Revisiting this blog post from last summer, because hey, Covid Cocktails in summer 2021 might make the PanDamit feel a little better. Enjoy this post once again, or for the very first time.
Lockdown is easing, but we still will be finding summer 2020 a bit of a lonely place; no summer concerts, parades, fairs and events. Many weddings postponed, graduations and parties done virtually. How will Fourth of July look? And our favorite restaurants and bars? They just won’t be the same for a while.
Summer 2020 is gonna need some creative energy to pull us through and that is exactly what I have for you here today! I’ve been “researching” (ah-hem drinking daily) for this blog for two weeks and I think I am ready to share my Covid Cocktails for Summer Lockdown 2020. You can thank me later.
The Social Distance
(AKA Tequila Sunrise) Our version of this delicious and inspiring summer cocktail comes together easily but with rum instead of tequila. Combine 12 oz of orange juice and 3 oz of dark or light rum. Pour a third into one ice filled glass and a third into the second glass and set a third aside. Add two tablespoons of grenadine to the third you set aside and slowly pour over the top of the two glasses. Garnish with lime.
(AKA Dilly Dirty Martini) I’m a sucker for a gin dirty martini, but this version tastes like summer using dilly beans and the juice from the dilly beans instead of olive juice. Add 6 oz gin to a martini shaker, 1 oz dilly juice, shake and pour. Garnish with dilly beans and olives.
(AKA Pina Colada) This blended summer treat takes you away to a tropical island, with frozen chunks of pineapple and nutty coconut/almond milk. In a blender combine 4 oz of rum, a cup of frozen pineapple, 4 oz of coconut almond milk and a splash of pineapple juice. Add a cup of ice to the blender. Pour into two glasses and top with a tropical paper umbrella and forget your Covid troubles.
The Fauci Fizz
(AKA Gin Fizz) Make this one really taste like summer using your favorite herb such as rosemary, basil or mint. Make the simpe syrup on the stove top with half a cup water and half a cup sugar and herb of choice. Let cool then strain. In a martini shaker pour 2 oz of gin, juice of one fresh squeezed lemon, 4 oz of seltzer, one egg white and the strained simple syrup. Shake the hell out of it and get your Covid frustrations out. Pour into a pretty glass and garnish with herbs of choice and lemon wedge.
The Orange Trump Crush
(AKA Mimosa) More than a mimosa this is an Orange Trump Crush Mimosa!! Mix 1/4 cup of sugar and zest of one orange on a small plate. Use juice of the orange to wet the rim of your glasses then rim the glasses with the orange zest sugar mixture. Fill half the glass with orange flavored seltzer water, add champagne to about an inch from the top and finish with orange juice. Save the rest of the champagne for the next drink.
The Pandemic Penguin
(AKA Orange and Lemon Granita) Use the other half a bottle of champagne from The Orange Trump Crush. Pour into a shallow dish. Make a simple syrup of 1 cup water, the zest of one orange and one cup sugar. Let the syrup cool. Add the juice of one orange and the juice of half a lemon to the champagne then mix in the cooled simple syrup. Freeze for three hours, stirring occasionally. Scoop into pretty glasses and enjoy your Pandemic Penguin!
What The Hell Day Is It?
(AKA a Dark and Stormy) Ginger is healthy right? Boosts your immunity too! All good things during this virus summer! Get a good quality ginger beer 12 oz. In a blender add the ginger beer, one tablespoon of fresh ground ginger (must be fresh), juice of one lime and about 2 cups of ice. Blend. Pour into glasses and then pour a dark rum (about 2 oz per glass) over the top.
The Working From Home
(AKA Coffee with a kick) Use a French Press to brew a very dark rich coffee. Add 1 oz of good whiskey and 2 oz of almond milk. It will make those zoom meeting way more fun.
