Tag Archive | Walla Walla

Walla Walla 2017: Wine on the Way…

Day 4 – Monday, May 29, 2017

The last day of our trip we headed out of town, stopping at Sleight of Hand Cellars along the way.  I had known about Sleight of Hand, but never been, and Lelani had found them and decided that should be where we went.  Of course, she didn’t have to twist any of our arms…

Sleight of Hand has a Magician theme.  Their wines are delicious and have magician themed names!  The tasting room has is brightly decorated in a modern theme, and they have a ton of music posters (many are autographed) and magician posters on the walls.  They also have records – over 2,000 of them – they always have something playing on the record player!

I brought home their Magician’s Assistant Cabernet Franc Rosé and their Conjurer Red Blend.  That isn’t to say I didn’t love all their other wines, because I did, but they are a bit above my price point, starting at $45 for their varietal reds.  I did get a tank top though – which I love!  Lelani found a Prince Purple Rain themed tank top there too!

Me at Sleight of Hand – I’m not sunburned – it’s just the red umbrella above me

 

Lelani took this photo, not realizing I was photo bombing her!

 

After Sleight of Hand, it was time to get on the road and start working our way home.  We stopped in Yakima for Miner’s Burgers – Home of the Big Miner Burger – these burgers are huge!  Trust me, if you go, split the fries.  One order of fries is probably enough for four people if you plan on having a burger to yourself!  Especially if you have a milkshake, and trust me on this too, you should have a milkshake!  Miner’s has been a Yakima institution since 1948.  We left stuffed, and happy.

Waiting for our burgers!

Our next stops were the Fruit and Antique stand in Selah, just outside of Yakima, and the Thorp Fruit and Antique stand.  I love going there!  We all spend some time poking around and checking out the fruit, gourmet foodie items and antiques.

Brandon, me and Lelani waiting for Joel

Soon enough, it was time to hit the pass and get back over the mountains toward home.  The traffic was just as bad on the way back and this time I was awake for it!  It was, however, the end of a really great friends weekend…

 

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Walla Walla 2017: Retail Therapy

Walla Walla 2017: Relaxation

Day 2 – Saturday, May 27, 2017

Saturday morning Lelani and I were both up early (I mean remember I had basically slept the entire day before!), so we took a walk around the neighborhood and just enjoyed the quiet morning.

Historic Sharpstein Manor, Walla Walla

 

Historic Home, now apartments

We got back, had the hotel breakfast, relaxed some on the hotel patios, and then the whole gang wandered over to Bacon and Eggs for cocktails.  When on vacation you might as well go heavy on the relaxing!  We all enjoyed cocktails – I had a Grapefruit Mimosa – YUM!  Then we did a bit of shopping (Walla Walla has some really cool little shops), and found a shop called Trove that Paula loved, because their logo is a Fleur de Lis.  She loves Fleur de Lis, and Trove had some really cute stuff!  We also went to the farmer’s market, and checked out all the fresh produce and craft items. I got a pair of earrings and a pendant made from recycled glass bottles. They are gorgeous! Sadly, I broke one of the earrings (turns out glass earrings don’t fare too well when dropped on concrete), but I have been using the second earring as another pendant for now. Next time I am there I will be sure to get another pair of earrings – or several!

My Grapefruit Mimosa at Bacon and Eggs

We also went to the Museum of Unnatural History. It is a tiny little place, created and run by a guy named Gerry Matthews with a very strange and creative imagination. He spent his career working in the film and commercial industry.  Most notably, he was the voice of Sugar Bear, the mascot for Sugar Crisp cereal – now known as Golden Crisp.  I am sure everybody my age remembers the voice!  He then retired to Walla Walla and created this museum, a play on the many Museums of Natural History… Let me just say, Wow. There was just so much bizarre going on in such a small space…  The exhibits are – well, there are just no words.  He was there when we visited and he was happy to answer questions or dialogue about his creations…  Lelani and Joel LOVED it! Paula HATED it! Brandon and I were fairly neutral. Let’s just say I won’t be decorating my home in any of his motifs.  It just goes to show that we all have different tastes, and different creative minds.  If you want to visit, it is free (he accepts donations), worth a visit, and clearly a labor of love, but it is only open Saturdays from 10-2 or by appointment.  If you do go, I guarantee you won’t leave without an opinion! Keep in mind, I limited my photos here to the PG-13 stuff, but there is A LOT more to see.

