After 2 years of traveling around Costa Rica we now have a spiderweb-like network of friends splattered across the world. We look forward to meeting up with as many of our new friends as possible, now that we have moved back to Oregon. So when we heard that our friend Charles Belk would be in Spokane, WA for a few days we decide to meet up for lunch in the charming town of Walla Walla, WA.
We love a good excuse for a road trip, especially if it means we get to meet "new roads". Having never been to Walla Walla, notorious for the colorful, rolling hills of one of the richest wine countries in the world, and home of the famous Walla Walla sweet onion, we hit the road. Crossing the bridge in Biggs over to Washington, our first stop is the breath-taking Maryhill Stonehenge. A replica of England's Stonehenge, it is the first memorial in the U.S. that honors the deceased of World War 1.
With sweeping, dramatic views of the Columbia River Gorge, surrounding wineries and lush agricultural land, and with powerful wind turbines keeping watch over the land, this is a special place that gives me a new appreciation for the immense beauty that surrounds us. Maybe there had to be a planet Earth...but it certainly did not have to be this beautiful. For that I am constantly overcome with gratitude.
Our next stop is to admire the John Day Dam, which is a concrete gravity run-of-the-river dam spanning the Columbia River. Featuring a navigation lock as well as fish ladders on both sides, the John Day Dam has the highest lift of any U.S. lock at 110 feet.
After a few hours we finally arrive at our destination. Walla Walla has experienced a dramatic boom in the wine industry in the last 10 years and today there are over 100 wineries in the area. Amavi Cellars was recommended to us and as we pull in we are silenced once again by the beauty. The Amavi Cellars tasting room provides panoramic views of the dramatic Blue Mountains, in addition to the surrounding Pepper Bridge Vineyard.
Sampling the wine menu we select a special bottle to take home for a celebratory occasion. Touring the grounds we learn more about Amavi Cellars and their wine philosophy.
Amavi Cellars believes it is important to sustain, improve and preserve Mother Earth for our future generations. They choose to build up the soil's health, instead of depleting it of nutrients. They prefer to use eco-friendly options, instead of fertilizers, herbicide and pesticides. The underlying values they focus on are quality, sustainability and hospitality, which is apparent from the moment you arrive.
To learn more about Amavi Cellars you can visit their website: http://www.amavicellars.com/
Our next stop is to meet our friend Charles and his friend Reggie for a late afternoon lunch in downtown Walla Walla. Walking the quaint, tree-lined streets we breeze past funky vintage shops, bookstores, cafes, tasting rooms, luxury wine shops, and a unique selection of restaurants. It is obvious why downtown Walla Walla has been recognized numerous times as one of the best small town Main Streets in the country.
We choose Mill Creek Brewpup for lunch, and we happen to arrive at the exact same moment as Charles. Spending the next few hours embracing, drinking beer, laughing, munching and story telling, we have an incredible time catching up with Charles, and meeting his friend Reggie.
Not wanting the day to be over quite yet, we decide to hit up a carnival just down the street. Purchasing our tickets to ride the ferris wheel, we are in a race against the weather and the violent storm that is blowing toward us. Just as we approach the ferris wheel, we are turned away due to bad weather. As it begins to pour, eventually morphing into pounding hail, we are now in a fight with a carnie to try to get our money back. (We sure ain't in Costa Rica anymore...).
Reggie and I run for the cars, leaving Charles and Andy to fight for their rights, while we fight for protection against the angry weather gods. It just wasn't meant to be today, so we share some departing hugs and part ways. Hasta Luego to our dear friend Charles, until we meet again. I love that every time we meet up it will be a Costa Rica/Osa Mountain Village reunion. Pura Vida Amigo!
The excitement of beginning a road trip is only matched by the excitement of returning to the familiar land we call home. Just as we see the Welcome to Oregon sign we are reminded that we are truly Oregonians at heart. And while it is special and humbling to explore this world from end to end, there really is no place quite like home.
Kari Pinkerton Silcox
It would be a tragedy to die, having never really lived. Which is why my husband Andy and I quit our jobs, sold our house and decided to chase our dreams. We moved to Costa Rica without a plan, and this is the story of our adventure.