The Lemon Lockdown
(AKA Blueberry Lemon Margarita) Squeeze one and half lemons or enough for one cup of fresh lemon juice. Add half a cup of water and two tablespoons of sugar. Set aside. On the stove top make a simple syrup of 1/2 cup of sugar, 1/2 cup of water, zest of one lime and 1/2 a cup of blueberries. Let cool and then strain. Use two chilled glasses and rub a fresh lemon on the rim. Dip the rim into a mixture of salt and sugar on a plate. Add ice cubes to about half way up the glass. Pour in 2 oz of tequila into each glass and 1 oz of triple sec into each glass. Add half the fresh lemon juice mixture to each glass and then top with the cooled blueberry simple syrup. Garnish with blueberries and a lemon wedge. Lockdown never tested so good.
Bra? What Bra?
(AKA Spicy Bloody Mary) Super simple. Super delicious. Buy premixed Bloody Mary mix. Mix with Vodka. Garnish with Celery stalk, dilly bean, olives…whatever you want. Remove bra before consuming. Unless you haven’t had a bra on for two months.
(AKA Pineapple Margarita) Chill two glasses and then rub a quarter of lime around the rim, then dip in salt. To each glass add 2 oz of tequila, 1 oz triple sec, 4 oz of pineapple juice and a squeeze of fresh lime. You can shake it in your martini shaker if you like it a bit frothy. Garnish with a pineapple wedge or lime wedge. You’re gonna need to remove your mask before you can drink it!
Virus Breakfast of Champions
(AKA Gin & Tonic) Duh. The best summer drink ever so you know I had to add it here. Choose your favorite gin (we usually use less expensive gin like Gordons for this and save the good stuff for the martinis), your favorite tonic (we like Schweppes), lime is mandatory. Over ice pour 2 oz gin, fill glass with tonic, squeeze of lime, garnish with lime. Drink!
(AKA Beer) Chill. Drink.
So there you have it. My Covid Cocktails for Summer Lockdown 2020. Enjoy a few of these in the months ahead, for some fun and sane entertainment as we navigate our way through Pandemic 2020.
Once again the brilliance of Ishiguro unfolds in the pages of this strange but emotionally gripping book. Here is my book review Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro.
Fans of Ishiguro will likely love his latest work, his first since winning the Nobel Prize for literature in 2017 for The Remains of the Day. However, Klara and the Sun feels more like his work Never Let Me Go, a near future look at our society and the sad and disturbing direction things may go. Fans of Handmaids Tale will enjoy Klara and the Sun.
Ishiguro’s strength lies in his ability to create stories about the banality of everyday life, all while generating such strong emotional pull, sometimes horrific sadness and grief and often deep human connection. I really loved this book, but the reviews are mixed…
It takes some time in reading this novel about Artificial Friends (robots) of the future to really understand what exactly is happening. We meet Klara, an Artificial Friend (AF) waiting in the AF store to be purchased. Klara is an unusual AF with a high level of intelligence and what almost appears to be empathy. Klara’s intense observational powers provide her a greater insight into her surroundings than the other AFs.
Josie is the lucky girl who brings Klara home, and in the years ahead we learn about the present day society and the difference between “lifted” children and those who are not “lifted”. We learn about how artificial intelligence has taken over in many parts of society. And we meet a wealth of characters who surround both Josie and Klara and bring both sadness and hope to the story.
I found the ending very moving…with Klara looking off into the distance and the sun shining on her.
This book may not be for everyone, but once I got the rhythm of what was going on I really enjoyed it.
*****Five stars for Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro.
How to talk about my favorite things in Washington State? There is NO WAY I can list all the wonderful things about my home state of Washington. No doubt someone reading this blog will think I have left something out. And so I encourage everyone to comment at the end of this blog with additional FAVORITE things about Washington State.
I was born in Washington 60 years ago and I know a lot of great places in the Pacific Northwest corner of the USA. As we travel the world I often reminisce about Washington, comparing other places around the world to her. I’m looking forward to getting back there, and once again enjoying my favorite things in Washington State.
If you have never visited the Pacific Northwest corner of the USA you are missing out on something pretty special. It is certainly one of the most beautiful places in the entire world. I feel quite qualified to say that, having visited 110 countries myself. Nicknamed the Evergreen State, it has both a very green side (west of the Cascade Mountains) and a gold side (east of the mountains) and I love them equally. Raised on the west side but going to college and spending a great deal of time on the east side, I have learned to appreciate and admire the beauty and diversity of this spectacular little piece of paradise – Washington State.
