Spring Break to Mexico, Part 2: Wine Country

Mexico Highway 3

Mexico Highway 3

As we headed south from Tecate, I was absolutely astounded at the beautiful green rolling hills. I commented that it seemed positively Mediterranean and just as I did, we noticed olive trees. As we approached Ensenada, a large sign appeared over the highway welcoming us to the Ruta del Vino. We made a stop at a roadside stand, sampled a bit of olive oil and bought some honey and then set off for Ensenada. The impressive architecture of Encuentro Guadalupe made us pause.

Mexican Wine Country

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The view from the balcony was too good to pass up so we decided to celebrate entering Mexico. We ordered Cerveza Fauna‘s IPA Lycan Lupus and a glass of Encuentro’s house wine, a blend of merlot, cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, malbec, and nebiolo.

Cerveza Fauna IPA Lycan Lupus

Beth at Encuentro Guadelupe

We took our drinks and wandered around the main restaurant, event, and tasting area. As we did, the manager, Alex, asked us if we’d like to sample a coffee porter that he and another man in the room had brewed. It was pretty good! Alex then invited us to watch a short film and then said he would take us down to “The Cave.”

The film showed the inside of the small “Eco-Loft” rooms on the hillside above the main building. They were really simple and beautiful (and at $350 US a night way above my price range…).

Encuentro Guadalupe and Valle de Guadalupe

We headed down to the cellar where Alex explained that these boulders were here, in their exact places, when excavation began for the building and the architect decided to leave them as part of the building.

Encuentro Guadalupe cellar

We passed into the part of the cellar with the wine barrels and Alex poured a sample of cabernet franc directly from the barrel and handed it to me before unlocking an iron gate in the small fence separating the cellar from the natural rock of the hillside. He turned on a light and lead us into “the cave.”

According to Alex, they found this cave when they were excavating for the building. It had a natural opening at the top where water dripped down eroding the space. It was quiet, a perfect temperature, and inviting in its simplicity.

Wine cave

As we left the cellar, Alex told us about a hot springs up the valley. We weren’t sure that we wanted to pay the few dollars to go to the springs themselves but we did find a beautiful place to camp overlooking the valley full of vineyards.

Encuentro Guadalupe.

Valle de Guadalupe

I will definitely be coming back to this valley to sample wine, visit the wine museum in the nearby town (also full of wine tasting locations!), and probably to visit the hot springs. Experiences like sipping a pretty darn good local wine (while stealing samples of a great IPA too!) and then talking with someone like Alex are my favorite parts of traveling!

Beer Tasting: Pacific Brewing & Malting Co.

As my mom and I were headed out of downtown Tacoma we noticed Pacific Brewing & Malting Co., a new brewery on Pacific Avenue. The brewery’s name came from a pre-Prohibition brewery in Tacoma. I looked up their beer list online and learned that they make a “Griswold’s Winter Warmer”…and the description was one of my most favorite quotes from Christmas Vacation:

Hey! If any of you are looking for any last-minute gift ideas for me, I have one. I’d like Frank Shirley, my boss, right here tonight. I want him brought from his happy holiday slumber over there on Melody Lane with all the other rich people and I want him brought right here, with a big ribbon on his head, and I want to look him straight in the eye and I want to tell him what a cheap, lying, no-good, rotten, four-flushing, low-life, snake-licking, dirt-eating, inbred, overstuffed, ignorant, blood-sucking, dog-kissing, brainless, dickless, hopeless, heartless, fat-ass, bug-eyed, stiff-legged, spotty-lipped, worm-headed sack of monkey shit he is! Hallelujah! Holy shit! Where’s the Tylenol?

Mom decided since there was a Christmas Vacation inspired name on the menu that we really had to go and check it out. I’m so glad we did! The beer was all pretty darn good and their use of a vintage Tacoma brewing brand and it’s logo was excellent!

Pacific Brewing and Malting Co. logo

I did a tasting tray (which I did feel was a tad expensive at $14 for six tastes) to get a sense of what the brewery was all about

1897 Pale Lager: I was really skeptical about the chances of me liking this beer but I was told that it’s their flagship brew so I had to give it a shot. Surprisingly, I really liked it. The brewery needs to work on getting it on tap at the Rainiers because although I don’t think I’d sit down on a cold winter evening with this, it would be the perfect craft beer accompaniment to a summer baseball game. The original Pacific Brewing & Malting Co. was founded in 1897 which is honored in the name of this beer. Even better than this name, however, are all the vintage advertisements found throughout the tasting room. I found this one in the ladies bathroom pretty much awesome:

Pacific Beer ad

Moon Yard Ale: This amber was pretty solid. I used to really really dig ambers and browns but my tastes have definitely migrated to the hoppy and bitter. (Give me a Cascadian dark any day though!!) I enjoyed this but since the taster made up for being expensive with it’s generous pours this one probably got a little less love than it deserved.

