What better way to start America Day than with coffee in your cup and bacon and eggs in your belly.
After breakfast a snafu thwarted our plans of hanging around a pool and barbecuing all day long. Instead we did a little research (asked the neighbors), packed up the cars with beach food, drink, and floatation devices, and headed about 40 miles west of Yakima on Highway 12. We were looking for a place to cool ourselves from the sweltering triple digit heat of Yakima by planting ourselves on Rimrock Lake. Rimrock is notorious for having steep rocky slopes and limited swimming spots but the neighbors gave us some tips about where to go.
They must have shared the same advice with everybody else in the Yakima Valley because every nook and cranny of lake access was full. We continued to drive Tieton Rd around the lake and eventually found a forest service road that from the GPS looked like it could reach the lake. We put the Pathfinder in 4WD and headed down the road…but it got narrower, steeper, and more rutted as we went until it because impassible. We turned around defeated.
As we got back to the main road and were just about to head back and give up I spotted another lake (and forrest service road) on the GPS just down the road a bit. We decided to give it a try and to our surprise found ourselves at a nearly deserted Clear Lake where we were able to escape the heat of Yakima (temperature was about 93 at 3000 feet of elevation) and the crowds.
We spent our afternoon swimming, grilling and eating hot dogs, and catching a little sun before headed back to Yakima to grill up dinner for Julie’s extended family.
We spent our evening making ribs, corn on the cob, grilled asparagus, and potato salad. It was hot outside but with some sprinklers on we were able to cool it enough to enjoy Julie’s mother’s green thumbed yard and decorate for the occasion.
After dinner we did some had some safe and sane fun with glow sticks in lieu of sparklers in the front yard after sunset.
Happy Birthday America! USA! Nothing makes you appreciate your freedom more than another Great American Road Trip and the 4th of July is a fitting way to draw another adventure to a close.
Walla Walla is only an hour from Pendleton. We had preselected a few wineries to go to (there are hundreds to choose from) but hoped the few we had selected wouldn’t entirely bore the girls.
The first was Amavi which we had selected randomly for the view. We knew nothing of their wines but really enjoyed their Syrah and Cab and bought a few bottles.
The second was Sleight of Hand Cellars which we had chosen for its vinyl collection…thinking the girls could choose albums to play while we were there, and they did (Clara played The Head and the Heart). As well as their alternative/rock aesthetic as they profess to be “Punk Rock Wines for Punk Rock Minds”.
We really enjoyed their wines, as well as their graphic labels and clever t-shirts (which we bought a few of – as well as a few bottles of wine).
Last, on the way out of town was L’ecole #41 which is a winery we’ve enjoyed for years but never had an opportunity to visit. These are great wines although these small winemakers of Amavi and Sleight of Hand can certainly hold their own against them.
For lunch we stopped in Walla Walla at a little place called Cugini Italian Import Foods based on the Yelp reviews we saw on it: 4.5 stars with hundreds of reviews. We had to check it out. We never would have found this place (located in a rural residential neighborhood) on our own. Nor would we have been likely to randomly pull in on our own as the exterior isn’t necessarily enticing. But the food (very slowly prepared – our lunch took 90 minutes) was as Clara put it “It tastes like Italy”. Tawny’s burrata with house salami and eggplant tapenade was moan inducing. My “Godfather” panini with soppressata was worth killing for. A cucumber and tomato salad tossed in their homemade pesto accompanied it. And each sandwich came with complementary spumoni afterwards.
With our bellies full we drove on towards to meet our long time friend (and Clara’s Fairy Godmother) Julie in Prosser where her brother Jimmy is working at the Zirkle Fruit Company. He is currently processing and packing cherries and invited us to a tour of the packing plant. It was really fascinating to see all the engineering and care that is taken to get cherries from tree to table.
I was surprised how many quality control stations there are repeatedly checking the size, firmness, and color of the cherries. These are premium cherries most of which are headed to markets in Korea, Australia, and Japan.
At 109 degrees we drove on towards Yakima stopping briefly in Zillah, WA to see the famous Tea Pot gas station. And then noticed the Church of God building nearby. Its the Church of God, Zillah, WA. Get it?