Archive | May 2014

Abacela 2012 Albariño

Tonight I opened up a bottle of the Abacela 2012 Albariño.  Before I got this bottle, I hadn’t heard of Abacela before, but when I saw that they had an Oregon Albariño, I just had to try it.

I looked up Abacela, and discovered that it was founded by a couple from Florida, who had come to love the Tempranillo grape that made up Rioja and Ribera Del Duero wines in Spain.  They learned that the United States grew very few Tempranillo grapes, and the ones there were typically ended up in cheap, California jug wines.  They set out to find the perfect climate in the U.S. for Tempranillo grapes, and ended up in the Umpqua Valley of Oregon, near Roseville.

Abacela 2012 Albariño

Abacela 2012 Albariño

But back to the Albariño.  While planting their vineyards with Tempranillo, they also set out to find other under-planted grape varietals that would do well in the region.  Albariño was one of those.  They have been making an Albariño since 2001, and the 2012 vintage does not disappoint.  Upon opening, this wine was crisp and citrusy, with flavors of green apple and lemongrass.  After the wine warmed up just a bit, a hint of creamy butter began showing through, softening and enhancing the apple flavors.  At either temperature, the wine has a tart kick at the back of the palate on the finish.

I really enjoyed this wine – it is one that I would certainly seek out again.  And after checking out the list of varietal wines on their webpage, I think we need to add Abacela to the list of wineries we need to visit.  What a pleasant surprise!

And in case you hadn’t already fallen in love, here’s an endearing bit of trivia.  According to the folks at Abacela, the winery is named as a derivation of the nearly obsolete Spanish, Galician and Portuguese verb abacelar, which means “to plant a grapevine.”

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SW National Parks Trip: The Beginning

When: April 22, 2014 – April 23, 2014 (morning)
Where: Seattle, WA to Long Beach, CA to Barstow, CA to Zion National Park, Springdale, UT

Our first day on vacation was largely one of travel and logistics. Jon had to work and we weren’t flying out of Seattle until 5:15 that afternoon, so I considered working a half day, but in the end, I decided I was burned out and didn’t want to work. I spent the morning clearing my camera memory cards because I decided not to bring the laptop.

We drove down to Seattle in the early afternoon and met Jon’s friend Tyler, who had graciously agreed to take us to the airport. Once there we bought an airport dinner of Wolfgang Puck’s deli sandwiches to take on the plane with us. I had the Turkey Club with avocado – it was decent but the avocado spread was a bit too spicy for me. Jon didn’t like his veggie sandwich at all. It had eggplant, which would have been good but he hated the pesto spread on it. He did eat some of my sandwich instead. I guess that leaves us still looking for the perfect SeaTac airport “to-go” food. If you have any suggestions, let me know.

On the plane, Alaska Airlines was serving complimentary local beer and wine, so we had a Pyramid India Pale Lager. It was very good, tasting more like a Pale Ale than your typical lager. After an uneventful, smooth flight, we landed in Long Beach, picked up our wonder car for the trip – a teal blue Nissan Versa – got some coffee and tea, and began the last leg of the day’s travel.  It was about 8:30 pm when we headed away from the airport.

Just an FYI – if you have the opportunity to fly into Long Beach (LGB), I would choose it over Los Angeles (LAX) in a heartbeat.  It is way smaller, with only about 10 gates in the main terminal, and has a beautiful outdoorsy layout.  To pick up your rental car, you just walk across the street to the car rental building.

Two hours of boring, freeway driving later, we found our palace for the night – the Super 8 in Barstow, California. No frills, but a clean, warm place to sleep and shower. And best of all, cheap. We would only be there for 8 hours – the luxury would come later in the trip. It was very cold and windy that night, but the skies were clear.

On the plus side – I fell asleep right away and slept really well… until 3:30 am… Jon got really restless then because he was still hungry from dinner the night before, because he didn’t really like his sandwich, and we didn’t get any snacks for the road on our way to Barstow. So, we were both tossing and turning until we finally got up at 5. Which is fortunate, because at 5:15 am, as I was in the shower, I heard a noise. It was the smoke detector chirping! Good thing we hadn’t wanted to sleep in!

