Friday, September 23, 2011

Road Trip, Part “I’m Over It”: Hood River, OR to Home

Like Sarah OUAL, I’m tired of writing about this long-ass trip. Fun, as it was. So. This will be long on pictures and short on words. I’ll have to exercise my ability to be descriptive with brevity.

Hood River, OR

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We drank beer and had dinner at Full Sail Brewery overlooking the Columbia River. A+ for creative writing on that sentence right there. A 8 year old could write that (though it would be disturbing if they actually did write those exact words. Ok. Brevity.)

The next day I ran about 4 miles including climbing the famous set of stairs that connect downtown Hood River with the Heights (5 sets, tiring). And we did laundry at a laundromat which made me pine for an industrial strength washer/dryer to do a load in less than 60 minutes.

Multnomah Falls, OR

On the drive to Portland, we stopped at this free landmark and, as expected, it was awesome.

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I can’t help squeezing my ass into a small space. When I was a little kid (4 yrs old) I would hang out in cardboard boxes like they were forts.

Portland, OR

Sadly, we have no good pictures here. Probably because we were too busy drinking beer at Rogue Ale, Deschutes, and Burnside Brewing.

I was stupid enough to pay for a train pass when it was free for the downtown area. Nine bucks flushed down the toilet.

Crater Lake, OR

7000 feet in elevation and nearly zero cell phone service. Definitely remote.

Crater Lake

We camped here for three days wherein two of them I was stressing about bears storming my tent.

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(note the bear lock box on the right to store all your food)

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The trail up to the top of Mt Scott, highest peak in the park (8900+ feet):

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There was quite a bit of snow still left on the mountain. Pretty awesome.

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The view from the top of Mt Scott:

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Working on my Captain pose. Blame it on the elevation making me delirious.

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Phantom Ship (oldest rock in the park that is visible/exposed):

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The lodge, built in like 1914 or something. We relaxed here for an hour or so during our last hike in the park, with a beer on their deck overlooking the lake.

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On the way out of Oregon we stopped at Fred Meyer to load up on food, and holy crap, what is that place?! It’s like Walmart on crack. It’s like Walmart if they fixed all the things you hate about Walmart. That place is dangerous. I would be broke if we had Fred Meyer around here.

Redwood National & State Parks, CA:

Two days of camping here and the weather was just perfect. 65 degrees, not super dry, never got super cold. Seriously, I could retire here. Bummer was that again, it’s bear country so more bear-attacking-me-in-my-sleep stress.

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I loved hiking here. The trees are indescribable.

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The trees are so awesome that you feel that if someone was going to cut them down you would go ape-shit on that person. I have those trees’ backs, is what I’m sayin’.

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BANANA SLUG! He was in our campsite with his gross, but useful-to-the-environment self.

Banana Slug

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Contrary to what you may believe, I am not taking a shit.  I am pretending o hold up that massive tree. I need some acting lessons.

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Some Elk posterior for your viewing pleasure.

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There were like four of them hanging out by the side of the road, grazing.

Final tally of miles hiked that week: 30.

Redwood to Home

We drove back over three days, stopping in Eureka to visit Lost Coast Brewing on the way to Westport KOA where we were supposed to camp on the beach. It turns out that camping in the sand and wind is not awesome so we moved to a regular site. From Westport to Los Banos we stopped in Santa Rosa to hit up Russian River Brewing. I got an awesome and ridiculously expensive Pliny the Elder t-shirt. I swear, just because it’s for chicks they jack up the price.

We stayed on night in Los Banos and stuffed our faces at Wool Growers Restaurant. Seriously. I had not been that full since my cousin’s wedding in Italy when I was 16.

The rest of Labor day weekend was spent unwinding, and then it was back to work.

Final words? I definitely plan to go back to the Redwoods.

Maybe on a Napa/Russian River Valley wine tour Winking smile.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Part 3: Walla Walla, Wa to Hood River, OR + Update

My assessment of Walla Walla is that is must be the Center of the Universe. The town is not that small, I think like 50,000 people or something, but for whatever reason, lots of “small world” occurrences happened while we were there.

The first day, we hit up three tasting rooms, Three Rivers, Reininger, and Waterbrook. The girl at Reininger was great – a total local. She hooked us up with a list of the best places to eat and then where to taste when we headed over to Prosser. She also looked like Amy Poehler.

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The first sort of weird thing happened at Waterbrook. The pourer there said I looked really familiar to her and the weird this I felt the same way about her. Like I knew her, but in reality we most definitely had never met. We went to go eat dinner and ran into like 3 or 4 people we had seen out at the 3 tasting rooms we visited. We had been in Walla Walla for like 3 hours, this is odd. We had a glass of wine after dinner at a wine bar with a locals Open Mic night – some great musicians up there, for sure.

The next day we started bright and early, first place was nothing to write home about but at least we got a picture:

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Just in case you were wondering how damn short I actually am.

The next place was the most bizarre. We are chatting it up with the pourer and we find that she used to live in Southern California. We then realize she lived in out current town for 20 years (moved away in 2006), we start talking about what street she lived on and she was in literally the SAME HOUSING TRACT. Like same home builder, just a couple blocks down. 15 hours, 1500 miles from  home, in a town of 50,000 people. 

Fourth place we got to, the pourer’s son lives in Carlsbad.

The fifth place we hit up was probably the second most bizarre. The owner does a lot of charity work, and is good friends with a retired Italian priest that worked for his Jesuit university. The priest happened to be visiting (after like 6 months of not being around), and turns out? He is from the same region of Italy where my mother is from. Like, he knew the little mountain town where my grandmother lives. WTF, Walla Walla?

By the end of the day we had hit eight tasting rooms. Yes, eight. Five in the morning, then three after lunch. There was lots of sharing (we never each got a tasting) and I can say that throughout the whole trip I was never drunk. But I will admit to having a fairly consistent buzz  from Monday afternoon through Thursday night.

On Tuesday, we hit five more wineries in Prosser, WA, on the recommendation of the Amy Poehler. Goose Ridge is a fairly large winemaker – we stopped there and got to hang out for a little bit with this cutie pie:

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If you don’t like puppies, you are not human. Especially a 3 month old Golden Retriever.

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Even if she did pee all over the place from excitement. We’ve all been there.

By 1pm we were all wined out. Sixteen tasting rooms in under two days. Even for a professional wine drinker like myself, I was at my limit.

That afternoon we drove to Hood River where we began the smaller beer tasting drinking part of the trip.

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(Hate dragging this on but I have to stick Hood River & Portland together into one post.)

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In more current news while we were hiking around Crater Lake National Park getting very sporadic cell phone service I got tweet-attacked by the So Cal running community about Ragnar 2012. They were also attacking themselves, it was like mass tweeting at each other. We survived.

But the outcome was that I am bringing up the caboose on a all-ladies ultra Ragnar team. Ultra, like run 30+ miles in 24 hours. My arm only had to be twisted about 3 degrees counter clockwise. The opportunity to run a really fun relay with 5 of these ladies?

Sarah - OUAL, Sarah – Skinny Runner, Pam, Faster Bunny, & Haute Running Mama?

Um yeah, thinking those opportunities don’t present themselves every year, so sign me up.

We are soliciting Team Name Ideas. I know. I have like .376 readers, but if you have a good name idea, comment, email, etc. We’re throwing them into a mass vote. At least that was the plan last I heard.

Now I have to go figure out the logistics of getting to work on the ghetto donut tire, and procuring two new tires on a 9-month old car. Me + new cars = shitty luck. I got a nasty flat, luckily, only a block from home. It doesn’t look repairable (thing went flat in one hot second). Not a good idea to mix brands on an axle, so, yeah, two new tires. Hopefully I can bum a ride to the tire place off a coworker.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Road Trip, Part Deux: Provo, UT to Walla Walla, WA

(It’s the day before we drive our last leg home, so, hoping I can remember what we did!)

Technically, it was Springville, UT. And because there was only one coffee shop in the town and it didn’t open until 6am, I failed to get my daily dose until 3pm. Which meant headache. If you are a coffee addict, Utah may not be for you. I showered up after the race and we drove and hour or so to Salt Lake City (with a pitstop in cute Provo for lunch). The hotel in SLC was probably the best one of the entire trip – Little America Hotel. I know weird, name, but super cute, affordable place.

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(This is the only pic I have of the room. I thought the Huz was talking pics of each room but apparently this was a combo photo. I brought along my Baby Taylor.)

First to-do in SLC was getting my too-little-to-late coffee (SLC does have a good number of Starbuck’s locations). It was hotter than an armpit, like 97 degrees or something, so I got it iced. We walked over to Red Rock Brewery and then Squatter’s Pub because why not be totally rebellious against local Mormon culture and drink both coffee and alcohol within 10 minutes of each other? Turns out draft beer in Utah? Only 4%. By law. Anything higher in alcohol content must be sold in a bottle. Ca-ray-zee. I think even Bud and Miller are > 4%.

The positive I suppose is that you’ll end up full and totally hydrated before you ever get drunk.

The Golden Spike

I have a weird fascination with American history. When I saw that we’d be passing close to Promontory Point, UT and that our National Parks Pass covered the entry fee to the Golden Spike, I was all over that like fudge on a sundae.

You probably don’t even know what I’m talking about.

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It is the site where the Central Pacific and Union Pacific railroads met in 1869 to create the first transcontinental railroad. (If you are remotely interested, read Stephen Ambrose’s Nothing Like It In The World).

And on to Boise. Where Much Cheese was Consumed.

It continued to be HOT. To the point where I began to question if  a road trip in August was smart. Did you know it’s like 100+ degrees through southern Idaho? Holy mackerel. Seriously. We got to Boise around like 5 or 6pm and it was still nearly 100 degrees. WTF.

I got spiffed up and we went to get some grub. First a beer at the Bitter Creek Ale House which had tons of local Boise brews on tap. Excellent, Smithers! Attached to it was the Red Feather Lounge where I got some smoked trout (awesome!) but beforehand we got a local cheese plate appetizer. It was a shload of cheese. And we finished it. Then my trout plate came and it had more cheese. I’m lucky I wasn’t bound up the next day. If you know what I’m saying.

Oddly enough, we ate zero potatoes during our time in Idaho.

The next morning, before hitting the road, I paid a visit to the hotel gym treadmill and my legs were like lead. However, I do think that the treadmill was partly to blame. It felt like, at lower speeds, I literally had to push the belt. Like I was running through sand. At higher speeds it got better, but then, obviously that was more tiring (and we were at about 3000 ft altitude). So after 3 miles of that crap, I go onto the bike because the treadmill was demoralizing my morning.

Five more hours of driving and we arrived in Walla Walla around 4pm. With just enough time left in the day to start a little wine tasting…

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(And that’s all I’ve got for today. I’m still recovering from a massive my huge meal from Wool Growers Restaurant. Will have to put all the Booze Tasting Days in its own post).