Stuff to do in The Lou

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When we decided that we were actually going to move (to a whole different state!) we started trying to visit all the places that we figured we’d miss when we left St. Louis. Strangely, or maybe not so strangely since we want to move…. there weren’t that many places that we felt like we had to visit.

These were our top six places to visit in Missouri.

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St Louis Zoo

My #1 place that we had to see again, and the place that I’d actually recommend to STL visitors would be the St. Louis Zoo.  Brian and I got a Zoo membership before we got married and we visited fairly frequently.  It’s been our go-to place for when we just wanted to do something. Technically, there are lots of things you can do in STL completely free…. but you’re going to have to walk and be a bit creative.  STL has a really amazing zoo and you can do it completely free, but I’d recommend getting either one of the zoo memberships (a lot of zoos honor other zoo’s memberships too) or one of the day pass things.  I adore riding around on the train and seeing the sea-lion show… oh! and the new Stingray area! I’m not a big fan of the children’s area, but if you bring little humans with you, they’d probably enjoy that too, so you’d might as well have bought one of the bands or membership thingies.  Try to go mid-week if possible, otherwise the place is busy.

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Ted Drew’s Frozen Custard

Brian and I visited Ted Drew’s the first time I brought Boo along on one of our dates.  We sat in the back of the MINI and people watched and ate our custard.  (For the record, Boo likes blueberry) Brian’s parents took us to Ted Drew’s to celebrate our engagement (Cindermint).  Birthdays…. (Fox Treat) and Christmas (Hawaiian).  It’s one of those STL traditions and it became one of our favorite special treats.

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Missouri Botanical Gardens 

The Missouri Botanical Gardens is one of those places that my mom and aunts used to drag me every summer and I hated it…. and then I got my own house and my own yard and learned to appreciate all the flowers and landscaping.  The gardens are beautiful any time of year, you really can’t go wrong.  They also have a number of festivals throughout the year that are all really cool, but they’re also really crowded.  If you have the chance though, I’d absolutely recommend the Garden Glow at Christmas.


Okay, so those are the typical ‘Must See’ things that you’re going to see on every other list.  And I completely agree…. I love ’em too, but there are lots of other great things to see and do outside of St Louis.  I’m not a huge fan of being in the city anyway.  I’d rather escape the crowds and traffic.  The next two items are going to take you about 45 minutes to 1.5 hours outside of St. Louis….. and they are totally worth the drive.

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Historic Kimmswick 

Kimmswick is probably the place that I am most going to miss in the St Louis area.  Mom and I spent many a lazy afternoon roaming through the historic homes turned adorable and eclectic shops.  Each visit was always capped with a visit to the Blue Owl.  If you’re not gluten-free you should order the Levee High Apple Pie for dessert.  I don’t care how much you ate for lunch…. order dessert.  The Blue owl is famous for their desserts.  Order dessert.  If you are gluten free, there aren’t may dessert options, but you can go next door to the Blue Owl Sweet Shop and get ice cream.  I’m a fan of the Coconut Sunday.  There are plenty of Gluten Free entree options, and the staff is so sweet!  I am going to miss all of the ladies at the Blue Owl…. and the food.  Kimmswick hosts several huge festivals throughout the year that are great… but huge and crowded.  If you’re going to visit during a festival make plans to come back on another day to just enjoy the town.  (The whole town is closed on Monday.)

Elephant Rocks State Park

Elephant Rocks State Park

Elephant Rocks State Park is a fair drive out of St Louis, but it is a fun place to wander and explore.  You can climb all over the huge, elephant like rock formations and wander down paths surrounded by the granite monoliths.  Take a picnic lunch and spend the day climbing, wandering and taking awesome photos.  On your way back to the city, drive north on Hwy 21 and stop in Caledonia, MO.  It’s a teeny, tiny, blink and you missed it town, but there are several cute little shops that are fun to visit.  Stop at Old Village Mercantile to check out the antiques and enjoy and ice cream sundae.

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Chaumette Winery

Chaumette Winery is also a bit of a drive from St Louis, but certainly well worth the trip.  The wine is delicious and the food at the Grapevine Grill is wonderful.  Everything is locally sourced from area farms and dairies.  The menu changes seasonally, but there are usually several gluten-free option for entrées and dessert.  The staff is knowledgable about Gluten Sensitivity and I’ve even had the chef come out and talk to me once or twice.  He even offered to make a special sauce for me once!  Delicious food and wine, great staff, pup-friendly, allergy friendly, beautiful views, good music…..  They even have bed & breakfast villas and a spa.  I’d always wanted to do a spa weekend, but never got around to it…. It would make for an awesome Girl’s Weekend.

 

Hershey’s Chocolate World

We visited Hershey’s Chocolate World today. I mean…. we’re in Hershey, PA…. we HAD to go to Chocolate World, right?!


Now don’t confuse Chocolate World with ChocolatePark…. I know, I know… ChocolatePark is an amusement park (think Six Flags) while Chocolate World is…. well…. maybe a really small amusement park?  

