I’ve Taken Cap’t Can’t’s Advice

“You know what? Take a hike, don’t ever talk to me again.”

This was the reaction from Captain Can’t when I’d apologized for unintentionally offending him about eight months before I left my last job.

Very mature, right?

Well, The Boss had cleverly manipulated me into being the adult, setting a good example and taking the high road with my jag of a peer. While it worked poorly for me in this particular shituation and The Boss never re-addressed it with Cap’t Can’t, I am happy to report that upon quitting that exercise in daily frustration of a job, I have embraced Cap’t Can’t’s unintentional wisdom.

Frequently.

And will later today, I’m sure. I’m actually writing this as a motivator after failing to get outside yesterday…it was a “too cold”, overcast 65 degree day here in P-Town West.

Today, I need to find my motivation and a trail.

It’ll just be a city trail in Forest Park, but I’ll manage to make it new by inadvertently getting lost on my 10 mile urban sojourn. Unlike last week’s Hood River adventure with Little Buddy.

LB and 2.0 are in the process of buying a house across the Columbia from Hood River and we swung by their title company for a quick errand on the way to our trail. There we were…conveniently adjacent to Aniche Vineyards, where BreitBarb had a case of wine in need of transport back to town.

So, when in Rome…

Not a bad way to loosen up before a hike!

We crossed back over the Columbia and dog legged over to a speck on the map called Mosier to hike a short trail there…

It’s a 3.5 mile switchback path that screams “Live in Mosier!” on behalf of what I’m sure is a nonexistent Mosier Chamber of Commerce. We’ll get to the views, but the houses you can see across the ravine the trail skirts as you climb the backside of a hill are incredible. As much as I appreciated the real estate views during our climb, I was also well aware of the fact that if I lived there, I’d appreciate a much better view facing out past the Mosier Plateau trail and over to the breathtaking Columbia River Gorge.

So, speaking of ravines, Little Buddy and I learned something about each other that day.

She learned that I didn’t like heights and I learned that she didn’t know that about me. There was occasionally a few feet between the path and that cliff. It wasn’t bad, mostly it felt vaguely reminiscent of the hillside Buttercup throws the Dread Pirate Roberts down in The Princess Bride. And there were plenty of wildflowers growing alongside the trail.

But as you can see in the swimming hole pic above, the situation wasn’t all fun and games.

That newfound fear amused us on the way up. I think LB was a little relieved to find that I had a more normal fear than the previously shared fear of sharks…in any body of water. She had brought her new family pooch, Barley, as well. At just under 4 months, this was his first hike and he was a well behaved champ of a hiker, so that was a fun distraction on the way up, too.

He was much better behaved than the two dogs we encountered on the hilltop after we did the turnaround loop. I was leading, so I saw the first of these off leash pooches playing amongst the wildflowers and knee high wild grasses before LB or Barley and excitedly exclaimed “Goat!”.

LB told me to get a pic because our friend BreitBarb hasn’t met a negative emotion goats can’t banish. Now I’ll always be the boy who cried goat.

These dog’s owner had very little control of his animals. I learned both of their names, but can only remember Peter, the first one we met, now. Of course, I remember it because the owner yelled it a lot during the back half of our hike in lieu of actually leashing his exuberant pup. He also yelled the name with some fey accent, so it didn’t come out “Peter” as much as it did a plaintive and eventually annoying “Poitier“.

Still, the view from the top of the trail was simply awe inspiring.

And windy!

I really should have taken a selfie of wind blown old Xtopher, but while I really wanted to see what the never ending, cooling mountaintop gorge winds did to this shaggy mess of hair, I still don’t selfie as often as I could as an American citizen in good standing should.

I’d be a lousy Kardashian.

The top of the trail wasn’t even the top of the mountain, either.

I couldn’t imagine the view being any better from the top, but I was still a little curious about the eastward view from the top since we could only see westward and across the river into Washington state from our trail.

I had all the friends I wanted on the trail with me. Little Buddy and I chattered easily away during our hike, occasionally breaking to get Barley’s take on a topic. Still, this didn’t prevent a few children of the wilderness from trying to introduce themselves to me on the way back.

Lizards…do. not. want.

They kept getting bigger and bigger as the trail descended, too. Weird. Shortly after we passed back by the swimming hole, they stopped appearing, which was good because if they had gotten any bigger I’m afraid I would have been sharing the path with a Gila Monster.

The return trip also afforded us a longer stop at the little pioneer cemetery that we’d passed on the way up.

That second pic is of an 8 year old’s grave. She and I share the same birthday so it was an exciting and eerie discovery.

There weren’t a lot of grave stones in this tiny memorial. There were a lot of depressions in the ground around the trail that made me suspect there were some unmarked graves with wood caskets that had caved in on the trail side. Many of the visible graves were young people, 20 and under…so heartbreaking to imagine the pioneer experience of losing any family on their trek west, let alone losing a child and having to leave them behind.

I was pulled out of this morose imagining on the way up by the appearance of hikers trailing behind us. They stopped in the little cemetery, too, and we moved out. It felt too crowded with our party of three and their party of five. Three moms and two infants.

