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Westport Weekend: June 2019

June 21 – 23, 2019

Last year I went to the beach at Westport, Washington on the weekend of the summer solstice!  We wanted to ring in the beginning of summer in style!  Now mind you, the coast in Washington in the summer is not guaranteed to be warm, and may be downright freezing, so don’t be expecting any photos of shorts and people lounging in the sand.  We still had a great time!

Lelani and I left work early on Friday and drove down; we were camping and wanted to make sure that we had plenty of time to get set up and get dinner made.  Other friends were joining us too!  She headed down to my work to pick me up and we stopped off for lunch at Kona Kitchen, a great Hawaiian place near my work!  We soon found out that we might have been better off eating on the road…

As usual, traffic in Seattle on a Friday afternoon was terrible, but at least we were entertained by tracking our progress against “the head”…

We camped at one of the Loge Resorts (yes, my spelling is correct); if you haven’t been to one, they have been converting old motels into new hipster-chic facilities.  The one we stayed at had camping (both tent and small RV sites), hotel rooms, and a hostel dormitory.  There was a stage with music on weekends, fire pits, and communal BBQ’s.  It was a fun place to stay, and the tent site was covered; that came in handy because it rained!  Drawbacks were the fact that you were approximately 4 feet from your neighbor in the next tent site over.  My neighbor snored, so the earplugs I always carry when I travel came in handy.

Saturday we checked out the harbor, where we watched people crabbing and fishing, and listened to the seabirds overhead.  We went to the beach too, and enjoyed some time spent searching for sand dollars and walking the beach.  You don’t have to spend too much time searching for sand dollars there; you really just have to wander around picking them up, as the beach is covered with them!  If you go though, make sure to only collect the dead ones, which are already white or a faded tan color; the live ones are a purplish black color.

That afternoon we visited the Gray’s Harbor Lighthouse – you can climb to the top and see the view, and the third-order Fresnel lens.  The lighthouse was completed in March 1898, and stands 107 feet tall with 135 steps to get to the top.  It is worth it though – that view!  Originally, the Gray’s Harbor Lighthouse sat about 400 feet from the waterline, in the last 120 years, the beach has experienced significant accretion, so it is now about 4,000 feet from the water!  I always enjoy seeing lighthouses when I travel and I especially appreciate when I can climb to the top.

We also visited the Westport Winery; they have an extensive tasting list consisting of a few whites, lots of reds and several fruit wines.  They had a sparkling wine that I really liked, and I purchased a couple of bottles to take home.  That evening we made a delicious dinner of steak shish-ka-bobs and corn on the cob, and ate our dinner while watching a guitarist perform on the outdoor stage.  It was fun to see!

Then, before dark, we headed out to the beach to watch the sunset and have a campfire on the beach.  See all those clouds in the photo below?  That made for a pretty much non-existent sunset, but oh well!  It was still pretty, but it was soooo cold and windy that night!  I really had to bundle up!  Are you sure this is summer?

The next morning Lelani and I went for an early morning walk on the beach before we packed up our gear to head home.  We found a little restaurant downtown, where I had hashbrowns, eggs, and fried oysters; it was so delicious!  About noon, we got on the road for another long, trafficky drive home…  What a great weekend though!

 

COVID Diaries: Day 45

Yesterday I hit the Friday wall.  I was so exhausted that I went to bed about 6 pm, slept until 8:30 pm, and then slept from about 10:30 pm to 6:30 this morning.  I guess I really needed it!

Today we are supposed to have heavy rain and thunderstorms so I went for a decent walk first thing in the morning. The university campus was once again, sparsely populated…

 

When I got home the sun was peeking out, so I did some weeding and raking (with my new 8 inch wide shrub rake) in the garden beds until the rain got more serious.  I must say though that my yard and garden isn’t in as tip-top shape as so many others that I hear about, since I still work 40+ hours per week, but I feel like I’m making some progress!

I planted the yellow/green colored Golden Millet grass that I bought on my grocery run last weekend.  It will go nicely with the Emerald Gold Euonymus shrub that I planted years ago and is still struggling to get established…  Each year it is the little shrub that could – never gaining much of a foothold but refusing to die.  Maybe this is the year!

The rest of my day promises to be wildly exciting.  I finished a puzzle Thursday night so I might start a new one, read one or both of my current books, or do more writing here on the blog!

I hope you are all staying safe, and hopefully your weather is sunnier and warmer than mine!

 

President’s Day Weekend 2020

It’s late, and time for bed, but I just wanted to check in.  I got home a few hours ago from a wonderful, fun, relaxing, energizing weekend in the Willamette Valley of Oregon.  Jeff and I spent the weekend at Champoeg State Park in a little cabin; it was just what I needed.  Here’s to a short work week!

