Cape Gazette
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SEA TO SHINING SEA: Pinot Noir and PB&J

By Dennis Forney | May 18, 2013
Photo by: Dennis Forney When we were landing in Portland, I noticed a number of white fields as part of the agricultural patchwork.  Didn't think it was lime but I wondered.  Rode by one today.  It was a field of small, white flowers.  Tom said it may have been a field of hops.  That makes sense.  Our map literature says farmers in the Willamette Valley grow grapes, filbert nuts, lots of other fruits and hops. (Nora taught me how to pronounce the valley.  "Willamette, dammit." Now I have to figure out what the bluebird box-like structures were in the field for.  Bees for pollination?

RICKREALL, OREGON — DAY FIVE - Saturday night.  Sitting in an empty floral booth in the Polk County Fairgrounds.  Tent pitched on the grass out front.  Bikes behind me, well sheltered.  Believe it or not tonight they're calling for rain.  It's so lush here.  No wonder.  At the Salmon River RV Park where we camped last night they told me they get 100 inches per year.  Big trees.  In Sussex we get 43 inches.

We rode 41 miles today.  Hills weren't quite as steep. Average speed improved to 9.6 miles per hour.  Before today we were riding 8.9 miles per hour with freaky regularity. Today's total ascent was 2,833 feet.  Firebreather.  You learn to eat big gulps of oxygen to quell the blaze.

Cold's better.  Blew out tons.  Maybe mixed up with the Scotch broom pollen.  Feeling friendly again. Thank God, it was a fast-moving squall,.

I'm writing this with a belly full of peanut butter and jelly on Grateful Bread and a couple of glasses of Willamette Valley Pinot Noir.  We were on Highway 22 headed east and on top of a rise we saw lots of vines and a sign for the Chateau Bianco winery.  We were within five miles of our campground.  Seemed silly to pass up an opportunity to have pb&j with some of Oregon's storied pinot noir.

I tasted a 2006.  It was rich.  I know I'm getting into John's territory but will discuss it a little any way. 14.5 % alcohol.  It started off sweet and ended with tannins.  Jammy, and I immediately detected caramel.  Gotta love caramel.  The man said the wine was aged for a while in oak barrels that had been toasted.  "That helps release the wood sugars and caramelizes them as well.  The first wines that go in those barrels pick up the toasted sugars and that's where the vanillas, butterscotch and caramel flavors come from."  He said white oak barrels give up their sugars better than the red oaks. Reds, he said are tighter."

Damn.  I never knew any of that. Never knew red oaks were tighter than white oaks with their sugars.  Never heard of wood sugars. It's fun to learn.

I asked outgoing Walt at the diner next to the Spirit Mountain Casino if he had a memorable teacher and what he learned. "Courtesy," said Walt. "Courtesy and do unto others. Mr. Stirey taught me that.  English teacher.  He was good.  Kept things moving."

We need to professionally video the greatest teachers we have and put them in front of students throughout the land.  There aren't that many truly gifted teachers.  The kind that students hang on every word. Listening and learning.  It will happen.  Technology. Remember film strips?  They kept our attention."

All my technology's working tonight.  Blogging through a MacBook Air connected to the Internet through my iPhone's personal hotspot. Also playing Mozart and Peter Gabriel through a tiny X-mini speaker.  All powered by a HyperJuice2 battery pack.  Recharging tomorrow in Monmouth.

Enough preaching about education on a Saturday night. Tom told me he delivered a load of mulch to a country church today.  "Started talking with the preacher.  Nice guy.  I asked him if his church has a dress code. He said no. "I tell the ladies to wear whatever they want.  Just wear enough of it.  I have enough trouble keeping people's attention as it is.'"

Looking westward.  Sun's going down over Oregon.  Becky's in the tent reading Harry Potter.

Here are photos from today. Talk with you tomorrow.  Thanks for traveling along.

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We met Gary in the Salmon River RF Park.  He lives there and works as a custodian at the casino in Lincoln City.  "First time I've ever held a job for more than 10 months.  Usually move on. This time it feels different."  He said he has hitchhiked across the country and back at least seven or eight times. "I like traveling like that.  Usually takes five or six days. Hitchhiked 10,000 miles in 2010."
Raul works security at the Spirit Mountain Casino.  He told us that the diner where Walt works has good food.  In addition to courtesy and a positive attitude, Walt hooked us up with a breakfast burrito: eggs, sausage, beans and white gravy in a great big tortilla.  Tasty.  John Steinbeck says posture and attitude are two things you have to cultivate your entire life.  Meher Baba calls it cheerful equipoise.
Logging continues to be big business in Oregon.  A man at the campground told me it's become a sustainable and well-managed business.
I started seeing some of these trees in the Willamette Valley.  Figured they were some kind of oak but didn't know what kind.  A man at Chateau Bianco told me they are black oaks, with very leathery leaves.  They have beautiful shapes and character-full branches that remind me of the live oaks of the south.  It wouldn't surprise me to learn that these, like live oaks, keep their leaves all year. In the background are the vines and tasting room of Chateau Bianco.
In the Bianco tasting room is a map where they encourage guests to show where they live.  No one had stuck a pin in Delaware yet.  I remedied that. That's our red one.
And finally a still life: roughing it on the road.  And in case anyone asks, pinot noir does pair well with peanut butter and jelly.
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