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Posts tagged as California

Travel to Texas This Spring to See Record Numbers of Monarch Butterflies

Texas could see around 300 million monarch butterflies this spring following what Travel + Leisure described as “the biggest wildflower bloom.

So if you were considering a trip to Texas this spring, you have yet another reason to go.Every spring, bluebonnets bloom throughout central Texas, especially in Hill Country, a picturesque region outside of Austin thats also known for its vineyards. According to Southern Living, The region experienced an above average rainfall this winter, which could lead to a megabloom.The megabloom, in turn, is expected to attract a record numbers of butterflies during their migration from Mexico to Canada.Photo by Roberta Guillen on Unsplash“Figures show the highest number of hectares covered since at least 2006,” Craig Wilson, director of the USDA Future Scientists Program and senior research associate in the Center for Mathematics and Science Education at Texas AM, told Texas AM Today.

“Monarch numbers are usually measured in hectares, so that means about 15 acres are being used for their breeding grounds in northern Mexico. That’s a really positive sign, especially since their numbers have been down in recent years.According to Wilson, milkweed is essential for monarch butterflies, and luckily its in plentiful supply in central Texas. Hes encouraging Texas residents to plant milkweed in their gardens now.Hoping to see the wildflowers while theyre in bloom? Southern Living reports that the best place to see them is in Big Bend National Park, which is in the western part of the state on the Mexican border.Just dont be one of those tourists behaving badly who caused the closure of Lake Eslinor, California during the poppy superbloom.


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How to Use Your Tax Return for Travel

Those looking to travel domestically could take a full two weeks to visit the Pacific Northwest (think: Seattle, Portland and the surrounding area.
Couples can spend a week in Sedona, Arizona hiking the red rocks, or lounge on the beach in Florida’s Key West, with airfares in the low $300s roundtrip from many East Coast airports, according to Jauntaroo.
International destinations are still a possibility for couples on a $2,400 budget, including getaways to Croatia, where roundtrip airfare can be found from $483 per person and hotels can be booked for less than $100 per night. (Sadly, outside the capital, there arent a ton of points hotel options.) Theres also Budapest, Hungary. Hunt for a roundtrip flight just over $400 and boutique apartment rentals for $60 per night on Airbnb.
$2,700 to $2,850For international vacations, Midwest residents can head to Spain from the Midwest for just $481 roundtrip per person, or take a quick flight to the island of Aruba for just $371, according to Skyscanner. Entire families can enjoy a trip here by using points to reserve a stay at one of the islands many great points properties.
Photo by Tashka / Getty Images.$3,000 to $3,150The average tax return has historically been about $3,000 per person, and most states land in this range, from Alaska to Georgia, Maryland and Nevada.It’s still a sizable return, and even travelers who don’t want to spend their entire tax return on a trip can find great options within this budget.For residents of Nevada, Alaska, or any of the other western states, the San Juan Islands off the coast of Washington are a short flight and boat ride away.
The rural archipelago is filled with state parks and greenery, making it the perfect option for nature lovers who want to hike, kayak, swim or watch for orcas starting in May. Flights originating from the west can be as low as $103 per person, according to Skyscanner, and hotels on the islands usually run from $70 to $150 per night.For international locations, residents of the West Coast can fly to parts of South America in just a few hours. Flights from California to Sao Paolo, Brazil are usually less than $500 in May.
East Coast residents can turn to the British Isles for a great getaway, where flights to Scotland are $499 round trip and flights to London are just $341, according to Skyscanner. Travelers can splurge on the recently renovated Ritz-Carlton in London, or stay at the highly rated Hilton Metropole for less than $150 per night.(Cash in your points for an award night, and youll have plenty of your tax return left over for food, beverages and activities.)$3,700 to $3,850States in the Northeast see some of the highest average tax refunds, with Connecticut taking the number one spot of $3,844, according to Smart Asset.
Travelers in the highest tax return bracket could jet off to Bali for two weeks to visit ancient Hindu temples. Flights from New York City to Bali can get as low as $481 roundtrip in the month of May (though if you want to book something quick, its not difficult to find flights in the mid-$700s) and hotels run in the low hundreds per night.North African temperatures tend to be relatively mild in the spring, making it a great time to visit Morocco or Egypt (one of our top places to travel this April). Flights to Africa tend to run on the more expensive side, regardless of the time of year, but flights to Casablanca can be found in the low $600s roundtrip.Visitors can rent entire homes near Casablanca for roughly $50 per night — and some even include their own pools.For the latest travel news, deals and points and miles tips please .

