The Wine Cyclist

Tag: Washington

Olympic National Park

by on Oct.09, 2009, under Miscellany

IMG_0962I know, I know. I’m a lazy bum. I’ve been back from Olympic National Park for over a week now and I’m just getting around to writing the blog post. No excuses. Honestly, it’s hard to fully describe the experience. ONP has some of the most incredible scenery I’ve seen to date. So, I’m not sure what to write. I guess I’ll just spend a few paragraphs telling you what I got up to, and perhaps waxing philosophical, and then I think I’ll just throw a bunch of pictures at you (the one to the left there Mt Olympus). How does that sound?

I went in to the park the first time along the Boulder Creek Trail (near the Elwha River) on the day of the autumnal equinox. It was a fairly leisurely hike by my standards, so I spent some time that afternoon lounging about in the Boulder Creek hot springs. I do love me some hot springs. After that, I hiked my way up an incredibly scenic trail to Appleton Pass, my campsite for that first evening. From there it was back down to the Sol Duc River, up to Deer Lake for another night of camping and then up over Bogachiel Peak on day three.

IMG_0980Along the Hoh River making my way up to Elk Lake (my third campsite), I ran into Brian and Dev (pronounced Dave), who were hiking about the same area as I the next couple of days. It’s always good to have some company, especially for some of the crazy trails that make their way up to Blue Glacier (pictured to the right) and Mt Olympus. We spent a day checking out all of that, and the next day was a long hike out through the Hoh Rain Forest. Excellent times indeed hanging out with Brian and Dev. they even gave me a ride back into Port Angeles.

From PA, I schemed out my next adventure on the Olympic Peninsula, and two days after leaving the main area of the park, I was out along the coastal wilderness of Olympic near Lake Ozette. I spent two days doing some surprisingly difficult hiking south along the coast. There were many rock outcroppings that I needed to scramble over, and of course the rocks were wet, seaweed-covered and otherwise slippery, which makes for an interesting challenge.

Now, I’m back in the civilized world for a bit, but I guarantee it shall not last. In less than a week, I’m making my way for the southwest to explore many of the national parks, monuments, and other wonders of that incredible area. The adventure continues!

As promised, pictures of Olympic National Park…

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Keep On Walkin’

by on Sep.13, 2009, under Miscellany

IMG_0890Yeah, yeah… I’m a lazy bum. I’ve been hanging out in Seattle for a week and I haven’t gotten around to posting something until now. Sometimes I get distracted from such things, you know? A week was spent in the woods. It was fun. Oh, you want more detail than that, I suppose.

August 29th, I caught a ride from friends of mine in Portland out to the town of Cascade Locks, OR. That weekend there was a Pacific Crest Trail festival, with a few dozen thru-hikers and an assortment of other PCT-affiliated people. There was also beer. Tasty beer. By the keg. I met many people that evening, some of whom I even remember meeting (also known as the people I met before the kegs were tapped). The next day, after a ginormous breakfast in Cascade Locks, I crossed the Bridge of the Gods into Washington and began my walk north along the Pacific Crest Trail.

Despite being in good shape from all the cycling, it took me a while to get used to the whole backpacking thing. One uses many different muscles backpacking than you do cycling. The body as a whole also takes much greater impact. My feet, especially, were very sore from the plod-plod-plodding along, and my hips as well, from carrying the load of my pack. I worked many muscles while cycling, but since I was only really responsible for forward momentum and are not actually bearing the weight of the travel load myself, my legs didn’t take quite as much impact damage. Ibuprofen is a much closer friend to me, now.

So the first few days were relatively short (at least compared to the PCT thru-hikers, who have 4-5 months of backpacking under their belts at this point). I put in a couple 18 mile days, and a long, hard 23 mile day (that hurt), before getting used to things and settling nicely into a 20-25 mile per day habit.

The only reason I got off trail when I did was that things got very cold and rainy Labor Day Weekend, and I was camping at altitudes over 5,000 feet. I had rain gear, and some cold weather base layers, but I really wasn’t geared up for the extent of the temperature drop. I figured it was time to head coastward. So near Mt. Rainier, I moseyed my way to a road crossing and hitched my way into Seattle.

Enough talking. Here are some pictures for you…

View from Bunker Hill.

View from Bunker Hill.

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Pictures of the Columbia River

by on Aug.17, 2009, under Miscellany

Hey sports fans, this is getting exciting, no? I’m almost to the coast…

Hat Rock State Park

Hat Rock State Park

Maryhill's Stonehenge

Maryhill's Stonehenge

Mt Hood

Mt Hood

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Windy Wine Country

by on Aug.14, 2009, under Wine

Downtown Walla Walla

Downtown Walla Walla

It’s been many miles of riding. I’m sure you’re all sick of reading about cycling and ready for me to talk about some wine. Well, you’re in luck, as I spent the last two days in the town of Walla Walla and its surrounding wine country.

Wednesday was spent in downtown Walla Walla. It’s a cool little downtown, pleasant if a bit touristy, but that’s ok. The downtown area is filled mostly with restaurants and, of course, wine tasting rooms for many of the 130 wineries in the Walla Walla area. I hit many places, but I’m just going to tell you about a few of my favorites, to keep things somewhat brief.

My first stop ended up being one of my favorites — Sapolil Cellars. Only a few of the wines were still in stock: a couple of syrahs and a chardonnay. But while the selection was limited, at least it was quite tasty. The chard was my kind of chard. It was crisp, minerally, with a nice hint of peach. Most importantly, there was no oak and no buttery flavors to it. The two syrahs were a 2006 and a 2007 from the same vineyard (Patina Vineyard). The ’06 was big, bold and rich, while the ’07 was a little softer. Both were quite tasty and had a nice balance of earth and fruit.

Hanging out in the Sapolil tasting room, I had a chance to chat for a while with Bill, the owner and winemaker. First off, he was really awesome in helping me to find a place to crash in Walla Walla that evening. But the conversation covered many different subjects including his philosophy on winemaking, and the joys he’s had bringing live music into his tasting room (a jazz trio goes really well with wine). He’s got a good laidback philosophy on winemaking — definitely of the “just let the grapes do their own thing” bent. We also spent some time discussing the massive amount of change a wine can go through while bottle-aging, even moreso than in barrel-aging in his view.

Another excellent stop in downtown Walla Walla was Sleight of Hand Cellars, just around the corner from Sapolil (the intersection of 2nd and Main is a wonderful area of winetasting, so much is located right there). Trey, the winemaker is a big music fan, so we spent as much time talking about music as we did about wine, but he certainly is making some tasty wines. The Magician, his gewurztraminer is nicely dry with a good crisp acidity and excellent fruit and floral notes. I was really impressed by the dry cab franc rose (The Magician’s Assistant). Bone dry. Very nice. Hard to find that in a rose. A hint of spiciness and some nice fruit really round out this wine.

My last stop in the downtown area was Walla Walla Village Winery. It was another very laid back tasting room with a selection of four wines. Both the riesling and the merlot were nice examples of their varietals, but my favorites were definitely the last two. The cabernet franc had an excellent balance of spicy pepper and rich fruit. The Bordello Red Bordeaux-style blend (guess what the building they’re in used to be) was very hearty and full and also nicely balanced. Definitely a great food wine.

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