About Renee Blodgett

Renee Blodgett

Renee Blodgett is the founder of We Blog the World. The site combines the magic of an online culture and travel magazine with a global blog network and has contributors from every continent in the world. Having lived in 10 countries and explored nearly 80, she is an avid traveler, and a lover, observer and participant in cultural diversity.

She is also the CEO and founder of Magic Sauce Media, a new media services consultancy focused on viral marketing, social media, branding, events and PR. For over 20 years, she has helped companies from 12 countries get traction in the market. Known for her global and organic approach to product and corporate launches, Renee practices what she pitches and as an active user of social media, she helps clients navigate digital waters from around the world. Renee has been blogging for over 16 years and regularly writes on her personal blog Down the Avenue, Huffington Post, BlogHer, We Blog the World and other sites. She was ranked #12 Social Media Influencer by Forbes Magazine and is listed as a new media influencer and game changer on various sites and books on the new media revolution. In 2013, she was listed as the 6th most influential woman in social media by Forbes Magazine on a Top 20 List.

Her passion for art, storytelling and photography led to the launch of Magic Sauce Photography, which is a visual extension of her writing, the result of which has led to producing six photo books: Galapagos Islands, London, South Africa, Rome, Urbanization and Ecuador.

Renee is also the co-founder of Traveling Geeks, an initiative that brings entrepreneurs, thought leaders, bloggers, creators, curators and influencers to other countries to share and learn from peers, governments, corporations, and the general public in order to educate, share, evaluate, and promote innovative technologies.


Latest Posts by Renee Blodgett

Malibu Sandals, the Perfect Choice for a Summer Getaway

May 2, 2016 by  

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A recent fun discovery for us is the MALIBU SANDAL which is available for both women and men. Their sandals come in a very classic handwoven 10-strap design and they’re proud of using vegan-leather braided material which are also 100% water friendly. For all of their sandals, there’s a signature M-Grip outsole and anatomically correct ultra-soft footbed. Below is our favorite: the Malibu x Missoni Men’s Zuma sandal.  Stylish right?

For a dressier option but with all the same great features is the Men’s Zuma Bison which is also available in black. We are always looking for products which serve multiple purposes so travelers can pack less — this is a great and comfy choice for long urban walks while taking in a tour of attractions in a well known city as well as for dinner in the evenings with a dressy pair of pants.

To give you an idea of the diversity of their styles and colors, from the brown leather look above (great for summer outdoor dining) and more stylish white/blue combo (you’ll fit right in on New England’s shores), how about this very cool and almost retro black and white number? They call it the Zuma Fast Timesand it has a classic handwoven 10-strap design like the others and can be used in and around the water. All their products have that great PU suede footbed that makes them ever so comfy.  They recommend ordering a half size down from your athletic shoe size. For example, if you wear a size 11.5 running shoe, we recommend a size 11 Malibu Sandal.

Here’s what we love about the brand’s methodology and oh btw, they don’t even consider themselves a brand. Their definition of a “fashion brand” is one that tends to celebrate designers and believe things like “shoes make the man.”  They tend to go after artists and free spirits, the ones who live fully and do it with style — you know, the thrill seekers by day and the trendsetters by night, including surfers, adventure enthusiasts and yogi types.

What else is cool about Malibu is their equal commitment to comfort and style. When we tested these out, they were incredibly comfortable straight out of the box — we haven’t put them to the test for a beach walk yet but they performed well on both concrete and dirt trails. We also love the fact that they’ve combined the ancient craft of Mexican huarache sandal-making with contemporary footwear design and engineering techniques, using cruelty-free materials.

A useful cultural factoid is that Mexican huarache style sandals date back many centuries. Their origins are unknown, but there are clear design links between Mayan Caites sandals and pre-Hispanic footwear seen on ancient codices. For travelers who love a cultural connection, their background is really cool.

Traditionally handmade and constructed out of raw leather, the huarache’s primal design language features an intricate woven pattern that’s iconic, durable and proven to withstand the test of time. Malibu Sandal’s 3-piece outsole features a soft anatomically correct polyurethane footbed for a super comfortable fit, a sturdy phylon midsole for strong structural support and a durable rubber sole for ideal traction. The Feature Details: 

  • Brace Bar provides your toes with a raised rail for ideal gripping action and custom fit.
  • Heightened Edging is consistent from front to back and along the medial and lateral sidewalls. The elevated edge acts as a guardrail providing extra toe protection.
  • Sculpted Arch Support creates stable reinforcement for your foot that feels secure in the footbed.
  • Caldera Heel has a deep basin to give your heel ultimate comfort and secure footing.
  • Signature M-Grip Sole is made of durable rubber and molded with our signature M-Grip pattern for excellent traction.

