Sunday, July 15, 2012

Wine and The Woods

Wine and The Woods
By Leslie D. Soule

  These two things seem incongruous at first - a glass of wine, and a forest setting. Yet these images are often invoked side-by-side. Pinot Noir has a flavor that is supposed to be reminiscent of the forest, for example. Well, yesterday while shopping at Big Lots (my new favorite store since I acquired my house) I looked through the wine aisle. I'd perused a Wine for Dummies book a while back and remembered what it had to say about choosing wine - that price has very little to do with quality, and to choose simply by taste.

  Since my Fallenwood books take place in a forest setting much of the time, when I saw the bottle of Forestville 2011 Malbec for only four dollars, I knew I had to have it.

  Peter Mayle wrote an excellent book titled A Good Year, which was then made into a movie starring Russell Crowe and which is, to date, my favorite chick flick. Well in the book, a wine class takes place, and the students compare the wine to "...everything, in essence, except grapes." So I shall try this exercise, and say that the wine has a bold, fruit flavor with notes of cinnamon and tastes like it would pair well with brie. It also tastes like something I'd be pleased to drink as I sit around a campfire, telling stories to a band of elves.

(Here we see Elrond, Lord of Rivendell, about to get his drink on...)

  Make of that what you will. This wine gets my stamp of approval. 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

I am the Unicorn. Death to the Crown!

I originally wrote this article for an Empire that rejected it when they saw what it was and that it didn't contain cold vagueries. Enjoy! Rally with your heart and keep the Empire away from the treasure you hold within.

Travel Affordably - Stay in a Hostel!

By Leslie D. Soule

   Did you know that Sacramento has a hostel? Run by Hostelling International, a non-profit organization, the Sacramento hostel is located on H and 10th streets, downtown. It's a huge Victorian mansion. So what is a hostel? Even though they are commonly referred to as "youth hostels", people of various agre groups stay in them. For around $30 a night, you can get a bunk in a shared dorm room. Hostels have common kitchen/eating areas and lounges as well, so if you're in a particularly social mood, they are a good place to socialize with fellow travelers. In the hostels, men and women have separate dorms, with locked doors that you need a combination in order to get into. Some of them have places to store valuables, but I usually keep mine on my bunk when I visit a hostel. My first stay was at the Point Montara Lighthouse hostel. I was wary of staying in hostels at first, due to the bad publicity they've gotten from Hollywood in recent years. However, my sister showed me photos of the lighthouse hostel and I was instantly smitten with its charm, promising myself that I'd go if I felt like I needed to get away somewhere and relax for a while.

  At the Point Montara Lighthouse hostel, I met a young German woman who was backpacking through California, much the way Americans backpack through Europe. She needed a ride to Sacramento, and asked if I could drop her off at the hostel downtown. That's when I got a glimpse of our Victorian mansion hostel.
  However, there was a second hostel that I visited before I checked out the one here in Sacramento. I'd been wanting to go to Portland. When I got to Portland, the hostel itself wasn't anything spectacular, but the street it was on was perfect for exploring - Hawthorne street, full of interesting little shops and restaurants. I went to the hostel's Game Night, at a pizza place called Vincente's, not knowing whether anyone else would be there or not. When I got there, I met a whole group of Canadians and ended up playing Apples to Apples and learning about Canada. This was definitely a fun experience that I wouldn't have gotten by staying in a hotel.

  Well, the rules of travel state that you're not supposed to stay in the hostel located in your home city. However, I was again stressed out when I was in the process of buying a home. I couldn't leave Sacramento, in case something came up, but I desperately wanted to get away - or at least feel like I was getting away for a while. So I talked the people working at the Sacramento Hostel into letting me stay for a week, even though I live here. During my stay, I talked to one of the workers, who told me that the Sacramento hostel was his favorite one. I asked him, "They're not paying you to say that, are they?" He said no.

  At the Sacramento hostel, I awoke and helped myself to a free breakfast of an apple and an English muffin with cream cheese, and tea. I finished reading a book I'd been reading as I lounged in a Victorian living room, imagining what it would be like to own such a lavish house, back in Victorian days.

  In closing, hostels aren't nearly as scary as movies make them out to be, and they offer unique travel experiences for those traveling on a budget. So if you visit one, you just might enjoy the experience.