Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Walla Walla Ferrari Trip

It is 12:08 AM as I write this. We drove to Walla Walla yesterday. Barb drove the last leg of the trip and went considerably faster than I did. I shift better but she went faster.

Certainly, there are tortures more painful, more able to extract a confession from the strongman than a long drive in a Ferrari. But a long drive in a Ferrari, on a hot day, when the driver cannot figure out the air conditioning. I had forgotten you push “STOP” to turn the AC off not on. For the first 50 miles of the trip we drove in a sauna. Finally, out of desperation I rolled the window down, thinking it must be several hundred degrees outside. I was not greeted an inferno, it was cooler outside. Well I will just turn the AC off and go with the windows down. At least we will make it to our lunch stop and I can decide if I want to continue. I don’t do well in hot weather. Turning the AC off was really turning the AC on. After that the trip was much more pleasant.
We left Portland and headed east on Highway 84. 84 follows the Columbia river, through the Columbia gorge. After a few hours we turned to follow the river on smaller roads which led us to Walla Walla. Aside from being loud, hard riding, hot (initially) and cramped the car performed well. We even averaged a bit over 22 mpg. Not bad at all. I used less gas to drive 230 miles than to drive 60 on the track.

The 355 does not have cruise control. I understand why and applaud Ferrari’s decision to leave it out. Unfortunately, I fear my right foot will not recover from being held in one position for 2.5 hours. I tried driving with my left foot for a while. It was a bit of a relief but very awkward as there is now place to put my right foot and leg.

Barb drove the last leg and parked the car at the Marcus Whitman in downtown Walla Walla. There was an impressive display of Ferraris on hand. Several 355s. If you are not into wine you would reasonably question the decision to spend our first trip away from our kids in Walla Walla, Washington. Sure, it would be easier to go to the Oregon wine country. We did not know what to expect from Walla Walla. We knew we liked the wines but that was about it. This place is great. Imagine Kansas with rolling hills, more color, wine, beautiful roads, and a cosmopolitan flair. Both the town and the area feel like a bit of the mid west parked in eastern Washington. The best bits of the Midwest, the big landscapes, friendly people, a connection with the earth, and a more interesting approach to life.

Our dinner reservations were at a restaurant in downtown where several other club members were also planning dinner. The downtown is a nice combination of new and old. The new being wine bars, trendy restaurants, and boutiques. The old being the unusual, hard to put a finger on why it works but it does supply stores you find in small, farming towns.

We are not staying downtown the host hotel being booked by the time I signed up for the trip but at a combo yoga studio and bed and breakfast about seven miles outside of town. The whole thing is built in an old farm house and surrounded by wheat and grapes.

This place is perfect for us. Not only are there no Ferrari club members there are only about 10 other people. It is quiet and as near as I can tell totally lacking homogenized corporate touches. After dinner we and back at the hotel we sat outside, drank wine made by the fellow who tends the vineyards on the grounds and looked at the stars. We talked for several hours about wine, cities we had lived in, food, and wine again. We never talked about Ferraris. Odd to go on a Ferrari club trip and organize your time to avoid other Ferrari owners and conversations about cars.

It strikes me, as I sit here, now seven hours and twelve minutes later that staying in this place is consistent with my pursuit of the sublime. You cannot pursue the sublime in a corporate hotel. Sorry. Today we are meeting at Woodward Canyon for lunch. I am looking forward to this. I am a big fan of Woodward Canyon’s wines. After that we are off for a drive in the country lead by two wine makers.

I made an on purpose decision not to bring a book, magazine, or other distraction on this trip. I have my laptop, a camera, and a change of clothes. I am very easily distracted, without books, magazines, yard work, etc, I should feel more free to write. I am distracted by the landscape. I want to go exploring. I want to wander off, alone, through the fields of wheat and peas to see what lies over the little rise behind the B&B and if the tiny valley between the hills continues or disappears. When I get old I will be one of those old people you read about. People who just wander off. Sometimes found, sometimes not. I understand why they wander.

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