The fresh ingredients (primarily a sweet potato and an onion) can live in a crisper forever and everything else hangs out in your pantry indefinitely.
Once upon a time, I left for aweek in Bulgaria and Ryan departed a few days after me to head to the US. I had 48 hours at home before I had to hit the road again and meet up with him in New York and then HE returned home and I followed a week after him after spending time near Niagara. Suffice to say that we weren't exactly doing a lot of grocery shopping with all this coming and going and we were getting kind sick of take out food. Chickpea and potato stew to the rescue!
After nearly nearly two years of research, we're finally ready to crown a winner! These are Ottawa's best chicken wings.
My quest to find Ottawa's best chicken wings began in the early summer of 2020, when restaurant patios were just beginning to reopen - temporarily, as it turned out. I revelled in the simple joy of sitting outside and ordering the kinds of foods that always taste better from a restaurant. I loved every bite of those meals but it was the chicken wings that made the strongest impression. They were so delicious! Had chicken wings always been this crispy, this juicy, this tasty? I was so enamoured that I decided to try as many wings around the city as possible.
I envisioned myself as a kind of Ottawa chicken wing hero, giving the public the kind of much needed independent wing assessments they've long craved, all while delivering sub-standard wings the evisceration they've long deserved. Little did I realize it would be a hobby that would hold me in good steed through many a lockdown.
This creamy bowl of loaded baked potato chip dip is just for you - and perfect for chilly winter nights when you're curled up with your favourite travel books, planning your next adventure.
When the world is a dark and scary place, there is one thing you can count on. Dip. Dip is your friend. Dip is delicious. Dip is the perfect companion when you want to settle in for a long, cozy night of travel planning and dip is a stalwart when you need to shore up the courage to cancel your travel plans. Thanks, pandemic. Dip isn't just a condiment. It is a relationship and I, for one, am fully committed.
Dip is also a crafty way to use up odds and ends from your fridge and create something magical. And loaded baked potato chip dip is easiest of all the I-can't-believe-I-made-that recipes. An admirable mix of creamy, salty, and sharp flavours, it's the perfect choice for a quick treat.
Alas, like nearly all dip recipes out there, the ratios for loaded baked potato dip are always designed to serve an army. It's high time for chip dip recipes that serve one person (maybe two, if you're feeling generous, which I am not). I didn't want to share my dip before COVID-19. I sure don't want double dippers now! These proportions are just begging for you to make yourself a tasty weeknight treat. Dig in!
I thought I was ready to fly with Santa Claus - but was I? The plane was small - and the naughty list loomed large!
Every writer dreams of an exclusive celebrity scoop and I got one to top them all: Santa Claus! Not only did the head elf himself give me the inside scoop on what he loves about Ottawa but I also got to spend some time with him in his very own plane. That's right - Santa doesn't just fly a sleigh but he also offers 15 minute aerial tours of downtown Ottawa in a vintage Cessna 172 in conjunction with Ottawa Aviation Adventures as part of a program in support of the Ottawa Food Bank.
There was just one tiny complication. The plane is tiny. Santa is all-knowing. And I'm a big ol' scarde-y cat. An Anti-Adventurist, if you will. Would my notorious stomach hold up in a vintage aircraft? Would my nerve hold up if Santa started grilling me about whether I was naughty or nice?
Fun, easy, festive gifts for your pet sitter (and anyone else who deserves a little treat this holiday season).
People ask me all the time what’s the hardest part about planning my trips. They probably expect me to say that it’s arranging the visas or searching for cheap flights or maybe even just deciding where to go. But my surprising answer is always the same. My biggest challenge is Ollie!
Ollie is my beloved dog and he often does accompany me on road trips but for most of my travels, figuring out his care is a bit of an adventure. He can’t exactly come along when I’m on safari in Botswana or even when I’m at a conference in New York City. I want Ollie to be happy and relaxed when I’m gone and I want his pet sitters to feel the exact same way. I do everything I can to make sure their job goes smoothly. I set up meet and greets, I leave long lists of emergency information, and I make sure the house is well stocked with everything Ollie needs. And I go the extra mile over the holiday season. You can bet the cupboard is filled with ALL of Oliver’s favourite treats. And you’ll probably find a few gifts from Santa-Paws in there as well. But what about the sitters themselves? What do they need to feel comfy and cozy in my home? And how can I make sure their holidays are special too?