There’s the Hershey Chocolate Tour which is free. When we started on the tour I thought it was going to be a really awful walking tour, but the walking part was actually the ‘holding area’ for the line…. if there had been a line… which there wasn’t today. You weave though the ‘people corrals’ and there are all these facts about Milton Hershey and how chocolate is produced. And the whole time they’re pumping in the smell of chocolate. We got stuck behind this guy who wanted to stop and read every sign on the wall and take a picture of each one…. OMG! Keep walking, pal!  At the end of the line there’s a… cocoa bean?  I think it’s supposed to be a cocoa bean… boat thingie and we climbed in the bean and toured the chocolate making process… from animated cows that sing… to the Hershey factory where Hershey Bar and Kiss finish off the tour. It’s cute…. nothing mind blowing, but cute enough… especially since it was free. As we exited the ride we were each given a mini Hershey’s bar. 


We bought tickets for the 4D Mystery, Create Your Own Chocolate Bar and the Chocolate Tasting Experience. (We saved $11 purchasing them together as Adventure Package 2) – $28.00

The 4D Mystery was one of those things where you wear 3D glasses to watch an animated movie and then there are smells piped in and water (why?!) sprinkled from the ceiling. I wouldn’t recommend it for grown-ups. If you’re bringing a kid, okay, but I’d say it’s for the 12 and under crowed. I will admit our showing was strangely (accidentally) entertaining. We had a school taking a class field trip today (gods help us!)… 3rd graders…  This is one of those shows where at the beginning while everyone is getting seated the animated character on the screen interacts with the crowd. It talks and asks questions and responds… it’s a neat trick. So at the end of the movie the bad guy has been captured and Hershey Bar comes back on the screen and asks what should be done with the bad guy… he’s asking for a punishment or maybe give him a second chance… forgive him… something like that. 

Hershey: What should we do about Dr VonSauer, kids? 

Kids: (screaming) EAT HIM! 

Whoa, what?!  Even Hershey seemed shocked. 

Hershey: Um, no… we don’t eat people here. 

Kids: (chanting) EAT HIM!  EAT HIM! 

Hershey: This isn’t Lord of the Flies!  We’re not going to eat him. How about we give him a second chance?

Kids: (still chanting) EAT HIM!

Hershey: (stares blankly at the crowd) Okay! A second chance it is! 

Kids: (still chanting) 

Video resumes…. no cannibalism…. second chances given. 

I don’t know what they’re teaching at that school, but I was starting to get pretty nervous sitting there surrounded by 100 screaming, chanting 3rd graders bent on cannibalism and revenge. Fortunately, we escaped and were rewarded with another bar of candy at the door. 

The Chocolate Tasting Experience was a huge disappointment. This is geared towards the adults… kids would be bored outta their skulls. I was expecting to get a variety of chocolates and somewhere I’d read about a hot chocolate tasting, but apparently this wasn’t it. We were each given a little gift bag (that they wasted their money on because most people threw it away as they left) with four small chocolate bars inside. On the table was a placemat that listed the different flavors/notes that we might taste in the chocolates, a bottle of water to cleanse our palates between bites of chocolate, a cup of ground cacao nibs, a Hershey’s Kiss and a Wet Wipe. 

The presentation was okay, but the ‘tasting’ was underwhelming. I certainly wouldn’t recommend spending $11 on four little bars of chocolate that you’re basically instructed to sniff and then let melt in your mouth. 

We were also each given a certificate of completion at the end… which most people threw away. Big waste of money and paper. 


I did actually enjoy the Create Your Own Chocolate Bar experience. ($20 for this event by itself) 


It starts out with Hershey wasting a bunch of money and resources again… each of us were given a disposable hairnet and an apron… because we’d be in an actual factory kitchen…. everything was behind glass!  We weren’t getting near anything that we could contaminate. 


We went to a series of computer screens where we’d scan our ticket and then make our selections for our candy bar. Scanning the ticket kept your candy bar and personalized wrapper coded just for you. Which was cool. 

We made our choice of white, milk or dark chocolate candy bar and then filling selections… I chose toffee bits and butterscotch chips in a dark chocolate candy bar with sprinkles. Then we got to watch the machine place our hollow chocolate bar on the conveyer belt… then the fillings were sprinkled inside…. then the whole thing was coated in milk chocolate.  (So everybody actually ended up with a milk chocolate bar in the end… some just get a white or dark chocolate base under the milk chocolate. 

While the chocolate is cooling we personalized our wrappers on another set of computer screens… then we shuffled back out to watch the cooled chocolate bars ride another conveyer to the packaging area. Our tickets are scanned one last time before the nice Hershey’s people packed the bars into a tin box and then the personalized wrapper.  


In typical amusement park fashion, every attraction dumps you out in the shopping area. There were tons of Hershey’s candies and souvenirs available…. but I’d rather wait and buy clearanced Halloween candy… same stuff, way cheaper. There was also a huge food court, but we came after lunch and we were going back to Piazza Sorrentos for dinner so we didn’t bother with the food court. 

Hershey’s Chocolate World was a fun way to spend an afternoon… I wouldn’t suggest making a special trip to Pennslyvania just to visit Chcolate World, but if you’re already staying at the Hotel (which I think you should) and visiting the Spa (which is a great reason the visit Pennsylvania all by itself), then sure, visit Chocolate World. It’s not Disney by any means, but it’s an enjoyable attraction. 

Chocolate Spa Day

Mom and I had the most wonderful day!  We spent the entire day at the Spa at the Hershey Hotel.

