Evergreen Hiker

From first aid kits to wick-and-wear clothing, packing for the climb to Everest Base Camp feels almost more daunting than the mountain.  I prefer to pack as light as possible, but for such a big climb I also don’t want to forget anything. Luckily the guide company I will be traveling with in April sent me a packing list to help with the ruck-sack stuffing adventure.

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Gluten Free Cinnamon Raisin Bread

My mom found a bag of Bob’s Red Mill Cinnamon Raisin Bread on sale the other day so I finally decided to bake it up this afternoon. To add something a little special, I added white chocolate chips to the batch. Nom…Nom!


All you need for this easy bread is the pre-mixed bread mix made by Bob’s Red Mill, 1 1/2 cup warm water, 1/4 cup oil & 2 eggs. The bread, while crunchy on the outside is surprisingly soft on the inside. In total the recipe took about 2 hours with rise & cooking time. A bag of the mix retails for $5.59 but my mom found it for $3.50 on sale.


Buick Tweet House Road Trip: Eureka to Napa

The Buick Enclave in the Redwoods

After enjoying a warm, egg omelet with chocolate chip bread and a round of mind, rejuvenating coffee we hit the road for the final leg of the #BuickTweetHouse road trip to Napa.

Getting behind the wheel of the Buick Enclave it was finally my turn to drive – and what a section of Highway 101 to hug the curves.

Taking a short diversion from the road, we curved left and right past ancient branches along the Avenue of Giants and stopped for a photo opt with these infamous Redwoods.

Nearing the wine country, the sun began to sink as the first vineyards came into view.

For a short wine break (a very important aspect of any wine road trip), we swung into Portalupi to sample their California reds. The Barbera, grown in Mendocino County, offered a deep, plum and earthy spice flavor that pitched your cheeks with dryness.

Mondavi Entrance

The wine excitement didn’t stop there though. After dropping our bags off at the Napa Embassy Suites, where my room was practically as large as my apartment at home, and freshening up we jumped back in the car to go to the Napa Film Festival’s opening gala at Robert Mondavi Winery.

Pulling into the grand entrance, the mission style building almost glowed with class as the spot lights lit up the front arches. Sexy sports cars additionally pop with color outside the VIP check-in tables.

Walking into the party I was handed a logo wine glass filled with crisp and refreshing, Mondavi’s Fume Blanc, as the scent of various fine cuisine drafted through the crowded halls.

“How in the world did I get here – this is crazy, amazing!” I thought to myself in a surreal bubble of excitement.

“Welcome to the Napa Valley Film Festival,” the glitz and glam replied as we entered the party and kick-started the weekend of wine and film.

More photos from the final leg of the Buick Tweet House Road Trip:

Buick Tweet House Road Trip: Eugene to Eureka

If you combine comedic Simpson’s quotes, twitter tools talk, and a collegiate Econ lecture together and blend and pour over ice – then you have the drink of choice on the Buick Tweet House road trip to Napa.

After an efflorescent tour of King Estate’s wine production facilities and cellar, we departed Eugene. South bound, it was Eureka or bust!

Traveling along Territorial highway and through the canopy trees of the Lorane valley, the golden colors of the late fall foliage burst from each side of the road as we left the Willamette Valley and its winning wine region.

With the endless I-5 ahead of us, we turned to coffee, diet coke, and twitter to take on the sting of the long road. Like the computer chained and tweet-a-holics we all are, we stayed connected on the highway using MiFi and the Buick’s  many outlets. But for most of the drive I relaxed and enjoyed the beautiful evergreen scenery and rolling mountains.

With sky-high trees sprouting from ground, we entered California and soon the coast stretched on the horizon. Rounding a bend in the road just south of Crescent City, we hit the water line with impeccable timing. Watching the sun sink below the horizon with an open, clear sky – the daylight slowly disappeared, but our day was not yet over.

Our final stop of the long day of driving, finally came to a conclusion at the Carter House Inn in Eureka. Located in a beautiful, ornate Victorian home in the historic district, the Carter House greeted us with the red carpet – literately. Walking into the attractively decorate lobby with large, earthy pottery, cushy couches and a relaxed, soft luxury, the calmness enveloped me.

After enjoying a glass of 1999 Carter Cabernet Sauvignon in the lobby by the fire with the Carter Inn kids, Annie and Jonathan, we wandered into the hotel’s award-winning restaurant 301.

I savored bites of my grilled chicken served over polenta and carrots with Pinot Noir sauce as my stomach reached its happy place. With the final sips of the deep, cheery cab my body slowly sunk into a delightful lethargy as my room, just upstairs whispered my name. Dreaming of Napa and the final road trip adventures to come.

Favorite Tweets of the Day:

@seattlewinegal: Pretty sure that @KingEstate only hires super hot guys. Lucky me! img.ly/ahvi

> Reply @KingEstate: @lisagilpin @seattlewinegal thank you both, you make us blush like luminous pinot gris.

