Rides 3 and 4: Being Bad at Things

Ride 3 put Nigel and I 10% of the way through the Challenge!  (3 rides out of 30, 4+ hours out of 40).  

Nigel is a very well-educated horse and the poor guy’s trying to work with me bouncing around on him like a bag of rocks.  He’s a tolerant soul.  For the first time I felt “secure” in the dressage saddle, which is an improvement in my seat, for sure.  And I don’t feel any soreness after riding in it.  For ride number 3 we rode for 2 hours — .5 by ourselves and then another hour and a half with Suzie and Porkchop. 

The weather is in stark contrast to this time last year and I’ve been ditching all indoor endeavors in favor of being outside.  Last year at this time I had a MUCH cleaner house.  

Ride 3 was one of those rides where even though things were great, I just felt like I really didn’t know anything about riding and probably should just take up crochet.  The great thing about this horsemanship challenge is that you have to go beyond those days.  And then you have a good day.  Then, after a few good days and a few bad days you become confident that bad days are always followed by good ones.  I get my confidence not in being a good rider, but in being a resilient one.  

It used to be so easy to feel defeated after a bad ride.  Giving up after a bad ride is like smashing your phone just because you dropped it.  

So, I shrug off that self doubt and look forward to another day with such gorgeous and thankfully forgiving horses.  

Ended ride 3 with a shower and several terrible games of chess.

Stats: 
Rides: 3/30
Hours: 4.25/40

Ride 4

After feeling defeated, you gotta be gracious and forgiving of yourself.  Nobody else will do it for you. 

Rode Axel first and got to work, he knows he’s on the payroll now and he’s darn happy about it.  He offered me everything he knew to do.  I saw a willingness in him that I think I’ve overlooked in the past. 

Axel and I have been at odds from time to time.  He’s a persistent, bull-headed, stubborn horse.  Some days I swore the only thing keeping him alive was that he’s so damn cute. 

I suppose my issue with him is that he makes me think.  A lot.  I have to think about setting things up so he thinks it’s his idea.  He’ll never be trained, he’ll always challenge.  He does it in the herd, constantly challenging the lead horses.  When we had him with Wishbone, our 2000 lb Percheron, Axel was completely unfazed by Wishbone’s mass and daily challenged Wish for dominance.  I can’t tell you how many times Axel went tumbling ass over teakettle.  He’s a tough one.  

Fortunately, he’s also very gentle.  

Next I rode Nigel.  We still had some Christmas trees leftover from our tree lot, so Suzie and I took turns riding Porkchop and Nige over a tree.  Hilarity ensued.  Then headed out on the trails.

 

I swear, Nigel is going to be a trail horse in our string except I don’t want to share him.  He’s the kindest horse, and so chill.  

Ended the week with totals of 4 rides and 5 hours on Nigel, 2 rides/1 hour on Axel, 1 ride/.5 hour on Wrigley.  

Goals for this week: 
Nigel: 5 rides/5 hours — more trails and long walks, also walking over poles.
Axel: 5 rides/5 hours — arena work with some patterns, poles, fine-tuning some basics.
Wrigley: 5 rides/5 hours — arena, long-trotting.

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Ride 2, “The One Where Nigel Chills”

Suzie, Carl and I rode.

Last year at this time I was alternating between spending hours trying to do chores, and warming up inside cursing the weather.  I cursed enough for it to qualify as a cardio activity.  

We had gorgeous weather — cool but sunny.   NOT snow.  That’s all I care about.

My goal on the challenge has been to try to develop some muscles on Nigel’s “topline” — the top of his neck and back.  I don’t know if it’s possible, only that he has a bony back.  Could be that’s just who he is, but I think that we can see at least a little change.  

For now, since we’ve been off work for a couple of months, I’m starting pretty slow.  Just easy, hopefully brisk walking and letting him stretch his head down and forward from time to time.  And, some mellow hills.  Those all contribute to building up that topline.  

His past few ventures on the trails he was on high alert.  New place, new activities, new rider.  He’s a gentle and kind horse, he just was understandably lacking confidence that everything was going to be just fine and had no reason to believe I might be of any help to him at all.  

