Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A night in Hector - at the Hector Wine Company, of course

By Michael J. Fitzgerald
Honest Traveler

HECTOR, New York, USA - The wine flows freely Friday nights in Hector, NY, though not for free, just freely as in out of the bottles and into glasses.
Bob and Dee entertain at HWC

And at the Hector Wine Company, the wine is excellent, the music is always in tune and the people who gather there - locals and visitors - all seem like they just stepped out of an episode of the television program Cheers.

Except in this version of Cheers, there's no crankiness at all, just laughs, followed by more laughs, followed by smiles.

Lake wine rack
The only downside is that in all that laughing, laughing and smiling, it's entirely possible to imbibe a glass or two more than you should. But that's a matter of personal responsibility.

The winery on Route 414, just up the highway a few miles from Watkins Glen also features some fabulous artwork. Even one wine bottle display is a work of art itself.

Then there is art on the walls, much of it produced by local artist Emma Schockner who, coincidentally can be found working at the winery often.

The scene below was from a recent Friday at the HWC which had a nice mix of local folks, visitors, music, and of course, HWC wines... lots of different varieties, all quite tasty.

The Hector Wine Company comes recommended by The Honest Travelers without any reservations.

Friday, April 26, 2013

In the Finger Lakes, a lot to keep track of

HECTOR, New York, USA - Not even two weeks into touching home base at The Honest Travelers home office at Seneca Lake and we have already been catapulting here and there.

Brett's van is almost as famous as he is

Monday night was wine and music at Rasta Ranch Winery with blues played by Brett Beardslee.

Then Thursday there was more music and more wine, this time at Sheldrake Winery's tasting room, barely 400 yards from Rasta Ranch. There we listened to some music by the Cat's Elbow Band from Ithaca.

Two cats from Cat's Elbow band
Yes, we need to expand our horizons. Perhaps tonight we will go to the Hector Wine Company. It's almost a mile from Rasta and Sheldrake!

In the meantime, I see that we have trips to New York City, Boston, Maine, Kingston (Canada) - and other places much closer - in the planning stages.

Good thing my new lightweight duffle bag just arrived.

Friday, April 5, 2013

On an island called Vashon-Maury

By Michael J. Fitzgerald
Honest Traveler

VASHON-MAURY ISLAND, Washington, USA - Some personal journalism business drew Sylvia and I from our temporary quarters in beautiful Sequim, WA to this island, a stone's throw (if you are a giant with a huge throwing arm) from Seattle's shores.

The only way onto the island with a car
The only way to visit is by ferry, a short hop coming from our direction (north), at a cost of about $20 for a roundtrip voyage, car included.

Our visit coincided with the only rainy day we have had since arriving last Sunday but even with the rain it was great visit. For one thing, it proved that my new Columbia rain jacket is up to the task of, well, repelling a pretty hard rainfall.

We paid a call at the local weekly newspaper - The Beachcomber - then headed for lunch at The Hardware Store Restaurant (LINK: Hardware Store), a wildly popular place that favors meat eaters but has vegetarian options. We had crab cakes and fish - both delicious. We did pay island prices - the total bill came to about $30 - but it was worth it.
Ray Pfortner

Photo/beeswax art
The island is home to many artists, writers and tons of other creative people. At the restaurant we ran into former New York resident Ray Pfortner who does really interesting photos-on-beeswax art. (LINK: Ray Pfortner's website) He was just putting up a display as we were getting ready to leave.

I asked him about the beeswax - would it melt on a hot summer day? Only if the temperature hit 200 degrees Fahrenheit he said.

His artwork will be quite safe even with global warming, it seems.

With an hour before the next ferry, we did a rainy-day tour with stops at various places include a coffee roasting outfit that had a young lady out front playing an accordion.

And then we made a maritime pilgrimage to the Port Robinson Lighthouse where I peered in but didn't get a chance to thrown any light switches or buy any postcards...

Maybe on our next visit.

