Sunset Magazine’s ‘Westphoria’ Blog Celebrates The Weirdness Of The Western States

chickenIt’s no secret that the 13 states comprising the Western U.S. are a bit unusual. Enter Westphoria, Sunset magazine’s 4-month-old blog dedicated to celebrating all that’s quirky, kick-ass, and distinct about the Left Coast, Southwest and Rocky Mountain regions. Think retrofitted teardrop campers, chicken “sitters,” bike-powered farmers market smoothies, and, uh, hotel rooms designed to resemble giant bird nests.

For those of you living on the other side of the Continental Divide, Sunset is the nation’s top Western lifestyle magazine, focused on travel, gardening, design, green living, food and the outdoors. Understandably, we’re big fans here at Gadling.

Westphoria is sort of like Sunset’s black sheep little sibling: edgy, on-trend, a smarty-pants with a sweet soul. Categories include themes like “House Crush,” “Made in the West,” “Dream Life,” “Food” and “Wanderlust.” I’m hooked.

[Photo credit: Flickr user Green Garden Girl]

Cheese festival season has sprung: the best in the West

sheep cheese Spring, as they say, has sprung. In farmstead and artisan cheese parlance, that means pastures are currently abound with calves, lambs, and kids (of the goat variety), and the first milk of the season is in. That’s why March is the kickoff month for cheese festivals, especially on the West Coast because of its more mild climate. The following just happen to be some of the nation’s best.

8th Annual Oregon Cheese Festival, March 17
Hosted by the Oregon Cheese Guild and Rogue Creamery, this much-loved event features dozens of cheese, beer, and wine makers. General admission is minimal, the sampling is free, and the vibe is laid-back. The festival is held at Rogue Creamery in Central Point, just outside of Ashland in southern Oregon. It possesses the vibe of a giant farmers market, with all of the vendors gathered beneath a giant tent. Events include a “Meet the Cheesemakers” dinner (held the night before), seminars, and tastings, including chocolate and cider.California Artisan Cheese Festival (CACF), March 24-25
What better place for a California cheese festival than wine country? CACF is held every March in Petaluma (located in Sonoma County, about 40 minutes north of San Francisco) and draws over 2,000 attendees who come to taste cheeses from the West Coast, Pacific Northwest, and Rockies. Sign up now to get in on local creamery tours, special lunches, and educational seminars.

On April 7, the inaugural Washington Artisan Cheesemakers Festival will take place in Seattle. In addition to cheesemakers from across the state, expect Washington food artisans, craft beer and cider producers, and winemakers. The event is a benefit for the Cascade Harvest Coalition, a non-profit dedicated to local food security.

Can’t make the festival circuit? Try taking a class at The Cheese School of San Francisco, which is focused solely on classes and tasting events for professionals and caseophiles alike. With an ongoing curriculum of classes taught by industry professionals, offerings may include everything from “Mozzarella Making” and “Craft Brews & Artisan Beers,” to “Sheep & Syrah” and “Springtime Cheeses and Loire Valley Wines.” This is the place geek out on dairy.

Admittedly, this video isn’t from a cheesemaker in the western U.S.; it comes from renown Jasper Hill Farm in Vermont. But it’s an excellent short clip on how cheese goes from cow to cheese case. Should you be fortunate enough to find Harbison at your local cheese shop, I strongly recommend you pounce upon it, because it’s simply dreamy.



[Photo credit: Kate Arding]

New Mexico Tourism launches Billy the Kid-themed scavenger hunt featuring $10,000 reward

billy the kid, new mexicoThe Land of Enchantment just became the Land of Advancement. “Catch the Kid,” a new summer travel promotion launched by New Mexico Tourism Department, has turned the entire state into a “real life video game,” with the prize being $10,000 in cold, hard cash. “The Kid” in question is one William H. Bonney, aka “Billy the Kid.” Participants (it’s geared toward families) try to track down this most iconic of New Mexico outlaws by finding clues hidden throughout the state.

Now through September 24th, you can register your family online at www.CatchtheKid.com to create a “posse profile,” as well as gain access to exclusive New Mexico travel deals and weekly vacation giveaways throughout the summer. The reward money is the inflation equivalent of the $500 reward offered by Governor Lew Wallace in 1881 for the Kid’s head.

If you have a smartphone, you can download the “Catch the Kid” smartphone app. Alternatively, you can play by taking pictures or you or your family posing next to clue posters placed throughout New Mexico, and upload them to your profile page. Designated locations around the state will unlock clues that lead to the Kid’s New Mexico hideout. The more clues you collect, the more information you’ll gather on when and how to capture the wily criminal. The first posse to present the Kid with an arrest warrant will win their handsome reward.

Players using a smartphone to play can unlock additional New Mexico travel deals and win prizes, because the app allows players to find Billy’s money bag loot which is virtually placed and hidden in every county in New Mexico. You’ll have the chance to use this loot to buy vacations, deals, or meals online in the general store section of the “Catch the Kid” website. Good luck, pardners.

Watch New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez announce contest details, below