2014 100 Mile of Nowhere Recap: Burned Hands and Change of Plans

The Fatcyclist.com 100 Miles of Nowhere is a “must do” event for me every year. I’m convinced that I love the reaction of people when they realize I am riding a really long distance in ridiculously short laps. Yes friends, normally predictable John is slightly unhinged.

The premise of the 100MoN is something akin to a combination of those “choose your adventure” video games we played on Apple IIe computers as kids, blended with a Groundhog Day repetitiveness and finished with a dash of cycling.  Pay the man some cash as a donation to Camp Kesem, pick a course – preferably one that is challenging and includes some elements of suffering – then ride it for 100 miles.

I eagerly awaited the opening of registration, fearful that this year will be the year the secret gets out and the event sells out faster than a Beyoncé concert. But alas, Fatty is no Beyoncé (yet), I was #86 of 500 registered.

Planning

One would assume that with over three months to plan my ride I would have all sorts of elaborate route maps and cues. In reality I used last Thursday to daydream up a route that I was sure would be vaguely shaped like a slice of pie (it wasn’t). The route would be interspersed with stops to purchase and eat pie or pie-like products.

Mile 4.2: Breakfast quiche at Baked & Wired,

Mile 20: Tart at Le Vie France,

Mile 47.5: Pie at Mom’s Apple Pie Bakery,

Mile 71: Pie at Pie Gourmet

Mile 92: Pie at Dangerously Delicious Pies

original route

It seemed so perfect! Sure I was a few miles short – but I would make that up somehow. On Friday evening I prepped my bike and decided to make a nice healthy dinner to fuel up. Bad Idea. Eating healthy almost derailed my entire 100MoN.

Looking forward to my pie filled day, I absentmindedly grabbed a pan that only a minute earlier I had pulled from a 450 degree oven. It took a few milliseconds for the pain to set in, but it lasted for hours. I actually fell asleep for the night with my hand in a bowl of ice water, dejected, knowing that I would not be riding the next day.

Change of Plans

By Saturday evening things looked and felt mostly back to normal, though braking and shifting were difficult with my tender fingers. I wasn’t sure if I could handle the 20 miles of dirt paths I had planned for my decidedly non-pie shaped route – but I knew I could easily return to Hains Point, where I rode my first 100MoN. If the pain was too much I could find a way home, tail between legs. Thirty laps would be just about right. We ride on Sunday.

The morning came, I slept through my alarm clock, but eventually I awoke to a cold gray day. I could hear the wind rustling leaves off the nearby trees, but thought nothing of it. I was instead focused on a stop for coffee and donuts on my ride to Hains Point. Should I have one, or two donuts. Fancy style, or plain style. Heck – why not both!

Pumpkin Pie donut, with candied maple topping. Who needs energy bars!?

Pumpkin Pie donut, with candied maple topping. Who needs energy bars!?

Now, there isn’t much exciting about riding 30 (ok, I caved and only rode 29) laps around Hains Point. In fact, I saw many of the same thing things oh… approximately 29 times. Instead, I recorded my thoughts on my phone every few laps to see my progression from mostly sane, to completely broken.  Here’s my lap by lap summary:

1: Oh yeah those donuts were good. I should get more.
2: Hey that Hyperlapse thing sounds neat, they should make Hypolapse too. Hmm, it’s windy.
3: I think I can learn which spots are windiest, and soft pedal there to conserve energy for later.
4: Nope, bad strategy. But hey there fellow riding near my pace, I’m going to nestle in behind your wheel, m’kay?
5: What’s going on, you’re slowing and talking to me? Why yes, it is windy – hence my wheel suckage. Oh, you’ve gotten in 3 laps and you’re leaving?! I no longer like you.
6: I can do this on my own. I’ve ridden harder than this. Yeah. Mmmm, these Gu Roctanes are tasty.
7 to 10: Acquired and then successfully exorcised a weird earbug (The Mountain Goats: The Best Ever Death Metal Band in Denton)
11: Ok this wind is getting really really annoying. And I’m sort of cold.  Should I quit?
12: No. No quitting. That’s quitter talk fool. If I’m still cold at lap 15 I’ll ride home and get warmer clothes, but then I’ll come back. (Coincidentally, I had just read the following tweet):