Every pair of Malibu Sandals are made with PETA-Approved Vegan materials, hand-crafted with water friendly materials, are 100% cruelty-free, inspired by the ancient craft of Mexican huarache footwear, re-imagined and designed in Southern California. Two thumbs up!

More information on their various styles (including women’s styles) and how to order can be found on their website at http://www.malibusandals.com/.

Introducing Maria Shireen Bracelet & Hair Tie Combos

April 22, 2016 by  

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Here’s a great beauty and fashion tip for women who want to look great while they’re in adventure mode. Introducing a cool hair tie and bracelet combined into one design by Maria Shireen. The models we tested out come in three finishes: silver, gold and rose gold. It’s essentially a hair tie bracelet in stainless steel with an ionized plated finish that you wear around your wrist until the tie is needed.

I must admit I was a bit confused about how they would work until they arrived. I originally thought the hair tie included the silver, gold and rose gold exterior however the metal is the bracelet that holds a traditional black hair tie — you wear this around your wrist so you “look stylin” until you need to use the tie in your hair. Despite my initial confusion over how to wear/use it, its clear value is for travelers who have too many pockets and bags and tend to lose small things at the bottom. How often have you had to fish through your purse or bag for a hair tie only to have to dump the entire bag out to find it? This solves that problem.

It fits wrists up to 6-6.75 in circumference and can accommodate both skinny and thick hair tie elastics. The bracelets come with a medium thickness black elastic band.   Want a slightlier glitzy look? Check out their Signature Trio pictured below. They also offer bright colors and the same silver, gold and rose gold options for teenagers as well.

Maria Shireen designs, produces and markets three collections of patented hair tie bracelets – b+sweet, bittersweet, and signature. This is for women who struggle with keeping track of where their hair ties were, and managing the discomfort, not to mention the unsightly look of those indentations on your wrists.

More info can be found at http://www.mariashireen.com. 

 

Digestic, a Natural Detoxifying Way to Stay Regular

April 20, 2016 by  

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All travelers will tell you that constipation is something they’ve suffered sometime along their trails. Truth be told, when your diet changes as it often does when you’re traveling, it’s often tougher to stay regular. Some people face this issue on a regular basis whether or not they’re traveling or not. Whether you suffer from intermittent or chronic constipation, Digestic by Mimonis is a new digestive formula I tested out, which claims to be natural, non-laxative and detoxifying.

The formula’s goal is to help regulate metabolism, ease digestion and encourage bowel movements, and at least in my experience using it, there wasn’t any gas or bloating like you get with many constipation solutions.  They use sustainable ingredients sourced worldwide, many of which are apparently fair trade. For those of you wondering whether it’s a laxative or not, they say not….and they also say that it isn’t habit-forming since the purpose is to try to restore equilibrium to the intestinal eco-system rather than cleaning it out.

The ingredient include a couple of my favorites like Fennel which is high in fiber and helps to break down gastric juices, Aloe which is known for stimulating your bowels (also great for fighting free radicals), and Papaya, which is rich in vitamin A, C, E, and K, and a good fiber source. Papaya is also filled with digestive enzymes that help break down waste and reduce inflammation. I’m a huge fan of all three.

Additional ingredients which I know much less about, include Tree Wormwood, a Mediterranean medicinal plant that apparently helps to relieve constipation, indigestion and related pain, heartburn and flatulence and Cardamom which has manganese and some antioxidant properties that help promote digestive health.

For those of you who try to have an integrative and balance life, combining the right blend of exercise, diet and supplements, the last thing you want to deal with is constipation, at work, home or on the road.

Let’s be honest — our digestive system can easily be upset when we move around a lot. It is a micro ecosystem and there is a balance, an ebb and flow to the trillions of microorganisms coexisting within the intestinal walls. Environmental or genetic factors can upset this flow as can disruptive schedules, which travel can most certainly do.

On the road, travelers often turn to laxatives when their system is off, but in my experience, I’ve felt worse after taking them rather than better. Rather than restoring the ecosystem to equilibrium, apparently laxatives wipe it clean. According to the Mimonis folks, they are a short-term solution that will fix the problem immediately but can create a dependency and worsen the original problem.

What these guys are trying to do is use an organic herbal blend to assist the body to rejuvenate itself rather than using something synthetic and unnatural. Bravo in that it’s Gluten-free, non GMO, vegan, and certified Kosher. More information can be found at www.mimonis.com. 

