2021 WILL BE A BETTER YEAR-I PROMISE!
The sun is shining-Winter is half over and the vaccine is available now to those who want it. This year is going to be much better. I can feel it.
My new YouTube Channel-A New Beginning!
I will still have the Travel Adventures with Valerie Brown Channel and many of the other features but this new channel will be geared toward successful aging. Also, I'm learning how to do my own editing-another new challenge in my life.
This is the intro video and the challenges that the Pandemic has brought us and there are many. The loneliness, the isolation, broken friendships, missed holidays, the hated mask wearing, too many things to mention.
I am really looking forward to this new direction that I am going into. No more looking back, we all need to look forward now, new steps, new ideas, bringing our families and friends back into focus.
The El Dorado Gold Mine Tour
This past weekend I took a meet-up group of 30 (2 tours) to The Techatticup Mine in the El Dorado Canyon. It's the oldest, richest and most famous gold mine in Southern Nevada. Located just 45 minutes from the Strip in Las Vegas (by Searchlight). They provide Historic mine tours, photo shoots, movie backdrops (3,000 Miles to Graceland), BBQ area rental, Wedding Chapel Rentals and much more.
The price for this tour is $15 per person and is payable at the mine. Please call ahead of time and be sure to make reservations. They only allow a maximum of 15 participants per tour (3 per day) and they sell out quickly. 702-291-0026
Ultimate Weekend Road Trips You Can Take from Major US Cities
Ojai, California 83 miles from LA
A quick 90-minute jaunt from LA, this Californian Shangri-La has all the essentials: palm tree-dotted landscapes, Spanish Revival architecture and a laid-back local culture. Recharge with a mud cleanse or an outdoor yoga class at the Mission-style Ojai Valley Inn & Spa, which overlooks the rolling green Topatopa Mountains. For lunch, try the garden fresh plates at Suzanne’s Cuisine or the Mexican-inspired dishes at Farmer and the Cook, where the organic ingredients are grown at the owners’ 16-acre farm. The Ojai Farmers’ Market (open Sundays) is the place to score regional gourmet goodies—get yours to go and have a picnic while watching the sunset from Meditation Mount.
Montauk, New York
117 miles from New York City
With fewer crowds and a low-key boho-chic vibe, the relaxed surfer haven of Montauk is the antithesis of see-and-be-seen Hamptons—the perfect East Coast road trip for anyone based in the big city. Shack up at Solé East Resort, which has a chill garden of fire pits, hammocks, and Adirondack chairs as well as outdoor yoga and live acoustic music on Sundays. If you didn't bring your own wheels, rent one of the hotel's ZipCars and grab an Aloha smoothie (fresh pineapple, coconut, mango and banana) to go from Joni's Kitchen before driving to Ditch Plains to hang ten with the surfer dudes and visit Montauk Point Lighthouse for a killer Instagram shot. Eat dinner al fresco at The Crow's Nest—we love the Montauk Dayboat scallops and local sea bass—or nosh on mouthwatering sushi (the crunch calamari roll with avocado and spicy tuna is a must) at Inlet Seafood Restaurant, the best spot to watch the sun set over the water. Later in the evening, head across the pond (to the other side of Fort Pond, that is) to check out the The Surf Lodge's preppy party scene.
116 miles from Washington DC
Beyond the capital lie the scenic Blue Ridge Mountains filled with pine and oak trees and bathed in a dark blue hue. Make your base the Graduate Charlottesville, a handsome boutique hotel in a town cloaked in Colonial charm and known for its former presidential residents, James Monroe and Thomas Jefferson. Although Jefferson’s Monticello estate tops many a sightseeing list, set time aside to stroll the Historic Downtown Mall, a brick pedestrian hub in the heart of C-ville that’s a foodie paradise: there’s the Spanish small plates at Mas Tapas, Southern soul food at Ace Biscuit & Barbecue, and upscale French cuisine at Fleurie Restaurant. Some of Virginia’s best vintages are produced at the area’s more than 20 wineries. Among those worth a visit: Barboursville, Pippin Hill, and White Hall. Prefer hops? Don’t miss South Street Brewery on the Brew Ridge Trail.
