Here Today, Gone to Maui – Photo Op

by Bob Sparrow

1st Sunset

 

 

Sunday: We arrive on Maui in the afternoon and had made dinner reservations at one of our favorite restaurants on the Kaanapali strip, the Hula Grill – right on the beach, feet in the sand, and one of the best ribeye steaks I’ve ever had.  I know I’m supposed to eat fish here, but this was too good to pass up.

 

 

 

Kaanapali strip

Monday: Stroll the ‘Kaanapali Strip’ seeing who has the best Mai Tais – started small umbrella collection.  Got in front of a TV early enough to watch the Alabama-Georgia championship game.  The game was over by 6:00 Hawaii time, so went to dinner at Monkey Pod, right behind Hula Grill.  Yes, I had fish . . . tacos!

 

 

As promised, a sunset and dinner on our sunset dinner cruise

Tuesday: Golf at the Kaanapali Royal Golf Course on a perfect day then a sunset dinner (fish) cruise – seeing lots of whales and a beautiful sunset.  After the cruise we wandered Front Street in Lahaina and settled in at an upstairs bar called Captain Jack’s.  We sat at the upstairs bar next to two guys from Rhode Island; one of them got up to go to the restroom and while he was gone, a restaurant employee came by and asked if anyone was using his bar stool.  We said yes, but he took the stool anyway.  When the guy returned from the bathroom, he was surprised that his seat was gone and asked what happened.  We told him and he looked around for an empty stool, found one and threw it off the balcony onto the street below and walked out.

 

A Sparrow on the ceiling

 

Wednesday: Free day, no golf, no tours, but still mai tais!  Drove north up to Kapalua and Napili, had liquid lunch at Duke’s.  Back to Lahaina, strolling Front Street, stopped at Cheeseburger in Paradise where I found my name on the ceiling. Continued on for dinner at The Lahaina Fish Company, yes, we had fish!  Then we went to Warren & Annabelle’s Magic Show and saw two great acts – John George, who was a great magician and pretty funny, and Chris Blackmore who was a good magician and very funny.  A very fun evening!

 

 

Sunset at Humu Humu

 

Thursday: Golf at the private course, King Kamehameha Country Club, awesome golf course and another perfect day.  The club house was designed in 1957 by famous architect, Frank Lloyd Wright, although he originally designed it as a house for Marilyn Monroe (long story).  Today, as the solitary structure on the hill, it looks like the start of a lunar colony.  After golf, we continue south to the Grand Wailea restaurant and my favorite bar in the world, Kumu Kumu (real name Kumukumunukunukuapua’ha – it’s a fish!).  I had a fish with a shorter name, Linda had a $100 ribeye, and said she should have ordered the fish!

 

Bob looking good. No, not me, the parrot’s name is Bob – he kept calling out my name, or was he calling out his name?

King Kamehameha Golf Club House

 

 

 

 

 

 

Breakfast at Mala Ocean Tavern. We were so close to the water we got ocean spray in our coffee

The trip was too short, but sweet – sorta like many of my Mai Tais!

MY LOW SOCIAL BATTERY

By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

 

Over Christmas I spent some time with family – family that I adore and, apparently, the feeling is mutual.  So, theoretically we should be able to spend endless hours together catching up and socializing.  But as it happened, after about three hours together it was clear we were all ready for a break.  Or, as my college-age great-niece put it:  our social batteries were depleted.  I had never heard that expression but definitely could relate to it.  We concluded that we are all introverts at heart and enjoy time alone.  I got to wondering whether this is a Covid-related issue or something more universal.  Turns out, this phenomenon has been around a while; Covid just made it more apparent.

First, according to the Urban Dictionary (the term hasn’t made it to Webster’s yet), “social battery” is defined as a metaphor for a person’s capacity to intermingle with groups of people in one setting.  If you love having a day to yourself or are relieved when someone calls to cancel plans, it could be because you are an introvert with a low social battery. Being around people – friends, colleagues or family – is a challenging task that takes energy.  If you start the day with a low amount of social battery it doesn’t take much to drain it.  Spending time alone, being creative, is one of the ways that introverts re-charge.

As it turns out, our family was about average in terms of our battery capacity.  According to a 2016 study published in The Journal of Personality, introverts experience fatigue after three hours of socialization. If we exceed the capacity of our social battery, we tend to become irritable, inattentive and mentally and physically exhausted.  Boy, that goes a long way toward explaining why I’m grouchy at a long cocktail party!