13: This wind blows.
14: You know what – lunch is a great meal. I like lunch so much I would have it every meal of the day. I should get lunch.
15: This lunch is going to be amazing. And a the energy I get. Time will fly. I’m 15 laps in on 30. I must be 75% done.
16: They call that a grilled ham and cheese? For 8 bucks?! It looked and tasted like you wiped the bread on your freshly sealed parking lot. Blech
17: mmm that was a good grilled cheese.
18: Hey that lady is waving at me. Hey. That’s my wife. Everyone, my wife came to visit. This is great!
19: Heck yes let’s ride another lap together. Yeah. The wind is horrible. But I’m on lap 19, so I’m like 85% of the way right? Or… 58%. Uh. Yeah. That wind sucks.
20: I miss my wife. Maybe she’ll come back for more laps?
21: Single digits remaining! I can do it.
22: I hate this wind
23: I mean really really hate the wind. I hate all the air.
24: This wind is my worst enemy. Hey dude on the carbon fiber track bike with aero bars, your bike is making awful noises.
25: 5 more laps. Or is that 6. Or 4. I hate you wind.
26: Hey broken grinding track bike dude. You’re getting on my nerves. List of enemies: a) wind b) you c) wind.
27: Three! Or four? Definitely less than 5 laps to go! I would give away many things for the wind to stop
28: Is the wind stopping? No. It’s me. I’m riding at 8 mph. I might puke.
29: Ok. If I ride a long way home I’ll just barely get 100 miles. I think. 94.5 plus 2.5. That’s over 100 right? Oh come on wind. Just give up. I’m taking my things and going home. You’re not invited to my birthday this year.

Torture

Torture

I made it. More mentally anguished than physically, but I made it. The helpful folks at National Airport, across the Potomac River from my route recorded average sustained wind speeds of 15 mph during my ride, occasionally up to 28 mph. Gusts were even friendlier – up to 36 mph.

Of course I’ll ride again next year. I should recover from my newly developed aversions to hot metal and wind by February 2015.  Oh, and I won’t feel so bad about cutting out a lap. I mean, look at this GPS record – it’s totally cutting corners on me!

Stolen Miles

Stolen Miles

Thanks Fatty.

48 Hours in Minneapolis

Minneapolis – you surprised me. I suppose now in hindsight the statistics and evidence is there to show that there is a very high bike mode share – but that is only one part of the picture. Amazing bike accommodations, from bike boulevards with auto-traffic calming measures to numerous greenways that serve both recreational and utilitarian needs. The city is flush with park space, much of it abutting the Mississippi River of one of the many lakes – and waterfront access is preserved for the public, not rich land owners. The light rail system is efficient and helps for when you need a break from pedaling. The craft beer and food scene is unexpectedly vibrant. There is great architecture and museums as well.

Here are some photos from my recent weekend trip to the City of Lakes.

Our disjointed bike journeys.

Our disjointed bike journeys.

Nice Ride bikeshare system made getting around very easy.

Nice Ride bikeshare system made getting around very easy.

The large markings don't do much by themselves, but the tactical improvements (curb bulb outs, restricting through auto traffic, etc.) made for pleasant biking on many cross town bike arterials.

The large markings don’t do much by themselves, but the tactical improvements (curb bulb outs, restricting through auto traffic, etc.) made for pleasant biking on many cross town bike boulevards.

Failed Nice Ride Panda

Failed Nice Ride Panda

A stop for espresso is a must when the skies threaten rain. And rain it did!

A stop for espresso is a must when the skies threaten rain. And rain it did!

A lap along Lake Harriet after the rain.

A lap along Lake Harriet after the rain.

Lake Harriet

Lake Harriet

Of course we snuck in a few brewvet stops. There were many very good breweries in town.

Of course we snuck in a few brewvet stops. There were many very good breweries in town.

All the multi-use paths were wide, with well defines spaces for all users. Compared to the Mount Vernon Trail here in metro-DC, this was pure luxury.

All the multi-use paths were wide, with well defines spaces for all users. Compared to the Mount Vernon Trail here in metro-DC, this was pure luxury.

Howdy.

Howdy.

The Mighty Mississippi, as seen from the Stone Arch Bridge.

The Mighty Mississippi, as seen from the Stone Arch Bridge.

The Stone Arch Bridge, converted for bike and pedestrian use is a real gem. Good use of materials to define "who should be where" make things very walk and bike friendly

The Stone Arch Bridge, converted for bike and pedestrian use is a real gem. Good use of materials to define “who should be where” make things very walk and bike friendly

Another brewvet stop.

