Sunday, May 25, 2008

Home At Last

Thanks to everyone who has come with us on this trip.

The final leg of the trip home took us through Missouri's famed wine country. Before Prohibition, the area around Hermann, Missouri, was one of the largest wine producing areas in the nation. The soil and climate reminded many of the area's original German settlers of the Rhine Valley in Germany. You can taste that similarity in many of the wines.

We visited the Stone Hill Winery as they were preparing for Maifest. Their Late Harvest Vignoles is expensive, but very, very good. For the rest of the wines, this last year wasn't as good as some past. The award winning Pink Catawba was a bright and tasty spot.

We travelled south through Arkansas. You know you're getting close to home when you find deep-fried pickles and deep-fried corn-on-the-cob on the menu.

Probably the Wiederkehr Wine Cellars is the largest of Arkansas' wineries. They always have something to tempt the palate. Their Muscat Di Tanta Maria is certainly one of those. It's not on the shelves very often, and it's worth looking for. The 2006 is almost as good as the 2003 was, so I had to pick up a bottle. In a different category, the Cynthiana is worth consideration.

Our final stop was at the Mount Bethel Winery in Altus, Arkansas. Last year was an absolutely wonderful year for the areas native Muscadine grapes. This year Mount Bethel has the best Red and White Muscadine wines in the area. If you can visit, visit the tiny tasting room in the family owned winery. Stay awhile for some great conversation and sample the wide spectrum of tastes there. Then pick up a bottle of the White Muscadine, you'll be happy that you did. I am because it absolutely rocks :-)

We used a lot of gasoline on this trip. We've put just over four thousand miles onto the rented Dodge Grand Caravan since we left. We got 25 miles per gallon going up to Rochester, New York, but with all the weight of ... stuff ... my son had acquired during his first semester of college, our mileage dropped down to 22 miles per gallon.

I hope that one day we can ween our nation off Big Oil. Right now the options ordinary consumers have is fairly limited. Conservation works, but it only reduces consumption. Besides measures like driving responsibly and making sure the car had correct tire air pressures, etc., the only option is E-85 ethanol. The Dodge I drove was Flex-fuel equipped, so I bought some in Hermann, Missouri.

I'm from a state that has just two heritage industries: agriculture and energy. I know that there are more efficient ways to manufacture ethanol for motor fuels than corn-based moonshine. Oklahoma is a good state to raise switch grass for cellulosic ethanol. Thanks to our Governor Brad Henry, we have a state plan to look into switch grass more closely.

It's so hard to find gas pumps out there for anything other than gasoline and diesel. I think that if we were more serious about moving off oil, we'd have more pumps available AND we would allow imports of ethanol from Brazil. They use sugar cane which is a more efficient source of sugars than corn for making ethanol. In terms of where my energy dollars go, I'd rather keep them in the US if it were only possible. Since that's not an option, I'd rather support Brazil than Saudi Arabia.

I don't just say that because I spent a whole bunch of time there during the Gulf War ... and don't want to go back. On the other hand Brazil is really interesting. Maybe I should do what investigation I can by planning my next vacation to start the Friday before the next Ash Wednesday, you know, time for Carnival in Rio.

Anyone want to come with us?


Wifey said...

Wow. Looks like an awesome trip. I know my husband wants to tackle Rio ... right... I told him until I look like one of those fabulous girls on the beach, it's not gonna happen! Ha!

bindhiya said...

Dear Skeeter,
Nice to hear you and family back in home.....there is no place like home!
Have a great weekend.
love and ((hugs))

Lavinia Ladyslipper said...

I happen to think the entire auto and oil industry is run by mysterious, highly secretive forces, and more goes on behind the scenes than the ordinary consumer can ever possibly comprehend.

Yes, Brazil sounds better than the Gulf....more trees at the very least.

Glad you are back home safe and sound. What a journey you went on!

P.S. I had never heard of deep friend pickles or corn, but now I want to try both!

david mcmahon said...

Deep-fried corn on the cob - now THAT catches my fancy!!

kylie said...

hi skeeter
just checking in to say g'day and thanks for visiting my place.
looks like you had a good holiday, wish it was me :)

Mrs4444 said...

Welcome Home, Skeeter! And thanks for your service to our country.

TerriRainer said...

Welcome home! The BEST fried pickles I've had were at Vann's Pig Stand...YUM!

Let me know when you guys meet for the next writers meeting!

:) Terri

Maria said...

Glad you had a bang up good time. We are staying VERY close to home these days because of the gas thing.

Missouri Wine Girl said...

I love Missouri wine, glad to hear you were able to sample some of the best! Cheers!

CIELO said...

I'm glad you had a great trip and safe back home now....

You are a great guy!

lovely day to you


SherE1 said...

Sounds like a wonderful time! I'd love to be able to travel more (maybe when all the kids are all grown).

Thanks for stopping by and posting a comment! Looking forward to hearing about Rio! (*jealous*)

Leah said...

Welcome home, and...deep fried pickles?...hmmm...

Ron Simpson said...

Cellosic ethanol is a good idea. But when looking for alternative sources for it, why limit ourselves to switch grass? How about seaweed? or all the grass clippings our cities produce? Or the leaves we all bag in the fall? Or the grass that us cut out of the everglades every dang day to keep the waterways clear? I wonder if we can use recycled paper for it and still use the pulp for more paper afterwards?