Sunday, August 14, 2016

It was a 44 oz of wine kind of day!

You can't be this close to Pinot Noir country and not get out and explore wine country so off we went with Back Country Wine Tours!  Not ones for big tour groups, this was the perfect company for us to use to see wine country as they have a max of six people on the tour.  We got really lucky as there were only two other folks on our tour and they were great fun!

Our guide, Dillon, was very knowledgable and passionate about wine.   The cool thing about Dillon is he didn't pre-select the wineries we'd visit until he met all of us and got to know us on the hour drive out to the wineries.  Then he listened to us as we discussed the wines at the first vineyard to plan the rest of our day.

We visited four wineries but had wine from eight wineries as one of the stops was a wine maker collective so we got to try five wineries at one stop.  Each tasting consisted of five wines and two of the stops gave us a bonus pour so a total of 22 tastings.  The wineries use 2 ounce measured pours for a total of 44 ounces of wine consumed!!

First stop was Eminent Domaine. As the name would suggest, there was an interesting story behind the name.  The owner and winemaker lost some property to the state under eminent domaine so he thought it was the appropriate name for the winery.  We had a nice Chardonnay followed by four lovely Pinot Noirs.  The view from the tasting room was spectacular!

Our second stop of the day was at another small winery, Roots. This winery is definitey a family affair as Chris' mom was our hostess in the tasting room which was located next to their home.  The vineyard was first planted by Chris' parents and then Chris and his wife Hilary (Editor of Oregon Wine Press) took over management in 2000 with their first harvest in 2002.  We had a Pinot Gris, Melon de Bourgogne and three nice Pinot Noirs.  Dian offered us an extra pour of their special reserve, Racine.  That wine was named after the town of Racine where Chris was born and ironically racine is French for roots.

Next stop was the Carlton Winemakers Studio. This is a wine collective which is very common in Europe and slowly growing in popularity in the United States.  A wine collective allows the small winemaker to utilize a shared production space without all the costly overhead of a full vineyard.  The collective also serves as the retailer for the wine and allows visitors to sample a variety of wines from multiple vineyards versus a single vineyard.  We had the option of a flight of reds or wines.  Julie and I opted for the reds and they were all so tasty.  Dillon popped over to The Horse Radish and picked up lunch for everyone for us to enjoy with the tasting.

Our final stop of the day was Colene Clemens.  The vineyards and winery is named after the owners mother and all three of their pinots are named for women in the family.  The other two people on our tour were from Cleveland and our tasting room hostess is a huge Cleveland sports fan so there was a lot of sports talk...and those of you that know me well know sports is not one of my favorite subjects.  Though I will admit there was some advantage to it as we received an extra pour from their private reserve so maybe there is something to this sports thing.

We made our way back to town and took a little nap before meeting my friend, Christa, and her husband, AJ, for dinner at Imperial...another excellent meal.  Tomorrow brings work for me and flight back to Atlanta for Julie.  Another great AOH trip in the books.  

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Tattoos, Doughnuts, Books, Mansion and Ghosts

Apparently our foot massage in Chinatown last night was more relaxing than we thought as neither of us woke up on east coast time today!  After a casual breakfast in the hotel lounge, we headed over to the Saturday Market.  

The Saturday Market has lots of great local vendors selling their wares.  We learned from one of the vendors that all products from Naito Street to the fountain must be made by hand.  There are a lot of talented folks in Portland.

Tattoos and piercings are definitely synonymous with Portland from what we can see.  So, when in Rome (or Portland)...

This will come as a surprise to no one but they are henna so in about two weeks they'll be gone.  Oh and while we like to do as the locals do, we did refrain from any piercings!

A short walk from the Saturday Market is Voodoo Doughnuts...of course we had to stop for a little fuel after the morning walk.  We got lucky as normally the line is long and folks wait for an hour or more...we only had to wait for 10 minutes which was just enough time to figure out which doughnut we'd pick.  We picked the Dirty Old Bastard...chocolate glaze, Oreo cookies and peanut butter drizzle.

Portland is definitely a "unique" place...some might say "weird".  Well Portlandians embrace their inner weird and even advocate keeping it weird as evident by this building artwork.

Oh and of course Darth Vader on the unicyle promotes Portland's weirdness on many levels!

Another short walk and we found ourselves at Powell's Books. A must stop for anyone who loves to read or appreciates seeing the world's largest independent books store...over 1.5 million books.  I could easily spend a week in their travel section alone!  One the top floor tucked away in a corner and requiring special access is their Rare Books Room.  Definitely worth a peek...we saw a two book collection on Lewis and Clark's Expedition for a mere $25,000!  After picking up a few books, we headed back to the hotel to drop off our day's purchases before heading to our next stop.

Over the river and through the woods is the Pittock Mansion.  Built by Henry Pittock, owner and publisher of The Weekly Oregonian newspaper, and his wife, Georgiana, this 22 room mansion (almost castle-like) was outfitted with all the modern conveniences and had amazing views.  The Pittocks were one of Portland's founding families.  Henry also made his fortune in real estate, mining, banking, steamboats, ranching and paper.  Georgiana was a philanthropist and started many organizations such as the Ladies Relief Society, Women's Union and the Martha Washington Home.

After our tour of the mansion, it occurred to us that other than the light breakfast at the hotel, the only other food we had eaten all day was a French macaron at the Saturday Market and the doughnut from Voodoo.  We headed over to Killer Burgers for what is perhaps the best burger I've ever had before heading to Rose Petal for a much more relaxing foot massage in a by far less scary location as we were in Pioneer Place.  All burgers at Killer Burgers come with bacon because everything is better with bacon.  At Rose Petal, we opted for a 30 minute chair massage followed by a 30 minute foot massage and as a bonus, my therapist, Joey, told us about a cool coffee house offering dessert and live music.