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Saturday afternoon we went to the Morrison Lane tasting room. Morrison Lane is a family run winery, owned and operated by my friend Shawn and his family.  Shawn has been the winemaker for several years now, and the wines are delicious; I especially enjoyed the Rosé, the Syrah, and the Carmenere.  The bottles have artwork depicting the Lewis Chessmen, a group of 12th century chess pieces that were discovered at the Lewis Bay in Scotland in 1831. I love the tie in to history with the labels! Both Shawn and his parents are kind and personable, and love speaking with guests about their wine; we sat around for a while chatting and revisiting some of the wines.

Saturday evening we went over to Shawn’s house for his 50th birthday.  A backyard BBQ with amazing food; chicken skewers with peanut sauce, Thai noodle salad, pasta salad and lots of local beer and wine. We sat around talking and enjoying the hot Eastern Washington evening.  There was laughter – a lot of laughter – of the “what happens in Walla Walla stays in Walla Walla” variety!

 

Walla Walla 2017: An Inpromptu Pub Crawl

Day 1 – Friday, May 26, 2017

Memorial Day weekend 2017 was a blast! My friend Brandon asked a bunch of us if we wanted to head over to Walla Walla for a long weekend getaway, and who am I to say no to a trip to wine country!  We were planning to relax, hit some wineries and breweries, and go to our friend Shawn’s 50th birthday party!

There was just that little bit of a planning hurdle… An issue, because I couldn’t drive that Friday. You see, I had a colonoscopy first thing that morning. Yep, that’s right. Even though I am only in my early forties, my family history has cursed me – my mom and great grand-father both had colon cancer at age 50; my GGF died at age 50 too from his cancer. So I get to enjoy this joyful rite of passage every 5 years! More often if I have polyps! So much YAY! Sorry if this is so TMI…  Seriously though, get those colonoscopies – they suck, but it is better than dying an early, painful death.  Ok, that’s it for the public service announcements.  On to some troublemaking…

Luckily, my friend Lelani was game for a wine weekend too and we met up after I had finished my procedure, eaten some breakfast and taken a shower. She generously chauffeured my heavily drugged up butt (no pun intended) down to the rendezvous point with Brandon and Joel, where we piled into the back seat of Brandon’s SUV. I brought along my favorite pillow and snoozed most of the way over, including sleeping through the giant Memorial Day weekend traffic jam on the mountain pass! Drugged travel may just be my new favorite thing – I slept through almost all of it!

Stopping for gas – I look so conscious!

We stopped in Ellensburg and went to the Iron Horse Brewery for lunch, although I have no real recollection of my lunch or beer there. Blame that whole drugged up thing. And yes, the doctor told me no alcohol, so don’t tell him or my mom I cheated…  I do remember the food and the beer were delicious.  I remember we sat at a table by the window, so that’s something right?  We piled back in the car, and we set off driving the rest of the way to Walla Walla. By we, I mean Brandon was driving.  And I went back to sleep for a longer nap!

Our other friend Paula met us there and our party was almost complete! We met at the Burwood Brewing Company, a brewery that is in a collection of buildings right next door to the Walla Walla airport.  It is a very cute setup; the other buildings have wineries and breweries, so it is a perfect area to spend some time.  (Note: while writing this post, I looked up Burwood and it seems they moved locations.) We had a beer at Burwood (the first one had long since worn off and I was awake now!) and sat out in the sunshine soaking up the warmth. I’m sure my friends had to tell me things that they had already discussed on the drive over, that I had slept through. Oh well!

The Walla Walla Airport Winery/Brewery complex

 

The gang at Burwood – sun!

