June 14 . . a Sunday

Sunday was a beautiful morning.  I slept until about 5 a.m., getting a good 8 hours sleep.  I had gotten up once in the middle of the night to pee by the tent and let the girls out, but otherwise slept well.  Hubby got up around 6:30 a.m. and took the girls out and enjoyed the lake view.

Ria was having a hard weekend.  Her barking was so annoying and hard to contain.  Here she is on a lookout from something to bark at from the tent.

We had leftover tea from the day before which needed to be drank, so we did not make anymore.  The girls ate from their bowls in the grass and did not want anything but to be with us back in the tent.  We took a shower in the bath house which we drove to up the road.  We have to take turns so one of us can watch the girls, but I've been thankful for electricity and warm showers.

We drove to Ha Ha Tonka State Park and first visited the castle.  We took one of the last parking spots.  I think we got there around 9 a.m. and after that people had to park in the overfill lot a good distances down the hill.  The story about the castle was really interesting.  I mostly took photos of it with my big camera which I have not downloaded as I write this because my laptop has been out of commission.  We did take this selfie.  The castle was a dream of a guy who started it in 1905, but in 1906 he died in a car accident.  His sons did not complete the castle until 1920.  It was used as a hotel until 20 years later when it was burned to the ground.  We were told by locals visiting that the ground was considered sacred by indians and that it actually had a fire twice because the indian sacredness. In 1976 the water tower was burned by teen vandals.

It was fun walking around and imagining what it would have been like inside and how grandiose it must have been.  We can see why the location was such a dream, especially after we did more touring.  There were trails we could see but not get to that they must have stood at for amazing views of the spring-fed lake below.  (another tourist video I found on Youtube)

We hiked up the steps to the water tower and just loved the wildflowers and prairie grass.  I've been enjoying the wildflowers everywhere as we have been driving around all weekend.

Then we began the long walk down 316 stairs!  Wow!  I cannot imagine being the people who had to lug all that wood in to build the steps.  What a trip!  The dogs seemed to handle it okay, but I was worried about them getting hot and dehydrated.  The view at the bottom was not as spectacular as I had hoped for all that climbing.  My knees do not go down as well as they go up.  It was pretty, however, and a fun adventure.

I loved imagining how the people in the early 1900's might have climbed down to this spot without wooden steps.  I can imagine people would visit the hotel and spend the day strolling around.  It was also fun to be at the bottom and see what we were seeing while we were up at the castle.

In talking with other folks on the trail, we realized that a half mile down or so was a parking lot!  What!  We could have avoided all those steps and drove to the parking lot and walked down.  Well, we had an adventure anyway.  Hubby did the manly thing and walked back up all those stairs to the car and drove it around to the other parking lot.  Isn't he awesome!?  I was concerned we would have to carry the dogs up the steps which would make it much harder.  I was disappointed that he missed some of the views as the walk to the parking lot was more beautiful than the actual spring, but it was nothing he hasn't seen similar and I got some photos and a video for him.

In another part of the park we took the short trail down to the natural bridge.  It is cool to see, but we like the much larger one in Illinois close to our home better.
We had plans to visit another winery and it was down a long dirt road.  When we came to this sign, I just had to laugh.

We had to take turns taste testing wine, so I went first and then while hubby was inside choosing the wine, I found a seat.  The tables were very dirty as if they had not been cleaned all Spring, if not since last Fall.  The inside seemed clean, but not the outside.  Some of the chairs were so old and dirty I could not understand why they would not get new ones.  There were even empty containers stuck down in the chairs that appeared to have been there a long while.

The view of the river below was nice, but I would have thought they could have cleared out some of the tree tops.  It seemed like they may have when they first opened, but had not done any maintenance in years.

The wines I thought all had a unique taste to them with flavorings that I did not particularly care for, but we bought a bottle only to be disappointed to read the label and see it was made in Drytown, California and not locally.  The label was disturbing with photos of a girl (this being the better photo).

We made the best of our time together, joking about being in the loony bin at "Casa de Loco" until our food came.  We ordered a pizza, but they did not have any more crust.  What?  So they did not charge us more for the individual flat breads.  It is a good thing because they were burnt on the edges and did not taste good.  They were supposedly baked in a brick oven, but I'm not sure how well that was because the crust was not crisp at all.
We braved the walk down the side of the cliff to the cave-like area.  The vines made it difficult and I was scared there was poison ivy.

The view to the river was not even visible, the table appeared to have been under the weather and uncleaned for at least three years, and there was this odd box in front of our view that we could not figure out what in the world it was for.  The whole experience was unpleasant.  For the difficult drive to this winery, you would have thought it would have been worth it.  No.  It had potential, but it was certainly not well kept and the wine was not good.  I guess we cannot win them all!

