A few weeks ago, I paid a visit to one of my three sisters, Joanna, who resides in Concord, MA. Another one of my sisters, Lee, lives nearby and she joined us for one the hardest four-mile hikes I have ever done! Mount Monadnock located in Jaffrey, NH, is a 3165-feet granite monster. It is one of the most climbed mountains in the world (who knew) and was a favorite of Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson. Emerson even wrote a poem about the place entitled, “Monadnoc”.
I was excited about our adventure as any time with two of my sisters is always good. However, at the time, I didn’t realize I would be hiking in a vertical fashion through ice and snow. I laughed when the park ranger said, “It takes about a mile per hour.” I scathingly retorted, “A mile an hour? Don’t you mean four miles per hour?” How the mighty fell that fateful day on Mount Monadnock. Perhaps my first clue should have been when Joanna obliquely said, “There are a few hard spots on the trail I just can’t remember where they are.”
On finishing the trail we were tired and very proud of ourselves. Although, Lee and I whined (a tiny bit) while traversing Monadnock, we thoroughly enjoyed it and were so glad Joanna brought us there.
Now onto the most important question – what libation would best warm our chilly bones?
Recently my husband, Brian, and I traveled to Fairfield, CT to celebrate the wedding of our friends, Aimee and Germán. We have been friends with Aimee for twenty years and were so happy when she met Germán, a wonderful person just like Aimee. The wedding was an intimate affair of fifty of Aimee and Germán’s closest family and friends. Germán’s parents, Frida and Germán Sr., and his brother and his wife, David and Janina, traveled from Lima, Peru for the occasion. Linda, Germán’s first cousin, and her husband, Sergio, came from Florida to join the celebration. Of course, Aimee’s parents, Tom and Michelle, her sisters, Meg and Colleen, and brother in-law, Kevin (married to Meg), were there to support the happy couple.
The wedding was held at the Delamar Southport, a lovely, small (only 40 rooms) hotel that catered to the bride’s, the groom’s, and their guests’ every need. (See my review on www.tripadvisor.com) The day before the wedding, we had a fantastic bridal lunch at the Gray Goose Cafe, conveniently located across the street from the Delamar. I highly recommend the “Black and Blue Burger” with a Bloody Mary – perfect lunch-time fare! The lunch gave Aimee’s friends time to get to know German’s fabulous family. On the day of the wedding Aimee treated her friends to “hair and make-up”. Janet from Salon Isa and Cheryl Ann and Kathy from Faces Beautiful helped us all look our best. The following photos are some of my favorite memories from the week-end.
¡Felicidades Aimee y Germán!
Recientemente mi esposo Brian y yo viajamos a Fairfield, CT para celebrar la boda de nuestros buenos amigos, Aimee y Germán. Hemos conocido a Aimee por veinte años y nos da mucho gusto que ella haya conocido a Germán, ¡una persona maravillosa al igual que Aimee! La boda fue un asunto íntimo de cincuenta de los mayores amigos y las familias de Aimee y Germán. Los padres de Germán, Frida y Germán Sr., y su hermano y su cuñada, David y Janina, viajaron desde Lima, Perú para la ocasión. Linda, la prima hermana de Germán, y su esposo, Sergio, vinieron de Florida para participar en la celebración. Por supuesto, los padres de Aimee, Tom y Michelle, sus hermanas, Meg y Colleen, y su cuñado, Kevin (casado con Meg) estuvieron allí para apoyar a la pareja feliz.
La boda fue en el Delamar Southport, un hotel precioso y pequeño (solamente cuarenta cuartos) que atendido cada necesidad de la novia, el novio, y sus huéspedes. (Vea mi reseña en www.tripadvisor.com.) El día anterior a la boda, tuvimos un almuerzo nupcial fantástico en el café Gray Goose, un restaurante localizado al otro lado de la calle del Delamar. Recomiendo mucho el “Black and Blue Burger” con un Bloody Mary – ¡un almuerzo perfecto! Durante el almuerzo, las amigas de Aimee conocieron a la fabulosa familia de Germán. En el día de la boda, Aimee regaló a sus amigas “cabello y maquillaje”. Janet de Salon Isa y Cheryl Ann y Kathy de Faces Beautiful nos ayudaron a lucir espectaculares. Las fotos siguientes son algunas de mis memorias favoritas del fin de semaña. (Gracías a Genaro Tarín, mi maestro de Español, por su ayuda con esta traducción.)
Recently, my friend, Meera, and I paid a visit to our friends’, Susan and Charles, mountain retreat. Nestled in the Santa Cruz Mountains, Susan and Charles’ rustic lodge is surrounded by California Redwoods with a vista that overlooks the city of Santa Cruz and the Pacific Ocean beyond. One of the best things about visiting them (aside from their company) is that at the end of the visit you leave with a goody bag full of fruits and vegetables from their orchards and gardens. Sometimes your bag is full with three types of pears. Sometimes it’s avocados and kiwis. You never know what you will receive but it will always be in season and delicious. On this occassion, we recieved a large box of padron peppers, green apples, and vine-ripened tomatoes. On arriving home I was inspired to prepare a meal in honor of these ingredients and Susan and Charles. Food is best enjoyed with loved ones so I invited my friend, Lisa, over for dinner to celebrate this Santa Cruz Bounty. (Yes, I am lucky to have so many lovely friends!)
