Thursday, November 09, 2006

Trip Recap #7:  In vino finis.

We ended our trip with two great days back in Seattle. On Friday, we drove down to see Mount Rainier. It was a long drive, but it was a really nice day so it was enjoyable. The scenery was fabulous, but we couldn't see Mount Rainier from the highway. I think it must've been blocked by clouds or something. We drove and drove, and kept getting higher and higher up, but we couldn't see anything through the trees along the road. We have this goofy joke on vacations, where MB will suddenly announce that whatever view we're looking at is just a backdrop, and we were both joking about that and about the Mount Rainier backdrop being removed for the day or something, and right then, we came around the corner, the trees thinned completely, and WHAM. There it was.

Please understand that this photo doesn't even begin to do it justice. It was a jaw-dropping moment. The mountain was so massive, so completely and undeniably present, that it really was hard to wrap my brain around the sheer size of the thing.

My only regret is that this was pretty much the only view of it we got, since all the visitors' centers and the scenic routes were closed for the season.

On our way back to Seattle, we met up with this fantabulous person and her darling family for dinner. We had a complete and total blast. M & I yakked our faces off, and our husbands were very accomodating, and M & J's divine boychild let me hold him yet again. Once again, bribing him to be my friend by giving him a spoon to play with was the ticket. He was so cute it was almost painful, I swear. Hanging out with M was AWESOME. I felt like we'd been friends for years (which we have, for 2 years) and not at all like it was only the second time I'd ever seen her in person. I'm seriously bummed that they live so far away, because I would totally and completely dig monthly get-togethers with them.

On Saturday, our last day of vacation, MB and I drove up to Woodinville to visit the Chateau Ste. Michelle winery. MB just recently got interested in wine, so I really wanted us to take a wine tour before we came back to the Midwest. We went on the wine tour, and it was pretty interesting. I didn't realize that the Woodinville facility only produces white wines, and at first I was disappointed because MB prefers reds. We went to the tasting bar after the tour, though, and it turned out that their $5 wine tasting menu was all reds for the fall. We had overbudgeted by quite a bit for the trip, and even though MB usually almost never spends money on himself, after the tasting I was able to convince him that the occasion of a vacation with surplus cash called for a bit of splurging. It's a good thing I'm honest, because I probably could've convinced him of a lot right then. There was a 15% discount for purchasing 6 bottles, so we went for it and got them packed in a shipper box for the plane ride.

On the way into Woodinville, we'd seen signs for about five wineries besides Chateau Ste. Michelle. One of them was the Columbia Winery, and MB had tried a glass of their Merlot at dinner the night before, so he was interested. We had some time, so I agreed that if we could find the Columbia Winery, we'd stop by and see if they had tours, too. As I pulled the Behemoth up to the exit of Chateau Ste. Michelle, we looked up and saw that the Columbia Winery was literally across the street. We pulled straight across the road from the Chateau's parking lot into Columbia's.

We went in and were told that there would be a tour leaving at 2:00. It actually didn't leave until about 2:20, but I'm so glad we waited. The guide at Columbia was even more knowledgeable than our guide at CSM had been. I don't really like wine, but I love learning about it. The tour was fantastic, and we stopped by the tasting bar for MB to sample some of their wares. Our tour guide ended up being his tasting server, and she continued to be awesome. MB tends to prefer Shiraz / Syrah, and they had two on the menu. She gave him a taste of each, and apparently the one she recommended as her favorite was fantastic. Since he'd basically had the equivalent of three glasses of wine in an hour at this point, I easily talked him into buying two bottles of the favorite Syrah. We had planned on buying two bottles that morning, so we had space reserved in one of our suitcases. We carefully wrapped the bottles in plastic bags and then two T-shirts each before cushioning them in an entire suitcase of clothes, but MB still worried about them through our entire flight home.

After leaving the second winery, we drove back down to Seattle and met up with a good friend of mine who moved out there after we graduated from college. We saw her awesome apartment in Capitol Hill and walked to a Thai place for dinner. MB was delighted. Their chicken satay wasn't as good as the Thai-ger Room's, but it was tasty. We talked and caught up, but all too soon we had to leave in order to head back to the airport and get checked in for our red-eye flight home.

This trip was probably the best trip we've ever taken. We did so many cool things, but I never felt like we were rushing or packing too much into our days. Other than the night we got lost looking for our hotel, we enjoyed the trip and each other's company immensely. There were so many wonderful moments with friends and amazing sights and a real sense of our particular synergy / connection / partnership with each other. Someone asked me what my favorite part of the trip was when we got back, and I honestly couldn't say. The whole trip was just that good.

To continue with The Cheese for one more paragraph, tonight I'm feeling extremely fortunate that we had such a fantastic trip. Last weekend / early this week, the area we visited was hit with huge amounts of rain. It looks like a lot of the roads around the Mount Rainier were washed out and at least one of the visitors' centers was flooded. I checked for news on the Olympic National Park webpage, and it looks like the road into the Hoh Rainforest is closed off outside the park boundaries, and the Hurricane Ridge road is closed due to fallen rocks. M & J & the bot had to evacuate their apartment, and though they're home safe now, it looks like some of their first-floor neighbors got hit pretty hard. I feel very lucky and smiled-upon that we had such a great trip, and I'm relieved that our friends are safe and sound.

Once more, with feeling...Shutterfly.


I obviously shouldn't post when I'm as tired as I was last night...if anyone noticed that I ended up with two November 7th posts in a row, please believe that I mis-dated the second one. There were also an embarrassing number of typos. I hope I found and corrected all of them.

Reading: Sunshine by Robin McKinley. It is EXCELLENT so far.

Playing: Bringing Down the Horse by the Wallflowers

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