Archive | October 2017

Grapefruit Mimosa!

I have been on a little bit of a grapefruit mimosa kick…

I was at Trader Joe’s a few weeks ago, and picked up this bottle.  Not knowing what to expect, I put it in the cart…  I think it was $5.99.  I opened it early last week, and wow…  Grapefruit mimosa in a bottle!  It was a little sweet, a little tart, with that slightly bitter grapefruit kick.  Delicious!  I would absolutely get it again, for morning mimosas – easy peasy!

Pompelini Grapefruit Secco

This weekend friends were visiting from down south, so brunches!  This morning I had an amazing Grapefruit Mimosa at brunch…  Our server apologized for having run out of flutes, but I was perfectly happy to see the pint glass full of tasty mimosa goodness.

Grapefruit Mimosa deliciousness

 

What a great weekend!

 

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Astoria 2016 – The Last Days

I still had a day and a half left to explore Astoria, and I was determined to make the most of it!   I had already had a great time during my first day and a half – but I had a lot more to do!

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Saturday morning I went to the Columbia River Maritime Museum.  What a fantastic place!  The museum covers all aspects of the Columbia River, from the Native American history in the area, to the winter that Lewis and Clark were here, to the various ships that explored off the coast.  The museum also explores the fishing and cannery industry that existed from the late 1800s until recent times.  In 1945, there were 30 canneries operating in Astoria; the last one closed in 1980.  The museum has a wall full of cannery labels; they have a beauty similar to the apple box labels from the same era.  The graphic design on some of the labels is amazing!

Salmon Can labels

 

A historic diving suit at the Maritime Museum

 

A boat at the Maritime Museum

 

The museum also has a lot of information on the Columbia River Bar Pilots and the process of guiding these ships successfully into the waters of the Columbia River.  The volume of the Columbia River and the way that the North Pacific storms come in make this stretch of water one of the most dangerous in the world.  The waves here can exceed 40 feet in height during winter storms, and can easily crash the largest of ships on the sandbars at the mouth of the river.  Ships entering these waters have to be boarded and piloted by a Bar Pilot who is licensed by the State of Oregon.  These pilots complete a dangerous transfer to the ship they are boarding, done either with a pilot boat or a helicopter.  They pilot over 3,600 ships each year into the waters of the river and back out again.  And surprisingly, the Columbia River Bar Pilots have been doing this since 1846.  It was a fascinating exhibit.

 

The Peacock, a retired Pilot Boat

Interestingly, the museum also has a collection of yosegaki hinomaru (the museum used this word order, but there are also references with the name hinomaru yosegaki), which are the good luck flags which were given to Japanese soldiers by friends and family covered in messages and well wishes.  They have a longer tradition, but were most notably given during World War II.  Many American service members took these flags from fallen Japanese soldiers as mementos and over time, they have ended up in museums such as the Maritime Museum.  Here, however, they have been working on a project to find the families of the men these flags were taken from, and send them home to Japan.

 

Yosegaki Hinomaru waiting to be reunited with their families

I ended my visit with a tour of the Lightship Columbia, which is anchored at the dock outside of the museum.  The Columbia served as a floating lighthouse, serving as a beacon to ships between 1951 and its decommissioning in 1979.  It is now designated as a National Historic Landmark.  The work of the lightship was then done by a more modern navigational beacon, which is also now retired.  It is a self guided tour, but there is a docent who can answer questions on the ship.  Exhibits explained that the crew of the ship served between two and four weeks at a time, and had to have everything needed to live for several weeks on board the ship, because winter storms often prevented the delivery of supplies.  10 crew members were aboard the ship at all times, with a total crew of 18.

The museum was certainly worth a visit, and worth the price of the $14 admission (which includes the tour of the lightship).  You can add a 3D film for another $5; the movies change.

After the museum, I had a late lunch at Clementes, along the riverwalk near the museum.  I loved my Salmon Fish and Chips, paired with a Strawberry Blonde from the Wet Dog Cafe and Brewery.  It was a great spot to just relax for a little while before continuing to enjoy the afternoon.

Late that afternoon I drove up to the Astoria Column.  I had been there once before, on a previous tour through Astoria, but it was worth a return visit.  The tower was completed in 1926, and is 125 feet tall.  It has a hand-painted spiral frieze winding up the column; it would stretch more than 500 feet if it could be unwound.  The frieze depicts three historic events: the discovery of the Columbia River by Captain Robert Gray; the end of the Lewis and Clark Expedition; and the arrival of the ship Tonquin.  The artwork is done in Sgraffito (skra-fe-to) style, which consists of a dark basecoat of plaster with white plaster laid over it, into which the figures are scratched or etched.  It really is very detailed.

