Intrepidation. My first trip to Europe and taking a river cruise from Basel, Switzerland to Ansterdam on the Emerald Dawn with Emerald Waterways. Now, I am a simple type when it comes to traveling and hotels. I dont do 5 star hotels, I carry in my own luggage and get myself to my room and back when it is time to leave. I truly felt pampered as we stayed in the Steinenschanze Stadthotel in Basel. The taxi unloaded our luggage from the car and carried it to the front of the hotel, where the hotel staff brought it in. The hotel was very accommodating as we checked in earlier than our time. One of the rooms was ready and they quickly found another room for the other party in our group. They took the luggage upstairs and had it there before we arrived at the door to our room with another staff member who was there to show us how everything worked in the room. Basel is a very friendly city that tries to accommodate everyone language wise. Many people speak English enough to help English speakers. The main language seems to be German with some speaking French and even an occasional Spanish speaker was found. We were very surprised to find one young woman at a restaurant who spoke English like it was her first language, but it wasnt.
Getting around Basel is really easy. Trams run very regularly all over the city and outlying areas, as well as buses. The hotel staff gave us maps, suggestions of some of the things going on in the city and also directed us where we wanted to go. The neatest thing was, we each got a 30 day pass for unlimited use of the Bahnhof (trams and buses) for use while we were staying there. Not only did we use them to where we wanted to, we also rode them some just to sight see by going out to the end of the line and back.
At checkout again, the staff were so understanding and friendly. They called to find out which dock our river cruise was leaving from, then called a taxi large enough for four of us and our luggage. If you are going to Basel, be sure to check out or check into the Steinenschanze Stadthotel.
I am actually excited now to perhaps go visit my brother and sister-in law. They teach internationally and will be teaching in Basel starting in the fall. I know they will love it in Basel. They will love the countryside, the city, the transportation system. It will be perfect for them.
Where do you go when you need your wine fix and the nearest wineries you know of are in Northern Nevada or over in Northern California? Pahrump of course! Las Vegas does not have any wineries-that would be correct. However, if you drive over the hump (over the mountain) to Pahrump, there are actually two wineries over there. The whole 20 plus years that I have lived in Las Vegas, I knew there was one winery. I found out that indeed there are two. This trip is just over an hour each direction. Apparently, the first winery that was there sold out to the second owner and then opened up another one-or at least that is what I was recently told.
While I had my daughter in town, we went along with a friend each over to Pahrump to check them out. The first one we went to is called Pahrump Valley Winery and Symphony’s Restaurant. Very classy set up! The entire patron operation is set up amid the vines. You walk in the entry and have the wine bar on the right side with a back bar of all of the wines and their other item store to the left. As in New Mexico, the tastings in Nevada are no cost. After our tasting, we decided to have lunch. While we were pretty casual, one gets a sense that the evening meals they serve are quite a bit more formal. The food was absolutely delightful. Did I tell you that I prefer sweet wines? Not a problem-not only do they have dessert wine, they also have sherry. This was my first time trying sherry and now I am hooked.
On to the other winery, which is named Sanders Family Winery. This seems to be the smaller of the two operations (perhaps newer?). They too sell other items along with wines and I had to take some phone pics while I was there, because they have wreaths on the wall made of wine corks. They too have sherry for sale as well as their other wines and they introduced us to something new. When we were done with our tastings, we each got a wine spritzer-made with either port or sherry and some gingerale. I am hooked. Of course it makes my purchases last longer as well.
I have talked this one up and have lots of friends that want to make that trip. What a party we could have for those that want to go. This is another one of those trips where I took pictures, but they got deleted. I promise I will get out there to take pics again.
During the 2015 holidays, I got to visit my daughter and son-in-law in Alamogordo, New Mexico. White Sands is just outside of Alamogordo and is part of the National Park system. When I was a very young girl, I remember visiting White Sands Missile Range-not even sure you can do that now. I think it morphed into a National Park. I also got to visit White Sands with my daughter and son-in-law a couple of years ago. Today though was kind of special, because I was visiting White Sands with my daughter’s mother-in-law and sister-in-law. As the two mothers, we get along very well, over wine, of course. All kidding aside, we do get along very well. It was a comment that Lisa made that summed up this trip to White Sands. Even though it was cold and snowing on the mountain, White Sands was actually pretty nice with the sun peaking between and around the clouds. As I was stopping and starting again, taking all kinds of pictures, Lisa said, “it is so quiet and calming”. Lisa was so right! That is exactly the feeling I had-not a care in the world or anything on my mind at the time. Take a look below for some of the calm we saw on this trip.
