Day 6: Sister Bay

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We couldn’t escape the rain.

If we left the marina today, we would’ve been faced with the strong winds and waves of yesterday with the addition of rain. We decided to stay an extra day or two in Sister Bay. Tomorrow we are facing 40 mph winds and a high of 62 with the cold front that came in.

We caught a glimpse of the schooner we saw out on the water a few days before snug in the slip across from ours.

This afternoon our group is taking a cab to the winery.

As for now, I am sitting here in the boat writing while watching the rain fall.

We are doing a load of laundry. Last night after finally being able to shower, we hung out our towels to dry but they never did. My towel smells so musty that after showering today I felt dirty drying off with it. Paul threw everything together in the washer…towels, dark warms, dark colds, and whites. It really threw off my anal laundry sorting fetish, so I had Paul do the wash..

It’s starting to thunder..

The clothes didn’t dry well in the dryer. We couldn’t put them in longer since we were leaving and our friends were waiting for us to use the dryer. So we hung half wet clothes and towels around the boat.

The cab driver drove up from Green Bay which was quite the hike (almost an hour and a half one way). She took us to the Lautenbach Winery where we sampled wine, took the tour, and did the cherry pit spitting contest. Paul and I won the cherry spitting contest based on our gender. Wow, I bet that would look really good on a resume.

I bought a bottle of my favorite wine Summer Breeze with the sailboat on the label.

Then the cab driver picked us up and took us back to the marina.

I decided to wait in the cab by myself with the driver while everyone braved the rain to walk their wine back to their boats. The cab driver proceeded to tell me her whole life story and all of the issues she is having with her teenagers. I really felt rather uncomfortable.

Who shares all of their personal life experiences with a complete stranger?? Oh wait…isn’t that what I do?? Damn…who am I to judge then?

The rain keeps falling..

Opening the Door..

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This past weekend, I visited the beautiful Door County located in the thumb of Wisconsin. I even broke some of my rules…

Namely, I was spontaneous. My mom asked me to spend the weekend with her and two of her siblings and their spouses. Less than a weeks notice is spontaneous for me. I did have other plans, like going through my endless pictures to delete them from my server that I almost crashed and cleaning the house for Thanksgiving. But I did blog earlier about needing to put my relationships above cleaning, so I packed my bags and went.

We had a great time away…we played the game Loaded Questions. Great game! We stayed at a large house right on Lake Michigan. The picture above was taken from the front yard. One of the questions asked during the game was what everyone would do on a whim. Most answers involved travel or jumping nude into the lake. Well, except for my mom who answered that she would have a cup of coffee. Hhmm, sad! I don’t take after her… Ha ha ha.

I was tempted to jump into the lake. They had a hot tub near the lake and when I got overheated I was tempted to jump right in. It looked so inviting, despite the cold and all of the empty beaches.

Saturday morning we awoke to the first snow flurries of the season. It was cold and windy. It was so windy at home that trees fell down on power lines and cars. We braved the cold to head out to the winery that morning (where I broke one of my rules). Aunt Jan said that it was too early to drink wine, but she changed her mind. Aunt Jan is usually the one in charge, so we followed her lead. At 10:45 AM, we were sampling wine. Hey, it’s noon somewhere, right?

I ended up buying 5 lbs of pitted tart cherries to make my homemade Thanksgiving pies and a bottle of Summer Breeze wine. They bottle it under the name White Christmas in the winter, but I couldn’t resist the picture of the sailboat on the summer label.

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The above picture is why we don’t go sailing on Lake Michigan or the bay in the winter. It can be pretty vicious, which is why all of the sailors took their boats out of the water last month. No one wants to be on the water under these conditions. Just think of what happened to the Edmund Fitzgerald on Lake Superior in the gales of November. Great! Now I am humming the Gordon Lightfoot song!

As I was inching my way along the dock to take this picture, an older gentleman screamed out to me “No further!” People have drowned when waves like this have crashed into the dock knocking them over into and under the water. But I didn’t even get close.

We had a great time in Door County and in case you were wondering, I was able to get my house cleaned too!

