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!
In 2020 alone, Americans voted for more than $1 billion in annual funding for projects that support bike riding. From building new protected bike lanes, trails and parks to addressing the maintenance and upkeep of our local public lands, this funding would not be possible without the vocal support of bike riders like you.
But we had some losses:
Napa County, CA –Measure K– $1,800,000 annually/$27,000,000 over 15 years – March 3 – NOT APPROVED (63% YES – 37% NO – required a two-thirds vote) A loss for bikes.
If approved, Measure K would have secured funding for the preservation of watersheds, rivers, lakes, open space and wildlife habitat and improve public access to the outdoors for the next 15 years. It was a 0.25% sales tax increase where 20% of the funds would have gone towards trails for bike riding. (And I love the cycle in the Napa Valley)In my home area:
Contra Costa County, CA –Measure J– $10,000,000 annually/$350,000,000 over 35 years – March 3 – NOT APPROVED (49% YES – 51% NO) A loss for bikes.
If approved, Measure J would have prioritized bike riding as one way to reduce overall transportation emissions and improve air quality. This initiative was a 1/2 cent sales tax increase to help fund Contra Costa’s transportation system, including the build-out of a network of safe bike routes. (This is where I learned to love cycling the trails in the county)The message: For those of you who are new to recreational biking, or more serious cycling, please keep an eye out for future ballot measures. They might support safer trails, increased safety measures, and a better environment for everyone!
Above all, keep riding! Cycle outdoors on good weather, clean air days. Use your cycling trainer or indoor cycling equipment on cold, rainy, and otherwise difficult days. You will not regret it, come Spring.
Meanwhile, stay in shape, buy a really good MIPS or Wave-Cel helmet, a flashing rear bicycle light, and a good tire pump. I hope to see you cycling through Napa Valley this year, or in Croatia in May, or even Bavaria in October.
Chronological aging is inevitable. However, you have control over how well you will age.
Coach Hughes wrote this eBook for all roadies age 50 and older. It will teach you how you, too, can fight the physical effects of chronological aging:
1. Assess honestly your strengths and weaknesses using the American College of Sports Medicine’s recommendations and the Athletic Maturity quiz. 2. Exercise consistently year-round. Use it or lose it applies even more to mature roadies. The older you get, the faster you lose a type of fitness if you don’t exercise that type. 3. Train wisely to avoid setbacks and injury. 4. Plan how to combine the riding you love with addressing the areas in which you need to improve and then set goals and track progress. 5. Ride aerobically year-round to maintain and improve cardiorespiratory fitness. 6. Include intensity workouts that are appropriate to your goals. 7. Strength train regularly to complement your riding and to maintain your capacity to do activities of daily living. 8. Stretch regularly to increase your riding comfort and to maintain your capacity to do activities of daily living. 9. Practice balance drills to reduce the risk of falling, the number one reason mature people go to the emergency room. 10. Engage in weight-bearing activities as part of your aerobic and strength training. 11. Balance exercise with the rest of your life so you get sufficient recovery and avoid overtraining. 12. Have fun!https://www.roadbikerider.com/register/anti-aging-12-ways-you-can-slow-the-aging-process/
Here are some of my secrets or hints:
Balance-do not go extreme in anything, whether food, diet, exercise, or ??
Fluids-drink plenty of water. If you use sports drinks, as I do on hot days, please dilute with ice and/or water.
Avoid high impact (as you get older) sports, like running, basketball, tennis.
Stay out of the heat (or the extreme cold).
Forget about quantity, emphasize quality of your workout!
Wear sunglasses when exercising outside.
Always buy the proper shoes for each sport!
Wear a hat or cap when exercising outside in the sun. And sunscreen.
Sweat bands always come in handy.
Carry an energy bar just in case!!!
Above all, have fun, meet new people, reward yourself during and after!!!
From National Geographic, a totally, non-political magazine and organization:
Today, we celebrate the people whose work requires them to be on the front lines while so many others work from home. More than 55 million Americans work in jobs that are deemed essential, according to the Economic Policy Institute (pictured above, John Tolbert, a New York City bus driver). Social distancing is not an option for many of these jobs. Many essential workers work for low pay and without protective equipment. Some work anxiously, fearing exposure to the deadly coronavirus. Too many have died after contracting COVID- 19.
