I've never been a fan of driving. The subway was my primary mode of transportation in New York City for more than a decade, while I commuted by bicycle in Paris for a few years. Then there was Los Angeles, of course.
When I moved to California, I discovered how much I enjoyed driving around and discovering new places. During the pandemic, this was even more true. The redwoods and the desert became the norm for us as we began to quordle travel within the state of California.
Our wanderlust was piqued when I learned about an all-inclusive culinary road trip offered by Black Tomato Tours in Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico. Sleeping bags and granola bars had been the norm on our previous road trips. In my experience, a meal can be made out of several ketchup packets. Three different Auberge Resorts and a Mercedes AMG model, the company's high-performance tier, would make this trip unique. It sounded more extravagant than anything we'd heard before, to be honest.
As we dined on pheasant wrapped in Swiss chard at Yuta, the on-site restaurant just steps from our door, executive chef Galen Zamarra came by to say hello. A James Beard Award winner at Bouley Bakery in New York, he relocated to Utah just before the pandemic. We exchanged stories about moving to the mountains, and how difficult it had been, especially at this time. A simple "the kids love it" seemed to suffice. We have a lot to get done.
The following day, we made a pit stop at Gracie's Farm, as recommended by Zamarra. Organic produce is supplied to Yuta and other local restaurants by this all-women operation, which has a FARMHER bumper sticker plastered on the dusty parking lot. In order to save water and fuel while also improving the health of the soil, the farm's head farmer, Lynsey Gammon, explained that they use a "no-till" method of land preparation. Guest can learn about crop rotation or collect eggs for breakfast while staying at the resort.
After a long day of hiking and practicing yoga on a mountaintop, it was time for a drink. Blue Sky's only neighbor, High West Distillery, has a prominent place on the lodge's bar menu. The Horse Thief: tequila, blackberries, and High West whiskey was what I ordered. We had to leave early, so I could have had two or even four. That's the irony of a great road trip, I suppose.. The goal is to find a perfect location, and once you do, you look for a new one.
October had just passed. People had gone back to their homes, the weather was more bearable. It appeared that now was the best time, if not the only time, to begin driving.
Days 1 and 2: Utah
It took us less than an hour to get to Park City, a ski town better known for hosting the Sundance Film Festival, and all of its accompanying celebrity accoutrements. The 3,500-acre working ranch outside of town in the Wasatch Mountains, home to The Lodge at Blue Sky, Auberge Resorts Collection, is a luxurious respite from it all.
There were horses and old barns along the way to the end of a country lane. As soon as we left reception, we were greeted by an incredible view: an unfurling valley where guests can forage, fly fish, and shoot skeet. It's not uncommon for a gate to be left open, allowing cattle to roam freely between the freestanding suites. Fall colors blazed across the hills: red maples, orange oaks, yellow aspens. On a post-unpacking walk, we came around a corner and saw a deer drinking from a creek. In Rachel's words, "I feel like we're staying in a private forest," she continued.