California wine country

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It was finally time for Paul’s birthday surprise…

We had a total of 5 hours from our conference hotel check out until our check in at the South Coast Winery Resort and Spa. It took an hour and a half to drive through the desert, back through the mountains to get there. We were looking to kill some time, which doesn’t happen often.

It was rainy when we left the desert. We made a couple of stops through the mountains to take pictures of the contrast between the sunshine when we arrived to the clouds and mist on our way out. We stopped for lunch at an authentic Mexican restaurant which was more like a fast food joint, nothing to really write about. We were hoping to check out some unique shops, but there was nothing to see. There were a few ranches with blocked off driveways and even more run down trailer homes. We ran into some rain and patches of fog, but ended up getting to the resort early. Very early..

As we got closer to our destination, the rolling mountains turned into sunny vineyards. There were billboards announcing that we were entering wine country. Then we started passing wineries. It was hard to keep our destination a surprise much longer.

Paul’s drink of choice is wine, the drier the better. My drink of choice is craft beer. I’ve heard that we have things switched around a bit…the guy is supposed to drink beer and the girl is supposed to drink wine in the relationship. We never have been much for social norms… So a birthday surprise had to include a trip to wine country.

As I mentioned, we arrived early. Quite a few hours early to be exact. We went to check in expecting to be turned away. Instead, we were very warmly welcomed. Paul was given a bottle of wine for his birthday and a free room upgrade. We were moved from the main hotel to a villa that had a fireplace and Jacuzzi. The customer service there was top notch. I kind of wanted to sneak the lady home in my suitcase and have her work for us.

After checking in, we headed down to the winery for tasting. It cost $18 for 5 tastes. We went twice over our time there and were waited on by Danny. Again, excellent customer service. He was wonderful. Some of my favorite wines were California Girl and the 2014 Riesling. Typically, at home, we do not have to pay to taste wine. In between samplings we are given crackers to cleanse our palette. It wasn’t that way here at all. We were given generous portions though and I felt a little tipsy afterwards.

The following two evenings, we ate supper in the winery’s restaurant. It was rather pricey, however comparable to a fine dining establishment at home. They had specialty foods such as lamb and calamari with unique sauces. The first night I ordered a pasta dish. Even though the portions weren’t huge, I couldn’t eat it all. My acid reflux went wild while on vacation, probably due to stress of traveling and eating different foods. Immediately the head chef came over and asked me if I was satisfied with my food. It was the second day that they used their new menu and they were very concerned that I was not happy since I did not eat all of it. I might’ve been the first person that they tested it out on, but I did like it and couldn’t offer any negative feedback.

The next day, Paul and I tried to get into a tour of the winery but they didn’t have any opening that didn’t conflict with our plans to go to the spa. Paul and I both got massages. It was rather pricey compared to at home. The massage was good, except that my stomach was still upset and I had to pee half way through which was bothersome.

Afterwards, Paul and I hung out at the pool. We sat down between a couple with two adults daughters, one being in a wheelchair. On the other side of us was a large group of young, rather intoxicated, women celebrating an upcoming wedding.

It was at this time that I became aware that Arabella and my mom were arguing. Seeing a woman with her disabled sister brought back memories for me. I think that since I had to give up a great big chunk of my childhood to take care of my disabled brother that my mother owes me a few days to get away stress free. Maybe I shouldn’t feel that way, but that is how I honestly feel. I want my mom to lie to me and tell me that everything is great even if it is not. I had to get involved and try to fix things which made things worse. Then the worry set in. Why is it so hard to relax?

I overheard the young women next to me complain about their grandmas. I felt some irritation at their drunk banter. Oh, how I longed for my grandma to be alive again. Then Paul and I went to the hot tub full of the wedding party girls. They actually thanked us for putting up with them. Apparently some of the other pool patrons weren’t quite as tolerant. We told them we were from Wisconsin. We didn’t know better.

Once the girls found out that we were married for 19 years, they started asking for advice. There were a couple newlyweds, the rest were single and looking for the secrets of marriage longevity. Paul said that he really had no idea at all what he was doing, we just adjust and make things work. Neither of us grew up seeing what a healthy marriage was like. Then I left Paul in the hot tub with a dozen bikini clad women that were half my age. I wanted to shower and get my items out of the spa before it closed. Someone asked why I would leave my husband alone in the hot tub with all of those young women. I replied, “Why stop trusting him now after being together over 20 years?”