As with all the beers on the menu, its name was derived from something T-town related. Half Moon Yard was the name of the rail yard located along the Thea Foss Waterway just below the brewery’s Pacific Avenue location.

Dirty Skoog IPA: I was a fan of this double IPA. It wasn’t overly bitter but had a good nose and was really drinkable. Besides, who wouldn’t be a fan of an IPA named after a semi-mythological blind pig speakeasy that operated in Tacoma during Prohibition. Someone please open something in Tacoma named The Skoog Saloon. I promise I’ll frequent it every time I’m back in the Northwest.

Donkey Puncher ESB: I am not a huge ESB fan but this was sort of a standout (for its style) on the tasting fleet to me. Deliciousness. I’m going to have a hard time deciding between the Dirty Skoog and the Donkey Puncher on return trips. A “donkey puncher” is another name for a steam powered logging winch (more commonly known as a “steam donkey” around here).

Griswold’s Winter Warmer: Pacific’s winter offering was a hit with both my mom and I. Mom doesn’t much like beer but she’s gaining a taste for “the darker ones.” I only got a few sips of this delicious malty Christmas beer because Suzy Snowflake was getting sort of possessive of Griswold but what I did taste was awesome.

Suzy Snowflake and Griswold's Winter Warmer

Grit City Porter: Compared to the brewery’s other offerings this one was pretty weak. I’m also not a huge porter fan so you probably shouldn’t take my word for it if this is the style that falls into your wheelhouse. It’s name is derived from a loving but slightly self-deprecating nickname for Tacoma—forever the less glamorous sister to Seattle.

I had a blast tasting with my mom and giving her my tasting notes as we went (and trying to steal sips of the winter warmer). I was so enchanted with the history, the naming, and of course the beer I even bought something to represent Grit City in beer loving Colorado. The sweet trucker hat only set me back $10. I totally give Pacific Brewing & Malting Co. status worth a visit…it’s going to get another visit from me sometime for sure.

Pacific Brewing and Malting Co. hat

Thanksgiving Break 2014: Golden

Thankfully, we get a whole week off in Ridgway for Thanksgiving. This break was totally needed! Since I had a flight out of Denver on Thanksgiving morning (!) I decided it made a lot of sense to just head over to the Front Range right away and relax rather than working on the house. This turned out to be such a good decision. Both Sprocket and I were so ready to hit the road when school got out on Friday!

Beth on the road

Sprocket

I’d planned to get to Aleya’s house and promptly go to sleep. This didn’t happen, but that was a-okay with me.

Golden, Colorado

Turbodown twins

The next day, I relaxed a little bit at Aleya’s place, did some climbing with her roommate at Earthworks, had lunch at Mountain Toad brewery, made dinner at her place, and then headed back to Mountain Toad with Sprocket for a night cap.

Sprocket

Earthworks

Mountain Toad Brewery

Thanks so much Aleya (and your friends!), I had a blast.

New England Friend Time

My time at Bates was a whirlwind of coursework, softball, and friends. After years of meals together, evenings, weekends, and Patriots/Red Sox games, there were a handful who became like family. Stacia, along side her beautiful new wife Andrea, was the reason for my trip back East was one of those people. Lucy and Franz are part of my Bates friend-family and are some more of those people. Lucky for me lived close enough to Sunday River that I was able to hang out with them for a day and a half before flying back out West. It was the perfect end to my trip.

This photo kills me. It’s like the epitome of so so many college times. I love these two and I’m completely looking forward to seeing them in November for their wedding!

Lucy, Beth and Franz

Beers

Novare Res Courtyard

Franz at Novare Res

Lucy at Novare Res

Horsefly Peak … Er … Horsefly Brewing

Sprocket and I got up yesterday and headed out for an adventure. Leaving our house, we drove south down Ouray County Road 1, catching glimpses of Horsefly Peak. Horsefly Peak is the highest point on the Uncomphagre Plateau and I would really like to check it off the list.

Horsefly Peak

I’d studied some maps and had reason to suspect that we might be able to get close to it from the southeastern side and drove out Dave Wood Road hoping that Hull Ridge Road was not private, or at least not gated. It wasn’t to be.