Extroverts, on the other hand, need to be with people to charge their social battery.  They start the day like a phone that hasn’t been charged: they need some juice to get going.  They revel in a full calendar of events and meetings, and often volunteer their time in order to create more interaction with people.  Extroverts will keep in touch with friends and family on a frequent basis to share the stories that they need to get out of their systems.  We all know some of these people – the ones that call just as you’re getting dinner on the table and talk for 30 minutes about their round of golf.  Extroverts seldom like to do anything alone, whether it’s going to the grocery store or grabbing a cup of coffee.

But the world isn’t so simple that we can just be introverts or extroverts, there are also ambiverts and omniverts.  As you might guess, these are people that float between being an introvert and extrovert.  Ambiverts will change according to the external situation they are in, while omniverts will change depending on how they feel that day.  Researchers say that most of us fall into the ambivert or omnivert spectrum because we have learned over time what different social situations require.

So, now that I’ve probably depleted your social battery by droning on about this, I’ll conclude by observing that whatever your personality type, Covid has had an effect.  Numerous studies have been done over the past two years about how people have handled isolation during the pandemic.  Not surprisingly, extroverts have suffered more acutely from the lack of activities and interaction with others.  And while some social scientists called the Covid lockdowns “Springtime for Introverts”, that isn’t accurate either.  While lockdowns were more bearable for people with low social batteries, even introverts feel frustrated because their choice to isolate was made for them, and not by them.

Let’s face it, regardless of your type, we’re all tired of this damn virus.  At least now you may have a better understanding of why you’ve been grumpy.

 

It’s Not the WHAT or the HOW, but . . .

by Bob Sparrow

This week, as you’re reading this, I’ll hopefully be cavorting on the island of Maui, which I’m sure you’ll hear about in a couple of weeks.  But in the meantime, I wanted to perhaps provide a public service, or maybe a private service, to those readers who made a list of New Year’s resolutions – things like losing weight, eating better, exercising, being a better ______ (fill in the blank).

I don’t typically make a list of New Year’s resolutions, and when I do, like most of us, I rarely follow through on them.  I was inspired this year to at least make a couple, by listening to Darren Hardy, who was editor of Success Magazine and is a motivational speaker, who emails a daily (Monday-Friday) video, which is only about 4 to 5 minutes long, dealing with various subjects; it is called ‘DarrenDaily’.  I’ve listened to it every weekday morning for the past five years.  I have to admit that many of the sessions are targeted to younger, climbing-the-ladder, leading-a-team, types, but there is also plenty of things for old codgers like me to digest.

While what I’m about to share with you is not revolutionary, in fact, those who do make New Year’s resolutions in some form, may already do this, but it was new to me.  By way of explanation, the following is a brief, edited version of the parable that Darren shared last week regarding goals.

Long ago a tribe from the Andes mountains plundered their rival tribe in the lowlands, stole a baby and took it to their home in the mountains.  The strongest and bravest of the lowland tribesman attempted to get the baby back but couldn’t handle the high altitude and the rugged trails up the mountain.  After days of trying, they gave up and decided to return home.  As they were leaving, they saw a woman coming down the trail with the baby on her back.  In awe, they asked the woman how she did it.  As she continued by them, she said, “It wasn’t your baby”.

The lesson: The power of your ‘WHY’ is the most important part of any goal; all of your WHATs and HOWs will be meaningless until your ‘WHYs’ are powerful enough to overcome the obstacles that you will face in getting to your goals.

After listening to this, I went back to my two resolutions and saw that I had only written down WHAT I wanted to accomplish this year and HOW, but not the WHY.  Adding the WHY definitely gave the WHAT and HOW more meaning and increased by desire to seriously try to accomplish both of my goals.

If you’re interested in getting Darren’s video publication sent to your email each weekday, you can go to DarrenDaily@darrenhardy.com and subscribe – it’s free.

Wishing you all a Happier New Year.  May you make a positive impact this year.

 

 

WHEN IT’S OVER, IT’S OVER

By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

We are a divided country.  I’m not talking about politics, but over something much more important: when to take down the Christmas decorations.  On one side there are the people who put up the decorations minutes after they finish Thanksgiving dinner and leave them up until the first week of January.  On the other side, are people who wait until mid-December to decorate and then whisk everything away on December 26th.  Like much else in our culture, there is no correct answer as to when Christmas decorations should be taken down, but there are a lot of firm opinions in both camps.  But surely there is reasoning on both sides, so for our readers’ edification, I present both arguments.

