Host Your Own (Socially Distant) Oktoberfest

Ahh, fall. Leaves, pumpkin spice, your favorite flannels on repeat, and Oktoberfest. Since large gatherings are not 2020’s friend, you probably won’t be attending any big Oktoberfest celebrations this year. But that doesn’t mean you can’t grab a couple of family members or your roommates and host a safe and socially distant gathering to celebrate the season.

Location, location, location.

Park, backyard, front yard, you name it. Just make sure you have fresh air and plenty of space for distancing.

Start with the beer.

While Oktoberfest originated in 1810 as a celebration of marriage of the Crown price of Bavaria and Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen (try saying that five times fast), the celebration progressed into an annual festival with large beer halls by the late 20th century, and it’s safe to say it’s been a beer-drinking shindig ever since. Luckily for you, around August, Oktoberfest-themed beers start popping up on grocery and liquor store shelves everywhere. The most 2020-friendly way to serve beer is by the bottle, in a big cooler for guests to grab on their own time. For an extra precaution, make it BYOO (opener).

You’ll want some bites with that.

You’re going to want a little substance to go with all that beer. Try these homemade pretzel twists on skewers. It’s a pandemic-friendly twist (see what we did there?) on a classic soft pretzel – ready for each guest to grab and go. Skewers work well for sausages too….And if you really want to go the extra mile, try individual cups of German Potato Salad (no judgment if you buy this premade either). And when we say individual cups, we certainly don’t mean plastic. Try mason jars or anything you have lying around your house – the good news is you’re keeping it small, so no need to stress on too many dishes. Just make sure you remember the hand sanitizer.

Dress the part.

We love a reason to dress up, and are also all about keeping it eco-friendly, so if you don’t have lederhosen or a dirndl lying around (what? You don’t?), here’s the easiest way to DIY it: Khaki shorts, a checkered shirt and suspenders for the guys; a ruffled or off the shoulder white blouse, high-waisted skirt, and an apron for the ladies. Don’t forget your mask.

Keep it small.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, we all know that this is not the year for big parties. So keep it responsible, and save the festivities for your closest family, roommates, or quarantine pod. There are lots of pros to doing it this way: less cleanup, more time for good conversations, and more beer for you. And you can think of it as a practice run for when you do get to throw a big Oktoberfest party next time around. Prost!

pexels-lukas-669213

Weekend Plan: Fall Hikes

Two words: Leaf Peeping. It may sound funny, but it’s that age old pastime of enjoying the changing foliage, and, for lack of a better term, peeping at the leaves. But we don’t think you should be limited to spying on the leaves, get out there and experience it. Feel the air as humidity gives way to a crisp breeze, throw yourself into a pile of freshly gathered foliage and take a hike though the seasons while summer fades into fall and fall into winter. Here are some of our favorite fall hikes around the country:

Aspen Vista Trail –  Santa Fe, NM

Bull Head Lake Trail – Glacier National Park, MT

Birchtoft Trail – Dublin, NH

Maroon Lake Trail – Aspen, CO 

Giant Mountain – Lake Placid, NY

Featured image “Alpenglow Maroon Bells, Maroon Lake, Colorado” by John Fowler

Modern Travel: Ashland, OR

Ashland_Blog2

What’s in a name? When it comes to Ashland, Oregon, a whole bunch of stuff: the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, great regional wine, Lithia Park, a lively pub scene, Southern Oregon University and pungent (but stunning) mineral hot springs. Located in the foothills of the Siskiyou and Cascade Mountain Ranges, late summer is the perfect time to spend a weekend exploring the Rogue Valley and dining al fresco. For the oenophiles, spend your day sipping pinots in Oregon’s latest wine belt (we like Dana Campbell Winery for the great views of Ashland, or 20 minutes up I-5 Dancin Vineyards pairs nicely with homemade wood-fire pizza). If you’re looking for something more active, grab a cup of Joe from Noble Coffee and explore stunning Lithia Park. Designed by the same landscape architect who did Golden Gate Park, Lithia’s spectacular gardens switchback across Ashland Creek through the foothills and connect to plenty of hiking and biking trails. Grab an early dinner at one of Ashland’s local cafes (you really can’t go wrong – most places proudly serve farm-to-table menus), then catch a show at the Shakespeare Festival (February – October). If the Bard isn’t your cup of tea, fret not – the OSF features plenty of modern playwrights and world premiers. After the show, grab a nightcap at one of the many pubs along the creek. With great food, awesome trails and a varied nightlife, Ashland is just the place for a weekend escape to while away the mid-summer nights!

