For many travelers, packing away their suitcases and trying to get airline ticket refunds really put a damper on the last year. However, with vaccination rates increasing and many areas open, travel is becoming safer once again.
If you have a bug to hit the road, you’re probably wondering what you can do to have a great trip while still staying safe. Well, it doesn’t take much, Guest Blogger Lisa Walker offers these five tips for COVID-friendly travel.
1. Choose the Less-Beaten Path
Instead of booking a vacation to the most popular tourist attraction around, opt for a location that is less well-known and will thus be less crowded. The fewer people you are around, the less likely it is that you’ll end up testing positive for COVID-19.
2. Consider a Road Trip
Getting on a packed flight for several hours probably doesn’t sound like fun, whether there’s a pandemic or not. Instead of flying to a destination, choose somewhere a little closer that can be reached by car. Hitting the open road is a great way to see the sights, but it also allows you to keep to yourself and stay safe.
If you decide to go on a road trip, you may want to invest in some tech gear to improve your travels. If you aren’t convinced that your smartphone is truly up for the job, a GPS system can ensure you are on the right track and will get to your destination without having to stop and ask for directions. And don’t forget to invest in an extra car charger or two to ensure your battery is always powered up.
3. Go Camping
While some people balk at the idea of sleeping anywhere but in a hotel bed, camping is a great option for those who want to avoid coming into contact with others. If you’re already a fan of camping, you likely have all the gear you need, from tents to camp stoves. If not, you can either purchase all new items or rent some. There are websites that specialize in outdoor gear rentals, a great tactic that can help you decide if you like camping enough to buy your own gear.
4. Book a Vacation Rental
As mentioned above, there are many travelers who don’t want to risk bumping into others in the narrow hallways of a hotel. Vacation rentals are ideal because they allow you to have a comfortable place to stay that you can call your own. Most are cleaned extremely well between guests, so you can rest easy knowing that everything has been sanitized. Airbnb even requires hosts to follow CDC guidelines or risk losing their ranking.
5. Spread Out in a B&B
As more vacation options open up, bed-and-breakfasts are ideal for those who want the luxury of a hotel without the hassle. Some locations are still not at full capacity, making it easier for travelers to have space to enjoy time away from home. Plus, when you stay in a B&B, you’ll have easy access to activities like wine tasting, antiquing, horseback riding, and more.
Traveling during the COVID-19 pandemic is likely something you’ll never have to deal with again, but it is possible to do it safely if you’re willing to be flexible and think outside the box. Don’t wait to book your next getaway; just do so with safety and comfort in mind.
Nestled on a peninsular formed where the curve of the Galien River is intersected by a small unnamed creek, Goldberry Woods Bed & Breakfast is definitely off the beaten path even for those who know their way around the backroads of Southwest Michigan.
“Yet we’re close to Lake Michigan and Red Arrow Highway,” says Julie Haberichter who with her husband Eric own and operate the inn.
You wouldn’t guess that by looking around at the surrounding woods and lack of traffic sounds. And, of course, that’s part of the charm. Here on 30 acres of woods, old and new orchards, grapevines, and gardens, the Haberichters have re-imagined an old time resort albeit one with all the modern twists—swimming pool, farm-to-table cuisine, kayaks ready to go on the banks of the Galien, walking trails, and cottages and their Innkeeper’s Inn with suites for large groups or individual stays.
Goldberry Woods is the story of how a couple painstakingly restored a resort that had fallen into disrepair, creating a major destination for those who want to get away from it all.
But this is also a story about how two engineering majors from the Chicagoland area met in college, discovered they lived just towns apart, married, honeymooned at a B&B that was a working flower farm in Hawaii and decided that quirky inns were the type of places they wanted to stay.
That is, until, while vacationing in Harbor Country in 2011 they happened upon what had been the River’s Edge B&B in Union Pier and decided that unique places were instead where they wanted to live. By 2012, Julie and Eric had bought the property, restored it and had opened Goldberry Woods B&B.
