Sunday, August 29, 2010

Thank goodness

If you hadn't forked out the $100 for the personalized plates, I never would have known the model of car you were driving.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Day 2: Lake Chelan to Koocanusa

In the second morning of our road trip from Vancouver to Koocanusa Lake in Montana, we had breakfast at the B&B with the owners. They are selling up, so if you are looking for a large nicely renovated 1950's house, setup as a nicely done three suite B&B overlooking the river in Lake ChelN for under $600k US...

Under a clear blue morning sky, we drove down into the Columbia River valley and up the other side through a fast and twisty valley on McNeil Canyon Road and up onto a moonscape. In our quest to hookup with US 2 heading east, we had to head straight south on Washington State highway 172 through a visually stunning vista. Dry grasslands, flat and barren, punctuated by large lava rocks that had been dumped there like shrapnel from when Mount Baker exploded some millennia ago. We stopped and got out of the car and experienced total silence. Nothingness. Not even a breeze.

We got back in and completed the last bit of the highway, which jogs only slightly when the highway engineers came up against a piece of lava as large as a house, and decided they couldn't be bothered to blow it out of the way.

We finally arrived at #2 and turned left to head east.

The top was down, the road was empty, and the barren grasslands gave way to endless golden fields, billowing off to the horizon like quilts spun of golden silk.

We rolled along through Hartline, Coulee City, Almira and Wilbur. The coulee is something to behold: Cutting its way through the prairie like a rock walled scar. The highway dips suddenly and dives across its floor, stone walls towering above us.

Then pine forests, and suddenly we are in Spokane and sweltering in the traffic. Through the city after a slight detour (is it really necessary to have both a Business 90 and an Interstate 90? Sheesh) and out the other side after a junk food lunch, then its a straight line north to tan the left side of our face, and we are off to Sandpoint, then as suddenly as we entered Idaho, we are through it and in Montana.

Then we start the long way up the side of Koocanusa to the cabin.

What a drive.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Tropic of Koocanusa


19 years and still pulling strong


Sunset over Koocanusa Lake


Thursday, August 12, 2010

Day 1: Lake Chelan continued

The B&B was nice and comfortable. We were met by the owner Dennis who showed us our room and gave us a tourist map of the wineries, and some rough directions to get to our desired destinations.

We left immediately as it was already close to fourvo'clock and many of the wineries closed at five or six. Our friends had given us some tips of the top recommended wineries surrounding the lake, and we had picked one already to have dinner at (one of the few with a full restaurant) - which coincidentally turned out to be one of the most highly recommeded and award-winning. So we drove down, across the bridge and through the little town - looking a lot like Penticton mist have looked 25 years ago - and out along the north side of the lake toward Manson. The sun wa baking down and the lake glittered invitingly in the late afternoon sun.

We turned up a side road and made our way to Benson vineyards - one of the top rated and recommended places. They grow all their own grapes, unlike many of the other vineyards who import from other vineyards in the Columbia valley nearby. We enjoyed a couple of great wines there and bought a few bottles. The view across the lake was spectacular. From there we drove into Manson and up to Hard Row to Hoe vineyards. Very small, and still establishing themselves. Their theme, name, decor and wine names are all somewhat sly references to a cross-lake row boat business that ferried randy miners to a lakefront bordello
sometime in the lake's history. The lady serving had the patter down and was quite nice, but had only limited knowledgr of the wines, grapes, and varieties. We did enjoy a couple of whites, and so bought a couple of bottles there too. The S2000's trunk was a little too small for us to pick up cases at each winery stop, so we made do with two or three from each place.

We then drove back to the B&B to unpack and change for dinner. Then we made our way (top-up to preserve the coiffure) to Tsillan winery on the south shore of the lake. Tsillanis pronounced She-lan. Hence the lake and town name.

We had a great dinner on the lawn overlooking the lake and valley. The service was terrible (save for our wine server (Calin/Caitlin/?) who was super knowledgeable and friendly) but the food was really really good, and we had tasters of several good wines while we watched the sunset. So we bought a few bottles and made our way back to the B&B.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Washington State stretches like a prairie


Bit Close Encounters, isn't it.


Into the coulee

Highway 2 heading east to Coulee City

Monday, August 09, 2010

Driving up above Diablo Lake


Top dropped outside Concrete WA


Sunday, August 08, 2010

Yes its the name of a vineyard

And yes it is written on the _rear_ of the promo panties.


The only way to wine-tour


Diablo Lake with Dam in the distance


Overlooking Diablo Lake, N. Cascades Highway, WA




Will it fit?


Day 1: pre departure fog and rain

We decided we would leave two days later than we had originally planned, as a friend had asked me to do a casual gig with him for his wife's 50th birthday the day after we were supposed to leave. Of course this meant that rather than leaving in lovely 29c heat and bright sunshine of Friday, we have awoken to a moist gray and misty Sunday morning: the hottest driest July in Vancouver's recorded history, and our first August vacation morning smothers us like a cold wet facecloth.

So likely it will be top up and heater on in the S2000, at least untl midday (if the Washington state forecast can be trusted).

Monday, August 02, 2010

4 generations

A lovely day with family by the sea.

66 years of marriage and going strong

On the deck at Terry and Joanne's in Ambleside.