Daily Archives: July 3, 2015

Oregon Trail: Day 8 – Land of Wine and Cherries

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?


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Oregon Trail: Day 7 – Pendleton Underground

It was a shorter drive from La Grande to Pendleton than anticipated so we rolled into the Wildhorse Casino and RV Resort http://www.wildhorseresort.com well before check-in time. We had reserved this place on a lark, because they have a big cineplex and figured we could pawn the kids off on a movie and do a little gambling. We got a shady spot next to the cutest little custom trailer and set up our camp. 

After settling we headed into town to tour the famous and long lived Pendleton Woolen Mills http://www.pendleton-usa.com. Unfortunately we arrived just after their 11am tour started and the next tour wasn’t for a few hours. We decided to shop the store instead and found ourselves the new owners of an heirloom Pendleton wool blanket.   


We had made reservations for a one-o-clock tour of the Pendleton Underground http://www.pendletonundergroundtours.org/ which we had heard about when we were on the tour of Kam Wah Chung Cultural Heritage Site in John Day. But before the tour we stopped for a quick lunch at local brewery.

We arrived for our tour just a few minutes late and it was already underway. It was excruciatingly hot out – about 107 degrees. The tour highlighted about 70 years of history under the town of Pendleton, from card rooms, bars, and opium dens, to Chinese laundries, jails, butcher shops, and ice cream parlors. It also included a tour of one of Pendleton’s many brothels. Unfortunately much of the tour wasn’t air conditioned and while the history was interesting it was also painfully hot and a bit long (90 minutes). But by and large we learned a lot about the Pendleton Underground (much of it built by the Chinese who were unable to get work in the mines.

 The history of the brothels and the beloved Madam Stella Darby (who ran brothels in Pendelton from 1928-1967) was interesting. She ran what were called the Cozy Rooms which was a transitional and safer form of prostitution. The Madam also ran a regular brothel but as her girls wanted to get out of the business she’d transition them to the Cozy Rooms where they could still make money seeing clients but in a safer environment. She’d help to teach the girls in the after hours (basic education and business accumen) aand match them with husbands so they could leave the business.  There’s a bronze of her outside the building.


After the tour we headed to the Pendleton Aquatic Center which had a few water slides and pools where we could cool ourselves before heading back to the Wildhorse Casino RV Park to make dinner. Even after cooling ourselves down the camp site was registering 108 in the shade.

After dinner the girls did watch a movie (but in the trailer with the AC on) which allowed us to go lose some money at the casino and catch a funnier than expected comedy show before retiring for the night.

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