Spirits still high, we headed further north hoping to find a good jumping off place for hiking into the hills. There simply wasn’t one.

We explored the Happy Canyon Rim trail; the short version of the the longest short drive ever is that the road never really went anywhere, wasn’t particularly scenic and was unbelievably bumpy. But I was curious so we checked it out and I decided that our jeep needs two-wheel drive low range…

Happy Canyon Rim Trail

Since I was now on the direct northern side of the mesa, I figured making a nice full circle of the peak would be at least a good consolation prize. I was doing well, making my way up to Bible Camp Road and starting to swing south. Then I reached a point in the road where both forks were marked “Private Property, No Trespassing.” Being that I own a significant amount of land similarly signed, I weighed my options for a moment: I could “trespass” (although according to my map, this was a thru road), I could turn around and go home via Montrose, or I could backtrack the way I came. I had no intentions of going back the way I came as it was at least as long, if not longer. I didn’t really want to go to Montrose, I wanted to circle the peak by staying on the mesa. So through the signs I went.

Uncompahgre Plateau

Interestingly, there were never any signs marking that section as “private” coming the other way. Pleased with this development, I continued to follow the main road.

Wrong way. I should have followed Wildcat Road which would have taken me to Government Springs and hopefully Horsefly would have connected with County Road 22. Instead, I missed my turn and followed Sims Mesa Road. This road popped me back on Highway 550 just south of Montrose. My peak bagging adventure foiled AND my navigating off, I decided I was in need of some internet time (to research how to get to the top of Horsefly) and maybe some beer.

Victory of the day? Horsefly Brewing, their dog friendly patio, and their pale ale.

Sprocket Horsefly Brewing

Have you ever had an adventure just go awry? (Hopefully in a fun way like SP and I!) Ever had a goal trapped behind private property lines?

Wedding, Part 9: Ceremony

Benedictio May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing views. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds. May your rivers flow without end, meandering through pastoral valleys tinkling with bells, past temples and castles and poets’ towers into a dark primeval forest where tigers belch and monkeys howl, through miasmal and mysterious swamps and down into a desert of red rock, blue mesas, domes and pinnacles and grottoes of endless stone, and down again into a deep vast ancient unknown chasm where bars of sunlight blaze on profiled cliffs, where deer walk across white sand beaches, where storms come and go as lightning clangs upon the high crags, where something strange and more beautiful and more full of wonder than your deepest dreams waits for you—beyond that next turning of the canyon walls. -Ed Abbey

F and I wrote our ceremony and vows together. We used traditional Christian wedding ceremonies (specifically the one from The Common Book of Prayer) as a basis for writing the ceremony but made it completely our own. We decided to ask Jason to be our officiant. This ended up being a great choice. Jason played the role well not only during the ceremony but in the lead up to the wedding as we spoke on the phone a couple of times about the ceremony and when he would call to jokingly ask us if we were nervous yet. F and I both felt really great that we had someone who knew us and what we wanted (and didn’t want) from our ceremony.

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I love my puppy watching me intently (Amanda Summerlin)

After we finished with our portraits, it was ceremony time. We walked into the house and   directed people out to the ceremony site. The last person we found in the house was Chris who helpfully handed us his full can of Johnny’s American IPA*. We shared the beer and joked with Jason as we waited for everyone to settle in. This quiet moment, with some awesome levity added by the addition of the beer, was really very nice.

Once it was time to start, Jason walked in, followed by F. To the opening strains of Zac Brown’s Free I started my walk down the aisle. I remember looking at everyone looking at me the moment I walked out the door, but after that? I was just looking at F and grinning. I hardly remember getting down the aisle.

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It’s hard work being so handsome. (Amanda Summerlin)

I hardly remember the start of the ceremony. Things started to slow down a bit for me when Stacia stepped forward to read Benedictio from Ed Abbey’s Earth Apples; I tried to hold onto each phrase and savor it but as she read the final phrase, “where something more strange and beautiful and more full of wonder than your deepest dreams awaits you—beyond that next turn of the canyon walls” I felt the first tears prick at my eyes. Next, Sandi, F cousin, read Walt Whitman’s “Song of the Open Road.” The poem states so much so perfectly for F and I.

Jason spoke briefly about how he met F and how he’d watched F and I grow together.

Then it was time for our vows. Although teary, I mostly made it through the vows with a fairly steady voice. When I got to the last phrase (the one I could never read at home without tearing up) my voice broke. I’m not sure how much anyone could understand me, but F’s reading of it was nice and clear.

