17 July 2009

Northwest Miscellany / Too Long a Post Script

I got back to Austin late last Sunday after ten days in Seattle. I already blogged about the first part of my trip: A friend's wedding, fourth of July feast, leftovers, Ballard blues. The second half of the trip I spent across the Puget Sound from Seattle on "The Peninsula," as they say. Namely, I was in Port Angeles visiting a friend of the family with my folks. We covered a lot of ground, which I'll recap by sharing some grainy images.

We arrived late on the Thursday after July 4th and the short trip from Port Angeles to Port Townsend on Friday. Port Townsend is definitely the more touristy spot, despite Port Angeles's recent Twilight-related notoriety, and has a number of storefronts worth visiting. First, we stopped by Mt. Townsend Creamery to try their cheeses, see the creamery churning its curds and pick up a couple of lunches. For ten bucks each brown bag comes with bread, salami, figs and, of course, cheese. That may seem a bit steep, but one bag is plenty to feed two people. We ate those at a State park on the waterfront, where my mother spilled strawberry soda down my front-side and my father declared his hatred for pork fat. Luckily, the cheese was really good. Also in Port Townsend I had the best little espresso of my life. It's pictured here with the Friday, July 10th edition of Port Townsend's The Leader, which featured an entire section of lawnmower racing (Yeah, no shit. Click here to see how we do it in Texas).

After eating in Port Townsend we headed back to Port Angeles, where our friend, Minister of Music at Holy Trinity Lutheran, showed us the recently refurbished pipe organ. In fact, we got a bit of a preview, as she won't christen it until next Sunday. With thirty ranks and more stops than I could possibly explain, it sounded wonderful. She was a little worried that it might be too loud and so compete with the congregation during hymns. So long as attendance isn't too low, it'll probably be fine. But it was louder and clearer than most church organs I grew up with, which may have to do with the fact that I didn't grow up with real pipes. It makes a difference, not only for the enhanced sound, but also for the added visual pleasure, which you can see for yourself. The pipes are like perfect little modernist designs -- functional in their ability to produce a large variety of sounds and beautiful in their austere simplicity. Follow the link for a short recording of the Minister of Music practicing the hymn, "From Whom All Blessings Flow." It was especially neat to walk around behind the display ranks to see the many smaller ranks that normally stay hidden. Later that evening my mother made pasta arrabiata, after which we all drank too much wine and argued about the existence of God. We decided that question was predicated on a marketing problem, which non-denominational and born-again churches seem to have solved with praise services. Get rid of the organ, gather a garage band and then, there, you can see with rude certainty God operate all his horrors upon this world. Americans really do love atrocity.

Okay, enough preaching. On Saturday we ate waffles, which are my father's special culinary venture. Following his lead, we as a family have made a tradition out of sugar-and-dairy-fat-adorned batter. It's better than your average Eggo, and here I'll say no more for fear of preaching again. The image to the right is of my father's work, probably the only masterpiece he'll ever love.

After breakfast we met up with my sister -- and the family was whole -- at Camaraderie Cellars, a little winery in Port Angeles owned by some friends of the friend we were visiting. In fact, our friend works there part time in cooperation with a bartering system, for which she receives, well, I don't know what. A little wine, certainly, but mostly camaraderie I imagine. In any case, it was my first trip to a winery and it was fun to learn a little about what goes into producing the blood of Christ in bulk. For one thing, oak barrels cost a lot of fucking money. About $800 each, to be exact. And they have a lot of them even at a small business. No wonder it costs so much per bottle. Furthermore, they can only use each for about four years before they lose that barrel flavor. After that Camaraderie turns them into expensive furniture, which is, quite frankly, more palatable than tossing them on the trash heap. Nonetheless, it boggles the mind why anyone would pay so much for such an ugly chair, even if it is made of very nice oak. On the other hand, I was very glad to find that the tasting is quite reasonable. At five dollars a head we tasted five good wines. For everyone else that amounted to more than a glass of wine, as the pours were generous. For me, however, the pours seemed half-sized. Probably because the lady pouring thought I was underage but felt too embarrassed to ask for an ID since I was with friends and acquaintances. Oh well. I ate more than my fair share of the Ranier cherries that they had out for a snack.

That afternoon we went on a short walk through the Northwest's rain forest and then had dinner at a faux-fancy restaurant that played really awful music and served really good food. They have a wood-fired oven that cooks most of their dishes, making everything delicious. I had blackened salmon topped with a fruit relish, accompanied by a side of champagne and lemon risotto. While that was really good, the crab that my sister ordered looked far more impressive. In fact, it was far impressive in that it was plucked from the ocean only about a mile away. The salmon probably came from ten miles away.

That's all for now. I promise the next post will be shorter and more rewarding. Thanks for hanging in there thus far.

1 comment:

  1. It was great to talk to you today, and almost as good to be reintroduced to your amazing writing.