Trip to Malta. 9/21-22/21

We started our trip today which will be a combination of two cruises, one centered around Greece and the other in the Adriatic. Our two flights went smoothly as we connected through Newark on the way to Malta.

Tasty breakfast on United from SFO to EWR

John was looking forward to some good German beer at the Lufthansa lounge during our layover but no alcohol was being served!

John in Newark with empty beer fridge and dry taps

Flying domestically during the pandemic is  pretty much like flying before except you have to wear a mask full time. Luckily both our flights contained no disgruntled passengers and mostly I just had sore ears.  There is a lot of paperwork to be done before traveling internationally and once we reached Malta we had to prove our vaccination status through an app that gives them permission to verify your status and a EU form so they know where you are going and a health declaration. On top of that Viking, the cruise line we are going on, has a rigorous set of protocols and daily testing. Since they have had zero infections since they started up operations again in July, it seems to be working well.

Malta view from our cabin’s balcony
Some Maltese housing along our bus ride to the ship

Tomorrow we start our touring in Malta. Today was mostly taken up with getting unpacked and napping. And of course eating! We had dinner at the Chef’s Table and enjoyed fine cuisine and wine pairings. Our sommelier was someone we had met on our Southeast Asian cruise two years ago and he remembered John! So that was fun.

Interior of Chef’s Table
Menu for the evening

Food pictures!

Everything was really delicious and the service was great! We are off to a great start!

John at dinner
Mary at Chef’s Table

A visit to St. George, UT. August 14-20, 2021

John, Jonathan and I spent a week in St. George right across the street from our former home. Here are some pictures-

Jon relaxing in the condo
John preparing what Jonathan has dubbed the drink of St. George, a Negroni Sbagliato
We played a lot of tennis, Jon hitting a forehand
Follow-through
John running for a shot
We did a lot of cooking too. Jon is preparing a special dinner for us.
Jon in the kitchen
Our fabulous Oak City scallops with mashed potatoes, braised leeks, mushrooms, asparagus, and a beurre blanc sauce
Our last night we had dinner out at the club. It’s a beautiful setting with mediocre food.
Celebrating a wonderful week together

Memorial Day celebration 5/30/21

At last we are all vaccinated and can get together again. Lots of hugs were exchanged and John grilled a boneless leg of lamb to make our day even more festive.

Ales and Sam
Rose and John
Jon and Sarah
Ryan and Alex
San on tiptoes trying to be taller than me
Pilats
Hendersons and Pilats
Food for the day – Grilled boneless leg of lamb, lemony potato salad, tzaziki, cucumber, onion, and tomato salad

Road trip Carson City, NV continued 4/16/21

Today we continue our exploration of Carson City, NV and where better to begin than at the Nevada State Museum. The building that houses the museum is an amalgamation of an original older building and a modern section. Ingenuously the architect has made the connection point to look like a mine headframe.  We mention that fact to the cashier when we are buying our tickets and she admits to never noticing even though she has worked there for years.

Entrance to Nevada State Museum with Mary

The museum has a large section devoted to rocks, dinosaurs, and ancient mammals all of which are or were plentiful in Nevada. Many fossilized dinosaurs have been discovered in the area.

Ichthyosaur fossil. Not really a dinosaur but a fish-lizard that lived at the same time as dinosaurs in the Mesozoic Era.
This an Imperial Mammoth who died in Nevada about 17,000 years ago
And this is a large Ice Age horse native to N. America and that died in Nevada 25,500 years ago.

After the rocks and animals we take a look at settlers’ houses and handicrafts and the evolution of modern Nevada.

Mary by an early Maxwell automobile with right hand drive

We then take a look at a mine mock-up. Mining is a big deal in Nevada and we learn a lot about mining and all sorts of jargon which will be exceedingly difficult to work into every day conversation. Carson City  is near to Virginia City home to the gold and silver of the Comstock Lode.

Lastly due to all the silver being generated by the mining, Nevada petitioned the federal government to finance a mint. For about 23 years in the late 1800s, Carson City minted silver dollars with their CC imprint on them. The press is still operational but only mints commemorative coins now.

The still functional coin press from the late 19th century

We pick up a sandwich for lunch and go back to the hotel to eat our lunch and have a little down time. Around 2 PM we venture back out to visit the Railroad Museum. Unfortunately only half of the museum is open but they charge us full price nonetheless.

In the main building there are several engines and cars in tiptop shape. It seems that the Virginia and Truckee Railroad excelled at supplying the movie industry with old steam engines for the movies. The movie studios returned them mostly in really good shape. Here are a few of the trains we saw.