Seattle – Washington’s largest city is cosmopolitan, delicious, cultural and ethnically diverse. It is the number one place to visit in Washington.
Spokane – One of my favorite cities in Washington and the largest city on the east side of the state, Spokane has grown from a sleepy agricultural town to a wonderfully diverse and interesting city.
Bellingham – Tucked in the Northwest corner of Washington State very near the Canadian border, Bellingham offers a waterfront location with wonderful history. Home to Western Washington University, the student life brings a mix of culture and dining to this medium size city.
Tacoma – the second largest city in the state, Tacoma has long battled a poor reputation. But today’s Tacoma is a far cry from that of yesteryear. A cleaned up downtown and port area, multiple first class museums and a great selection of parks and restaurants makes T-town one of my favorites.
Gig Harbor – I lived in Gig Harbor for 25 years and watched it grow. And despite the traffic I still love this maritime village that has the single most beautiful view in the entire state.
Sequim – Much like Gig Harbor but without the traffic, Sequim’s location overlooking the Strait of Juan de Fuca and in the shadow of the Olympic mountains makes its temperate climate perfect. Throw in the amazing lavender farms and bike trails there is a lot to love about this town.
Walla Walla – when I was growing up Walla Walla was just the town with the funny stuttering name. Today it is one of the premier wine regions in the world and has a wonderfully restored downtown.
Pullman – home to my alma mater Washington State University, Pullman is an upcoming destination even if you don’t say GO COUGS. Today’s Pullman has parks and trails and a much larger selection of dining and hotels than it did forty years ago when I was in school. And I love the weather.
Lena Lake – One of our favorite hikes in the Olympics, the hike to both Lower Lena and Upper Lena can be done by most hikers with minimal experience.
Mount Rainier – If you can catch Mount Rainier on a sunny day any hike will be enjoyable. A wide variety of hike options can be found in the Mount Rainier National Park. This summer I did the Summerland Trail for the first time. I loved it.
Crystal Mountain – hike up and ride the gondola down, or ride the gondola up and hike down…either way you will enjoy panoramic views of Rainier and on a good day, you can see four other volcanoes beyond.
Olympic Discovery Trail – I love this cycling trail and rode on it twice this past summer. The trail runs from Port Townsend all the way to the Pacific Ocean. However from Port Angeles west it is mostly on roads. Since we like to stay on trails, we usually start in Blyn and ride to Port Angeles and back, about 50 miles round trip.
Centennial Trail – Spokane has several cycling trails and one of our favorites is the Centennial Trail that winds its way from Spokane into Idaho and Coeur d’Alene.
Chehalis Western – I’ve spent hours and hours training for long rides on the Chehalis Western, located near Olympia. You can start and stop many places on this trail but if you ride the entire trail round trip it’s 90 miles.
Interurban/Burke Gilman – So many options with this very popular cycling and walking trail. We rode the Burke Gilman this year from Gas Works Park in Seattle to Woodinville (forty miles round trip). If you really want a long and amazing ride start the Interurban in Pacific (near Auburn) and connect in Seattle with the Burke Gilman to Woodinville. This round trip is about 90 miles.
Puget Sound – Western Washington’s beauty can be attributed to water, both that which falls from the sky and that which surrounds it as the Puget Sound. With several cities and towns perched on the Sound, access to it is plentiful, and it is certainly one of my favorite things in Washington State.
Lake Chelan – Washington’s favorite lake is found right in the middle of the state, the 55 mile long, 1500 feet deep natural lake of Chelan. Both a summer and winter playground, Washingtonians from the westside flock to Chelan in the summer.
Columbia River – Roll on Columbia still rings true, and visiting this amazing river that flows both south and west through the state offers a variety of recreational activities and history lessons along the way.
Pacific Ocean – spending time enjoying the crashing waves of Washington’s Pacific Coast is a must when visiting the state. My favorite places to access the Pacific Ocean are Neah Bay or Ozette in the far northwest part of the state or Kalaloch or Long Beach further south.
