Monday, August 28, 2006

Have Taste Buds...Will Travel



To those of you who expressed concern about my absence and lack of entries, thank you for checking on me.  :)  Since my last entry I've been canning tomatoes, baking zucchini bread, traveling, putting in a bit of overtime for work, and enjoying the summer time.

Billboard barn
Barn on Highway 2 between Spokane and Leavenworth.

Let me just start with the wine tasting tour we did.  No, I'm not a wine snob or anything like that, but I know what I like.   This trip was more than just a wine fest, it was a feast for the taste buds on so many levels.  We came back with 18 bottles of wine and our friends returned with 37 (they bought a case, tho).

We traveled to two cities, Spokane and Leavenworth and visited a total of seven wineries, Latah Creek, Arbor Crest, Knipprath, Icicle Ridge (twice!), Silver Lake, Kestral, and Berghof Keller.  The state of Washington is rapidly gaining recognition as a premium wine region.

We began in Spokane at Latah Creek.  Tasting is free and they've done an excellent job of utilizing every available inch of the winery to display a multitude of gifts for every taste, occasion and price level.  Anyone who receives a Latah Creek gift basket is a lucky soul and in for an amazing treat!  The winery may be a small operation, but it is gaining a large audience as well as numerous awards.  Our picks, Spokane Blush and Chardonnay.  Next it was on to Arbor Crest, who charges $5 for five tastes.  Snobs!  The wine was so-so but the winery grounds were both romantic and breath-taking!  Located on the grounds of the historical Cliff House, this winery offers fantastic views of the Spokane Valley.  They also had a gift shop, but on a much, much smaller scale.  We left with a bottle of Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon, then headed down the road to get one more winery in before the afternoon ended.  Knipprath is another that offers free tasting.  Housed in an old school building it was one of the newest wineries we visited.  The winemaker got started with port wines, which I've never really been too fond of (much too sweet).  But...I tried a couple and I have to admit maybe the port I had before was not the best representative of port wines. We snarfed a bottle of Au Chocolat! and Cabernet Franc before heading back to our trailers at the RV park.

Happy flowers in Leavenworth

If you are ever in Washington and find yourself in the middle of the state make a point to visit Leavenworth.  Once a dying small town, it is now a major vacation destination, all because someone got the idea to transform the city into a Bavarian village.  This was my third visit, Sam's second, and our friends first.  I went for the first time ten years ago and I never saw any tasting rooms or wineries in the area back then!   Or at least, I didn't notice any.  Now, there are nine located in or near Leavenworth.  Icicle Ridge was the best of them all!  Tasting was $2, waived with the purchase of any wine.  We went twice, first to the tasting room in downtown Leavenworth, and then to the winery just outside the city.  Family owned, we were so impressed with every wine we tasted we signed up for the wine club.  Yes, the wine was that good!  We had the opportunity to meet the winemaker and it turns out he graduated from University of Idaho with a degree in chemistry.  U of Idaho is just a short drive away from our home, so it was pleasing to learn he Basketwas familiar with our hometown.  This company may be small, but they think big and have an original sense of style.  Our booty from Icicle Ridge included Two Blondes Gewurztraminer (opps, that should be Three bad), Washington State White Riesling and two bottles of Smooth Jazz Cab.  Icicle Ridge really set the bar at a high level, and after our visit the other wineries seemed dull.  Silver Lake tasting was free, which was a good thing because the wine was okay, and out of the ten or so we tried, we settled on two, Roza Riesling and Cabernet Sauvignon.  Kestral was another so-so experience, but we still walked away with a couple of bottles.  They do a collector's bottle every year, oddly enough called "Lady in Red" and that just brought out the sentimental side in me.  Lady in Red is the term of endearment Dad used for his wife Rita...and it was also what he Do I gnome you?nicknamed the 1936 Nash coupe he restored.  We bought a bottle, not so much out of sentiment, but because most wine in a collector's bottle isn't drinkable, but this actually was pretty good.







Berghof Keller Winery

And last but not least was Berghof Keller, the German winery.  The vineyard lies at the same latitude and elevation as the famous wine areas in Germany and flourish in the same unique climate of hot days and cool nights.  If there was a runner up to the wines produced by Icicle Ridge, it is those produced the German way.  We bought two bottles of the unfiltered Red Baron, two bottles of the Rose and a dessert wine called Kirschwein.

The discovery of new tastes didn't stop with wines, during our stay in Leavenworth we dined on German (
King Ludwig's) and Italian (Visconti's)food.  Spaetzle (German pasta), gelato, and Sauerbraten were just some of the foods we tried for the first time.  I love gelato!  Oh, so rich and creamy.  Yummy!!!!  We also stumbled on a quaint little German meat shop,Willi's Sausage Haus, and we are all now addicted to a dry sausage treat called Landjaeger.

This trip will go down as one of the most memorable vacations ever, definitely in the top five.  :)

I wanna go back!

 Go on...explore it!    

Latah Creek Winery

Arbor Crest Vineyards

Icicle Ridge Winery

Kestrel Vintners

Silver Lake Winery

Berghof Keller Winery

King Ludwig's Restaurant

Willi's Sausage Haus and Euro Market

Visconti's Ristaurante Italiano

Monday, August 7, 2006

Caught Red...Hooved!

We suspected someone had been nibbling on our tomato plants.  And tonight we caught the the act.

Having just returned from the garden after picking a basketful of toms, I washed them in the sink and was heading out to the garage to get our pressure cooker when I spotted this guy standing in our garden.


