Traveling During the Coronavirus Outbreak

I’ve seen mixed reactions and responses regarding travel and the Coronavirus.

Here are a few things to consider:

Make sure you get your information from a reliable source like:

– Center for Disease Control (CDC)

– World Health Organization (WHO)

Check with your local state department regarding current travel alerts or bans for the country you are departing from and any countries you plan to visit.

If you are traveling by plane, train or taking a cruise check to see if any travel restrictions have been posted by that airline, cruise line, etc.

Consider purchasing travel insurance (especially for flights). It’s usually a nomial fee and well worth it if something unexpected happens or you get sick and need to cancel your plans. Note that cancellation because of the Coronavirus may not be covered (epidemics and pandemics could be excluded).

Basic Precautions – Reduce Your Risk

  • Do not travel if you are sick.
  • Avoid contact with people that are sick.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

February is for Wine and Chocolate

They say February is for lovers, but Wine & Chocolate Weekends are closing in on cupid’s territory. I didn’t even know this was a thing until a few weeks ago. I saw an event on Facebook for the Fresno County Wine and Chocolate Lovers Weekend and shared it with a friend. Next thing I know she’s bought a ticket and we’re making plans. Her fiance agreed to be our designated driver so it was game on for wine, chocolate and beautiful venues.

Chocolate is the answer

The 2020 Fresno Wine and Chocolate weekend is February 8th and 9th. So, if you’re reading this on Saturday or Sunday morning, you can still go. Otherwise I highly recommend you put it on your calendar for next year. Tickets for the Fresno event were very reasonable, $10 presale and $15 at the door of each location. They include wine tasting at 15 locations from noon to 5:00 pm. You can take your own wine glass or purchase one from any of the locations. Not surprising, the Wine & Chocolate weekend has become a popular “girl’s trip”.

We went to Simonian Farms, Kings River Winery, Valley Oak Winery and finished up at Marechal Vineyards.

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Simonian Farms

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Valley Oak Winery

The wine tasting and chocolate would have been enough, but I also had a chance to take a tour at Valley Oak Winery. The Ubick family has been growing grapes for over 100 years. Their first site was part of Fresno State. They started the Valley Oak Winery in 2017 and have been bottling reds for two years from their current location.

Other locations on the Fresno Wine journey include:

  • A. Nonini Winery
  • Cardella Winery (puring at Tap & Cellar)
  • Engelmann Cellars
  • LoMac Winery
  • Marian Farms
  • Moravia Wines
  • Ramos Torres Winery
  • Tioga Sequoia Brewing Company
  • Valley Oak Winery
  • Yribarren Family Vineyards
  • Ziveli Winery
  • 559 Beer

Looking for a Wine & Chocolate weekend in your area, or better yet, a reason to travel? Here are a few more February Wine and Chocolate events:

California (USA)


New Jersey (USA)

New York (USA)

Washington (USA)


Tips For Your First Trip to the Grand Canyon

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The Grand Canyon is a popular tourist destination for a reason – it’s awesome! Like most national parks, it’s massive and you cannot see it all in a day. Here are a few recommendations based on my first visit.

Reserve a room early. I happened to be staying at an Airbnb a couple of hours away and drove to the Grand Canyon on a day trip. If you want to stay in one of the Grand Canyon’s eight lodges, booking your room a year in advance is recommended. You may also want to check into which restaurants require reservations. When I go back I want to stay at the El Tovar.  I would love to enjoy breakfast on the balcony with a view of the Grand Canyon (and a cup of tea of course).

Weather. Check ahead – plan accordingly. The temperature is regularly in the 100s in the summer. Monsoon season is mid-June to mid-September. During monsoon season be prepared for strong winds, thunder storms and possible flash floods. These rainstorms can be dangerous if you’re hiking.

It’s not free. Be prepared to pay to get into the park. According to the National Park Service website. “Effective June 1, 2018 the park entrance fee will be $35 per vehicle or $30 per motorcycle, for a seven day pass. An annual park pass will cost $70.” Check this link for current fees.

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Shuttle buses. Keep in mind that certain parts of the park are only accessible by shuttle bus most of the year. You will park your car in one of the main lots. I liked the shuttles. They ran often and on time, but it will not be a quick trip back to your car. So take a back pack with any essentials you may need during the day.

The View. If you want to take in the classic Grand Canyon view where you can peer over the edge of the rim go to the South Rim. If you want a quieter experience with less people and more nature head over to the North Rim.

Take a hike. There is so much more to the park than the South Rim view. To really experience the Grand Canyon leave the crowds behind.  If you do go for a hike, start early so you can make it back before dark. There are multiple restaurants in the park, but you are going to want to bring your own food and a water on the trail. There are water bottle filling stations along the way. I decided to hike the Bright Angel Trail. Climbing down was a little challenging for me and it actually got hotter as I descended the canyon. When I got to the three mile marker I looked back up the trail and thought, “What did I just do? I have to climb back up.” Since I’m not an experienced hiker, I decided that was far enough. The climb up was even tougher and it felt longer. In the end only hiked six miles, but it was an experience that left me with a real sense of awe and accomplishment. Plus, I can now say I’ve hiked the Grand Canyon.


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Looking back up from the 3 mile marker.

There is wild life. Be respectful. Give wild animals their space. The pictures I took may look like I was close, but trust me I’m all about the zoom feature.



Bring your camera, but be present too. You could not ask for a more dramatic back drop for pictures than the Grand Canyon. The sunset the day I went was just beautiful. Even though there are huge crowds there every day, you can still manage to take pictures that look like you are the only one visiting the park that day. My travel companions also figured out how to have some fun taking pictures that looked like they were hanging off the cliff. If you only visit the Grand Canyon once, it would be a shame not to capture “all” those moments, but take some time to “live” in the moment too. I had no cell service while hiking down the canyon. Sometimes a visit to a national park will force you to unplug and that’s a good thing!

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The “I look like I’m hanging off a cliff” picture

I always travel with these guys (gummy bear adventures).

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