Honestly, I never felt like I was an essential worker. I just felt I was doing my job. And I never expected either recognition or extra pay. But I did take strong exception to remarks by Orangeman that health care workers were stealing and selling PPE! Excuse my French, but he is an SOB for saying that about us. If he had even a slight clue about health care, he would know that we support each other, even the competition, in times of need.
So, I salute you, the farm workers, the delivery people, the postal service, and anyone else who had to help out during the pandemic.
I doubt I will ever be a vegetarian, vegan, pescatarian, or flexitarian. But I will confess to periods, as short as a day, maybe longer, where I avoid eating red meat or chicken. One of my favorites now, is eggplant, an often-forgotten purple vegetable. What do any of us know about it? Another favorite is Brussels sprouts, along with many Chinese greens (like gai lan), names of which I cannot spell or pronounce very well. Here is more on both:
From “Explore” Health: Eggplants, one of the few purple vegetables you’ll find in a mainstream market, aren’t very popular with consumers. In fact, they don’t even rank in the top 20 veggies sold in the U.S. But after reading about the nutritional benefits of eggplant, you may want to step up your intake. Here’s the lowdown on this somewhat mysterious plant, and easy ways to incorporate it into your everyday eating routine.
One cup of cubed eggplant provides just 20 calories, but offers up some important nutrients. Anthocyanins, the pigments that give eggplants their purple hue, have antioxidant properties linked to anti-inflammation and obesity protection. Another, called nasunin, is particularly good at fending off free radicals, and protecting cells from damage that can lead to premature aging and disease. This may be especially true in the brain, making eggplant an important food for protecting against neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s.
Eggplant’s chlorogenic acid supports immunity through its antimicrobial and antiviral activities. And a cup of eggplant also provides about 10% of the daily target for manganese, a mineral that helps produce collagen and promote skin and bone health. The veggie supplies smaller amounts of folate and other B vitamins, potassium, and vitamins C and K.
In addition to the antioxidants, nutrients, and fiber eggplants provide, they may offer protection against the top killer of men and women in the U.S.: heart disease. Eggplant anthocyanins have been shown to help reduce artery stiffness and central blood pressure in women. Central blood pressure, the pressure in the aorta, which sends blood from the heart out to the body, is a predictive measure of heart disease and stroke. Anthocyanins also help prevent the oxidation of “bad” LDL cholesterol, a precursor to artery hardening, which can lead to either heart attack or stroke.
Eggplant is a non-starchy, or low-carb vegetable. A one cup portion, about the size of a baseball, contains just 5 grams of carb, and just 2.5 grams net carb. In addition to supporting digestive health and bowel regularity, eggplant fiber helps regulate blood sugar and insulin levels, and supports weight loss by boosting fullness. It also makes a great filler when cutting back on other higher carb foods. For example, serving one cup of cubed eggplant with a half cup of cooked penne pasta instead of the reverse saves about 20 grams of carb per meal.
Eggplants are a member of the nightshade family, which also includes tomatoes, bell peppers, and potatoes. Tom Brady famously avoids this group, due to compounds they contain called alkaloids, which are linked to inflammation. If you have an existing inflammatory condition, such as rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis, avoiding nightshades may help to not exacerbate your symptoms. But there is no solid research to show that nightshades cause inflammatory conditions to develop.
It’s also important to know that steaming, boiling, and baking all help reduce the alkaloid content of nightshades by about 40% to 50%. In addition, you lose out on the anti-inflammatory antioxidants and other nutrients nightshades provide when you avoid the entire group. If you have chronic inflammation consider trying an experiment. Without making any other changes to your diet, cut out nightshades for two to four weeks and monitor your symptoms. If you do notice a difference, and symptoms return after adding them back to your diet, minimizing or avoiding them may be for you.Another favorite of mine, Brussels sprouts (also from Health):
Brussels sprouts (yes with an s, like the city) are named after the veggie’s history of cultivation in Belgium. Part of the cruciferous vegetable family, the sprouts’ cousins include cauliflower, kale, broccoli, cabbage, collard greens, and bok choy.