Note: we don’t make any claims on the performance or health benefits of this product – we are merely writing about wellness products and services that we might discover and appear to solve a problem that many people have, and staying regular is one of them, particularly for avid travelers. They did send me some samples, but did not tell me what to write, how to write it nor was a mention required at all. Please contact your doctor or health practitioner for advice on whether this might be a fit for you or not given your own situation.

Hi-Tec Footwear, a Great Choice for the Adventurous Traveler

April 17, 2016 by  

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We just discovered a fabulous walking, hiking and athletic shoe line with a bit of a techie name; in fact tech is in the name: Hi-Tec Footwear. There are so many things to love about their selection of shoes, whether it be a trainer shoe, a super comfy walking shoe or more of a hiking boot. They even have great sandals for hiking as well. While they offer shoes for both men and women, we only reviewed the men’s line this time around and given their tough exterior and more masculine colors, we think it’s a fabulous choice for male adventurous travelers.

First up is the Walk-Lite Witton walking shoe. We chose this one because it’s not just an incredibly comfortable shoe with great support, but it’s also very stylish. We love the durable full-grain leather uppers and rugged Vibram outsole combination, which makes these tan (great neutral color for traveling) suitable for hiking, but also perfect for casual wear and nice enough to wear to a casual restaurant in the evening. This is particularly useful if you don’t have the space to pack several pairs of shoes for a trip that combines adventure with culture and food.

The Walk-Lite Witton has a patented RollinGait System, which is designed to support the natural roll of your stride, ensuring comfort with each step you take. Sweet! Anthony tested these out on a short hike (the terrain was not rough and had plenty of grassy hills and dirt paths) as well as on a fairly lengthy city walk. Even though every shoe needs time to break in, we give it a two thumbs up for comfort right out of the box.

This fabulous designed shoe is made of leather and suede and has mes inserts and tongue for outstanding breathability, a necessary in a walking shoe.  It’s very durable and has an adjustable lacing system for a more personalized fit. Its compression molded EVA midsole absorbs impact, which helps to reduce the strain on your body. And, as noted above, their Vibram RollinGait System supports the natural roll of the foot, reducing overall fatigue. Bravo!

The next pair we wanted to test was a shoe for more sporty activities, so we went with the V-Lite Flash Force Low i. The first thing we noticed about this hiking shoe/walking shoe combo is that it is incredibly lightweight. The V-Lite Flash Force hiking shoes are designed for performance, whether you’re hitting the trail or the track, which is again, is important for travelers who need a shoe that is useful for several scenarios, to avoid those heavy bags.

Fun colors too. We decided to go BOLD so tested out their red trail shoes, which feature i-shield waterproofing and durable synthetic uppers to keep your feet dry and comfortable. The OrthoLite Impressions sockliner offers comfortable cushioning and anti-odor properties, keeping your feet fresh. Like the Walk-Lite Witton, the shoe has Vibram’s patented RollinGait technology which supports the natural roll of your stride, to help decrease your chances of foot exhaustion after a long walk.

It’s hard to tell from these images, but the quality of this shoe is higher than we expected. In traditional Hi-Tec style, they include the i-shield, which creates an additional layer of protection that helps keep footwear clean and dry quicker. This is a must have for any adventure traveler. It stands out, whether underneath a jogging pant or a pair of jeans.

Anthony noted how snug the shoe feels, which in our experience testing shoes, not only adds to the comfort, but the feeling of not wearing a shoe at all, a godsend for those longer walks. Their Ghillie and eyelet lacing system is part of why it fits so snug, but the shoe design adds to a more perfect fit as well.

For example, they use what they refer to as an OrthoLite Impressions sockliner with slow recovery foam. Its purpose? To add to the cushioning and we could feel the difference. Anthony and I both tested out this shoe for a medium sized hill hike and both agreed on its superior comfort upon first wear. It also has anti-odor and anti-microbial properties built in, a nice feature for travelers.

Super comfy, it’s got a very durable rubber outsole and great traction, which we tested out walking up a dirt path with tons of gravel and rocks — no slipping.  A high five to the Hi-Tec team for a great combo of style, durability and comfort.

Note that they also have a wide range of sandals to choose from. I’ve hiked in sandals before to get the breathability necessary when it’s a very hot summer day. That said, most sandals don’t have the kind of traction and ankle support you need for longer walks and hikes.

The folks at Hi-Tec specialize in sandals for hiking. One caveat here is that a good hiking sandal is lighter than a traditional hiking shoe and because they’re waterproof, you can walk right through the stream and not worry about damage, because they air dry so quickly.

