Home From Hood River

There was a cook out at Syncline, a winery on the Washington side of the Gorge across from Hood River this past Sunday. The Silver Fox got me a +1 and we joined some friends for a foursome out.

I got to drive!

Turns out, not only had the owner of the winery managed perfect weather: clear, blue skies, no wind – which is a feat in the Gorge, and 55 degrees all afternoon; he’d also just been elected Winemaker of the Year by some winemaker’s association. So this was a good get for me.

The beauty on the way out as the deciduous tree leaves showed off their roadside golds and reds against the evergreen background of the pines and firs ahead was breathtaking, to be sure.

But on the way back, the sun was setting – at about 4:30, go figure – and the highway through the Gorge was dark, but the sunset! From edge to edge, the dusk blackened hillsides framed the beauty of the pink sunset!

Someone in the car wondered if the color was due to the California fires. We all decided it was not, and just waited for the next curve in the road to get a fresh view of Mother Nature just showing off.

Poor Sallory, she had gone over to the beach house, which has provided my text threads with her and The Fox with many a gorgeous sunset…it really is beautiful to look out at the sunset over the bluff the cottage sits on. But not this time.

I was busy being the DD, so I couldn’t get a picture, but you can trust me.

Now, here’s the deal. Our little foursome had a great conversation both out the Gorge and back in. The Silver Fox took a little disco nap on the way back, but it didn’t stop the rest of us.

After a few minutes of being lost in the sunset, I wondered aloud whether anyone thought old what’s-his-name that wrote The National Anthem/America the Beautiful had actually ever been west before writing it.

Of course, this devolved into several minutes of trivial arguments about who wrote the damn song.

John Philip Sousa?

No…that’s not right.

Is it?

No, no…that’s who it was, I know it!

I had to google it when I got home. Suffice it to say, I was under immense pressure as the owner of the youngest – and, most preserved, I should point out – brain to know the answer.

All that on top of driving! Something I rarely do…outside the bedroom.

Turns out, well…who had Francis Scott Key?

Bully! Partial credit for you!

It turns out, FSK’s poem became the lyrics for the music composed by John Stafford Smith.

Yeah, we weren’t in any danger of winning any Jeopardy prizes.

My point was, though, I’m throwing my typically and randomly insane question out to the car…wouldn’t you think that if Francis Scott Key had ever been to the west coast we would have gotten a better shout out? Yes, I am complaining about the west, specifically the Pacific Northwest, only getting a 50% stake in

From sea to shining sea!

I’m not dissing purple mountains majesty or amber waves of grain, but c’mon! If you’ve ever been here, you’ll know that we deserve better.

Again, you can trust me.

No matter, though. When the west coast breaks off and liberates Red America – I mean, abandons it to its own devices – we can join British Columbia and write a Cascadia national anthem that will do our west coast beauty justice.

But if Cali comes along, we’re gonna have to deal with Fresno feeling left out…that poor place will go from being the armpit of California to being the sphincter of Cascadia.

Can’t win ’em all!

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Home From Hood River

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.

I’ve Taken Cap’t Can’t’s Advice

Farewell, Summer

Yesterday was the first day of Fall.  It certainly showed here in the PNW, too, all cool, gray and drizzly.

Wonderful!

Another reminder of how pecadelicious – Chrisism- my body is.  With my AC set at 70 in the Summer, I’m comfortable.  With my heat set at 70 in the winter, I’m freezing.

However, I was reminded as I noted the change of seasons that I never shared my vacation story, and it’s been a month.

It’s funny, I’m about to step into my sixth decade – ok, stumble or possibly stagger – but I can still be the bratty kid that complains to my parents that we haven’t had a family vacation forever.

I really rather rely on my elder and only sister for this type of stuff.  Her three younger brothers are borderline loners – at best.  Once Mom-Donna officially retires from her holding-the-family-together duties, the mantle will be hers to wear.  Mom has tried a few slow steps back from her matriarchal role, but still steps back in with statements of the, “I’d like to host one more holiday while I still can” type.  

She’s such a Prince Philip sometimes.

The result of my mild tantrum, nevertheless, was the parental gift of a summertime family vacation this past Christmas.

Finally, after a long break we were getting the Galby clan back together again in Central Oregon’s high desert retreat, Sunriver.

It’s always fun.

Always.

