Per CNN: With the year we’re having, every day should be National Beer Day. But the date of the official beer celebration is April 7. Crack a few of your favorite brews Wednesday and raise a toast to President Franklin Roosevelt, who signed the legislation into law in 1933.
Have you noticed that there is a day for almost anything? Lately, I have seen national popcorn day, national burrito day (I like that), world party day, national go for broke day (I assume to honor the 442 regiment), national raisin day, national pet day, you get the idea.
First, I never knew we had a National Beer Day.
Two, how is it celebrated?
Three, what are my favorite beers? Firestone Walker 805, Corona, and any beer served at the Oktoberfest in Munich.
Beer has been made for over 5000 years!
After he won the Nobel Prize, Neils Bohr was given a perpetual supply of beer piped into his house.
At the wife carrying championships in Croatia, first prize is the wife’s weight in beer.
The top state for beer consumption, per capita, is surprisingly New Hampshire.
Germany has a 5 kilometer beer pipeline carrying beer.
Winston Churchill called the concept of Prohibition “an affront to the whole history of mankind.” President Barack Obama was the first president to host a White House homebrewing session, according to NPR.
Is there anything better at a baseball game than a hot dog and a cold beer?
How best to celebrate? Either your favorite watering hole, a day at the old ballpark, and a six pack of your favorite brew on your back patio.
Most of us have arrived at the airport, only to realize that we forgot something. I once went on a trip to Kauai, and forgot my golf clubs!!! And golf shoes. I had to rent clubs, and buy another pair of golf shoes. Since that untimely event, I always use a list when I pack for a long trip.
After printing my boarding pass, I always place my passport in a clear plastic folder with the rest of my travel related documents. If you use the airline’s app, I would still print a boarding pass as a backup. And I always keep my Driver’s License (Real ID) in my wallet. And I have photos of each on my cell phone.
The online check in process serves several functions. One might be paying for your baggage, printing a bag tag, and even choosing or upgrading your seat. I always try to do this 24 hours before boarding. Always!
I always have the airline’s app on my phone, even if I don’t use it. I also agree to receive text messages regarding delays or cancellations. And another really important notice, gate changes.
Often overlooked is how to dress for the flight. Comfortable, yet tasteful is my suggestion. One item that should be banned, in my humble opinion, is flip flops. Why? Think about it, in a fire, flood, or making a run for it, flip flops are a real liability. And even in summer, a light sweater or jacket since the planes are often quite cold.
The proverbial refillable water bottle has become an important part of travel. But so are some snacks from home. Just a small bag of nuts, an energy bar, or cookies will help you get to the next meal. I hate paying outrageous prices for airport snacks that are both stale and unhealthy. Save some money and spend it on a nice meal at your destination.
Spring for TSA Pre-Check! The lines are shorter, and it only costs $85. And you generally leave your electronics inside your bag, keep your shoes on, and zip right through.
If you are unfamiliar with an airport, it pays to go online for an advance look, or use the map in the airline magazine. Some airports, like Dulles in DC, Denver, O’Hare in Chicago, Heathrow in London, LAX, SFO, and Hartsfield in Atlanta are configured in a confusing architectural nightmare at best.
Whether renting a car, using Uber or public transportation, I always look at my options online before landing. Signage, particularly in foreign airports, might not be as clear as airports here in the US. The worst of course, was in Russia.
If you have other suggestions, please share. Travel should be fun, free of hassles, and a memorable experience.
Now that we are flying again to far off places, jet lag has reared its unwelcome head. Nobody talks about it, since we are consumed with vaccines, masks, and which countries are open to Americans. It does seem that as I get older, I am more susceptible to jet lag. Also, flying west to east is a bigger issue than east to west. At least it makes European travel better once I return home.
What is jet lag? I like the Mayo Clinic and their explanation. Jet lag occurs because crossing multiple time zones puts your internal clock (circadian rhythms), which regulates your sleep-wake cycle, out of sync with the time in your new locale. And because it takes a few days for your body to adjust, your sleep-wake cycle, along with most other body functions, such as hunger and bowel habits, remains out of step with the rest of your destination.
