Teri B.

Teri B.

Things I Love

HAPPILY BIDDING ADIEU TO 2O2O

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My annual re-cap of where we went and where we’re going looks decidedly different than in years past.  We did manage some great trips, ones taken with little advance planning but where  circumstances opened windows of opportunity.  That is definitely something for which we are very grateful.   Click on the links for blog posts you might have previously missed.

Where we went in 2020 (with some favorite photos):

Panama (January)

National Parks Road Trip (May)

Mount Rushmore at sundown
Yellowstone Lake

The Carolina’s (June)

Charleston at night

Paso Robles (August)

Niner Wine Estate, Paso Robles

Dallas/Arlington – World Series & Houston (October)

Napa Valley (November) 

Thanksgiving Dinner at Poesia, San Francisco

Where We’re Going in 2021:

  Kenya & Tanzania for safari then join our kids in Italy (April/May).

I’m sure there will be more.  Much more.  Celebrating our 35th wedding anniversary in August so that’s worth a great trip; right??  We’re always optimistic.

In the meantime, the very best wishes to everyone for a great 2021 full of travel, fun, family, friends, good health and good will.

Thank you for always traveling with me.

Things You Should KnowU.S. TravelWining/Dining

FAMILY THANKSGIVING IN NAPA

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If you have either been to Napa and/or know those who have, the concensus is clear.  It appeals on so many different levels to so many people.

Nonetheless, every travel experience contains at least one head-scratcher.  Our flight from Burbank to Oakland was flawless, arriving early with a half-full plane. However,  the rental car pick up was anything but “flawless.”  Remember the famous Seinfeld episode where Jerry has a car reservation, but there’s no car available? Bingo. “Anyone can T A K E a reservation,” a frustrated Jerry says to the woman behind the counter.  “But you have to H O L D the reservation.” How exactly does a car rental company have no cars for their bookings?  Fortunately, steps away from Fox was Avis who solved the problem and off we went.

Silverado Country Club offers spacious units with three bedrooms and two baths so that was our choice.  Our family of four could spread out, bring in food for breakfast with the full kitchen and be very comfortable.  COVID meant none of the typical services, but the front desk responded promptly to all our requests.

Over the course of the week, our adventures would satisfy the most dedicated oenophiles.  Son Sam created and with the hubby operates a family enterprise, The Cellar Beverly Hills.  Now in our third year, we offer private wine storage with concierge services and much more.  Given the business has been built almost entirely by word of mouth, imagine our collective glee hearing from a prominent winery that TCBH is quite well known among Wine Country vinters. We were ecstatic.

The images below are from Wheeler, a custom crush facility where we had a tasting from Accendo Cellars.  The bottom photo is Wheeler’s open kitchen (to die for).

Make no mistake — this was a working trip.  Thanksgiving provided a much-needed respite, but the rest of the days were spent making and enhancing winery relationships (21 in all).  If you want to help this area from a devastating year — not just from COVID closures but the fires — buy wine!

We did our part.

Along with wine, the other joy of Napa is eating lots of great food.  Because there are so many choices, strategy was needed to try everywhere we wanted to go.  A couple of restaurants were nixed because of closing for the transition to complete outdoor dining (Avow and The Charter Oak).  A mix of new and old made up the rest:  Mustard’s Grill, Oenotri, Bistro Don Giovani, Celadon, Gott’s Roadside (a must), Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch and our favorite, Poesia in San Francisco.

Tasting at Hartford in Sonoma

You should know a word about outdoor dining this time of year. It’s cold. Very, very cold.  When the sun goes down, Napa drops at least 20 degrees. Every night was mid-40’s. One night required keeping my gloves on between the courses.  The establishments do their best with heaters but those unfortunately don’t reach one’s feet. Brrrr.

Mustard’s on Hwy 29
Celadon entrance

Poesia was a last-minute find for Thanksgiving dinner.  The food (shown below) was fantastic but even more fun was Pietro, the crazy, animated, fun and enthusiastic caretaker of our table.  This Italian/Jewish/filmmaker might just show up on our doorstep one day.  Prego!

Above (clockwise from upper left):  Eggplant parm, Cabbage salad with pears, walnuts & goat cheese; incredible rigatoni marinara; ravioli with pumpkin filling, sage and balsamic.

Below, the quartet of desserts:  Hazelnut gelato with hard chocolate shell; (take the gun but leave the) cannoli; millefoglie with apple; tiramisu.  All magnifico!

Pietro at Poesia

A few precious and careful visits with friends and family were icing on the proverbial cake to this spectacular week.  As a result, layers of ongoing and much welcomed (small) gatherings were added with cousin visits in Silverado, San Francisco and Lafayette.  We got in a quick coffee in Sebastopol with a high school friend, along with tastings at Jeff Cohn Cellars and Littorai in Sonoma.

Touring Mayacamas

Napa continues to be one of the best — if not the best — vacation destinations there is, so go!