Another brewvet stop.

Minnehaha Falls, easy access by bike or LRT. Amazing public restaurant serving great beers, local ice cream, and some spectacular seafood. The line was out the door.  Picnics, walking trails - the park was spectacular.

Minnehaha Falls, easy access by bike or LRT. Amazing public restaurant serving great beers, local ice cream, and some spectacular seafood. The line was out the door. Picnics, walking trails – the park was spectacular.

Sometimes we walked.

Sometimes we walked.

Another view of the Mississippi

Another view of the Mississippi

 

Tour de Cure Thank You

On Sept 27th we held the inaugural DC Tour de Cure to support the American Diabetes Association. We closed roads, we signed up over 850 riders, and we raised nearly $350,000. It took about 18 months of hard planning to get this event off the ground, but I feel so thrilled that we did it.  Next year can only get better!

Much thanks to Team Imagine, my family, and Kate for supporting the efforts and planning process. Our team raised $5,030 – over $500 per person! Amazing. What a day. Thanks to everyone who donated to our cause.

The family, aka "Team Imagine"

The family, aka “Team Imagine”

Oregon Adventure Part 6

Welcome to the final installation of our Oregon Adventure Previous entries can be found at Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 and Part 5.

The big adventures were over (well, mostly) after Bend.  The remainder of our trip consisted of a day in Hood River, and three days in Portland. But you know what, all that I am going to tell you about Portland is that we spent most of our time effortlessly navigating the city on bikes, exploring neighborhoods, breweries and other fun shops. Since it is a rather large city, with five distrinct quadrants – I recommend that you explore at your own pace to really get a feel for it.

Hood River, on the other hand, was pretty neat.  First of all, coming from the south we encountered some amazing terrain, high prairie, canyons, old pine forests, and finally Mt. Hood itself. The car ride was great fun!

Deer and Antelope playgrounds.

Deer and Antelope playgrounds.

Upon arriving we found the place innundated with kite boarders and wind surfers. A sight I never expected, but apparantly the Columbia River Valley is like a wind tunnel. We stopped at Pfriem Family Brewers for a beer and snack before planning our day and settling in for the night.

Drinking a beer only feet from its fermentation tank. Now that's fresh!

Drinking a beer only feet from its fermentation tank. Now that’s fresh!

The next morning we made a mandatory stop at 10 Speed Coffee, for some delicious beans and breakfast, then in planning our day we realized we were at their “small” location, so we packed up and drove to the “big” location to continue the planning.  Yes, we are weird.  The plan ended up like this, Kate would do some shopping while I made an excursion into Washington state to climb a mountain (and check off that state on my “I’ve bike here” list), then we would meet up and ride the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail – an old highway converted to an amazing bike trail, with views of the Gorge. The plan worked perfectly, and it was a great way to cap off our biking adventures for the trip.

10 Speed Coffee. Hood River, OR

10 Speed Coffee. Hood River, OR

The views about 2/3 from the top of my WA climb. Mt Hood is hiding in the background.

The views about 2/3 from the top of my WA climb. Mt Hood is hiding in the background.

A view from the top of my climb in WA.

A view from the top of my climb in WA.

Setting out on the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail

Setting out on the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail

Hootin and hollerin through the twin tunnels!

Hootin and hollerin through the twin tunnels!

Amazing views from the side of the trail.

Amazing views from the side of the trail.

Hood River, OR and White Salmon, WA

Hood River, OR and White Salmon, WA

Oh, and last but not least. On our way into Portland we stopped at Multnomah Falls and hiked to the top.

Multnomah Falls

Multnomah Falls

And that about wraps it up.  More adventures await, and I look forward to sharing them with you.

Oregon Adventure Part 5

Welcome to Part 5 of our Oregon Adventure, the final day of full bike touring. Previous entries can be found at Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.

After a night in Salem we embarked on our final day of full bike touring (the rest of the trip would be more sporadic riding), but not before some awesome breakfast tacos (with vegan and gluten free options) from our host at the Century House of Salem, Jean. Our plan for the day, once again confirmed over breakfast, was to ride the Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway south to Independence, then continue across rolling hills to Corvallis.  As we got further south in the valley the wineries became less frequent, so on this day our goal was to ride a little faster to our final destination so that we could pick up a rental car and drive through the Deschutes National Forest to Bend before sunset.

