The Complicated Traveler

Travel for me means planning for all of life’s unknown

Tag: beautiful scenery

Buffalo, Wyoming: A Winter Wonderland

What’s a girl to do when big crowds and hot temperatures send her running for the hills?  

Why she visits the iconic summer destinations in the winter, of course!

Living with severe environmental (sun and heat) and food (soy and yeast) allergies travel can be a real pain. In December 2015 my husband came to me with an idea.  We needed to travel six hours north of Colorado Springs…Why?… Because, he explained, “we have been six hours or more in every other direction”. Makes total sense. Hubby did some research and we decided on our destination.

We went to Buffalo, Wyoming.

A place where old and new meld beautifully into a winter wonderland, rich in history yet hip and modern. No matter when you visit, there is history to be reveled in around every corner of the town.

From the Occidental hotel, to historic down town, everywhere you look you can catch a glimpse of the glory days for this small town.

Not the best lighting, but a wonderful historic building with literary ties.

Not the best lighting, but a wonderful historic building with literary ties.

A better view of the Occidental Hotel. Yes, you can still stay in this hotel. http://www.occidentalwyoming.com

A better view of the Occidental Hotel. Yes, you can still stay in this hotel. http://www.occidentalwyoming.com

For the literary buffs out there, you will know this gem as the place where, the Virginian got his man. While the historians will know it for the role it played in infamous story of Butch Cassidy, the Sundance Kid, and the Wild Bunch.  For those who love the story lines of Craig Johnson in his Longmire series, especially if you have watched the show on A&E/Netflix you will recognize the scenery when you walk the paths in Buffalo Wyoming, as the fictional Longmire country.

And if you are in doubt that you’re in the right place, the “Longmire for Sheriff” signs all over town will confirm my description.

In summer time, locals and tourists a like, fill the streets to over flowing.  Whether they are stopping over on their way to Mount Rushmore or Yellowstone the town more than doubles in size in the summer months, making a stay in Buffalo more expensive – and for me more stressful – than it is in the off season.

In the winter, however, the small town feel returns to Buffalo.

Hotels can take time to deep clean their rooms, as the Hampton Inn we stayed at were in the process of doing.

Also no matter where you decide to eat you can almost guarantee a seat without a wait.   They have a variety of restaurants that would appeal to almost any pallet.  They have steakhouses that can, not only work around food allergies, but will serve you a steak and potato meal worthy of a cowboy who had spent a long hard day in the saddle.

For those who prefer an organic option for their meals, take heart… they have that also.  Organic BBQ is a thing, and it is better than one might think. Regardless of which you choose, prepare for the locals to give you a cursory once over, in the friendly small town way, and welcome you to town.

Buffalo Wyoming is a quintessential small town in winter.  So out of towers stick out just as much in winter – if not more – than in the summer when out of towners are expected.

With my food allergies, the steakhouse and organic BBQ were a welcome sight.  As I have come to realize the more hippy (a family term of endearment for food I can eat) the place is, the more choices I would have, and the Winchester Steakhouse and Up In Smoke, two places that were willing to work with me where my food allergies were concerned, were a breath of fresh air in the small town setting.

They also boast The Fix. The all import coffee house, where even the pickiest of coffee drinkers – me being among them – can find a worthy caffeinated beverage when one is needed.  A very important part for any trip I am on, otherwise I am not my normal bubbly self.

They outsource their coffee and syrups so you know you aren’t getting a cup of Folgers for the price of a Starbucks coffee.  Beans and syrups from Italy, the attention to detail was a wonderful addition to our trip.

The town is very pet friendly, over all.

We were traveling with our 9 month old 5 pound Multipoo, and other than eating establishments, which we expected, we were able to carry our small dog around while we reveled in the historic atmosphere.

Taking a short stroll around historic downtown.

Taking a short stroll around historic downtown.

The employees at the Hampton Inn fell in love with our little fluff ball, and did their best to spoil him with attention, as did most locals we happened upon in our exploring.

While we were not headed to another location we did drive through the Big Horn National Park. 

We reveled in the clear blue sky, the white mountain peaks, and the wind – which Wyoming is known for – as it whipped the freshly fallen snow into puffy clouds before our very eyes.

Those clouds are actually snow being carried by the wind.

Those clouds are actually snow being carried by the wind.

More snow being whipped into a cloud frenzy by the famous Wyoming winds.

More snow being whipped into a cloud frenzy by the famous Wyoming winds.

Driving through Big Horn National Park, and Chaz is in his favorite (warm-up) spot. Sun is bright, but don't let that fool you, it's cold out there.

Driving through Big Horn National Park, and Chaz is in his favorite (warm-up) spot. Sun is bright, but don’t let that fool you, it’s cold out there.

We also walked Clear Creek path for a bit.

I enjoyed the opportunity afforded by cold cloudy day to get out and walk a bit. Clear Creek runs through the town of Buffalo, and is filled with picturesque scenery. The locals call out a friendly hello as you pass one another on the path. While the Big Horn Mountains seem to suddenly appear out of nothing in the distance.  It is easy to see how in the spring and summer this path would be a tranquil walk, filled with areas to stop and take a moment to enjoy the scenery and quiet the creek provides.

Crossing the creek afforded an amazing view of the semi-frozen creek.

Crossing the creek afforded an amazing view of the semi-frozen creek.

A view often seen near Longmire's home in the Television series.

A view often seen near Longmire’s home in the Television series.

Chaz enjoying walking where there wasn't snow.

Chaz enjoying walking where there wasn’t snow.

A path leading to the Big Horn mountain range.

A path leading to the Big Horn mountain range.