We hadn’t initially planned to visit Pennsylvania, but Michigan was colder than we were enjoying and a lot of places had already started to close.  So we breezed through Michigan and curved around through Pennsylvania.  As soon as Brian mentioned Pennsylvania I screamed ‘Hershey!!!’  Which totally freaked mom and the cats out, but mom understood the yelling when I showed her the website for the Spa at the Hershey Hotel.

I lucked out and was able to get appointments for us later the same week. Chocolate Dipped Coconut Immersion. Doesn’t that just sound like heaven?!

The perfect summer Chocolate Spa experience combines the sweet tropical aroma and super-hydrating properties of our exfoliating Coconut Sugar Scrub with the moisturizing and skin soothing benefits of our rich Chocolate Fondue Wrap. It’s a delicious head-to-toe treat for your skin!

Chocolate Fondue Wrap – Our exclusive formula of warmed moor mud and essence of cocoa revitalizes and nourishes the skin as it relaxes the body. A luxurious body brushing is followed by the fondue application. The body is then wrapped in a soft warm blanket to enhance the total effect. A Vichy Shower rinse culminates the effect.

Coconut Sugar Scrub – This sweet scrub will leave your skin silky soft and best of all … chocolately smooth!

We arrived way early, but we roamed around and looked at the gift shops in the hotel and then checked in for our appointments. They’d said we could come as early as we wanted and hang out in the relaxation rooms.

We checked in and were assigned a hostess who showed us around the Spa, locker/dressing rooms, steam room and the relaxation rooms. This place is fabulous! 

Our hostess gave us robes and slippers and then showed us how to work the electronic locks on the lockers.

Normally for a massage they suggest that you undress to your level of comfort…. usually recommending you strip down to panties. Since we were getting a coconut scrub our hostess said we’d probably want to strip completely since anything left on would get soaked during the Vichy Shower. Glad those robes were thick and snugly!


After undressing and storing our stuff in the lockers we wandered through the three Relaxation Rooms before settling in the Quiet Room. The other two rooms were smaller and you weren’t supposed to talk. Yeah… like Mom and I were gonna be quiet?!

The room was beautiful. Rich, dark wood panels on the walls, coffered ceiling and a gorgeous fireplace dominating the far wall. Mom and I settled into the cozy leather chairs with a cup of hot chocolate (not hot cocoa… hot chocolate.  Liquid chocolate. In a cup. Hot.) Bowls of purple and silver Hershey’s Kisses sat on tables around the room. Heaven.

Before long our therapist came and softly called our names. Mom’s appointment was a half hour before mine so I played around trying to take the perfect picture of the Hershey’s Kisses and then hunted for a place to go to dinner after our appointments. 

My therapist was super sweet. We chatted about Jacksonville… she’d attended a Russian Bible School in the area. Her parents immigrated from Russia before she was born and we talked about the current political BS over immigration. Honestly, what would America be like without all of the immigrants?  I’m sure the Native American would sure appreciate it, but most of the rest of us would need to get the hell out. I’m third generation American…. I’ve got a bit of Native American so maybe they’d let me stay…. but would I really want to?  Isn’t the diversity what makes America interesting?  I mean… just think of the foods that we’d be missing!! And the accents and languages that have blended together. I know I’ve wondered off onto what might be called a political track… but not really… hate and exclusionary ideology does effect us everyday and everywhere. I like my blended country. I like that an Irish/German/Native American girl and a Russian girl can meet at a day spa and be friends. Why would we ever want that possibility to go away?

Back to the spa:

So I enter the spa room… and immediately think ‘Shit! I’ve unwittingly committed myself to a sanitarium.’

The walls were covered, floor to ceiling, with white ceramic tile. The white tiled floor sloped gently toward the drain middle of the room. A table stood in the middle of the room covered in sheets of plastic. Over the table, jutting out from the wall on a long silver arm, hung seven shower heads.

Dear gods, I’m in the hydrotherapy chamber.

My therapist explained the treatment… which still sounded vaguely like a treatment in an asylum… but with chocolate. Oh well…. I was already here… and there was chocolate.  If I’d managed to accidentally commit myself at least I’d done it at Hershey’s.

Remember where I told you that we’d been told that we should probably leave all of our clothes behind?  Yeah… now I was told to lie face up on the table (that was covered in sheets of plastic) and cover myself with two (ridiculously small) towels. Ooookay.

What the hell, right?  It’s a spa… you’re supposed to be body positive… or at least act like you are. This was still way better than the time that I was at a Hot Spring Bath House and the attendant took my towel. Took it!   So fine, here I at least had two towels.

The therapist left while I climbed up on the table and fussed with the towels and tried not to stick to the plastic wrap covering the table.

The treatment started with a coconut sugar body scrub. OMG. Heaven. The scrub felt and smelled delicious and left behind a light oil that soaked into the skin. After the scrub was scrubbed on it was rinsed off with warm water. Then I was instructed to sit up again (I’d already sat up once so that she could scrub my back… I didn’t know there was going to be sit-ups!  I could have eaten more chocolate Kisses!) and she dried off my back and wrapped a few towels around me… then executed this impressive maneuver where the plastic wrap was folded/rolled and swooshed out from under me without getting a drop of water on the other sheet of plastic wrap below.

