Team… building?

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A few weeks ago, the head of our department sent out an email that we would be going on a team-building hike. Now, I’m not a very enthusiastic hiker (I generally consider hiking to be boring and a lot of work for little return… ) so I wasn’t very excited about it. M has been getting into hiking this summer, so I told her which route we were doing and she responded that it was one of the toughest hikes they’d done all summer and basically 4 miles straight up. Oh, goodie… So, not a great choice for a Marketing teambuilding activity, considering some of our team members don’t do any kind of exercise at all. I decided to focus on the fact that I would be outside, rather than sitting in my cubicle all day.

The actual day of the hike was cloudy, but we’d had similar weather all week that had burned off in the afternoon to be a pretty sunny day, so I was hoping today would be the same. I met up with my carpool downtown in front of our office, which meant riding the bus with the commuters in my hiking clothes/camelback. Awesome. Everyone arrived at the trailhead, more or less on time. There was one team that was really late, so we initially waiting for them to show up. My co-worker R rocked some awesome rainbow socks:

At some point, the head of our department decided that it was too cold to wait and that the straggling group would just have to catch up. (Yay, team building!) So, we headed off.

Initially, there were many rest breaks:

The trail was well-maintained, so we saw a number of trail-runners out. There wasn’t much scenery-wise, unless you like tall trees:

Then there was more trudging… er… I mean, hiking…

We had a couple of dogs along for her hike. (I didn’t notice that my Hipstamatic switched to black & white film, so hopefully you can make out the cuteness of them sharing a water bowl… )

Eventually, the foggy air was making it difficult to wait and regroup, so we split off into different groups. I am proud to say I largely hung with the first group (all boys, except for yours truly) and that there was A LOT of climbing. I’d like to thank all of our bike training for my ability to climb four miles of steep terrain. I couldn’t help but notice that it was getting cloudier/foggier the higher we climbed and that it was very unlikely it was going to burn off any time soon. So, this was the gorgeous view that we climbed four miles for:

Did I mention that it was cold and raining? Miserable. Thankfully, I’d tossed my running jacket into my backpack so I pulled that on and shivered with the rest of the front of the pack. There was a last “scramble” portion that was too rainy/slippery/not worth it to climb up. Some of my cohorts decided to climb it any way, but I opted to huddle under a tree as the other groups eventually caught up. It was such a bummer to see everyone’s faces as they made it to the top only to be underwhelmed by the view. Some people made the best of it, but everyone was pretty miserable.

Coming down was just as bad. It felt like it went on forever and I didn’t want to run and risk falling and breaking something, so I just trudged along with one of the more annoying members of my team. Sigh. At least there was a reward for all of our hard work: burgers and cherry pie at a diner in North Bend:

(Fans of the 90’s show Twin Peaks will recognize this as the diner where someone eats cherry pie. I never watched Twin Peaks, due to my rabid hatred of David Lynch’s work, but that’s what I gleaned from listening to others/reading about it on the menu… ) The food was decent and there was a ton of it, so at least we ended on a high note. I still think any team-building resulting from this outing will be because we survived that terrible hike together, like war buddies…

Partay!

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Tee hee! (Actually, Bryan won’t be 40 until October when the weather is far less cooperative for partying, but that doesn’t stop the bag from being funny… )

Usually, when I’m invited to a party where I’ll only know the hosts and maybe one or two other people, it makes me nervous. But there are those people who are awesome enough that you’ll make an exception. Then you throw in an amazing location, great food and wine and I’m willing to brush up on my chit-chat. 😉

The party was held in the event room at Dunham Cellars, which is a really cool space. It’s equal parts rustic and eclectic and a great space to have a party.

I thought this was a really pretty way to keep white wine cold. It’s apparently some sort of gizmo that the winery has where they can put the greenery in then add water and freeze:

Bryan and Jenn added their own special touches – Jones Soda with personalized labels:

(The Orange Soda label was taken during our first trip to Gunn Ranch. I think Jones Soda should use that one on their lemon-lime flavor to match those shorts. Just sayin’)

It’s always fun to meet the family of friends. We got to meet both Bryan and Jenn’s parents and Bryan’s brother. There were also friends from Seattle. It was a small but lively group. There was even a little bit of dancing:

There were also a few special guests:

Greta and Tyr were WAY more well-behaved than my dogs would have been. At no point, did either of them eat off of the buffet table or knock a small child down to steal his BLT sandwich. Astonishing!

But my favorite moment of the evening was when some friends gave Bryan the best birthday present ever – straw glasses! I think it’s going to revolutionize the wine tasting industry…

After the party, we had a little post-party drink at the Marcus Whitman – a beautiful historic hotel in downtown Walla Walla. It was a great way to wrap up a wonderful evening. Many thanks to our hosts for being born/inviting us to celebrate the occasion!

The other www: Walla Walla Wine

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After our Prosser hijinks, we all headed down to Walla Walla in Erin’s sporty Audi (we were all staying in the same hotel and going to the same party, so it was great to be able to carpool.) We checked into the fabulous Holiday Inn Express and changed into our party attire with a little extra time to visit one of the local tasting rooms. As we were walking from the car, I saw this super cute little mural and stopped to take a picture:

Then T took my picture with it:

Then Erin took both of our pictures with it:

And then I took this super adorable picture of her and David:

(We got a lot of mileage out of that mural!)

