The last few weeks have taken my husband and me on a Western road trip in search of wine, food and new (cooler than Phoenix) vistas. Our Midwestern upbringing provided us with journeys of the very flat-landed variety, and we wanted to experience some new sights in our West-of-the Mississippi territory. We started in Phoenix and traveled up through California (saving our wine quest there for later this year), headed north to Oregon and Washington, swung around down through Idaho and Utah, then segued over to Las Vegas (oh yeah!), and then back home. Nearly a month on the road left us happily exhausted and full of new insights about our country and its people.
Our California drive took us not along the coast, but through the vast agricultural swath of almond and walnut groves, up and down steep mountain road grades, and through the biggest pine forest clad scenery I have ever seen! Bigfoot could happily live undetected up in "them thar hills"!
Oregon was somewhat familiar to us, as we visited the Dundee area several years ago, but this time we stopped in Salem. Great wine with lower prices on Pinot than Willamette Valley (yes, we are having some shipped home when the weather is cool enough to make that safe), and such nice people!
Washington was new to us, but was the primary target of our wine quest. We stayed at the beautiful Willows Lodge in Woodinville and had some of the best food we have ever eaten at their on-site restaurant, the Barking Frog (don't ask - no idea...) Their coconut curry mussels were killer, and they were kind enough to give me the recipe. I have no illusions, however, that mine will exceed or even match what the chef prepared. We went back a second night just to experience them again. On the subject of negative space, how's this for some? This is a hollowed out tree stump in front of the lodge entrance. Cool!
After touring Chateau Ste. Michelle just next door, and sampling some of their best wines (yes, they have more than what you can buy at Safeway...), we headed over some more mountains to Walla Walla. What a charming town! They have row upon row of lovely little tasting rooms in their historic downtown area (all easily accessible for my hubby - nice!), and more excellent food at the Whitehouse Crawford restaurant. Yum!
We met numerous people who said they needed to escape the corporate urban melee (that would be Seattle with its legendary traffic), so they moved to Walla Walla and have never been happier with their gardens and laid-back lives. Yes, folks, store that nugget of wisdom for future reference!
On to Boise, where I predicted our most exciting activity would be laundry. Surprise, I got that done earlier, and we found some very interesting history in downtown Boise. Want to learn about the Basque people and their contribution to our country? Boise has the only Basque museum in the U.S., and it was fascinating. They come from Spain, but have their own, very unusual, language - full of X's and K's, play their own unique sports and were hired as shepherds, staying in unique Basque-established boarding houses throughout the Northwest. Here I am in my beret, demonstrating how to drink wine like a Basque.
Utah was a one-night stopover, and since we are not hikers, we didn't learn much beyond the fact that Salt Lake City sits in a very beautiful valley, and St. George is very upscale and lovely. It really is gorgeous around there! So, next stop Vegas. It was great, tasty, entertaining, and what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, as they say... We're going back just as soon as we can!
FINALLY - on to this week's Zentangle activity.
The Diva challenge was to utilize negative space. I kind of created an alien pod just hanging in space, peeked at through a frame.
That's New To Me focused on "J", so I used Jumu from Judy Murphy (with some extra fruit under the leaves) and a version of J.J. by Joy Taylor. I left out the intermediate sets of radiating lines and tried to make it look like cut glass. I had fun with this!
Finally, the Square One: Purely Zentangle focus this week is Cirquital. I have never used this before, and probably with good reason, I struggled to make this play with others. Finally, I was looking at a platter in a magazine and drew the first one, and the other one just happened - somehow. I haven't even posted these to Facebook, but will do that today.
So, enough of this long winded post that will probably slow down your computer when you try to read it (sorry!!). I missed you all while I was on my wonderful vacation, and am glad to be back in touch with my Zentangle cyber-community. Thank you for stopping by today, and know that I truly appreciate all your comments and insights.