We left our home in Colorado hoping to find an allergy friendly locale where I could relax and enjoy my time away from home, and we hit gold with Buffalo, Wyoming.

A cold, often overcast, place where hippy restaurants abounded so I could eat my meals without fear of reaction. To place icing on this already fabulous cake, it was also affordable. Something I had on good authority was not the case in the summer months.

If you are looking for an affordable winter get-a-way, think of heading west. Just keep in mind that winters in Wyoming are harsh. Which puts into perspective just what it took for settlers of this glorious state to survive each winter, let alone their first winter here.

 

 

Joanie’s Deli And Bakery

 

What does a girl do when she is told by her doctors to eat more calories, especially if she is a rabbit food loving freak?  Why she finds places that serve BIG yummy salads!

Can you say fresh?

Can you say fresh?  And can you say YUM?!

OK, so my doctors didn’t want me eating more salads they wanted me to eat more calories than a salad has to offer.  But when you are a rabbit food lover who has very specific food allergies, you do your best to eat what you love…because then you’ll eat more in a day, which is the over arching goal of eating more…right?

Oh. So. Yummy.

Oh. So. Yummy.

During some of our weekends –  when we have to be out the house so people can look at our house – we would go up to Woodland park and stop for lunch at Joanie’s before heading back to the house, or out into the mountains for some light hiking.

Woodland Park is a nice drive up Highway 24 from Colorado Springs, not so long that you feel as if you’ve been in the car all day, just for a salad…but also not so short that we couldn’t be out of the house for the  2-5 hour window needed.  The longer we needed to be out the more we would do, after eating.

One great thing about Joanie’s Bakery and Delicatessen, other than the fact I can eat what I like even with my food allergies, is that we can take Chaz with us and sit on the covered patio.  It’s away from the street, and well protected. So it pet friendly, provided you don’t take them inside. (Though we have been told that they just might make an exception for Chaz…”because he’s so cute”. However, we don’t want the health department to close them down, so we keep Chaz outside.)

He's ready to eat. I share the egg yolks from my salad with him.

He’s ready to eat. I share the egg yolks from my salad with him.

I can actually sit outside, kind of, and enjoy my meal. A very rare treat for me.

See that first seat on the left? Yep that's my favorite spot at Joanie's.

See that first seat on the left? Yep that’s my favorite spot at Joanie’s.

Plexi glass protects us from the smoke the wind might bring in, and the over hang keeps the afternoon sun from reaching me.   I couldn’t eat breakfast there, with the dog, because I wouldn’t be able to sit outside. But once the sun reaches noon the porch is shaded and lovely.

Joanie’s is located at 110 East Highway 24, Woodland Park, CO  719-686-9091.  They only use Boars Head meat and cheeses for their salads and sandwiches, and their staff is very knowledgable about what goes into everything – even their salad dressings.

So if you have questions go in and ask, they’ll tell you exactly what they use. For example…knowing that soy is in practically everything, but not in most mustards, I get their honey mustard dressing.  They only use canola oil in their dressings, but if there is mayo or soy sauce (duh) in the dressing it’s a non-starter for me. So that takes their ranch and asian fusion style dressings, and the blue cheese, out of the equation (I just don’t like blue cheese) leaving their honey mustard or vinaigrettes for me to enjoy.

Now their vinaigrettes are lovely, but since I typically get a Chefs salad,  there is lots of protein to be had – a must for my picky body – I get the honey mustard.  It is a better paring with the bacon.

Once I had the Chef with their raspberry vinaigrette… again the vinaigrettes taste great, but for me they aren’t the best paring with the bacon.  The honey mustard gives you a nice zip and zing without over powering the meat…bacon.

Hubby loves their sandwiches, he’s had their version of grilled cheese, the Roast Beef Melt and many others that I don’t remember. Why?  I’ll let you ask.  Because I can’t eat them.  I cannot envy something I’ve never tried, and thus I find them unmemorable.  However, my I can eat anything hubby enjoys their sandwiches.

So if you fall into the I can eat anything category, be sure to check them out also.

I have even gone with a vegetarian friend of ours, and she was able to get exactly what she wanted…catered to her liking.  We both left satisfied, and ready for our trip back down the mountain.

For Labor Day hubby and I grabbed the dog and headed out to get a late lunch and so I could get photos for you…in case you are like me and need a visual aid from time to time to ensure you are where you think you should be.  Though Woodland Park isn’t that big still I want to be thorough.

And since I am a foodie who forgets to take photos of their food…I had a purpose in going there…I took my phone and my camera.  Try not to drool on your electronic devices.

 

Next time you are in Woodland Park, checkout Joanie’s if its time to eat.  Let me know what you had and what you thought.

 

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Inspiration To Travel

I recently read an article by annaeverwhere about traveling with chronic diseases and other medical issues. It really put into perspective my allergy issues.  While mine do not physically show, thankfully, they can be the cause for some very public displays of panic. However, since she isn’t letting it slow her down it has given me a little more spit and vinegar where my adventures are concerned.

We have had our home on the market for the last month or so, and each time we show the house I have to take the dog with me…after a whirlwind clean up of the house so it is show room ready, and I head for the nearest store that allows animals, or I head to the Air Force Academy so I can walk Chaz .

Today I have a showing and I’m thinking, if I cover up properly with sun clothes, and heading out to be a sightseer to areas I typically avoid because of the sun. Hopefully there will be new photos to take and no need for allergy meds.

It is just nice knowing that there are others out there, traveling and leading full lives in spite of their medical conditions.

While I do not travel on the same scale as Anna, for me just going out of the house is huge feat most days.

 

(This post was written a few days ago, go HERE to read about our adventures in Garden of the Gods.)