Wednesday, April 29, 2020


 Did you ever imagine that a plant-based taco could be delicious?  Meatless tacos were a concept that was foreign to me because for as long as I can remember, Carnitas tacos have been my all-time favorite.  When it comes to tacos, I do not discriminate, I love them all.  Chicken tacos, Al Pastor tacos, Carne Asada tacos, Barbacoa tacos, Chorizo and Papas tacos, grilled shrimp tacos, fish tacos, yes and even turkey tacos that are especially enjoyed during the holidays.
Photo by Chitokan from Pexels
It is always time for tacos and not just on Tuesdays.

Photo by Ben Maxwell
As a kid, we grew up enjoying tacos at least once a week, sometimes twice a week if we were lucky.  
I remember my Mother making her special tacos that were kind of messy but oh, so delicious. 
She would combine browned ground beef with a little chorizo and add grated cheese, garlic and chile powder, then fill the corn tortilla and fried until golden brown and crispy. 
She would fill up a platter with these tasty morsels and my brothers and sister, and I would finish off the entire 
platter. . .  More Please.

We learned to cook in our kitchens with family mentors who shared their cooking tips and special techniques.  Nothing was as tasty as Mom’s cooking, but plant-based food was never on the menu.  It was not until I started cooking for my own family that I learned about dishes that were prepared using a variety of vegetables without animal protein. 

Photo by Pixabay
I am not a vegetarian, but over the years I have embraced the idea of adding more meatless dishes to our regular menu and reduced the number of days we eat animal protein.  Like so many others, I turn to the Cooking Channel or Netflix for inspiration and where the choices are endless, because the chefs make the dishes look appetizing.  One of my all-time favorites is “The Chef Show “that features the adventures of Chef Roy Choi and Jon Favreau, who recently visited the owners of “The Border Grill” in Las Vegas to prepare vegetarian tacos with Chefs Mary Sue Millican and Susan Feniger.

These tacos looked so appetizing and easy to assemble, that I dashed off to the market that day to pick up all the fresh ingredients for that nights’ dinner.  
There were yams to peel, cube and roast, poblano chiles and fresh corn to grill, red onions to dice and combine with black beans, cotija cheese, olive oil, splash of red wine vinegar, lime juice, fresh cilantro and seasonings to combine. 

When my husband opened in the door, his first question was “What are we having for dinner and is it time to eat?
Photo by Jack Sparrow
I heated up the griddle and piled up grated cheese, (may substitute to make it vegetarian), then added the fresh corn tortilla over top until the cheese underneath was golden brown.  

I plated the cheesy tortilla and added the vegetable mixture, topped it with fresh salsa and hit it with an extra squeeze of lime and devoured it.

How can this vegetarian version of a taco be so full of flavor and not contain any meat?

So often I will try out a new dish that I have never made before that usually turns out to be one of our new favorites.  At the end of the meal, my husband gets to name the new dish for future reference.  If the new dish is a keeper, he asks for it to be added to the “A” rotation, which usually means he requests the dish on a regular basis.  He takes great pride in being the “official food taster” and usually comes up with a creative name for my culinary experiments.  This new favorite was inspired by The Border Grill and now it resides in our kitchen to share with our family and friends. The name of our new favorite is:
G’s Garden Tacos.  (The “G” stands for Grilled)
Photo by Pixabay
Who knew plant-based food could be so delicious?  We haven’t omitted our favorite meat dishes altogether, but we have increased our plant-based meals significantly to our regular menu and find that we have more energy after a meal and reduced our food budget. Embracing a plant-based diet makes sense not just because it’s delicious but because it’s sustainable.

Friends of the Pacific Electric Trail
- Victoria Jones Friend of the Pacific Electric Trail
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Monday, April 27, 2020


Friends of the Pacific Electric Trail

Photo by Gustavo Fring from Pexels
Donning face coverings as a daily practice was an adjustment for everyone at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Our trusted public health experts recommended that everyone should wear face masks and shelter in place as a precaution to slow the spread of Covid-19.  Locating face masks took on a whole new meaning when supplies were scarce, but we still needed to protect ourselves and others when it was time to go out in the public.  The internet is flooded with creative people showing step by step instructions on how to make your own face covering at home.  There was a definite upswing in groups of people sewing masks for the masses. 

