the further adventures of

Mike Pirnat

a leaf on the wind

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287/365: Jenny and Mike

287/365: Jenny & Mike

We had a lovely afternoon and evening with Jenny and Mike at their anniversary party (happy fifteen years!). I'm glad I insisted on getting a few shots of them together before we left as I'm quite pleased with this one. And it's not like I would have let Mike get away without being the subject of a 365 photo, since he inspired me to get started in the first place.

78 days to go.

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Birthdaze

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.

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NYC Photos and Recap


Arch-itecture
Originally uploaded by mikepirnat.

I've uploaded the photos from our trip to New York. After my day of hacking in the hotel (during which we had a great rain storm), I met up with Liz and two of her classmates after their exam for beer and munchies at Luna Park. It was humid as hell, but I had the best grilled cheese sandwich ever, and discovered that, for being somewhat mass-market, Stella Artois is an acceptable beer. Sadly, our delivery Chinese experience later than night was pretty poor (after waiting two and a half hours, they delivered it to the wrong location), and the Cavs just couldn't manage to get any traction against the spurs, so the late evening kind of fell apart.

The next day we went to Bliss for massages (nice) and then bopped up to the Fifth Avenue Apple Store, mostly so I could take pictures. We wandered a bit at FAO Schwartz, where we encountered some awesome LEGO sculptures. After lunch at BLT Steak (too expensive, but delicious), I got all spontaneous and we took a carriage ride through part of Central Park. A pre-dinner visit to Vino (an awesome Italian wine shop) resulted in a fun conversation and a few more bottles to add to the cellar. Unfortunately, our meal at I Trulli was fairly uneven: while all of Liz's dishes were pretty decent, two of mine (a duck prosciutto appetizer and Piedmontese hanger steak) were serious misfires, and I found myself reluctantly slipping into the feeling of being an "Iron Chef" judge on a bad day. The service and pacing weren't jiving either. The wine, however, was quite nice--if only the rest of the experience had lived up to it! Alas.

My overall dissatisfaction with NYC was further reinforced by our discovery that, once you go through security at LaGuardia, you don't have any meal options that include protein. If you happen to be traveling with a pregnant woman at lunch time, this is, politely, less than good. As an added bonus, the TSA folks gave Liz a bunch of crap about going through the security line a second time after leaving to get something edible. Luckily, the cats were happy to see us when we got home. And really, that's what matters.

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Washington State: Parts 7 and N+1


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.

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Washington State: Part 6


Wine Porn
Originally uploaded by mikepirnat.

Thursday began in earnest on Red Mountain in the vineyard at Hightower, hawk circling overhead, Murray the dog by our feet. Kelly Hightower poured and talked us through the tasting. We met Brent Goedhart there, working on a Syrah for his upcoming Goedhart Family Wines project; he recommended that we stop at Hedges while we were in the area (his wife is the assistant winemaker), so we got directions from Kelly and headed off to what became the surprise hit of the week.

We tasted the lineup at Hedges, with Cristophe Hedges as our guide. We toured the library, then were invited to stick around for lunch with the winemaker, vineyard manager, and pretty much everyone else who was on hand--lovely folks all, and we had a delightful conversation and quite enjoyed our time with them. As we were getting ready to leave the beautiful estate, Cristophe, to our amazement, packed up everything we'd tasted and insisted that we take it with us. We found it best to smile and say thank you.

We stopped briefly at Chandler Reach, which sadly did not wow us (admittedly we were all feeling a bit spoiled by this point).

We rested for a while back at the Cañon de Sol guest house, then while Jenny and Liz made dinner, it was my job to start a campfire as phase one of Operation S'more. Now, I've tended a few fires before and consider myself pretty good at their general operation, care, and feeding, but I've never had to start one of the things from scratch before. So, after encountering some ironic and appropriate kindling, I blossomed with manly pride when I achieved a nice, sustained flame. Liz came to marvel over my studliness, and set me to gathering up suitable sticks for marshmallow toasting. Dinner wrapped up as the sun set over the hills, and as night settled in, we wound down with marshmallows and dark chocolate s'mores, and decided to call the day a success.

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Washington State: Part 5


Jean-Claude Pours
Originally uploaded by mikepirnat.

Wednesday began in Walla Walla with a rainy visit to Abeja. Then it was time to head west, back toward Yakima Valley. We sojourned at Woodward Canyon along the way, lunched at a Mexican joint in Pasco (food okay, bathroom frightening), and zoomed past the Horse Heaven Hills on our way to an appointment at Apex with new winemaker Jean-Claude, with whom we had a tremendously fun and interesting conversation as we tasted through their lineup. We paused briefly in Prosser, indulging in a visit to Chukar Cherries, then wrapped up our wine journey with a tasting at Cañon de Sol with winemaker Victor Cruz.

After the tasting, we settled in at the Cañon de Sol guest house, made plans for groceries and dinner, and set out on our evening errands. Though we made the mistake of shopping while hungry, I at least had the presence of mind to realize that, in the company of two women, and with the all the capabilities of producing a campfire readily at hand back at the guest house, picking up goodies to make s'mores was a must. Following an amazing sunset, we rushed into Kennewick to look for restaurants that Victor had recommended. Unfortunately pretty much anything reputable had closed, but discovered that "The Pub" fit all of our criteria (open, people there, kitchen serving food) and so we tucked into burgers and beers to finish off the day.

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Washington State: Part 4


Double Refraction
Originally uploaded by mikepirnat.

Thanks to [info]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 [info]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.

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Washington State: Part 2.5


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 [info]wolffire and [info]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!

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