SEA TO SHINING SEA: Pinot Noir and PB&J
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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