The Mom Squad.

In addition to feeling crowded, I also didn’t want to be around moms and their babies should the realization that these were largely kids’ graves dawn on them.

Why did I feel guilty about this company?

Anyway, the path being largely switchbacks, we got not far from the Mom Squad. Their chatter was…incessant. I’m sure our own was equally distracting to them, maybe. For me, the semi-valley-girl-esque tone of their talk distracted from the rest of the amazing environs.

Still

I was appreciative of their active lifestyle and unwillingness to be limited by their children.

However

I also judged the safety of strapping your infant onto a front-facing backpack and toddling off on mountainside paths that made me uneasy. I was fearful that mother and Child were only a loose stone away from going over the side.

It made me a little uneasy. I was glad when our little party returned to the viewpoint from the turn around loop and discovered that they had left for the trailhead without doing the loop.

Still, kudos to getting the kids out in nature early. I believe it will create a solid connection to the beautiful PNW wilderness for these newly minted S.N.O.B.s (Society of Native Oregonian Born) and that’s the type of person that keeps the PNW spirit alive!

Little Buddy and I had originally planned to grab lunch after our hike, but we were running late and she needed to get home to get dinner going for her boy and also allow Barley to relieve himself. He’s one of those pups that will only pee off leash…

So, no lunch.

Still, there was time for a teensy wine tasting at Marchesi Vineyards on the way home. LB is a member, so the tasting is gratis. And they had my favorite wine back in stock, so I could pick up a couple bottles of the good stuff to hold me over.

Not driving or having a car makes it hard for me to get out of town, so I love having friends that will take me along every now and again and try to make the most of every chance I do get.

This is my type of high road.

Advertisements
I’ve Taken Cap’t Can’t’s Advice

Hood River

In keeping with my Yes Game change in mentality, I ended up wine tasting in Hood River, OR this afternoon.  Yaaasssss.

Ok, we met at 11:00.  But I promise, the first cork didn’t pop until noon.  Which is good, because, spitters are quitters.  In related news, I had a pretty good buzz by 12:45.

Backing up a few days, though, to how I ended up here:  I was invited to go by a friend of mine that I have worked with on and off over the last…eight years now?  Sheesh, time flies.  Or in this case, ferments, because I think my connection with this particular friend gets better and better as time passes.  Last year, she even gave herself a nickname – Little Buddy.  And who am I to resist a Gilligan’s Island themed nickname?  Lo, though I see myself as a Thurston Howell III or Ginger Grant type – depending on the day and my mood – I guess my Little Buddy’s choice of nickname was relative to our working relationship at the time and that made me the Skipper by default.

Knowing my present state of crotchetiness, my intrepid LB invited me to go with her and her boyfriend out to Hood River to pick up their wine club order from AniChe Cellars.  She promised to make a day of it with stops at another winery as well as a few breweries in the area.  I got a little buzz just listening to the itinerary.  She seemed to have it all laid out and it sounded like this (mis) adventure is a typical excursion for the quarterly wine club pick up.  She sweetened the invite by removing my third wheel status and including the Silver Fox in the plans.  I know AniChe is one of his favorite local wineries, so he was on board within a text.

Of course, it’s the coldest fucking day of the year so far…getting progressively colder on the 50-ought mile trip out the Gorge to Hood River, but we lucked out with the snow.  There was a lazy, idyllic, dry snow passively falling when we arrived; the forecast tomorrow calls for “abandon hope, all ye that enter” snow.  So there’s that.

We were meeting LB and her boyfriend at a coffee shop right across from the tasting room, and we hopped out of the car and made for the a warm cuppa.  The Fox had managed to get both curbside wheels on the curb while parking – and I was enjoying his chagrin when I should have been watching out for that cold bitch, Mother Nature, since she has it in for me for some reason and expertly placed one of those idyllic, dry, drifting snowflakes on my eyeball while I teased the Fox.  Oy.  Oh well, beats what I’ve been getting from her in the city recently, which is surprise deluge without a hat, hood or – gasp! – umbrella.

Being the first table to arrive for tastings seems to have its perks.  Aniche is a small enough outfit in a tight wine community that the Little Buddy was recognized when she entered.  The Silver Fox, being the Silver Fox is a former wine club member and was remembered by the host, the daughter of the vintner.  Also, the Ani in AniChe.  Che being her brother.  Would you expect a name any less “Aaaawwww!” inducing from a winery in a tight wine community.  there was a little catch up small talk about the biz and the present offereings…maybe even something about a new human that Ani is presently gestating, but you know me – I’m not that warm and fuzzy, so I just let the folks that knew each other do themselves.

We settled in to our six flight tasting with whites, obviously, which I powered through.  Donating only one of them to the Fox, but only after trying it.  Gotta make mom proud by at least trying.  The whites were good, but reds are where my tongue hangs its hat.  I’ve tasted three or four AniChe reds in the past and love them.  I wasn’t surprised to find that two of my close friends here are or have been wine club members.  I was kind of jealous, actually, since now driving tends to limit my opportunities to pop out to wine country for an afternoon.