Green Lake – walking or cycling the 2.8 mile loop around Green Lake is one of my favorite things to do in Seattle. Greenlake is a wonderful little gem of a natural setting right in the heart of north Seattle…treasured by locals.
San Juan Islands – To really see how glorious the Puget Sound is, taking a ferry to one or more of the San Juan Islands and enjoying a few days island hopping is sublime.
Gig Harbor Gondola – if you visit tiny and scenic Gig Harbor on the Kitsap Peninsula don’t miss the opportunity to enjoy a gondola ride in the harbor in an authentic Italian gondola.
Snoqualmie Falls – Just about 40 min drive east of Seattle you will find the amazing Snoqualmie Falls….higher than Niagara. Depending on the time year Snoqualmie falls can be a slender and beautiful falls or a thunderous monster of a waterfall. Worth the drive and also if you are fit the hike to the bottom is breathtaking.
Tillicum Village – Visitors and locals should experience Tillicum Village at least once in their lifetime. The getting there is half the fun, but the food and authentic Native American entertainment is incredible.
Pike Place Market – known for the throwing fish, there is a lot more to enjoy a Seattle’s Pike Place Market, even if you don’t buy a thing it is a not-to-be-missed Seattle institution.
Geoduck Hunting – I went Geoducking for the first time this year on the Key Peninsula just west of Gig Harbor. If you have an opportunity, I highly recommend it. So much fun.
Oysters – take the Olympic Peninsula loop drive and stop for oyster at Hama Hama Oyster Company. Or if you can’t drive the loop, pick up fresh oyster or order oyster on the half shell…usually available in a month with an R. Some of the world’s finest oysters come from Washington State.
Dungeness Crab – If you grew up thinking Maryland Crab was crab you are in for a real shock when you eat Washington’s own world famous Dungeness Crab. Rich, buttery and delicious, Dungeness crab is best without any accoutrements…just eat it like nature intended.
Boehm’s Chocolates – still hand made daily in Issaquah Washington you can have a taste of old European Swiss Chocolate just like the old country. Boehm’s has locations in Issaquah, Poulsbo and Yakima.
Cafe Campagne – my favorite Seattle restaurant I go back to again and again with French food as good as any bistro in Paris.
Luna – just discovered this Spokane gem this summer and I will certainly be back. Possibly the best meal I had all summer.
Brix 25 – in my hometown of Gig Harbor, this little gem is always spot on. Try the Beef Bourgignon. You won’t be disappointed.
Tony’s Fillipis Pizza – growing up in Bremerton this was the place to get pizza, and still today Tony’s Fillipis Pizza is my favorite pizza anywhere in the world.
The Valley Cafe – tucked into an old drug store in Ellensburg Washington, I stop to eat here anytime I am in this Central Washington Rodeo town. And you should too.
The Pink Door – my second favorite Seattle restaurant (and just down the alley from my first) I try to visit in the summer and get a table on their deck. I have never had a bad meal at this iconic Seattle restaurant.
Black Cypress – Pullman isn’t known for fine dining, and yet, the Black Cypress is an absolute find, and a must dine when in the tiny college town of Pullman.
Wineries and Breweries
Washington has become an award wining wine producing state over the past several decades as well as one of the launching places for many now famous microbrews. Washingtonians are well-known to be entrepreneurial and creative (think Bill Boeing, Bill Gates, Howard Schultz, Jeff Bezos) and this local trait shows in the wide variety of first rate wines and beers. Here is a list of my local favs;
Since I live in the state part of the year I don’t often stay in local resorts, but over the years I have had the opportunity to visit several. Most resorts here focus on the beauty of the natural surroundings as well as the farm and forage to table dining Washington offers. Here is list of my favorites;
Since one of the reasons people LOVE Washington so much is the beauty, finding the best views in the state is something visitors always are looking for. For me personally the list below offers amazing views, history and recreation from ocean beaches to mountain tops and everything in between. These are all great options that fit most, budgets, fitness levels and schedules;
Oh my goodness I have so many favorite things in Washington State! I know I have missed some things – I didn’t even touch on museums or tours. I could write an entire blog about festivals, art and music. But the things I have listed here are the things I have experienced and personally enjoy going back to again and again. My Washington from my point of view. Please add your favorites to the list in the comments below. Get out and enjoy surprising, diverse, beautiful, delicious and friendly Washington State. I sure have these past four months. Washington my home.