Low in calories, at less than 40 per cup, Brussels sprouts are also low-carb, packing just 8 grams per cup raw, including 3 grams as fiber. And they’re nutrient powerhouses, providing a range of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and a little bonus plant protein. Here are seven more impressive reasons to incorporate them into your regular eating routine.
Brussels sprouts are antioxidant powerhouses. One study found that when volunteers ate about two cups of Brussels sprouts per day, damage at the cell level was slashed by nearly 30%.
The fiber in Brussels sprouts (about 4 grams per cooked cup) helps regulate blood sugar levels, supports digestive health, and helps feed the beneficial gut bacteria tied to positive mood, immunity, and anti-inflammation.
One cup of cooked Brussels sprouts packs over 150% of the minimum daily vitamin C target. This important nutrient acts as an antioxidant, supports immunity, vision, and iron absorption, and is needed for collagen production.
Per cup, cooked Brussels sprouts pack over 250% of the recommended daily target for vitamin K. In addition to helping to clot blood, this nutrient plays a role in bone health and may help protect against bone loss.
Compounds in Brussels sprouts act like natural detoxifiers, meaning they help deactivate potentially damaging chemicals or shuttle them out of the body more quickly.
In addition, the sulfur compounds in Brussels sprouts are known to reduce ulcer risk by limiting Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) overgrowth and preventing bacteria from clinging to the stomach wall.
Just to cleanse your palate: Life Savers made their debut in 1912, when chocolate manufacturer Clarence Crane decided to branch out and produce a candy that wouldn’t melt as easily in heat. According to ThoughtCo, their name came from their life-preserver-like shape, which was created by a pill-making machine. The first flavor Crane used for his product was peppermint, which was sold as Pep-O-Mint when Edward Noble bought the rights to the candy in 1913.
So, there are two of my favorites. When I eat them, I automatically feel better, good fiber too. Not because I am trying to be a vegetarian, but because I really enjoy eating them.
I think I covered this before on one of my “Twelve Days of Christmas” series of emails. But, perhaps with Covid, we should revisit your needs when traveling afar. Here is a basic list from Travel and Leisure:
The consensus is that Americans are drinking more alcohol during the pandemic and shelter in place rules. Sales of alcoholic beverages in the US are “over the top” with increases of 30% or more, along with a new sensation, seltzers with alcohol. But behind this surge, there are more stories.
Forbes: US liquor imports have fallen off the table. In the second quarter of 2020, the US brought in about $1.8 billion in liquor from abroad, down from $2.5 billion in 2019, a fall of nearly 30%. The decline has been most acute for whiskey imports, which are down by almost 50%, with cognac and brandies seeing a similar dive.
The import reduction is due to three main factors, according to spirits industry veteran Adam Levy. One, bars and restaurants across the US are either closed or seeing fewer customers due to Covid-19. This reduces demand for all types of liquors, but particularly high-end liquors used for cocktails. In-store liquor sales are up, but that hasn’t made up for lost sales outside the home.
Two, the Trump administration slapped a 25% tariff on Scotch and Irish whiskeys and other European-made liquors in October 2019. These tariffs were retaliation for subsidies that the US government claims the European Union gives the airplane manufacturer Airbus, which the US government says disadvantage US-based manufacturer Boeing. The tariffs make importing these liquors more expensive, reducing demand.
Finally, Levy believes the rising quality and variety of US-made liquors, particularly bourbons, have made less Americans less likely to look to foreign liquor brands. Put together, these three factors are a perfect cocktail for imports falling off a cliff. (Yes, U.S. bourbons are great!)
Vodka and gin imports may have been less impacted because they are used in drinks people know how to make at home. It’s easy to make a vodka soda or gin and tonic for a small party, but not that many people are going to serve their friends a Manhattan, said Levy. (I never thought of that)
With bars and most restaurants closed, the alcohol consumption pattern becomes problematic. Drink at home? Yes. Drink with friends? No. Drink more often? Probably. Spend more on alcoholic beverages? Yes. Celebrate the simple things in life? Yes.