P.S. And a happy belated birthday to my favorite President, Abraham Lincoln.

 

Circus Trip 2018: Abraham Lincoln Birthplace NHP

Day 31, Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Hodgenville, Kentucky

I have for so long wanted to visit the site where our sixteenth President, Abraham Lincoln was born.  I have seen where he was a young man, where he was a lawyer, where he was President, and where he died…  It was so humbling to stand at the place where this great man began his life!

Sign Posing!

Lincoln was born here at Sinking Spring Farm (named for the water source) on February 12, 1809; he lived here for the first two years of his life.  His parents, Thomas and Nancy Hanks Lincoln made their living as farmers, and contrary to the usual story, Lincoln didn’t grow up particularly poor, by the standards of the day.  He did move around a lot though, as the family had to leave Sinking Spring Farm after a dispute about the ownership of the land.  They moved to nearby Knob Creek Farm in 1811, when Lincoln was two years old.

The Lincoln family Bible

The birthplace memorial here was completed in 1911, a few years after the 100th anniversary of Lincoln’s birth.  A huge marble and granite Memorial Building was built between 1909 and 1911, in Greek and Roman architectural styles.  It has 56 steps up to the building, to represent the 56 years that Lincoln was alive. Sixteen windows on the building and sixteen rosettes on the ceiling represent the fact that he was our nation’s 16th President.  Inside, a symbolic birth cabin gives visitors an idea of what the cabin where Lincoln was born might have looked like.

The symbolic birth cabin was moved to the site when the Memorial Building was constructed, and had to be made smaller to fit inside the building, and to more accurately represent what Lincoln’s first home probably looked like.  At the time the Memorial Building was constructed, many people actually believed that this was the cabin where Lincoln was born.  Later technology allowed them to do dendochronology (tree ring analysis) in 2004 to determine that the cabin was not built until the 1840s, so it could not have been Lincoln’s birthplace.

When I first arrived, it had been pouring down rain, so I hurried into the Visitor’s Center and then hurried over to the Memorial Building.  When I went back outside, the sun had come back out!  I went down the 56 steps of the Memorial Building to check out Sinking Spring, the water feature which gave the farm its name.  Sinking Spring is an underground spring, with an outlet to the surface set down into a hole; this was certainly the first water Abraham Lincoln ever drank!

Knob Creek Farm is also part of the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park; it is located ten miles away from Sinking Spring Farm.  Unfortunately, due to budget cuts, this portion of the park was not staffed, so I didn’t get to see inside this cabin.  It was also not original to Lincoln or his family, but belonged to the family of one of the Lincolns’ neighbors.  The young boy who lived in this cabin is thought to have once saved young Abe Lincoln’s life when he fell into Knob Creek.  The cabin was moved here when the historical park was created.  It was peaceful and quiet and interesting to see another place where Lincoln spent time as a child; he lived here from the ages of two to seven.  Another land ownership dispute caused the family’s move to Indiana.

There were several signs posted indicating that Copperhead snakes make their home in the area.  I didn’t see any, but also didn’t go tromping off through the field to the creek!

After leaving Lincoln behind for the day, I made my way to Lexington, Kentucky, where I would be stopping for the night.  I saw a highway sign advertising Wildside Winery and decided to check it out!  They had good wines, and a nice selection of both dry and sweet wines.  I enjoyed talking with my server – it was his first day working at the winery – but he had lived in Brookings, Oregon for eight years, so we had the Pacific Northwest in common!  I purchased four bottles; one was their Wild Duet.  Sadly, they are all long gone now – but they were delicious!

That evening I camped at Boonesboro State Park in Lexington; the first of two nights I would spend there!

 

Arizona Getaway 2019: Endings

Day 3 & 4, Saturday & Sunday, March 16 & 17, 2019

After Mom and I left Chiracahua National Monument, we still had some hours in the day left, so why waste them in a hotel room?  I wanted to try some local wines, so we found the Arizona Wine Collective in Tucson.  It is a wine bar that features and serves an assortment of Arizona wines.

Arizona Wine Collective

I chose to taste through a flight of five and told my server what I typically like; crisp, dry whites and lighter, less oakey reds.  She explained what she would recommend based on my palate and I went with her recommendations.  I enjoyed four of the five wines she selected for me, so I feel like she did pretty well!  Sadly, I didn’t end up recording the wines I had, so I’ll just have to go back again!  I do wish they had bottles to take with you, but unfortunately, they did not.  I see an Arizona wine tour in my future.  It has been a while…

Arizona Wine Collective

The Arizona Wine Collective doesn’t serve food, but there are a couple of restaurants in the complex where they are located and you can get takeout delivered without charge.  Mom and I split a delicious order of nachos from the restaurant next door and it was more than enough for dinner for two.