@KelseyIvey: @ORFallafoliage Still lots of beautiful golden trees in southern #Oregon near Grants Pass #BuickTweetHouse twitpic.com/7cjlsc

@SeattleWineGal: I still remain undefeated in out Simpson’s quoting everyone in the room. #BuickTweetHouse road trip

@SeattleWineGal: Me against this bottle (magnum baby)- think I can take it? http://t.co/OnITSvGR

Northwest Food and Wine Festival

Last night I attended the Northwest Food and Wine Festival hosted at the DoubleTree Inn at the Lloyd Center in Portland, Oregon. Featuring hundreds of different wines from Washington and Oregon along with 50 restaurants best finger foods, the festival buzzed with happy sippers.

Roaming the aisles of wine and food merchants, I scooped out the company before excitingly jumping in with a splash of Carton Cellar’s Pinot Gris, a crisp, dry Gris with a lovely minerality and bright citrus. A delicious start to a night that was filled with tantalizing and varied flavors that took over every corner of my month.

A few of my favorites from the night include:

J. Scott

Poured by the wine maker, who looked like he just walked out of the vineyards in a hat, jeans and work button up, J. Scott ‘s Grenache was a delicious and smooth red wine with a light blackberry aroma like the first hot week of August along the river. Based out of Eugene, Oregon, J. Scott is a small boutique wine producer blending handcrafted batches of Oregon wines.


The only bottle of wine that we purchased from the festival was a deep, fruity Sangiovese by Tesoaria. Smooth on the tongue but not short in flavor, this Italian style red wine abounded with bright cherry and a floral nose. Plus never doubt the influence of a knowledgeable and personable pourer. Jay Schmidt, the winery’s proprietor greeted us like best friends and spoke openly about the wines. We had a fantastic time hanging out later in the night and swapping wine suggestions. Tesoaria’s home soil is in Roseburg, Oregon.

Chateau Lorane

Another Eugene area winery representing with wonderful wines, Chateau Lorane sampled three fantastic wines at the festival. A light, fruity red with a smooth & silky finish, Chateau Lorane’s Counoise surprised even my wine saturated mouth. With an alluring fragrance and amazing drinkability, this is a wine I would most definitely buy and drink regularly.

I also enjoyed Van Duzer Vineyard’s Pinot Noir and Mt. Defiance’s Hellfire wines.

Beyond the wine, the NW Food and Wine Festival also featured a wide selection of vodka, gin, whiskey and some more unique liquors like Pisco. From a fresh, herby gins to Cofia Hazelnut Espresso vodka by Bend Distillery and Trillium Absinthe by Integrity Spirits with a refreshing licorice flavor, the festival had a little bit of everything for guests to sample – and a lot a bit of Pate. After sampling about five different varieties of pate, which before this night I had never had before, I found out that the mushy, meat mixture was the food competition piece for the festival. Other noteworthy food items included a thinly slight beef open face sandwich with lamb meatball and a blue cheese sample topped with nuts and drizzled with honey.

Thanks to @WineJulia and Eugene Daily New’s Wine Down Eugene for the tickets and a fantastic night of wine, food and fun.

Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway, Day 3

Another restless night sleep as if my brain couldn’t stop pedaling through the night and then we attacked the third and final day of our Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway adventure. After two days of 40+ mile rides, my legs were no longer tired, my arms no longer sore, and my brain on overdrive – yet still excited to get in the saddle.

The morning started with the continental breakfast at The Grand Hotel in Salem, complimented by a gluten free P&J sandwich that I had pre-packed just in case earlier in the week and two cups of coffee. Caffeinated, we kicked off the day with a visit to the Travel Salem offices and the Salem Capitol building.

Owling at the capitol building

Signing an imaginary bill into law at the Governor's desk.

Then we put on feet back on the pedals.

The most difficult section of the bikeway for traffic and direction, we maneuvered our way through the busy mid-morning traffic in downtown Salem as we eased out into the suburbs and finally to the countryside.

Greeting us with fresh air and wide open fields, the roads weaved north through scattered beautiful flowering fields. From acres of acres of cauliflower and trimmed hop fields, this section of the scenic bikeway was by far my favorite. Taking the trail at a relaxed pace, we glided through the remaining valley and enjoyed the end of fall sun on our backs. Only missing one turn along the way, the day flew by.

Biking into Willamette Mission State Park

Passing through Willamette Mission State Park, we goofed around in the park fields and wandered the hazelnut orchards. Here I also decided to take a bite out of the pavement with the only crash of the trip. In true Kelsey fashion, I tripped over my own pedal in slow-mo while trying to turn around from a dead stop. Luckily I came away with just a few skinned knees and a small break on my camera.

After dusting off my knees we checked out the biker and hiker camp at the park and test road the ferry crossing the Willamette River before embarking on the last ten miles of the ride.

With some flat fields and big sweeping curves, I road a good portion of the last leg alone. Thinking through each pedal… each mile, I kept just pushing myself further and further – another moment beyond what I imagined I could do and another moment setting expectations for what I could do in the future. So riding into Champoeg State Park was liking flying through the finish line ribbon for me. Only 7 months since having surgery for my Crohn’s disease and I finally felt like myself again – healthy, active, and alive.

The group survived all the way to Champoeg

More photos from Day three:

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