          Beautiful…and a lot of work

The Christian calendar is the original source for dictating the putting up – and taking down – of holiday decor.  According to religious experts, the beginning of Advent is the correct time to start trimming the tree.  Advent starts on the fourth Sunday before Christmas, which coincidentally in the U.S., is usually around Thanksgiving.  So, for those of you who scoff at people who put their tree up “early”, they are actually following centuries-old tradition.  The Christian calendar also dictates that the decorations stay up until January 6th, or as it is known, the Epiphany. The day celebrates the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist and the arrival of the Three Wise Men.  It is also known as “Twelfth Night”, counting the days between Christmas and Epiphany.  Most of us recognize those twelve days because of the carol, The Twelve Days of Christmas, known for its milking maids and leaping lords and the annual newspaper article of that year’s financial tally for all those gifts.  So, we can conclude that people who put up their tree early and take it down late are not being influenced by Target and Macy’s, but by long-held religious convictions.  Or not.

        Christmas is Over

On the other side of the equation are the “when it’s over, it’s over” group.  Try as I might, I could not find one reputable article arguing for the early demise of Christmas decor. However, being a member of that camp, I am going to put forth my own reasoning.  First, I was greatly influenced by an old neighbor, who I watched drag his Christmas tree to the end of the driveway for garbage pick-up the day after Christmas.  He noticed my horrified reaction, and shouted, “Hey, when it’s over, it’s over.”  I was appalled that he could be so cavalier about the sanctity of the Christmas tree.  But as I came back into our house all of my decorations suddenly reminded me of the person who stays too long at the party.  Right then I had, if you will, my own epiphany.  Each year I took the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day off work.  It is commonly known as “dead week” and for good reason – it’s a great time to relax.  Each Christmas my mother-in-law would give me several books by my favorite authors, and “dead week” was my time to snuggle up on the couch and read to my heart’s content.

So that fateful morning of December 26th, I began to re-think how I wanted to spend my week.  My personality is such that I could not relax on the couch and read, knowing that I had hours of work ahead of me taking down all the decorations.  I looked around the room and felt as if the tree, the stockings, the garlands and the fifteen Santa Claus statues were mocking me.  So, I began to take everything down and by the end of the day the house was back to normal.  I spent the rest of the week blissfully reading and relaxing.  Each year since then, my goal is to have all of the Christmas decor down by noon on December 26th.  I have never regretted it and only smile a bit smugly as my friends lament the chore in front of them in the days after Christmas.  Like a lot of things in life, it’s a lot more fun going up than it is coming down.

But there is another reason I move on so quickly after Christmas is over.  I think that Christmas is a time for reflection and looking back with great sentiment.  New Year’s Day, on the other hand, is a time to look forward and anticipate great things for the upcoming year.  I have found that once I have put away the Christmas decor it allows me to focus on the future.  I know that past couple of years have not panned out the way any of us would have wanted, but still, I have great hope for 2022.  Maybe I’m naïve, or overly optimistic, but I think it will be a good year ahead.

My brother and I wish all of our readers the very best for the new year and once again, we thank you for continuing to read our blog.

A ‘Holidaze’ Poem . . . or Not!

by Bob Sparrow

‘Twas the week after Christmas

In a year of unrest

Let’s review what’s just happened

The worst and the best

The year started out

with a Capitol riot

And a new president,

But D. Trump didn’t buy it

 

Tiger Woods crashed his car

After one of his rounds

‘Cause he couldn’t drive straight

So he drove out of bounds

 

The news was still filled

With street gangs and shooters

And stores were still targets

For bandits and looters

OK, I was trying to write a creative and uplifting holiday poem, something recapping the year – both good and bad.  But as I scanned the Internet searching for this year’s events, I saw nothing but bad news; how the pandemic was growing, then the Delta variant, then the Omicron variant.  After reviewing this past year, all I had to show for it were symptoms of ‘writer’s block’ and I wondered if there was a shot for that – I’m thinking whiskey!