So off to Rimsky-Korsakoffee House we went (no website so just google it).  The coffee house is set in an old Victorian house and only a lighted "open" sign let us know it was the right spot.  Rimsky's has live entertainment every night by unpaid musicians so tip well.  This evening's entertainment was provided by Diane the Waltz Lady.  The dessert was AMAZING.  I had the chocolate pot de creme and Julie had the ginger cake with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce.  Supposedly the house is haunted but the spirits didn't appear to us this evening. Definitely make sure you head up the stairs to check out the restroom...has to be experienced.  The perfect end to a great time for bed as we are going to wine country tomorrow!

Friday, August 12, 2016

Sorrowful Mother, A Feisty Lamb and Foot Massage

I needed to go to Portland to meet with a client and thought it would make a nice mini vacay.  This is my first visit to Portland so  I invited my travel buddy and fellow AOH, Julie, to join me.  We met up in ATL and headed out to PDX for our pacific northwest adventure!

View of Mt Hood from the plane

After arriving at PDX, getting the rental and grabbing a quick bite nearby, we stopped at The Grotto, The National Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother.  We have both had a challenging 12 months so I thought this would be the perfect place to get a little peace and inspiration.

The Grotto was the promise to God Father Ambrose Mayer made when he was a young boy and his mother was near death while giving birth to his sister.  In 1923, he found the land where The Grotto now sits and bid his life savings of $3,000.  On May 29, 1924, 3,000 people gathered to celebrate the dedication of the Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother.

The Grotto is located off a relatively busy road just 10 minutes from the airport but upon entering you feel as though you are a million miles away from the hustle and bustle of every day life.  The Calvary scene greets you as your turn into The Grotto. Given that the death of her son was the source of Mary's sorrow, it is fitting this is the first sculpture you encounter at The Grotto.  

St. Philip Benizi was one of the original Servite priests.  St. Philip went into hidding to avoid being considered for Pope in 1268.  He survived off of herbs and drinking at a fountain. Since his death, water blessed in honor of St. Philip is said to have caused many remarkable cures.


The centerpiece of this beautiful place is Our Lady's Grotto featuring a replica of Michelangelo's Pietà.  Carved out of the face of the cliff in 1923, The Grotto cave is 30 feet wide, 30 feet deep and 50 feet high.  There is seating for several thousand in front where mass is offered every Sunday.

St. Peregrine

It wasn't until my visit to The Grotto did I learn about St. Peregrine and given my father is currently fighting prostate cancer, I was immediately drawn to him. (the following is from The Grotto website as my words could not do justice for this saint).  

Peregrine labored for years as a brother in the Order and at age 60 was diagnosed with cancer of the leg brought on by many years of disciplined prayer while standing, resulting in varicose veins which became ulcerous. On the night before the scheduled amputation of his leg, Peregrine dragged himself to the foot of the cross in the community chapter room and fell into a deep trance-like sleep. Upon waking, he discovered that this leg was completely cured. Because of the miracle wrought by prayer, the Church canonized him in 1726 and named him patron of cancer sufferers. His Feast Day is May 4.

The lesson of Peregrine’s life is not that God worked a miracle, but that a faithful, trustful servant placed himself, unconditionally, in the hands of our Lord. Peregrine’s trust in God can be a model for us in dealing with the pain, sickness and crosses of our lives.

Chapel of Mary
The Grotto is made up of the lower and upper gardens.  The lower gardens are free but there is a small admission fee to the upper gardens which are accessed via a 125 foot (10 story) elevator.  The upper gardens are absolutely beautiful and worth the $6 as the money helps in maintaining The Grotto.

St. Jude Thaddeus

St. Joseph's Grove features the seven sorrows and joys of Mary and this life size statue of Joseph holding the baby Jesus.

The Assumption of Our Blessed Mother

For my non-Catholic friends, Catholics believe that immediately upon her death, Mary was "assumed" into heaven, body and soul, becuase of her virtuous and faith-filled life.

The Peace Pole marks the entrance into the Marguerite M. Casey Peace Garden. Throughout the garden are bronze plaques depicting the four mysteries of the rosary: joyful, sorrowful, glorious and luminous.

Joyful Mysteries

Sorrowful Mysteries

Glorious Mysteries

Luminous Mysteries

Throughout the upper gardens, there are shrines to the Blessed Mother from various countries: Lithuania, Poland, Vietnam, the Philippines and the Americas.

Lithuanian Wayside Shrine

Our Lady of Czestochowa Polish Shrine

Dambana, The Filipino Shrine

Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas

Our Lady of Lavang Vietnamese Shrine

Statues to Mary, St. Francis of Assisi and angels were also to be found.

The final stop in the upper gardens was the Meditation Chapel.  The chapel is on the edge of the cliff and has a nice view.  They say you can see Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Rainier but I couldn't see them the day we were there.

After The Grotto, we may our way into town to settle in at our hotel.  Dinner this evening was at The Feisty Lamb (no website...just google it).  What a great find!  The owner is the chef, server and probably dishwasher.  She is assisted by her daughter who we're guessing is about 13.  The limited menu offers about seven different a la carte items but each week the chef creates a three course dinner.  We both opted for the chef's dinner and it was fabulous!  The decor is pretty eclectic and despite some of the reviews we read, the service was good.

Julie and I both love a good Chinese foot massage so we figured what better place than Chinatown.  Well, Portland's Chinatown is a little rougher than in most cities so while our foot massage was nice, I would stay away from Chinatown in Portland.