This ride went completely different.  He calmly explored new things, didn’t get bothered at all, but was definitely curious about the new equipment and activities around him.  They are pruning in the vineyards now, so that can be different for them.  

He ended the ride calm and happy, I was happy for him.  It’s the first time I felt he was really content on the trails and enjoying his job without any skepticism.  

We all had great rides.  

Took two quick rides — one on Axel, one on Wrigley to just check in with them and let them know they’re on the roster now.  

Then I called Eve and she answered the phone with, “Hi.  Chess?  Get over here now!”  

One stalemate, I took her queen once, and no bishops went missing.  Our games also lasted more than 5 minutes, which is encouraging.

Any day you can hang out with great friends, ride three horses and play chess in front of a fire is a good day.

Challenge Status:
Rides: 2/30
Hours: 2.5/40

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Let the Games Begin! Ride #1

 

It was a dark and stormy morning.  Or at least it was raining buckets.  Shawna and I had a riding date for our first ride of the challenge.  I spent an inordinate amount of time at the Department of Licensing that morning, perfecting my “eyeroll while standing in line” and “heavy sighing” techniques.  Finally escaped the government-issue greige of the DOL and showed up an hour late for our riding date.  

At least the rain stopped.

Nigel had sass to spare after being unemployed for 3 months, so I put my helmet on.  We spent the rest of the ride arguing over who was the grand marshal of our little parade (me) and whether prancing was an acceptable gait (it was not).  

 

We ended the ride on a nice note and then Shawna and I went to the Palm Tavern for Taco Tuesday and had sandwiches and french fries and red beer, naturally.  We just weren’t in the mood for tacos I guess.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

You’re automatically entitled to greasy food and beer if you ride in inclement weather.  And by that I mean any time it’s below 70, windy, rainy, somewhat cloudy, over 85, too sunny, too dry, or there’s a slight breeze.  If it snows, you can have whisky.  I don’t know how widely-recognized this rule is, but I try to abide by it.

 

After the ride and the sandwiches, I went to my friend Eve’s and we sat in front of the fireplace and she repeatedly killed my chess pieces.  I don’t know what we were doing but at one point my bishop ended up in her shoe.  I don’t recall that being part of any strategy.

From there I went and had dinner with a good friend of mine.  The thing about being from a small town like Benton City is that some of the good folks stick around and you can go have dinner with someone you’ve known for 40+ years.  I didn’t realize until Suzie mentioned it how fortunate I am in that regard: to have history with a place and with people.  

I settled in to bed with a full heart.  

Challenge stats: 
Rides:  1 down, 29 to go
Hours: 1.1 down, 38.9 to go

The ride tracker I use to track our time/rides.

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2018 Horsemanship Challenge

 

You may find this surprising, but I think horses are effing awesome.  

Every year some of us join the Northwood Farms Horsemanship Challenge.  Participants commit to riding 1 horse 30 times for a total of 40 hours over the course of 12 weeks starting in January. 

Getting riding plans together.

Getting riding plans together.

 

 

This year I’ve chosen Nigel — a fancy Lipizzaner gelding who is the perfect combination of well-trained enough to teach me a lot, but also patient and tolerant (also to teach me a lot).  

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I’ll be posting from time to time about our progress and hope you’ll follow along.

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Suzie is doing the challenge as well, and she chose our little roan mare Journey (you may know her as Porkchop).  Hopefully we can encourage Suzie to share her experiences, too.  

One day into the challenge and I’m off to a rather inauspicious start with a total ride count of zero.  Tuesday is Taco Tuesday at the Palm Tavern so my friend Shawna (our hay farmer and also owner of Maya — her horse that we use in our string) and I plan to ride and then go have Tacos and red beers at the Palm.  Join us?  

~T

 

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Christmas Gift Giving Ideas

Happy Holidays!  I love this time of year so much!  It’s cold out and I’m snuggled up indoors after a very bracing morning of chores which centers around “ice breaking” almost entirely.  I’m still a little chilled and feeling self-righteous about my morning efforts.  The real reason people stick with farming is the deeply-entrenched ideal that manual labor in adverse elements is a sign of strength.  Even though I privately whine and actually dislike being cold, I’m afraid of who I’d be without morning chores.  

Anyway.  