The pet sitter – pet parent relationship is one of immense trust. Nomodor understands how important this is. Their process ensures that you feel comfortable and trusting with who is in your home and the site has built a reputation on providing reliable and trustworthy pet sitters for those that need one.
Afterall, you are counting on your sitter to take care of someone you deeply love, while they are counting on you to provide a safe, warm, welcoming work environment. You’ll talk about things you might not share with anyone else. But other things are more opaque. You probably know their professional qualifications much more than you actually know them. They’re staying in your home and caring for your beloved pet – but you don’t even know their favourite colour!
No wonder it’s so hard to find the perfect gift for your pet sitter. It’s a quandary! You want something professional but not formal, personal but not presumptive. Most of all, you want something that shows how much you value their work and the relationship they have with your pet. Here are some ideas to help you find that perfect present.
See how I've been exploring Ottawa this autumn - and maybe you'll win your own amazing adventure!
Whoever first described autumn travel as the "off season" surely never lived in Ottawa, for this is when our city is on, on, on! The weather is lovely, the changing leaves are spectacular, and there's no shortage of fantastic things to do. Case in point: Check out what I've been up to over the last few weeks. From pies to ziplines, I think just about everyone will find something to love on this list.
In fact, I KNOW everyone will love it because one lucky reader is going to win an amazing Ottawa excursion based on a very exciting activity I just enjoyed myself. Read on!
Ottawa bakeries showcase a delicious side of the city! These are some of my favorites.
I know bakeries. If there's one thing I'm good at, it's tracking down baked goods. And eating them. I am VERY GOOD at eating baked goods.
It's not just the obvious deliciousness I enjoy. Bakeries are a fun, accessible, affordable way to explore a destination. I have vivid memories of my very first backpacking trip in Europe, way back when before the common Euro currency was in play. I was determined to use up all my coins before I crossed borders (rendering them all but useless). As such, I soon became very adapt at buying the exact thing at a bakery that corresponded with the precise amount of coins left in my pocket. I still remember a train station apple pastry procured in France moments before I hoped on a train to Italy! The sweet filling was almost as satisfing as the knowledge that I had used every spare cent.
It's this kind of deep seated bakery love that had me jumping at the chance to investigate Ottawa bakeries. I know first hand that my local favourites make treats every bit as delicious as those fancy French spots that had me carefully counting my pennies all those years ago and I am eager to spread the word about just how much creative baking talent is right here in our hometown. Some of these destinations are long-loved special spots that I can't believe more people haven't heard about yet, while others are new to me, discovered this year as part of the #Invite2 campaign. And some, I must confess, aren't strictly bakeries per se but more like cafes that specialize in their own baked goods. What can I say? The heart wants what it wants. And so does my stomach! I'm sure you will love these sweet destinations as much as I do.
PS: Of course, this is but a tiny sampling of the bakeries the city has to offer, focusing on the places I know well. I hope this is a list that will only grow over time!
Updated in 2022! Who says a day in Paris isn't enough time to see the sights? Whether your Paris layover is 3 hours or more, you can still have an incredible trip to the City of Lights.
Paris, more than any other city, is a destination meant to be savored. This is a haven for the lazy and the lackadasicle, a place where sitting and doing nothing isn't just encouraged but revered as an art form. As such, when I had the opportunity to plan a day in Paris - and just one day - for travelling friends, I was initially stumped. But then I remembered how much readers love my piece on seeing London in just three hours (yes, THREE) and how my last trip to Paris was indeed so short that I actually made notes for a future three hour Paris layover guide - and naturally promptly forgot about them, until someone else was in need.
If you dream of a sleepy Paris sojurn but your reality is a lickity-split layover, I've got you covered. Who says a day in Paris (or even much less) can't be wonderful?
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