It has been truly startling to witness groups of individuals who refuse to wear masks claiming that either they are healthy and don’t see the need to protect themselves or others, or possibly don’t fully understand the definition of a pandemic. 

Picture Courtesy of US Air Force
 A state mandate is not just a recommendation; it is the governing direction to abide by during a health emergency, and the name of this health emergency is COVID-19.  In California, we are fortunate to have Governor Gavin Newsom who is an outstanding leader, his commitment to public safety is paramount.  Thanks to his leadership and clear messaging, the results of sheltering in place and the use of face coverings have resulted in a flattening of the curve of new cases of COVID-19.

Dr. Anthony Fauci/image credit: Flickr
Dr. Anthony Fauci is our nations’ No.1 expert in public health and can be trusted because he sticks to the facts.  Science is not an idea or opinion that is unproven, science is factual.  The public health recommendation to “Shelter in Place” and to wear face coverings in public was not meant to stop COVID-19, but to slow the spread, buying time and allow health experts to develop a vaccine for the future.   This precious time is vital to put into place reliable testing for the masses.

Quarantine fatigue is real and with the recent warm weather, many were tempted to go outside and enjoy the sunshine.  Unfortunately, last weekend, swarms of eager beach goers ignored the order to refrain from going to the beach and disregarded the safety of others.  When we go for a walk in our neighborhood, we wear our face coverings regularly.  It’s still unsettling to see runners, walkers and cyclists out on the bike path without face coverings and display a disregard for others.  There is “no excuse “to argue personal freedom vs. pandemic. 

Donning a face mask ~  badge of courage
Photo by Guillaume Meurice from Pexels

We still need to protect ourselves when we go into the public and wearing a face covering has become as normal as putting on my shoes.  When I do go to the market, everyone is wearing a face covering, the shoppers, the clerks, the bag boys, the butcher, the store manager and this exercise has turned into a comfort for me to know that everyone is doing their part to stay safe.  Thank you to the retailers who turn patrons away at the door who do not wear face masks because your commitment is making public safety a priority.

Wearing face coverings may be with us for a long time so that even when it is safe to slowly reopen businesses and resume our lives in public, face coverings will just be another part of our wardrobe.  It will feel like second nature to us to grab our keys and face masks before heading out the door. 
Image Credit Etsy

The one precious experience that we cannot see when wearing a mask is our smile.  Our face masks are worn to protect ourselves and others, but we are missing the gift we give to one another, our smile.  I did not realize how much I missed seeing people smile at one another as we greet each other.  A smile is so welcoming, even from a total stranger, smiles are free and duplicate when freely given.  There is a basic joy that comes from a shared smile, even when we are tired, even when we are scared, a smile is good medicine for the soul.  I’m longing for my regular “Fix” that I get when I’m in the company of others.  That social component has been put on hold and is sorely missed.  Living for others is a basic rule of nature.  Guess it is time to start drawing a smile on my face masks so that I won’t feel like I’m hiding.

I am still smiling behind my mask ~

 trying to smile with my eyes!

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Victory Gardens make a comback

Friends of the Pacific Electric Trail
Growing your own food is one of the simplest, safest and economical things we can do for ourselves.  Working in nature provides us with fresh air and sunshine, physical exercise while social distancing, and improved mental health. One of my first instructions in learning how to meditate was “plant a carrot . . . and watch it grow”.

Photo by mali maeder from Pexels
What better way to stave off boredom than to map out a space in your yard and plant your very own first vegetable garden? 

Besides the self-satisfaction of eating food that you have grown yourself, the flavor is vastly improved compared to store bought. Some of the additional benefits of providing valuable plant life for bees, birds, 
ecosystems are as follows:

  • Specialized relationship between plants and insects that is vital to our eco system and provides us with natures music.
  • Nurseries are experiencing an increased demand and are now selling out of tomato plants and other vegetables, for first time gardeners who are new to gardening.
  • Seed companies are seeing a surge in orders
  • Start with seedlings that are in your “climate zone” from your local nursery
  • Plant what you love to eat and be generous and share.