I am sitting here thinking of Christmas and the numerous half-complete crochet projects I’m working on for my Christmas gift recipients.  Then I remembered YOU!  And thought I’d help you out with some ideas for the holidays.  In a nutshell – we have gift certificates available.  

Have a horse-crazy kid in your family?  A one-hour trail ride gift certificate can be redeemed ANY time.  It’s as close as it gets to actually buying them their own horse, and way less manure is involved.

Know a couple who never get away for a date night?  A gift certificate for our dinner tour (and a gift certificate from you to offer babysitting services) is a slam dunk.

Trying to put together a gift basket for a vacation?  You can put a gift certificate in there that can be applied to anything the recipient wants.  

They’re darn good gifts.  You can get yours by following this link.

Of course, if you want to do something RIGHT NOW with your family, you can come on out on Fridays and Saturdays for a wagon ride.  $5.00 per person, open from noon to 5 pm.  The ride lasts about 20 minutes.  We have a fire going, firepit tables, s’mores kits, and the barn is decorated if you find yourself waiting for the next wagon ride.  

Happy Holidays!Wishbone and Sis

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A Little Tree Obsession

We started doing the Christmas Tree lot 3 years ago at our place.  It was love at first… sale.  

We harvest wild trees from an area that is permitted for commercial cutting.  I love everything about tree-cutting trips — a thermos of hot soup, walking in the woods with my husband, being bundled up in our Carhartts, the smell of the forest, and snow if we’re lucky. 
Lumber Jill

I felt a sharp pang of guilt when we cut our first tree down.  It seemed a waste of such a beautiful tree to cut it down, remove it, let it dry out and then throw it away in a month or so.  I imagined it as habitat for forest critters, an air-cleaner, an important part of its environment.  

That is all true.  However…

The trees were planted in that area specifically for wild Christmas tree cutting.  There are specific size and cutting requirements we have to follow when harvesting.  And, my grandfather has a timber ranch in Oregon — selective, responsible harvesting isn’t a new concept to me.  

So, we carefully went about harvesting our Christmas trees.  We’ve developed a few little rules of our own that we follow: we don’t cut trees next to each other, they have to be spaced out; we cut them all the way at the base (that’s actually a Forest Service rule), even if the bottom few inches or foot aren’t that desirable; we take out everything we cut and try to use extra “bits” in our wreaths and as firewood.   

Thursday we went tree-cutting to an area we’d been the week before.  The area is easy to hike and had a bit of snow – perfect for tree-cutting.  As we drove up the road we saw tree-bottoms from trees that were at least 20 feet tall — well over the permitted size.  All had been cut off at the base, and then just the tops taken and the bottom few feet left on the side of the road.  Also, they were on the non-permitted side of the road.  We were crushed, I felt like someone had just kicked my dog or something.  

We parked the truck and hiked back into the forest and looked for some trees.  I passed two that had just been cut.  This time, because it was “out of sight” of the road, the cutters had taken them off about chest-high and left the 5′ tall stump.  Then, they left the bottom few feet and cut the tops off again.  They took trees in clusters, cutting them the same way: chest-high first cut, then take the top, then leave the rest.  

I was livid.  

But, I’m afraid that the current Christmas tree shortage will perpetuate that kind of thing.  Jeff and I loaded up our trees and headed home, discouraged.  I don’t know if we’ll cut wild trees again next year or not.  The thing is, someone out there is selling these wild trees that are perfect (the tops of older trees are fluffier and more uniform), and it puts the responsible tree-sellers in the position of having seemingly lower-quality trees.  

There’s a lesson in there and it’s a sad one: it doesn’t pay to do the right thing.  

We love doing the Christmas trees and so far haven’t had any trouble meeting our customers’ needs.  We had a small order this year and that is probably a little easier for our tree farmer to fill than orders for the bigger outfits.  We only cut as many wild trees as what we sold last year in hopes of not having any waste.  

