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Devils Lake Journal - Devils Lake, ND
  • Taste of Travel: 5 weekend escapes

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  • 1 - Kennebunkport, Maine
    Aside from President George H.W. Bush leaping from the sky in celebration of his 90th birthday, Kennebunkport is a fun summer destination filled with picturesque outdoor activities and endless people-watching opportunities. Whether you opt to sit on a bench in the downtown area and absorb the views that include quaint inns, shops and the river, or participate in kayaking, a whale-watch or sunset cruise, you’ll be able to unwind and enjoy the scenery in the process.
    STAY: The newest inn on the block is The Boathouse, located right on the river for the best views. Relax on your balcony, open a bottle of wine and watch the boating action before heading out to join in the fun.
    EAT: At The Boathouse for oysters and fried clams. Wash it down with a few specialty cocktails.
    For breakfast, it’s best to head out for a walk to Mornings in Paris, where you’ll get an authentic French experience; the staff and many of the customers practice the language of love.
    DO: Kayak along the river, and spend some time strolling along the shops downtown.
    2 - Tybee Island, Georgia
    Also referred to as “Savannah Beach,” Tybee Island is a quintessential beach town offering constant ocean breezes and a salty ocean aroma to lure Savants from their steamy streets in summertime. A mere 18 miles away from Savannah, the best days on this easily accessible barrier island are spent doing nothing but rocking on a porch swing, looking out at the ocean and sipping on a cool white wine while enjoying the company of new acquaintances. Be lazy, be cool. Enjoy a swim with the dolphins or a kayak along the river to view the wildlife that may include some alligators.
    STAY: At Surf Song B&B (tybeesurfsong.com) and breathe in the intoxicating scent of jasmine blooming everywhere. Breakfast and home-baked kitchen snacks are a highlight during a stay, as is a float in the refreshing pool. The rooms and interior design throughout this restored home are worth the stay alone, but it’s the service that will keep you coming back.
    EAT: A contemporary version of a low-country spicy shrimp and grits dish at Sundae Café (SundaeCafe.com), where the locals flock and reservations are mandatory. And try the seafood pie appetizer.
    A.J.’s Dockside (ajsdocksidetybee.com) is where you can enjoy one of the best fried oyster Caesar salads you’ll ever have on a waterside deck.
    DO: Swim in the ocean, where there’s a good chance you’ll swim with dolphins.
    Climb the 178 steps inside the Tybee Island Lighthouse Station, which is the second-oldest lighthouse in America. The view from the top is of the Atlantic Ocean and the mouth of the Savannah River. On a crystal clear blue-sky kind of day, the view is nothing short of amazing.
    Page 2 of 6 - Visit in autumn for the Lighthouse Fall Festival or go in April for the Tybee Turtle Trot to participate in a sea turtle release into the ocean, or for the Tybee Wine Festival (TybeeIsland.com).
    3 - Savannah, Georgia
    A good number of tourists associate Savannah with the Kevin Spacey film, “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” and its setting at the 100 acres of the Bonaventure Cemetery. In fact, Savannah, the nation’s largest Landmark Historic District, is said to be America’s most haunted city. As you hit the pavement that covers the remains of yellow fever victims of the 19th century, you’ll no doubt be distracted by the moss growing on the old oak trees, which seem to form a grand entrance everywhere you turn.
    Foodies rejoice in Savannah, as it offers some top culinary experiences. With so much to explore, it’s best to begin with a trolley tour that suits your interests. From there, you’re well on your way to the adventure of a lifetime.
    STAY: At the Mansion on Forsythe Park, where the architecture will add a thrill to your stay, and the eclectic interior design includes an art gallery, a collection of antique hats, animal print furniture, Greek-inspired columns and Italian statues. You’ll feel the “Gatsby” vibe at the outdoor pool and in your old-fashioned deep claw-foot tub. A shuttle takes you across the city to the Mansion’s sister property, The Bohemian, complimentary.
    EAT: At The Olde Pink House, where you’ll dine in style while seated at a haunted home-turned-restaurant with some of the city’s finest culinary offerings.
    Gryphon Tea House for teatime, of course, but in a renovated apothecary that retains some elements of its former business, with the added Savannah grandeur.
    For a test of patience, wait at least an hour in line outside The Wilkes House, and when you finally get in, you’ll be seated with strangers, dine family style and pay cash-only for a Thanksgiving-type meal of southern specialties: fried chicken, okra gumbo, corn bread, biscuits and peach cobbler for dessert. President Obama once dined there, and his chair is now on display. My guess is that he didn’t have to wait in line. But I did.