Shoes and boots completely cover your feet, so it’s not hard to imagine that wearing open-toed footwear would increase ventilation. Hiking in sandals means there is more skin exposed, increasing the surface area exposed to air (which is not as hot as the inside of a boot).

We think these are great choices for super humid traveling destinations like Southeast Asia and Africa, although be sure to take note of things like poison oak, ivy and other insects and bugs in the area you happen to be before making a choice about whether to go with an open-toe or closed toe solution.

Unlike other types of toeless footwear, Hi-Tec’s hiking sandals feature thick outsoles and deep lugs for handling obstacles commonly encountered on the trail. Just like hiking boots, their hiking sandals provide padded midsoles and outsoles that offer comfort and support. Remember that hiking sandals are not poolside flip flops but solely for walking trails.

Good hiking sandals feature deep lugs that give the bottoms of your feet plenty of traction. As long as the terrain isn’t too rough, your sandals should prevent slippage while keeping your feet cool. Good packing travelers take note: with less material and bulk, a pair of sandals weighs significantly less than shoes or boots. Below, the women’s Galicia Strap weighs just over five ounces while men’s sandals like the Laguna Strap weighs only around nine ounces.

For more information on their shoes including how to order, visit their site at: http://us.hi-tec.com/.

Meet White Sierra, Outdoor Wear for Adventure Travelers

April 15, 2016 by  

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We LOVE the quality of the active clothing line from White Sierra, a new brand on our radar. Recently, we took a look at a few tops and jackets to get an idea of their quality and style and how it might fit into your packing and planning needs for that next adventure trip.

White Sierra specialize in adventure-minded clothing and they’re more fashionable than most. First up is my favorite: the Wooly Bully Zip Jacket, a two side brushed zip up with welt front hand warmer pockets (love these), and distressed suede trim accents on soft fleece. The material is a 100% polyester Wooly Bully fleece knit which makes it more than affordable and it comes in a fun array of colors: grape, a soft blue and cream. Oh so plush and soft!

 

Their Shiva Tank (I fell in love with the grape/lavender) is soft and they say “edgy”, which made me laugh. I’d go for artsy, funky and practical. It has a scoop neck and is designed with a custom double dyed burnout fabric, and screen print overlay. The  50% cotton 50% polyester blend is bra strap friendly, even with a sports bra,  and we love the fact that it’s designed and manufactured in California — bravo for quality!

 

 

Their Select Stretch II Waterproof Jacket arrived after my recent trip to Idaho for some spring skiing so I wasn’t able to put it to the test on the mountain. The jacket has a whisper fill insulated fabric and comfortable stretch lining and would make a great choice for spring skiing, a fall hike or frankly, any outdoor activity. Adventure enthusiasts will love this jacket; the quality was much tougher than we expected.

It’s both waterproof and breathable and has a very useful zip secure front with bicep pockets (great for storing things while you’re on a hike). A fun style accent feature is their contrast color zippers and on the practical front is a build in stowable and adjustable storm hood. Nice add-ons for skiing or biking are their velcro adjustable cuffs, a chin guard and box quilted lining.

The shell is mechanical stretch laminated and is DWR + waterproof with a 100% polyester taffeta lining / Hexi Fleece knit. There are interior pockets which you can use for business cards, keys, cell phone and chap stick. Once again, we love White Sierra’s color choices; this particular jacket comes in patriot blue, a deep purple (shown above) and black.

Bravo on the color combo and softness of their men’s ultra-comfortable Batista Plaid Short Sleeve Shirt, which is perfect for both business and pleasure. One of the things that makes it so soft is that its fabric is sand washed. Touted as travel friendly, it has a patch chest pocket with a pen slot and a straight hem with vents.

This Dobby & Ticks plaid design is a 70% modal 30% polyester blend and comes in a blue (they call it ocean) and a tan, which they call Sand.

 

 

Another great men’s top for any travel adventure is White Sierra’s Echo 1/4 Zip, which is made from breathable, 100% Mini rib knit and wicking fabric for extra warmth and the trim is 100% polyester Microtek Fleece knit.  Sweet!! There’s also a fleece lined collar and chain stitch details and this practical yet stylish piece comes in blue, gray and sage.

Although I hadn’t heard of White Sierra until recently, they’ve been around for 35 years and from the very beginning, have focused on outdoor apparel for people who love the outdoors. We think their line is a perfect choice for adventure travelers since they have such a variety of options, including tops, bottoms, outerwear and rainwear. They also offer choices for youth, toddlers and have extended sizes. While we didn’t test them out, they have a whole line of insect shield clothing as well. More can be found on their website at http://www.whitesierra.com.

