Jon and I have been itching for a getaway for months and we were finally able to do a mini getaway on the President’s Day long weekend. We left after work on Thursday, and stayed the night in Yakima at the Ledgestone Hotel, which is a hotel that we have stayed at before. The Ledgestone markets itself towards the extended stay traveler, but are more than happy to accommodate the overnight guest as well. It is modern and clean, with a kitchen with a stove top, refrigerator, and dishwasher. Plus, the best part is that they offer Tarocco products as their toiletries – the absolute best toiletries I have ever found in a hotel. They are made with Sicilian red orange, also known as blood orange, and they smell great and work even better. I had forgotten that the Ledgestone uses the Tarocco line, so that was pretty exciting! I know, I’m easy to please.
Jon at the Ledgestone Hotel
After reaching Yakima Thursday evening, we got a quick and easy meal across from the hotel at Bob’s Burger’s and Brew. Bob’s isn’t someplace we go when we are at home, but hey, it was easy. I had a turkey, ranch and swiss sandwich that was pretty decent, and Jon really liked the mandarin orange and feta salad. Then we pooped out and watched a bit of TV until we reached total exhaustion.
Friday morning, we slept in. I woke up for the first time at 6:20 am, and promptly went back to sleep until 8. I fought waking for 20 minutes or so, and then got up about 8:30 and ate breakfast. After puttering around for a little while, Jon went out for a run and I checked out the Ledgestone’s fitness room. I got to indulge a guilty pleasure for 45 minutes, watching Millionaire Matchmaker while I worked out on the treadmill.
We headed out from Yakima about 11 am, and headed south in a light rain towards Goldendale. I read about a Monastery on Highway 97 on the way to Goldendale, where a group of nuns operate a no frills Greek restaurant, bakery and gift shop in front of the St. John’s Monastery. St. John’s Monastery is a Greek Orthodox Monastery which houses 20 nuns and novices (apparently in the Greek Orthodox faith it isn’t called a convent). The monastery is supported entirely by donations and the sale of the food, handiwork and crafts that are sold from the restaurant and gift shop. When you look at their website (it does seem strange that monasteries have websites), you see how hardworking these nuns are – helping to build the monastery by hanging drywall, installing insulation and hanging windows!
St. John’s Bakery and Giftshop
We both ordered Gyros, and Jon had an Americano with his. The Gyros were heavenly, with a delicious buttery pita, and an excellent tsatziki. It might have been the best Gyro I have ever had, and for only $5.29! While we waited for our lunch, we looked around the giftshop. The nuns make a wide variety of items, from homemade soaps, lotions, cards, and sweets. They also carry commercially made religious icons, crosses, and some other gift items. I purchased some lotion, soap and a card for my Grandma.
We got back on the road and headed into Goldendale. First on our itinerary was Waving Tree Winery. We first visited Waving Tree in 2010 on a trip to Goldendale, and were impressed at the first taste. And this visit didn’t disappoint. It is rare for a winery that does a such a wide variety of wines to be able to do them all so well, but Waving Tree does. We spent over an hour there, tasting wine and chatting, and were pleasantly surprised to find out that Waving Tree will be opening a second tasting room in Kirkland in March. Although it is great to be able to go right to the source, Kirkland will be much more convenient. We will be able to visit more than once every two years!
Goldendale’s Stonehenge replica is just down the road from Waving Tree, so we stopped there for a few minutes and snapped some photos. It was completed in 1930 – funded by Sam Hill, whose mansion on the bluff is now the Maryhill Museum of Art. It is a memorial to those who died in World War I.
Goldendale’s Stonehenge Replica
After leaving Stonehenge, we stayed on the Washington side of the Gorge, and headed about 25 miles down Highway 14 to Lyle. The basalt cliffs on either side of the highway are beautiful – I just wish it hadn’t been pouring down rain so I could have gotten some photos. We had a purpose though; we were on our way to Syncline Wine Cellars. We had never been there before, but had tried one of their wines once when we picked it up at a wine shop in Seattle. Jon remembered that – I didn’t – although I thought it was a very good wine when he reminded me. So when he was trying to decide which new wineries we should visit, Syncline made it on the list.
Jon at Syncline
Syncline is no frills, with their tasting room in the front half of their barrel storage and production facility. Our server was friendly but not particularly talkative or outgoing. Our tasting was 6 wines, Roussanne, Viognier, Rose, Carignan/Grenache, Mourvedre, and a Counoise. The Roussanne was probably the best single varietal Roussanne I have had, but I think I’m just not a big fan of Roussanne. The Rose was a pleasing dry Rose – I bought a bottle and am looking forward to enjoying it on our deck once the weather turns warm. Of the three reds we tried, we liked them all, and it was tough to pick a winner. But, we both liked the Carignan/Grenache best, so we left with it. On the way out, I threw a tennis ball for the winery dog, an Australian Shepherd who had been waiting patiently for us to re-emerge after our tasting.
It was still raining when we left and headed across the Hood River toll bridge to Hood River. But I’ll save Hood River for the next post!