A little more explaining is needed here. If you’re like me and are thinking goldberries are some rare, antique type fruit like say lingonberries, marionberries, or gooseberries, you’d be very wrong. It turns out that Goldberry, also known as the River Woman’s Daughter, was a minor character in Christopher Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, though she never made it into the movie series. An ethereal blonde with a penchant for green velvet gowns, she was from the Withywindle River in the Old Forest and certainly seems as though she’d be at home here surrounded by ripening fruit and veggies.
It’s obvious that the Haberichters are more familiar with The Lord of the Rings than I am but then Julie also knows someone who learned to speak Elvish, the language of the elves. If that sounds unique, consider this. According to some sources, there are more people now who speak Elvish as it is spoken in The Lord of the Rings movies than Irish.
Whether that’s true or not, I’m not sure but the name Goldberry does speak to the charm of this place where the Haberichters forage and grow old fashioned foods, plant organic, practice sustainability, and harvest the eggs from the heirloom chickens, ducks, and quail that at times run free range in Goldberry’s gardens.
Julie brims with excitement as she takes me on a tour, pointing out the novelty and heritage produce she grows. There are pumpkin eggplants also known as pumpkin-on-a-stick which indeed look like miniature pumpkins, ground cherries which she uses in her Jasmine and lemon tea, Malabar spinach with its rich glossy oversized leaves, and cucumelons (tiny little veggies that can be eaten straight from the vine) among many others.
Because what’s in season changes quickly as does the weather, there’s always something different or a variation of a favorite at Goldberry Woods.
“The oatmeal we serve at Goldberry Woods is constantly changing from season to season, served hot or chilled based on the outdoor weather and the availability of seasonal fruit,” says Julie, who shared the summer version of her Chilled Coconut Steel Cut Oatmeal (see below).
There’s also some serious forging going on.
“We started looking for as many fun and unusual ways to use the wild plants growing throughout our flower beds and woods as possible,” says Julie. “ We have experimented with dandelions, violets, spruce tips, and sassafras to name a few.”
While she’s talking, Julie brings out glass jars of jam. I try the spruce tips—made from the new tips of the spruce tree at the beginning of spring. Scooping up a small teaspoon to try, I note a definite evergreen taste, refreshing and somewhat woodsy with just a touch of sweetness. It would work on buttered biscuits, toast or even as sauce for lamb and pork. The violet jam is a deep purple and there’s an assortment of pepper jams such as habanero gold pepper jelly with chopped sweet apricots. Unfortunately, Julie didn’t any have jars of the dandelion jam or the pear lime ginger jelly she makes—it goes fast. But she had a large bushel basket full of colorful peppers which would soon become a sweet and spicy jam.
August, she told me as we walked into the old growth orchard, was begging her to make a yellow floral jelly from goldenrod flowers. So that was the next chore of many on her list.
Having learned to determine the edibility of certain mushrooms she forages the safe ones from where they grow in the woods, frying up such fungi as puff balls which she describe as having a custard-like interior. In the spring, there are fiddlehead greens easily available, but Julie has to trade for ramps which though they seem to grow wild every place where there are woods, don’t appear anywhere within Goldberry’s 30 acres.
Now focused fully on running Goldberry Woods and raising their three daughters, Julie previously worked as a chemical engineer in a food processing plant that used a million gallons of corn syrup per day. Now she teaches classes in how to harvest honey–there are, naturally, bee hives on the property. If all this sounds like a real divergence from a career in corn syrup and a degree in chemical engineering, Julie started an environmental club in high school and gardened in college.
Unfortunately, you can’t eat at Goldberry Woods unless you’re an overnight guest. But you can stop and visit as the couple has set up their Goldberry Market in a 1970s trailer. It’s very cute plus they have an outdoors stand on the property. They also take their produce to the New Buffalo Farmer’s Market which is held on Thursday evenings. As for what to do with the unique produce they sell, there are recipes on their website and Julie will always take the time to give ideas. It’s her passion to share the best of what Southwest Michigan produces.
Make a goldenrod tea. Put the flowers in a stainless steel pot and add just enough cool water to cover. Bring to a gentle simmer for 3 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow the flowers to steep for at least an hour or overnight in the refrigerator. Strain the flowers through a fine metal sieve. Gently squeeze excess liquid from the flowers. Measure 5 cups of liquid. Add water if necessary.