And sunlight is a factor: A key influence on your internal clock is sunlight. That’s because light influences the regulation of melatonin, a hormone that helps synchronize cells throughout the body. At night, when the light signal is low, the hypothalamus tells the pineal gland, a small organ situated in the brain, to release melatonin. During daylight hours, the opposite occurs, and the pineal gland releases very little melatonin. You may be able to ease your adjustment to your new time zone by exposing yourself to daylight in the new time zone so long as the timing of light is done properly.
I have my own methods to deal with jet lag. First, some jet lag facts, per the Mayo Clinic, for you. My reactions are in (parenthesis).
You may experience one or more of these symptoms:
Disturbed sleep — such as insomnia, early waking or excessive sleepiness (always)
Daytime fatigue (definitely)
Difficulty concentrating or functioning at your usual level (rarely)
Stomach problems, constipation or diarrhea (rarely)
A general feeling of not being well (rarely)
Mood changes (not sure)
And some risk factors:
Number of time zones crossed. The more time zones you cross, the more likely you are to be jet-lagged.
Flying east. You may find it harder to fly east, when you “lose” time, than to fly west, when you gain time.
Being a frequent flyer. Pilots, flight attendants and business travelers are most likely to experience jet lag.
Being an older adult. Older adults may need more time to recover from jet lag than do younger adults.
So, how should you deal with or prevent jet lag?
Arrive early. If you have an important meeting or other event that requires you to be in top form, try to arrive a few days early to give your body a chance to adjust.
Get plenty of rest before your trip. Starting out sleep-deprived makes jet lag worse.
Gradually adjust your schedule before you leave. If you’re traveling east, try going to bed one hour earlier each night for a few days before your departure. Go to bed one hour later for several nights if you’re flying west. If possible, eat meals closer to the time you’ll be eating them at your destination.
Regulate bright light exposure. Because light exposure is one of the prime influences on your body’s circadian rhythm, regulating light exposure may help you adjust to your new location.
Stay on your new schedule. Set your watch to the new time before you leave. Once you reach your destination, try not to sleep until the local nighttime, no matter how tired you are. Try to time your meals with local mealtimes, too.
Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water before, during and after your flight to counteract the dehydrating effects of dry cabin air. Dehydration can make jet lag symptoms worse. Avoid alcohol and caffeine, as these can dehydrate you and affect your sleep.
Try to sleep on the plane if it’s nighttime at your destination. Earplugs, headphones and eye masks can help block out noise and light. If it’s daytime where you’re going, resist the urge to sleep.
I have my own little routine for long flights to Europe, Asia, or South America. I try to get plenty of rest before my trip, but it is not always possible. Most flights leave mid-day from California and arrive the next day. I generally have my first meal and a glass or two of champagne.
I take advantage of the overnight “darkness” of the flight by sleeping with the help of a low dose prescription sleeping pill. I either read or watch a terrible movie until I fall asleep. I always take my shoes off and use the airline socks.
I forgot to tell you I am generally seated in First Class since I use miles to upgrade! That is my SECRET to beating jet lag!!!
Even if you have not been to Chile, you should try their signature wine, Carmenere. Winespeed agrees with me: Today considered Chile’s signature grape, carmenère was brought to Chile from Bordeaux in the late 19th century. Chilean landowners and mining barons had begun to showcase their wealth by building wine estates modeled after the grand châteaux of Bordeaux. The Chileans planted vineyards with imported French grapes, most notably cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and carmenère. Indigenous to Bordeaux, carmenère ripens late in the year—so much so that, in Bordeaux it barely ever achieved ripeness, producing wines that tasted more like rhubarb juice than a grand vin. After the phylloxera epidemic in France, it was almost never replanted. But in Chile carmenère thrived in the long, warm growing season.
You can find a few Carmenere bottles at Trader Joes. You will be surprised at the taste, and the price is right! Well under $20.
Some background on Carmenere: A member of the Cabernet family, it was originally planted in the Medoc region of Bordeaux. It is often used in blending red wines, along with the more commonly used Petit Verdot. It is one of the six original grapes of Bordeaux, and often mistaken for merlot. It generally does not age (three to five years) well by itself. But most of the Carmenere is planted in Chile, with more than 8800 hectares in the Central Valley (south of Santiago). We found it to be both inexpensive, and tasty on our trip through Chile. Lately, vintners are blending with Cabernet Sauvignon, since Carmenere has softer tannins, and less acidity. It is also grown to a lesser extent in Italy, Argentina, California, Washington, and North Carolina.