I don’t know, I’m torn.  Part of me thinks, “cut wild trees next year, do it right, because it’s the right thing to do.”  You know, be a positive influence in what you do.  You really can’t complain about the Forest Service doing a crummy job of managing their forests when jackwagons go out there and do EXACTLY the opposite of the Forest Service’s strategy.  So, maybe if we stay in line with that strategy we can be a teeny tiny part of a solution.  Or at least just NOT be part of the problem.  That’s what my inner Pollyanna thinks.
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But part of me also wants no part of it.  I wondered what public perception might be, if any?  Do people see our wild trees and think, “those poaching jerks!”  Or do they just see a “Charlie Brown” tree?  Or have they gone from lot to lot and see ours and think, “they have zero quality standards, we saw wild trees WAY nicer than this down at the other lot.”  Are we contributing to a different problem by “competing” in the wild-tree market?  (I’m going out on a limb here and saying that it’s a VERY small market… pun intended.)  

I do not see us giving up the Christmas tree part of our business portfolio.  We have WAY too much fun with it.  It’s my childhood dream come true.  We might just have to change HOW we do it, but that’s just business and we’re fine with that.  

Whether your tastes are for wild trees or farmed trees or just a wagon ride and a cute barn, we’d love to see ya!Wishbone and Sis

 

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My Love/Hate Relationship with Media

Yay!  We were in the news!  Boo!  It means I had to be on t.v.!  I’m almost to the point of accepting what I look like on camera and that no matter what I say or how brilliant it sounded at the time, I’ll cringe every time I see the final product of a t.v. shoot.  In fact, it feels a little silly that “t.v. shoot” is part of my vocabulary.  Not sure if people “in the biz” even use that term.  

I digress.

We were featured in a really cool local segment and yours truly did the talking.  Here it is for you to enjoy.  
NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Meanwhile, in Behind the Scenes Action:

During a break in filming I noticed that some magpies were harassing my meat birds.  The meat birds were still pretty small, perfect prey for hawks, magpies, you name it.  I pointed it out to Jeff and he went up to the coop.  First, he tried chasing the birds away.  They all but openly mocked him.  Then he went in the house, I assumed to get the pellet gun.  

We watched him walk toward the coop with a rifle, point it up into the trees, and then, BLAM!  It was not a pellet gun.

A string of expletives burst uncontrollably from my mouth about the same time that shotgun fired.  The reporter’s face went white, he was not impressed with the vastness or complexity of my vocabulary.  I immediately went into that vicious cycle of “swearing/apologizing for swearing/then swearing that you just swore during your apology”.  The videographer was doubled over in laughter and Glenn just chuckled nervously, whatever image he had of us being perfectly polite and un-profane had clearly been replaced by one of us stomping around with guns and screaming vulgarities.  

Finally, I had the sense to just stop opening my mouth in hopes that might stop the cataract of swear words threatening to burst forth.  

So, yeah, sometimes those lapel microphones can be a real curse.  

Suffice it to say, I’ll never run for political office of any kind.

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Red Mountain Roundup, 11/18/207 – Thanksgiving in Wine Country!

Red Mountain Roundup is a roundup of all of the things to do, places to stay, and other information to help you plan your visit to Red Mountain.

Thanksgiving in Wine Country:  This link contains ALL the info!

Weather:
 http://www.weather.com/weather/tenday/l/99320:4:US

Events, Places to Visit This Weekend:

I believe all tasting rooms charge a $10.00 tasting fee.  Some are refundable with purchase, some are partially refundable.  