The tasting room we visited was K Vintners/Charles Smith and it’s definitely not your typical winery. The tasting room was in a super cool industrial space:

I’ve been hanging around M way too long, because the first thing I did was take an artsy photo of my shadow:

But then I geeked out on the graphic design hard-core:

I loved the way they did their board showing the wines available (and of course the boxes are super cool):


Usually, when I see this much effort being put into creating cool branding I don’t expect much from the wine. But I actually really enjoyed their wine. They also had some fairly decent lower-priced offerings, which I always appreciate. We had fun trying the different options:

And lounging around in the super cool space:

(They clean up nice, don’t they?) Then it was time to head off to the party…

 

Idyllic summer

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Apparently we’re having an extra social August this year. After Heidi’s awesome visit last weekend, we had a trip over to Eastern Washington on the books for this weekend. The main reason was a party for our friend Bryan’s big 4-0 on Saturday, but we kicked the weekend off right with a trip to hang out with Erin in Prosser. I love visiting Erin because this is what greets you after a long drive in the car:

Not to mention the delicious dinner, including a yummy zucchini cornbread:

After we ate dinner out in the backyard, in the warm summer evening. Afterward, we rode bikes down to a local coffee/wine bar for dessert. I borrowed Erin’s big pink cruiser bike (rather than riding Slim.) It was such a blast to ride! It was like being a kid again.

The next morning, we went on a nice little bike ride. Before we headed out, T had to snuggle Erin’s newest kitty “Kitten.”

Kitten looks almost exactly like her other cat Bandit, so it’s super cute to watch them play-fight:

After our ride, Erin fired up her crepe maker. (She’s recently started a crepe business as her local farmer’s market.) She was trying a new gluten-free batter, which was giving her problems. But once you put yummy fillings inside, they tasted just fine. It was fun to watch her in action:


T even got in on the crepe-making action:

And he did a really good job!

If this whole Interior Design thing doesn’t work out, it looks like T can fall back on crepe-making… 😉

Mom-cation

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Heidi came for a visit this weekend, leaving her twins in husband Tom’s capable hands. It was Heidi’s first foray away from them and I was very honored that she choose to come see yours truly. I took the day off of work so that we could hang out and we got to spend a nice afternoon having lunch and walking around my ‘hood. It was fun showing Heidi my neighborhood and poking in the little shops. One of them had a cool old cigarette machine that had been re-purposed into an art machine:

The next day, we took a ferry over to Bainbridge Island. Here are Heidi and T waiting for the ferry to arrive, (please note the beautiful sunny weather, good thing Heidi’s from California!):

The last time I’d been to Bainbridge Island it was to do Chilly Hilly, so it was fun to walk on to the ferry with nothing more on the agenda than having a snack and walking around. As we were pulling out of the dock, we saw this out the window and wondered what it was:

After a little search on the interwebs, we discovered it was some sort of military defense/sonar antenna thingy. There was very little concrete info about what it did, all very top secret and hush hush. We decided that some sort of James Bond level villain is probably plotting world domination with it as we speak. Consider yourself warned! The rest of the ride was spent goofing off…

We had a great time walking around the shops and having coffee at the little bakery. While Heidi and I explored a super fancy yarn and tea (?) shop, T checked out an ice cream place that he’d heard about. Here’s what we saw:

What I (unfortunately) missed taking a picture of was the amazingly awkward date that was going on to T’s right. The girl was dolled up to the nines (way more than you usually see in Seattle) and apparently the guy had taped words to playing cards and was flipping them over to produce sentences… “This, That and the Other” Ouch.

We met up with M for a little dinner/drinks action. We were going to check out a local oyster bar/small plates place that we’d heard really good things, but apparently everyone else had heard the same good things because there was a TWO AND A HALF HOUR WAIT. Yikes. We were way too hungry to stick around, so we headed to a local tapas place for some snacks and cocktails. Heidi and I went with the sangria. So pretty…

We had to order this, just to find out what “sexy oil” was:

(Turns out, it’s just really good olive oil.) While we were out, M snapped this amazing picture of Heidi that I just had to share.

I love how contemplative she looks. It’s such a beautiful photo. It was a fun night hanging with two of my closest girlfriends and T. Many cocktails were consumed (okay two, I’m a lightweight!) and much conversation. A fantastic way to cap off a fabulous weekend. Ms. Heidi, it was wonderful to see you. I hope you enjoyed your visit as much as I did!

 

Overheard on the bike…

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SCENE: YESTERDAY’S EPIC BIKE RIDE

Me: (chugging up what I believe to be climb #4 of seven significant climbs) Okay, we’re doing good… Hang in there… Almost there…

The Boy: (waiting on the side of the road for me to catch up) Good job, honey! I think we’re almost to the climb!

Me: You better pray to whatever god you filthy hippies believe in that you’re wrong about that.

Lucky for him, he was wrong and that was the climb, but talk about deflating!