Friday, June 30, 2017

June 29, 2017. A winery picnic

LOCATION:  Housesitting in Walla Walla, Washington

WEATHER:  Very pleasant.  High about 80


Today was haircut day, always a stressful event.  Sometimes the experiences are good; other times, not so good.  Today was ok.    

Then, we drove to an area about 10 miles from town where there are a lot of small wineries advertising that picnickers are welcome.

We selected one and enjoyed a glass of Barbera with our picnic sandwiches.  A beautiful, peaceful setting.

We drove around the area and stopped in another winery.  

We watched them bottling some wine.

And then drove through miles of vineyards...

From there, we went to a nanobrewery, strangely located near the regional airport.  There are several small businesses in the airport area.

This is a tiny brewery with a Mexican food truck parked outside.  Very fun.


DINNER:  Fried rice using up the last of the grilled chicken, veg, and ginger.  Very good.  It was a beautiful evening, so we ate outside.  

Thursday, June 29, 2017

June 28, 2017. A trip to the Columbia River

LOCATION:  House-sitting in Walla Walla, Washington

WEATHER:  Very pleasant.  High around 80


For our outing today, we decided to drive to a city on the Columbia River.  It is an area called the Tri-Cities.  We've never heard of it before, but there are 3 bustling cities that are growing quite rapidly here.  We went to one of them, Kennewick.  I had found a brewpub there online on the Columbia River, and we went there for lunch.  

The pub is actually on an island in the middle of the Columbia, which is very wide here.  We crossed this beautiful suspension bridge to get there. 


I was intrigued by this housing.....boat garages underneath and apartments on top.  If we hadn't bought a tiny house, this might have been fun!
It was a 40-mile trip each way.   Again, we drove through lots of fields of corn, wheat, and peas, then orchards and vineyards.  I hadn't realized how agricultural Washington is.     Back home, we played with our dog Genji, then walked uptown.  We stopped at a wine-tasting shop/cafe to listen to some music and to sip a wine.  
Walla Walla must get a lot of tourists.  You see people walking along the streets, carrying a bottle or two of wine that they have bought in one of the many wine-tasting shops.  Then, the tourists go out to eat or do some shopping.  Seattle is about a 5-hour drive from here.  I heard some wine tourists from Seattle say that sometimes they fly and sometimes they drive for a long weekend here.  Alaska Airlines has a new offer for them.....they can check their first case of wine free on flights back to Seattle from Walla Walla.  Cool promotion!

DINNER:  Asian chicken salad.  I found this new recipe which I like a lot.  I used some of the leftover grilled chicken, cut in small pieces. Then, I stirred together a sauce made with soy sauce, sesame oil, minced ginger, minced garlic, lemon juice and chili flakes.  To that I added a bunch of diced vegetables - cucumber, green pepper, red pepper, green onion, and parlsey.  I let everything marinate for a half hour and served it cool.  Very refreshing.                                                                                                                                                                                       


Wednesday, June 28, 2017

June 27, 2017. Walla Walla -"A Town So Nice, They Named it Twice"

LOCATION:  House-sitting in Walla Walla, Washington

WEATHER:  Cooler.  Highs in 80s


When Genji (our dog) and I went for our morning walk, we had to step over limbs that had fallen from trees in yesterday's storm.  This was the photo from the newspaper reporting the storm...

We even saw one tree that had fallen on a car.

I walked downtown, just a short ten blocks or so, to do some clothes shopping.  I'm in desparate need of shorts.  I got several good deals.  Yay! 


We drove to Oregon today (only 10 miles) to go to an RV accessory shop as George was looking for a part.  They didn't have what he was looking for, but the drive was interesting, through lots of vineyards and orchards.


I found Walla Walla's event calendar online and we are trying to attend some of the many events that are held each day.  Today was a Pride Month celebration in a Thai restaurant.  Located downtown, we strolled there in the evening.  It was very pleasant.  They were selling a beer from Seattle that was created especially for Pride Month.

They also served complimentary appetizers.  We had a spring roll - to prepare us for our upcoming trip!

DINNER:  I am trying to use up all the perishable foods before our trip to Thailand.  Our chef daughter from Michigan had made up some pre-packaged food as a business attempt. I grabbed a few packages while I was visiting her last month.  This one is an Indian split pea salad dish.  To the peas, I added lemon juice, ghee, onions, tomatoes and cilantro.  I don't know if I did something wrong, but it was a bit strange.  