Coobie Lingerie & Under Garments for Those Romantic Getaways

April 13, 2016 by  

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I hadn’t heard of Coobie until fairly recently – they brag that they make the most comfortable bra you’ll ever wear. All Coobie Seamless Bras are one size and comfortably fit 32A thru 36D.  What makes them so comfortable? Several things, including design, but the material is made of a very soft and comfortable custom blend of Spandex and Nylon (12% / 88%). One of the things I first noticed about the bras when they arrived, was how light weight and stretchy the fabric is, making it easy to pack for any road trip whether it’s an adventurous weekend or a romantic getaway.

Each Coobie Seamless Bra comes with removable pads and in fact, they suggest removing them when you wash them.  The Coobie Bra Scoopneck comes in a variety of fun colors (11 in total) and one size fits almost everyone from 32A to 36D. They are all seamless with no hooks or clasps, the back is completely smooth and the straps are all adjustable.

Great for travelers is the Coobie Comfort Bra, which also comes in a boat load of colors. It’s super comfortable and features extra wide, fixed straps. Unlike some of the others, it is available in four sizes for a more customized fit – Small, Medium, Large and Extra Large and also has removable pads. It is made of the same extremely comfortable, stretchy fabric as the original Coobie Seamless Bra, that ultra soft nylon and spandex blend. We LOVE the feeling of the material – it’s as if you’re not wearing anything at all!

The Coobie Strapless Bandeau has no straps and no lace — simple is best when you’re on the road as you know. This Bandeau is such a godsend for women who love to wear sleeveless tops or tops with a thin strap. So many other tube bras I’ve tried in the past lose their shape quickly and don’t really give you much support. The Strapless Bandeau comes with pads, support and a great shape, and they fit sizes 32A through a 36D. The fabric is made of an ultra soft nylon and spandex blend like the others. Colors are fun and vibrant and include Turquoise, Driftwood, Cobalt, Navy, Heavenly Pink Leopard, Army Green Leopard and Sky-Lavender Stripe!

Their panties are equally as fun — from periwinkle and green to blue and red velvet. Take a look at the Coobie Cheeky Panty in a wide variety of colors! We love fun and feminine colors here at We Blog the World. Their ultra comfortable Coobie “Cheeky” Seamless Panties are one size that fits from size 2 through size 12 (pant’s size). While this may appear to be impossible, it’s their super stretchy material that allows this to sizing model to work.

They are made of the same soft, stretchy material as the Coobie Seamless Bras and Boy Shorts. These panties come in twelve colors that can btw, be paired with one of the Coobie Seamless Bras!

 

They also offer great legging choices and the quality is much better than we expected. Like the other products in the Coobie line, their Seamless Leggings are super soft and extremely stretchy AND come in one size! What we love about them is how comfortable, form fitting and forgiving they are, even if you have a few extra pounds you’re trying to hide. Available now in Plum, Mocha, Black, Charcoal, Medium Gray, Gray Houndstooth, Navy Houndstooth, and White. Custom Tie Dyed Leggings are also available.  They have an extra wide comfort waistband for a no pinch fit, another great feature. These feature a plain ankle with no lace trim. The “One” size typically fits traditional pant sizes from zero to ten — yes really!

 

Great for road trips are the Coobie Cami’s! They have a fun cami line, my favorite of which is their standard length Wide Strap Coobie Camisole with no shelf or padding. Extremely stretchy and comfortable, made out of the same great material as the Coobie Seamless Bras, one size also fits a size zero to a ten.  We went for neutral colors because of the necessity of a top to go to with multiple outfits in your suitcase, however if you’re getting them for home use, definitely go for some of their brighter, more vibrant colors.

Two thumbs up! For a brand we had never heard of a couple of months ago, we’ve quickly become fans! More info and how to order them, can be found on their website at: http://shopcoobie.com.

 

 

Sun Valley Idaho: Ski, Eat, Hike

April 8, 2016 by  

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I’ve written about Sun Valley before a few times from top foodie picks and the Sun Valley Lodge to skiing and photo walks, and yet I still haven’t been to this natural beauty or had a view of Bald Mountain in the summer time. Otherwise known as Baldy, it has one of the higher summits of the Smoky Mountains, all of which are part of the Sawtooth National Forest.

Each Spring, I head to Sun Valley for an annual conference called DENT where rich conversations happen around technology, science and innovation. Within the mix of innovation, there’s an element of passion for a myriad of things, including arts, education, sports, sustainability and doing the right thing to make society a better place. It seems fitting that Sun Valley should be the home of such an event, where its main town of Ketchum attracts skiers, adventure enthusiasts, artists, hikers and “turn-the-world upside down” seekers.