We were by now getting hungry, so we made our way over to the hotel and got checked in and refreshed. We stayed right downtown at the Red Lion, so it was off on foot to find some grub! We wandered a little bit around downtown and settled on the Mill Creek Brewpub. The food was ok, but it didn’t knock it out of the park for me. I had a sandwich of some sort and a glass of Sauvignon Blanc.  Clearly that whole day is a bit fuzzy…  The conversation was good though, and it was great to catch up with my friends!

After dinner, we did a bit more wandering around town, although to be honest, downtown Walla doesn’t really have much of a night life, which surprised me.  It is a college town after all, with a huge wine-making and and craft beer industry.  We stopped for a drink at Whitehouse Crawford, a restaurant which is located in an old factory building – the architecture was amazing.  I just had water there, so I can’t tell you how good the cocktails are, but they looked good!  Our friend Shawn met us there, and we spent some time catching up chatting.  It was great, since it has been years since I saw him!  When we headed back to our rooms for the night, I crashed and slept deeply!

The gang at Whitehouse Crawford

 

Farewell to Another Year – See you later 2013!

And just like that, another year has flown by and it is time for another annual recap.  The top 10 for another (mostly) great year in chronological order, rather than order of importance, are:

1. Jon and I took our first trip to Walla Walla wine country, after Jon ran his 3rd half marathon in Richland, WA.  He placed 3rd in his age division and 11th overall!  We had some great food, great wine, and visited the Whitman Mission National Historic Site.

2.  My dear sweet bitchy kitty Martini went home to the angels after losing her battle with lymphoma on March 1.  I’ll never know how old she was, but I will always remember the nine years I got to spend with her.  And unless you are Oliver, to know her was to love her…

3.  Jon and I took a fantastic road trip to California, down the coast through the Redwoods, the Anderson Valley wine country, San Francisco, Monterey and finally Sacramento.  We saw huge trees, big elk, lighthouses, one of the world’s most awesome paintings, and we ate great food, tasted great wine, and saw great views.  And I puked.  Several times.  Ten days and almost 2,500 miles later, we came home exhausted and thoroughly spent, but happy and with memories to last a lifetime.

4.  On April 20, this sucker for a cute baby brought home sweet Coraline, a six month old kitten who was brought to my vet’s office after being dumped on a farm.  She doesn’t have a mean bone in her body, but she does love her kibble.

5.  I got to indulge my inner nerd in June with a trip to Antiques Roadshow in Boise!  We didn’t make it on the show, but if you are interested in watching other people from the Northwest, the 3 hours are airing on January 6, January 13, and January 20 (who knows, maybe the back of my head will be on!).  Although we can’t fund our retirement by selling our treasures, we had a blast, and had a great time seeing the Old Idaho Penitentiary and the World Center for Birds of Prey.

6.  I completed my fourth (on September 1 in wine country!) and fifth (on October 5 at home for a great cause!) half marathons.  Next year, I will have several friends testing their resolve with me!

7.  Jon and I enjoyed a weekend trip to Olympic National Park, where we hiked in the Hoh Rain Forest and listened to the crashing waves of Rialto Beach.  Although Hurricane Ridge gave us the finger with a huge downpour, we’ll be back to see those views.

8.  I had a scare with my horse Biz, who had a scary bout with colic after his most recent dental x-rays.  At 26 years old, I am aware that my remaining time with him… well… you know…

9.  Jon and I welcomed our newest nephew on November 13 (that makes two nieces and two nephews now!).  He is sweet and perfect and cuddly.  His parents love him dearly (at least until he starts talking back).

10.  Jon finished his first full marathon on December 8, in Sacramento, California.  I got a trip to California out of the deal (no more trips to California Jon!), where I got to visit the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge, the Governor’s Mansion, and the John Muir National Historic Site.  Posts on the trip coming soon, I swear!