Uninvited diner

Dinner at dusk

Looks like he's enjoying his meal.  Poor thing is so skinny and scrawny looking.  He's not very old, we figure he's about eighteen months old.  Looks like he's already had a rough life with some injuries on his neck and shoulder.

Seeing him in the vegetable garden created a bit of a dilemma for us; on the one hand it was a surprise and a real treat to see a buck eating our tomatoes, but on the other he was eating our tomatoes!!!  We stood and watched him for a bit, and he watched us, then he turned and wandered off into the tree farm.

All in all a pleasant Monday evening surprise.  :)

Saturday, August 5, 2006

On the Road...again!

Willie Nelson :The Essential Willie Nelson :'Mendocino County Line' feat. Lee Ann Womack

So, it looks like we're taking another road trip this month. A couple of our friends want us to take another week off, hook up our trailers and tour some of Washington's wineries! = ) I can't wait. One week from today we will be on the road again.

In the meantime, here's some more photos I took last month during the 4th of July and our vacation.


Casey's Shower
Casey's Shower. Don't know who Casey is or why a natural shower is named after him/her. The water is cold and the rocks are slippery. It's just a crevise in a rock face adjacent to a road and most people drive right by it. And it is so beautiful...this photo almost captures the feel.

Syringa, State Flower of Idaho

Cold Springs pond. Later in the day we watched a cow and calf moose meandering around on the far side. They disappeared before I could focus my camera on them.

Don't know which species this is, so I'll have to find out.

Silent swimmer
I have a lot of photos of Rumbeau swimming because that is what he does when we get anywhere near water. There was a lot of debris floating on the surface when I shot this. And if I were to take this photo at the same place now, you could see salmon swimming below Rumbeau; they return to this river in late summer to spawn.


*~ We want to create an atomosphere in which creation is possible.  - Marie Rambert ~*


Thursday, August 3, 2006

Coming Back

Coming Back

Lacking inspiration

I have sat here looking through the empty window of my mind

Having buried my soul under

This protective insulation . . a pile of emotions

An empty pane

Serving me no purpose

Injected by the needle of spite

A past time of another’s shallow delight

And insecure denial of right.

So wrong.

So cold.

Contrasting with the warmth of my open arms

I feel obliged to embrace

Not another

But myself

Refill the reservoir of life

That once flowed easily

From the inside, to the outside.

Of me.


2006 D. L. Cox

The Magic of a Mountain...retreat

Flashes of time from our recent camping trip.

It's more than just camping.

Seeking a moment's repose.

I had been trying to write a Happiness poem
and unsuccessfully attempting to make Life rhyme
since childhood . . yet had not completed
even the beginning stanza
maybe if I should fly . . . once more
to Colorado, I might try . . oh, not to write it now
but to forget, somehow, the reasons why it could never be

~Linda Goodman, from her book "Gooberz"

I'm a very thirsty bird.
Still playing with the many features of my new Canon and shifting between manual and program functions; I was going for a rugged, outdoor feel with these images. Seems I may have hit it. Now I wish I had changed the settings to capture a sharper, cleaner image. ::::sigh::::

You looking a me?
I'm not overly happy with the quality of this photo--too grainy--but the subtle tilt of his head keeps drawing my soul back to this photo...and the memory of the moment I choose to capture this particular second of life.

Tuesday, August 1, 2006

For the Love of Scotland

~* Go as far as you can see, and when you get there you will see farther. *~   -Orison Sweet Marden

Until I get a much larger media card for my camera, this video shot by another person really delivers the experience of watching pipe and drum competitions.  I always find myself mesmorized by the drummers and the way they twirl those 'batons'(?).  What are those things called?!?!

And, now a few of my own photos. Man in motion 56 lb Weight for Distance competitor; the weights are thrown one-handed and any style may be used but the most effective is to spin like a discus thrower.  At least now the mystery is solved; athletes do wear boxers under their kilts (for obvious reasons). Too much tilt A caper...errrrr make that caber... toss competitor struggles to balance, but loses his unwieldy load. Tribal celts Members from the celtic band, The Wicked Tinkers, perform to the delight of the crowd. I think that drummer is staring at me... and check out the Sgian Dubh (Skeen Do aka black knife) tucked into the drummer's right stocking. In the moment Members of the world champion Simon Fraser University Pipe and Drum Band, wearing the Ancient Fraser tartan, perform during the Anniversary Tattoo. My fascination with all things Scottish is inherited...I am a member of a Scottish Clan...the Clan Moffat.  Our motto is "Spero Meliora" (I aspire to greater things).  Fits nicely with my Blue Skies and Gentle Breezes philosophy.  How appropo.

By Celtus (Celtus @ english wikipedia) - Own work by uploader. The crest image is adapted from the following images below., CC BY-SA 3.0,

  ~* Take all the swift advantage of the hours. *~   -Shakespeare

Take me to the river...

Moments from our vacation last week.

Throw a stick once for Rumbeau, and you've made a genuine friend for life.
Play with me!
As the mountain temps soared to 90+ degrees, Sam and I found an empty beach on the N Fork of the Clearwater River, stuck our chairs in the water and kicked back. On any given summer Sunday morning it is not uncommon to see baptisms taking place at this beach.


My very own scuba dog.
Scuba dog
Rum dives below the surface in search of something perhaps? Not sure that diving is ordinary dog behavior, but then Rumbeau is no ordinary dog. He's a special kind of guy.