September 2009


Domaine Drouhin 2006 Pinot Noir

The whirlwind trip to Oregon would not have been complete without a stopover in the wine country south of Portland. It’s hard not to enjoy an afternoon in and around the Dundee hills tasting wines. I’d been up there a couple times before and this particular visit didn’t disappoint. On top of the weather being outstanding it was my birthday the day we were visiting – both good reasons to raise a glass.

We just had an afternoon to sample the area so we opted to essentially stay pretty close to just one area around Dundee. First stop was to Lange winery. Lange is a pretty drive out into the hills off the main road and down several miles of gravel road. It’s a fairly small winery and tasting room but has a nice deck and view out the back. It would have been a nice place to picnic but we hadn’t seen an obvious place to stop for food on the way through Dundee. But we asked our very helpful server and she gave us some great suggestions. In fact, she suggested several other great wineries in the area not to be missed as well as great dinner places. She didn’t steer us wrong.

The wines at Lange were excellent. We were particularly wowed by the 2006 “Freedom Hill Vineyard” Pinot Noir. Kem got a bottle of that.

From Lange it was off to pick up some sandwiches and then we headed over to Domaine Drouhin. More excellent wines. In particular we had an excellent 2006 Pinot Noir. We didn’t get a bottle there but Kem has since found it here in Austin. The views from the deck were great at Domaine Drouhin and many of the pictures in the slideshow are from there. We hung out a bit, enjoyed lunch and some of the excellent wine.

Our pace was relaxed and there wasn’t actually a lot of time to take in too many other wineries. We’d heard good things about Panther Creek and it was only a few blocks from where we were going to be staying so we headed that direction. Panther Creek is located in the former power plant in McMinnville. Once again, we were impressed with the wines and found their 2006 wine from Freedom Hills was our favorite. We’ve since found it here in Austin too.

The place we stayed in McMinnville was called A’ Tuscan Estate. I’d highly recommend it. It seems perhaps a little oddly named considering the location, decor and the fact that neither of the innkeepers is from Italy. But it’s a beautiful home and the food was excellent! You can read a bit more about the innkeepers here. They had a very interesting history. Jacques, the chef, is from France and has written culinary books and won awards. Kem bought one of his books and had him sign it. On top of that the two of them were very friendly and helpful. Breakfast on the porch that morning could not have been much better. Fresh made croissants, home made preserves and quiche. Their little pooch, Pololo, shown in the picture at the link above was definitely around the B&B too but he seemed to be tired and resting most of the time.

The visit to the Willamette Valley was too short. Would have been fun to be around another day or two. There are a lot of wineries in the area. We just scratched the surface. No doubt another trip will need to be planned.

Vodpod videos no longer available.
Chas in Bend, OR

The trip to Oregon in August had three components to it. The first was a stopover at Mt Hood, the 2nd was in Bend and the 3rd was a visit to the Willamette valley south of Portland. We spent a couple days in Bend. This is the second time I’ve been to Bend and each time I’ve been fortunate to go when the weather was close to ideal.

There’s something that just seems to suit me about Bend. Part of it’s the beauty of the area around Bend of course: mountains, lakes, streams, trees. There’s great hiking and biking to be had in and around the area. There’s also a small town feel to the place and yet some big city amenities like interesting restaurants, markets and shops.

The picture of me off to the right was taken by Kem as we wandered through Drake park near the center of town. The Picasa slide show below is of various points along a hike we did at Tumalo Falls. Tumalo Falls is west of Bend a short drive and in part of the Deschutes National Forest. The hike was around 7 miles and took us along Tumalo Creek. The parking lot and trail starts within view of Tumalo Falls – the largest and first falls shown in the pictures – but along the trail there were easily a half dozen more falls along the stream.

We were well past half way on the hike when the trail just seemed to stop. We backtracked a ways to see if maybe we’d just missed a turn. Nope, so we turned back again. The trail just seemed to end at this rather sizable creek. At least it seemed sizable enough that we didn’t feel like wading across it. As we looked more closely, sure enough, the trail proceeded on the other side. In fact, someone had even carved a big arrow into a fallen log that pointed across to the other side. The only way over seemed to require making our way over a fallen tree that was over the creek, but doing so meant first getting to and then climbing over the tree’s sizable root ball. Hmm, maybe not. We wandered a bit further up the creek and found another fallen log. Thankfully this one was a bit easier to climb up on and get across. Our big adventure on an otherwise easy and beautiful hike.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

The capabilities of the latest phones are pretty amazing. I’ve been using a Blackberry for work but recently I got an iPhone for a project. In many ways I’m not sure I like it any better than the Blackberry. The large touch screen is definitely very nice but it’s heavier and draws so much power it barely holds a charge for the duration of the day. The Blackberry on the other hand could go for days, even with Bluetooth on.

But after playing with it a bit, I’m finding the iPhone has some very interesting apps that take advantage of it’s more advanced capabilities. The phone has GPS built in and I found this free app called Runkeeper. The idea is that you start it when you go for a run/walk/ride and it keeps track of where you’ve been as well as speed and altitude. These are capabilities that have been in devices like the Garmin GPS’es for quite some time. But having it in your phone is definitely handy.

I gave it a try on the bike ride I did this morning. It was a ride I do often. Once you’re done and ‘stop’ the recording, you can upload the results to the related web site. There you can look at the stats and a map. I snagged an image of the display below. Very cool!

Runkeeper