The next morning it was time to head home…  We drove over to the Tucson airport and deposited our hamster car (Kia Soul) back at the rental place.  Then we sat outside for a while soaking up the Arizona sunshine before it was time to make our way through security.  I can never get enough of feeling the warm sun on my face!  Especially since as I am writing this I’m looking outside at an inch of snow, a temperature of 19 degrees and a windchill of 6, with a high temperature today of 26 degrees.  I need some warm sun!

Sculpture at the Tucson Airport

 

A Pegasus!

 

Until my next escape!

 

Braganini Reserve Blanc de Blanc Sparkling Wine

My cousin and I visited St. Julian Winery last year when I was visiting Michigan.  I had tasted a few wines of theirs before, but had never visited their tasting room.  That changed last September!  I loved one of their sparkling wines, and opened it a few days ago to celebrate – Saturday?

The Braganini Reserve Blanc de Blanc Sparkling Wine is non-vintage, and I found it impossible to decipher the Braganini on the label.  That was my only gripe though.  St. Julian’s tasting notes describe it as, “light golden, butter cream yellow in color. Lively, lemony acidity gives the spicy citrus and Bartlett pear flavors excellent structure and complexity. Crisp in texture, with shades of toast weaving through the lemon zest and honey suckle flavors with a refreshing Honeycrisp apple finish.”

I wish I had more of this wine!  It was delicious!

 

2019 Morgan Cotes du Crow’s

This wine was one of my August wine club selections from the wine shop in town.

Morgan Winery was founded in 1982 in Monterey County; their tasting room is in Carmel, California.  This wine is sourced from their vineyards in the Arroyo Seco and San Lucas appellations of Monterey County.

This Rhone-style blend has a dark ruby red color, and a heavy consistency that sticks to the edges of the glass.  The flavors are raspberry and cherry, along with a light woody tannin.  I opened it on Tuesday, and enjoyed a glass, then got pulled away by life for the next two nights.  It was still delicious on Friday!

This wine was aged in French oak barrels, with 15% new oak that added a hint of spice to the flavor of the wine.  It is not your standard GSM blend, as it contains Tempranillo instead of Mourvedre, but it works for this wine!  The blend: 52% Syrah, 44% Grenache, 4% Tempranillo.

If you have a chance, check this wine out!  You won’t be disappointed.

 

Mount Rainier Snowshoeing 2019

In February, Paula and I did a repeat of our snowshoe weekend.  We spent two nights at Mount Rainier over the President’s Day holiday.  It was glorious!

Last year, the road up to Paradise was closed the entire time we were there, due to avalanche danger and rain.  This year, we were able to drive up to Paradise and snowshoe up there!  We got up early and headed up early, driving up just after the road opened.  We were the first ones out on most of the snowshoe trail, and had the opportunity to snowshoe through fresh, unbroken snow!

That morning, we hiked out under a partly cloudy sky, with a spectacular view of Mount Rainier!  It was so beautiful!  We took lots of photos and selfies, because when you grow up around mountains, you know that the mountain isn’t always out, and you take advantage of the view when you can get it.  I love seeing this view!

We snowshoed out a bit further in the fresh snow, and on our way back noticed that Mount Rainier was now obscured by the clouds.  We were lucky to have gotten out there when we did – there is a benefit to being the early bird!

That afternoon, we snowshoed around the Trail of the Shadows, an easy 1 mile flat loop trail. I love it because it takes you by an old turn of the century cabin, originally built by the Longmire family, as well as remnants of the old mineral baths – they were advertised as having healing properties, if you could stand to soak in the sulfur smelling waters.

We renewed our ritual of sitting on the porch to drink spiked hot chocolate and wine, and also had a good time working on a new puzzle in the game room and making new friends.  We had grass-fed burgers and blackberry cobbler.  Both were to die for!

We were sitting on the porch just after they closed the gate to Paradise at 6 pm, and Paula spotted a critter making his way near the road.  We watched him trot across the road and realized it was a fox!  It was too dark and we were too far away for photos, but he was so adorably cute from afar!  This may be the first time I’ve ever seen a fox in the wild too!  Our room this year overlooked the road in the front of the hotel – it is so pretty there!

I certainly hope that we continue this tradition, either just the two of us or with other friends as well!  It was so much fun!

Chenin, by Field Recordings

A few months ago I joined a wine club at our local wine shop.  I love the wines that the owner chooses for his shop, and for years I have asked him to pick wines for me.  I tell him my preferences and my price range, and let him pick some for me – he always knocks it out of the park.