Realizing that we were mostly dividing the country only with politics, we apparently needed something else to disagree on, so up pops the Coronavirus vaccine.  Was it effective?  Was it too soon?  Was it science?  Was it politics?  Was it the bottom line for pharmaceutical companies?  We’ve been told to ‘believe the science,’ but the science seems to be on whatever side you want it to be on.  So now we’ve got people who believe the vaccine will save lives and others who believe the vaccine will cost lives.  And some that just say they aren’t going to let the government tell them what to do.

What a year!  Well, at least we ended the war in Afghanistan this year.  OK, maybe that wasn’t handled particularly well either.

Crime in most major cities reached record highs this year, based on our tolerance for looting and the notion that the police should probably be defunded.

The whipped cream on top of the year’s sundae is that inflation has now raised its ugly head – so we’ve got that going for us.  We didn’t need the Grinch to steal Christmas, we handled that on our own.  Bring back the poem!

But some good things have happened

Like my reverse mortgage biz

So I think I’ll enjoy

Pops famous ice cream fizz

As a final insult this year, I got a note from Santa in my stocking saying, I’ve read your blog and next year I’m getting you a dictionary, a thesaurus and spellcheck!

So, this New Years, rather than wishing someone a “Happy New Year”, I’m going to wish them a Happier New Year – happier than the last two years!  It’s bound to be . . . right?

 

CHRISTMAS MEMORIES AND A GIN FIZZ

By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

In the musical, “Carousel”, a young couple sing a song about their future, when they can look back on a life well lived.  The song contains one of my favorite phrases:  “When today is a long time ago.”  That phrase perfectly summarizes the sentiment of Christmas for me.  The holiday season by its very nature brings forth sentimentality and remembrance of Christmases past.  As usual, Winston Churchill phrased it perfectly when he said, “Christmas is a season not only of rejoicing, but of reflection.”

 

I’ve experienced many good Christmas celebrations, including watching grandchildren’s faces light up on Christmas morning when they see, for a fact, the existence of Santa.  But the most sentimental memories harken back to days long ago.  There are three Christmases that stand out for me, in part because, even at the time, I knew that one day I would look back on them with a special fondness.  The first was in 1971, when, as the photo clearly illustrates, my brothers and I were a lot younger.  But that Christmas was special because our brother Jack and his family came home for the holidays.  His job had taken him to Canada that year, so we had gone months without seeing him and his family.  We had so much fun, finally gathered in one place again, with a renewed appreciation for being together.

The second Christmas I remember fondly was ten years later – 1981.  It had been an eventful decade, with some rough marital challenges, so Christmas Eve ended up being just our parents, us three kids, and Bob’s wife, Linda.  We had a very long cocktail hour, followed by a delicious dinner, and then someone (I think it was Bob) suggested that we go Christmas caroling in our parents’ neighborhood.  Everyone except our mom (who was more reluctant than the rest of us to make a fool of herself) serenaded all of their friends in the area.  I think we brought our own refreshments, and then people invited us in for more, and all I remember is Dad singing “O Come, All Ye Faithful” with much gusto as we wandered down the street, laughing all the way.  Remembering that night still brings a smile to my face.

Finally, in 2000, I remember Christmas with sentimentality and a bit of sadness.  Dad’s heart was weak, he had lost a lot of weight, and we knew his time was short.  We gathered at Bob and Linda’s house, Pop dressed up in a green sweatsuit, just like an elf.  Despite this rather poor photo of him, he was in his usual cheerful mood. He was very tired and early in the evening, as the rest of us gathered at the outside bar, Pop decided to take snooze in the family room recliner.  When I went into the house to check on him, he was dozing, but awake enough that he took my hand, and told me how much he loved me.  He died just four weeks later.  Christmas has not been the same since.

We pay homage to him each time we’re together, re-telling stories or invoking some of his hilarious quips.  And each Christmas we fix Pop’s Christmas Ice Cream fizz.  It was one of his specialties and he made it every Christmas morning.  It is delicious, and fattening, as all good treats should be.  Unlike Christmas cookies or pies, the fizz has the added benefit of making you feel just a little bit better.  Sometimes that can come in handy on Christmas morning. So, this year we are once again sharing his recipe so that you and your family might also enjoy this wonderful tradition.

Bob and I wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas.  Many of you will be able to gather together again this year and that alone makes it a Christmas worth remembering, when Christmas 2021 is a long time ago.