U.S. TravelWining/Dining

DEEP IN THE HEART (AND SOUTH) OF TEXAS

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The recent trip to Texas for the glorious World Series was not just about attending the games.  There was more to do and enjoy in the Lonestar State, starting with some pretty great meals.  I know; that’s shocking.  First in Dallas followed by a couple days with our Houston friends.

Sightseeing:  Highland Park and Preston Hollow for spectacular homes; SMU Campus including the George W. Bush Presidential Library (currently closed)

Dallas digs:  AC Hotels by Marriott, a new brand (to me) — upscale, modern and very reasonable! Under $1oo per night for spacious king.

Dallas restaurants:   The Mercury and Yardbird (first grid); Terry Black’s for excellent BBQ in Deep Ellum — a very hip area located near Baylor U (second grid).

Terry Black’s food and outdoor smokers

Next, we hightailed it down to Houston to spend a couple days with our longtime friends there (Kay & Fred Zeidman). For the Houston dining, highlights were Kenny & Ziggy’s deli (“We Schlep Nationwide” via Goldbelly), Killen’s BBQ (fabulous!) plus Porta’Vino and somehow DQ always seems to pop up and we can’t resist.

Ziggy (in mask) makes terrific food!
Killen’s BBQ killed it!
Porta’Vino

We’re always sad to leave our Texas friends — especially after this particularly spectacular visit.  We even loved seeing Fred’s WS ring from the Nats organization — we “countered” in our Dodger gear.  Can’t wait to see y’all again!

 

Lapdog Willa felt just like home.

 

 

Things I Love

A VERY LONG TIME COMING

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The last time the Dodgers won the World Series, I was literally a newborn fan.  If someone had told me that during the course of 35 years with the hubby I would become this avid baseball person, I would have said “there’s no way.”

I grew up attending countless games of two local basketball legends — the UCLA Bruins and the Los Angeles Lakers.  The action is literally non-stop.  That there might be a transition to baseball who some (non fans) liken to watching paint dry, is arguably a stretch.

I can tell you the exact day it took place.  October 15, 1988.  You all know it — Kirk Gibson’s historic walk off in Game 1 of the World Series.  Was I there?  No.  In fact, the hubby and I had a bit of a “disagreement” about going.  We had “other plans” that night — a dinner party with friends from our synagogue.   He went to the game and I went to the dinner party.  It didn’t take long to “get it” thereafter.  I went to Game 2 and the rest is history.

In the early 90’s we became Dodger season ticket holders. I swore off the NBA and UCLA has crushed our hopes for way too long.  We celebrated in Seattle with them in 1995 and in San Antonio for their near miss in 2008.  Kansas winning there was terrific as son Sam was headed to KU for college.

What’s happened in the interim?  Visited 40 MLB stadiums (old and new parks).  Someday I’ll get to my 30th team park (Detroit).  Had fun road trips visiting stadiums.  Seen games in Tokyo, Seoul and Taipei.  Then there’s the many All-Star games, NLDS, NLCS and, yes, the painful recent WS games.

Then this remarkable, unforgettable, unpredictable 2020 season happened.  When the hubby sent me the MLB email announcing tickets were going on sale Oct 6 for the NLCS and WS at Globe Life Field, I said “let’s go.”  With all games sold out in 90 minutes, we could only get 4 seats for Game 6 of the WS.  The craziest travel plans ever were booked, including separate airfare for Sam who was only going if the Dodgers were in.  Fortunately, daughter Hannah (a non-fan thus always missing from the photos) is holding down the home fort and watching the dogs while we go on our baseball journey.

October 2019 playoff game at Dodger Stadium

Game 5 seats were purchased via StubHub’s resale market.  That was a tense evening.  Oh, that we could shed pounds from the angst of a baseball game.  I was hiding my eyes, gripping my seat, holding on to the hubby and bursting into screams at a run or strikeout.  Had we all recovered from the Game 4 stunning loss?  Our team put it in their rearview mirror and took care of business.

Globe Life Field, 10.25.20
Pre-game

Food pricing was pretty reasonable.  Drinks?  Not so much (see below).  Parking was cheap at $30 ($100 at Dodger Stadium for the World Series).

With one of our LA ticket partners for the big night

We tried to keep busy, but were really just counting down the hours until Game 6.  We sat through nearly six painful innings until scoring our first runs to take a tiny lead.  But that was all that we needed, with our stellar pitching, another Mookie home run and a World Series championship.  Screams, tears, hugs, high fives, dancing in the aisles and pure joy.  We did it.  We finally did it.

Things I Love

TRUTH IS INDEED STRANGER THAN FICTION!

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Does anyone have any doubt that true stories are often the hardest to believe?  You hear something and you just cannot believe that the tale wasn’t created in the mind of a world-class writer?  This is one of those stories.

For context, this is about my family history — and my dad specifically — who sadly passed away in 1990 at just 64 years of age.  That age really hits home when, as the child, I have surpassed it as have my two sisters.

Our dad was a handsome athlete (UCLA basketball), avid golfer, story teller and partner for 40 years to our mom who passed away in 2014.  He loved beautiful things — particularly alpaca cardigans in every color and a new car every couple of years.