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Creating Boozy Beverages from Food Waste: 10 Brewers Doing it Right

From spirits, beer, wine, and even sake, Food Tank has compiled a list of businesses that are transforming food waste into alcoholic beverages.

McGovern confirmed that humans have been enjoying alcoholic beverages for approximately 9,000 years, which started as wine made from rice, honey, and fruit. And although drinkers hear a lot about the health impacts alcohol has on the human body, there is little awareness of the environmental impacts alcohol production has on the planet, including its contribution to greenhouse gas emissions, distribution, and packaging.Fortunately, the brewers listed below are using food waste to create their boozy concoctions.

1.Alchemy Distillery Located in Humboldt County, California, Alchemy Distillery strives to reduce their impact on the environment in every area of their production system. They even donate 100 percent of the grain leftover after distillation to a pig farm, which has exceeded over 30,000 gallons to date.More recently, Alchemy Distiller took on the challenge of making whiskey from day old bagels. Alchemy reclaims roughly 60 pounds of stale bagels per week from a local bagel shop with similar views on reducing waste and sustainability.The anticipated release date for the bagel-based whiskey is sometime near the end of 2019.

2.The Brussels Beer ProjectDid you know that people have been enjoying beer for over 7,000 years? According to the Ancient History Encyclopedia, it is believed that beer most similar to the beverage we enjoy today was first made from fermented barley bread. The Brussels Beer Project in Belgian has taken a page out of these ancient traditions and has created a craft beer from leftover stale bread.
The beer is named Babylone, based on the brewing process that was traced back to the city of Babylon.

3.Carrot VodkaIn an attempt to reduce food waste on their farms, Gen Windley and Alice Gorman, members of Kalfresh customers focus team, came up with an idea to use carrots unfit for the supermarket to make vodka. It seems that the use of carrots to make alcohol is becoming a bit of a tradition in Gorman’s family, as her husband also used carrots to make beer, which he called “the Wabbit Saison.” The carrot-based beverages can be found in Queensland, Australia.

4.Catch of the DayCatch of the Day by-product designer Björn Steinar fights food waste by rescuing fruits from dumpsters and transforming them into vodka. Located in Reykjavík, Iceland, Steinar demonstrates that you can transform various fruits into spirits without any fancy equipment, as Steinar uses a simple open-source distilling machine.The creative name refers to the flavor of vodka based on the fruit that was repurposed, ranging from blueberry, banana, strawberry, and pineapple.

5.Dairy Distillery: VodkowBased in Ontario, Canada, Dairy Distillery utilizes milk permeate, a sugar-rich by-product of cheese and yogurt production, to make a smooth spirit, which they have named Vodkow. The two founders, Omid McDonald and Neal McCarten, recognized a gap in the dairy production system and saw this as an opportunity to make use of a useful by-product.In doing so, Dairy Distillery also creates a means of cost saving to Ontario dairy farmers as the disposal of milk permeate is part of the collective milk price.

6.Inman Family WinesLocated in Santa Rosa, California, Inman Family Wines has a different take on closing the loop from farm to table. What they refer to as “Four-Course Compost” is the use of compost as the sole source of fertilizer for their grapes, eliminating the need for chemical inputs.The compost used at the vineyard is derived from food waste accumulated in restaurants, hotels, and residences in the San Francisco area. This is not the only eco-friendly practice followed at the winery.To name a few, the wineries’ solar-powered systems powers up to 98 percent of their electricity requirements, they repurpose all waste water to be used for vineyard irrigation, and they have even invested in lighter weight wine bottles, which require fewer inputs due to their thinner glass and have a higher content of recycled material.

7.Misadventure VodkaFound in over 50 restaurants in Southern California, Misadventure Vodka follows the motto “leave no trace” and has put this into practice by redirecting food waste out of the landfill to create their product. Based in San Diego, the two founders create their craft using baked goods no longer suitable for food banks, otherwise destined for the landfill.From cake to cookies and pretty well any baked good you can think of, Misadventure Vodka uses it all.