 

POP’S CHRISTMAS ICE CREAM FIZZ

Fill a blender 1/4 full of ice cubes

Add 6 jiggers of gin

Add 4 scoops of French Vanilla ice cream

Add 1 small bottle of soda water (the size you get in a 6-pack)

My brother Bob adds an egg, so the white adds some froth, brother Jack doesn’t add an egg.  Personally, I’d add it just because you can then claim it’s a protein drink.

Just blend it well and – voila – you have a concoction sure to put a positive spin on everyone and everything!

Our mom served them in a wine glass with a dash of nutmeg.  As we got older, we would conspire with Pop and ditch the wine glass for a chilled beer mug from the freezer. Saved having to go back for seconds…or thirds.

 

 

Tahoe – The Rest of the Story

by Bob Sparrow

(Post is a continuation from the post on November 29)

Linda at Emerald Bay

Circumnavigating the Lake

It was another horrible day in paradise – clear blue, cloudless sky on a cool crisp fall morning at the most beautiful alpine lake in the country, where we decided to take the day to drive around the lake and hit some old haunts that we’ve not visited in years.  The minute we walk out of our room we are engulfed in a butterscotch/pine smell that tells us we are not in Kansas anymore.

Going up the ‘west shore’, our first stop is Emerald Bay, where we pull over at an observation turn-out and soaked up the spectacular view.  As we cruised along the lake-side road, just before arriving in Tahoe City we turn up Chinquapin Lane and stop at a cabin that I used to own with my college roommate, Ken Poulsen.  We head up the road less than a mile and come to Sunnyside Restaurant & Lodge, one of the great lakeside restaurants.  We were going to have lunch there, but it is only open for dinner during this time of year (‘this time of year’ is known as ‘the shoulder’ season – the time between the end of summer and the opening of ski season).  We head into Tahoe City and plan to eat at Jake’s on the Lake, but the  ‘shoulder season’ strikes again, only open for dinner.  We stop at the location of brother, Jack’s restaurant, The Off Shore Bar & Grill, which is now office space.

Sunnyside during the summer

Sunnyside last week

Just out of Tahoe City heading east is a condo project, sitting high above the road, called Rocky Ridge, which affords those in the front condos the most spectacular view of the lake I’ve seen.  It is where Suzanne’s and my parents’ ashes rest.  Although it has a guard gate that doesn’t allow anyone in without the gate combination, we were able to talk a maintenance man into letting us in.  We got to pay our respects to my folks.

Finally, lunch at GarWoods

We continued around the lake still looking for lunch and finally found Gar Woods Grill & Pier and sat on the deck overlooking the lake and had a great lunch before we headed into Nevada, where we were first greeted by Cal-Neva.  Well, we weren’t really greeted since it’s been closed for many years now, but still sits above Crystal Bay and was once a great hotel and casino owned in part by Frank Sinatra, unfortunately, the other part was owned by Chicago mobster, Sam Giancana.  Someday it will reopen and I hope to be one of its first guests.

We continued around the lake into Incline Village and stopped at the Hyatt Hotel and Casino to try our hand at some games of chance – some of us were luckier than others.  We completed the last leg of the trip as we were coming down the east side of the lake to South Shore as the sun was just setting behind the Sierra Nevada Mountains.  A spectacular sunset on a fabulous day!!

Genoa Lakes

Linda at Budd’s lot

When packing for this trip we weren’t sure of the weather, so we packed golf clubs and ski jackets and wondered if we’d have to play golf in our ski jackets.  We didn’t, it was shorts and golf shirt weather at Genoa Lakes Golf Club on ‘the other side of the mountain’.  Prior to teeing off, we visited our good friends, Jack & JJ Budd’s, lot on the golf course – awesome view!

After making our donations at Harrah’s, Harvey’s, Hard Rock, and various other casinos around the lake, and having seen all the old haunts, we decided that we had seen everything we wanted to see, done everything we wanted to do and lost all the money we had with us, so . . . we decided to head home on Wednesday, which we did.

It was a beautiful, short and sweet, five-day trip, and it’s always nice to get home into air that we can sink our teeth into!

 

 

 

OUR ANNUAL USELESS CHRISTMAS GIFT GIVING GUIDE – 2021

By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

It’s the time of year that finds many of you in the throes of holiday shopping.  That is, if you can find anything on the shelves.  I bought some Christmas cards for the family the other day and noticed that there were a lot more “slip the money in the slot” cards this year.  Money always fits and never has to be returned, but it’s not much fun to open.  So, for those of you who like to actually give a gift, we offer the 2021 edition of our Useless Christmas Gift Guide.