White Sands, New Mexico
From the Top of a Dune
Dunes to Mountains
I have some really bad habits-habits like playing certain games for hours on end on Facebook, when I am not working. I do this despite having so many other things that I could be doing. Playing those games is my way of chilling out, and I do a LOT of chilling out. Anyway, I finally got the “bug” to do something besides those games. When we took the cruise to Alaska, I had bought a panel and four corner squares from a quilting store in Skagway with a wolf theme for my son. Now that it sat for over a year, I finally decided to get back to it. I went and bought the coordinating fabrics, a new sewing machine-since mine from 36 years ago finally died, made the design on paper and got to work. I just didn’t want you to think that I totally forgot about the blog for no reason. So here it is, all pieced together. I have since put the layers together and starting to do the actual quilting.
As my trips to Reno are coming to an end in the next year, I couldn’t pass up another opportunity to meet up with the girls and do the wine thing. Once again, we went to Mt. Vernon and worked our way through what has got to be the longest wine tasting list around. I have been around some now, in several states, and have yet to come up with a list anywhere near as long. They were really busy during the Thanksgiving weekend, but we did our usual catching up with the servers behind the bar.
Mt. Vernon Winery Thanksgiving
The new one this time was a small (fairly new?) winery called the Fawnridge Winery. Oh my gosh, we had fun at this one. We had a wonderful time chatting with the owner and some of the other patrons. They have a wide variety of other items for sale. I brought home a wine bottle shaped night light, a new wine sign for in my house and some Port Chocolate Wine Sauce as well as wine. They also sell a variety of flavored oils. Food samples as well, with extremely well picked wine pairings. To top it off, when we drove down the hill, there was a deer standing right there.
After finishing my radiation, I was raring to go again-that is get out of Vegas and just be somewhere else. One of my excursions was to Reno to visit my son. That of course means meeting up with the girls for a wine trip. Unfortunately, the day that we could all get together, was not the day our favorite winery was open. What to do? We found that we could hop on over to Truckee to visit a winery there and then head on down to Carson City for a winery in town there. The Truckee River Winery, as wineries go, is very unassuming. The wine service was extremely friendly. The tasting center is surrounded by the beauty that abounds in the Truckee area. They also sell other wine paraphenalia, ice cream and snacks if you have the kiddos along, and can even make up some goodies to go along with wine tasting. The wine was fabulous, and they even had a desert wine for me. One of the group said she would meet us in town and was going to hike the trail that runs along the river.
Truckee River Winery
We found a place in Carson City called Tahoe Ridge Winery. This winery originally was open to the public out in the farmlands of the Carson Valley and moved into Carson City. We went around lunch and ate in their bistro as well. They have everything there. The food is a little eclectic-meant for those who are into wine. It is the kind of food that you don’t find everywhere. We all loved our food and then finished it off with wine tasting and purchases. The indoor surroundings have a very warm feel. Mission accomplished-we still found two wineries open to visit. My apologies, I didn’t take any pictures and I am not smart enough to highjack the one that someone else in the group did take.
So while on Spring Break, I once again got together with the godmothers from Sacramento, Claudia and Audra to do the winery thing! We went back to our favorite winery-Mount Vernon and found the owner behind the bar this time. I handed him my phone, pointing out my blog, which of course has the winery in it. He read through my last entry and noted that we would be tasting 19 wines this time-YES-that was 19! Since I was technically the DD, I bowed out on the drier wines and waited for the girls to catch up on the sweet ones. I was delighted to catch up on my wine club orders, as they still had the special on the port-BOGO for a penny. While talking with the owner, we heard about some of the new plans for the property. Have I mentioned that they have a picnic area and do special dinners for the wine club members?
Mt. Vernon Winery
I haven’t been able to take part in these, as I live too far away and haven’t timed my trip just right to make it. Next of course, we had to check out another new winery, so we ended up at Wise Villa. This is a slightly more upscale winery with a dining room and a view over the surrounding hills to die for. Looking out the front while we were there, was the most beautiful view of the vineyard. You can see it behind us in the picture.