My last full day on the Cape, my sisters, Lee and Annie, and Andrea, my nephew’s fiancé partook in one of the most popular tourist attractions on the Lower Cape – The Shining Sea Bikeway. It’s a 21.4-mile round trip ride from North Falmouth to Wood Hole. Named in honor of local girl, Katherine Lee Bates and her famous song (does “from sea to shining sea” ring any bells?), the perfectly paved, perfectly flat bike path hugs the shore along the Vineyard Sound. The ride provides glorious views past marshes, beaches, and cranberry bogs. It doesn’t get more Capey than that!
Is it cocktail time yet? YES! The best part of the ride is ending at The Landfall Restaurant. Great foods, great drinks, a perfect place to rest before the 10-mile ride home.
It’s always so sad to say good-bye to Cape Cod. But never fear, dear readers, I will return with more adventures to share. Thank you for being such a fabulous partner in my journeys! XOXO!
One of my favorite Cape Cod activities is to do the Scraggy Scramble with my sister, Lee. The Scraggy Scramble really is a scramble over two miles of boulders and large, loose rocks that form the outer banks of Scraggy Neck. Scraggy Neck is a long spit of land or neck jutting out into Buzzards Bay. It’s a beautiful place with a lush forest at its center. Lovely beaches and coves adorn Scraggy’s edges. Many people have summer homes here and a few live all year round.
The Scraggy Scramble is not all pain. The scenery is gorgeous and Lee and I love to gawk at the beautiful homes visible from the rocks.
It takes about three hours to do the full seven-mile loop around Scraggy Neck and when Lee and I arrived home our sister, Annie, welcomed us with Strawberry Daiquiris and Mystery Dip! The perfect combination to replenish ourselves after the Scraggy Scramble.
While enjoying outdoor activities is a major part of the Cape Cod summer, eating and drinking (responsibly) also play an essential role in the Cape lifestyle. After our daiquiris, Mystery Dip, a swim, a rest, and a shower, we headed to the Lobster Trap, a popular local haunt, to celebrate my mother’s birthday.
Recently, I spent a long week-end at my parents’s summer home on Cape Cod. Our little corner of the Cape, North Falmouth and Megansett, is probably one of the loveliest spots on earth (outside of California, of course!). As a child and young adult, I spent my summers here enjoying the Cape’s natural beauty and spending time with my wonderful grandparents, Lee and Lavinia Gamble. It had been more than a year since my last visit and the first thing I did to shake off the discomforts of United’s “Red Eye” was take a stroll along North Falmouth’s verdant country roads.
No trip to the Cape is complete without a little water time and after my post-flight walk I was ready for an outing on my mother’s 17-foot Boston Whaler, “Lavinia”. My mother, Beverly, and my sister, Joanna, are expert mariners with both power and sail boats. My mother grew up sailing on Buzzard’s Bay and on this trip we headed across the bay to Black’s Beach.
We made it home safely despite the thunderstorms. Was I ever ready for a cocktail! My sister, Annie, and I headed to the store for libations and ingredients for a family dinner – tomato salad, sauteed fennel, and homemade pizza with flourless chocolate cake for dessert. I love to cook and I love cooking together with my family even more, especially when we can enjoy a glass of prosecco at the same time!
I am lucky to have two family homes to visit on the Cape. For those of you without such well-placed relatives, a Cape Cod rental is the way to go and guaranteed to give you that summer feeling. Check out these sites for more information: homeaway.com and VRBO.com. Stay tuned for Cocktails on Cape Cod Part 2!
Every once in a while during the chilly SF summer, there is an absolutely, glorious warm sunny day. Everyone freaks out trying to cram as many summer activities into the 24-hour respite from the fog as possible. Recently, we had such a day and I took myself for a hike in Marin County. Just a short drive from SF across the Golden Gate Bridge, Marin County is home to the world-famous beauties, Muir Woods and the Point Reyes National Seashore. It’s a sublime combination of accessible hiking (more than half of the county is public park lands) and sophisticated town living, i.e. a cocktail is never far away!
For this hike, I consulted my trusty guide, 101 Great Hikes of the San Francisco Bay Area by Ann Marie Brown. (See pages 156-159) It’s a 7.8 mile loop starting at the Matt Davis Trail to Stinson Beach and returning on the Dipsea Trail up Steep Ravine. During the summer, especially on week-ends, it’s best to get an early start (before 9am) as both parking and the trails get crowded.
