Every year, Chris and I do something fun in March/April. In 2012 we went to Arizona and enjoyed a spiffy weekend at the Phoenician. Last year we went to beautiful Napa Valley. And this year?
We took advantage of one of Chris’s rare weekends off and headed out on an adventure. Our first stop was Blaedow’s Bakery in Winona, maker of the best donuts in several counties; I haven’t found anything nearly as good in Rochester! My mouth is watering just writing about it. Chris was particularly excited about his bacon donut.
I was thrilled about my glazed croissant. YUMMY!!! We then drove across the Mississippi River to the Elmaro Vineyard in Trempealeau, Wisconsin. Although the drive had the faint odor of cows, the vineyard is fantastic with a beautiful view of bluffs in the distance. We tried all of their wines that were available for sampling and they were quite tasty. Many northern wines are almost obscenely sweet but they had some tasty dry wines; their Marquette Rose was particularly good. Don’t get me wrong, I do like a good sweet wine. They had a fantastic cheese plate as well. We got one with jalapeno and cranberry sausage, honey butter, a triple cream soft cheese that was among the best things I’ve ever eaten (Le Delice de Bourgone from Lincet), a nice cheddar and a hard cheese, with assorted crackers and some fig jam. It was the perfect lunch. Afterwards Chris made a new friend with one of the vineyard dogs.
We were sad to leave but with a bottle in tow, we headed up to Granddad Bluff in La Crosse where we enjoyed the stunning views out over La Crosse.
Then we headed to the Shrine of our Lady of Guadalupe. This beautiful holy place is tucked away amongst the bluffs in La Crosse, but it is well worth a pilgrimage – even if, like us, you are not Catholic. After walking through the visitor’s center, you hike up a pave half-mile until a beautiful chapel and shrine appear through the trees. We walked the Stations of the Cross and the Rosary Walk. It was a perfect trip for this Lenten time of year, seeing these images of Christ’s sacrifice while walking through his beautiful creation. At the end, we prayed, asking for guidance for the future.
After that beautiful experience we shifted gears and headed back into La Crosse to try the Pearl Street Brewery, a local place nestled into an old shoe factory. For $5 we got a varied flight.
A bus full of people arrived soon after we started working on this flight, so our experience was a little… flat. The beers were hoppilicious, if you like that kind of thing.
We headed downtown to the Four Sisters for supper (not to be confused with the Four Daughters Winery, another great place much closer to Rochester). The Four Sisters has tasty tapas. We enjoyed a couple of appetizers; Chris had some mussels and I had a portabella mushroom with spinach and a pink sauce. Alas, we were too full for dessert. We took a short walk along the river and headed back to home, drained from a long day of food, fun, and travel.
Even though we didn’t go out of the region this spring, we still enjoyed a fun “out-of-state” trip and were lucky enough to get some sunshine along the way. There is so much to do right in our neck of the woods… we just have to find the time to do it!