This was a beautiful story. A surprising little book that I read in one sitting. About three hours start to finish. Here is my book review Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson.
Woodson manages to create the most incredibly compelling story in less than two hundred pages; covering topics relevant to our time from class struggle, racism, ambition, prejudice, faith, honesty, selfishness, sexual desire and family. All tied up in a novel full of the most engaging, emotionally deep and eloquently developed characters.
Red at the Bone tells a story of two families from different social classes, thrown together by an unexpected pregnancy. Woodson explores the broken dreams, shattered faiths and family expectations that are altered by the birth of a little girl. Red at the Bone probes the societal conjecture of family, motherhood, fatherhood and what it means when we don’t live up to those presuppositions.
Woodson is not unknown to me, but this is the first book of hers I have read and I enjoyed it immensely. I high recommend Red at the Bone.
I hope you enjoyed my book review Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson.
We rarely stay in resorts or fancy hotels…it’s not usually part of the Grand Adventure budget. But the Hotel del Coronado – iconic resort of Southern California, has been on my hotel bucket list for a long time. Check. Finally we had a chance to spend two nights in this grand old lady.
From the hotel’s website here is a brief history of this amazing hotel;
Opened in February 1888, Hotel del Coronado debuted as an architectural masterpiece, acclaimed for its spectacular seaside setting and world-famous weather. Outfitted with electricity and every modern amenity, The Del was a destination resort before the term existed, attracting a wealthy clientele from the Midwest, East Coast, and Europe. These guests – who arrived with their own servants in tow – generally stayed for months at a time.
Although seaside destination resorts were fairly commonplace along both American coasts during the late 19th century, few were as large as The Del or as distinctive. With its one-of-a-kind sweeping silhouette – once likened to a cross between an ornate wedding cake and well-trimmed ship – the Southern California beach resort was recognizable throughout the country and around the world.
Coronado’s island-like allure and year-round sunshine further ensured The Del’s reputation as a standout resort, described as the “unrivaled Queen of seaside resorts … this enchanting spot has no equal in America … or the world.”
At 133 years old, this huge, wooden building requires constant maintenance and upkeep. It’s location, beachfront on the Pacific Ocean is beautiful of course, but the sea air, sand, humidity, storms and sun all can wreck havoc on a wooden structure.
Through the years the hotel has expanded to adjoining properties. The original old building still has rooms, but more modern and luxurious rooms are also available in the villa’s, cabanas and high rise hotel next door.
During our visit, the main lobby on the south side of the building is closed for an extensive renovation at a cost of 400 million. The renovation will take the south portico back to it’s original glory. This includes the south facing rooms above the lobby, and the shops below. This extensive work will be ongoing for at least another year. Guest’s enter the building temporarily on the north side portico.
The huge renovation includes another pool and restaurant. Part of the renovation, the refurbished cabana units, is complete.
Several restaurants are available to guests, a spa and swimming pool as well as a half mile stretch of beautiful white sand beach directly in front of the properties. The town of Coronado is easy walking distance from the hotel and offers shops and restaurants.
My Visit to the Hotel del Coronado – Iconic Resort in Southern California
We stayed in one of the least expensive rooms the resort offers, and still paid $400 per night plus an additional $40 per day for parking. This is easily $300 per night more than our usual. In comparison (and changing seasonally) other rooms and guest houses throughout the large complex run from $450 to $1600 per night.
But honestly, I loved being in the oldest part of the hotel. Our room was small with a small bath, but we enjoyed an unexpected beautiful verandah with a partial ocean view and full interior garden view. The mattress was great.
One drawback to the older part of the hotel is the tiny and slow elevator. I am assuming the south renovation will include a new bank of elevators. Perhaps the north side will be next.
Staff is friendly and abundant. The property, which is owned by Hilton, is working to assure guest safety with masks required and advanced cleaning in all rooms. We did not eat at the hotel but the restaurants are beautiful and we enjoyed the beach bar. Garden’s and landscaping are gorgeous. We were glad that with all the construction going on, the crews started late morning and so we did not feel disturbed.
