Georgia & Armenia Trip, July 2019

For my 59th birthday, my wife Linna worked with local Georgian guide Davit Berishvili to provide a well-balanced 10 day journey that included hiking, site-seeing, food/wine tasting and culture gathering. We invited our good friend Michael Curry to join us on this truly once in a life-time vacation packed excursion.

This will be our first vacation/journey that we hired a professional guide for the duration of a trip and looking back at it now, I am so pleased that Linna organized it that way.  There would have been a language barrier at many of the locations and restaurants we visited. Also, there is a unique way of driving in Georgia, similar to China….there are no set of road lines or rules.  People will pass with on-coming traffic and at the same time deal with local cattle wandering on the road. But, we were so fortunate to have the best tour guide in Georgia…Gaga Chechelashvili.  Not only was he a safe aggressive driver, but also a fun tour guide and a true gentleman. Gaga picked us up at the Tbilisi airport in his 4×4 right hand drive Mitsubishi Pajero. Not sure, but maybe 1 in 10 cars were right hand drive purchased from Japan because of their excellent condition and reliability.

Beautiful village of Mestia, Georgia. The Svan tower homes were family living quarters and offered protection to their owners and to their livestock. Usually 4 to 5 floors with the first floor lacking of doors or windows.
Rick Freeman & Mike Curry hiking from Mestia to a tiny village of Tsvirmi.
Having beers with Gaga Chechelashvili and Mike Curry at the farm house in Tsvirmi.
Village
We toured Baia’s Winery. Once the grapes are harvested, everything (seeds, stems, skins & juice) is tossed into a Qvevri which a very large clay pot buried in the ground. This method of wine making in Georgia has been recorded by archaeologists back to 6000 BC.
Clay pots are buried at Baia’s Winery.
I purchased a bottle of Tsitska Tsolikouri at Baia’s Winery…this is a dry white wine. I am with the wine maker Gvanca Abuladze.
Mike Curry, Rick Freeman and Linna Freeman in front of Shkhara Glacier. We hiked from the village of Ushguli.
The Bridge of Peach that is 490 feet long that connects the old Tbilisi with the new district.
Villige
Many of the farm/guest houses that we stayed in had wood fired stoves for cooking and keeping warm.

Nashville Trip, February 2019

Nashville is a great city for music, restaurants and bar hopping, it has that feel of Biehl Street but a bit cleaner and safer. Not only is Nashville the Capital of Tennessee, but home to Country Music Hall of Fame, Johnny Cash Museum, Grand Ole Opry House and the historic Ryman Auditorium. We also celebrated Linna’s 47th birthday in Nashville and attending a Fleetwood Mac concert.

Linna and I did a bourbon tour at Belle Meade in Nashville…we had a great experience.
A large Still at the Belle Meade distillery in Nashville.

We bought 6 bottles of select Belle Meade Bourbon to bring back to our highly whiskey taxed state of Washington. State of Washington has the highest state taxes on whiskey in United States. For each proof gallon is subject to a whopping $35.22 tax. Which means 50% of my whiskey cost in Washington is going to state and federal taxes. Tennessee state taxes is $4.46 for each proof gallon…thus the case of whiskey!
Visited the Space Museum in Huntsville, Alabama. Linna standing below Saturn V space rocket.
Space condom! This could be handy on long road trips. Or when you are overnight camping in a tent on a cold night.
Space Shuttle and Linna Freeman looking on.

Mt. Pilchuck Snow Hike, January 2019

The cold air and heavy snow made this sweet basic Pilchuck hike into a cold ass kicker. Washington received tons of snow this year so every hike this winter has seen heavy snow pack. The winter route up to Pilchuck is steep and deep in snow…..but still very worth it.

This last steep part was the ass kicker. The look-out tower was only 5 minutes after this ass kicking steep area.
Michael Curry waiting on us.
Jim and Ione Darmiento
You had to crawl into the look-out tower.

Ione Darmiento and Rick Freeman
I finally put my jacket on as we got into the open….cold and windy.