Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Granddaddy Of Them All

After a fantastic season that would rival last season’s unprecedented success, the University of Oregon Ducks football team returns to the Rose Bowl -- the granddaddy of them all -- after a two-year hiatus to face the University of Wisconsin Badgers on Monday, January 2.

Finishing undefeated in the Pac-10 last year, the Ducks lost a close contest to Auburn University, 22-19, in the BCS national championship game at the Fiesta Bowl in Phoenix, Arizona in January, 2011.

This season, the Ducks lost their opener to perennial power Louisiana State University (this year's #1), sustaining minimal damage to their hopes for another BCS berth, thanks to a respectable defeat to a highly ranked team from the SEC.

Nearly running the table after that, save for a tightly-contested setback to USC, the Ducks won 10 of their next 11 games and pummeled UCLA in the inaugural Pac-12 championship game and the right to represent the league in the Rose Bowl.

As a longtime season ticket holder, I was able to secure two seats for the pageant in Pasadena (right) for my Dad, Ralph Mitchell, and his wife Florence. They will attend the game on their way back to Sun Lakes, Arizona for the winter.

As for me and mine, we'll be watching the Rose Bowl intently on the tube, and I'll be seeking occasional counsel from the Duck deity (below) during the contest. A Christmas present from EWEB buddy Paul Emmel at our department's annual gift exchange, the retro decanter comes with easy-to-follow instructions.

"How to use the Duck deity: 1) fill with whiskey; 2) rub head; 3) pray for turnovers; 4) drink contents; 5) proceed to game; 6) repeat #1 and #4 if losing in the third quarter." The best-case scenario? I won't need to repeat any steps, of course. Go Ducks!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Pasco Pilgrimage

Took our last road trip of 2011, a pilgrimage of sorts, to the Tri-Cities in Washington State to visit with Rebecca's brother Doug and other family members who live in the area from December 18-22.

Tri-Cities resides at the confluence of three major Northwest waterways -- the Columbia, Snake and Yakima Rivers. Together, the cities of Pasco, Kennewick and Richland comprise the third largest metropolitan area in Washington behind Seattle-Tacoma and Spokane.

Because the trip is over 300 miles -- or about six hours by car from Eugene -- we stopped in Hood River to break up the drive. We stayed at the usual spot on trips to our property near Lake Wenatchee, the Sunset Hotel, a dog-friendly facility where the views of Mt. Adams (above) are evident from every room.

Rebecca grew up in Kennewick (population 73,917), but Doug lives in Pasco (population 59,781), and Becky also has family in Richland (population 48,058). Doug recently moved into a new home adjacent to farmland that stretches as far as the eye can see (below).

Despite the influence of the nearby Hanford Nuclear Site, agriculture remains a big part of of virtually every sector of the economy in Tri-Cities, particularly Pasco. Potatoes, wheat, apples, corn, cherries and asparagus are just a few of the commonly grown crops, thanks to the excellent soil and abundant irrigation from the three nearby rivers.

The area also has a burgeoning wine industry, with more than 160 wineries within an hour's drive. The semi-arid Tri-Cities, which resides at the same latitude as the Burgundy and Bodeaux regions of France, is known for its high-end premium wines. The Columbia Basin's volcanic soil, along with hot summer days and crisp, cool evenings, create conditions for making great wine.

Carmen, our beloved golden retriever, enjoyed long walks in the potato patches and hay fields north of Pasco, where she stalked the elusive field mouse (below).

On our return trip, we stopped in Portland for Christmas dinner with the Mitchell clan at the Bridgeport Brewery in the Pearl District. When all was said and done, it was a delightful holiday caravan, with dry roads and great company to end the year.