Tag Archives: vineyards

Morning cats are free

Saturday brought with it a flurry of activity, starting with barrel tasting weekend. Susanne offered to be the designated driver and we piled into the car — Susanne, me, and two other folks from the college. The first vineyard, Dusty Valley (an appropriate name for around here) has a couple of strong wines, including a pinot noir. No barrel tasting, though. We went to two more vineyards, heading to Pepper Bridge where we sampled a merlot that will be bottled next year. The sun set on the rolling hills strewn with grapes, unseasonably warm for December. We drove back into town and found some church stairs from which to watch the holiday parade.


2007 barrel of wine

2007 barrel of wine

Now then, I am not unfamiliar with small-town parades. My hometown of Hightstown has a few parades a year, including a don’t-call-it-pagan winter parade.

But Walla Walla, as I know all to well at this point, is not anything like New Jersey. I don’t think I’ve met even one Italian at this point, three and a half months into living here. It was a small parade. It was as small as a parade can be and still have some semblance of a parade. I mean, you need more than a few slowly moving vehicles, right?

The tininess of the parade was distinctly at odds with its name, officially called the “Macy’s Festival of Lights Parade.” Wow. Small town America meets international capitalist licensing and sponsorship! Yes, there is a Macy’s in town. It is in fact, the only department store in Walla Walla. There are at least half a dozen auto supply stores, two of them are Schuck’s Auto Supply, as it happens. I wonder about that. Are they separate competing franchises? Or held by one owner who didn’t want to have to commute too far between them? Seriously, what are they, the Starbucks of car parts? My favorite new Schuck’s joke, because I need the laughs, goes like this:

Customer to clerk: Why are you named Schuck’s?

Clerk: So when we’re out of something, we can say, “Schuck’s, we don’t have that.”

Okay, so that can’t be why that’s their name, because that’s Bad Marketing.

And I digress.

The parade started on time, which was very impressive, since practically nothing and nobody is punctual around these parts. There was a Mini Cooper brigade, which consisted of the 8 Mini Coopers in town getting together and driving slowly through the parade route. Too bad we drive a Honda.

There were many trucks decked out with white lights, a few floats with square dancers on them, not looking anything like the folks I’ve seen at New York City and DC’s pride parades. In other words, they most definitely did not look like this:


Gay dancing cowboys on a float

Gay dancing cowboys on a float

I don’t think Walla Walla, or any part of eastern Washington, is ready for that, but then again, I’ve never seen Spokane’s pride parade.

The only actual disconcerting thing in the parade was the Santa. I know Santa is the anchor in these things, in the last car before the police end pace car. But Santa was facing backwards. Maybe it’s just me, but shouldn’t Mr. Kringle be more forward-looking than that? What’s with the symbolism, people? Further, I know it’s slow-going because it’s a parade, but uh, that’s not good for preventing motion sickness. The last thing you need at one of these is to traumatize a bunch of kids because Santa decided the best green for his red suit was his split pea soup lunch. Dare I say more?

No, I daren’t.

So, without the plethora of gay-related dancing floats, without a series of politicians doing their bit for public relations (who cares about 29,000 votes, anyway *cough, cough, FRANKEN cough*), and with no high school marching bands, we had representatives from most of the churches in town, from a couple of businesses (10% off your next 5 gallons of paint at Gary’s!), and cutest of all, from the local chapter of the Humane Society. There were many dogs wearing sweaters that said, “Adopt Me,” and they drew a lot of “aww”s from the crowd. They also handed out candy canes with stickers on them, which fortunately for me, I did not read until the next day. 

Marketed on the stickers was an upcoming adoption drive for December 20. December 20, as many of you probably don’t know, will be a bargain basement day for pet adoption in lovely Walla Walla. Dogs will only cost $40 (regularly $80-$120) and cats the low, low price of $10! And only between 10 and noon, cats are free.

Seriously, I think it’s a good thing, even if I am a little weirded out by making animals seem like they’re for sale at Filene’s. But we can’t really get a dog until I can walk him or her everyday. And I can’t do that until there’s allograft material for me, and wow, the world is a weird place, isn’t it? I refuse to bargain for a dog on the death of some person. I just would like a friggin dog, and to go bowling, and try the foxtrot again, or even to carry a 10-pound bag of flour from Costco without feeling like I’m playing russian roulette with my remaining knee ligaments.

A winey weekend

Walla Walla is nestled in a valley in southeast Washington State, a largely arid but fertile up-and-down landscape bordered by the Blue Mountains and miles and miles of scrubland. Its sandy soil allows for deep drainage and the mild rainfall lets vinegrowers and farmers control the level of water for their crops via irrigation. So it is that many, many vineyards have popped up here over the years, which have in turn given rise to vineyard-hopping, though I don’t suppose the more uppity wine enthusiasts call it that. 

Susanne’s very good friend and his girlfriend came to visit us this weekend, and we tooled around the area looking for some tasting adventures. Why not, when the alternative is to continue another long day of unpacking and finding new homes for all of the things we saw fit to send across the continent?


Road into the grapes

Road into the grapes

We were told, at one of the vineyards, that the locals never make these tours, that it’s only a visitor’s thing. But if that’s the case, it seems strange to me that so many of the restaurants and coffee shops in town are closed today, on a holiday weekend. It’s not, it’s been pointed out to me, like it’s Arbor Day (a genuinely important day in its own right, I’m sure). Perhaps there’s no overlap between people excited by wine and people excited by New York Style pizza, except for me, our friend Jody, and about 12,834 people I’ve met over the years.


At the vineyard

At the vineyard

Perhaps Walla Walla is in transition, figuring itself out, moving from some identity it used to have and taking on a new one that meets its needs and new environment better.

Oh, wait. That’s me. Silly boy.


Grapes on the vine

Grapes on the vine

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