Pairing Carmenere is fairly easy, like with most Bordeauxs, it goes well with grilled meats, hard cheeses, and as well as less fatty, lighter dishes like vegetables, and stews. I like it with both turkey, and duck. I tend to treat it like the younger cousin to Cabernet, but with more of a “pepper” note.
I am sure, if you like the medium bodied reds, you will fall for the Carmenere.
Perhaps, it should say in the AIR again! Per CNN: Spring break is here and people suffering from a year of cabin fever are throwing caution to the wind. Saturday marked the 10th straight day on which more than 1 million passengers traveled through American airports.
The TSA reported 1,369,180 travelers passed through security checkpoints Saturday, a day after air passengers set a new pandemic record, when 1,468,516 traveled through TSA security.
Although millions of Americans have been vaccinated, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continues to recommend that people avoid travel. It has so far declined to issue new guidance on travel for vaccinated Americans out of concerns prompted by travel-related surges that the United States encountered during previous holiday periods.
From Business Insider: The number of flyers departing from US airports has topped 1 million for 10 days in a row – even though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is urging people to avoid traveling. The US Transport Security Administration (TSA) said Sunday it has screened more than 1 million passengers at US airports every day since March 11. It screened around 13 million passengers over the 10-day period, it said.
For the first time during the pandemic, air travel is higher than it was at the same time a year ago. On Saturday, the most recent day data is available for, the TSA screened nearly 1.37 million passengers – more than double the number it screened on the same day in 2020. US air travel peaked on Friday, when the TSA screened close to 1.47 million passengers, the most in more than a year.
But the good news: Airfares are hitting record lows as airlines try to lure flyers back. I flew to Phoenix, AZ last weekend. I would not have gone if I was not vaccinated. Everyone on the plane wore masks. All the baseball fans at the ballparks wore masks, despite the limited seating and spacing. But restaurants were operating at FULL capacity, indoors and out.
Renting a car was a real PIA. Each shuttle bus from the airport to the Phoenix rental center allowed only about half capacity, creating long lines outside the airport. Same for the return after I dropped the car off.
I also give full credit, A+++ to my hotel, part of the Marriott chain in Scottsdale. They had both masks and alcohol hand cleaner for guests. The rooms appeared spotless. The only downside was no housekeeping services on my three-night stay.
But you know me, I always say, “Let’s go!” no matter what.
I never knew there were so many types of tacos. Check this out: Tacos come in all shapes and sizes, in corn or flour tortillas, and filled with ingredients that run the gamut from grilled veggies to fried fish. What’s a taco neophyte to do? Look no further than this handy taco guide, including where to eat them in Greater Phoenix.
Soft tacos are the original, oldest and most common, with soft white corn tortillas, then filled with regional toppings. The best soft taco I have ever eaten was in Mexico City, while on a foodie tour. Hard tacos began in Mexican restaurants in the US in the 1940s, though Taco Bell founder, Glen Bell makes the claim. Mexican cookbooks instruct us as to frying the corn tortilla, and shape it into its iconic U shape. The typical Mexican American taco contains ground beef with cheese, tomato, lettuce, onion, salsa, and sour cream. I like a little avocado or chopped jalapenos in mine.
Street tacos might be the most iconic taco form on the street or anywhere else. Often served open face, and two or three to a plate, these soft tacos fit comfortably in your hand. But if they are good, the tacos make a big mess on your hands! But street tacos can be made from lamb, duck, shrimp, and my favorite, lingua!!
Breakfast tacos are really any tacos that can be served before lunch time. Though scrambled eggs and chorizo are the most common ingredients, they can be served all the way to noon and beyond. Most likely, some avocado and pico de gallo are added, along with some beans. I prefer it as a scramble on a platter. The First Watch in Scottsdale makes the best, though they call it huevos rancheros.
Fry bread tacos originated in America’s Native American tribes. The dough is rolled flat, and fried until crispy on the outside, while soft and chewy on the inside. Classic toppings are ground beef, beans, lettuce, tomatoes, and cheese. A sweeter version contains sugar and honey. The Fry Bread House here has won a James Beard Award. I think it might be worth a try!
