Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Wine in Walla Walla

 We left Spokane last Sunday.   The weather was sunny and nice.   We were sad to leave Jesse and Erin and sweet little Anabelle, but had made peace with that.  Christmas isn't too far away is it?  

dreamy eyes in grandpa's lap

relaxing on Dad's lap at happy hour

 We enjoyed a few last outings by ourselves and with them.    A delicious wine offering for a lunch at Vieux Carre gave us the idea for a new destination in Walla Walla.    Also, a last opportunity to have some beloved beignets.   Dave deemed these "the best outside of New Orleans".

bbq shrimp on cheese grits and gumbo, mmmm

sugary beignets!

 We were happy and looking forward to being on the road again.     Our route took us on the previously closed I-90 and we were stunned by the reach of the Gray Fire, the beginnings of which I showed you on my last blog.  

These few pictures, taken from Beluga's side window with my cell phone, while moving along at 65 mph, don't really show the devastation we saw and felt.    Huge  pines completely blackened, piles of vaporized cars and bldgs......oh my.

We drove in silence.

Ok.....back to real time.    We're at the Blue Valley RV Resort in Walla Walla, Washington until tomorrow morning.    It's our third time here.     This is a small, well run, well kept property on the outskirts of town in an industrial and rather downtrodden neighborhood.'s very close to the neat little downtown with lots of restaurants and set in the midst of lots of very good wineries.   Perfect.

We had another knock out dinner at Brasserie Four last night and visited two new to us wineries.     The first was Valdemar Estate Winery, a stylish new facility with it's roots in Spain.

We planned our tasting for later in the afternoon be able to enjoy their wines (Spanish and Washington) with some Tapas for our meal of the day.    We weren't disappointed with either.    As usual, we left with a bag of bottles.    The temperature was in the low hundreds, so we stayed indoors.    Not a hardship, the expansive views were just as nice from our window side table.

quiet sounds of water running down the back wall

light reflections in the glass fascinated me

patatas bravas

The last wine tasting of our Walla Walla stay was our favorite, however.   You'll remember that I mentioned the good wine we had with our lunch in Spokane....a Viognier from Isenhower Cellars.    Since it was lunch time then, we had only split one glass and it left us with a taste for more.  

We located the vineyard in Walla Walla and were delighted to find them open mid week.   Isenhower is a small, family owned and run place in a pretty, but out of the way, location.

whimsical statues in the garden

It was worth searching for.     When we arrived and walked through the little garden, we found were the only visitors.   We had owner Denise all to ourselves.    She's a delightful woman, full of stories and a genuine interest in her wine and her customers.    We told her we had tried one of her wines in Spokane and decided to seek her out, to see what else she had to offer.

Usually one gets three or perhaps four tastes of various wines, recent releases, vintages, etc.    Denise was excited to share her wines with us.    I lost count at about 8 (or was it 9) "tastes", she apologized for the warmer than normal temperature of the Viognier so she chilled it to "try again later".    And so it went.      I took only two or three pictures, I was otherwise occupied.       The wines were very good (we left with a number (get ready Steve and MonaLiza) of bottles, the conversation was delightful, but the real star of the day was Augie.      For us, nothing compared to tasting good wine with a large, bony yellow dog contentedly leaning on our leg......

Augie was closed in the back room when we arrived,  behind a glass door.    He stared at us, longingly, and tapped the door, quietly, every few minutes, just to remind Denise that he was there and would very much like to meet the new people.   tap............tap...........tap.    We finally made her understand that we'd really love to meet him too.     

Denise and Augie

Other people started arriving for scheduled tastings so we left with an armful of beautiful donut peaches, a heavy bag of wine and dog hair on our jeans.    Oh happy day.

Having had plenty of wine yesterday, burp, we took it easy today.    Grocery shopping, reading, naps, take-out pasta dinner and getting ready for the drive to Caldwell, Idaho in the morning.   Dave made sure that we had a little pastry box full of Kouign Amann for the road.....what a guy.

Saturday, August 19, 2023

Almost time to go

 Our time in Spokane is winding down, we leave here next Sunday.   We haven't done much exploring; we've been here before.    Dinners in with Jesse, Erin and Annabelle (and Molly, of course), walks in the park and going for ice cream afterwards, a few "first" outings with the little girlie, an outdoor restaurant, a winery, maybe a trip to Green Bluff for produce, you know....gentle, easy family things.

