Birthdaze

achtung!!

I might be old, but dammit, I ROCK!

Yes, I just completed the solo guitar tour on Rock Band, and even though I was only playing on medium, it feels pretty freaking awesome. My wife (goddess!) sprung for an Xbox 360, and my mother-in-law (what a sweetie) sent me Rock Band, and I've basically been playing three hours a night since the goodies arrived.

We had a bunch of folks over Saturday evening to rock out, and lo, the rock was out in force. A buddy of mine gave me a drum throne to make the experience even better. Liz also scored some great wine to share with us (mmm, vintage Grand Cru Champagne....) and cooked an amazing meal (mmm, beef tenderloin; mmm, Guinness chocolate cake) that all enjoyed. Meanwhile, our daughter (angel!) slept through it all (miracle!).

I'm looking forward to getting folks together again soon (regularly?), but for now, this little rock star needs his beauty sleep.

Final Friday

achtung!!
Special thanks to Martin, Cory, Dave, and Matt, for taking me out for one last Friday beer night at Der Braumeister. It is much appreciated.

Tags:

Washington State: Parts 7 and N+1

camera in the mirror at leonetti

Timeless Legs
Originally uploaded by mikepirnat.

After Liz and I cooked breakfast I and accomplished a car-packing miracle (I knew all those years of Tetris would come in handy!), we found ourselves running a bit early for our first appointment in Prosser, and finding that we were on a strip of wineries, we stopped at the place next door on a whim--Willow Crest Winery, home of very young winemaker Victor Palencia, Mexican immigrant and graduate of Walla Walla's enology program. Victor started studying winemaking at 17, and eventually received special dispensation from the state to allow him to taste the results of his labors; however, until that time he was forced to rely entirely on his sense of smell, and that effort has really honed his skills at an unusually early age, and he's producing surprisingly good wines that bely their modest price points. I especially enjoyed his Chateauneuf-du-Pape style "XIII," his celebration of finally turning 21. He's well on his way to being a formidable talent--my head spins to imagine what he'll be producing in ten years.

Next up was an appointment at Thurstone Wolfe, about which I ended up with very mixed feelings. We lunched at the patio there, then I ran around to get some photos of topiaries in a field, the under-construction Winemaker's Loft (a sort of winery tasting room strip mall), and an abandoned LEGO. Then it was back into the car for the drive back to Seattle.

We did a bit of running around, visiting Luna Park to pick up some coffee, and West Seattle Cellars to ship some of the week's bounty back home. Then it was back to Jenny and Mike's to have an impromptu dinner party and wine tasting to help us clear out all the bottles we'd brought back from Hedges. As the evening wound down, not even Jaden the cat could keep Mike and I from catching up, finally turning in around five AM once the wine was gone and the morning birds were chirping... The results speak for themselves.

And if you have been following along the whole way, then you already know the rest.

Washington State: Part 4

camera in the mirror at leonetti

Double Refraction
Originally uploaded by mikepirnat.

Thanks to aquamindy's help editing the massive heap of photos from the rest of our week in Washington, the logjam of photos is starting to clear up. This next batch (from here to here) covers our Tuesday in Walla Walla.

After a delicious breakfast, we had a little time to kill before our first appointment, so we did some sightseeing in downtown Walla Walla. Our first wine stop of the day was at K, where we met Pumpkin Killer, got a sneak peak at Kung Fu Girl, tasted their Viognier and Syrah, and briefly encountered winemaker Charles Shaw en route to the dentist. We next popped down the road to College Cellars at the Walla Walla Community College's Center for Enology and Viticulture, where Stan Clarke gave us a tour of their facility and took us up to the teaching vineyards, then headed back to the college for a taste of Syrah. We lunched in the garden at Leonetti and received a private tour of the tasting room, winery, and cellar. (Plus I had a great chance to make a new LJ icon for myself thanks to a mirror in the cellar.)

Next was Basel Cellars, which had some nice views and friendly dogs but which really didn't meet with our palettes. Our taste buds were happier a short distance away at Pepper Bridge, where we tasted a number of happy things, and I made friends with an awesome sculpture. (Also, did you know that Hogue made Garfield wine? Me neither!)

After a brief pause, we headed back into town, passed two guys playing guitar, snapped a souvenir photo of Onion World for butterandjelly, and met Dean and Verdie Morrison for a private tasting at Morrison Lane. After dinner, we fired up the fireplace and Jenny and I stayed up chatting and finished the leftover Viognier from the night before.

Washington State: Part 3

camera-happy

IMG_1916.JPG
Originally uploaded by mikepirnat.