Vashon Island woman rocks on the accordion

Port Robinson Lighthouse on Vashon-Maury Island

Sunday, March 31, 2013

A quick road trip north to Port Angeles

By Michael Fitzgerald
Honest Traveler

SEQUIM, Washington, USA - The trip from Vancouver, Washington included two brief stops - one in Centralia to visit briefly with amiga Tia Richardson and her daughter Macy, then on to Olympia where we had lunch with Keighly Marshall and her fiance David Wimett.

Macy, Sylvia, Michael and Tia
We ate at the Fish Brewing Company (LINK: Fish Brewing) where the beer was great and the fish platters excellent. Keighly and David are living in Tacoma and will be married in Valois next August.

And the weather was beautiful - warm and sunny.

But before you decide to leave your raincoat at home, Tia Richardson told us that today was only the 9th good-weather-day this part of the Northwest has seen since the new year dawned.

The 9th! That said, we'll take it.

We landed at son Dustin's house mid afternoon in the town of Sequim, a few miles from Port Angeles. And immediately we took a walk down the nature trail right behind his house.

Tres cool as the French say. Tres cool.

Also within walking distance is a country-version of a Whole Food stores where we found more gluten-free items than in any stores in California.

Well, except for the store across from Dr. Pam DiTomasso's dental office aptly called The Gluten Free store.
Sequim, Washington... when the sun shines

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Safely landed in Vancouver, WA

By Michael J. Fitzgerald
Honest Traveler

VANCOUVER, Washington, USA - Sylvia and I pulled out of the driveway of amigos Pam and Steve's house in Sacramento, California at 8:10 a.m. Friday, landing in Vancouver, Washington almost 10.5 hours to the minute at our friend Teresa Martin's casa.

You come through the maze of Portland, Ore. freeways to get here, not a bad drive even in traffic as the waterfront is spectacular to look at.
Dok Koon's family and staff

But the reward is Vancouver itself, a quiet little place - at least what we have seen so far.

Our only foray upon arrival was to head out to a Dok Koon, a Thai restaurant within walking distance of Teresa's. (We drove, it was late.) Dok Koon website

And as is our custom, we ordered enough food for four, and barely ate enough for one. (We were tired.) But the fried rice and vegetables were delicious, shrimp and vegetables excellent and the egg rolls tasty and delicate.

The wine selection was limited to Columbia Crest, which our amigo Steve said is a good label, The cabernet certainly was.

Gasoline prices along the way varied from a high of $4.09 for regular grade to a low of $3.55. You can guess where we filled up.

And the Tundra's mileage? Just right at 20 miles-per-gallon. Not bad for average 70+ miles-per-hour with that rig.

On to Port Angeles, Washington tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Back in Sacramento, ready to, well, travel

SACRAMENTO, Calif., USA - We created this website while still in Mexico and, like many travelers, were so busy getting from Point A (Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico) to Point B (Sacramento, California) that this page was neglected and not updated.

Plus, in real Backpack Journalist style, we had to upgrade our hardware.

So light, it might float away
Thus, this entry is being written on a spiffy new MacBook Air, or, as I like to call it, my own iMike.

Yes, it is as light as the photo indicates. That was the entire idea.

Our next sojourn starts either late Thursday or early Friday with a drive from Sacramento to New York with stops in Portland, Oregon, Port Angeles WA, Bainbridge Island, WA, Port Townsend and, and, and...

Eventually we will turn the Toyota Tundra east and make it back to Watkins Glen.

Look for dispatches about the trip on this associated website: Honest Traveler Dispatches


Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Honest Travelers begin their journey

NUEVO VALLARTA, Nayarit, Mexico - The idea came in a dream, a dream fueled by some excellent Pinot Grigio and with help from amigos Marc Mendelsohn and Marci McMillan.

The idea?

Provide real travel information, information that has not been spit polished by magazines and travel sites beholden to advertisers or that pander to subscribers, telling them of the wonders of places, but not mentioning that there might a scorpions (human and insect) lurking.

As this is just a test post of a brand new website, it will take some time to develop a string of authors, links, and selected advertising. Or perhaps we should say, selective advertising.

More on all that later.

As of Sunday, March 10, 2013, The Honest Travelers have begun their journey.

The beach at Nuevo Vallarta