We’re together under one roof again, yet still free to pursue whatever we want throughout the day, coming together each night for dinner as a group.  Everyone takes a night of cooking duties, which is enjoyable for everyone.  Dad’s night – being the patriarch – is hosting dinner out at a restaurant.  The ‘Phew, as the youngest on the other hand, dips into his hard earned Birthday and possibly allowance fundage to treat us all to pizza delivery on the night of our arrival.

It’s a good ritual.  Plus, it provides me a chance to cook for people, which seldom happens outside of MNSC.

It just occurred to me that the last couple of family get togethers in the desert have proved near – or actually – fatal.

The last trip out for a Christmas getaway a couple years back was interrupted by a Christmas phone call from my ex, Sacha to tell me he had colon cancer…a story for another time.  Maybe.

That Christmas holiday was – more importantly to me – also marred with our family’s collective concern for dad, who had recently had a coronary procedure after which he wasn’t feeling well.

The trip before that was Rib’s first family vacation.  This was maybe five years ago?  Before the pizza even arrived, we were booking a flight for him to ABQ to attend his grandmother’ funeral.  Enviably, as I tap this out in a coffee house, he is with his new beau and family at Munich’s Oktoberfest.​

​I love that this video he sent me of his family vacation was so timely as I reminisced about mine.

Beyond those recent vacation danger moments, I’d say our other vacations were reasonably trauma free.  

Well

There was the Bike Ride Incident and The Nose Hair Situation, both of which I blame exclusively on my Black Sheep Brother.  Only one of which is near funny.  Black Sheep Bro and I went trail riding with the ‘Phew, I think he was still aged in single digits at the time.  We were having a blast leading him through the trails with a vague goal of finding a path to the ever elusive Benham Falls when he just barely nicked a fallen log that had been cut through to preserve the bike trail’s passability.

He.

Went.

Flying.Poor kid.  Right into a tree.

Little fucker scared the hell out of me and BSB before walking it off.

Talk about a dodged bullet.  I thought for sure my only nephew – at the time – was going to spend the rest of his Halloweens dressed as Stephen Hawking.

Things have changed since then.

I’d sent my bike home with mom and dad the week before after they came to town for a lunch date.  Er, doctor’s appointment.  When they picked me up, all I had to do was show up on the curb with my suitcase.

And a case of wine.

That’s a good change, in my opinion!  My sister had put in a request for some of that good stuff I’m always going out to Hood River for, so I took two bottles each from two of my favorite wineries out there.  I was reserving those for my night of cooking.  But since it’s also Summer, I rounded out my case with eight bottles of Rose.

My parents clucked their tongues at my “extra” baggage.  Not only because their car was also full of their bags, food for the week and doggie travel needs, but also because they had also brought a case of wine.

Great minds…meet the Galby clan!

We made it all fit.

Plus, a growler I’d gotten at 2.0 and Little Buddy’s wedding the day before.

And a huge watermelon The Silver Fox had gifted us.

As we made off on our way, I rationalized two cases of wine being barely enough if even four of the six legal drinkers partook with any regularity.  Really, that’s an easy three bottles a night, closer to four.

Five.  Five a night, tops.

As I mentioned, we all still take our bikes, but only my sister’s family unit rode together.  I put in daily rides, except for arrival and departure days.  It was good.  I’d spent the prior couple of weeks in spin class to trim up a bit.  But nothing prepared my ass for 15-20 mile rides in the saddle of a real bike.  My butt was less bun, more hamburger by the time I left.  But a nice 60+ mile four day stretch was good for me.  

After a successful jump start in spin, with minimal discomfort to my never-healing knee, I had aspirations of riding to the top of the Cinder Dome of the mega-volcano Newberry Crater.  Once the hills hit “straight up” status, my knee straight up refused.

Oh, well.  I still got plenty of exercise and just enough sun, even without the view from the top of the dome.

For my brother’s part, he pedaled to the store one evening, only to return grumpy or confused.  Hard to say.  He was all disturbed at how everyone he passed greeted him.  

I told you…loners.

Anyway, I’d noticed it on my rides. too.  It hadn’t bothered me, though.  I enjoy the social nicety of greeting passersby.  I was more interested in the range of greeting; from the apex vocal salutation to this:which was kind of a very minimal entry.  It was also an indictment for the homogenized environment we were spending the week in.  The darkest skin in this high desert mecca was simply overexposed and under sun screened.