It seems that everyone is on a health kick these days, trying to take off the extra pounds packed on during COVID.  We offer Kale Candy Canes as a gift that won’t be forgotten.   It’s a genuine two-fer: a candy and a vegetable!  That said, I wouldn’t recommend giving these to your grandchildren, lest you be forever branded as the grandparent that gives really lousy candy.

If you are living with someone who has put on the aforementioned extra weight, we strongly recommend that you not make mention of it.  But if you are foolish enough to do so, we suggest you stock up on bandages for the resulting scrapes and bruises.  What could be better than Bacon Bandages?  The problems may set in when you have to explain why you are wearing bacon, but hey, you got yourself into this mess so you can get yourself out.

A lot of people discover new ailments, many of them imagined after watching infomercials on TV.  If you are living with a hypochondriac, we have found just the right stocking stuffer – the hypochondriac 50 Things That Might Kill You deck of cards.  The recipient simple shuffles the deck, chooses a card, and then complains of that ailment for the rest of the day.

 

Of course, if you’re of a certain age, you can blame everything on your bad memory.  But blaming memory issues on someone else calls for a deft hand.  After all, you don’t want to insult them by mentioning their seeming incoherence, especially during the holidays.  So much like you might offer a breath mint to someone who just ate tzatziki sauce, we suggest you offer them Memory Mints.  These are extra-strength, which comes in handy if you’re hosting your in-laws and have heard the same story 50 times.  These mints could save your marriage.

 

We’ve all seen the news lately where gangs of thieves are bursting into stores to rob them.  As you are out doing your holiday shopping it pays to be on alert and to protect yourself as best you can.  To ensure your safety we suggest the Switchblade Spork.  It will come in handy as you celebrate a holiday meal but can instantly transform into a deadly weapon.  Sort of.  No guarantees.

 

And who among us hasn’t acted a bit snippy lately?  It’s hard to find good news and we’re all tired of pandemic panic.  As mentioned in a previous post, there has been a rise in rude behavior, road rage and generally bitchy moods.  Speaking with some degree of authority on this, I’m tired of saying, “I’m sorry”.  How much easier to deal with an apology if we simply use the Apology form?  It covers everything from, “I forgot” to “I’m a schmuck”.  There’s even a place to check to indicate whether you will – or will not – ever commit that infraction again.  You might want to stock up on these.

Finally, and I hate to beat a dead horse here, but it has been a trying couple of years.  Many of us could use a little polish on our social skills.  Our final recommendation is a classic: “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie.  It’s an oldie, but a goodie, and I think should be handed out free at the DMV.  Or Starbucks.  Anywhere that might get to the greatest amount of people in the shortest amount of time.  We are hanging onto civilization by a thread these days.

I hope this list helps make your holiday shopping a bit easier.  Or at least provided a laugh.  Next time:  Pop’s famous Christmas Ice Cream Fizz recipe!

Tahoe – The Lake, The Ridge and the Tavern

by Bob Sparrow

The Ridge Tahoe

About a month ago I was notified that we had a timeshare week given to us by Interval International during Covid, that was going to expire by December 24th of this year.  We had just returned from our Mexican cruise and with the ‘holidaze’ fast approaching and air travel becoming less and less attractive, it seemed as if the week would be wasted – unless we could find somewhere that we wanted to go, was within driving distance, and was available between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

As I surfed Interval’s available online options, I came across The Ridge – Tahoe, which sits on a ridge (I’m guessing that’s where they got the name) above South Lake Tahoe by Heavenly Valley Ski Resort.  Growing up in northern California, I have many fond memories of Lake Tahoe, as my family started weekending and vacationing there when I was about eight years old (Yes, that was back when the earth was still cooling).  I had my first ‘sort of’ date there when I was in junior high and older brother Jack, who was in high school, brought his girlfriend for a stay with our family at ‘The Lake’, and she brought along her younger sister, who was a year younger than me.  We met at Tahoe Tavern and watched a movie.  I don’t remember what movie, and it wasn’t because I was preoccupied with my first date, I was petrified and probably was busy eating popcorn and didn’t even offer her any.  Sorry, Meg Howard, wherever you are.