We had a Super 8 breakfast of cereal, oatmeal and yogurt, and took some coffee and tea and apples for the road. We were back on the road at 5:50 am, to continue the long drive to Zion National Park. We drove through Las Vegas right about 8 am, and felt very thankful that we were driving in the opposite direction as the morning rush hour.

We stopped for gas and snacks in Primm, Nevada, and discovered that they carried scorpion suckers – lollipops with an actual scorpion inside. You could have apple or banana flavor. I’m sure you’ll be surprised that we didn’t buy them. They also carried gusanos (the same worm they put in the mezcal bottles) and crickets as treats. We didn’t buy those either.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen treats like that in Washington!

Don't you want to suck on this and reveal the delicious treat inside?  To be honest, I feel bad for the scorpion.

Don’t you want to suck on this and reveal the delicious treat inside? To be honest, I feel bad for the scorpion.

The route also took us through a small corner of Arizona, before we drove through the Virgin River Gorge, and this was when we first began to appreciate that we were getting into some beautiful country. The Gorge had some wonderful scenery and amazing rock formations. We were getting excited to see the Park!

Not bad for Car Photography – the Virgin River Gorge in Utah

Not bad for Car Photography – the Virgin River Gorge in Utah

We got there a little before noon – the drive was almost 5 hours from Barstow, and there was an hour time change as we moved to the Mountain Time Zone from the Pacific Standard Time Zone.  Plus, by the time we reached Zion that morning, we had already been in four states!

I’ll be posting about Zion next!

The Horse Tooth Fairy, Times 3

On Wednesday, Biz and I went for a ride up to the vet clinic to play out a story that is becoming a spring ritual – x-rays and having a tooth pulled.  We are becoming veterans at this.

In case you don’t know the story, Biz has EOTRH, short for Equine Odontoclastic Tooth Resorption and Hypercementosis, a degenerative disease where the teeth gradually break down on the inside.  I give a better description in my post from a few years back.

This year’s surgery was the easiest ever, as my vet found the perfect tool last year for separating the tooth from the gum and the periodontal ligament that holds it in.  We also learned from our experience last year that we shouldn’t close the front of the stanchion while Biz is sedated, so he doesn’t faint and fall down.

The tooth clearly needed to go, as there was a little pocket of infection in the gum below the tooth creating a fissure, and once we got his mouth propped open we could see that the back of the tooth had a black, decayed part.  Once the tooth was out, the vets packed off the hole with an antibiotic capsule, sterile gauze and plaster of Paris.  Apparently some vets are now recommending to just let the wound stay open, but this system has worked for us so far, so we decided to stick with it.

Biz got topped off with a tetanus shot while he was still sleepy, and then we hung out for awhile waiting for him to wake up.  Once he was awake and steady on his feet, he got to come home.  He was on a restricted diet Wednesday night and Thursday because he had an episode of colic last year after he was sedated for his x-rays.  Better safe than sorry.

Once we got home, Biz walked himself around the arena while I watched; him restlessly walking is a symptom of the sedation – on a normal day he would roll, run around maniacally for a few minutes and then stop and look at himself in the mirror (he’s vain…).  During his restless wanderings the other evening, he was probably silently cursing me for not giving him much dinner.  After 24 years together, I know the look.  But it couldn’t be helped.  I love this old boy too much to feed him.

Yesterday I started flushing the wound with salt water and a syringe – preventing infection is the key now.  I’ll be doing that until the wound closes, however long that takes.  He doesn’t mind – it’s our thing…

If only the tooth fairy would drop some cash by to help pay the vet bill.  I know I’m not the only one with a million dollar animal – what’s your story?

Lake Chelan Winery 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon

This weekend, some of my coworkers and I had a Girls’ Weekend in Chelan, a lakefront resort community.  We were a few hours away at a conference for a good part of the week, so we had decided to spend a bit more time in the sunshine of Eastern Washington before coming home.  On Saturday, we went wine tasting and ended up at Lake Chelan Winery.