Mary and a train
Engine and coal car, Dayton, of the Virginia and Truckee Railroad
John and Engine No. 22

There are interesting maps on the floor showing the route and the time it took to get to Promontory Point where they drove in the golden spike. The track coming from the East took a few months to get from point to point but the track from the west took four years to cover the much shorter distance through the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Map of the railroad with completion dates coming from the east
Map of the railroad coming from the west

Next we decide to take a look at the Governor’s Mansion a few blocks away.  The Mansion is situated in a middle class American neighborhood although it is much bigger than most of the houses near it. It is built in the Classical Revival style.  The governor’s home was built between 1908 and 1909 specifically as a home for the governor.

Nevada’s Governor’s Mansion in Carson City

The rest of the neighborhood looks like the kind of neighborhood I grew up in, nice, but not too nice. People have multiple vehicles parked around their houses. A few have dirt driveways and various “antiques” in their yards or on their front porches. Most of the houses look like they were built after WWII. So it is an interesting mix.  I also cannot say anything laudatory about the governor’s landscaping. It is early Spring here but maybe someone could have put down some new mulch or picked up the empty plastic bottles that I see here and there.

The governor’s forlorn landscaping

After thoroughly checking out the Governor’s Mansion we make our way back to the hotel where we loll around until almost 7:30 PM.  We guess we better find some dinner. Our choice to night is called Pho Country which the internet says is open until 9PM. Except it isn’t. The sign on the door says only take-out between 7 and 8 PM. Now we are in a scramble to find somewhere that is open. We end up at Miss Lily’s China Bistro where although there is a lot of traffic at the take-out window, we are the only people inside. We order our usual Chinese restaurant order, moo shu pork and Mongolian beef (extra spicy). So much for my good intentions to eat reasonably for dinner.

Mongolian beef, left, and moo sho pork, upper right

 

 

 

Road trip, Carson City, NV. 4/15/21

Today we started a two week road trip, a kind of celebration of being fully vaccinated. Our first destination was Carson City, NV, the capitol of Nevada. The city is named after the Carson River which was named after Kit Carson by his friend and fellow pioneer, John C. Fremont. They came across the area and the river when searching for a way to get over the Sierra Nevada mountains. The pass they found is named Carson Pass and is at an elevation of over 8000 feet.

Here are some pictures from the day.

Snow near Carson Pass
Mary and John in the Sierra Nevada Mountains
First order of business when we reached Carson City was lunch at The Basil, a Thai restaurant

After lunch we went for a walk in the historical district where the State Capitol Building is. Nevada entered the Union in 1864. The building was constructed between 1869 and 1871 in the Neoclassical Italiante style. It is set in a park with other various government buildings nearby.

Handsome Nevada State Capitol
Mary on the front steps of the Capitol (there was no one around)
John at the Capitol
Inlaid plaques in the sidewalk for the Kit Carson Trail
Flowering trees at the park near the Capitol
Kit Carson statue
Old-timey street
New-timey street with Cactus Jack’s Casino

After checking into the hotel we took showers followed by a lie-down. For dinner we found a Mexican restaurant, San Marcos Grill, and had various seafoods.

John’s camarones diabla. The menu indicated that this was super spicy with three jalapeños. It was not spicy. In fact all of the food we have had in Carson City has been unusually bland.
Mary’s pescado acapulqueno. It had vegetables! Also the fish and shrimp were very tasty.

 

First time out in 13 months! 4/8/21

John and I planned a treat for ourselves and went out to lunch, dinner, and stayed over at hotel for the first time since February, 2020. I have to admit that not being able to go to restaurants for over a year probably helped a lot with staying on a diet but now that we are semi-free to do so, I have to figure out strategies to make good choices.

Since we were scheduled for a wine tasting at Imagery we decided to go to Salt and Stone in Kenwood first. For lunch I ordered mussels and John ordered octopus. Seafood, as a long as it is not fried, is always a good choice. Giving John my bread is also a successful strategy for me but probably not for him.

Pretty outdoor setting at Salt and Stone
John with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc
Mary with a glass Chenin Blanc
John’s grilled octopus
Mary’s mussels

Our lunch was followed by a wine tasting at Imagery Winery. We sat outside and it was a perfect Spring day to do it. Flowers were blooming everywhere and the temperature was just right.

John and poppies at Imagery
Mary at the winery
Tasting menu

After our tasting we made our way to the BW Sonoma to check in, have a little rest, and get cleaned up for dinner. The hotel is very near the square in Sonoma and it is an easy walk to EDGE, the restaurant associated with Stone Edge Winery.

We had a four course meal paired with wines which had us eating hamachi, a salad, halibut, and buttermilk ice cream. Of course these were not simply the item on a plate but each course was carefully prepared with delicious accompaniments.

Dining outdoors at EDGE
Hamachi
Salad
Halibut

It was so great to go out again. We still need to be careful but now that we are vaccinated, we feel much safer than before. We are looking forward to more outings and travel soon.