I settled back into the table and she magically switched out the big drying towels for two new tiny modesty towels…. then came the Chocolate Fondue Wrap. My skin was coated with a rich, delicious smelling chocolate mud. I really wanted to lick my arm, but I was hoping that this was just a ‘trial commitment’ and I’d get to leave later… Once I was completely slathered down with the chocolate mud I was wrapped up in the plastic wrap. Which was a tiny bit freaky, but mostly because I watch a lot of Law & Order and Investigation Discovery…. I tried to convince myself that I was in a cocoon, but mostly I thought I looked a lot more like someone on the ID channel and I wondered which show I might end up on when I went missing. I’m hoping for Homicide Hunter… Lt Joe Kenda is pretty cool…. I bet he could find me! (Of course… I’d be dead… but anyway….) So you see now why it’s so dangerous when my mind starts to wander?  I’ve gone from a lovely spa treatment to an insane asylum to a starring role on Homicide Hunter. I’m dangerous if left alone in my own head. Which is just where I was left (imagining the interviews friends and family would do after I went missing from the Hershey Spa/Sanitarium… ) after I was covered with two more big fluffy towels, a tarp (I swear to god, a blue tarp!) and a heavy blanket. The therapist dimmed the lights and told me that she’d let me nap for a while and then left the room. Of course my nose chose that moment to begin itching.

Either I was left alone for a very short time or I did end up takeing a bit of a nap.

I was uncovered, unwrapped and then it was time for the Vichy Shower… which is apparently what that silver arm with the seven shower heads hanging from the wall was called. It still looked a bit like a water torture device, but once the gentle blast of warm water hit me I was ready to forgive its evil looks.

Once all the chocolate mud was rinsed away the therapist preformed her magic trick (which required a fourth sit-up) and the wet plastic wrap was whisked away and replaced with warm, dry blankets. The shower was followed by a light massage with chocolate scented lotion. (I really wanted to lick my arm.) I dozed and melted into the table while the therapist rinsed the chocolate mud down the drain in the floor and then dried a path for me. I was left alone to ooze from the table and drunkenly find my robe and slippers. Out in the hall my therapist handed me the fancy scrubby brush that came with the package and a bag of purple and silver chocolate Kisses. (Apparently a reward for all those sit-ups!)

I found Mom reading a magazine in the Quiet Room and together we made our way to the dressing room and finally back out into the rainy Pennsylvania night.

We were both starved and not quite willing to have our day of decadence end just yet. I found a restaurant nearby with stellar reviews on the Find Me Gluten Free app so we decide to give it a try.

Piazza Sorrento was absolutely fabulous!  I asked for a gluten-free menu when we were seated and as soon a our waitress arrived she said ‘I see you have the GF menus, are there any other allergies or dietary concerns that I should be aware of?’ Wow!  Usually you have to point that out 15 times… she asked us!  (I heard her asking the other tables throughout the night if there were any dietary concerns… and I heard at least two other tables had GF people too.)

The food was insanely good. Mom and I decided to split everything because I was already drooling over appetizers and desserts… and they brought us GF bread to dip in the olive oil and crushed pepper. 

We shared an order of Hot Crab Dip with GF bread…. Lasagna and Chocolate Lava Cake with ice cream. Each plate came with a little slip of paper that said ‘gluten free choice.’  Just one more touch to make us GF people feel safe.

I’m so glad that I got to share such a fun and decadent day with my mom. She has always done so much for me.  I love being able to take her to new places and spoil her back.

If you’re ever in Pennsylvania… scratch that…. Go to Pennsylvania and stay at the Hershey Hotel (the hotel was beautiful too) and spend a whole day at the spa. Also, you should definitely visit Piazza Sorrento… and go hungry!

Lenwood Lake Campground

Lenwood Lake Campground in West Bend, WI was our second ‘home’ on our Fall Colors Tour. 

I’m still pretty new to this whole RV Lifestyle. I’m generally a 5 Star Hotel kinda girl, so living out of an RV has been a whole new world for me. Don’t get me wrong, we’re still certainly not ‘roughing it’ in our RV. It’s bigger than many apartments and has more bells and whistles than I know what to do with. We’ve got a bathroom and a shower with plenty of hot water, a decent sized kitchen and satellite tv…. I’m not suffering here. Campgrounds are still something to get used to though. The amenities vary widely. Even though our RV is designed so that we could go a few days without water or electric hookups it’s far more comfortable with than without. With that in mind, Brian has been trying to pick campgrounds with full hookups and onsite facilities. Traveling north as we enter the winter season has made that more of a challenge. Many campgrounds were already shut down or would be by the time we arrived. 

We arrived at Lenwood Lake Campground during the last week of their season. We actually spent an additional day there after their official close, but they were aware of our schedule and kindly let us stay the extra day. 

Lenwood was a nice enough campground with a pretty beach and playground area. There weren’t any laundry facilities onsite, but there was a very nice laundromat about 20 minutes away in Cedarburg. 


The bathrooms were clean, but they smelled ‘old’.  Not sure of any other way to describe the smell… it wasn’t dirty or mildew-y…. they just smelled old…. but they were very clean. 


The shower was clean too… but creepy looking… not a chance in hell that I was stepping in there. 


