Heading Home

It was time to take a break from wine tasting and switch gears. We packed up, what seemed like enough stuff for a weeks stay and headed up to the Blue Mountains for some R and R. No phone service, no internet and no cable. We basically did nothing and it was very relaxing.

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We rode the quad, which Kaili LOVED, sat around the fire, roasted hot dogs, marshmallows and worked on puzzles.

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Our last evening was spent packing up all our stuff and barbecuing at the neighbors place. We were ready and out the door the next morning before 9. Our plan was to hit Bend, Or. and have lunch at Deschutes Brewery.

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Mission accomplished.

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Once we were checked in we hit the pool. Things were looking promising but then Averi happened. Im not sure what she did but she got poked in the eye and with being tired, things went downhill. We tried our darnedest to enjoy ourselves. Walking downtown we stopped for a couple beers. I may have ordered a Corona, SHAME, I know but it was hot out and sometimes you just need a cold Corona.

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Bend brewery looked like a good place to take a crying child because they had a big lawn by the river. You can bring your beers out there to sit and chat and let the kids run. It took her a while but she finally stopped crying long enough to play for a bit.

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I had a place all set for dinner, a Latin kitchen with the likes of Paella. I wish I could say we enjoyed ourselves but Averi was such a hot mess that we ate and got out of there as fast as we could. The food was good but it was hard to enjoy. Once we were done, we threw in the towel and went back to the room for the night.

Our friends from Portland were weekending just outside Bend. We picked a place to meet for breakfast. It was nice to catch up, we hadn’t seen each other in years. Once we said our goodbyes we headed south, we had hotel reservations in Dixon, Ca. The sights were beautiful for a stretch of the drive.

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The rest of the drive was as you would expect. Interstate 5 with not much to see all the way to San Diego. We left really early in the morning, before the sun and we were home by lunch.

Now I wonder, where can I get some good wine?

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Wine and more Wine

A few weeks ago we had a winemakers dinner in San Diego with the owner and co-winemaker of Sleight of Hands Cellars.

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We had a four course dinner each dish paired pretty darn well with one of their wines. Between each course, the winemaker Jerry would give a brief story on how he came from  the life of a lawyer to wine enthusiast.

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At the end of the meal we were chatting with Jerry about how we are wine club members and had a trip to Walla Walla approaching in the next few weeks. He invited us to come in to the winery for a barrel tasting with the other winemaker Trey.

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It was a pretty amazing experience and interesting to hear both of the winemakers stories on how their wines are made.

My aunt and uncle from SoCal were able to fly up and join us for a wine weekend, we hit our fair share of wineries. From Lowden to downtown to the airport to Dayton and the Washington/Oregon border.

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We had a very good meal at Saffron, a restaurant downtown that we should have gone to long ago.

Grilled octopus, patatas bravas and a grilled NY strip steak, cooked perfectly.

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It was a very full and enjoyable weekend. We tried a few new wineries, visited some of our old favorites, had a couple wine varieties for the first time and had a few we didn’t love. We are not going home empty handed.

Fourth of July

We spent Independence day in the heart of Walla Walla at Pioneer park. There was food, games and live music, almost seemed like a scene from a movie. Sitting in the shade with popcorn and ice cream we listened to the band and people watched and let me just say, that is one of my favorite things to do.

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I had sangria waiting for us in the fridge so when we got back to the house we poured a glass and patio pounded, taking dips in the pool to stay cool. Today has been the hottest one yet.

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An unexpected guest showed up. She was overheated, tired and frightened by the random fireworks going off.

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Once she had enough water and relaxed a bit I called the humane society, animal control and even the non emergency sheriffs station. They were NO help. She had no tags so I suggested we try to get her in the truck and take her to the humane society ourselves. She happily jumped in the back of the truck but once they were on the road she said “nope”, jumped out and took off running. Averi and I tried to find her but she was long gone. I hope someone found her before the big booms started.

 

 

We had smore’s and wine for dessert.

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And once the sun started to set, we gave the girls their first sparklers and for the first time in years, let off our own fireworks. It was an enjoyable holiday, a nice change from all the rules in San Diego.

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Food Trucks

Our first week here in Walla Walla isn’t lacking in things to do. We haven’t been here in the summer in 10 plus years, it’s a nice change from the cold winters. It’s far from cold, the days are hitting the hundred degree mark but in the shade it doesn’t feel that hot.

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We spent the day wandering Main street and tasted some wines we have never had and some we have.

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If you know the Avester, she is a water hungry fool, but she MUST have ice. So for her birthday she joined the Hydro Flask club and she couldn’t be more excited. Happy birthday girl.

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The first Monday of each month in the summer is food truck night. I am not one to be blown away by the food from trucks but some people sure are. Held at the incubators by the airport, I was impressed by the turnout. The incubators hold three wineries, a brewery and a distillery that weren’t lacking in customers that evening.

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We ate, drank and talked the night away .It doesn’t get dark until 9 pm up here so the girls are staying up way past their normal bedtime these days.

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Final Leg

The one day we were in no rush to get on the road was the one day the girls were up before 6:00, never fails. They through a wrench in our lunch plans since Full Sail brewery didn’t open for lunch until 11:00 and we were only an hour or so away…. After a light breakfast we packed up and made our way to Washington. Since time was on our side we made a few stops to take in some of the historical sights.

Multnomah Falls

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Bridge of the Gods and the Columbia river

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Maryhill Stonehenge

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This was an interesting find. It’s an almost exact full scale replica of the ancient structure that is in England, which we failed to see when we were across the pond. Just a few miles off of the highway lies this memorial that sits over the bluffs of the river.