Wise Villa Winery
Of course, after all of that wine tasting, we had to go for a bite at Awful Annie’s again.
I apologize for not doing any entries for awhile. I have been fighting cancer and have found myself kept extremely busy with that. That has kept me stuck in Las Vegas, when I would rather be in cooler places (both temperature and activity wise). Locals who cannot truly escape the heat in the valley, head for Mount Charleston. I have done that twice in recent weeks just to be somewhere cooler. We have now had 29 days in a row of 100+ temperatures, with the highest being 114 degrees. I for one cannot stand the 114 dry days and would rather have 105 humid days. Monsoons are here and we have just come off of a few days with rainstorms. That means that one part of town may have torrential downpours, while another area doesn’t even get a drop. There was a really cool pictures taken of a torrential downpour west of the airport, by someone in a plane. I saw it on facebook. Wish I could take credit for that one. At any rate, a friend and I headed for the mountain one day when it was 113 in the valley. We first stopped at the new and now open Spring Mountains Visitor Center. Well done! Unique to this visitor’s center is a mangled propeller from a plane that crashed in the area. This is meant as a memorial, as are a couple of other items they have outside the visitor’s center.
We continued up to the top of Kyle Canyon where there are a lot of residences and Cathedral Rock which is part of the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area. Cathedral Rock is a picnic area, hiking area and possibly a camping area.Moving back down the hill partially, we took the connecting road over to Lee Canyon and headed to the top there. Surprisingly, we found a lot of horses grazing on the grass in the ski area and the meadows. I knew there were wild horses at the top of the mountain, but I had never thought of them coming down near the people that might be around. We got to wait on the road for awhile, so that construction season could occur on the road. But ultimately, we got what we came for. The temperature outside under somewhat overcast skies was 78 degrees-much more enjoyable than 113. As we coasted down the mountain, I noticed there were a lot of horse trailers parked in one of the parking areas. I found out later that there are trails and parking specifically for the horses. I also imagine that many horse owners take their horses up there where they won’t suffer heat stroke when they are exercised.
Today, I went to lunch with my mother-in-law and decided maybe it would be nice to go up the mountain again. It was only headed for 100 degrees today in the valley-but it was a slightly humid 100 as we are on the tail end of those monsoons. Well the skies were blue with really nice clouds today, so I got some pictures of that. We only saw 3 horses total this time, but the weather was devine. The top of Lee Canyon has extensive camping areas and the Las Vegas Ski and Snowboard Resort. During the summer, the ski area (for a charge) runs one of their chair lifts for those who want to get up to a higher elevation. At the top of Lee Canyon, it was windy and the temperature was 66 degrees. Wow-and of course I had to drive back down to the 100 degrees in the valley.
Yes, it is Fee Free Days for all National Parks this weekend, April 18-19 in honor of the start of National Park Week. For the locals, this means it doesn’t cost you anything to get into Red Rock National Conservation Area and Lake Mead National Recreation Area. If you wish to venture out a little further, Grand Canyon National Park has free entrance. Anywhere in our National Park areas, it costs you nothing to get in this weekend. I know I want to be there.
Alright, I have a new favorite place to eat in Reno. The conversation traditionally has been (no matter who I am with) so where do you want to eat. I don’t know, where do you want to eat? This place will definitely be added to the must visit every time I am in Reno, probably more than once. This place is for bacon lovers, starting with the Bacon Bloody Marys, right on through the 50/50 Bacon Burgers. Everything has a down home, comfort food feel. There were collard greens the first night we were there. They had a Portuguese soup with beans and some sort of spicy meat-absolutely excellent! It also happens to major in barbecue. We ended up going there twice for dinner also. It is called BJ’s Nevada Barbecue Company and is located in Sparks just down the road to the east of Victorian Square. We ended up going there for breakfast twice. Breakfast burritos, biscuits and gravy, and pecan cinnamon sticky rolls for starters. They serve French toast just the way I like it-with butter and powdered sugar. Neither of us had ever had grits, so they brought us a healthy sized sample to try. They were very good as well. But to die for (we ordered them 3 times in one week) was the bread pudding with bourbon sauce. Since we were too full, that went back to the hotel with us. It also went home with us the day we left.
BJ’s Nevada Barbecue Company