Nope. Just nope. 

All in all, Lenwood Lake Campground was a nice place to stay in Westbend, WI. It was centrally located to Cedarburg, Milwaukee and the other little shopping towns in the area.  The bathrooms were clean, but I wouldn’t plan on using the showers. Since water hookups included with the sites it wasn’t a problem for us anyway. 

There were other sites that had prettier views of the lake, but since we were leaving after they closed they put us up at the front of the campground. If we were to visit this campground again I’d ask for one of the sites overlooking the lake. Though if you were traveling with kids you might prefer the front of the campground since it is closer to the playground and the beach. 

Door County Wisconsin

Okay, I’m really behind on posting. No good reason for it really…. just nothing terribly exciting. We’re still having a good time on our adventure, but more in the way of ‘Gee, that was nice’ as opposed to ‘OMG!  Wait ’till I post this!’  

Door County, Wisconsin was fun. Lots of pretty countryside and picturesque sites. 

We went to the Sister Bay Fall Festival one afternoon.  I thought it was a bigger event, but apparently when Brian and I visited last year there were a couple different festivals going on around the county and I’d just squooshed them together in my mind. The one Festival was still fun… just not as big as I’d made it in my head…. so it didn’t take nearly as long to see the crafts and then be done for the day. 

Goats on the roof of Al Johnson’s… eating the grass roof!

Mom and I are getting seriously claustrophobic in that RV so we kinda revolted when Brian wanted to go back after the festival. I pouted until he said we could go look at the damn lighthouses (he didn’t say ‘damn’ outloud, but you could still hear it implied).  


Boo was not the least bit impressed by the (damn) lighthouse. Admittedly, it wasn’t the most impressive lighthouse, but it did keep us out and about a lot longer. Of course there wasn’t any parking available near the light house, but Brian had (foolishly) handed me the map of the park and I’d noticed a walking trail from another parking lot through the woods to the light house… it didn’t look like a long trail… it was only like an inch or two on the map!  (1.5 miles.. each way.) 


I kept trying to get a cute shot of Boo leading me through the woods… the light was so pretty filtering down through autumn leaves and Boo looked so adorable trotting down the trail. I finally convinced Mom and Brian to keep walking so that Boo would keep walking  so that I could take the picture…. and I promptly got tangled up in her leash, stomped on her paw and rolled my ankle over a tree limb. Boo’d had enough of me and my stupid camera after that and I apologized and carried her the rest of the way back. 

The next day was grey and rainy and Mom and I were clawing at the windows…. we don’t do well with confinement. Brian had enough of me and Mom so he told us to go out and entertain ourselves. (You can imagine how well that went over.) 

Door County is filled with cute little touristy areas on a peninsula… there’s not a lot of trouble we could get into and since it was a peninsula I probably couldn’t manage to get too lost…. but fine!  We’d go entertain ourselves… hrump! 

So we went shopping…. at every antique store on the whole damn peninsula. 


I found the deviled egg dish that I’d been hunting….


and the Syrup pitcher! 

Grandma used to collect Early American Press Cut glass (EAPC) – Star of David pattern. I loved her collection and I loved that she USED it.  It wasn’t like she collected it and it went on a shelf… she liked it, she’d find it at yard sales and she’d buy pieces for a quarter and use them. I used to borrow her fancier pieces, like the punch bowl and the platters for parties. When she passed I got her collection and I’ve been adding to it slowly. I have these rules for collecting though… I’m not paying crazy Antique Store prices for any piece. Most pieces can be found at yard sales for $.25 – $1.00. Everybody’s grandma had a few pieces so they’re always turning up at yard sales. There are a few ‘rare’ pieces that I’m missing, but I’m not paying $25-$50 for ’em. I’ve had my hands on both the syrup pitcher and the egg dish in the past, but never for less than $25……  I got both of these pieces for less than $20!!!  


I also found these cool Torpedo (or bullet or boudoir) lamps!  (Don’t say anything dirty about my lamps… I think they’re cool.) I’d never seen anything like them before… and they were on sale!  Brian will have to put new electrical cords on them… one has a wear spot on it that makes me nervous. So shiny! 


I still hadn’t had enough retail therapy by that point… and we were still gonna show Brian how much fun we could get into on our own… so we stopped for lunch at the Cookery. Mom and I each ordered a sandwich and then traded half. New discovery!  Cream cheese and cherry jam tastes fabulous on oven roasted turkey slices! (With gluten free bread, of course.) Oh! And applesauce with cherries is equally delicious. It wasn’t that mushy, baby food applesauce… this was thick, chunky, cinnamon-y applesauce with tart cherries. OMG!  I bought a jar of the applesauce to take back and show Brian all the awesomeness that he’d missed out on. 

It was still pretty early, even after we’d sat and talked over iced tea and cherry lemonades…. so we decided to just drive around the whole damn peninsula. I checked the gas ‘range’ thingie on the car… I had 130 miles and I figured that’d be plenty… so off we went! 


When the gods built me they didn’t waste a lot of internal space (space that could be dedicated to my tummy for stuffing full of all kinds of yummy food) on a silly thing like a bladder…. I’m pretty sure they gave me and extra-extra small bladder. Also, I am part raccoon. (You didn’t know that, did ya?). Well it’s true….. and I can’t eat a meal without a ton of water… or iced tea…. and those two factors (which are completely beyond my control!) have led me to some pretty interesting bathroom stops. 