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

June 26, 2017. Relaxing in Wallla Walla

LOCATION:  Housesitting in Walla Walla, Washington  

WEATHER:  Hot and sunny in the AM.  High about 95; Cooler and stormy in the PM

We are in a routine now with the dog that we are watching.  I do the morning walk and George does the evening one.  Each time, we go on a different route so that I can look at the beautiful historic houses.

Today was another very hot day so we spent most of the time indoors, reading. The homeowners have lots of good books.  I read this one that I would strongly recommend....      
The homeowner is also a gourmet cook and has hundreds of cookbooks that are fun to peruse.      
In the afternoon, a storm blew through.  Genji, our dog, got a little frightened, and asked, by pawing, that I pet and reassure him.  Very cute.
One of the best things about housesitting is befriending homeowners from all over the world. Today, I saw on Facebook that our homeowner in Brittany, France posted pictures of her first tomatoes of the year.  I replied, asking her if they were the same tomatoes that George and I had planted for her in April.  She said yes, thanked us, and then went on to say that they named their new 2 lambs Karmen and George.  I can't believe it!  What an honor!!!  How funny!  This is Karmen....
And here is George...
In the early evening, we went into downtown Walla Walla, about 10 blocks away, to a restaurant that has an excellent value happy hour.  George had an IPA from a Walla Walla brewery and I had their house wine, both about half price.  The menu looks very interesting - a farm-to-table type place with locally sourced foods.        
DINNER:  Spaghetti using a leftover brat, onions, and peppers.  The homeowners encouraged us to eat their different varieties of lettuce before they bolt, so we are enjoying lots of greens.        

Monday, June 26, 2017

June 25, 2017. Walla Walla....Land of Many Wineries

LOCATION:  Housesitting in Walla Walla, Washington  

WEATHER:  Hot and sunny.  High 98


We spent the morning watering the homeowners' yard.  The front yard is full of flowers and the backyard has flowers, fruit and vegetables.  Since it is supposed to be so hot today, we wanted to make sure they had a good drink first.  

We also moved the Airstream into the backyard so it will be safer while we are here.


Our charge is a Japanese dog called Genji.  He is a very good dog, and likes to follow us out into the backyard.  We take him for walks each morning and afternoon.  Otherwise, he likes to lounge around the backyard defending us from squirrels, or inside watching the people pass by on the sidewalk.  

When we asked what Walla Walla means, we learned that it is an Indian name for "land of many waters".  Now, the tourism office jokingly calls it "Walla of many wineries".  There are about 30 wine tasting rooms in downtown Walla Walla, a small city of about 40,000, and about 140 wineries in the surrounding countryside.  

We visited two wineries today.  Both were excellent.  It was fun talking with the knowledgeable owners and tasting their wine.  Much more friendly/intimate than wine tasting somewhere like Napa Valley.  We bought a bottle of Voignier and a Tempranillo Rose, wines that are more suited for this hot weather.


George picked some raspberries and blueberries in the backyard.

Later, we ate the berries for dessert.



DINNER:  Grilled chicken with a side dish of cauliflower gratin, a new recipe I tried.  


Sunday, June 25, 2017

June 24, 2017. First day in Walla Walla

LOCATION:  Housesitting in Walla Walla, Washington

WEATHER:  Hot  and sunny.  High 95


The homeowners prepared us a nice breakfast that we shared outside on the patio.  It is so nice to enjoy the outdoors like this, in their garden.

  They left about 11:00 and we walked about 10 blocks downtown to the Saturday Farmers' Market.  We bought some fruit (Washington cherries and blueberries), local goal cheese and some local brats.  Then, we stopped in one of the many wine tasting rooms downtown.  
Our homeowners live in one of the historic districts of Walla Walla.  There are many beautiful Victorian homes and cute bungalows.  Most have beautiful gardens.  Flowers are at their peak right now.
    Our house has a front yard full of flowers as well as a backyard garden.  This is the view from inside the house.  The house in front of us has lots of flowers, too.
DINNER:  George grilled the brats on the grill.  Side was a roasted Walla Walla onion.  These onions are well-known for their sweetness.  We put a little butter in the onion, wrapped it in aluminum foil, and cooked it on the fire.  So good!        