 

SKI:

Unlike last year, Sun Valley was blessed with snow this season, including a nice pour a few days before I arrived. The views are spectacular, so much so, that it’s rare that you’d make a turn regardless of what trail you’re on, and not be faced with pure beauty.

I was keen to test out my Helly Hansen gear this year since it arrived not long before my trip and I knew I wouldn’t have a chance until next season…and so I broke out the oh so stunning white Bellissimo ski pants and the vibrant purple Double Motion Stretch Jacket. Bravo – I love their active wear!

Spring skiing is bliss, especially in Sun Valley, where you get those crisp blue mountain skis so prevalent in America’s west. Of course after two runs, I realized I would have been better off in a jacket shell given the 50 something temperatures and warm sunshine. And so, I skied with the jacket open and couldn’t have been happier.

Even though it was a Sunday when I first hit the trails, the lift waits were short and the mountain not crowded. They offered plenty of options from well-groomed trails to those with fluffy white powder you could break in yourself. For families, take note that there’s a 26,000-square-foot family center with everything from lessons to rentals to lockers.

They boast four main lodges: River Run Day Lodge, which is at the base of Baldy, which is essentially a  mini village of everything ski and ride related, Warm Springs, also at the base of Baldy which features one of the West’s most famous Idaho potato bars, Seattle Ridge which is at 8,800 square feet along the Seattle Ridge area of Baldy, it boasts  jaw-dropping views of the surrounding Wood River Valley and Carol’s Dollar Mountain Lodge, which I’ve never visited yet. It is family-friendly with a European twist. Located within easy walking distance of the village, Carol’s is a good spot for breakfast or lunch, either inside or on the heated patio.

The nice thing was that they still had me in the system so I was fitted that much faster and on the slopes on no time. I’ve only skied Sun Valley in the Spring but it’s been a joyous experience both times. They have thirteen chairlifts and 65 varied runs. Dollar Mountain features two new high-speed quads, a full-featured terrain park with 76 rails, North America’s largest super pipe, and the Wundercarpet, an effortless uphill transporter. Additionally, they have themed Adventure Trails for kids, with 30 acres of glade ski and boarding terrain.

EAT:

If you stay at the Sun Valley Lodge or Inn (owned by the same folks and a mere five minute walk through the village from each other), a great choice for families, you may opt to eat on-site however there are plenty of great restaurants in downtown Ketchum and they offer a complimentary shuttle back and forth, so you can take in the best of what the town has to offer.

I did a fairly extensive round-up of restaurants a couple of visits ago — see my top 12 picks, many of which are still favorites of locals.  It includes eateries that locals love as much today as they did in 2014, such as GlobusEnoteca and Ketchum Grill, still on East Avenue (three of my favorites).  A real stand-out this year goes to a quaint restaurant called Vintage, which has been around for awhile. Located in a restored historic cabin, all the tables are in one small room, seating only 20 in total. You’ll want to make a reservation well in advance to ensure availability when planning your trip. Inside, its tables all have white table clothes and face a wall-to-wall wine case, and one of their outstanding bottle selections is sure to pair perfectly with whatever you order.

Since I was there with a group, we had a pre-set menu, which included an incredibly fresh Burrata salad, which included smoked tomatoes, watercress balsamic caviar and basil oil. Simple, but it lingered on my mind well after the meal.

They specialize in upscale peasant food using locally farmed sources for all their seafood, meat and poultry. Some more classic menu items include crispy skin roast duckling and Cajun oysters, but also more hearty options like Organic Naturally Raised pecan crusted chicken breast with roasted tomato chutney and Dijonnaise sauce, accompanied by Gorgonzola mashed potatoes and Italian roasted veggies.

My favorite? The Beef Tenderloin, which is oh so tender. They serve it with Idaho twice baked potatoes with three cheese roasted wild mushrooms and grilled asparagus, laced with a red wine syrup. I asked for no potatoes and double the veggies to keep it on the healthy side, a smart choice given the portions.

A relatively newbie in town is a place called Warfield Distillery & Brewery on North Main Street. My favorite part about the restaurant is its authentic brick wall behind the bar, which faces nearly every seat in the place. Imagine a wide array of liquors, spirits and wines jutting out from antiquated brick while you sit and sip your favorite libation on a leisurely evening out on the town. Booths take up most of the middle of the restaurant whereas the tables that line the walls have soft cushion-covered benches and pillow throws.

Photo credit: www.conradgarner.com.

