North Meets South: Company’s Coming!

15 11 2013

Having grown up in the South (or Texas, both for those who believe Texas is it’s own country and for those who believe it’s not part of the South) and having now lived in the Pacific Northwest for 4 years, I can say from experience that there is a regional difference in hospitality. Not that either is inhospitable, their styles are just different.

Last Friday, one of my best gal pals from Bend came to visit, along with her boyfriend. Nikki and I work together and were roomies for about a year in Bend. (I also tried desperately to marry her to my brother, but alas, it just didn’t work.) I have never not had a great time with this girl, but I wanted to make sure we showed them a great time in Trout Lake.

Off to the grocery store!

The pair arrived Friday night and were welcomed with open arms….and a glass of wine and local brew. This I’ve learned from the Northwest culture. No Bud Lite or Coors will do – bring on the local craft beer! We stayed up for hours chatting and catching up (as though we didn’t just see each other last weekend…) and finally decided to turn in.

Saturday dawned gloomy yet again but I was ready. First things first: breakfast! I set to work shredding the potatoes in my new food processor (with coaching and moral support from Nikki) and dicing veggies for the egg scramble. It’s part of my southern up-bringing: company means people to feed! Nikki and I picked up our on-going discussion of future business ventures while the hash browns browned and the eggs scrambled, and decided to add “Cafe” to the list (along with our mini-animal farm and orchard).

Food eaten and kitchen cleaned (mostly by Nikki, the dish-washing fool!) it was time for adventure! Any time people visit, we have to take them on an adventure. It’s probably in the state constitutions of both Oregon and Washington, and we are law abiding citizens! I panicked as we loaded into the car because I didn’t have any snacks to bring (that Southern must-have-food-to-hand-out-at-all-times thing again) but we decided we would just grab lunch after our hike so snacks weren’t necessary. Whew!

We headed down to the gorge and pulled over on the side of the road. J told us to start looking for a way down. “There’s not really a trail, just a scramble…” We went over the lip of the slope and started a perilous descent, picking our way down the rock slide. Slippery moss, hidden holes and damp stone made the going slow. I’m very proud to say Nikki and I made it to the bottom. Alive. And mostly unharmed.

rock scramble to Spirit Falls, Stevenson WA

We didn’t DIE! Yay us!

We finally made it down and discovered the reward: a beautiful waterfall! (Another Northwest thing. Especially in the Gorge.) Spirit Falls on the Little White Salmon River is a gorgeous waterfall cascading into a bowl, then bouncing down another little fall and through some rapids. Kayakers loooove this place.

top tier of Spirit Falls, Stevenson WA

Spirit Falls! Worth the “hike” we endured.

Making it back up the horrible rock slope was easier and much faster, fueled by our growling stomachs. We decided on a rockin’-awesome pizza joint in Bingen for lunch, but were surprised to find it closed down. They were moving the business across the Columbia to Hood River, so we decided to see if the new location was open yet. Another sad disappointment led us to one of the several local breweries. The Northwest had shown me that even the small little towns can support multiple craft breweries! We picked Double Mountain, both for the food and beer, and chowed down on a delicious lunch.

Next stop: wine tasting!! (Yet another Northwest favorite I’ve hi-jacked. Yes, I know they wine taste in other parts of the world. But the Northwest seems to really pack in the wineries.) We hit up several awesome tasting rooms downtown Hood River, some that Nikki and I had visited back in the spring.

Cerulean Winery tasting room, Hood River OR

So many awesome tasting rooms, yet this one always brings out the party in us…

After several tastings and lots and lots of laughing (and one spilled glass due to my dramatic gesticulating), it was time to go home. And time for an epic battle of Settlers of CATAN!!

Settlers has become our board game of choice, and we love forcing it upon our house guests. Nikki and her dude were very gracious, even though J still beat the britches off all of us. It was slightly embarrassing.

Also slightly embarrassing was how long it took me to get motivated Sunday morning. But my Southern-ness finally kicked me hard enough to get breakfast going, and soon we were all full of little mini-quiches. So yummy! Then we switched back to Northwest mode for our second adventure: caving!

After exploring the Falls Creek Cave a couple weeks ago, J and I have decided to explore ALL OF THE CAVES. And in this area, we have our work cut out for us! The choice of cave for this trip is the closest to our house that we know of. It’s called the Cheese Cave, because there used to be a gent who actually made cheese down there. The cave is still full of collapsed wooded structures that used to be part of the cheese-making business, and are super creepy.

The Cheese Cave is on private property, but the nice proprietors don’t mind folks exploring their cave. We descended the sketch-ball ladder, then clambered down the rubble pile into the lava tube. I have a weird obsession with lava tubes these days, and I loved seeing our guests reactions. They’ve both been in the lava tubes around Bend, so this wasn’t super out of the ordinary for them. But Cheese Cave has something none of us have ever seen: a metal staircase leading up to a hole in the ceiling…and directly into the owner’s HOUSE! It’s like they have their own personal BATCAVE!! Can you imagine growing up in a house that had a secret trap door into a legit CAVE?! You’d be the coolest cat at school for sure.

Cheese Caves, Trout Lake WA

Perfect timing with that shaft of light streaming in, making Nikki glow like an ANGEL!!

And then my dear pals had to hit the road. We hugged and hugged, sad to not be spending the following weekend together, but planning for our next reunion at our company Christmas party in December. She really seems to bring out all the best of both my north side and my south side, and I love her with ALL sides!

Nothing beats a weekend full of the best of times with the best of friends.

And more friends coming THIS weekend! Stay tuned!





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