The Matt Davis Trail is some of my favorite kind of hiking. Lush and quiet with groves of ferns at your feet while elegant bay laurels arch overhead. Even during the drought Table Rock Creek bubbles in the background providing a perfect soundtrack. The trail ends at Stinson Beach where many hikers choose to take a break for lunch. Stinson is always too busy for me in the summer so I continued on towards my next leg, the Dipsea Trail.
Since 1905, stalwart runners have taken part in this challenging race from Mill Valley to Stinson Beach on the Dipsea Trail. The race traverses a stairwell of more than 300 steps and hills named “Cardiac” and “Dynamite”. My hike covered one of the more even sections of the trail though it was not without stairs and hills!
After a little more than a mile, the Dipsea connects with the Steep Ravine Trail. Climbing 1000-feet in two miles, the trail earns its reputation as steep! Once again, I am back in my favorite terrain, shady, with towering redwoods above and the crystal pools of Webb Creek below. There’s even a 10-foot ladder to scramble over lending a true rugged feeling to the hike.
My three-hour hike brought me back to the parking lot at Pantoll Station where I had cocktails on the brain. Fortunately, my wonderful friend, Meera lives close by and she invited me to her beautiful Marin County home. Meera is a fabulous chef and an invitation to dine at “Casa Meera” is not to be refused.
On my arrival, Meera greeted me with a hug and a glass of orange-lemon water (for hydration). We also enjoyed a glass of delicious red wine, Chateau Saint-Aubin. For lunch, I was served Greek Salad made with heirloom tomatoes, my first of the season I am ashamed to say. (It’s particularly shameful because there’s a fabulous farmer’s market in my neighborhood. Visit Noe Valley Farmers Market to learn more.) Meera ended our meal with homemade flour-less chocolate cake – gluten-free never tasted so good!
Summer in SF is all about escaping the fog and one of our favorite escapes is camping along the American River. It’s secluded, serene, and imbued with California history. A perfect escape for the cocktail camper who enjoys a libation in a locale that is both beautiful and historic. Plus, the fly-fishing for wild trout is excellent!
From 1848-1855, the American River had a starring role in the California Gold Rush. During that time, 300,000 “forty-niners” made arduous, often dangerous, journeys from the East Coast, Latin America, and China to claim their riches in gold. While some individuals did become rich, most did not. Men and women spent their lives along the American River enduring hardship, violence, disease, and death with little to show for their efforts. Today, the American River makes a delightful week-end trip for the cocktail camper.
One recent week-end Brian and I loaded up the Highlander with our favorite gear, foods, and cocktails but no trip to the American River is complete without a stop at Ikeda’s Country Market in Auburn, CA. The Ikeda family carries the freshest summer fruit direct from their own orchards. Peaches, nectarines, and plums straight from the tree always give me that extra-special summer feeling.
The American River is one of the finest in the state for fly-fishing. Wild rainbow and brown trout abound and the river’s accessibility make it an excellent fishing spot. (To learn more about fishing and enjoying the American River visit: www.theamericanriver.com)
Brian has been fly-fishing since he was 11 years old. He is an expert fisherman and it’s the rare day he doesn’t catch a fish. I am still learning though no stranger to “cast, drift, set” as they say in fly-fishing parlance. (Translation: I caught two fish on my own.)
In fly-fishing live bait is not used but rather tiny, artificial flies. You must release all the fish you catch. This means the fish are beautiful, healthy, and often marked by scars from previous “man vs. fish” battles.
Of course, no day along the river would be complete without a cocktail and nothing says warm weather like rum punch. We created our own punch: coconut rum and pineapple juice over ice. It definitely needed some tweaking (and a blender) but we enjoyed it by our river view nonetheless.
This Fourth of July, Brian and I loaded up the Toyota Highlander with our favorite goodies and libations and headed to the American River. We were ready to escape the San Francisco Fog for some fly-fishing, cocktailing, and warm, sunny weather.
The American River was an important part of the Califonia Gold rush. Gold miners often used explosives to divert parts of the river creating a dry river bed that made mining for gold much easier. The lure of gold riches brought many men seeking fortune to the American River. At the Gold Rush’s height more than 10,000 people lived along the river’s banks.
Today, the American River is place to fly-fish for wild trout and enjoy a little bit of paradise. Brian and I love to escape here for the warm weather, peace, beauty, quiet, and of course, the excellent fishing!
Our American River campground contributes that “smidge of roughing it” appreciated by the cocktail camper. This means that the campground is rough but not too rough! It has a great outdoor kitchen with several grills, a sink with running water, and lots of counter space. Brian is a master of the grill and always makes sure we have plenty of delicious food to accompany our tasty cocktails.
“How can I practice the cocktail camping lifestyle?” you may be asking yourself. It’s easy. You just need a few staple items as the foundation of your cocktail camping fun. Below are some items we are never without during our cocktail camping adventures.
What’s next on our cocktail camping agenda this summer? More trips to the American River for sure! Stay tuned for more signature cocktails, delicious dinners, and roughing it (just a little bit) in the glorious state of California!