Salem to Corvallis

Salem to Corvallis

Independence was a nice stopping point for a mid-morning second breakfast, some coffee and to resupply for a picnic lunch.  And being known for its hop production from the late 19th to early 20th century – I was hoping to find some hidden gems in the town of 8,500. Our first coffee shop was quaint and had amazing sticky buns, which filled our tanks nicely, but they didn’t serve lunch food until later in the day.  Our second option was frankly a little scary – ancient magazines, dusty furniture and a bathroom that hadn’t been cleaned since Bill Clinton was charming us with his saxophone. Fortunately the food looked edible, so we bought some and made our way out of town. The only other place that piqued my interest was a craft beer bottle shop, but I didn’t need to add more weight to my panniers!

On our way to Independence OR. Stopped for some shade behind the tall corn

On our way to Independence OR. Stopped for some shade behind the tall corn

Just before entering Independence.

Just before entering Independence.

It is hard to pick favorite, but I think this day had some of the consistently best vistas of the entire trip. And I barely took any pictures of them! I was either wrestling my handlebars on a climb, or holding on tight on a fast descent. It was great fun.

Just outside of Independence I came across signs for Chatoe Rouge, which is the Rogue brewery hop/barley/corn/etc. farm, tasting room and visitor center. Alas, I did not know of this place until I stumbled upon the first sign, so we did not detour over to stop in. Quite possibly the biggest mistake of the trip (other than not tightening the pedals). Oh well, we’ll have to come back another time!

Just after the signs for Chatoe Rogue.

Just after the signs for Chatoe Rogue.

P1020160

Not Chatoe Rogue :(

Just a few miles outside of Corvallis we stopped for lunch in a local park that has been taken over by the radio controlled airplane enthusiast club. I wish they were there to show us their planes and how fun they could be – instead we were left wondering what types of folks fly big model planes? They probably wonder what type of folks load up their belongings on a bike and pedal across the horizon.

Lunch in the shelter for the model airplane crowd.

Lunch in the shelter for the model airplane crowd.

Final push to Corvallis

Final push to Corvallis

The last bit of the ride was uneventful, save for another cyclist who crept up behind me and then asked a question about our trip. I nearly fell over from the surprise! In Corvallis we picked up a rental vehicle, and wandered through the amazing farmers market downtown. Families on bikes everywhere, public pianos painted in fun colors waiting to be played, a few great bike shops. The town seemed to be a great blend of intellectual, young family college town mixed with salt of the earth farmers. I could have been convinced to stay longer, but we had a date with a ciderhouse that came highly recommended from one of our “friends” in McMinnville, and then onwards to Bend!

In the Deschutes National Forest on the road to Bend.

In the Deschutes National Forest on the road to Bend.

The forest is recovering after the wildfire. Mt Washington is the pointy feller in the background.

The forest is recovering after the wildfire. Mt Washington is the pointy feller in the background.

Just outside of Bend.

Just outside of Bend.

In Bend we spent a lot of our time off the bikes, opting to hike around many of the amazing volcanic lakes to the west of town, and to raft the rapids in the Deschutes river. When we were on bike, we were exploring the many breweries that the town is well known for.

Bend seems like an outdoor enthusiasts nirvana, amazing peaks offer snowy winters and rushing rivers after the melt, and the high desert summers offer ample road and mountain biking opportunities. Add in amazing beer. Mix. And you get some happy good times. If you are so inclined, there are two reportedly amazing bike rides to take near Bend, the Twin Bridges and Madras Mountain Views loops – both Oregon Scenic Bikeways. We waffled back and forth on riding the Twin Bridges loop, which starts in downtown Bend, but a rare rain storm stymied our chances.

Want to know more about Bend? I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

Todd Lake outside of Bend was amazingly clear, full of tadpoles, and just plain awesome.

Todd Lake outside of Bend was amazingly clear, full of tadpoles, and just plain awesome.

Todd Lake with Mt Bachelor in the background.

Todd Lake with Mt Bachelor in the background.

Sparks Lake with one of the Three Sisters in the background. Amazing lava rock everywhere, only a few short miles from Todd Lake but completely different. Oh, and chipmunk friends.

Sparks Lake with one of the Three Sisters in the background. Amazing lava rock everywhere, only a few short miles from Todd Lake but completely different. Oh, and chipmunk friends.

Cultus Lake was so inviting for swimming, but the rocky bottom and shallow depth near the shore meant we only got up to our knees.