Photo by Magda Ehlers from Pexels
During the early 40’s, due to rationing, there were shortages of all commodities to support the war effort which encouraged patriotic Americans to grow as much food as possible. All across the country, families converted their yards, fields and vacant lots into Victory Gardens.

Early Community Leader
Photo by Akil Mazumder from Pexels

One of my favorite memories is of the story that my Father shared with my siblings and I about his Grandpa “Manuel”, who installed a water source to provided water to a corner lot in his community so that neighbors could plant a victory garden. He joyfully paid for the water with the one stipulation; that everyone had to share what they eventually harvested. During the world war era, there was a nationwide rationing of fuel, sugar, rubber products, food and supplies.  This community victory garden was successful because it brought the neighborhood together in a positive way. Great Grandpa Manuel knew that if his community volunteered together and planted vegetables, no one would ever go hungry.

Grandma Reep – The Pioneer of an Ultimate
Victory Garden
Photo by Brianna Martinez from Pexels
No one ever went hungry in Grandma Reeps neighborhood.

My husband Dennis Jones speaks with reverence of a similar cherished memory about his Grandma Reep who had an acre size Victory Garden in Ohio.  By all accounts, she was a remarkable woman who put her land to use by planting a thriving vegetable garden for her family. She planted different varieties of berries, row upon row of different types of greens, beans, peas, sweet corn by the rows and over two dozen varieties of fruits and vegetables. There were apple, cherry and pear trees, black walnut trees and grape arbors to run under. A look at any produce section of a market offers the same varieties.
Photo by Andretti Brown from Pexels

Family visits to her house were always an adventure and involved garden chores such as pulling weeds, raking, pruning, etc.  She taught the grandkids how to care for and harvest each plant correctly.  With each crop, she shared her bounty with her neighbors and family.  Her other talent was preserving as much of her harvest by canning: peaches, pickles, tomatoes, etc.  When she passed in 1965, her “Root Cellar” was bought at auction by a large orphanage who recognized the value of her abundant shelves of preserved food.

Photo by Kaboompics .com from Pexels
Growing our own food, even in a small way, offsets food insecurities that we’re all experiencing.  Home grown food tastes delicious because it’s fresh and is designed for flavor, not for its durability to be shipped to the supermarket.  We all might not have the space to convert our yards into victory gardens but consider a few veggie pots on your patio or balcony as a start.  Last summer we enjoyed the benefit of going into the garden to harvest dinner: lettuce, tomatoes, radishes, melons, herbs and more.

“If you’re not eating it, why are you watering it?”

My friend Cori visited us for the first time several years ago and enjoyed our landscape ideas and visualized the potential of converting more of our yard into additional vegetable gardens. At the time, we had just one vegetable garden that was thriving. “Why don’t you dedicate more yard into usable, productive space” she asked? “If your’re not eating it, why are you watering it”? Cori was right.

My Great Grandfather Manuel was a pillar in the community, and I may have been channeling his lessons of the joy and satisfaction when you plant your own food. He mentored my father who could grow anything and had a “Green Thumb”. Perhaps I was destined to follow in the family footsteps. It was then that I decided to go back to school and become a Master Gardener. Learning about climate zones, soil amendments, plant varieties, cultivation, etc., inspired me to want to plant even more. 

Photo by from Pexels
We cleared out two additional sections of our embankment and thoroughly amended the soil to create vegetable gardens, which now total three.  Each year we look forward to mapping out what we’re going to sew for this year’s crop to share with our neighbors. 

“Who can say no to a basket of fresh picked lettuce and tomatoes?”
Friends of the Pacific Electric Trail

Monday, April 20, 2020


Earth Day was founded on April 22, 1970 as a day of education about environmental issues. Earth Day 2020 occurs on Wednesday, April 22—the holiday's 50th anniversary. The holiday is now a global celebration that is sometimes extended into Earth Week, a full seven days of events focused on green living. The brainchild of Senator Gaylord Nelson and inspired by the protests of the 1960s, Earth Day began as a “national teach-in on the environment” and was held on April 22 to maximize the number of students that could be reached on university campuses.
Earth Day kicked off the Environmental decade with a bang. During the 1970s, a number of important pieces of environmental legislation were passed, among them the Clean Air Act, the Water Quality Improvement Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Toxic Substances Control Act and the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act. Another key development was the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency, in December 1970, which was tasked with protecting human health and safeguarding the natural environment—air, water, and land.