This was the first time we didn’t – not a single one of us, let alone the group – spend time laying about at the pool.  There was a sister’s family rafting trip and a brother and nephew kayaking excursion, otherwise it was fairly pedestrian adventures.  Shopping in Sunriver or heading into Bend for some…shopping.

My sister and brother-in-law took the ‘Phew to look at COCC – that’s for you, Diezel.  He was considering Central Oregon Community Colkege for his first two years, but came back ambivalent.

I cannot believe I’m days away from having an 18 year old nephew!

While they were doing campus tours, the rest of us took off for the High Desert Museum.  Quite a way to spend an afternoon, with some self-improvement undertones.  It’s a nice mix of self-guided educational exhibits and nature path wanderings.

There were way more pics taken than I can comfortably squeeze into my humble blog post, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t throw something in just for Diezel’s enjoyment, so he knows he’s never too far from my thoughts.

So, enjoy, my friend and chosen family member!

Just to shake it up, no humans died or had close calls this time around.  But Buddy, my parent’s dog decided to give us all a scare, with a late day trip to the vet.  The local Sunriver vet wasn’t equipped to handle his situation and escalated him to Bend, 20 miles away.  This resulted in a doped up doggie and my parents enjoying my carbonara reheated.

But, in spite of the changes, the important things remain…

Each of us, being there, for one.  It was touch and go for me.  Mom and dad had picked a seemingly random week in August, the month that usually works for all of us.  Little did we know that we’d signed on for the biggest travel debacle in Oregon highway history: the 2017 eclipse.  

With the increase in tourists traveling in and me working at the airport, I was fairly certain I’d be asked to cancel my vacation.  The request was just to be back for the two days prior as people landed and one million tourists and 27,000 rental cars hit the road.

I was more than willing to fly back instead of risk the road trip…ODOT was tactfully suggesting that people take not only plenty of water for their travel, but also relief vessels, if you get my drift.

I don’t want to be that close to my family.  Hello, Alaska Airlines!

In addition to being there, also the food!

I think cooking for people is the simplest way to show love.  It’s demonstratively caring for them by providing sustenance.  Sharing stories and time over the table.  Figuratively or literally breaking bread together…there is – to me – no better way to illustrate family.

And every night, there we were…gathered at the table celebrating our bond.

Not a bad Christmas gift, parentals…thank you!

Farewell, Summer

Here’s Why I’m Not A Judge

Besides the absence of a law degree and any legal experience whatsoever…

It wasn’t cloudy, it was ash.

As I’m sure everyone has heard, over the Labor Day weekend, some jag of a 15 y/o firebug was out lighting firecrackers in the Columbia Gorge and started a forest fire, turning this

into this

Oregonians are tearing up when they talk about it.  It’s palpably changed our collective mood.

Too many of us are carrying inhalers as our normally mist-filled September horizons are now hazy with smoke.  Instead of anticipatory pumpkin spiced latte talk and a slightly dreary post summer drizzle marking the onset of the fall season, we’ve got ash raining from the sky and conversation that is reminiscent of the last time it rained ash in Portland in the days following May 18, 1980.

At least Mount St Helen was a natural disaster.

This kid, though.  I’d bet he’s more of a nurtural disaster.

When you hear Oregonians discuss him, there’s not a note of empathy to be found in their conversation, its tone nor even inadvertently in their body language.

It’s an open and shut case.  

You did this.

You were proud enough – the rest of us gratefully call it stupid enough – to have a friend film it.  

Seemingly, just to impress girls?

What none of them realized – surely because of their lack of life experience as much as underutilized intellect – is how cherished our nature is in the PNW.  Not to get into trouble with the Indigenous People of America, but more than anywhere else I have lived, the people of the Pacific Northwest have a connection to this land they inhabit.

I remember Sarah Jessica Parker – I know!  Where the fuck can this be heading? – saying in an interview once that NYC was the fifth star of Sex and the City.  Well, in the PNW, we are all the co-stars to the nature that surrounds us.

So, before he’s even charged, he’s been convicted in the hearts of Oregonians, if I could presume to speak for my people.

I guess I’m on to the sentencing phase in my mind…and I want the punishment to fit the crime.