Here’s what just happened.  Sister Margie was contacted some months ago on Facebook messenger by a gentleman from St. Louis.  He is in the car restoration business.  He wrote that in the process of restoring a 1970 Cadillac, he found a wallet under the carpet.  The driver’s license — you guessed it — our dad Hal Michaels.  Not just the license, but credit cards and photos, all intact.  Margie tried to respond via Messenger but did not get a response.

A quick internet search connected his name to a business in St. Louis, where he is the general manager.  I called him and he called back just a short time later.  The story gets more remarkable when he tells me he’s held onto the wallet since 2010 when the car came to his business.  He tried to find a connection at that time, but was unable to so he simply put the wallet away for safekeeping.  Several months ago, his assistant took up the search and found our dad’s obituary.  Our names were listed which led to a Facebook search and he found Margie (we all include our maiden name in our profiles).

The primary identification

Why did he go to all this trouble?  He said if someone had something of his dad’s, he would have had the same feelings — to the extent this Midwestern guy showed emotion at all.  I emailed him a UPS label for convenience and we now have the wallet back.  Viewing the contents was both fascinating and frankly a bit sad.  Who among us wouldn’t give anything to have just one more conversation …

But back to this story.  An earlier post of mine (including a great tale from sister Janie) is entitled NEVER Underestimate the Kindness of Strangers.  Of all years for something so wonderful to happen, 2020 is it.

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OTHER CONTENTS: Below is evidence of his devotion to UCLA as a founder of Pauley Pavilion.  The card has two signatories — Chancellor Charles Murphy and Alumni General Chairman H.R. Haldeman.  Yes, he’s that one.  He was also a fraternity brother.  By the way, the hubby and I have NEVER gotten courtesy parking as we still maintain the original season tickets. (The Haldeman offspring are near our seats).

Various credit cards and membership cards below — who knew you had to register as a golfer?

And finally his girls, left to right in birth order (Margie, Janie twice and me with poodle Beau).  We’ll never know why Janie got two photos … is that a middle child thing??  C’mon Dad, send us a sign.

 

Hal Michaels 10.1.25 ~ 1.16.90

U.S. Travel

THE CAROLINA’S :: HILTON HEAD, BEAUFORT AND HOME AGAIN

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Note:  Sorry for the long delay in this final post from the June trip to the Carolina’s.  Life intervened but happy to be back with this wrap up and future posts to follow! 

The idyllic setting at Sea Pines Resort on Hilton Head Island was just the ticket to wrap up our swing through both of the Carolina’s (see previous posts here).  It’s an easy drive down the highway from Charleston to the general area.  The hubby was in charge of finding a place for lunch prior to arriving at our hotel.

To say that he entered nirvana at Magiamo in Hilton Head is the proverbial understatement for this year or any other.  The restaurant happens to have very good pizza, but the food is completely secondary to the experience as the “home away from home for The Ohio State Buckeyes.”

“You can’t believe all the stuff here!!”
Memorabilia from other Ohio teams

From the moment one enters, it is literally Buckeye memorabilia covering every inch.  Signed and framed jerseys, game balls, newspaper articles, enormous photos from big wins and every other item one can imagine.  The one that truly “hits below the belt” is shown in the photo below, a testament to the depth of the Michigan rivalry.  We’re told that game viewing is insane, probably second only to being at The Shoe (aka Ohio Stadium).

Ouch .. the ultimate diss.
Oh, what a game! Hubby and son were there.

If living in a gated golf community is what you desire, then Hilton Head is your place.  Once on the island, we passed innumerable entryways to communities.  We walked past what appeared to be multi-unit buildings, town homes and single-family residences — all part of the Harbor Town area.  It seemed like everyone was riding bikes, even at night when it was too dark to see a street sign!

Harbor area.

As with the recent road trip, our itinerary was routed to include another high school reunion.  In nearby Beaufort, SC, en route back to Charlotte for the flight home, we visited two LA transplants. We had a great time hearing about life there vs. what we know it to be in California.

High school friends and sisters Lorraine & Sheila

Here are some quick facts on travel adapted to mitigate the spread of COVID ::

  • Don’t expect much in the way of housekeeping. The first time full service was provided at any hotel we’ve stayed in (either this trip or the previous one) was in Hilton Head.  We were asked at check-in for our preferred time slot so we could plan to be out of the room.  This helps the staff with fewer encounters.
  • The smaller of the two pools also required a reservation to preclude over-crowding.  Likewise the gym.
  • Everything is under wraps, including remote controls.
  • There are signs posted as to how many should be in the elevator at one time.  At Sea Pines, it was limited to one family per ride; in Charleston it was no more than six people but the elevators were much larger.

None of the above facts are noted for anything other than information sharing.  If one chooses to travel at this particular time, one needs to know that the hospitality industry is both trying to survive while at the same time doing everything possible to mitigate any spread according to guidelines.

Poolside social distancing.

My takeaway: Same as with the previous road trip, travelers are happy to be out and about.  It’s hot as hell, it’s summer and we’re being mindful.  Clearly others may feel differently and we all just need to respect one another’s choices.