Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Prosser - drinking wine and smelling the roses


road, rail, river -  a western theme.....

We drove along the Columbia River for awhile before turning north, up and over the golden Horse Heaven Hills and down into the green Yakima Valley.

We stayed at Wine Country RV Park, a large and well kept park with decent space between sites and all the amenities one might expect.    The office hosted several wine tastings by local vineyards during our stay.    Their license required the drinking of wine be confined to the inside the office and that no alcohol be taken outside to the patio area.     Had we known that before we purchased our wine glass/tickets, we would have decided against it.       The wine tastings were very well attended, to say the least.   The office area was packed with happy people, drinking wine and eating platters of cheese and crackers left out on the bar for everyone to help themselves.      We were uncomfortable and left before finishing and didn't attend any of the others during our stay.

We were in Prosser to taste wine so we spent the next few days doing exactly that - and having a jolly good time doing it!     We tasted outside on lovely patios with expansive views of the valley, one patio under a whispering pine, next to the vines themselves.   We tasted wine with lunch, with cheese and crackers, with nothing but our own company, and in the company of a couple of very interesting "pourers".         One woman was the mother of the new owner of an previously established winery.    She watched his children, poured wine at their tasting room and chatted with guests while her husband worked in the vineyard.      Said son was busy working at his "real" job as a Nurse Practitioner.        We tasted wine in a dark, atmospheric tasting room in a strip mall.      We, (Dave) smelled roses wherever we went.

Bunnell - great wine great lunch!   Croque Madam and Pear/bacon flat bread


Daven Lore winery - a favorite


newly acquired Barrel Springs

baby grapes

listening intently

Andrea Nicole Cellars

did we buy?   Yes we did

oh Dave.....


Between tasting and sniffing we drove around the area and marveled at the acres and acres and acres of grapes, and apples and cherries, and peaches, and hops and blueberries right up to the edge of the yellow round hillsides.   

All under the shrouded but watchful eyes of Mt. Adams and Mt. Rainier.    

On our way to one winery (which we never actually found....) we took a long detour out into the golden hills looking for Gravity Hill.    There are many such "hills" in the world, ones that appear to be up but are really down...   Since this one was relatively on our way we (I) decided to find it and see if we would really roll uphill....

Someone had helpfully painted "start" on the road where one should put one's vehicle in neutral in order to roll UP towards the spooky old grain elevator.    Dave humored me and did as told and....we rolled all the way UPHILL  to the building!     

He couldn't leave well enough alone, however, and had to tell me, multiple times, why the Jeep did what it did.    I understood right away, but geez!   Just enjoy the moment!   Ah well, he's an engineer to the bone.

Through a mix up on the campground's part, our last day was Monday.    Tuesday morning we packed up and left our happy wine country blur and headed north to little Ephrata for a few day's stay.  

see us?

We're backed into a nice, full hook up, shady site at the city of Ephrata's Oasis RV and Golf "resort" and happy to be here.   It's very very hot and the shade these big willows provide is welcome.   The little pond behind us is home to birds and ducks and peepers (providing a sweet symphony all night long).

Our stop here is to rest and perhaps check out nearby Soap Lake and, of course, Banks Lake.   Plans are in flux as it seems Soap Lake is burning......

We're safe here and we'll be careful.     We'll take Lewis along with us whenever we leave Beluga, just in case.  Next stop - Spokane!   

Sunday, June 26, 2022

Maryhill, Washington


you can't see Beluga....but she's down there right on the river

We moved from Astoria, Oregon to sweet little Peach Beach RV park.  A beautifully kept, grassy campground that has the Columbia River at it's back and fruit orchards on the other three sides.    Maryhill State Park was directly next door and we had access to it through an open gate at the end of our park.     A few hundred feet down the road Gunkel Orchard's fruit stand sold cherries right off their trees.    Mmmmm

The Rose Robber, aka The Flower Filcher, was happy with my choice of campgrounds.   It turns out the orchards are bordered by hundreds of rose bushes....

he thinks I don't see him sneaking in his fragrant booty

I'm getting ahead of myself, however.       To get to Peach Beach we had to drive through the edge of Portland, in all it's rainy, trafficy glory, and along the spectacular river gorge on I-84. 