If you were really doing this just to impress girls, my knee-jerk reaction is chemical castration.  It takes care of the punishment and is also prophylactically prudent – safeguarding future forests against any future humans he might be responsible for raising and releasing into the population.

Or, just to be tricky and humane…life in prison.

I imagine the reflexive objection of his parents as I – as judge in his trial – lay out his sentencing options.  

I offer them a sort of Sophie’s Choice, would you take his place to spare him?

Should this ever come to pass – and fully admitting that outside of any knowledge of these parents, I’m using my post-Trump-election disdain for generic Americans as my guide – I expect nervous and uncertain glances to be shared between the parents.

Nervous, uncertain and hopeful glances: dubiously hopeful that the other steps up.

With a side of the expectant stare of their son as he waits to see which of his parents sacrifices their freedom for his…because he surely has an entirely undeserved sense of entitlement.

I hammer down my gavel as they shamefully and selfishly shake their heads, choosing their own freedom over that of their parental failure, and send the whole family off to prison.  

A sentence of time with each other…I would expect their cell could be in the center of the conflagration of their procreation’s creation and still feel as icy as if it were a Siberian gulag.

Ah, the state of family in our country…so lacking in accountability.

We aren’t that far removed from a time when parents bore the shame of their children’s transgressions as their own.

Decades, maybe?

Or when a family member would sacrifice themselves to save the rest.

A generation or two back, tops?  

Where are those pioneers and parental pillars now?  Too rare, to be sure.

In reality, what will happen to this kid?

He’s 15, only 80% to the threshold for being tried as an adult.

How will he be held accountable for the land he has destroyed?  

The habitats and species he has threatened?

The livelihoods he has doomed?

The tens of millions of dollars his havoc has wreaked in emergency services expenses?

Will his parents be held complicit?

I certainly think they should.  It’s a values issue for me.  Certainly why I – as a judge – would offer them that Sophie’s Choice, in the first place.  A test of whether the value lessons parents are expected to teach failed to take root or if those values were simply never a part of his upbringing in the first place.

A nurtural disaster.

Sadly, my faith in our cultural humanity does not afford me the generosity of the assumption that this kid comes from competent parents.  Too often these days, I see people who are the product of hands-off parenting, abandoned to be raised by the public school system…a system that can barely teach algebra effectively, let alone morality.

Nor should it be expected to, yet here we are.

I’m loathe to agree with conservative GOP rubric on any level, but I’m fairly certain that if we’d managed to create a system of family values in our country – one that doesn’t involve the teachings of one very learned burning bush – that we could have probably avoided the current burning bush shituation in the gorge.

But, no…we didnt get there with family values.  Rather than remain true to our own country’s founding tenants, we were distracted by shoe horning selfish religious interests into law and instead of developing actual collective values as a country, the wedge was driven.  

Commandments or nothing for us!

And here we are.  The fiery result of that political and cultural spiral.

How do we fix that?

In my mind, the politicizing of values came before the actual erosion of our family unit, but I could be wrong.  Either way, we’ve got a country whose population can’t relate to its own extremes with a dwindling middle ground and families whose only bond any more seems to be shared DNA.

Luckily, regardless of which came first, the present day culmination of this failure is 45.

I’d hazard a guess that our ashy PNW sky is a nice glimpse of the impending nuclear winter skyline courtesy of the two pettiest world leaders with maybe 6″ between them. 

Here, I certainly hope to be wrong, but struggle to find evidence to support any faith I could muster in a different view of the future.

Because as complicit as our jag of a firebug’s parents are in their offspring’s fiery magnum opus, we as American’s are equally responsible for the ass sitting behind the Resolute Desk.

And he will not be outdone by some punk 15 year old.

Geez.  Now I’m depressed…

Here’s Why I’m Not A Judge

The Best Defense

I took an Uber home from work the other night.  Not just because it was 12:30 in the morning.  Not just because I had had a shit 14 hour day.  But also not only because I had bought three bottles of wine and a six pack of new IPA that I had wanted to try.


Gear Up by HUB, by the way…totally worth it.  Yeah, that’s me working at home at 12:45 in the morning.

My driver was curious about why I had so much, asking if I was having a party.  I told him the beer was for me, the wine was mostly a self-defense purchase.

He cocked an eyebrow at me in the rearview. Continue reading “The Best Defense”

The Best Defense

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