On the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970, rallies were held in most American cities, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. In New York City, Mayor John Lindsay closed off a portion of Fifth Avenue to traffic for several hours and spoke at a rally in Union Square.
Did you know?
In 2012, 100,000 people in China celebrated Earth Day by riding their bikes to reduce CO2 in the environment and save fuel. 

April 22, 2020 marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.

Each year, we anticipated celebrating Earth Day in our community at the annual Earth Day celebration hosted by the Cucamonga Valley Water District. In light of this year’s COVID-19 pandemic, this community event was cancelled for obvious safety reasons. We are all scrambling to find ways to virtually celebrate with community partners. We can do an online search for virtual celebrations like:

  •  The NASA FB page

  •  The California Technical College and University, Pasadena, Calif

  •  Claremont Colleges

  •  Griffith Observatory

  •  Mt. Wilson Observatory

  •  Local Libraries
Just in time for this year’s Earth Day anniversary, consider a more unique experience of visual celebrations.

The Lyrid meteor shower is set to light up the skies after sunset until Saturday April, 25th. Its peak is estimated to occur on Tuesday and Wednesday night. During this time, the 2020 installment of the shower is expected to produce between 10 and 20 meteors per hour.
For the rest of us, we can participate by celebrating Earth Day at a personal level by planting a vegetable garden to help cut down on transportation and packaging. Learn about the importance that Bees have with our food chain. Enjoy the byproduct of planting a flower garden that compliments your veggie garden: hummingbirds and butterflies. Slow down and enjoy the sounds of nature that the birds provide and remind us of what Mother Earth is trying to tell us and that each of us has a responsibility to treat her with respect.

Earth’s resources are finite, what would happen if we all embraced Earth Day everyday instead of only one day a year?
Friends of the Pacific Electric Trail

- Victoria Jones Friend of the Pacific Electric Trail
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Thursday, April 16, 2020

Virtual Space Helping Businesses Evolve

Friends of the Pacific Electric Trail

Photo by Julia M Cameron
The surge in digital conferencing has shot thru the roof over the past few months.  Thousands of businesses are utilizing virtual space technology to keep their employees engaged, stay employed and feel productive by working from the safety of their homes.  For many companies who are scrambling to stay in business during the current “Shelter in Place” mandate, this is the first time many are embracing this technology and keeping their virtual doors open. Many employers are trying to navigate for the first time, a webinar or video conference, and it’s become their virtual life raft. 

How many employers are utilizing the virtual space technology for the first time is too soon to tell, but for those who embraced it might be surprised to learn about the overall efficiency.  Could we finally discover that working from home can be efficient for employers and their staff?  The decreased number of daily commuters has a direct effect on traffic and emissions. It would be interesting for the companies who embraced virtual space technology to share their statistics so that we can put this experience to good use in the future and possibly consider incorporating into best practices.
Photo by

For decades, we’ve been encouraged to carpool to work or use public transportation to reduce traffic and air pollution.  Employers offered incentives for staff that participated.  We’ve all heard talk about how more and more of us will be able to work from home, helping to reduce traffic and air pollution.  Employers who already incorporated working in virtual space were positioned for “Business as usual”.  But for many, change is difficult, especially for employers who are unfamiliar with the idea of their staff working from home.  There may even be a cost savings for companies who can reduce office location staff size by reducing the square footage of office space reducing the number of days necessary for staff who work from home to go into the office.

Covid-19 has thrust everyone to “think outside the box.”  As our streets and highways remain eerily empty with millions of us sheltering at home, car insurance companies are doing their part by giving back to their customers with discounts and rebates.  We’re not driving as much, saving the insurance companies money, this is the right thing to do.  There is another segment of the population who are riding bikes because the streets are open and safe. 

