Across the River

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!


BRF, Corned Beef & Cabbage, and the Plague

On Saturday, Chris and I made our way to La Crosse (which is two separate words… who knew?!) and enjoyed a delicious dinner at Piggy’s. Don’t let the name fool you, this is a nice restaurant! Our host, Dr. P, had made arrangements for us to join the local medical society for their semiannual gathering. We heard from a very interesting speaker pioneering a new kind of clinic, basically cash for services with a lot of forgiveness involved, without any middlemen/insurance/coding involved. Or nurses, for that matter.

Then we headed to the borough of Black River Falls for 24 hours of bliss. We slept… we ate amazing food… I went skate skiing for the 2nd time ever and actually enjoyed it. As Dr. P says, skate skiing allows you to extend the skiing season into the slippery/icy time of year. This time, we were attempting it on a flat surface rather than hilly slopes, and that proved much better for getting the hang of it. Whew, what a work out!

Of course we had to do the occasional chore, like Chris carrying the grain out for the horses…

Then we went for a horse ride, although the conditions were deplorable – there was glaze ice on many of the trails, slippery for horses even with winter shoes, and the streams were iced over so that the horses broke through with each step. We still had a good time, though there was not much cantering or jumping. Instead all of the adrenaline surges were related to fear of falling.

Then we joined Dr. P and his daughter and son-in-law in sorting through his eclectic rock collection. After playing with some of these rocks, I’m ready to move to New Mexico and become a crazy crystal lady. There is something so cool about holding and sorting and touching these different stones. He even has an old boyscout set with a sample of “uranium;” to my disappointment, the radioactive ore looked pretty boring and white.

We ate fajitas and drank margaritas while playing clubs with Dr.  P’s wife and finally headed back around 8. 

On Wednesday I had corned beef and cabbage (for the first time in my life, I think!) with one of my church ladies, O. She was an absolute doll and made me lunch.

I was pleasantly surprised – corned beef is downright tasty! I will definitely try to recreate this sometime. Most of all, I enjoyed my time with O.

In the midst of all this Chris and I have been battling the Plague – I mean, a cold. At least we think it’s a cold, a very long-lasting cold. I got it early last week and then started feeling better this weekend. But alas, it was the “surge” before the relapse. Then the sinus drainage started and I had to actually call out sick on Tuesday, which I never do. Chris hasn’t been feeling great either. 


So we’ve been doing the usual – taking cold medicine and zincs, drinking hot tea, laying low (as much as possible) and resting. Please pray that this cold moves on and that it afflicts no one else!