Climbing to the top of the tower is a huge treat.  There are 164 steps on the spiral staircase, and then you can go outside at the top to see a 360 view of Astoria and the ocean and the river.  Just be aware it can be breezy up there – it is 600 feet above sea level.  It’s amazing!  You can buy balsa wood gliders at the gift shop on the ground for kids to launch from the top of the tower.  I saw several doing this, and it looked like fun!  I stayed for a beautiful orange sunset.  The kind that makes you appreciate life and the blessings you have.

Sunset from the Astoria Column

I finished off my evening with a trip to Buoy Beer Company, a brewery located right on the water in a 90 year old cannery building.  They focus on European style beer, and great food.  I went with the tempura/beer battered cheese curds – wow, delicious and sinful.  And no visit is complete without checking out the window in the floor, where you can see the sea lions who hang out underneath the building!  I loved it!

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Sunday I had to make the long drive home, but I was proud of myself that I made the most of my solo trip.  The weather was clear on my last morning, so I went for a long walk down the riverwalk once more, and got to see the trolley that delivers tourists to several stops along its route.  Apparently I enjoyed watching the trolley so much I forgot to take a photo…  It is such a cute feature of this small town!  I walked a couple miles down to a viewing platform, and then headed back to the hotel.  It was a beautiful morning for November, and it made me happy.

The rain held off until I got back to the hotel and my car.  Although there had been rain a few times during the long weekend, it never rained much while I was outside wandering!  Success!

What a great weekend…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Astoria 2016 – The First Days…

I needed a trip to get back on the solo travel horse.  It had been while since I had traveled by myself, but my new reality is that I won’t always have someone to travel with, and if I want to keep traveling, I knew I had better get used to doing it by myself again.

I booked a long weekend trip to Astoria, Oregon in November, 2016.  Close enough to drive to, in case I decided I really wanted to come home early.  Far enough away that it wouldn’t be too easy to come home early…

Thursday, November 10, 2016

I headed out mid-morning on Thursday, for the long drive.  Traffic wasn’t too bad and I made it to Astoria about 3 pm, enough time to do just a little touristing before the light faded for the day.  I headed out to Fort Stevens State Park, to walk on the beach and see the Peter Iredale.  I have blogged about the Peter Iredale before, but this trip I had more time to walk along the beach and enjoy the ocean.  The tension of the long car ride melted away as I walked along the beach.  It was too cloudy to catch a beautiful sunset, but it wasn’t raining, and it was warm!  Certainly more than one can typically hope for on a November Northwest day.

I checked into my hotel and discovered it was just a short walk away from the pier where the sea lions like to hang out!  It was dark when I got there that first evening, but I could definitely hear them!  I know some people think they are loud and a nuisance, but I was excited about the idea of waking up to their barks in the morning!

Dinner was at the Rogue Brewery in Astoria.  I walked there from the hotel and parked myself at the bar.  I had the Sriracha Tacos and the Fruit Salad Cider, which is made with Rogue Farms Cherries, Rogue Farms Plums, Apples, Pears, Marionberries, Peaches & Apricots; Pacman Yeast – they pack a lot in there!  I also had a schooner sized Chocolate Stout.  I chatted with some Canadians who were making their way back up north, and got hit on by a drunken guy almost 20 years my junior.  Thankfully, the bartender seemed ready to intervene on that one if needed…

A good night all in all, capped off by hearing the sea lions barking some more on my way back to the hotel.  I left the window open so I could hear them as I drifted off to sleep…

Friday, November 11, 2016

Friday I slept in; it was a holiday after all!  After a leisurely morning, I headed out into a beautiful late fall day.  Of course, I made a beeline for the sea lions, to check them out in the daylight!  There were so many of them – I spent awhile watching them and taking pictures.

Then I headed downtown, and poked around in the shops and antique stores.  I had no agenda and nowhere to be and it was glorious!

My late lunch was at T Paul’s Urban Cafe.  I had the Hood River salad – grilled chicken breast served over spring greens w/ fresh Anjou pear, fuji apples, candied walnuts, tomato, bleu cheese crumbles & bleu cheese dressing.  Yum!  I had a beer too – just because!  Why not when you are on vacation!

After lunch, I did some more wandering and ended up finding a little thrift shop that had 2 Howard Pierce geese for my collection for $15.  Score!

I wrapped up my afternoon wandering at the Fort George Brewery.  I have been there once before and the beer is awesome!  I ended up having the Seafood Chowder and 2 Willapa Bay oyster shooters, along with an IPA and a Pekko Pale Ale.  Everything I had was delicious!

The rows of windows at the Fort George Brewery!

 

I also checked out the Albatross & Co., a cocktail bar around the corner.  The drinks were fabulous, and the atmosphere was very eclectic and cool.  I sat on a couch near an electric fireplace – you know the kind with those fake flames.  A great place to end the evening, before heading back to the hotel.

It was a great two days, and I still had two left!