We set off Monday morning to drive through the Cascades on the outbound leg of our epic wine country road trip, with wolffire along as native guide. We stopped in Yakima for lunch (yes, Dad, I took pictures of the train) and arrived in Walla Walla a little after four o'clock. Once we got settled at the Tucker Inn, we headed into town for dinner at 26 Brix (where we were slightly overwhelmed by the portions and slightly underwhelmed by the meal), and I took particular delight in the offerings across the street at La Hacienda.

I took this shot for oogby, because it reminds me of something that he'd make into a costume or a spaceship.

Hey, butterandjelly, does this (found on the wall in the living room at the Tucker Inn) look kind of like this to you? Or am I just crazy?

Washington State: Part 2.5

camera-happy

IMG_3248.JPG
Originally uploaded by mikepirnat.

I've started to upload photos of our trip to Washington. This first round (from here to here) is from Sunday, April 29: our tour and tasting at Chateau Ste. Michelle, a spiffy-looking peacock showing off, some just-before-sunset shots of the Seattle skyline, and dinner at Beàto with wolffire and gr0m1t.

I hope to be able to keep up a decent pace with the editing and uploading so that I don't drag out the vacation posts forever, but it's all dependent on the amount of time and mental energy I have (as I tend to tag rather execessively). I think I'll be trying to do about a day's worth at a time, unless there's a day that's utterly overwhelming with good shots.

More to follow!

Washington State: Non-Linear Wrap-Up

mal - turbulence/explode

After spending most of Cinco de Mayo hung over (and, probably, still more than a little buzzed from drinking until 0500 the night before), Liz and I met up with long-lost high school friend dendacien to do a bit of catching up, then it was off to the airport for the red-eye back to Cleveland.

Mercifully, I was able to sleep for pretty much the entire flight; my eyes shut as soon as I was seated, and I woke only to put on an eye mask and earplugs, and later to take them off before landing. Had a nice conversation with the cabbie who drove us home, then Liz put on cartoons and I fell back asleep.

We ease now into quiet Sunday afternoon domesticity, quite the contrast to the epic road trip of the past week. The cat boxes are now clean (joy) and the mail is sorted (yay). Laundry is started (good), though in a testament to my fatigue, I managed to run my cell phone through the wash, so that's probably a goner, along with the last couple of photos that I shot the other night before we left. I'm doing a bit better now, cranking the tunes and pushing a couple gigs of photos from the Liz's laptop over to my main desktop machine, so there will eventually be some new stuff showing up over in Flickr-land.

The current plan is to jot down some travel notes, somewhat out of order, and post them here. By now everyone should be familiar with non-linear storytelling techniques, so this should not be too hard to follow.

Many thanks again to wolffire and gr0m1t for inviting us into their home and life; they really upped the vacation to a whole new level of awesome.

Important Lesson

mike of the living dead

Hangover
Originally uploaded by mikepirnat.

I am not allowed to stay up drinking with gr0m1t.

Washington State: Part One

wash-leaf on the wind3
After a long, long Friday night of staying up burning CDs for the rental car, and a long, long Saturday of airplanes, airports and power naps, we arrived in safely in Seattle and found our way to wolffire and gr0m1t's (very lovely) house without incident. After a bit of catching up we walked to nearby Circa, a West Seattle alehouse with supremely tasty food; I'm very satisfied with my choice of a Boundary Bay Blonde and the halibut tacos, a nigh-religious experience after a day of airplane food.

Today we have an appointment at Chateau Ste. Michelle and a bit of sightseeing planned, and then dinner at Beàto. In the morning, we head off to the other side of the state to start the wine visits in earnest. We're very happy to have made a better rental car selection than on our Napa trip (do not drive a Ford Taurus on windy, windy roads, kids); the comfy seats should be a nice bonus as we drive all over creation this week.

More later -- must eat breakfast and get going.

Comic Life

Fruity Oaty Bars

So I discovered the other day that my new Mac came bundled with Plasq's nifty Comic Life, a program that lets you easily drop your photos and other images into comic book layouts, add effects and word balloons, and generally cause you to lose track of time.

I started putting together a simple page last night to see what it could do, and show Liz how cool it was, and it kind of got out of hand after that--becoming a three-page mini story of going to our friends' wedding in October:

It has a few little quirks that annoy (trying to get the right thing selected can be tricky once it's been dropped into place, and the fancy lettering really doesn't like to export to PDF without a fight), but it's probably one of the most fun and imaginative apps I've played with in a long, long time.

If there's a bright center of the Internet, you're on the blog that it's furthest from. Rants, raves, and assorted ramblings from my little patch of the periphery of known space.

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