This annual recap reminds me of how truly blessed we are to live the life we do.  We are surrounded by awesome friends and family, loving animals, and we are lucky to have the freedom to enjoy our travels to wonderful places.  Although there are always the highs and lows, I am thankful that there are many more highs…  I hope you have all been blessed by 2013, and that all your dreams come true in 2014.  So bye, bye 2013 – you have been good to me!

Whitman Mission National Historic Site

The last day of our February Walla Walla trip was reserved for history!  The Whitman Mission National Historic Site that is – and a stamp in my National Parks Passport!  Being a life-long Washington resident, I learned about the Whitmans in school, and wrote a book report on Narcissa Whitman, but I haven’t read or studied anything about them as an adult.  So it was time to update my knowledge on this piece of history from my neck of the woods.

Marcus Whitman was born in western New York State in 1802, and decided early on that he wanted to become a minister.  However, his family was not supportive of his goal; it required seven years of schooling to become a minister.  So he became a doctor instead – that only took 16 weeks!  He never did forget his dream of becoming a minister and later did enter studies to become a minister, but was not able to finish due to an illness.  He eventually decided to become a missionary; it took him awhile to be accepted because of the same illness that ended his ministerial studies.

Narcissa Prentiss was born in Prattsburg, New York in 1808, about 25 miles from Marcus Whitman.  She also had dreams of missionary work, but could not become a missionary as an unmarried woman.  The record isn’t clear on how the two met, or whether it was a marriage of convenience for them to pursue their missionary careers, but they married on February 18, 1836.  They left for the Oregon Territory the next day – what a honeymoon!

The site is located just outside of Walla Walla, near the Walla Walla River, in what was Cayuse territory – the Cayuse call it Waiilatpu.  In 1836 Marcus and Narcissa Whitman and Henry and Eliza Spalding headed west with fur traders along what would become the Oregon Trail to set up two missions in Oregon Territory – Narcissa and Eliza were the first white women to travel overland across the United States.  The Spaldings set up their mission at Lapwai, near present-day Lewiston, Idaho, while Marcus and Narcissa continued to Waiilatpu.

Looking down at the Whitman Mission Site from the Hill

Looking down at the Whitman Mission Site from the Hill

They set up their mission and set about trying to educate and convert the Cayuse Indians to Christianity.  Although their intentions were generally good, the Whitmans saw the Indians as inferior and I have no doubt that greatly influenced their attempts to establish a good relationship.  Evidence exists that Dr. Whitman was a bit rigid in his opinions of how the Cayuse should be living – he was a bit of a ‘my way or the highway’ type of guy.  Dr. Whitman did make an attempt to learn the Cayuse language and administer to the sick or injured members of the tribe.  Narcissa set up a school and taught both Cayuse and children who were traveling through.  Narcissa had become pregnant on the trip to Waiilatpu, but unfortunately her daughter Alice Clarissa drowned in the Walla Walla River at the age of two.  Alice was the Whitmans only biological child, although they did adopt seven children whose parents died on the trail west.  Sadly, those kids would be orphaned again in a few years.

At first, things seemed to be going ok, but over time, many of the Cayuse began dying of diseases such as smallpox, to which they had no natural immunity.  Straining tensions further was the fact that more and more white people were rolling west in their wagons and setting up shop in the territory – often stopping at the Whitman Mission for days or weeks to rest for the last bit of their journey.  The Cayuse, understandably, were starting to get nervous about the larger numbers of people who were coming and claiming land.  In 1847, the Cayuse began dying in large numbers of a measles epidemic that was quickly spreading among their people.  Dr. Whitman tried to help the sick, but the Cayuse were largely unable to fight the disease.  They noticed that white people generally lived through the disease while the Indians died, and rumors began spreading that Dr. Whitman was intentionally killing the Cayuse in order to get their land and horses.  Apparently Dr. Whitman was aware of the significant decline in the relationship and was warned that his life could be in danger if he stayed, but decided not to leave.

On November 29, 1847, several Cayuse raided the mission and killed Marcus and Narcissa and 11 other men and boys.  Over 60 people, including several women and children, were held hostage for a month until representatives from the Hudson Bay Company could negotiate a ransom for their release.  There were 19 of these people who directly witnessed the raid and were able to provide significant details about what happened.  They provided a great deal of information that is useful to historians today.