Me: Mom, I’m gonna die if we don’t stop. 

Mom: Again?!

Anyway… so I stopped to pee… again. And as I was wandering around the far side of the gas station (why is the bathroom all the way around the back of the scary gas station?  Are they trying to make it easier for the serial killers?) I noticed a walkway that lead down to a beach. It was blocked off, but I leaned around the Do Not Enter signs and noticed what looked like a public park just a ways down. So… my teeny tiny bladder isn’t all bad. (Have you seen that R/X commercial where this cute bladder is leading this lady to the bathroom all the time and then she gets mad and yells at it… in public… and then takes it to the doctor and gives it drugs. I feel so sorry for that bladder… that lady should be more open to the interesting places that her badder leads her to… also…. she’s hallucinating a giant pink bladder… who’s the one who needs drugs, huh?) 


Anyway, so Mom and I found this really cool park with a little…. jetty?  Mini-peninsula? Long hunk of land that led out into the water…. and we walked out and I took pictures while this wicked looking storm rolled in and brought equally wicked looking waves.  And then my fingers froze off because I was trying to get a photo of the water crashing over the rocks… and I got wet… and my fingers froze off. It was a really pretty park…. and we’d have never even noticed it if it weren’t for my ridiculously tiny bladder. Also the park had a bathroom so we stopped there too before we left.  (Someone really needs to monitor my liquid intake.) 

By that time it was starting to get dark and we were pretty cold… and all the shops were closing…. so we decided that we’d punished Brian enough… and we headed home. When we got back Brian had made pizza… from scratch…. so we forgave him. 

The next day, apparently Brian had  learned his lesson (or perhaps he’d seen the credit card summary…) and decide it was better to go with us. 

Mom wanted to take the ferry to Washington Island… so we loaded up in the car… I mentioned that Brian should maybe check the gas before we got too far….. and headed to the ferry. 


I’ve been on lots of boats and ferries and I’ve never gotten sick… I love boats!  I don’t generally get car sick (as long as I’m not in the back), but apparently the combination of ‘car on boat’ does make me sick. The ferry had barely left the dock before my stomach started to roll. I opened the sun roof hoping that I just needed air, but that wasn’t nearly enough air. I rolled the window down and leaned my whole head and torso out the window…. for the whole trip. Mom and Brian were fine. Boo was jealous that I got to hang my head out the window and we won’t let her do that. 


There wasn’t a whole lot to do on the island… it’s a tiny island…. but we stopped at an art school shop that’s sells things that the artist make. I bought this beautiful hand-dyed yarn and a crochet needle. Nope, I don’t know how to crochet, I’m a knitter .. but I’ve decide Mom can teach me. She crocheted… 30 years ago… and I’ve picked out a really complicated pattern… what could go wrong!? 


We stopped at this beach that had these cool rounded limestone rocks. It was pretty, but there were signs saying that we couldn’t take the rocks and no dog allowed…. (yeah…. ’cause Boo would have caused all sorts of trouble, but that kid throwing rocks everywhere was fine, huh?) It probably would have been more fun to visit in the summer and play in the water.. as it was, the beach was pretty…


We also visited two lavender farms on the island… mostly because they were there and we thought we should… not because either mom or I actually like lavender.  I had a relative that had issues as a child… and lavender was supposed to be calming. Mom would slather him down with lavender until he smelled like a little French whore…. I wonder if he has flashbacks to those miserable days when he smells lavender?  I can’t stand the smell anymore…. so the lavender farm was pretty, but not the most relaxing stop for us. 

Brian made us leave after the lavender farm. He was worried that we’d miss the last boat off the island. 


The water was much rougher on the way back. I didn’t even try to stay in the car. I headed straight to the top deck. I nearly froze to death, but I loved the ride back… bumpy and wavy… I just need air and I’m fine. Boo was royally pissed. She was in her puppy pouch, under my coat and wrapped in my scarf. She was not impressed at all. 


We caught a couple of farmers markets in Door County before we left. I got this huge bouquet of flowers (dahlias and cabbage roses) for $8.00….OMG! Of course I hadn’t packed a vase so I had to improvise. I sliced the top off a milk jug and stuck a rock at the bottom for weight The flowers lasted quite a while and the cats didn’t even chew off the petals! 

Brown County State Park

Brown County State Park was our first stop on our Fall Colors Tour…. and our first State Park campground. 

I saw Brown County State Park recommended on Pinterest. There seemed to be a lot of pretty trails and tree-lined drives that would be pretty in the fall. 


The campsites didn’t have water or sewer hookups, but there was a dump station and a place where you could fill your water tanks in the campsite area. The sites did have electric hookups. There were nice bathrooms and shower facilities right in the center of the campground. They were clean and nicely lit…. with tons of hot water. 

*just noticed something that I didn’t even realize until we were at a new campground. The showers at Brown County State Park had doors like bathroom stalls… with a lock. Not a deadbolt, or anything, but at least they had a real door instead of just a shower curtain!  