What To Do in Ashland

Grizzly Peak: Oregon is known for environmentally conscious locals, no sales tax, and some of the most stunning and varied landscapes in the US. We count Grizzly Peak among one of the best spots. With awesome panoramic views of the valley and surrounding mountain ranges, Grizzly Peak is nothing short of jaw-dropping. And the peak is just the beginning – take the loop trail that winds through the pine forests and you’ll start to see where one forest ends and another begins. Ecology at it’s finest!

Loft Brasserie: Terrace dining isn’t the exception in Ashland, it’s the norm. But Loft Brasserie is exceptional. With a menu that rotates daily, the Loft is French inspired food with a distinctly local twist. If you’re feeling adventurous, the Beef Tar Tar and Dungenese Crab Macaroni Gratin are beyond decadent, though the tried and true French Onion Soup and Lamb Shank are favorites for a reason. Ask your waitress which local wine pairs best or opt for a fresh cocktail (Mint Juleps and terraces mix well) – or have both since you’re on vacation.

OSF Elizabethan Theater: Sit amongst the plebeians or gaze upon the stage with fellow patricians, either way there’s not a bad seat in the house. Modeled after outdoor theaters like the famous Globe in Renaissance London, you can’t help but feel the majesty of live theater when you’re watching a production at the Allen Elizabethan Theater. Under the stars and sans mics or elaborate sets, you’re struck by just how compelling words, some written centuries ago, can still be so relevant. As long as you dress for the weather, you’ll be mesmerized by the reverie and feel much ado about nothing.

Standing Stone Brewing Co: To beer or not to beer? That is not a question – always beer. A great spot to sit on the patio and recap your day, Standing Stone Brewing Co has solidified its reputation as a classic Ashland hangout. The historic 1925 building definitely helps, but good ol’ fashioned on-site brewing and hearty local ingredients (3 cheers for Oregon Hops!) give this micro-brewery old-school street cred. The I ♥ Oregon Ale and Steel-Cut Stout pair nicely with the crisp valley air, and the kitchen is open until midnight in case you didn’t grab dinner before the show. We’ll take a late night pint and give a standing-O to this awesome brewpub.

What To Wear in Ashland

Smooth Crew: Don’t let the calendar fool you, these summer nights can get a wee bit chilly when you’re sandwiched between mountain ranges. The Smooth Crew is the perfect weekender staple. 100% organic cotton Butterknit fabric is unspeakably soft, wicks away moisture and resists wrinkles. Great on it’s own or a nice layer for crisp nights – all’s well that ends well.

Tamaya Tunic: Like a Shakespearean heroine, the Tamaya tunic is a classic beauty. Our eco–friendly Samba fabric charms in any hue and print and travels like a pro – it resists wrinkles, stays super soft and keeps it’s shape all day long. The split–V neckline shows off your come-hither collarbones while the back box pleat makes for an easy, swingy fit that pairs well with leggings or shorts. You’ll look simply divine.

Rosalinda Dress: When it comes to dresses, there’s no such thing as unconditional love. We want great fit, form and function – no caveats. With that in mind, we propose the Rosalinda Dress. She’s got a comfy, complementary shape, a stretchy Samba knit blend (Tencel®, organic cotton and spandex) and coffee–to–cocktails adaptability. We think you two will live happily ever after.

Mojac Overshirt: Devilishly handsome, we orchestrated our Mojac to look like a jacket but feel like a shirt. Richly colored flannel is fully lined with a buttery–shirt knit (both 100% organic cotton) making it perfect accomplice to an outdoor show. Oh, and we added chest pockets, chambray lining and a relaxed, shirttail hem so you’re always the perfect degree of “dressed up”– just as you like it.