8.SachiA research team from the National University of Singapore have come up with a way to utilize tofu whey, a by-product of tofu production, to develop the first of its kind, sake-like alcoholic beverage. With an increase in demand for plant-based proteins, such as tofu, this will be followed by an increase in the waste associated with tofu production.
Not only does the repurposing of this by-product reduce food waste but it also offers an alcoholic beverage with health benefits from the tofu whey including high levels of calcium, prebiotics, and isoflavones, which have been related to improved heart health, bone health, and anti-carcinogenic properties.

9.Toast Ale Toast Ale rescues day-old bread from bakeries and the heel ends of bread from sandwich factories to make their award-winning brew. To date, Toast Ale has diverted over 1 million slices of bread from the landfill.Founder of Toast Ale, Tristram Stuart, was inspired to reduce and take action on food waste after a conversation with another brewer on our list, Brussels Beer Project. Not only does the use of bread to make beer reduce food waste, it also reduces all other components involved in the process chain of beer production and bread decomposition, including the associated greenhouse gases produced from growing, malting, and transporting barley, and the methane gases produced from bread rotting in the landfill.

10. Waste Not Chef Mario Batali teamed with brewer Sam Calagione to create a beer made out of food waste.Their recipe idea follows a similar concept to pruno, an alcoholic beverage that originated in prisons created by prisoners to make alcohol under the radar using any ferment able foods available. However, the ingredients Chef Batali and Mr.Calagione use are a little bit on the higher end in comparison, for example they’ve used overripe tomatoes rather than ketchup, as well as rotten grapefruit, Ugli fruit, stale bread, and Demerara sugar. The two have proven that it is possible to make a good tasting beer and reduce food waste at the same time.

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Possible mountain travel delays midday through Saturday, wet pattern next week

March 22, 2019 – Another round of rain and snow Friday through Saturday with enough mountain snow to impact weekend travel. Dry weather Sunday then more rain and mountain snow early next week.
Discussion Cloudiness over the Northern Sierra associated with the upper low vicinity of KLAS will erode/dissipate overnight as the cyclonic flow around the upper low weakens. A plethora of CU/SC cloudiness and a few light showers over the west slope Sierra will also dissipate after sunset as diurnal/differential heating ceases as well.Subsidence from the Ern Pac ridge axis moving inland will also bring clearing to the west slope Sierra overnight, or continue the clear conditions elsewhere.But, by Fri afternoon and evening precip will once again spread over interior NorCal as Mar wx continues to roar like the proverbial lion.A couple of the higher resolution QPF/REF progs show the leading edge of the precip reaching the coast by 5 am Fri, (with some light showers ahead of it over Shasta Co) moving towards I-5 by 10 am Fri, and into the Sierra by early afternoon. The timing of the WSW looks about right, and will continue messaging some travel impacts developing by afternoon and into Sat.
Snow levels forecast to be around 5000 ft over the Sierra to 4000 ft over Shasta Co Fri afternoon, and 4000-4500 ft Sat.By late Sat afternoon, the main frontal precip band will be near the CA/NV border and cross mountain flow from the Coastal Range should bring some subsidence warming/drying and eroding of the cloud cover on the west side of the Vly.
BUFKIT forecast soundings suggest differential heating could lead to surface-based convection Sat afternoon mainly from the Sac area Nwd towards RDD as the upper trof axis moves over the area. The higher probability for storms appears to be with the colder mid-tropospheric (5H) temps over the Nrn portion of the CWA, (i.e. CIC, RBL, RDD areas) where deeper instability is forecast than at locations farther south in our CWA.
The upper trof is forecast to move into NV Sat evening and precip will end or wind-down overnight in our CWA. Upper-level short-wave ridging moving in behind the trof on Sun will result in a dry day with warmer daytime highs than on Sat.Sun will be a good day to travel, but the dry wx will be brief, as the next wx system is forecast to spread another round of precip over interior NorCal beginning Sun night. And, the wet wx could persist through the middle of next week.
It seems as if Mar wx will continue like the proverbial lion over NorCal until the end of the month.Extended Discussion (Monday through Thursday)Models in good agreement with Pacific frontal system moving through interior NorCal Monday bringing widespread precipitation.Precip turns showery Tuesday, mainly over the mountains.A stronger Pacific storm follows with more widespread rain and mountain snow beginning Tuesday night and continuing into Thursday.Total QPF for Monday into Thursday attm looks to be around 1 to 2 inches for the Central Valley and 1 to 4 inches for the foothills and mountains. Mountain travel impacts due to periods of heavy snow and strong wind are likely next week.

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