Hard to believe, but it really is 2 degrees outside as I type this and Mr. Moon is illuminating a very crunchy, snow-covered landscape. One of my very favorite times of day is the time between 3:30am and 5:30am. I know, I know...many of you agree because you are sleeping during this time...your deepest sleep. Not I. I put my girls to bed at 9pm last night and headed straight to bed myself. I worked hard yesterday, though, so I deserved to hit the sack early. Getting up early gives me my "me time" and time to catch up on things like blogging, personal and Navy e-mails, finances, and of course, Facebook.
Back to the working hard part. In fact, I didn't work at all. Back a month or two ago, I had mentioned in one of my M-Cubed posts that our favorite overnight destination in Amish country, the Carlisle Inn at Sugarcreek , had specific days they were offering good discounts through the winter, slow season. Thursday was one of those days and it butted up against one of my Fridays off. I drafted letters to the school to excuse my girls from school and Marjie took a vacation day and after work on Thursday, we started the white-knuckle, 90min drive south. White-knuckle because a storm was pushing in from the south and the roads were a disaster. New tires on Marjie's Pilot: check! So glad I did that. Eventually around 7pm we arrived and were greeted with "Good evening, Mr. Billock!" Huh? "How did you know?" "You're the only one who hasn't checked in yet," she replied at the front desk. "We're sorry, but Der Dutchman next door closed early due to the weather." RATS, I thought. As part of the discounted room, we also got a $10 gift certificate for that place and we were STARVING! Plan B: we headed into downtown Sugarcreek about 1.4mi away and found an open pizza parlor. Great deep dish pizza in a quiet, wintry, desolate downtown...perfect. Afterwards, we did what all good parents should do: throw the kids in the pool! After all, that's all they really cared about. It didn't help that they quickly learned it was open until midnight. :-) After about an hour, I was yawning and pleading mercy to the girls and Marjie to go back and go to bed. A game of life size checkers (not kidding!) played first by the girls poolside and then we headed on back. Snooze......
"Dad! It opens at 6am!" That's what we heard at 6:30am as we were doing our best to not get out of bed and sleep in on Friday morning. Once again referencing the folder inside our room, they alerted us to the fact that the pool was already open. "Oh joy," I thought. No cell signal here in Amish country, but a very sweet wi-fi signal so after checking e-mail on the phone (it's an unbreakable leash, I swear!), we headed out barefoot to the one-of-a-kind continental breakfast. I say one-of-a-kind because there's so much to choose from. From waffles, yogurt, and 3 cereals, to hard-boiled eggs, sausage, bagels, thick toast, to tea, coffee, hot chocolate and water. Lots of choices and plenty of ketchup for my hard boiled eggs. "Dad!! Don't eat any more of those!", I heard a few times. Breakfast is on the 2nd of 4 floors, adjacent to the pool, and connected to a giant sitting area adorned with leather couches and a burning fireplace. After a spilled hot chocolate (the wicker furniture caught my youngest one's toe while approaching the table), 3 hard-boiled eggs, and good morning conversation, we were changed into suits and headed to the pool...by 7:30am. The pool juts out of the back of the Inn and is totally surrounded by glass, roof and all. Above us, snow weighted down the glass roof, and out the sides, blowing snow created shapes and landscapes that were just cool to look at, especially from the seat inside a hot tub. Making waves in the pool, launching my girls into the air and into the water, and realizing many times while doing so how much they've grown (and how out of shape I am) filled the next few hours until we headed back to the room, just in time to make the 11am checkout.
Before leaving, though, the girls wanted to visit the library downstairs and relax in the big, comfy couches and read a bit. Making our way down, I checked out, loaded up the car, and we headed next door to Der Dutchman for lunch, using our $10 certificate, of course. A great lunch, for sure, and we were off shortly thereafter. A few miles down the road is my favorite winery, the Breitenbach Winery , and from their Facebook posts, they were closed all week and set to open on Friday. They were putting in new carpet in their shop, cafe, and wine tasting area. For you with the critical eye: no, I am not a drunkard nor believe in that...but I have no problem with the occasional glass of wine...good wine. There are few that I even care for. I pretty much don't like any reds or anything really dry. I like the fruity ones, the sweet ones, and they need to NOT be dry. My favorite wine, period, is Breitenbach's Dandelion Wine . Yea...dandelions are used to make it and pretty rare in the U.S. Each Spring, the Amish near the winery harvest a massive field of them over just a few days and that's enough for the year. They steep them like you steep a tea bag which extracts all the yumminess out. They are then pressed and made like any other wine. The result is just magical..the best wine ever. The thing is...there's not much of it and it's not sold in local grocery stores. The ONLY place to get it is at the winery. So, we pull in and furniture is stacked outside the store and a sign is taped to the entry: "Closed for Renovation." "WHAT?!?!?" I opened the door and there stood the owner. "It looks like you're closed but on your Facebook page, you said you were re-opening today and I wanted to grab a bottle of Dandelion." "Nope," she replied. "We don't open until tomorrow." Oh man...not good. I grumbled a few now-forgotten words and headed back out to the car with the girls. I jumped online and to Facebook and 22min prior, she posted on the winery's wall that they were opening the next day. However, just below that...posted 4 days earlier, was a post stating she was opening TODAY! A ha! I knew I didn't imagine that post. Type A personality and all, I hopped out of the car, equipped with my iPhone and a $20 bill (intending to not leave without what I came for), and headed back in. Jokingly and smiling the whole time, I told the owner I just have to show her the winery's Facebook page. She was shocked. I explained my plans for this day and how they were integral to it and how I just loved the Dandelion wine and asked if I could just buy it...I had cash, after all. "Sure!", she replied. She grabbed one of the last few remaining from the 2010 harvest, bagged it, and waited for change for my 20. "You know what," she said, "just take it. For your trouble and the confusion. Just take it." "You sure?", I replied..."Well thank you!!! "We'll certainly be back, too, to get more from the 2011 harvest." She was grinning from ear to ear and so was I...all the way back out to the car...and as I handed the 20 back to Marjie. I don't have many favorite things in this world. A loaded Starbucks card, my Brooks trail shoes, my leash (my iPhone)...and Breitenbach's Dandelion wine. It made my day...it really did. It reaffirmed my love for the winery, too. Once nice out, we'll return to sit outside on their balcony, looking over the Amish country landscape, enjoying a glass of Dandelion.
A great day...certainly one I didn't want to end, but did justify an early trip to bed last night. The dandelion remains chilled, though...waiting for the perfect time to enjoy it.