Lake Chelan Winery 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon

Lake Chelan Winery 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon

Tonight Jon and I are enjoying the 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon that I purchased that day.  On the nose, this wine has robust aromas of stewed plums, tobacco and cloves.  You know that it will be a big wine.  On the palate, there is more of a ripe blackberry flavor with the tastes of tobacco and cloves.  The wine is big, but it has nicely balanced tannins to make it an approachable wine.

Jon was as impressed as I was when he tried it, and was happy with my purchase.

Have you tried any of Lake Chelan Winery’s wines?  What did you think of them?

Planning for the Southwest National Parks Trip

Last fall, we got the word that there would be a wedding in the family.  Jon’s cousin was getting married in Marina del Rey, just outside of Los Angeles.  Now, if you have been following this blog, you probably know that after several trips to California, I wasn’t very excited about going to California again.  So, as generally happens with our trips, a plan was hatched.

We originally looked at doing a multi-stop itinerary – flying into a city in the Southwest, renting a car one way, and then flying back out of Los Angeles. However, we had to modify that plan when we learned that the one way car rental was going to be almost $1200!  What?  We considered driving from Washington – but who has the time for that?  So, instead, we decided to fly in a couple of weeks early, rent a car and make a loop of the Southwest, then return to Los Angeles for the wedding at the end of the trip.  It didn’t take too long to figure out that we wanted to visit some of the amazing National Parks in the area.

So the planning began.  Jon told me that his must-do’s were Zion National Park, Chaco Culture National Historical Park, Mesa Verde National Park and Santa Fe.  So, that is four states for the trip already…  Of course, he decides all this without ever having looked at distances or driving directions.  So I set to work planning a loop that would head to all these places – already it is a pretty big loop!

Once I was finished planning the loop, we would be spending 12 days visiting Zion National Park, Canyonlands National Park, Arches National Park, Mesa Verde National Park, the Four Corners, Chaco Culture National Historical Park, Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Petrified Forest National Park and Grand Canyon National Park, before having us back in Marina del Rey for the wedding.  Six National Parks, 1 National Historical Park, and a couple of wonderful historic cities.  Wow!

Almost as memorable as the places we would be seeing were the ones we would have to skip.  I would have loved to visit the two other National Parks in Utah – Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef.  I would have loved to stay longer in Zion and Arches and done more of the hikes – or maybe rented bikes and tried ziplining.  I would have loved to see Hovenweep, Yucca House, Aztec Ruins, Bandelier, Fort Union, and Canyon de Chelly National Monuments.  I would have liked to be able to stay a few days in several places and take in more of the restaurants and the towns.  The list could go on and on…

These states are big country, and there is no way to do it all when you have less than two weeks.  But we were going to try to make a dent!  We could rest when we got home – priorities!

 

Back from our Adventure in the Southwest!

So, did you miss me?

Jon and I arrived home early this week from our action packed road trip through the Southwest!  We took two planes, set foot in 6 states, stayed in 9 hotels, and put just over 2,300 miles on the rental car.  We visited six National Parks – Zion, Canyonlands, Arches, Mesa Verde, Petrified Forest, and the Grand Canyon.  We visited one National Monument – Petroglyph, and one National Historical Park – Chaco Culture.

We saw lots of rocks – in all different shapes and sizes and textures, and hiked through all kinds of spectacular country.  We saw amazing stars and the heavens through a telescope.  We saw lots of wildlife, and lots of people, and enjoyed every second of it.  We visited several new cities, sampled lots of beer, a little wine and had some great food.  And we wrapped it all up with a family wedding – where we got to spend lots of time and celebrate new beginnings with family.

Stay tuned for my posts about the trip – I can’t wait to share it all with you!

I would have put a few more places on here, but Google Maps limits you to 10...

I would have put a few more places on here, but Google Maps limits you to 10…