At the mission there was a mission house, a grist mill, a blacksmith shop and fields where crops were grown.  All of these buildings are outlined for visitors with blocks, but the originals are long gone and the Park Service has not created replicas.  I like it better that way – I find I enjoy a site more if it hasn’t been altered.  You can also see a section of the Oregon Trail, and the wagon ruts are still clearly visible – no grass grows there.  It is pretty humbling to imagine walking most of the way across the United States, and to know you will never see family or friends again.

A Section of the Oregon Trail at the Whitman Mission Site

A Section of the Oregon Trail at the Whitman Mission Site

Marcus and Narcissa and the others killed that day are buried in a mass grave – you can visit the site up the hill a little ways from the mission site.  Later a memorial monument was placed at the stop of the hill – you can walk up to the top and get a good workout – so of course we did!  There is also a visitor’s center with a small museum and a theater with a twenty minute video about the Whitmans and the Mission.  The Visitor’s Center did a good job of simply telling the story as it is.  They didn’t try to treat the Whitmans as martyrs, and didn’t try to villainize them either; the exhibits and the film pointed out that the Whitman’s had shortcomings and certainly contributed to the decline of the relationship with the Cayuse that ultimately cost them their lives.

The Mass Grave Where the Whitmans and Eleven Other Victims of the Raid Are Buried

The Mass Grave Where the Whitmans and Eleven Other Victims of the Raid Are Buried

The Whitman Mission was well worth the visit – it is a very peaceful site today.  There were probably a half dozen other people there during our visit.  I enjoyed refreshing my memory on this couple who were integral in the history of the Oregon Trail.

Our Trip to Tero Estates

While wandering around downtown Walla Walla trying to decide where to visit next, we found Tero Estates on the first floor of the Marcus Whitman hotel.  Tero was one of the recommendations that we received from Va Piano, so we were confident that we would find some good wines there.

Tero Estates’ vineyard is Windrow Vineyard, which is Walla Walla’s oldest commercially planted vineyard; it was planted in 1981.  From 1983 to 2000 Windrow Vineyards grapes were used by Leonetti Cellars.  The vineyards was purchased by the current owners in 2007, and they have been making wine since.  They also sell grapes to Seven Hills Winery, Walla Walla Vintners, Waters and Glen Corrie.  In 2010, they hired Ashley Trout as consulting winemaker, who was making Flying Trout wines.  Flying Trout wines is Ashley Trout’s personal venture; she travels half the year to Mendoza, Argentina and makes wine there.  She specializes in Torrontés and Malbec under the Flying Trout label.

We began our tasting with the Flying Trout Torrontés.  I hadn’t heard of Torrontés before, and upon looking it up, discovered that is a white Argentine wine grape variety, producing fresh, aromatic wines with moderate acidity, smooth texture and mouthfeel as well as distinctive peach and apricot aromas on the nose (thanks Wikipedia!).  Sounds fantastic!

The Flying Trout 2011 Torrontés is a crisp white with flavors of honey and pineapple, and a hint of floral on the nose.  I really liked it.  Next we tasted the Windrow Field Blend, a Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Merlot; instead of being barrel aged, it was cask aged.  I was not a fan of this one though.

We quickly moved on to the Windrow Cabernet Franc, which was smoky and spicy with flavors of stewed plums.  It was a big, bold masculine wine.  The 2010 Flying Trout Malbec was its feminine counterpart – a lovely Malbec made with fruit from the Gamache Vineyard.  We finished off our tasting with the 2009 Tero Estates Petite Verdot, a solid wine with a big balanced flavor.

Our server was friendly and provided a lot of information about the wines – she made the tasting a very pleasurable experience.  And the icing on the cake – was really icing on the cake!  REALLY!  They had chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting!  They had been delivered by a friend of our server and they were delicious.

All in all a fabulous visit!