As we were traveling back, we remembered we had passed a sign for another winery.  On the way there, we saw this street sign called "That There."  These street names are so funny!

This winery was very clean and was tucked into a little corner overlooking a lake.  The bar was like a little hut. There were bug zappers in several places.  How nice!  We were allowed to bring the dogs to the bar so we could both do a taste testing at the same time.  The wine was delicious and they made their own too.  It was so nice to be dog friendly and the girls behaved because there were no other dogs around.  

The Sugarloaf Winery has Culvers ice cream with port wine. (port wine being a dessert wine)  Oh, how fun!  I never thought of putting wine over ice cream or frozen yogurt (whatever it was).  I want to try it at home now.  I wanted to order their food, but was full from the not-so-good-food from the last winery.  When I asked her to pour some more for my photo op, she did not hesitate as I later thought how I did not intend to get more wine than was normal.  It was nice to be treated without reservation.

We were invited to take our wine down to the picnic area.  There was no hesitation giving us glasses or a wine bottle cover (insulator) and spoon, trusting us to return them.  Yet again we felt welcomed.  We were told we could get into the water and that there was a cushy artificial grass mat to walk on to access the water.  I asked if there was some place to change into my swimsuit and the reply was that it was a private beach and no one would see me.  I replied that it was "my kind of thing" to just dash behind the car to hide to change.  I think before I could get out my whole sentence it excited her as she freely told us they were naturalists and had 20 naturalists at a gathering in a recent evening.  Oh, I tried not to let on to my surprise and moved forward.  

We found the picnic area to be gorgeous, however.  The grass was so green and nicely kept.  It was inviting and I wanted to explore and begin our adventure.  There was lots of seating and I kept imaging naked people sitting on them and wondering if I wanted to sit in the same place.  Oh me!  I tried to take that image out of my head as it seemed clean enough to me.  This photo is only of less than half of the area.

Hubby changed on the other side of the car into his trunks and waded out into the lake.  The artificial grass was cozy, but there was lake scum and logs about that he had to push through, but one past it, it was about waste deep.  I recorded him on video and realized that this was his annual "get in a body of water at a winery" event!  How many years is it now!  We had not even planned this one.  Ah!

Hubby went to the car to get my swimsuit and I was motivated to be a gypsy nester extraordinaire and changed my clothes in the open.  Of course, only hubby could see me!  Ah! Unless they had cameras somewhere.  I sure hope not!  It was rather a very quick thrill.  Yes, a quick change.  Hiding next to the table.  

I joined him in the lake and we had a nice time hanging out together in the water, with our wine at the table and the girls tied to a chair watching us.  I couldn't get where there was a tree between us or Ria would whine. 

Then we took the wine bottle and glasses up to the little gazebo type thing with two chairs and relaxed while looking at the fabulous view.  I wanted to stay for a long time, but I wasn't sure how late the winery stayed open.  So I changed into my dry clothes right in the chair (ah! silly me) and we took the stuff back to the hut and I gave her a nice tip as I told her it was the best part of our weekend.  I just had to pay for the privacy we had in a beautiful setting for such a long time.  There were a few other people that came and went, but no one stayed. I loved her smile as I handed her the cash and felt happiness in blessing her.  I just cannot believe we found such a wonderful thing to do by impromptu stopping where we saw a sign.  I love this Gypsy Nester traveling because we are already finding better places than any we could find on the internet.

When we returned to camp, almost everyone had left except the folks in the next door campground.  I greeted them and asked permission for us to cut through their camp to find a better spot along the lake to put in our chairs.  We sat for a while and drank our wine until after dark.

The girls stayed stacked down right behind us and they were okay with that.  They do not like getting in the water.

We ended up trekking out into the lake and found it very shallow, knee depth maybe, all the way out to the middle!  I hope no one heard our conversations, but we sat out in the middle of the lake chatting until well after dark.  Then we headed to bed feeling as if we had a very full day of fun activities, feeling well pleased with our vacation day.


Dawn said…
I'm reading this, and you get to the winery part and I see Culvers mentioned and I'm getting all excited, then I remember I don't have a Culvers here. :( Their frozen custard is the best!!!

And how awesome that the tradition continues!!! Hub-E getting in the water at the winery. Awesome!!

I am so glad that you guys had some fun! I sure am enjoying your posts!
Hummie B said…
ha ha ! Glad you found the tradition blog post! So fun! I did a video and I'll have to share later when I have time.
Tammy said…
Fun times!!!

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