25 June 2007

I bolted awake at about 5.30 this morning with the feeling that I was late, then returned to sleep on and off until the real 8.30 rolled around and I got ready to find the Pacific. On one of the times I got lost I stopped to browse through an antique store's parking lot sale, where I saw a lot of rusted farm equipment and a man sitting on a trailer surrounded by his rustic wares. One item was labelled "Varmint Trap." He wore black cowboy boots, black jeans, a black leather, embroidered jacket and a black cowboy hat. The most peculiar part of his ensemble was the cigar he was smoking, or rather how he was smoking it. He'd nestled it in the bowl of a pipe, which he'd then set to smoking contentedly. The rest of the trip was a remarkable sampler of Oregon countryside as I drove through lush fields, farmland, wind-rippled tall grass then douglas-firred mountains. Serpentine roads cut through cliffs covered in huge, prehistoric looking ferns and there cropped up, from time to time, on the side of the road little bunches of what looked like tiny pine tree clusters in a bright, vivid green. There were tight turns that became nerve-wracking one-lane bridges where it was trusted that oncoming cars would yield to whomever was on the bridge first. And the quality of ubiquitous green was simply breathtaking. My first view of the coast was from a highway vista point and I gradually worked my way down to the beach where I was pleased to find no more than 5 people at any given time. It was rather cold, though, for the introduction of Pacific to feet but it was a nice moment. I called Leigh and Alex and walked up the beach picking up little smooth black rocks here and there. I came across some cliffy rock things that were impressive in their size. It occurred to me that I had said little more than 10 words to anybody for almost 24 hours and I found that somehow satisfying.
On the way back from the beach I stopped at one of those half-moon shaped shoulders on the side of a mountain and, as luck would have it, as soon as I got out of the car I heard the crashing of a waterfall. I took a peek over an embankment and there was a gorgeous creek, part of the Yamhill River I later learned, and I clambered down the hill to reach the water. There I found a wonderfully peaceful scene that inspired me to lean down and fill the cup of my palm with river water and drink of it. It was clear and sweet and good to drink. I enjoyed this communion with nature for a moment then, upon turning around, I noticed that I'd also stumbled across a couch cemetery. Evidently this spot was where people liked to stop and toss out their old couches.

The Reception.
So the reception was fun. I registered and received a tote bag, a water bottle (not to be lost) and a windbreaker. Then the wineries involved were situated in a big circle and I visited a few that I thought seemed interesting. This was my first exposure to the crowd and I found it to be predictably peculiar. A quick glance at the manifest showed that I was the only person from Columbia, though a number of people from Charleston, Greenville and Hilton Head were present. So I poked around and tasted around 15 or so wines, the only one of which that I really enjoyed but didn't have South Carolina representation was Eyrie Vineyards. Then I broke away and headed towards the dinner I'd chosen. Several of the wineries had made invitations for campers to join them after the reception for a dinner and I'd chosen to go to Adelsheim (pronounced Adels-heim, not Adel-sheim, like I first thought) vineyards. I was the first one there and I met Eugenia Keegan and David Adelsheim. I was so charmed that my introduction to David Adelsheim (founder and president, mind you, of the whole thing) included his coming out in an apron and holding a bowl of cherry and pinot noir vinagraitte that he'd made. This wonderfully intimate quality set the tone for the evening as the entire affair had the flavor of joining friends for a meal at their house. There were a few people there, including, coincidentally, a young woman from Charleston with impressive restaurant experience. The current winemaker, David Paige, sat at the table where I was and I was able to ask a few questions about consideration of Burgundian appellation archetypes (little consideration) that I'm sure made me seem more concerned with France than I should be, considering where I am. The dinner was a fantastic rosemary grilled pork, green beans, some sort of bulgar thing and a salad with that cherry/pinot dressing I'd seen being finished up. The wines were a delightfully refreshing Auxerrois and several different vintages of their Elizabeth's reserve. Desert consisted of local cheeses, the gorgonzola-type of which I loved. This was a great way to begin everything with a nice dinner, interesting conversation and a tranquil view of vineyards as the setting sun cast its different shadows.

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