Then again, I am quite the lightweight, so I appreciate being a passenger versus driving.

Speaking of not being the driver, my offset service was to run up the street and feed the meter when our parking time ran out.  Ok, I ran up the street conveniently between the fourth and fifth pours, but I still went.

Me being the worst person on the planet, Mother Nature threw another snowball into my eye as I left the tasting room.  In my mind, I was giving my best Nancy Kerrigan “Whyyyyyy?!?!?!” impression.  Seriously, though, blinking is an autonomic feature versus a conscious effort…it seems like quite a fail for this to happen not once, but TWICE within an hour.  Plus, ice in your eye is pretty much like a needle sticking into your eye.  If you’re listening, Mother Nature, I’ll pass in the future.

Somehow – remember the perks I mentioned earlier? – our flight of six evolved into eight tastes.  The Fox also ended up rejoining the wine club and a trip up the Gorge to pick up four bottles turned into 24 bottles leaving the tasting room.  Those extra two pours were rather shrewd investments on the host’s part, no?

We leave, for my part I’m wishing I had deeper pockets and a hand truck because I am kind of lamenting my involuntarily semi-retired budget limitations.  I want a case of wine, too!  <foot stomp>

But I got to carry a case, at least.  Hey…wait a second.  Oy.

On to winery number two, where we all swear we’re just doing a tasting flight.  The Little Buddy loves this particular tasting room, and just wants me to see it.  I can see why she likes to visit whenever she’s in the neighborhood.  It’s snowing, after all, but the patio has vinyl drapes hung, propane patio heaters blasting and baskets of lap blankets around for people to sit and enjoy their flights.  Marchesi winery has definitely got their winter game figured out because the Fox and I are amazed at how may cars are in the full parking lot as we pull in.  Being the Fox, he still finds a place five from the door.  If only he could channel that Fox Luck into a winning lottery ticket…

It’s 1:45 on a Saturday afternoon, it’s snowing and the LB and her boyfriend cozy up under a throw together and get their cozy on.  The Fox has his hat pulled down low, gloves on, coat and scarf cinched tight and a throw blanket on his lap and is looking like a nursing home denizen that was force-wheeled outside for some fresh air in the middle of Spring.

I’m waiting to see icicles form on his nose.

Personally, I have my booze jacket on and sit there sipping contentedly.  It’s all about maintenance with booze jackets.  Until someone leaves and kindly offers me their blanket.  I begrudgingly accept, thinking “I guess, if you’re too lazy to just put it away on your way out”.

Grumpy.  Old.  Man.

We enjoy our flights – complete with only a cursory single white offering – and the complimentary antipasti Little Buddy gets as a wine club member and go to town on some breadsticks that are positioned on each table in a cute vasey-type-container.

Then LB retrieves another from a neighboring table.

Carbs.  So good.

But not good enough to sustain us on our journey home, so back toward Hood River proper to burn a gift card for Double Mountain Brewery that the Fox has been carrying around for about a year.  Plus, he brought his growlers to fill.  Little Buddy and her bf – fine, his nickname is 2.0…not sure why I didn’t just tell you that in the first place except that it’s not my nickname for him, it’s hers so maybe I felt like it was stealing her clever thunder – swear to their pizza prowess at Double Mountain, too, so it’s a win-win-win.

And there’s a 45-60 minute wait.  Seriously, I could get pizza delivered at home in 60 minutes, why would I wait that long just to get a table?  I could probably order pizza from the parking lot, drive home and get there before the pizza arrived.  Plus, I actually did do that last night and I still have half of a Straight From New York pizza leftover, so I’m not that invested.

Unless…

There’s fPriem Brewery right down the road.  I happen to really like their IPA and there’s apparently pizza there, too.  I’m a real giver, you know, so if pizza is what the rest of our drunken-Donner-party-esque group wants, I’m willing to tag along.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained and we’re off.

After filling the growlers.

And forgetting to use the gift card to pay.

Layering in excuses for a return visit…

…and it’s another 30-45 minute wait for a table at pFriem.  Seriously, these people have a problem.  It’s 3:30 on a Saturday.  I check in via text with LB and 2.0 and they are ok with the wait, but by the time they park, the Fox has moseyed down the street a block to a non-brewery pizzeria called Solstice and they can seat us immediately.

In the kid’s section.

This is fucking nicely with my grumpiness.

Upshot: there’s coloring.

And beer!

And bacon roasted brussels sprouts.

And rosemary french fries.

And we all still had room for pizza.

None of us finished our drawings, though.  Can our stomachs have ADD?

Then it was time to make a break for the cars and ease on down the road back toward civilization.  Or consistent cell coverage, anyway.  Plus, Little Buddy’s youngest young ‘un was due back from a birthday sledding adventure within the next few hours, so we packed it in and called the mischief managed.

Another great thing about not driving?  I took an all-too-rare nap on the way home.  But I deserved one, saying “Yes” really takes it out of ya.

 

 

Hood River