Cultus Lake was so inviting for swimming, but the rocky bottom and shallow depth near the shore meant we only got up to our knees.

Crowsfeet Commons. I've always wanted to own a place just like this. Great bike shop with well curated supplies, friendly staff, a full coffee bar, a half dozen beers on tap, and an amazing patio with views of Mirror Pond.

Crowsfeet Commons. I’ve always wanted to own a place just like this. Great bike shop with well curated supplies, friendly staff, a full coffee bar, a half dozen beers on tap, and an amazing patio with views of Mirror Pond.

Red Sky at night at the top of Pilot Butte.

Red Sky at night at the top of Pilot Butte.

 

Oregon Adventure Part 4

If you need to catch up, feel free to read  Part 1, then Part 2, and Part 3.

Leaving behind McMinnville was just a little bittersweet. Sure, adventure awaited us on our journey – but we had just met this town and I felt like we could become good friends. I suppose the mediocre espresso we had in the morning made parting easier.

With lunches procured from the local grocer, we decided to amend our route to remove a small climb and vineyard visits, mostly due to the fact that our math showed we would be arriving before they open. Onward we pressed out of town, eventually coming upon the first truly unpleasant road of the trip – State Highway 99. With 55mph traffic (or faster) and narrow shoulders it was surprising that this is a recommended cycling route by some. Perhaps the allure of no cues (just follow 99 until you get to “X”) is the reason. Eventually we passed into the tiny town of Dayton and took a break under a massive tree in their lovely town square. From Dayton we knew services would be limited, so we filled water bottles before we pressed on, taking a nearly direct north-south route through farmland that supported many different crops. The scenery did not disappoint, and the quiet roads allowed for side-by-side riding and chatting.

McMinnville to Salem

McMinnville to Salem

These were great.

These were great.

Our first full stop of the day was at the Willamette Valley Cheese Company, which we considered a risky proposition, but one we must check out. The scare was that our nearly empty stomachs would revolt from the influx of fats and dairy products, and of course the generosity of the sampling hostess knew no bounds. We were stuffed with cheddars, goudas, fontinas and havartis. The location was not at all picturesque, or welcoming to sensitive noses – the cows were only feet from the tasting room doors – it was certainly a worthy stop where we got to try some award winning cheeses, both from raw and pasteurized milk, and fresh or aged varieties.

Thankfully our stomachs did not revolt, though the cheese had no magical powers that improved our climbing ability or speed – and our bodies soon revealed signs of the dreaded bonk. At times we crawled up the slightest of inclines, finding every last bit of energy available for consumption, before finally arriving at Christom vineyards.

So as not to be rude, we stumbled in the doors, purchased two glasses of refreshing white wines, and stumbled back out onto the porch to devour our packed lunches. The friendly dogs who greeted us outside were disappointed to find not a single scrap landing on the floor below our feet.

Lunch at Christom

Lunch at Christom

View from Christom

View from Christom

Recharged we decided to try a vertical tasting of the Pinot Noir made from one specific field at the vineyard, as our excellent guide explained the weather and factors that imparted some amazingly distinct flavor profiles into each vintage. While I enjoyed the wines, Kate found them less interesting than at Penner Ash – but we both agreed that the opportunity to compare different vintages back to back to back was very educational.

Back on the road towards Salem we were greeted with more undulating terrain, including one climb on Brush College Road that we ended up repeating in a different direction to visit one final vineyard – Redhawk Winery and Vineyard. Notwithstanding the added climbing, the scenery in this portion of the ride was very nice – as was the air conditioned tasting room at Redhawk. In another bout of small-worldedness, the person staffing the vineyard happened to be a former employee of Gilgamesh Brewing – which was started by a former acquaintance of Kates. We ended up purchasing a bottle to enjoy on the hummingbird filled porch before we zoomed back downhill.

A zooming descent on Spring Valley Road

A zooming descent on Spring Valley Road

Brush College Road

Brush College Road, Christom somewhere in the distance to the left.

Finally we crossed the Willamette River on bikes, and entered downtown Salem. We meandered around the state house grounds and the Willamette University campus before arriving at the Century House of Salem, a bed and breakfast that would be our home for the night. We picked the Century House specifically because it is a wonderful respite for touring cyclists. The host and owner, Jean, is an avid touring cyclist herself, as well as a great bike-centric crafter and a mean cook! Jean has secure bike parking, complete with a repair stand and tools, and since she lives a car-lite lifestyle, even offered to rent us her car should we need it for side excursions from Salem.