Place goldenrod tea back into pot and add lemon juice. Add the pectin, stir, and bring to a boil until pectin is fully dissolved.
Add sugar and bring to a full boil for one minute. Remove from heat and pour into sterile canning jars. Keep jelly in the fridge for up to one month.
Stop at Union Pier Market for a great selection of gourmet goods, beer, and wine. Next door, also on Townline Road, is the Black Currant Bakehouse for made from scratch pastries as well as sandwiches and such distinctive beverages as their Rose Quartz Latte, Chaga Chai, and Honey Lavender Latte. Milda’s Corner Market next to Union Pier Market features foods from over 40 countries and freshly made Lithuanian fare including “Sūreliai” Mini Cheesecake bars, Koluduna (dumplings), and Kugelis.
Growing up in Tahoe City, a one stoplight town in California’s High Sierra Mountains, Lindsay Navama yearned for the big city life. Los Angeles offered just that, and she was happy there in her career as a recipe developer, personal chef, and owner of Cookie Culture, a boutique bakery.
But when she and her husband, David, moved to Chicago for work, Navama felt unmoored and wondered what to do next in her life.
Lured by articles about the wonders of Harbor Country, the swath of countryside starting at the state line and curving north along Lake Michigan to Sawyer, Michigan, the couple decided to check it out.
Unfortunately, upon arrival the two were totally underwhelmed.
“We heard people call it the ‘Hamptons of the Midwest but we thought is this it?” says Navama.
The two didn’t return for several years, but when they did—they both experienced what she describes as the region’s magic. It was more than just the beautiful beaches, the eight quaint small towns each unique in its own way, lush farmlands, orchards, rivers, and woods, there was also an appealing vibe. Each visit brought new discoveries– an estate winery, a fun delicatessen that became like a second home, a Swedish bakery that first opened for business in 1912–and new friends.
Wanting to spend more time there, the couple moved into a small place in New Buffalo and dubbed it “Camp Navama.” There Navama cooked and entertained, developing her own recipes and tweaking them when needed to feed friends on gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, keto, paleo, and other diets. She learned the rhythms of the land and seasons such as when deep blue Concord grapes were peaking at Dinges’ Farm in Three Oaks or when an order of fresh caught sturgeon arrived at Rachel Collins’ Flagship Specialty Foods and Fish Market in Lakeside.
In ways it was a convergence of Navama’s experiences growing up in the High Sierras and adulthood in the ever-so-hip L.A. food and cultural scene. Navama identified with many Harbor Country residents who moved to or had second homes in the area and brought that big city sensibility with them when it came to art, food, entertaining but appreciated a more rural way of living and a lot less concrete.
Navama no longer felt lost and instead saw the direction her life should take.
“I wanted to preserve those memories, great meals, and good times in Mason jars,” she says.
A great cookbook with 50 recipes and photos by Gabrielle Sukich of Benton Harbor, it’s also a travel guide with small maps, listings of restaurants, wineries, intriguing hideaways, and everything else the area has to offer.
“I never saw myself as living any other place than California and here I am in a tiny town in the Midwest,” she says. “And I’m beyond grateful it happened.”
Whistle Stop Asian Noodle Salad
Contributed by Whistle Stop Grocery and Chef Eva Frahm
1 pound angel hair or capellini pasta
5 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and thinly sliced
¼ cup plus ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
¾ teaspoon kosher salt, divided
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
¾ cup hoisin sauce, divided
1 medium red bell pepper
1 medium yellow bell pepper
¼ cup seasoned rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon garlic chili sauce
Sriracha, to taste (optional)
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1 cup lightly packed cilantro leaves, chopped
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the pasta water, if desired. Add the angel hair and cook 7 to 8 minutes until just al dente, so the noodles are still slightly firm and not overcooked. Drain into a colander, rinse gently with cold water, let drain again, then place in a large bowl. Set aside.
In a skillet over medium heat, sauté the mushrooms in ¼ cup of the olive oil for about 7 minutes, or until lightly browned. Season with ⅛ teaspoon of the salt and ⅛ teaspoon of the pepper. Remove from the heat and add 2 tablespoons of the hoisin sauce. Stir to coat and set aside.