THE ALL YOU CAN DRINK TEQUILLA TRAIN!
In Guadalajara, Mexico, the Jose Cuervo Express Train started up its motor again Saturday, Dec. 5, debuting the Elite experience, which includes a ride in the new Elite Wagon, a luxurious wood-paneled car with 37 passenger spaces (currently capped at 24 due to pandemic precautions), floor-to-ceiling windows, and two lounge areas. Guests in this service class also receive a new line of custom cocktails, as well as access to a Premium Bar with Reserva de la Familia, in addition to Tequila Maestro Tequilero, Centenario, 1800, rum, vodka, and whiskey.
If that’s not enough indulgence, the experience also comes with a three-glass educational Reserva de la Familia tasting led by a tequila expert, regional snacks, on-board entertainment, a lottery game, an agave fields visit, and — when conditions are safe — a trip to Latin America’s oldest distillery, Jose Cuervo’s La Rojeña. In the meantime, a virtual production discussion will take place with a walk-through.
For $166 per person, the 11-hour journey starts at 9 a.m. in Guadalajara — and you can choose from either a morning or sunset train experience, with the other leg of the journey by bus. (Sunday departures may also be offered upon request.)
Other service classes are also available, starting at about $114 per person, with an open bar (minus the Reserva de la Familia selections) and snacks, an educational tasting, an agave fields visit, and Loteria Mexican bingo. For those looking for a deeper dive into the process, Mundo Cuervo also offers A Day in the Agave Fields, which includes bus transportation to learn more about the agave growing process, as well as a traditional meal with an open bar.
How to Paint Door Hardware to Make Old Knobs Look New Again
Don't spend money on new hardware for your door just yet. Rethink existing knobs, locks, and hinges by using metal spray paint for a quick, low-cost update.
What You Need
Tack cloth or microfiber cloth
Floral foam (to hold hardware for painting)
Metal paint primer
Metal spray paint (Rust-Oleum Rubbed Bronze is pictured)
Step 1: Remove Doorknob and Lock
Remove doorknob and lock mechanism from the door. It's also possible to simply tape off the surrounding area and paint the hardware when it's still attached, but removing it completely helps ensure an even, long-lasting finish. Take photos as you go and label the images (such as "inside deadbolt" and "outdoor knob") to aid in reassembly.
Step 2: Clean and Sand
Clean the hardware with steel wool, then sand. This prep work will help the paint stick the surface, reducing the likelihood of chipping with future use. Take care not to sand off the hardware's finish; sand just enough to scuff up the surface so it appears dull instead of shiny. Wipe off dust with a tack cloth or microfiber cloth.
Step 3: Prep for Painting
Insert a small piece of folded painters tape ($4, The Home Depot) into the keyhole so paint doesn't get in the lock mechanism. Insert the door hardware into the foam so you can easily paint all sides. Work in a well-ventilated area and put down a drop cloth to protect surrounding surfaces from overspray.
Step 4: Paint Hardware
Spray hardware with metal primer ($4, The Home Depot) according to manufacturer's directions. Although some spray paints are marketed as paint and primer in one, it's best to start with a separate coat of primer for the most durable finish. After the primer has thoroughly dried, spray hardware with metallic paint ($7, The Home Depot). Be sure the spray paint is intended for metal surfaces and both indoor and outdoor use, if necessary. Let dry. To ensure no fingerprints are left in the paint, allow the hardware to dry for 24 hours. After it is dry, reinstall the hardware on the door.
My vacations are still getting cancelled left and right. My big 25 night cruise in April has been cancelled due to a Covid-19 upsurge in both South Africa and Italy. My Mississippi River Cruise was rescheduled for September, but life goes on and I am a lucky woman, I just have to remember that. I hope everyone stays happy and healthy and until next time.