The rain tapered and stopped as soon as we were out of traffic, and the views  became spectral.   Clouds hung low over the rocky cliffs beside us.

Once we crossed the bridge from Oregon and into Maryhill itself, the clouds broke and the sun sparkled on the water behind our site.  

two huge slices of columnar basalt kept Beluga from rolling down the hill

Lewis loved it right away and pulled me down the slope behind our site # 34 to get to the water.   I had to give him a gentle reminder to leave the baby geese geese are not to be fooled around with!

the river was over full, but he didn't mind

We arrived on Friday afternoon, one of our worst favorite days in a campground.    The place was full and, even though the sites were quite spacious, we were happy when Sunday afternoon rolled around (one of our most favorite days in a campground). 

      Even though the campground had a "FULL" sign out front, the site right next to us was empty the entire time.    Well, almost empty.     A large number of non-registered visitors used it regularly, but they were very quiet and we loved spying on them.    I don't think they minded, they seemed busy.

they almost look like their colors are airbrushed.....

And, while we were intent on watching the Cedar Waxwings, we were being watched - closely.

The only downside to this idyllic spot was that we had no TV and very little cell service.    We enjoyed our surroundings, explored the area, read a lot and got plenty of sleep.

One afternoon we went on a hunt for the Rock Creek Longhouse that I'd seen a tiny sign for, somewhere on our recent explorations.     It was built in the 1940's by the Rock Creek Band of the Yakima Nation.  We had a pleasant drive, albeit a longish one, through the flaxen velvet hills, past the John Day Dam and finally along Rock Creek.

We found the Longhouse.     The beautiful original had been replaced by a modern structure surrounded by a concrete parking area, huge plastic playground equipment, two blue dumpsters,  and several abandoned cars along the creek side.    Sigh.    It's the journey....right?

To make the trip worthwhile (and to eat....)  we headed north, towards Goldendale,  to find  St. John's Monastery and Bakery.    It was quite a bit north of Goldendale and we were beginning to think this was going to be a total bust day when we came upon the little storefront in the woods.  

  We were very happy we persevered.     The Monastery sells soaps, candies, Greek delicacies and hand painted Icons all produced by the nuns in residence.     We made several purchases and left,  but one of them didn't make it back to Beluga!     The Kotopita was fresh and warm out of the oven - neither of us could resist it's intoxicating smell.     We gobbled it down on the way home...don't judge.

We finished the afternoon by taking a stroll around  the Maryhill Art Museum's Dickson Sculpture Park located on a bluff overlooking the Columbia River Gorge.   

it's always windy along the river.....

this guy's look changed as you walked by....very interesting

We didn't have time to go inside the Beaux Arts mansion to see it's eclectic collection, next time perhaps.    So many things to see, so little time!

There were two wineries nearby so we tried them both.   One was wonderful and we left with a few bottles, and one was not as pleasant.    Maryhill Winery is a large operation and we should have known the experience wouldn't be what we look for.    Especially since our visit was on a Sunday, and upon arrival we realized it was Father's Day.      We sat outside on their patio, out of the wind, and enjoyed lunch.    Their wine tastings were extremely stingy, barely a sip in one glass and either Dave or I  had to go inside with said glass for each one of their offered wines.    It was an expensive tasting, the most expensive we've "enjoyed" thus far.     The patio was nice in a plain way and the views were expansive. 

wine at home that night in a nicer atmosphere!

 The next day's tasting was much better!    Most of the offered wines were exemplary, to our taste,  and the whole experience was just what we enjoy.    Good wines, interesting and germane information about the wines we're tasting,  the winery, specific vineyards and the general area, etc. delivered in a pretty, quiet setting.   We're not asking for much are we?       Jacob Williams Winery delivered on all counts and we left with a number of bottles for sharing.

even the Jeep had a good view

We left Maryhill last Tuesday and moved inland to Prosser, Washington.   Wine Country.....guess what we've done here?      I'll be back in a few days.