Saturday, June 24, 2017

June 23, 2017. Arriving at our latest housesit

LOCATION:  Walla Walla, Washington

WEATHER:  High around 80.  Cool at night


We took our time at the Dent Acres Army Corps of Engineer campground, enjoying coffee and breakfast outside at the picnic table overlooking the water.


We had only about a 150-mile trip to Walla Walla.  We followed the Clearwater River for awhile, then the scenery turned into farmland - wheat and peas mostly.  

At lunchtime, there was nothing much around, and my refrigerator was pretty empty, so we stopped in a Mexican restaurant in a little town, the only thing we could find open.  Wouldn't you know it....30 miles later we passed a cute-looking brewpub with food.  Oh well.


We arrived in Walla Walla at about 3:00.  We are housesitting here for about a week.  Then, the drama began. George tried to back the camper into the driveway of the home where we are housesitting.  The driveway has a big slope, so the equipment, like the sewage system, on the bottom was hitting the pavement.  We tried all sorts of ways, including laying down 2 X 4s to make a "bridge", but we couldn't make it work. Finally, we gave up and parked the Airstream on the street. Not ideal.  Tomorrow perhaps we can park it in their back alley.  We need to test the sewer pipe to see if any damage occured.  


The homeowners are also housesitters through Trusted Housesitters.  They are on their way to a housesit near Bend, Oregon.  So, we will take care of their house and dog while they housesit caring for someone else's house and cat.  Neat!


They live in the historic district of Walla Walla.  In the evening, we took the dog for a walk and enjoyed looking at the beautiful old homes and their gardens.


DINNER:  The homeowner grlled salmon with a wonderful sauce.  Roasted potatoes and coleslaw on the side.  We ate outdorrs, enjoying a beautiful evening.  

Friday, June 23, 2017

June 22, 2017. Pacific Northwest Scenic Highway

CAMPGROUND:  Dent Acres Army Corps of Engineers Campground.  5 stars out of 5.  Situated on a lake.  Large woodsy sites with full hook-ups, shaded picnic tables, fire grills.  Decent bathrooms. $10 with senior pass.  

LOCATION:  Southwest Idaho near Oregon and Washington borders
WEATHER:  Beautiful.  Highs about 75.  Cool at night.  Cool in the mountains.
Since there was nothing to do in the microbrewery parking lot where we had camped overnight, we had a quick coffee and hit the road.  We stopped in a McDonald's to use another coupon, their toilets, and their wifi.  Then, we got on the  Northwest Passage Scenic Byway, something recommended in my book "1000 Places to See Before You Die".  It was a 203-mile highway crossing Idaho from west to east.  It is very rugged with beautiful scenery.  
We stopped at a visitor center in Lolo Pass, one of the first summits.  This highway is also the Lewis and Clark Trail, so we learned about their hardships trying to cross these mountains.  Prairie dogs were scampering through the parking area.  
Next to the visitor center was a beautiful meadow in full bloom of the flower called camas.  The Indians ate their roots, but they made Lewis and Clark sick.  
Then, up and down through the mountains.  We followed the Clearwater River for most of the journey.  
Once we were back in the valley, there were vacation homes and more civilization.  We saw this train that had bounced off its tracks.
Then, we went in search of a campground.  I had seen this one in a brochure, and thought we should try it as Army Corps of Engineers parks are always top-notch.  We had to drive 20 miles off the highway though hairpin curves.  We just hoped that there would be a vacancy as we didn't want to turn around and drive 20 miles back to the highway! Fortunately, there were openings for tonight, although the weekend is totally booked starting tomorrow.  We have a beautiful site overlooking the 54-mile long lake.  
This suspension bridge that we drove over to get to the park is one of the longest in the USA.
We walked down to the lake where a lot of people were boating and fishing.  It is monarch butterfly season and there were thousands near the lake.  They are very tame! 
DINNER:  Tonight is our last night of cooking before the housesit so we used up a lot of leftovers.  We had the leftover ribs and baked potato from our restaurant dinner the other night, combined with leftover corned beef, and a side of sautéed vegetables.  