Annabelle's meal was better than ours....

waiting for us to finish

The "right down the street" Manito city park is a fantastic place to stroll.   Rose Garden, Japanese Garden, Lilac Garden, Perennial Garden, Duncan Garden, Conservatory, ice cream stand, and Mirror Pond (where a moose was recently seen submerged up to its neck, enjoying a respite from summer heat).  It hosts numerous concerts, Christmas light displays, etc. throughout the year as well as providing a peaceful place for families to stroll, children and dogs to play.  

Dave and Molly in the blurry background

Baby's first "hanging on mom's front"  excursion
see her little legs?


Annabelle is growing and changing.   She's starting to smile and coo (although the jury's out on whether gas plays a role in those behaviors....).    She's beginning to interact with us, hints of things to come!

day one, in the hospital

now a month old! (same grandpa though) 

kissing the New Orleans alligator

She enjoys her new things (we're guessing) and loves to watch the races on tv with dad.     She especially loves it when Molly joins the group.

her nursery lamp!

OK, no more baby pictures, but maybe just one or two more of Molly.

Molly greets us each day

don't ask

Molly's scoots at happy hour

In between times we read, walk, go out for a few dinners, make a couple easy repairs around Beluga, perhaps see where a new road or two may lead us, and try to keep out of the wildfires that are beginning to become troublesome.   Troublesome to us, devastating to many people who've lost everything.

Trattoria Italia

can I eat my Halibut now?

Beignet balls at Luna

the bar at Sorella

meatballs and chianti!

Dave had to repair our bedroom shade, which crashed down on me one afternoon.  He also ordered and installed a new Blue Ox towbar last week.   Our original one was becoming a little "sloppy" and concerned Dave, so out it went.      

bed worktable

Another time consuming and irritating problem we have here is the constant water spotting all over Beluga.    The grass and plantings are lush and beautiful, we appreciate their concern for the look of the place, but the sprinklers are often positioned so that they douse Beluga with as much water as the grass.    The white spots left behind drive Dave CRAZY, he's out wiping Beluga down every morning before they set and become impossible to remove.    First came the buckets over the sprinkler heads.    An idea that was rejected as soon as the grass started to suffer (as did I when the loud,  drum like noise woke me each night.   You haven't lived til you've heard high pressure water blasting the inside of a plastic bucket right outside your bedroom window at 2 a.m.)  Next came the interesting use of cement blocks, metal stool and wooden jack pads.    Finally, we found and ordered purpose made sprinkler shields.    Bingo!     No noise, no dry grass and no more water spots!

works like a charm, but we can't get the darn sticker off!

Bumping into like-minded people is one of the greatest perks of traveling in Beluga.     We've made so many good friends on the road, people we would have never crossed paths with if we lived in one place.     This trip it was a lovely couple from New Zealand parked next to us here at the Northern Quest Casino RV Park.    Stuart and Dave were both outside each morning wiping their respective MHs when they began to talk and commiserate.     Long story short, we talked and laughed and shared our life stories over wine and beer and quiche.     She is a renowned artist, currently working in watercolor.    Perhaps a painting of sweet Lewis is in the works?   Stay tuned.

Stuart and Carolyn

A drive into the woods,  into the mountains, or out in the desert renews us, always.     Finding water does too.

Jump Off Joe Lake

For a more exciting outing we drove the 4 or 5 minute distance to the Kalispel tribe's racetrack, Qlispe' Raceway.    We've been watching and waiting for it to open, they've been renovating a historic 50 year old, track and are just beginning to host drag racing.

It was a relatively low-key day of racing and we snagged the perfect parking spot, directly behind the starting line of the drag strip, alongside the staging lanes for vehicles waiting to race.    Perfect, comfortable seats, shade, water, an unobstructed view of the race and plenty of tire smoke and roaring engines to satisfy any real race fan.    We had a stellar day!   It was like old times for us, except no uncomfortable bleacher seats.

fashion statement?

see the racing snowmobile in the background?   Who knew?

a tribal elder watching......

Yesterday, things became ugly.    A terrible wildfire blew up not far from us (don't worry, far enough away to be safe, but close enough to be watchful) near Medical Lake.     It has devastated the area, latest estimate being 9500 acres, and is 0 % contained at this moment.     

a sobering view out my window

Yesterday the ominous plume of smoke rose in a blue sky.    Today we can barely see the nearby casino and the mountains are completely obscured.   The air is thick and smoky, we can smell it even in Beluga.    I probably should have ended this post on a lighter note.....but it is what it is.     Stay tuned, we'll be back on the road next week.