Also staying at the house that evening was a retired couple from Ohio, who had driven to Oregon for some folding-bike adventures, and to be fitted for their new Bike Fridays a short drive away in Eugene!

Salem isn’t a great food or beer mecca – so I don’t think a stay longer than one evening is warranted – but if you happen to be touring through Salem I can’t recommend the Century House B&B enough!

Hallooo down there. Crossing the Willamette on a former rail bridge converted for bike/ped use.

Hallooo down there. Crossing the Willamette on a former rail bridge converted for bike/ped use.

Views from Redhawk Vineyard.

Views from Redhawk Vineyard.

Oregon Adventure Part 3

Forgive me – it has been nearly a week since we left off the story of our Oregon Adventure. If you care to refresh yourself, go read Part 1, then read Part 2.

[Scene] Daybreak over Newberg, Oregon, population 22,400. Your intrepid adventurers awake to find that nothing has gone wrong overnight. The bikes – right were they were left. No missing parts, no mysterious failures.

To top it off, the sky is a brilliant blue, the temperature is in the low 60s – refreshing to body and spirit, and the local coffee shop makes a nice espresso. Paired with a marionberry scone and a breakfast quiche, our route review went splendidly. We mapped out each day of the tour before we departed D.C., but purposely built in some flexibility to account for our changing ambitions in both the distance and winery visit categories.  Today we decided to forgo visiting one of the wineries we had planned on – cutting out a few miles and allowing for more time to explore our next destination – McMinnville. It was a worthy tradeoff.

Newberg to Carlton to McMinnville.

Newberg to Carlton to McMinnville.

Our riding was predominantly in the flat to mildly rolling floor of the Willamette Valley, which offered spectacular vistas of ridges and distant mountains throughout the morning. Within minutes of our departure we were in truly rural country. In general car traffic was very low, meaning you could be sucked into the experience of riding in the unfamiliar and beautiful country, sights and sounds of bike tires humming along and whatever thoughts you had in your head.

And – our bad luck was about to completly evaporate. As we came to an intersection we discussed the winery stops for the day – but Kate couldn’t remember the exact name of the first venue. We turned left and pedaled along until she stopped at a gravel turn-off. A sign had jogged her memory – Penner Ash Wine Cellars – open at 11:00am. I quickly looked at my GPS – 11:20 – let’s go!

Take a look at the elevation profile at the bottom of the map above – can you guess where the winery was? Yeah, about Mile 9. After a really grueling climb we were greeted at the top with spectacular views, and the tasting room staff! They offered us free tastings on account of the fact that we were their first customers of the day, and we had just climbed that steep hill – bonus! And the wine – amazing! If you have a change to try their “Pas de Nom” do not pass it up (it is a $100 bottle at retail, probably $250 in restaurants, so it isn’t a regular tuesday wine!).

Views of Hood from Penner Ash

Views of Hood from Penner Ash

We didn’t want to leave, but we eventually made our way down the hill and continued on our journey, even getting a bit of gravel grinding action along the roads to Carlton. Carlton is a pretty sleepy small town that wisely saw the wine tourism business in the valley picking up, and capitalized in a big way.  Every shop, restaurant and tasting room still retains that small rural town charm, but would be equally comfortable in a bigger cosmopolitan city. We stopped for lunch at Horse Radish (on the recommendation of the folks at Penner Ash), then meandered our way to the Carlton Winemakers Studio. The studio is basically an incubator for aspiring winemakers – they supply the labor, materials and marketing, and the studio offers the equipment and space. We were able to sample some pretty tasty small batch wines there – I recommend it!

On the road to Carlton

On the road to Carlton

Views for miles and miles.

Views for miles and miles.

Outside the Carlton Winemakers Studio

Outside the Carlton Winemakers Studio

Eventually we landed in McMinnville – which was kind of the perfect small town USA. The farmers market was in full gear, downtown was bustling, and our hotel (a McMenamins location) was pretty neat. By arriving early we got the chance to visit a few tasting rooms, where we chatted with the locals (including one of the winemakers who stopped in after work), and got a real feel for the town. Fun loving people, amazing civic pride, and what seems like an economy bouyed by great wines. Dinner recommendations were passed around, including all the little secret “locals only” places – it was a great way to end our first real full day of touring!