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I won’t bore you with historical facts but in a nutshell On July 4, 1918 this structure of stone was dedicated with a plaque that reads:”To the memory of the soldiers and sailors of Klickitat County who gave their lives in defense of their country. This monument is erected in hope that others inspired by the example of their valor and their heroism may share in that love of liberty and burn with that fire of patriotism which death alone can quench.”

“Stonehenge Memorial was completed in 1929 and re-dedicated on Memorial Day of that year, when 14 local service men were honored by having their names placed on the pillars of the Memorial.”

We putzed around, took some pictures and then headed back down the hill.

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At the bottom lies a cozy little log cabin that doubled as a tasting room.

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Waving Tree winery had a sufficient library of wines which were actually quite good. I don’t know why I was surprised with how much we liked them, but I was.

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Once we finished our last sip we hopped back in the truck to finish our way to Walla Walla. However we had a few stops to make first. Zerba winery in Milton Freewater is a favorite that we don’t get to enough. We grabbed a couple of bottles and then we went to the one and only Iceberg for lunch. The girls were excited to see Grandma and Grandpa and I was especially happy to be done with the car for awhile.

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A Day in Oregon

The first plan for our day was to reach Lincoln city before lunch. Mo’s clam chowder has been on my mind for months. The weather proved perfect for a cup of hot soup.

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Our second plan was to find a hotel with a pool near Dundee and then taste some Oregon wines. Once we arrived and our room was booked we made our way to Archery Summit, a highly anticipated winery as well as a VERY pricey one.

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To taste Oregon’s finest Pinot’s they wanted $30 per person and $45 for their reserve tasting, um…..and it’s waived if you buy $150 worth, cough! The wines were really good, we are not huge pinot fans so there would be no way we would ever buy a bottle at that price. But if you are a Pinot Noir lover, I would say it’s a must try if you are ever in the Willamette valley.

Next we moved on to Hyland Estate. Their wines were pretty good with a little more of a  reasonable tasting fee of $15 per flight which is waived with a purchase of  a bottle.

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Next we went to Hawkins winery which was settled next to two other tasting rooms, making it convenient and a break from the car.  Hawkins wines were quite good and the couple pouring were very friendly and unpretentious. Then we walked to Cathedral Ridge and were shockingly turned away because the “their permit doesn’t allow it”. Now let me just say that Kaili has been to more wineries than most adults. She has been to tasting rooms from San Diego County all the up from Santa Ynez, Paso Robles to the Columbia Valley. Never once have we been turned down. They could have just told us they were not a kid friendly establishment instead of lying about a code. With a bad taste in our mouth we went across the way to Rizzo winery where we were graciously welcomed.

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The girls kept busy with You Tube while we went on with our tasting. We left with almost a case of wine and as we were walking back to the car I wanted to walk back into Cathedral Ridge saying “big mistake, big, HUGE!”

That was our last winery of the day so we headed north to our hotel for a swim. Averi has wanted nothing to do with pools or even hot tubs, so while she played with towels, we swam.

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For dinner we made the mistake of going to a chain, I know, I know. We went with McCormick and Schmick’s in a shopping mall. Having never been we thought it was a tad on the higher end but it was like a glorified Black Angus. Needless to say we will not be returning to that restaurant. We were back in the room with the lights out by 9:00.

Walla Walla or bust.

 

Out the Door

Kaili and I got home from swim lessons around 12:30 and then we were all out the door, final destination Walla Walla. Fearing our worst traffic would be in LA we were surprised when we cruised right through. We had great music and Averi even fell asleep.

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Then…..the inevitable happened. A big rig went off the highway on the way up the Grapevine and traffic was at a dead stop, putting us way behind schedule. Our plan was to stop for the night in Sausalito, just north of San Fran. We decided to stick with our plan and we tucked in for the rest of the evening grabbing a gourmet gas station dinner for the road.

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We made it into the city right as the sun was setting.

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Once we were all checked in, it was way past the girls bedtime. Kaili slept with me so needless to say with all her limbs  nudging me throughout the night, I didn’t sleep well.

After a tired and tasteless hotel breakfast we continued our way up the coast. It was my idea to take highway 1 all the way up since it has been years since we’ve done that drive. The last time was in the Fall, so I thought having the daylight later into the evening it would allow us more time to see sights. Turns out most of highway 1 has construction going on, lending to many detours and traffic stops.

The day started out well, we were making good time.

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We stopped for lunch in Fort Bragg, food wasn’t great and Averi was a hot mess. It was not very enjoyable. Turns out this area was used in the film Overboard. I have seen that movie a hundred times and would never have realized it, so there is my movie knowledge.

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If I would have known what lied ahead in terms of traffic, we would have skipped lunch all together.

Then there was a shimmer of hope. We ran into  Pacific Star winery nestled right on the Mendocino coast.

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It was a nice break from the car with amazing views.

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It wasn’t long after being back on the road that we started hitting all the road construction traffic and with that we realized we wouldn’t be hitting our destination at the time we were hoping to.

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We also had zero cel service 90% of the time. This made trying to get a hotel reservation on the road pretty difficult. We decided to  push on to Oregon and stay at a hotel on the coast that we had been to before. Luckily, they had a room available and we made it before the sun went down.

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After check in, we hopped across the street for dinner, made it back to the room and got the girls bathed and in bed by 9:00.

Tomorrow we plan on only being in the car half of the day, fingers are crossed.