Woodinville’s Willows Lodge

When it comes to hotels, I am not picky!  When my youngest and I did the Zombie Run last year, we stayed in the cheapest, tackiest hotel in Chehalis (Nothing moved and I never saw any bugs….).  When I biked the Or Coast, I just wanted walls and a bed.  So again I am not picky

However, when my wife and I go somewhere for a special occasion, it is ok to go all out.  This was the plan Friday night.  It was our 3rd anniversary last week.  Last year for our anniversary (or close to it anyway) we went to Key West.  This wasn’t an option this year, so Friday night we spent the night at the Willows Lodge.

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This is in the middle of Woodinville’s best area for wine tasting, right next door to the Redhook Brewery and right off my favorite bike path!

Just to let you know they are all about nature, this is next to the front door

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And you walk through this to get to the restaurant across the parting lot

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When you go in, your first see this look through fire-place:

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On the other side is the fire side lounge, our favorite date night place!  The staff welcomes you with a glass of either red or white wine as you check in, and they are there for your every need for as long as you stay!

My wife loves the spa, she has had messauges , the best facials ever, and manicures there.  Not being s spa boy I can’t give you first hand knowledge, but I have seen her come out of there relaxed and ready for a nap, which I hear is a good thing!

The grounds are gorgeous!  image

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With walking paths, ponds and gas fire pits to help you stay comfy.

Then there are the rooms……

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King sized, VERY comfy beds…

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Gas Fireplaces and sitting areas (we brought the wine!)

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A balcony with a great view, and my favorite part

imageA Giant bathtub!  Two people can soak in this with room to spare, and hell if you want you can even watch a movie while soaking!  The shower (which I am sorry I forgot to take a picture) is huge as well.  I seldom rave about a bathroom in a hotel, but this is VERY cool!

Now I am not a gourmet person at all.  But for those who are, the Barking Frog, the restaurant at the lodge is award-winning.  I find the dinners there too fancy, but the room service menu has “real” food.  Mac and Cheese, a pizzette (basically a damn good cheese pizza!) a burger and other simpler food (for simple people like me!)  The breakfast menu is stellar though!  We take her mom there a lot as a special treat.  They always pamper her (almost 80 year olds deserve it!)

I was still fried from recent workouts, so Michelle and I ordered room service for both dinner and breakfast,  She fell asleep early in the giant bed, and I sat in front of the fire, with a last glass of wine, the balcony door open, listening to the frogs croak.  it was nice, it was relaxing, and it was what we needed.

We slept in the next day and took our time heading out into the real world…  We always hate leaving.

Now folks it AINT cheap.  But the service is impeccable.  If you want to taste wine I can name off 4 fantastic wineries (Dusted Valley, Ross Andrew, Alexandra Nicole, and William Church) and another 10 + ok ones within walking distance.  Have a pet?  They are welcome at the lodge.  The bike path goes along the river and there are always birds signing and eagles soaring.  After eating there, you will have to get back on the bike to work it off.  So no, it aint cheap, but it’s worth it.

If you want to pamper your significant other, surprise him or her with a night there.  You won’t be disappointed!  Michelle and I will be back, hell maybe for our 4th anniversary, maybe before just because she deserves it for putting up with me!

Enjoy!

Shimano M324 SPD Pedals

I have a confession. Sometimes I am NOT the smartest man in the world. As you can tell by the name of this blog, I have cycled 10000 miles. In fact, sometime next week, I will hit 110000! For most of those miles, I used the same kind of pedals kids use on tricycles. Yep, just a rectangle for my feet to rest on.

My “real” cycler friends kept telling me “Dude! You will be SO much happier with clipless pedals!” (By the way, they are called clipless (even though you clip into the pedal) because when they came out they were different from another type of pedal known as a toe-clip.) They kept telling me how much more efficient they were, how much they helped with hills, and that they would increase my average speed!

I was reluctant for a few reasons:

1) I saw people simply fall over while using these if they didn’t get the correct foot out of the pedal
2) I thought they were too expensive (Not only would I have to buy the pedals, but the shoes as well!
3) I didn’t want to have to either be stuck in bike shoes or have to change the pedals if I wanted to simply go to the store half a mile away.

However, with the decision to ride the Seattle to Portland in one day, I decided it was time to break down and buy them!

I decided to shop at REI since I knew I could return them anytime if I didn’t like them. I explained my thinking to the man in the green vest and he introduced me to the Shimano M324 SPD Pedals!

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The first selling point for me was it was a “combination pedal” (my term not theirs). One side allowed you to clip in. the other is a flat platform that allowed me to ride in regular shoes! Score!

The next selling point was the price. I might be a cheap SOB, but $85 wasn’t, bad! I had budgeted $200 for shoes and pedals, and even with sales tax I got out under that amount.

Finally, the shoes that go with these pedal sealed the deal.  The pair I got allows you to walk if need be pretty darn easily.  The part that clips into the pedal is sunk below the tread, so I can even walk around the house without getting in trouble.

I’ve already put close to 3000 miles on these without any trouble at all!  My average speed on the rollers went from 13 to 15 MPH, plus I could ride longer.  I won’t say I floated up hills (gravity is still a law as we know) but if I use my last Chilly Hilly for an example, it is MUCH easier.

I practiced clipping in and out quite a few times in the back yard leaning against the porch, but otherwise I went for it and it was easy.  The pedals allow you to adjust how hard the clips hold with a simple turn of a screw.

The flat part of the pedals has worked perfectly for quick errands around the house.  I’ve used walking shoes, sandals and running shoes without any problems at all.  I wouldn’t use the flat part of the pedals for long rides, but then that is what the clips are for.

All in all, I have found these to be the perfect introduction to clipless pedals.  In fact, I haven’t seen any reason in the last year to upgrade at all.  My rides have improved because of them, and I attribute my finishing 206 miles in a day to using them!

By the way, I have turlted (fallen over because I couldn’t get the correct foot out of the pedal in time) but then again, I have crashed many a times in my past before the clipless pedals.  You just start planning ahead when you stop.