    The Bohemian is a shuttle ride away for those staying at the Mansion on Forsythe Park, or vice versa. At the very Bohemian restaurant with lifted windows for an open-air feel, try the fried green tomatoes to embrace the total southern experience, but know that your culinary options are more about specialties such as champagne cobbler and Chilean sea bass. Or get some of the best crab cakes, she crab soup and peach cobbler to savor the southern specialties.
    Just try to limit your intake of Leopold’s ice cream to one during your visit. Bet you can’t.
    Page 3 of 6 - DO: Stroll through the 22 historic squares, beginning with a walk past the Fountain in Forsythe Park, which may seem authentic, but is actually a mail-order replica of a French fountain. And be sure to spend some time in the four-block open-air City Market for a bit of the social scene and to browse through art galleries. And then, stop in the Paula Deen store, where Lady & Sons offers lunch or dinner buffet of Southern low-country favorites.
    One simply can’t visit Savannah without checking out a Ghost Tour. If you really want to skip the tour, you can always visit one of the haunted mansions, pubs and cemeteries to put you in the mood. My experience involved a pre-show of a perfectly timed thunder and lightning storm that occurred minutes before while I shopped in the upstairs gift shop at The Pirates’ House, in the “Oldest House in Georgia” built in 1734.
    Walk along the Savannah River to window-shop the boutiques, explore art galleries, and stop at a pub or restaurant inside a hotel. Better yet, hop on a riverboat cruise for brunch, lunch or sunset dinner with entertainment.
    Visit one or two historic homes, such as the Mercer-Williams House (mercerhouse.com), home of “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil,” or the early 19th-century Owens-Thomas House (Telfair.org/visit/owens-thomas-house). The latter is painted in “haint blue” paint made of indigo, lime and buttermilk, which many African cultures believed would ward off evil spirits.
    4 - Jupiter Beach, Florida
    North Palm Beach is the perfect prescription for travelers who seek total leisure. There’s little to do but soak in some sun, stop at one of a handful of restaurant shacks, or paddleboard your afternoon away on the river. No fuss, no stress. Dress is consistently casual anywhere near the ocean and Loxahatchee River Estuary, where nature abounds. But if you head for a drive to the adjacent Palm Beach, it’s best to dress it up a stylish notch or two.
    STAY: At the four-diamond, oceanfront Jupiter Beach Resorts & Spa (JupiterBeachResort.com). Once you arrive, be sure to head to the pool to decompress, order lunch at your lounge chair, and then stop off at the spa to make a reservation for a treatment. Behold the chocolate machine, sure to prompt visits to the spa on a daily basis for a cup of heaven in liquid form, best with fresh strawberries to dunk between sips. Make it a point to spend time in your room to chill on the veranda and listen to the waves crashing below.
    EAT: Jetty’s Restaurant overlooks the lighthouse, while Guanabana’s Restaurant & Island Bar is where you’ll feel like you’ve arrived in Costa Rica. Palm trees at this riverside eatery surround the tables.
    Page 4 of 6 - Casual lunch or dinner at The Sandbar on Jupiter Beach Resort is where you’ll enjoy oceanfront dining.
    DO: Schedule some time at The Spa at Jupiter Beach Resort, and not just for the liquid chocolate treat. A facial is ideal as a start to feeling refreshed and ready for relaxation, and the spa staff will leave you feeling clean, refreshed and renewed.
    Take the Point-2-Point transportation on property at Jupiter Beach Resort to get around the immediate area of Jupiter. It’s complimentary, as are fresh-baked cookies and lemonade in the lobby every day around 3 p.m.
    Go for a kayak or paddleboard excursion at Blueline (bluelinesurf.com), located across the street from Guanabanas, where you can head for lunch after some rowing. If you don’t know how, they offer lessons in paddle boarding kayaking and surfing. They also offer Eco tours, yoga on water and party/corporate functions they call the Blueline Bash.
    5 - Stowe, Vermont
    It’s a beautiful ride during the start of foliage (beginning of October is peak). This is exactly the destination for an enjoyable bike ride on a path through Stowe Village, where stops along the way include shopping, visual treats of the majestic landscape, and lunch outdoors at the end of September on a beautiful Indian summer day.
    STAY: At the renovated Topnotch Resort, where the view is better, there’s better use of space, and the smell of oak surrounds you in one of 68 guestroom suites. One might say Topnotch is a destination spa with a hotel attached to it. The rave reviews this resort receives are on target, and I would say the name suits the stay. It is here where you will get nothing short of topnotch treatment and service.