I headed back to the spa to shower. I heard the mother of the woman in the wheelchair struggle to shower her daughter in the small stall next to me. It seemed like an overwhelming ordeal and I felt compassion for them. But they did not let her disability get in the way of her swimming and having fun with family even though it was difficult. I zipped in and out of there before they even finished showering.

We had a great time at the winery. We found the room to be very affordable. However, we ended up spending more money on other amenities such as the spa, eating there, and then of course there was the wine…

The travel diaries, the Door County winery tour

Today I am going to talk about my wonderful home state of WI. Door County to be a little more specific which is the thumb peninsula in the hand print of our state.

Door County has several state parks, my favorite being Peninsula State Park. This park has wonderful biking trails, fishing, camping, weekend outdoor theater performances, and my favorite part is the large sandy beach. This beach is so large that you can lose track of your children when they are right in front of you (yes, I have done that). Another great state park is the Whitefish Dunes State Park which is great for picnicking. It is very scenic with its cliffs and caves which makes it a beautiful background for wedding pictures.We have been there a couple of times when they had sand castle contests. It it amazing what can be built out of sand. It has a great beach for swimming and like the name suggests there are large sand dunes. But before you pack your bags and catch the next flight out, it is winter so you should probably wait.

Door County is a wonderful place to go boating, or in our case sailing. Sturgeon Bay has a water passageway that connects the bay to Lake Michigan. Plus in the summer there are many places to shop, have a fish boil, or check out local maritime artists. It is a great place to pick apples and cherries to make pies. Grapes grow plentifully there in season. Which brings us to the topic today of the winery tour.

A few years back we decided to take a day trip with our most adventurous friends, Tom and Lisa, for their anniversary. Tom and Lisa were with us on the accidental overnight and rescue sails that I posted about earlier. We had a driver lined up and we were going to spend the day winery hopping. The evening was going to end with a meal hosted by a winery attended by a local celebrity. At the first stop, we sampled some wine and shared a bottle while enjoying live music by a woman that apparently liked Janis Joplin hits. It was great, we did a lot of laughing and a little dancing. But after we were there a short time, the music ended and it was time to move on. We went to a couple more wineries before we stopped at the last winery before our meal.

We did some more wine sampling at this last spot. Then we went outdoors where a band was set up. There were probably 50 chairs set up with about 40 patrons sitting and listening to the music. That is not what we did though. We got out there and started dancing which caused people to get up from their chairs to dance. People seemed to be having such a great time that the owner of the winery came up to us and offered us free drinks for livening up his party. Free drinks, free drinks, free drinks! We probably didn’t need anymore drinks at this point, but we had a driver….so free drinks, free drinks…..we found another couple looking for excitement and ended up inviting them to spend the rest of the evening with us. We took pictures out in the vineyards…danced, free drinks, free drinks..

Then it was time to go to our meal. When we got there, they opened the gift shop for us but no one was there to check out our purchases. Tom grabbed a couple of items, settling up his purchases later at the meal. We were into the first part of the meal when Paul, Lisa, and I decided to take a bathroom trip. It was at that time that Tom decided to find someone to pay for his purchases, except we didn’t know that. When we got back, someone took Lisa’s place. There was a beautiful 20 something year old woman sitting really close to Tom. Maybe she was sitting close because she couldn’t hear him, I don’t know. Lisa was getting upset, so upset that Paul went up to the girl and told her to leave Tom alone because he was there celebrating his anniversary with his wife. But she wouldn’t leave which caused everyone, including our new friends, to feel really uncomfortable. A heated discussion broke out at our table right as the local celebrity began to talk. It was all a horrible misunderstanding. We finally finished our meal and were ready to head home. To make matters worse, as we were leaving Lisa’s heel broke on her boot as she was coming down the stairs which caused her to miss the last few steps. She hurt herself and had to be carried out to the car.

It ended up being a long ride home.