How’s this for a creative choice you don’t have that often? The Handmade Pierogi  is a smoked mash that combines potatoes, sauerkraut, housemade cheese, caramelized onions and brussel leaves – wow, right?

Then, there’s their beet salad, which is served with spicy pecan, mustard greens, arugla, citrus and a shallot dressing.  I could have had two of these – the spicy pecan mixed with the sharpness of the citrus and shallots was memorable.

And, since you’re in Idaho, why not try the Elk? They have a scrumptious Elk Carpaccio which was served with green citrus granita, toasted juniper and blackberry vinaigrette. Bravo!

Perfectly positioned in the heart of downtown Ketchum, you could dine here and walk to any of the nearby bars for a late night drink or take in a game of pool at dive bar The Casino,  ID Grumpy’s or The Cellar Pub.

Konditorei and the Elkhorn Clubhouse are worth mentioning also — fabulous chocolate and traditional joint for drinking and dining respectfully. Elkhorn is even better during warmer months since you can grab a table on the patio and take in the pristine Dollar Mountain view surrounded by the Elkhorn golf course. They do signature plates like legendary crab cakes, lamb sliders, sandwiches and salads, but have great desserts as well.

Photo credit: SunValley.com.

HIKE:

While there was plenty of snow on the ground while I was there in March and it wasn’t quite the season for the same kinds of hikes you could do in the middle of summer season, there are plenty of trails to take in with or without a family in tow in the immediate area, as long as you have a decent pair of hiking boots that can withstand wet mush.

There are a few choices within a stone’s throw of the main town, especially for a moderate walk. Big Wood River and Warm Springs Creek runs through the town and into more rural areas, both quite pretty to take in by foot or bike. There’s a bike path for warmer days that is fairly central.

The Sawtooth Mountains boast some of the best alpine granite in the country, with rock-climbing, hiking, and backpacking treks leading to 10,000 foot peaks or pristine alpine lakes. For the adventurous among you, try Bald Mountain Trail which goes to 3,200 feet and is over five miles long.

A great choice with kids in tow is a trail head that leads to the well known Baker Lake, which is about a 9-10 mile drive out a dirt road and the round-trip walk will take you to about 846 feet. If fishing is your thing, bring a pole — the lakeside path is nicknamed “Fisherman’s Trail”, a great reminder that there’s plenty of fish in the lake.

Photo credit: Pinterest

Proctor Mountain is a more moderate hike that goes to 1,600 feet over around 4.5-miles. The views are spectacular and while you won’t get the benefit wildflowers in the spring, if you’re there in the summer, you’ll want a camera to capture those vivid colors.

Photo credit: Reddit

Speaking of summer since Spring is already here, I learned about the Wellness Festival from May 27-30, 2016, an event Sun Valley throws every year, which focuses on wellness, mindfulness and consciousness.

Helly Hansen, Active Wear for Skiing & Adventure Travel

April 7, 2016 by  

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Frequent skiers will likely know of Helly Hansen as they’re known for ski jackets, down jackets and shells. Given that they’re based in Norway, it’s no surprise that they know how to make great gear and clothing for winter sports and ocean activities like boating where harsh weather is a factor. And, they’ve been around since 1877 — yes, really.

Recently we tested out some of their ski wear during a spring skiing trip to Sun Valley Idaho.  Meet the Double Motion Stretch Jacket in what they call a Princess Purple. Altitude and speed inspire this performance insulated ski jacket. In this model, waterproof breathable Helly Tech Performance stretch fabric is combined with PrimaLoft insulation, and their innovative H2Flow system for turbo-charged mechanical venting which equates to great temperature regulation, a godsend for me on a 50 degree sunny day. Other features include wrist gaitors, inside stash pocket, and ski pass pocket. There’s also a snap away snow skirt to help keep the snow out, which is great for those snowy days.

Their stretch jacket has a very Alpine look and while I personally favor the purple, they also offer it in black, white, a fun and bright turquoise and a soft green, which they call Sea Breeze (both pictured below). The jacket is fully insulated using PrimaLoft Black Insulation (100 g in body and 80 g in sleeves), fully seam sealed and uses a two-way dynamic stretch fabric making it easy to move around. It’s waterproof, windproof and breathable — they treat it with a durable water repellency treatment (DWR) to further help keep you dry, which is really essenstial when it’s snowing or raining.

A bit more about PrimaLoft since I found it interesting. PrimaLoft is essentially a synthetic insulation technology, offering superior thermal properties with excellent water repellency. It is made up of ultra-fine fibers that form air pockets to trap heat inside, and yes, you can feel the difference.