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Vows. (Amanda Summerlin)

After we finished our vows, Jason tried to jump right to pronouncing us man and wife while F was still trying to get my ring out of his pocket. I’m pretty sure I interjected, “Hey!” and I remember at least a few other people (probably F and my mom) jumping in as well. We all laughed and moved back in to the ceremony.

(Amanda Summerlin)
(Amanda Summerlin)

After Jason (finally) got to pronounce us husband and wife and our kiss, rather than recessing, we invited everyone to the front to take a group shot. Following the group shot, we asked everyone to take their chairs over to the dinner table (just around the corner of the house), and broke out the wine, champagne, and beer.

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(Amanda Summerlin)

Song of The Open Road by Walt Whitman

Allons! the road is before us!
It is safe—I have tried it—my own feet have tried it well—be not detain’d!
Let the paper remain on the desk unwritten, and the book on the shelf unopen’d!Let the tools remain in the workshop! let the money remain unearn’d!
Let the school stand! mind not the cry of the teacher!
Let the preacher preach in his pulpit! let the lawyer plead in the court, and the judge expound the law.

Camerado, I give you my hand!
I give you my love more precious than money,
I give you myself before preaching or law;
Will you give me yourself? will you come travel with me?
Shall we stick by each other as long as we live?

 

 

 

*Turns out, the Moab brewery unexpectedly has developed a pretty yummy session IPA.

 

Warrior Dash

A few weeks ago I ran the Warrior Dash in North Bend, Washington with JJ and his friend Alisha (JJ’s girlfriend Meghan and his friend Tyler joined us to take pictures and hang out). In case you haven’t heard about Warrior Dash (or it’s counterpart Tough Mudder which is longer and looks considerably tougher and thus cooler) it’s a run combined with obstacles.

Nice and clean before the race

We arrived in plenty of time to check in to the race and watch the first finishers come across the line. When it was finally our turn to run, we got into the race chute with a couple hundred of our fellow “warriors.” The Dash has start times staggered every half hour with up to 300 participants per wave. Once the race started and we were off and running it quickly became apparent to me that 150 runners every 15 minutes would probably be a lot nicer. For a run that advertises mud, there seemed to be a lot of reticence to run through the mud rather than waiting to run around it.

Running towards the final obstacle–the mud pit

At about a mile, JJ slowed down some and I headed off with my goal to not let anyone beat me through an obstacle, one at which I mostly succeeded. I averaged 10:54 min/miles which considering how slow we all started the race and the giant mud pit thing at the end, I suppose it wasn’t that bad. I felt slow even though in the 20-29 women’s bracket I finished 56/970 participants.

Very muddy after picture.

After I emerged from the mud hole obstacle at the end of the race, I really wanted my turkey leg and promised beer. We got hosed off the best we could and headed to the food area.

That turkey leg and tallboy were completely necessary. As was wearing the hat.

It was a fun race but not near as much fun as I was expecting. I would hope for more obstacles per mile and for fewer people per wave. It did remind me that running in races is quite a lot of fun though!

Cabin Evening

Friday when I got home from work, I suggested we head up to the cabin for the evening. We still can’t drive in (what happened to the first week of June?!) but we can get close. Before heading up to the top we took care of a huge mountain hemlock that had fallen across the road.

The tree was too rotten to count the rings…but it was OLD. The bark was about 3″ thick!

Up at the cabin, I took a piece of plywood outside and put Sprocket’s blanket on it. Voilà, yoga area! I did the P90X yoga video outside while Sprocket nosed around in the snow and checked out the fresh elk and moose tracks and F started putting together a burn pile for the evening. It felt so good to be outside in the sunshine!

After my workout, we opened the Elysian Idiot Sauvin IPA I’d found in Coeur D’Alene. It was pretty good but not stellar. For dinner I whipped up a cabin special: canned spaghetti sauce garnished with a can of sliced mushrooms and another can of olives. We lit the burn pile and took care of a bunch of limbs and branches that had been laying around as we watched the sunset over Sunset Peak.

Saturday morning we decided to head up Cooper Pass and see if we could go to Thompson Falls, Montana. Unfortunately, there is still a bunch of snow on the road up that way and we didn’t even make it as far as Glidden Lakes before being turned around by now. Instead, we hiked up Military Gulch until the road dipped over into Sonora Gulch  which is just below our cabin.

We’re supposed to have people over to the cabin next Saturday. Hope for snow melt!!