Drinking patterns are changing. Forbes: Drinkers who regularly consume alcohol at on-premise establishments are now spending more of their money at liquor and grocery stores, as well as online, since their favorite bars and restaurants have been forced to shutter during the COVID-19 outbreak. That seems rather obvious to me.
How about a drinking game?
The Forbes writer created a drinking game to help pass the time.
Drink if Trump is late to his own press conference;
Drink every time Trump refers to the coronavirus as the “invisible enemy;”
Drink whenever Trump calls a reporter “fake news;”
Is Dr. Anthony Fauci missing from the briefing? Take another drink
I would be constantly inebriated if I took a drink every time he lies!!! So, I better not play this game.
Remember when John Belushi called, “Road trip, road trip!” in Animal House?
Freedom of the road calls, louder than ever: According to a AAA forecast from late June, Americans will take 683 million road trips between July 1 and Sept. 30. The number is down 3 percent from the previous year, a fraction of the nearly 75 percent decline the association projected for air travel.
For once, there might be some rules to follow: AAA says: Check state government websites, such as the ones run by their health departments and tourism offices. The states have created covid-19-specific pages that include rules about quarantining and masks, plus details about their reopening plans. North Carolina’s tourism office, for instance, has links to destinations with restrictions, such asthe Blue Ridge Parkway and the state ferry system. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has compiled an online directory of the health departments for all 50 states, eight territories and the District.
So, the road may not be a carefree as before. For example, Ohio is advising travelers to quarantine if they originated from a state with a 15 percent or higher positive test rate (currently six states). The Buckeye State updates its list on Wednesdays. South Carolina’s policy is similar but less specific: “Travelers returning home from an area with widespread or ongoing community spread are recommended to stay home for a period of 14 days.” New Mexico’s mandate is even broader; it applies to everyone entering the state and requires a quarantine of two weeks or the length of your stay, whichever is shorter. And for the most epic road trip, Alaska is offering tourists a few options: Submit your negative test result to the Alaska Travel Portal, share proof of a pending test and quarantine while you wait, or buy a $250 test in Alaska and quarantine until the results are back.
And be prepared for restrictions on your visits to famous places. Reserving in advance might help. Most sites are limiting capacity and require online reservations, even if admission is free. For example, the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago and the Philadelphia Zoo will only accept guests holding tickets booked in advance online.
Pack and prepare wisely, with all of the supplies needed. Do not count on buying them at your destinations. You should plan to be self-sufficient at all times!
Stopping for restrooms and beverages should be done carefully. Rest stops are usually safer than gas stations, convenience stores, and fast food joints. Use the drive-through whenever possible. And use your credit or debit card instead of cash!
Out of state license plates are a target for police and highway patrol. Be prepared if you are stopped. If you are able to carry a negative test, it would be very helpful.
Sounds like a pain in the a$$? Look at it from my perspective. Even though we are forced to get take-out food, you can bring along your own mini bar!!!! And dessert tray. And your dog (best of all). Make it as enjoyable as possible.
Two good ideas: stay at a place with a patio or balcony for fresh air and privacy. And even better, a place with a kitchen affords much more flexibility around meal and snack time.
Above all, make sure you can get back home. If you state quarantines visitors from certain cities or states, you might get stuck! What a terrible situation, and perhaps costly as well. And if you get back home, you may be required to quarantine for 14 days! Some vacation!
My intention was not to depress you. Heaven knows, reading the Mary Trump book did that to me. Just know what you might encounter and plan accordingly.
Only a few of you, my readers, and friends, know that I am a public health professional, as well as a pharmacist for 50 years. It troubles me that the Feds really missed a BIG opportunity to slow the virus back in January. This is not about politics, both parties are guilty, over decades when addressing public health.
But, in fairness, public health warnings, through the decades, have always been downplayed, disregarded, and totally ignored, long before this poorly run Administration. Remember back in the Sixties when the Surgeon General’s report warned that smoking can cause cancer? Where are we today? Still smoking, and adding vaping and doping to the equation.