During my divorce, I closed down my non-essential spending in order to replenish the savings that my ex had wasted.  Then once I had savings built up, I went on my big trip and needed to live off of those savings for a bit.  But now, with a paycheck coming in again, I have a bit extra to splurge, so I joined the wine club.  It gives me an opportunity to try some new things.  Each month I get one white and one red, and I opened last month’s white on Monday night.

The wine is called Chenin, and it is a Chenin Blanc from Field Recordings, a winery from Paso Robles, California, that I have been hearing about for years.

This wine is delicious!  It is 100% Chenin Blanc, sourced from the Central Coast of California.  It is a combination of green apple and floral flavors, with a light minerality.  I paired mine with such gastronomic weekday delights as tuna sandwich, cream of mushroom soup, and BBQ pulled pork and rice, which basically means that it tastes good with anything!  The winery recommends pairing it with shellfish, salads or turkey subs, which basically means that I probably love these unpretentious people.

You see that I drank it out of my Dia de los Muertos candy skull stemless wine glass – I got it at the Dollar Store!  Wine is meant to be accessible, and who has the time or money to eat scallops and steak every night, or pull out the fancy wine glasses?

Try this wine – you won’t be disappointed!

Circus Trip 2018: Amana Colonies

Day 19, Friday, August 3, 2018

After my second respite in just a few days, I was fully recharged and ready to resume the trip.  My destination for the day was the Amana Colonies.  Yes, that Amana, as in Amana appliances.

The Amana Colonies are the home of a group of German Pietists who fled persecution in their native Germany to settle near Buffalo, NY.  Eventually they moved to Iowa in 1856.  They brought their craftsmanship with them from Europe, and for over 80 years, they maintained an almost completely self-sufficient economy, with a division of labor among the community members.

Me in a German style hat

The society tried to maintain everything as equally as possible within the society by not using money, and not using products that came from outside the community.  Men and women were considered equal, but interestingly, marriage and child-bearing were discouraged, which obviously had an impact on future generations of colony members.

There are seven towns in the community – the total population of the seven is around 2,000 as of the 2010 census.  The colony founded the Amana Corporation, which manufactures refrigerators and other appliances to sell outside the community; it was this business that generated the money that the community needed to purchase land outside of the colony to support the members, as well as to buy supplies that could not be made by colony members.  (Amana is no longer owned by the colony).

An Amana home

All land was owned by the colony.  All jobs were assigned by the colony, and members ate communally in several communal kitchens.  Everybody who could work was given a job according to their abilities, but in general work was divided into traditional male and female roles, with men working in the factory and in the fields, and women working in the communal kitchens and gardens.

The Ackerman House – built 1856

I took the van tour of the Amana colonies.  It was fascinating; our tour guide was a former member of the colony so he had a lot of information on the inner workings of the colony and what it was like to grow up there.  He left the colony as a young adult, and later returned there to live, but he did not rejoin the religion.

Our guide outside the museum

On our tour, we went to several sites within the community.  We saw one of the general stores, a communal kitchen and a church.  At the church, a woman who was a member of the colony explained the way that they worship, with men and women separated during the service.  We also got to watch a video of the history of the community, with lots of historic photos of the community.  It was so interesting to see the cemetery too.  The premise is that all people are equal in the community, so the graves are simply laid in rows, with all the headstones the same, and simply arranged in the order in which people died.  It is certainly a departure from the concept of family plots.

 

 

The Amana colonies functioned well for over 80 years as an almost completely communal economy, importing almost nothing from outside of the colonies.  However, over time, weaknesses began to reveal themselves.  Colony members became unhappy that outsiders had technological advances, and began to make money on the side to support these purchases.  Other colony members then became jealous about what the Jones’ down the street had.  It is a familiar story whether or not you live in a community with a self-sufficient local economy, and sadly it eventually meant the end of the economic structure of the Amana colonies.  Members began to demand a vote of the society, to determine whether the group wanted to continue with their separate, communal society, or abandon it and join the capitalist economy of the people who lived outside.  I think you know how the vote went.

Today people continue to practice their form of worship, but the communal society they built here is gone.

My mom had recommended my visit there; I was interested but I doubt I would have sought it out had she not mentioned it.  It was really interesting though and I was glad I did.

One last note on Amana.  They have a couple of wineries!  I stopped by Ackerman Winery, a family owned winery that has been in operation since 1956, and did a tasting of their mostly fruit wines.  They are sweet, but I found a few that I enjoyed, and purchased the Rhubarb wine.  And I learned that I do not like dandelion wine – who knew?  Now I do.

Ackerman Winery