Julienne the bell peppers by cutting them into ⅛-inch-thick strips. Set aside.
In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the remaining 10 tablespoons hoisin sauce, the remaining ⅓ cup olive oil, the rice vinegar, the garlic chili sauce, and the Sriracha (if using). Set aside.
Add the mushrooms, peppers, scallions, cilantro, and sauce mixture to the noodles. Toss gently to incorporate. Season to taste with the remaining salt and the remaining pepper and transfer to a serving bowl or store covered in the refrigerator for 5 to 7 days.
Lake Life Cranberry Limeade Cosmo
3 ounces favorite vodka
1 ounce triple sec
2 ounces cranberry juice cocktail
3 tablespoons limeade concentrate, thawed
a cocktail shaker and martini glass in the freezer for about 20 minutes.
Add the vodka, triple sec, cranberry juice, and limeade concentrate to the chilled cocktail shaker. Shake your booty while you shake your Cosmo for about 10 seconds, because why not?!
Summer in Door County means cool breezes, mild temperatures, quaint harbor towns, farm-to-table restaurants, cheeseries, wineries, mead makers and distillers and sun-soaked waterfront vistas as well as 300 miles of shoreline paralleling Lake Michigan and Green Bay.
This delightful coastal Wisconsin getaway is now open for travel and committed to providing visitors with a safe vacation experience. To achieve this, Door County communities and lodgers have developed health and safety procedures and are committed to following operating guidelines from state and local authorities. Many have signed on to the Commitment to Cleanliness and Safety Initiative, a joint endeavor from Door County Medical Center and Door County Public Health to ensure the safety of both visitors and residents.
Visitors to Door County can choose family owned, vintage hotels and inns, historic B&Bs, luxury waterfront suites and cottages for their stay. Starting in June through July many accommodations in Door County are offering Re-Open and Re-Discover promotion packages for those who want to explore the peninsula’s 11 lighthouses, five state parks, cherry orchards, maritime history, wildlife preserves and myriad of outdoor recreation activities knowing that safety precautions are of utmost importance to the community. Take advantage of packages that include accommodations for one to three nights; a meal for two (offerings may include a gift certificate to a local restaurant, complimentary on-property breakfast, a picnic basket filled with Door County specialties); an activity or attraction offering (state park pass, maps, tours, tastings); and a $25 Door County gift certificate available to use at a variety of shops, restaurants and attractions.
Explore the Lake Michigan side, a little more quiet, in Baileys Harbor with Maxwelton Braes Lodge’s Stay, Play & Dine Package featuring a two night stay, two rounds of golf, $50 gift certificate to Thyme Cuisine, two complimentary old fashioned cocktails, and breakfast or express lunch for two at Thyme Cuisine. Ephraim’s ideal spot for a romantic getaway is Eagle Harbor Inn, offering “Suite Escape: Contact Free Stay.” Enjoy a one-bedroom Whirlpool Suite welcomed with chilled prosecco and chocolate truffles and grab a picnic lunch from Door County Creamery using a Door County gift certificate. To view complete package details and a list of participating accommodations, visit doorcounty.com/content/vacation-packages and link directly to accommodations for booking
Spring Break, Blossoms & Birds in the Straits of Mackinac Area
Lovely anytime of the year, don’t miss out on springtime in the Mackinaw City region. Call it a springtime fling because that’s when Mackinaw City businesses and hotels offer vacation specials and events such as the 4th Annual Mackinac Meltdown. Here’s some of what’s going on.
April 1-16 — Spring Break Splash at Pirate Cove Waterpark
Things are heating up inside…with $5 fun, April 1-16 at Pirate’s Adventure Waterpark inside the Crown Choice Inn & Suites Lakeview (720 S. Huron Avenue). Mackinaw’s largest indoor waterpark features a pirate head tipping bucket, three waterslides, bubbler jets, crawl tunnels, water guns, climbing nets, an oversized indoor pool and a whirlpool sauna. Call 231-436-5929 for details.
Saturday, April 6 (11am-2pm) — Taste of Mackinaw
Enjoy delicious foods from local restaurants as well as craft beer and wine at the Mackinac Island Brewhouse & Mackinaw Island Winery inside the Mackinac Bay Trading Company downtown on Huron Avenue, across from Conkling Heritage Park. Tickets are $10 per person.