Public health programs are never funded adequately, the public does not view long term health as important as day to day activities. We seek the “band aid” approach to our medical needs, and postpone maintaining our health, much less prevent many of the most common morbidities and mortalities.
Add to this, a faux Pres who, without a medical license, wanted to give everyone hydroxychloroquine. Results have been disastrous, as I first stated when he opened his yap. And this is totally irresponsible: “I would rather he not be taking something that has not been approved by the scientists, especially in his age group and in his, shall we say, weight group, what is morbidly obese, they say,” Pelosi said during an appearance on CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360.” GK: His risk of CV accident is quite high, IF he is telling the TRUTH!!
Some wine statistics just amaze me. How about you??
Percentage (283) year-over-year growth in quarterly revenue booked by Wine.com, one of the nation’s leading online wine retailers. Citing the pandemic as the driver of much of this unprecedented demand, Wine.com also reports that revenue from Millennials and Generation Z (the purported “Holy Grail” consumer) increased by 121%. Wine.com offers live chats with sommeliers, as well as information about wine and wine regions. Just amazing!
The latest (2018) wine consumption statistics indicate we drink 2.95 gallons per person, which translates to 966 gallons. But a new survey indicates that Americans are drinking more spirits and ready to drink cocktails, like hard seltzers. Beer sales have fallen 2.3%, which surprises the hops out of me. Yet, craft beer sales jumped 4.1%.
The biggest growth in the adult beverage category is the ready-to-drink category, which increased 50% in the last year. Spiked seltzers are now an $8 billion industry! And I will readily admit, it is a nice refresher on a hot summer evening. Easy to drink, just add some crushed ice in a glass!
During the pandemic, perhaps we are all drinking a bit more adult beverages. I readily admit to that, though my two glasses a night is a proverbial drop in the bucket compared to most people. Yet, through it all, wine consumption decreased by almost 1% in 2019. Experts of course, blame the millennials, moving to healthier beverages with low or no alcohol.
So, is the wine consumption boom over? Is it just the “boomers” who drink good wine? What happened to all the beer guzzlers? Are things changing that much? Yet, wine spending increased 1.1% to $28.2 billion. Are we drinking better wines now?
Percentage (45%)increase in weekday alcohol consumption by San Franciscans since the start of the pandemic, according to BACtrack, a Bay Area producer of smartphone-based breathalyzer devices. The company based its assessment on the anonymous BAC (blood alcohol content) data collected from its app users before, and a month after, quarantine began. Thank you Winespeed!
Closer to home, unable to go out to nice restaurants, we are making nicer meals at home. And the “cocktail hour” is a bigger and more important part of the daily, “Ground Hog Day” routine. I have been enjoying by champagne, Cabernet, hard seltzers, and single malt Scotch, not necessarily in that order. What about you??
Just an FYI for you wine fans: South Africa is among the top 9 wine producers in the world. But while Black South Africans represent nearly 90% of the population, they represent fewer than 8% of wine producers. Elected in 1994, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was South Africa’s first Black president. Mandela’s release from Victor Verster Prison in Paarl, in 1990, after more than twenty-seven years in confinement, paved the way for the lifting of trade sanctions and the importation of South African wine into the United States. During this time, many wineries were established or taken over by new owners and black entrepreneurs saw an opportunity to enter the wine industry. In 2010, Nelson Mandela’s daughter Makaziwe and granddaughter Tukwini launched the House of Mandela wine brand, which includes a chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon, shiraz, and a sparkling wine. Tukwini has said: “When we started out, many people thought that House of Mandela was just a little project, a gimmick that would not last.” For the Mandela family, who are part of the royal aba Thembu lineage and the Madiba clan, honoring the ancient wisdom of one’s ancestors and honoring the earth give meaning and purpose to life. Upon the release of their wines, the family wrote, “we have chosen wine as a bridge into the future.”
Sparkling wines photographed at the Roederer Estate’s tasting room in Philo , Calif., Friday, May 25, 2018.