Tacos de Canasta is not a card game, but a “basket” that holds the tacos after they are made. These are fried tacos, filled with potatoes or refried beans. These are often sold by bicycle vendors on the streets of Mexico.
Baja Fish Tacos might be the most popular these days, often embellished with cabbage, pico de gallo, and crema sauce. The plentiful waters of Baja include shark, sand bass, and other white fish. I like mine with a big squeeze of lime, pickled onion, and chile crema.
Al Pastor tacos have their origins in Lebanon. Some Lebanese became lost in central Mexico, bringing their grilled meats, similar to their kabobs and gyros. In Mexico, pork is the preferred grilled meat, marinated in chiles and spices, cooked very slowly. It is often served with onions, cilantro and pineapple.
Vegan tacos muscled their way into the mainstream of tacos, using faux meat, or grilled veggies. I heard the crispy artichoke tacos get rave reviews, along with the masa-battered cauliflower. Sounds rather exotic, but I would definitely try the artichoke tacos.
You have probably had your favorite version of the taco somewhere. Please feel free to tell me, and I might want to try it. In my view, anything is better with a taco in your hands. But this area, needless to say, has a complete variety of tacos.
I was having such a great time in Scottsdale, that I forgot to send this!!!
Despite many visits to Scottsdale, we never tire of the “Valley of the Sun” and its many activities. In particular, we enjoy Spring Training with the Giants, some of the outlet malls, the interesting southwest food, and the plethora of plastic surgery, not necessarily in that order.
So, in the name of review and to make sure you know what to do, here is a list of tried and true places to visit.
Old Town Scottsdale (always a treat, no matter how many times we visit)
TPC Scottsdale golf tournament (most attended sporting event in the world)
Barrett-Jackson Car Auction
The Sugar Bowl (order the cream puff with vanilla ice cream and hot fudge)
Taliesin West (Arizona home of Frank Lloyd Wright)
Pinnacle Peak Park
Carefree Desert Gardens
James Beard Dinner
Cactus League Spring Training (my favorite event)
Fort McDowell Adventures
Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts
Rusty Spur Saloon
Museum of the West
Buffalo Chip Saloon
Scottsdale Music Museum (very interesting)
Camelback Mountain (worth a climb for the great view)
Mayo Clinic (yes, Scottsdale has a branch of the famous Minnesota clinic)
Penske Racing Museum (small, but historic)
I realize that going to a Spring Training game takes up the better part of a day, as does a round of golf. Can you believe we actually did both on most days when my kids were young? We would tee off in the early morning, then get to the baseball stadium around 1pm for a nice day of spring baseball. Then, in the evening, we would go out for a nice dinner, where my kids hoped to see a baseball, basketball or hockey star eating dinner.
Fast forward to 2021: It became price prohibitive to attend a Giants game here. So, I opted for a game in Phoenix, between the Mariners and Milwaukee Brewers. It was easily about one-fourth the price of a Giants game! But some good news, Buster Posey is back this year, after taking a year off. Other than this change, I hope the Valley of the Sun trip will be about the same as previous years. It remains to be seen how many venues are open, and where I can go.
Many of you are big fans of Starbucks. Fine. I am a big fan of Peet’s Coffee. Fine. But when I travel, where do I get my coffee? First, I always bring my Peet’s French Roast with me. I try to make a cup or two in my room with the coffee maker (mostly poor quality, by the way), before I head out to breakfast or just more coffee.
Second, I tend to skip Starbucks in favor of a local, or less popular place in the neighborhood. I prefer the Mom and Pop places. But if I cannot find one, I choose a small cafe or breakfast joint. My last option is always a restaurant chain, like an IHOP or Waffle Shop.
Over the years, I have found some great places. Venture to Vegas, off the strip, and away from downtown is Blueberry Hill, though not with the proverbial thrill. We started going there about ten years ago, and just found it to be charming in an old fashioned away, with slot machines. And the food is good, the menu is huge, and the staff very friendly. No tourists here.