Discover Birds of Prey at Raptor Fest!
Currently birding is the second fastest growing hobby in the United States after gardening, according to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. In Michigan we take our birding seriously with more than 2 million birdwatchers residing in the state. And this area of Michigan is a birdwatching hot spot. Every year thousands of hawks, eagles, vultures, and owls follow the curves of Lakes Michigan and Huron to the Straits of Mackinac. From there, to save energy, they use rising air drafts, rising high in the air and then gliding across the 5-mile expanse of the Straits.
Note that though they’re no longer protected under the Federal Endangered Species Act, the bald eagle remains protected under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. The Mackinac Straits Raptor Watch conducts scientific studies and takes inventory of hawks, owls and other raptors migrating through this region of northern Michigan, educating the public about the birds and their migratory patterns.
Raptor Fest, April 3-5, is their largest annual event, a three-day celebration of all things raptor including sightings of migrating birds and educational workshops.
My friend Angela McCrovitz, owner of the Captain’s House in Miller Beach, which is a Lake Michigan beach enclave on the east side of Gary, Indiana is always up to something cool when it comes to food.
For this Thanksgiving she’s in vanguard of what she tells me will be a national trend by sharing several recipes for turkey masks (if you Google it, you get links for turkey hunters—that’s how new it is). When she first asked me if I had heard of them, I was thinking it was some type of face mask or costume for a Thanksgiving turkey. But no. For Angela, it’s cheesecloth soaked in different brines to both add flavor to the turkey and keep it from overcooking and drying out. She’s created a variety of recipes that certainly offer different flavor profiles for Thanksgiving dinner.
For all turkey masks:
Make brine (choose the recipe below that fits best with your
Thanksgiving meal) and soak a cheesecloth in brine for 20 minutes.
Wrap the turkey with cheesecloth so it covers the breast and
part of the leg area. Place turkey, legs first in oven and roast 30 minutes
while brushing cheesecloth and exposed turkey parts with remainder of brine.
Then cook your turkey using your favorite method.
APPLE, MAPLE, BROWN SUGAR FACE MASK:
The apple juice in this face mask gives the slightest hint
of tartness that fills out the flavors of the turkey. Add to it brown sugar,
cloves, cinnamon, and orange zest and you have a bright, flavorful and tangy
1 cup kosher
tablespoons orange zest
tablespoons soy sauce
½ cup maple
2 bay leaves
TURKEY FACE MASK:
not only adds tangy flavors but also tenderizes the bird. Acidic lemons,
oranges and limes, help carry flavors deep into the meat, adding onion, garlic,
salt and sugar adds a nice savory touch.
1 cup kosher
1 large lime
1 onion (cut
into thick slices)
4 bay leaves
POLYNESIAN FACE MASK:
Fruit and fruit juices are a common way to tenderize
meat, peels and seeds are used in many cultures to infuse flavor into meats,
but also to make tough cuts of meat softer and juicier. This Hawaiian-style
mask includes pineapple, sugar, soy sauce, maple syrup, dry herbs, and garlic.
It is a fruity and tropical mask which adds tang to the holiday bird. Raw
pineapple and onions increase extra fragrance and flavors.
quarts pineapple juice
cups dark brown sugar
1/2 cups soy sauce
cup light maple syrup
cup kosher salt
tablespoons crushed red pepper
A WILD TURKEY
MANHATTAN FACE MASK:
A more concentrated
flavor profile than wine, vermouth is the secret for adding complexity to the
turkey making this a favorite mask.
¼ cups kosher salt
tablespoon juniper berry
tablespoon whole peppercorns
tablespoon fennel seed
teaspoon mustard seeds
medium onion sliced
garlic cloves crushed
A PERFECT SIDE FOR OUR
TURKEY FACE MASKS
Artichoke Bread Pudding (Our Substitute for Stuffing)
pounds of bread cut into cubes
quart heavy whipping cream
cups spinach artichoke dip
cups fresh spinach rough cut chopped
cup oysters diced
jar artichoke heart halves
Mix all ingredients and place in 9×14 glass dish, bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees.