Waves and Wine

Mom and Aunt Laura made it down to the Valley this weekend for a bit of relaxation. We met up in the morning and headed out to Newport. We had lunch at Bay 839. The tapas were great and it was really fun to hang out and just talk.

After lunch we headed north towards Lincoln City. We took a quick break in Lincoln City to walk on the beach and had wine not been calling my name I would probably have ended up in the water. We headed back inland towards Dallas and started making the rounds of the wineries.

Our first stop was Chateau Bianca. I was rather unimpressed by this stop. The wines were pretty good but the guy who poured the wines was such a boor. The next stop at Firesteed Winery was much more pleasing. I loved ALL of their wines especially the $60 pinot noir…

We made a couple of other stops: Orchard Heights Winery…which just ended up being kind of shabby. We also checked out Cubanisimo Vineyards which was pretty cute and the wines were okay but nothing super special. The afternoon had gone so fast we were all pretty surprised to find that it was getting close to five and most of the wineries would be closing soon. We did manage to get to Bryn Mawr Vineyards before they closed and it was my favorite stop of the day. They only use estate grown grapes…and they only have four acres! The wine was fabulous and I was enchanted by the small garage sized operation.

The day wound up with dinner at Big River in Corvallis with Forrest. My food was really awesome (chantrelle risotto) but Forrest’s pizza wasn’t too great. We did discover the Double Mountain IRA though so the dinner was definitely worth it.

Originally posted on the blog: Evergreen Rambles.

Wine-ing with Stacia

Stacia came up to visit from California and I did my best to show her a good time here in Oregon while still getting some work done. True to “The Twin’s” form this involved sampling alcohol from the moment she landed at PDX Monday afternoon. We sampled beer at Lucky Labrador Brewing Co. and caught up on life. Back at home we drank some wine (Airlie 7 and Cardwell Hill Cellars pinot gris) and it didn’t take us long to decide that wine tasting was out Tuesday activity.

Stacia insisted that we go to Airlie so she could taste all their wines (she had a minor obsession with 7…a perhaps justified one but an obsession nevertheless). We took the back way through Wren and tried to make a stop at Cardwell Hill but they weren’t open. I decided to stop and check out Fort Hoskins because I was tired of Forrest saying it was dumb and refusing to check it out (he was right). I ended up being glad we went back to Airlie because the owner was there–I think it’s always more fun to talk to the owner than someone they’ve hired to pour wine. Stacia bought two bottles of 7 and promised to beg Trader Joes in LA to stock their wine again.

After that we went to Emerson where I caved and bought a bottle of their estate pinot noir “Avelena.” From there we tried to visit Illahee which was closed and still kind of under construction, then tried to visit Cherry Hill, and one other winery (Dancing Oaks?) that seems to no longer be in operation (which we found out after we drove into someone’s driveway).

We were finally successful with Van Duzer Vinyards. I kind of liked the crazy woman who served us our wine while Stacia hated her. (The $10 tasting fee may have had something to do with that.) The winery itself was a little over the top but their pinot noir was fantastic and it was really fun to taste their port and dessert wine (firsts for both of us). Then we hit up Left Coast Cellars where I was underwhelmed with both the wine and the feel of the place–Stacia loved it.

We probably should have headed back to Philomath at that point but we were having too much fun so we headed up Eola Hills Road and found Bethel Heights Vineyard. They had wonderful wines, the woman who poured for us was awesome, and the tasting room was adorable. Again, we begged off on “just one more” so we wound up the day with a visit to Cristom Vineyards. It was sooo much fun, I love visiting wineries!

(Other wineries I’ve tried in the Valley include Lumos Wine, Pheasant Court Winery, Veridian Wines, and the previously mentioned Cardwell Hill.)

Wednesday we headed up Santiam Pass to do a little hike. It turned into a fun adventure on Forest Service roads with a little 1 mile hike the summit of Jumpoff Joe Mountain. Nothing strenuous (450 feet? elevation gain) but fun anyway. We stopped at Oregon Trail Brewery to buy Forrest a growler of the Wit–it just so happened to be 9/23 and I thought I’d bring him a treat. Forrest, Stacia, and I went put-put golfing after dinner and then came back home and drank some beer for a chill end of the day.

It was a quick visit but it was so so fun!!

Originally posted on the blog: Evergreen Rambles.