The park is huge and the campsites are way deep into the park. While the park is centrally located to the downtown Brown County shops it takes a while to get out of the park. It’s still a good location, but it’s not like you’re out to town in five minutes. There were other campgrounds that were closer to town, but I liked being in the park. The facilities were nice and I liked being so close to all the hiking trails. 


The spaces were large enough and included plenty of room for the RV and the car and trailer. There was also a picnic table and fire pit at each site. There were large trees dotted around the campground…. it was pretty.  

I do wish there had been some kind of a buffer between the campsites. Everybody had a fire in their fire pit and the smoke was kind of overwhelming… even in the RV with the windows closed. The campground and park are pet friendly…. but my little monster doesn’t like other dogs hanging around her RV. A little bit of trees or bushes in between the sites would have helped block Boo’s view of the other furry neighbors. (She has something against Beagles…) 


I would definitely recommend the Brown County State Park. The park is great for hiking or taking trail rides. They also had a number of events… though we managed to keep ourselves plenty busy doing other things around the area. 

*Brian said that I should mention that our campsite was pretty level, but some of the others that we saw had quite a bit of slope to them. He suggests that you be sure to look at the photos of the sites on the reservation page before choosing one. 

Apple Dump Cake

It’s been a boring, yucky couple of days around the RV.  Yesterday I woke up with another headache and just generally felt crappy.  It was moving day, but Mom and Brian let me be a big baby and they handled most of the packing up (which mostly consists of stowing loose stuff so that it doesn’t fly around the RV while we’re moving) and loading the car on the tailer.  It was only a three hour drive from West Bend to Door County, most of which I slept…. ON MY ARM!  I’m not sure how long I sleeping on my arm, but when I woke up it was gone.  From my fingers all the way up to my elbow…. the whole arm was missing. Don’t worry… it came back to life… eventually.

Our new RV site is really pretty.  All the RV sites are separated by trees and tucked back into pretty little wooded areas.  Very peaceful and secluded. I took a couple photos yesterday, but I wasn’t feeling really into it.. my head still hurt.  Mom and Brian took our laundry up to the on site laundromat (yay!) and left me to take a hot shower and more aspirin.  Which seemed like a good idea when they left…. but then Boo and I realized that we were all alone… in the dark…. in the woods.  So we locked the door…. and forgot to turn the porch/awning lights on…. so we locked Mom and Brian out in the dark, scary woods.  (oops)

This morning we woke to heavy rain and overcast skies.  Boo was freaked by the heavy rain and thunder and she ran around the RV looking for a good place to hide.  Brian finally piled the pillows up on the bed into a nice fort for her to hide in and she was okay then.

Our plan for the day had been to visit the shops in Door County, but that sounded like a lot less fun in the rain.  We caught up on a few of the shows we’d managed to record on the DVR.  (I cannot wait until we can have Netflix again… I’ve missed so many shows.  I’m going to need to spend a month binge watching to catch up!)

I tend to bake when I’m bored, but in the RV we only have this little convection/microwave oven thingie.  It’s worked pretty well on the few things that I’ve tried so far, but I haven’t tried anything major.  Since I had the time and I was super bored… I thought I’d give it a try today.

I took inspiration from one of my favorite bloggers, Sweet Recipea’s, Caramel Apple Cookie Cobbler.  I adore Peabody, but her recipes are SO not gluten free…. mostly I just drool over her pictures, but I figured this recipe could be modified to GF fairly easily.  I divided the recipe in half since I only have the mini oven to work with.  And I also added crystalized ginger… because for some reason, Mom and I both had 2 jars (each)…. and pecans, ’cause, why not?

 

Apple Dump Cake

Ingredients

  • 3 large apples (I used Honeycrisp), peeled and diced
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1 cup Pamela’s Products GF Spice Cake Mix
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup Crystalized Ginger, chopped
  • 1/4 cup Pecans, chopped

Instructions

  1. In a large pan over medium heat add apples, sugar, and lemon juice. Let it cook until the apples are tender and juicy.
  2. Grease an 8×8-inch baking dish with butter.
  3. Sprinkle cake mix over the top of the apples.
  4. Sprinkle pecans & crystalized ginger over the cake mix.
  5. Pour melted butter over the cake mix.
  6. Bake at 350F for 40 minutes or until top is golden brown.
  7. Serve warm

Not a fan of Frank

I don’t like Frank Lloyd Wright.  Don’t tell Brian, okay?  I just cannot stand the man…. and I’m not entirely sure why…. No, no…. I know why I wouldn’t like to be friends with him… He sounds like an overbearing ass.  Three wives, at least one long term mistress… pushy, and arrogant…. and his stupid houses leaked!

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So, sure…. We wouldn’t have been pals.  But he’s dead… so It’s not like we were gonna hang out anyway…. So why do I want to punch this guy in the face every time we walk into one of his houses?  Maybe it has something to do with the way people talk about him.  The guides at the FLW houses sound like cult members…. they’re all gleeful and awed and speak in hushed tone that should be reserved for the tombs of pharaohs…  Okay, so I want to punch them too….. I don’t know why this guy provokes me so much! Brian keeps trying to remind me that what he was doing was so impressive and unique for the time period.  It’s not the architecture so much…. I think it’s just the man himself that makes me angry, but I’m not sure why…… why it matters…. why he bothers me so much…. Maybe he really pissed me off in a past life and I’m still holding a grudge?  Geeze, Stephanie!  Let it go, huh?