Tahoe Tavern

Tahoe Tavern was a classic!  It was first opened in 1902 as a luxury hotel just outside of Tahoe City, at the northern end of the lake. It had 225 rooms and a casino – yes, a casino in California.  You could get there by road, rail, or raft and its opulence attracted San Francisco’s high society.    The resort’s dress code for lunch and dinner became so formal that a dress and heels were required for women and a coat and tie for men.  Aside from the very high-end restaurant and theater, there was a bowling alley and a bar with a beautiful view of the lake.  Unfortunately, it burned down in the mid-60s, so I’m glad I got a chance to see this magnificent hotel.  Condos have been built on the property since and it’s not quite the same; no, it’s not even close to the same.

But I digress.  Linda and I left this past Saturday afternoon to drive up picturesque Highway 395 on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada mountains.  We spent the night in beautiful Bishop so we could drive up to the lake and be in front of a television by Sunday afternoon so we could watch her Vikings play my 49ers.

Creekside Inn

We got to Bishop and had a great dinner at Whiskey Creek restaurant, which has been there since 1924.  We stayed at the Creekside Inn in Bishop, which I would definitely recommend, although I have no complements for their complementary breakfast – go next door to the famous Schat’s Bakery & Restaurant.

The Sunday morning drive from Bishop to South Lake Tahoe is one of the most beautiful in the state, particularly on a crisp cloudless morning which shows the spectacular snow-capped Sierra Nevada mountains.  We arrived in time for the Viking-49er game, which I was a little happier about the results than Linda.

Our time at Tahoe next time

OVER THE RIVER AND THROUGH TSA

By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

 

People of a certain age may remember a song we sang in grammar school this time of year: Over the River and Through the Wood.  The gist of the song is that a happy family bundles into a sleigh and glides over the snow to their grandmother’s house.  In the song, it is noted that the horses knew the way, which was a good thing because they didn’t have Google Maps when this song was written.  I remember singing that song and wishing that we lived in a place that had snow, rather than our rather mundane California sunshine.

Those were simpler times in many ways, not the least of which it was a lot easier to direct a horse through the woods than navigate an airport on Thanksgiving weekend.  Now that the pandemic seems to be abating everywhere except Arizona, there are predictions of a heavy travel week ahead, both on the ground and in the air.

4.2 million travelers will take to the skies this Thanksgiving.  That is an 80% increase over last year, witch isn’t saying much since no one was traveling last year.  At the beginning of the holiday travel period last Friday, TSA screened over 2.2 million people at airport security checkpoints around the U.S.  TSA has warned that passengers should arrive early and expect long lines.  They have also reminded everyone what is and what is not allowed in carry-on baggage.  I stipulate up front that since most people did not travel in 2020 it can be difficult to remember all the rules.  But  as you can see from the photo of items that were confiscated, there are people who apparently need remedial help.  One wonders why it was necessary to take a bottle of Heinz gravy and a can of yams to wherever this person was going.  If they are flying to a city that has an airport, one might reasonably assume that there is also a grocery store, one that carries such gourmet items as bottled cranberry sauce.  Well, to be charitable, perhaps this person was afraid of being stranded at a gate for eight hours and wanted to have some provisions.  I will say that the wine is totally understandable given a) they aren’t serving alcohol on planes due to belligerent passengers and b) it’s wine.  This person might also be flying out of Phoenix Sky Harbor, where the concession employees have declared a strike for this week.  So not only will there be no food available at the airport, there will not be any Starbucks.  Between no food, no coffee, and having to wear a mask, I suspect there is going to be a plethora of grouchy passengers.

Speaking of which, the day before Thanksgiving sees more drunk driving accidents than almost any other day of the year. In fact, it is sometimes referred to as the biggest bar night in America. Others call the day “Drinksgiving.”  It is particularly popular with college-aged kids coming back to their home towns and the parents of said kids, who suddenly find their empty nest strewn with laundry and filled with music that has undecipherable lyrics.  Nevertheless, lots of people will be on the road this year.  AAA is predicting that 48.3 million Americans are expected to travel by car this week.  The worst time for traffic will be between 1:30 – 6 p.m. on Wednesday, particularly in big cities.  So if you can sneak out a bit early you might save yourself hours of staring at the rear end of a semi-truck.

Regardless of where you will be spending Thanksgiving this year, my brother and I wish you a very happy day, filled with fun, family and food.  I plan on driving this year on Thanksgiving – right down the middle of the fairway.