In Seattle, my favorite morning stop is Le Panier Bakery near Pike Market. Not only do they have the best almond croissants anywhere in the world, they have excellent coffees as well. They also have a great selection of cookies, bread, sandwiches, and other pastries.
When we lived in the Bay Area, the place to have breakfast was Chef Burger in Pleasant Hill. The old school waitresses still call everyone “honey”, and the coffee is quite mediocre. But the breakfasts are good and hearty, perfect before a morning tee time somewhere in the area. No tourists here!
Scooting over to Scottsdale, my favorite place was The Good Egg, now part of the First Watch group. Still quite good, with above average coffee, and the best huevos rancheros this side of the border. The Scottsdale Blvd location near the Hilton is the best of several. Mostly patronized by locals who know a good breakfast!
Dancing to Denver, often on Amtrak, I found The Delectable Egg downtown. The breakfast is so big, I often took my leftovers to the homeless. Their coffee is great, and the place is filled mostly with locals, I think politicians.
Nudging over to Nawlins, everyone goes to Cafe Du Monde for beignets and chicory coffee. It is difficult to argue against this choice. But I like my coffee and breakfast at Johnny’s Po’ Boys not far away in the French Quarter. Everything here is touristy!
So, aside from the coffee and the great breakfast, what do I get? Mostly, I get a feel for the destination, whether I am in Canada, South America, SE Asia, or Europe. And I generally learn something about the area, or the people. I also grab a local paper.
Who knows, they might have a souvenir, like a fridge magnet. I do not need more coffee beans or coffee cups at this point in my life. Once in a while, I make a life long friend. But many times, it is just a brief affair over a cup of coffee.
Now 2021, everything is starting early this year, due to the warmer weather. Check it out!!! The famous Blossom Trail here in Fresno County officially begins this weekend. I will personally commemorate it (back in 2019) by riding my bicycle on Saturday’s Blossom Trail Ride. The official Blossom Trail begins in February and runs through March. Nine valley cities participate in this annual event, including my hometown of Kingsburg.
The peak bloom period runs only about three weeks. In general, pink blossoms are peaches, and nectarines. White blossoms are almonds, plums and apples. Some basic highlights of the trail include:
Simonian Farms, at the corner of Clovis and Jensen Avenues. This fruit stand started back in 1901. He built and placed a memorial to the Japanese who were incarcerated after Pearl Harbor.
Heading east, the Blossom Trail Cafe sits just outside of Sanger, on your way to the Sierra foothills. Good place for breakfast.
In the little hamlet of Centerville, the Fruit Station is a good first stop.
As a bonus this year, the Sierra foothills are covered in white. Not blossoms, but snow!!
In Orange Cove, connect to the Orange Blossom Trail, if you prefer.
Turning south on Frankwood Avenue, hit the Cedar View Winery for some old world Tempranillo and Alicante Bouschet.
In nearby Reedley, let the kids ride on the steam train at Hillcrest Farms, in the middle of peach and plum orchards.
When you reach my hometown of Kingsburg, you can see the town’s main street decked out in its Swedish splendor. No promises on whether the “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” will make her annual appearance. Personally, I would visit the Sun Maid Growers Factory Store on Bethel Avenue and old Highway 99.
For those of you cartographically challenged, signs are posted all over the valley. I have also included a map.
If you have never seen this spectacle, I suggest visiting now. As for me, growing up here, as a kid, having to work on my Uncle’s farm, I never appreciated it the way I do now.
You must take this drive at least once in your life!
The Wine Clip: Why I Drink ChampagneKaren MacNeil, author of The Wine Bible and editor of WineSpeed, tells you about the reasons why she drinks Champagne. For more, subscribe to WineSpeed at wi…youtu.be
We each have our own reasons for enjoying the bubbles. Sparkling is often associated with a special celebration, such as a birthday, anniversary, job promotion, retirement, or other milestone. I celebrate each day, when I open a bottle of sparkling wine. Some days it might be a cremant, some days a California sparkling, and some days a Champagne.
But I do save the more expensive or special bottles for a bigger occasion. I have a few on hand for just such things. But I keep plenty of “every day” sparkling aorund, my latest being the 451 form Healdsburg. I am also partial to cremants from Loire, France, and several California sparklings (Domaine Carneros, Laetitia, J, and Roederer.