Giddyap and Get Cooking
Sunday, August 31, 2008; Page P03
Q. I'd like to surprise my husband with a trip to the Midwest for horseback riding and a gourmet cooking class. Any advice?
C. White, Harpers Ferry, W.Va.
A. You'll have to travel a bit farther than the Midwest to find ranches that cater to both cooks and cowboys. Colleen Hodson of the Dude Ranchers' Association in Cody, Wyo. (866-399-2339, http:/
Others offer more formal cooking programs. For example, Smith Fork Ranch in Crawford, Colo., has a four-day culinary weekend Sept. 11-14. Guests learn to cook dishes featuring lamb, elk, rainbow trout and pheasant; visit nearby farms and ranches; pitch in to prepare a streamside picnic; and are served a five-course dinner with suggested wine pairings. Prepare to pony up for this one: Cost is $2,500 for two. For more info: 970-921-3454, http:/
For something a little closer to home, here's an option in Upstate New York: Take a cooking class at the famed Culinary Institute of America (845-471-6608, http:/
My husband and I want to take a trip to Central America this fall and are considering Nicaragua. We want to be off the beaten path, which seems like a good reason to leave Costa Rica off the list. We'd like the first half of the trip to be adventurous and cultural, and the other half luxurious and relaxing.
April Hatton, Washington
Your choice is a good one, since Nicaragua offers all the appeal of its southern neighbor, Costa Rica, but is not yet heavily traveled. In other words, the country "has not been tweaked, packaged and repackaged to meet the perceived desires of the international traveler," says Richard Leonardi, general manager of Tours Nicaragua (011-505-252-4035, http:/
As for adventurous and cultural destinations, Leonardi suggests that you visit the country's colonial cities of Leon and Granada, both founded in the 16th century. "Both cities have fine colonial restorations for lodging," Leonardi says. From those bases, he says, you can climb active volcanoes, kayak in Lake Nicaragua and visit native artisan villages.
For the relaxing half of your trip, Leonardi says, head for San Juan del Sur on the Pacific coast. Lodging includes options such as Piedras y Olas (866-350-0555, http:/
Send queries by e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) or U.S. mail (Travel Q&A, Washington Post Travel Section, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071). Please include your name and town.