1zlpp0

  • Red Mountain Trails — Wagon Rides, Trail Rides, and guided Bike Tours available.  Click here to reserve! 
  • Chandler Reach — open Weds through Monday, 11:00 am – 5:00 pm.
  • Col Solare – tasting room open 11 am – 5 pm Weds – Sun.  $20.00 tasting fee.
  • Cooper – tasting room open noon – 5 pm DAILY.  Tasting fee $10.00  A portion of tasting fees often go to various charities.  
  • Fidelitas – tasting room open 11 am – 4 pm daily.  Tasting fee $10.00, refundable with wine purchase.  Closing Tues/Weds beginning January.
    Black FridayFriends and Family day.
  • Frichette – tasting room open daily noon – 5 pm.  Closing on Tuesdays beginning in January.
  • Hamilton Cellars – tasting room open Sun – Thurs 11 am – 5 pm, Fri & Sat 11 am – 6 pm
  • Hedges – open Fri – Sun, 11 – 5 through Thanksgiving, then closed for winter.  Or, make appointment.
  • Hightower  Tasting room open 11 am – 5 pm Thurs – Mon.
  • Kiona –  tasting room open noon – 5 pm daily.  
  • Linda Ellis Andrews — Artist in Glass and Bronze.  Linda is a fabulous artist and wonderful person!  Make an appointment to visit her studio, you won’t be disappointed!
    Black Friday — Linda was considering opening on Black Friday.  If you see the sign out, DO NOT HESITATE to check out her studio and beautiful work!
  • Monte Scarlatto — tasting room open 11 am – 4 pm Thurs and Sun.  11 am – 5 pm Fri and Sat.  By appointment also.  They have a 9-hole golf course among the vines, check it out!
    Black Friday — Progressive sale of wine, check it out!
  • Portrait Cellars — tasting by appointment only.  509-588-4534
  • Purple Star Wines — Wednesday – Sunday 11:00 am – 5:00 pm.
    Black Friday — Thanksgiving in Wine Country: bring a canned food item to donate and get your tasting fee waived!
    Saturdays, 10:00 am — Stretch & Sip.  
  • Tapteil – Fri – Sun 11:00 am – 5:00 pm.  509-588-4460  Closing after the first weekend in December, re-opening in February.
  • Terra Blanca –  tasting room open daily 11 am – 5 pm.  
    Vineyard Grille open noon – 5:00 pm Saturdays. 
  • Tucannon – tasting room open Fri – Sun 11 am – 6 pm, Wed – Thurs 11 am – 5 pm.  $5.00 tasting fee.  
  • Tri-Cities Events
  • Red Mountain AVA Site (info, places to stay, calendar of more events)

Places to Stay:

  • Vacation Rentals by Owner — Red Mountain has some really nice vacation rentals available for your visit.  Most of these are right on Red Mountain and visitors get a discount on their trail or wagon ride when they stay.  
  • Bella Luna House — gorgeous vacation rental offered by Tapteil winery.
  • Camping and RV — 
    • Beach RV Park – situated in Benton City — lots of pretty trees, gorgeous setting along the Yakima River waterfront, 5 minutes to Red Mountain.  If you stay here we can deliver your bike rental to you!
    • RV Village Resort – West Richland.  Easy access to Red Mountain and Richland for restaurants, shopping, and wine-tasting.  Indoor pool and spa.
    • Wine Country RV — Prosser.  Great location and amazing staff.  Really nice place!
    • Monte Scarlatto — Red Mountain.  Enjoy staying in the heart of Red Mountain!
  • The nearest hotels are located in Richland and Prosser.

Places to Eat

There are a number of chain restaurants around but here are some “off the beaten path” recommendations:

    • Red Mountain Trails  — we offer dinner on Friday and Saturday nights May through September.  Reservations can be made here.  
    • Tacos Garcia Taco Truck — West Richland.  The best taco truck around, and I love their ceviche.
    • The Vineyard Grill at Terra Blanca — Red Mountain.  One of the only places on the hill to eat.  Beautiful views and great food and wine!
    • Hacienda del Sol — Benton City.  Large portions of great Mexican food and excellent customer service!
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Pumpkin Spice, My Eye

I can’t get on the Pumpkin Spice train.  Man, I can’t even approach the Pumpkin Spice train station to TRY to board the train.  Walnuts

Weird, because I looooove squash and have been devouring the stuff in various forms almost daily.  Chicken parmesan with spaghetti squash, steamed butternut squash with butter and nutmeg, zucchini anything…  But pumpkin?  That’s a negatory.

You know who loves pumpkin?  I have 13 little pumpkin gobblers who will bypass a truck full of alfalfa in favor of pumpkins.  So, if you have leftover pumpkins after Halloween, I invite you to drop them by for the herd.  

In other news, we have two weeks of beautiful weather ahead according to the weatherman.  Not sure what happens after that, but if the ominous predictions of the Farmer’s Almanac come to pass, it’ll be similar to last year.  Last winter I wrote posts with a lot more swear words than usual.  That should tell you something.  

winter 2016

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Red Mountain Roundup, 10/12/2017 — Catch the Crush Weekend!