“Imagine no smog, imagine clean air, imagine less cars on the road.”    
Photo by VisionPic .net from Pexels

The recent pictures of large metropolitan cities bathed in sunshine and clean air almost feels like a dream.  Imagine what our communities would look like if millions of us could work from home and not have to spend hours commuting daily.  We don’t have to imagine; we saw it in real time this month. The bi-product of “sheltering in place” has resulted in a dramatic reduction of smog caused daily by millions of commuters.  Without millions of commuters emitting carbon pollution by the tons, there is ample, clean fresh air to enjoy.  This alone is a strong argument to incorporate video conferencing into our regular business practices as a regular practice when this pandemic is over.
Friends of the Pacific Electric Trail

Wednesday, April 15, 2020


Friends of the Pacific Electric Trail

Photo by Andrew Neel from Pexels
For cyclists who ride on a regular basis, the thought of not riding is unthinkable.  Doctors have been telling us for years that the health benefits of regular exercise like cycling helps boost endorphins which also help strengthen our immune system and mental and emotional health wellness.

There’s no reason for you to stop cycling as part of your physical routine but make sure you do so with extra precautions.

Keep a safe 6 ft. distance from others, use face coverings and plastic gloves for your protection and dispose of them when you finish riding or wash your bike gloves after your ride.  Focus on maintaining your physical exercise habits and remember to do daily:
  •  Start your morning with a healthy breakfast

  •  Get at lease 7 hours of sleep

  •  Drink 6-8 glasses of water daily

  •  Strive for 60 minutes of exercise daily

The REDLANDS CLASSIC has been the leading, premier professional cycling tradition in the Inland Empire since 1985. It’s more than a bike race, it’s a community event with over 1,500 professional and amateur athletes and over 20,000 spectators over three days in the Spring. The management Team has a tradition of engaging local schools, hotels and restaurants and a successful network of “Host Families” that provide accommodations for international race teams. They have canceled the 2020 Redlands Bicycle Classic and will return in April of 2021.

                                              Photo by Pixabay

Our community leaders are acutely aware of the impact that this health situation has had on our residents and are committed to provide updated, factual information that will help us safely “Shelter in Place”.  In the Inland Empire, we are fortunate to have multiple trails available but the “Jewel of the Inland Empire” is the Regional Pacific Electric Trail where we can safely walk, run or ride our bikes for physical exercise.  Recently we’ve been up on the PE Trail where neighbors are walking 6 ft apart and are wearing home made face coverings for added protection.  It’s reassuring to see the community get out and waive to each other while they are getting some fresh air and sunshine.  Many who enjoy the PE Trail daily walk their dogs, our pets are social too, and the Trail has become a respite for the stresses we are all experiencing.  Don’t forget to include a portable water bowl for your pets.

During this Covid-19 pandemic unfortunately, most restaurants are closed. But you can support those local restaurants that are staying open for take-out, so consider placing an order and pick it up at the end of your ride.   It’s important to take water with you to stay hydrated and an energy bar when you ride and be sure to dispose of your trash responsibly. 
Photo by Tim Mossholder from Pexels

Photo by Victoria Jones
Our public health experts encourage us to exercise but we should always remember to keep a safe distance from others.  For those of us who want to keep our physical exercise a little closer to home, you can ride in place using a bike stand and still get your miles in.  We are all in this together and these precautions we take today may help slow down the spread of this pandemic.

“Our public health experts cannot predict when we will be “Out of the Woods” so for the time being we should all SIP, SIP, SIP (Shelter in Place) for the whole Human Race.” 

Several times a year a group of us look forward to jumping on the Metrolink Bike Train into Los Angeles to participate in the tradition of CicLAvia which are open streets, non-motorized bike events.  We all are gladly making small sacrifices to Shelter in Place until this pandemic is over and the CicLAvia event calendar adjusts to the Covid-19 pandemic. Our communities are making adjustments daily for our safety and we all are making sacrifices that are necessary.  We’re looking forward to the day we can gather together again with thousands of people and celebrate on our bikes. If we all do our part together now, we can look forward to fully resuming our lives when it’s safe again.  Another local cycling event happens every Fall in Upland, California, the “Tour de Foothills.”  We’re all hoping that this tradition will remain open so that we can all join together and rejoice on our bikes.  So until then, Shelter in place for the whole Human Race.”
Friends of the Pacific Electric Trail