 

Powers 2016 Rosé of Malbec

I purchased this wine when I stopped at the Thorpe Fruit Stand on my way home from Yakima this last May.  I had a business meeting combined with a conference, so I was on the road a week, and my visit to Thorpe was a nice treat on the long drive home.  I decided to get the Powers 2016 Rosé of Malbec without knowing anything about it – at $14 it was worth the risk on what could be a great wine!

It is made from 100% Malbec from the Alice Vineyard, Wahluke Slope.  The skins were pressed off the juice after 6 hours of cold soak contact in the traditional method of making Rosé, and it was aged in stainless steel for four months.   It packs a kick at 13% ABV and was released on February 1, 2016.

The tasting notes for the wine say, “a sensory garden of layered aromas of fresh rose petals and strawberry, rhubarb, and hints of jasmine and lemon rind on the nose, this Rosé explodes on the palate with springtime flavors. Fresh balanced essence of watermelon and strawberry, lime zest and rhubarb, this wine is very lively with a great balance of acidity on the finish.”

I opened it last night and paired it with salmon rubbed with a Meyer lemon balsamic vinegar rub, asparagus and sweet potato fries.

Powers 2016 Rosé of Malbec, Wahluke Slop

I definitely picked up the floral nose, along with quite a bit of watermelon on the palate.  It is a delicious wine that will I enjoy even though the weather is turning crisp and cold.

Mount Si Hike

July 21, 2017

With my summer Fridays off of work, I was able to do some hikes with my girlfriend Katie, because she has Fridays off too!  We went south one day and did the Mount Si hike in the Snoqualmie Region, just outside of the town of Snoqualmie.

Mount Si, for the Snoqualmie people, was the body of the moon, fallen to the earth through the trickery of the fox and the blue jay.   It is a spiritual place, with a craggy mountain rising out of the foothills.  For those of you who watch the television show Twin Peaks, Mount Si features prominently in the show, which was filmed in and around the town of Snoqualmie.  The mountain is named for a settler named Josiah Merritt, who had a cabin at the base of the mountain in the late 1800s.

Katie and I headed down early that morning, and took the scenic route down to the mountain – off on the back roads to avoid rush hour freeway traffic.

We arrived just after 8 – we got out our packs and got ready to go.

Mount Si is a tough hike.  It is a steep hike – 8 miles round trip with over 3,100 feet of elevation gain.  Mount Si is considered a training hike for Mount Rainier; if you can summit Mount Si in less than two hours then you are considered to be ready to summit Rainier.  We headed up the mountain, which is basically 4 miles of switchbacks up the mountain.  There are parts that are steeper and parts where the switchbacks are more gentle, but it is all switchbacks, all the time on this route…

 

We took breaks when we needed and encountered several groups of millennials hiking with their phones streaming music into the air.  I don’t think I will ever understand why they want to hike with music blasting out like this.  I prefer to listen to the sound of nature when I am out hiking.

Early on, Katie and I came upon a leucistic slug – it was white!  That was far more fascinating than it might have been had we not needed at rest break! But honestly, I think it might have been the high point of Katie’s day.  She was pretty excited about that slug…

At the top of the mountain, Mount Si is a collection of boulders and rock faces – lots of climbers like to climb to the actual summit here.  We weren’t going to do that, because it is a technical climb, but enjoyed seeing it still up above us.  We did scramble around and among boulders to go see close up where the technical climb begins.

 

A Gray Jay on Mount Si

 

 

Katie and Me!

Mount Si also has a fun draw.  Now, I know I will get in trouble with some of you for this, and I hope you will be able to forgive me…  I never do this.  Katie and I fed the birds…  (hangs head in shame, but only a little…) The Gray Jays there would swoop down to grab a peanut or dried cranberry from the palm of your hand!  Surprisingly, they are very gentle.  I have to admit it was pretty fun.  And the photos I got were absolutely priceless.

Yes, these are unedited…

 

We hung out at the top and ate our lunch of nuts, granola bars and fruit, and checked out the views of Mount Rainier and the Cascade Range.  It was stunning!  Certainly worth the pain of the uphill hike!

For obvious reasons, the hike back down was faster and easier, and when we got to the bottom we were more than ready for a trip to Snoqualmie Brewery for a late lunch and a pint.  I had the Muffaletta sandwich (which while not very traditional was delicious!) and the Copperhead American Pale Ale, and got myself a pint glass to take home.

On the way home, Katie and I did a quick stop at Snoqualmie Falls.  We checked out the falls, which at 268 feet tall is the 6th highest waterfall in Washington State.  It has two powerhouses generating power for Puget Sound Energy; one is actually buried underground!  Snoqualmie Falls and the Salish Lodge that is located at the top of the falls, were both also featured in Twin Peaks, giving Katie a Twin Peaks trifecta for the day.

It was a great day!