****CATCH THE CRUSH WEEKEND! **** 
Food trucks, tours, music, food pairings, etc.  This link contains ALL the info!

Red Mountain Roundup is a roundup of all of the things to do, places to stay, and other information to help you plan your visit to Red Mountain.

It’s “Pumpkin Spice” season.  Here’s hoping you don’t get any pumpkin spice wine…
 http://www.weather.com/weather/tenday/l/99320:4:US

Events, Places to Visit This Weekend:

I believe all tasting rooms charge a $10.00 tasting fee.  Some are refundable with purchase, some are partially refundable.  

  • Red Mountain Trails — Wagon Rides, Trail Rides, and guided Bike Tours available.  Click here to reserve! 
  • Chandler Reach — open Weds through Monday, 11:00 am – 5:00 pm.
  • Col Solare – tasting room open 11 am – 5 pm Weds – Sun. 
  • Cooper – tasting room open noon – 5 pm DAILY.  Tasting fee $10.00  A portion of tasting fees often go to various charities.  
  • Fidelitas – tasting room open 11 am – 4 pm daily.  Tasting fee $10.00, refundable with wine purchase.  
  • Frichette – tasting room open daily noon – 5 pm. 
  • Hamilton Cellars – tasting room open Sun – Thurs 11 am – 5 pm, Fri & Sat 11 am – 6 pm
  • Hedges – open on weekends, 11 – 5, or by appointment.
  • Hightower  Tasting room open 11 am – 5 pm Thurs – Mon.
  • Kiona –  tasting room open noon – 5 pm daily.  
  • Linda Ellis Andrews — Artist in Glass and Bronze.  Linda is a fabulous artist and wonderful person!  Make an appointment to visit her studio, you won’t be disappointed!
  • Monte Scarlatto — tasting room open 11 am – 5 pm Thurs and Sun.  11 am – 6 pm Fri and Sat.  By appointment also.  They have a 9-hole golf course among the vines, check it out!
  • Portrait Cellars — tasting by appointment only.  509-588-4534
  • Purple Star Wines — Wednesday – Sunday 11:00 am – 5:00 pm.
    Saturdays, 10:00 am — Stretch & Sip.  
  • Tapteil – Fri – Sun 11:00 am – 5:00 pm.  509-588-4460  
  • Terra Blanca –  tasting room open daily 11 am – 6 pm.  
    Vineyard Grille open noon – 5:00 pm Friday through Sunday. 
    Tucannon – tasting room open Fri – Sun 11 am – 6 pm, Wed – Thurs 11 am – 5 pm.  $5.00 tasting fee.  
  • Tri-Cities Events
  • Red Mountain AVA Site (info, places to stay, calendar of more events)

Places to Stay:

  • Vacation Rentals by Owner — Red Mountain has some really nice vacation rentals available for your visit.  Most of these are right on Red Mountain and visitors get a discount on their trail or wagon ride when they stay.  
  • Bella Luna House — gorgeous vacation rental offered by Tapteil winery.
  • Camping and RV — 
    • Beach RV Park – situated in Benton City — lots of pretty trees, gorgeous setting along the Yakima River waterfront, 5 minutes to Red Mountain.  If you stay here we can deliver your bike rental to you!
    • RV Village Resort – West Richland.  Easy access to Red Mountain and Richland for restaurants, shopping, and wine-tasting.  Indoor pool and spa.
    • Wine Country RV — Prosser.  Great location and amazing staff.  Really nice place!
    • Monte Scarlatto — Red Mountain.  Enjoy staying in the heart of Red Mountain!
  • The nearest hotels are located in Richland and Prosser.

Places to Eat

There are a number of chain restaurants around but here are some “off the beaten path” recommendations:

    • Red Mountain Trails  — we offer dinner on Friday and Saturday nights starting in May.  Reservations can be made here.  
    • Tacos Garcia Taco Truck — West Richland.  The best taco truck around, and I love their ceviche.
    • The Vineyard Grill at Terra Blanca — Red Mountain.  One of the only places on the hill to eat.  Beautiful views and great food and wine!
    • Hacienda del Sol — Benton City.  Large portions of great Mexican food and excellent customer service!
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