Day 5- Menlo Park to Fairfield

Thursday morning we said goodbye to Lucy, loaded our stuff back on the V-Strom and headed for Fairfield. It was a nice short 80 mile ride but plenty California-ness to last me a long time.

We toured the Budweiser brewing facility (at 10 AM!) complete with two (fairly) healthy samples. I was a little disappointed in how much we were shown on the tour but it was interesting anyway. (Can’t wait to compare it to the Coors factory when we pass through Golden, CO someday.) Forrest also indulged me in a tour of the Jelly Belly factory–it’s kind of cool but be prepared for lots and lots of kids and a nice sickly sweet smell everywhere, I’d recommend skipping the tour and just buying Belly Flops (cheap messed up beans).

From there we got some lunch–my first In-And-Out burger!–and then rode to the Hospitality House. Forrest’s friends Sandy and Sue were very welcoming and I was quite impressed with the dinner Sue whipped up for her family, us, and the assorted Air Force guys who seem to consider their house a home-away-from-home (Forrest said he certainly felt this way when he was stationed there). We played some volleyball (so much fun!), got showers, socialized for awhile and crashed.

Day 5: ~80 miles

Originally posted on the blog: Evergreen Rambles.

Day 2-Capetown to Mendocino

I woke up on Day 2 feeling pretty stiff from a long day on the bike the day before. Things weren’t about to get much better in terms of pure hours sitting on the bike although I was really excited for the day on the Lost Coast. We set out from Capetown into what must have been a high pressure pocket sitting on top of the ridge because there was fog to the east and definitely fog over the ocean. We were hoping to be able to access Cape Mendocino which is the westernmost point in California but, again, we were thwarted by private land.

The stretch of the road that ran along the coast was beautiful and I really enjoyed seeing cows on the sand. It was just such a funny thing to see. From there we headed inland to Petrolia, where the first oil drilling in California took place. After a short detour out to Mattole Beach we cruised on to Honeydew and headed south onto Kings Mountain Road. I have to admit that the initial decent onto Kings Mountain Road had me gripping the boxes and desperately wanting to close my eyes until it was over…those were some tight switchbacks!

At the end of Kings Mountain Road we headed down into Shelter Cove to get something for brunch. We were figuring that with such a resort community there would certainly be somewhere to get food but that didn’t seem to be the case. We ended up in a little coffee shop that specialized in microwaving food with a talkative barista from Maui who is doing the coffee shop thing to wait out the real estate market so he can sell all his properties in Shelter Cove. After getting nice and warm we headed up the hill again bound for Chemise Mountain Road. It was a really nice pretty road that was paved once we reached the Mendocino County line (which started “Mendocino County Line” by Lee Anne Womack and Willie Nelson running through both of our heads except neither of us could remember the words).

At Four Corners we decided to take a sidetrip down Briceland Road to see some more of the coast. We were still being thwarted by fog but it was a pretty drive anyway. I fell in love with the ranger station near Needle Rock–the grey weathered siding with smoke coming from the chimney all in view of the ocean accessible by a long winding dirt road. We stashed the tank bag and helmets at the end of the road for the quarter mile ramble to Bear Harbor. What a neat place to camp! Beautiful beach, cute little stream, close to the car for comfortable camping but really remote…awesome!

After retracing our path back to Four Corners we set out on Usal Road. It deserves its reputation as pretty gnarly–there were ruts everywhere and twenty miles has never felt so long! I felt bad for Forrest as he fought the addition of my weight on the really rutted road but I think he had a damn good time anyway. We ran into a guy with an Explorer at the southern end of the wilderness state park headed north who was concerned about how bad had been to that point and wanted our opinion about continuing. We told him it was probably not a good idea and when we saw how NOT bad the rest of the road (it was steep but actually pretty well graded) was we decided that was definitely the right decision.

Going 55mph on Highway 1 felt so fast after spending all day on dirt! Twisty and beautiful. Forrest was loving the 20 mph corners and I was glued to the view of the coast. Before we knew it we’d found ourselves as far south as Fort Bragg and needed to start looking for a place to spend the night. We postponed the looking long enough to walk around downtown and have a small beer sampler at North Coast Brewing.

After a frustrating search for a camping spot in a variety of California State Parks (full signs and $35/night fees!) that lead us through the cute town of Mendocino (again, going to have to go back someday!) we found a place to camp near the airport in Little River where we got to relax and have a campfire.

Day 2: 155 miles

Originally posted on the blog: Evergreen Rambles.