Thursday, June 22, 2017

June 21, 2017. Traveling the Salmon River Scenic Byway

CAMPGROUND:  Wildwood Brewery!  See below
LOCATION:  Near Lolo Pass, Montana, in far western Montana
WEATHER:  Cooler.  High in upper 80s. Very cool at night.   
Taking advantage of the RV park's strong wifi, we did a lot of computer work in the morning. I was able to find a place to camp over the 4th of July weekend (always challenging), found storage for the Airstream while we are in Thailand, and reserved a Park and Fly motel to park the truck while we are gone.  Whew! Glad that is done.
We headed north from the Craters of the Moon area.  We are taking a rather circuitous route to Walla Walla, going up the eastern side of Idaho, then back south and west to follow some scenic byways.    
Our route today followed the Salmon River.  It is actually listed in my book "1000 Places to Go Before You Die".  The river was overflowing its banks from the recent snow melt.  We followed it for several hours.    
We stopped along the riverside for a lunch picnic.
The geography changed into tall pine trees and high mountains.  We climbed one summit, through many hairpin turns.  Lots of snowy patches.  We watched the thermometer in the car plunge from 82 to 62 at the top of the mountain,  then back up to the 80s as we descended.   
The highway actually takes us out of Idaho into a slice of Montana.  After 254  miles for the day, we started looking for a campground.  We had passed several nice-looking ones along the river, but that was early afternoon.  Now that we are ready to stop, we didn't see any.  George spotted a sign for a microbrewery outside of one town and pulled in, at about 4:00.  He went in to see if they were open, as there weren't any cars in the good-sized parking lot.  He came to the truck telling me we could camp here overnight!  The waitress called the owner who gave us permission.  Cool!   
The brewery is only open from 4:00 - 8:00, and they don't do a lot of business.  We went in for beers.  They were pretty good.  I had an IPA and George had a stout, then a bock.    
A guitarist played on the patio (not very well).    
Then, things quieted down at 8:00.  Everyone left and we had the place to ourselves.  Since it is cooler up here in the mountains, we are ok without electricity.  We have plenty of water and propane, so are in good shape.  
DINNER:  Fried rice.  This is the 3rd dinner I've made from the $7 rotisserie chicken I bought a few days ago. I also used it for lunch chicken salad sandwiches, and made chicken broth for breakfast grits one day.  A good buy!  

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

June 20, 2017. Driving around the moon?

CAMPGROUND:  Mountain View RV Park.  5 stars out of 5.  Nice shaded sites with trees providing some privacy between sites.  Grills and picnic tables.  Beautiful bathrooms.  On-site restaurant with excellent food and drink. $35/night.
LOCATION:  South Central Idaho near Craters of the Moon National Monument and Reserve.
WEATHER:  Hot and sunny.  High 92.  Cool evening.
We awoke at City of Rocks State Park with a nice cool temperature.  We hurried over to the national preserve so that we could get in a hike before the sun heated things up.
These rock formations are very interesting.    
We found a nice Alpine meadow trail.  We hiked about 2 miles, first watching the rock climbers climb these impossibly vertical rocks.  Then, we joined the cows in a beautiful meadow full of migrating Monarch butterflies, birds chirping and mountain flowers at their best.    
By 9:00, it was getting hot, so we returned to the Airstream and packed up.  We only had a short distance to travel today, but there were no direct routes.  We had to zigzag first west then east.  It was 190 miles.
Our destination today was another place listed in my guidebook "1000 Places to Go Before You Die".  It is a national monument called Craters of the Moon.  About 2000 years ago, volcanic lava spewed all over this area creating interesting lava fields.  It supposedly looks like the moon.  We took a loop drive through the preserve and did a few short hikes.  
On this steep trail, I hiked right up a volcanic cone.
Back to the RV, I took advantage of their strong wifi.  I need to reserve a campground for the 4th of July weekend.  Campgrounds always fill up then.  I also have to find storage for our Airstream when we go to Bangkok in July.  When we are traveling in these remote places, wifi is hard to find, and the phone service is very spotty.
DINNER:  We ate in the restaurant in the RV office.  We shared some ribs and a huge Idaho baked potato.  It was some of the best ribs I've ever eaten.  It was interesting talking to the local waitress and the owner.