    Fitness Monthly memberships and on-site personal trainers add to the allure of the fitness aspect, and for resort guests who want to experience any season of the area, the adult pool is open year round.
    Touches of wood are everywhere, symbolizing a call to nature inside and out. Be sure to check out the $30,000 dollar wooden shuffleboard table that will probably remain here forever.
    EAT: If I hadn’t known my location, I might have thought I was having lunch in Napa Valley, California. But I was in Stowe at Topnotch Resort enjoying lunch on the patio of Flannel. Before farm-to-table became trendy, Topnotch had already established the menus based on local produce, meat and cheeses. Best quiche ever: scallions, mushrooms and Parmesan cheese with salad and a glass of sauvignon blanc. My sister enjoyed chicken salad topped with pomegranate vinaigrette. After lunch we took a tour of the condos owned on property. These are options for rent by night, week or month — all with a great view of the mountains, where this resort is nestled.
    Page 5 of 6 - Head to The Roost for cool, hip appetizers such as stuffed clams in clamshells plated beautifully, fried avocado, chicken wings, shrimp dumplings and kale bruschetta. Yes, kale bruschetta. Farm-grown, locally raised food is what dining at Topnotch is all about. Thick cut steaks, crab cakes, duck confit fries — paired with topnotch wines.
    Dessert of make-your-own sundae is courtesy of Pastry Chef Peter Calhoun, who offers maple candied walnuts, salted caramel topping and bourbon whipped cream. Still hungry? Once back in your room, turn-down service will have left behind some dark chocolate and a bottle of ultra-filtered fresh Vermont water. This is my type of place.
    Outside of the resort, Stowe Mountain Lodge is a great change of space for dinner at Solstice, where the same mindset of farm-raised and local cheeses accommodates eco-conscious foodies.
    Beer connoisseurs will love Crop Bistro & Brewery for lunch and a tour of the small brewery. Order the cheddar-lager soup if you know what’s good for you.
    DO: First things first: time spent at Topnotch’s decadent heated pool to order summer margaritas and fries before going for a swim in the very clean and pristine heated pool.
    Head to the 35,000-square-foot spa for a “Loving Hands” Lomi Lomi (Hawaiian for “massage”) to unblock stagnated energy flow via a rhythmic dance of strokes instead of the usual kneading. The goal of this massage treatment is to redirect your energy to a path that leads to love and how you relate to nature. There are no cookie-cutter treatments here; each person has a unique need. My sore neck, shoulders and back received 50 minutes of attention they longed for, and then, a steam room stop with a eucalyptus washcloth on my face allowed me to take deeper breaths.
    Sign on for the Spa at Topnotch “Pathways to Wellness” meant to encourage guests to relax, rejuvenate and make the most of their summer through tailored wellness paths allocated to them at the serenity-filled sanctuary spa. The Paths offer a transformative journey where guests’ inner self and outer life comes into better balance.
    Take in some tennis with pro Milan Kubala, who welcomes those who have never picked up a racquet. You will receive personalized attention upon request, and there’s no wait with six outdoor courts and four indoor courts.
    Rent a bike from the Nordic Barn and head down the bike trail through Stowe Village. You won’t regret it and it’s not too taxing.
    Star gaze and make s’mores at the Topnotch fire pit on the Audubon Terrace.
    Hike the mountain with Sunrise Mountain Guides.
    Enjoy a performance at Spruce Peak Performing Arts Center.
    ——
    Charlene Peters is Editor special features at GateHouse Media. She can be reached by email: cpeters@wickedlocal.com.
    Page 6 of 6 - Mushroom-Parmesan Quiche
    - courtesy of Topnotch Resort
    2 cups heavy cream
    7 eggs
    3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
    1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
    1/2 tsp. kosher salt
    8 mushrooms: crimini, chanterelle, shitake
    Pie dough to line a 10-inch pie plate
    1 1/-4 cups flour
    1/4 tsp. kosher salt
    7 tablespoons butter
    1-2 tablespoons cold water
    Mix together the cream, eggs and spices. Lightly saute the mushrooms and set aside. Make the pie dough by mixing together the flour and salt, and cut the butter into the flour and mix with a pastry blender until combined. Add enough cold water to form dough, and then wrap with saran wrap and chill for at least one hour. Roll out the pie dough to fit the pan, sprinkle the Parmesan cheese into the crust, add the mushrooms, and pour the filling over. Bake in a 300-degree oven until the filling is set, about 30-40 minutes.

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