Actually the helicopters, fighters and C-17 airplanes out of the multiple naval and military facilities in the area were much noisier than any construction. But it was also very interesting to watch all that activity.
While here I did a really long run (eleven miles) south on a path that runs well past where I turned around. The views are beautiful. A nice state park and several condos and marinas are located to the south.
We walked around the little town of Coronado, had lunch at Henry’s and did a bit of shopping. I loved some of the beautiful Victorian homes and gardens.
Traffic can be bad, due to the bridge. Although the bridge is high and long, it’s often backed up so plan ahead, especially on the weekend.
Bucket List Check
It’s always fun to check something off the bucket list, and the Hotel del Coronado – iconic resort in Southern California was one for me. I’m so glad we came. Once in a lifetime I have no doubt.
Wow. This is the word that comes to mind for this book. I loved this story. Here is my book review The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri.
On our recent road trip (3 months and 6000 miles) we listened to a total of five Audible books. We never listen to music when we drive, we always have an audio book in the works, in addition to whatever books we are reading on Kindle or in paperback. And this beautiful book, The Beekeeper of Aleppo was perfect for audio. Both for the exquisitely written word Lefteri created, and for the the brilliant performance by reader Art Malik.
Books about war and war refugees are certainly not rare. But this story is incredibly rare as it deals with the plight of the worn torn region of Syria and the dangerous and nearly impossible lives of refugees trying to get to Europe.
Lefteri’s own experience working for an NGO in Syria inspired her to write this novel. And though this is a work of fiction, the author uses real people she met to mold the main characters of this captivating story. The character develop is at the heart of this work…as the reader (or listener) becomes engrossed in the tragedy of innocent people, the unbearable grief of war and loss and the mostly hopeless flight out of war torn Syria.
Following the beekeeper Nuri and his artist wife Afri who has lost her sight in a violent act, readers of this novel will feel each step, each catastrophe and each triumph of their journey. Lefteri shows the reader how the human mind searches for coping mechanisms during life’s most cruel and devastating misfortunes.
Everyone should read this book to better understand the war in Syria. It is presented in such a sensitive and powerful way, a true masterpiece about being human.
*****Five stars for The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri.
It’s been one year today since we arrived in the USA after two months locked down on the island of Cyprus. One freaking crazy year. Even now, after all this time, I sometimes have trouble believing this has all been real. That Pandamit (oops I did it again…Pandemic), really changed absolutely everything, didn’t it?
We hope to travel internationally again soon. However we also know that our international travels of the future will never be as carefree and easy as they were during our four years of the Grand Adventure. But we definitely plan to get back out there.
Meanwhile, 365 days in the USA has given us time to appreciate this beautiful country and all it offers.
Prior to the Pandamit, we had already visited all fifty states. But that doesn’t mean we had seen all the amazing beauty of this nation….not even close. So slow travel in the USA became our new mission. And so far it’s been an amazing journey.
So for today’s blog post I thought I would share A Year in the USA in Pictures – some of my favorite images from our year stuck in the USA. I have no regrets.
Despite it all, it’s been a year of unexpected adventures. We visited Idaho, Colorado and Oregon. Maui was awesome and we enjoyed our time in the Coachella Valley,California and Arizona. Of course our home state of Washington in the summer is a wealth of beauty and adventures. Learning new things, getting healthy,loosing weight, time with family and staying positive have kept us in a good frame of mind. I just absolutely refuse to be a victim in all of this.
People keep asking us what we plan to do next? But, if the Pandamit has taught us anything, it’s don’t make plans! But planning we are, in spite of it all. We will spend 12 days in Iceland in June (fingers crossed). We will return to Maui again in the fall. And we hope to visit Colorado and Arizona again. Mexico is a possibility. We have now been vaccinated and I got my dreaded surgery out of the way, so there does seem to be a light at the end of the tunnel – but that could be a freight train barreling down…cause these days, you never know!
Meanwhile, we are here and that’s just fine – USA you are just fine and we are grateful for all you offer.
I hope you enjoyed our review A Year in the USA in Pictures.
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