What else is cool is their RECCO Advanced Rescue system, internal pocket for electronics (I bring my iPhone with me on the mountain), strong YKK water resistant zippers, their detachable helmet compatible and adjustable hood and their dual hand warming pockets and a chest pocket. I love that this jacket has so many internal and external pockets and it seems as if I used them all (iPhone, chap stick, trail map, money, kleenex).

I paired this stylish number up with white Helly Hansen’s Bellissimo Ski Pants. What’s fabulous about this ever so chic snow pant that comes in both white and black, is how stretchy they are — it is made with a 4-way stretch softshell and a brushed interior for extra warmth. I absolutely love these pants!!!

The other amazing thing about them that all women will love, is that they’re slim fitting and have a small hip pocket for a key, a lipstick or cash for that burger at the lodge.  Like their other active wear, they use the high quality YKK zippers and an elastic waist. There’s dual hand pockets and a back pocket, boot gaitors with silicone gripper, the known Helly Hansen RECCO Advanced Rescue system and articulated knees for optimized movement (everyone commented about the funky knees while I was lounging out in the sun after skiing — see below). They also treat the pants with their Durable Water Repellency treatment (DWR). Not only did I look smokin’ in these fabulous pants, but I was both warm AND dry!

Below, on the Sun Valley slopes for spring skiing in March.

Daybreaker Fleece Jacket

I also tested out the Daybreaker Fleece Jacket for women, a stylish jacket with a super lightweight and full front-zip design.  It comes in a fun Aqua Marine color (below and above – I’m wearing it under the double motion stretch jacket), as well as a wide variety of other blue shades, coral, pink, peach, orange, magenta, pink, white and black. It’s super soft to wear and ever so comfy — we love the fact that Helly Hansen offers so many color choices.

We found this to be a very versatile jacket. In addition to serving as a great under garment while on the slopes, it’s ideal for the spring temperatures we’re having in northern California. It also makes a great light mid layer in fall and summer, or of course you can pair it with a Helly Hansen shell or ski jacket. The fleece is a nice combo of soft, comfy and breathable, but also has a stretch material construction.

They use Polartec, a famous manufacturer of lightweight and warm fleece, which is known for performance, durability and aesthetics. In the front, there’s a full YKK coil zip, YKK zipped pockets which are more durable than most and a flatlock seam. Helly Hansen also has wonderful sailing jackets, parkas, shells, spring jackets and vests and all in a fun array of colors. Speaking of fun colors, have a look at just a couple of choices for one of their base layers, in 100% Merino HH Wool, which is great for colder days when moisture management isn’t as essential or to add extra warmth under your ski jacket. How fun, right?

They have a variety of capri pants as well, again, in fun colors and designs. It’s rare to find this level of quality and functionality combined with great style and color palettes. Bravo!!

Helly Hansen Terrak Trail Runner

Jackets and shells aren’t all they do well! The lightweight Terrak Trail Runner has a whole lot of cushioning which served me well during back-to-back Zumba workouts. It’s also a great trail running shoe — I tested them out on my regular walk which is a forty minute walk up and around a big hill near my house. They tout lightweight as a great feature, which after my recent experience with a heavier hiking/trail runner combo, is a godsend.

It has a flat-sole and aggressive lugs that offer great traction, so a perfect accompaniment on any trip where you want to both run and hike. While it isn’t meant to be a serious hiking shoe, it has plenty of traction for more moderate hikes and walks and it’s so much lighter than your more traditional hiking shoe. This runner comes in a great vibrant purple/lavender (below), a Dazzling Rose/Midnight combo and a Magenta/Bordeaux blend.

Incredible features of the runner include its Hellywear Protection, which is a high abrasion TPR/Synthetic material found in all high-wear areas on Helly Hansen shoes, a telling fact about the high quality of this brand. It also has something they refer to as the Helly Grip, which is an outsole material that provides you with really great grip and durability on wet rocks and trails.

Strategically placed under your heel, a feature they call C-Zone absorbs the shock and jump starts the transition from heel to toe on impact, making your steps more effortless. With its high cushioning properties and light weight, EVA provides lightweight comfort and support. And, it really is light! Combine its lightness with its extra comfy cushioning and it has quickly become my favorite pair of shoes for general workout activities.

More info on their site about all of their active wear http://www.hellyhansen.com/ — from shoes, under garments and jackets to sweaters, knits, shorts and even skirts. They also have a nice collection for kids as well. Helly Hansen really cares about quality and style and it shows in everything they make! We LOVE LOVE LOVE this brand!

 

 

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