Brian and I visited another one of the Frank Lloyd Wright houses during our Fall Colors Tour of Wisconsin.  Since FLW houses are not pup friendly (or kid friendly… hell, even people friendly!) and the house was two hours away from where we were staying, we left Mom and Boo at the RV and Brian and I went to visit Taliesin on our own.

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While I’m not a huge fan of FLW’s architecture, I do like certain elements of his designs.  I like what he did with windows, especially at the Taliesin house.  I loved the huge windows and the little wooden details that he would add to the corners.  I like the mix of stone and glass.  I like his taste in art too. Taliesin was filled with art works that he brought back from Japan.  And FLW thought that you should ‘live’ with the art, not hide it behind glass. So there are numerous sculptures scattered throughout the house and gardens.

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Apparently I also like FLW’s gardening style.  Brian took a bunch of pictures of the house… I maybe took one or two, but mostly because I knew I was going to blog about our visit and figured I needed a photo of the place.  When I went back through my photos I apparently just took photos of the gardens.  (Oh! Oh!!! That’s another thing!  Some of the FLW houses they won’t let you take photos inside the house… Why!?)

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Of the FLW houses that we have seen, and admittedly, it’s only been three so far.. I liked Taliesen the best.  This house felt far more ‘livable’ and inviting…. and I just adored the gardens.

Cheese Curds & Apple Wine

The morning started out windy and rainy. I’ve discovered that I like the sound of the rain on the top of the RV. It’s not quite the patter of raindrops on the metal porch roof at my old house, but it does have a pleasant ‘plunk’ that lends well to burrowing beneath the covers and sleeping in late. 

The weather seems to have turned here in Wisconsin and decide to be ‘fall’ now. The leaves are starting to turn as well. It is a perfect time to be in Wisconsin. Actually, it’s an especially perfect time to be in Wisconsin, since our Missouri homes have sold and our Florida house hasen’t even begun to be built yet. Now with Hurricane Matthew wreaking havoc in our future home state we’re better off being ‘homeless’ at the moment. 

Brian had planned on taking us to a Fall Festival today, but apparently he’d mixed up two festivals and the one that was today was actually six hours away.  Oops. Poor Brian… my contribution to planning is to send him a bunch of random links and pictures from Pinterest and figure he’ll smooosh them all together into something awesome and organized. Actually…. he has no one to blame but himself, cause that usually works out just fine. 

I googled around a bit and found a winery and a cheese shop nearby and we decide to make today a lazy day.  We ate a late lunch of leftovers in the RV and then headed out to the winery. 

Armstrong Apple Orchard & Winery in nearby Campbellsport, WI offers a nice variety of Apple wines, a few hard ciders, regular wines and fresh picked apples. 


Brian was our designated driver… and basically ignored us as best he could while Mom and I sampled our way through far more wine than we normally (or should) consume at a time. The winery had a nice cushy couch near a huge window looking out into the orchard… and good cell service, so he was fine. 


I pretty much loved everything they put in front of me. I like sweet wine. I don’t even begin to understand how people can drink dry wine… why?! Just why?! I am not a wine connoisseur by any means. I like sweet, fruity, crisp and (usually) white wine. The Apple wines were my kind of wine… I even liked the hard cider that they warned me was much drier than the wines. 


Boo sat in her puppy pooch and seemed to enjoy the wine tasting. I think she just likes hanging out with us and meeting new people. She’s becoming a very well traveled pup. 

Mom and I agreed that we needed the Chocolate Raspberry wine 

CHOCOLATE RASPBERRY We took the finished Raspberry Wine and added a dark chocolate to give you this amazing dessert wine. It starts off with the aromatic chocolate and finishes with the raspberry taste. 

And the Hot Apple Wine –

 

Hot Apple wine has a hint of chilli peppers and is our sweetest apple wine. It goes great with anything spicy like salsa or nachoes. It only warms you up a little, it doesn’t make you sweat, honest. 

We packed up our wine purchases, a bag of Honeycrip apples and our souvenir wine glasses (I forgot to pack wine glasses!) and headed out to find cheese.  


There was a cute little area of pumpkins outside the winery and I tried to convince Boo to let me get a few photos of her. Little stink!  I had to bribe her with treats to get her to hold still and smile. Brian was standing beside her to get her to stay on the wall and Mom was standing behind me snapping and whistling. I’m sure we looked like a bunch of drunken loons…. but I did get some cute photos… so it was worth it. 

Baker Cheese Store was just a few miles down the road from the winery… (See why I like Wisconsin?  You just drive around windy back roads and find cheese, wine and art!) I’ve been telling Mom about cheese curds since Brian and I visited Wisconsin last year and I finally had the chance to have Mom try squeaky cheese. She’s bought it from the grocery store at home, but it’s just not the same. FRESH cheese curds are warm (these bags were just sitting on the counter at room temperature) and when you eat them they are slightly rubbery and they squeak against your teeth. Yes, it sounds wierd, but they taste good and they’re fun. We also bought FRESH string cheese… packaged this morning… and a tub of port wine cheese and a tub of chocolate fudge cheese.  I’m not so sure about that last one, but Mom wanted to try it, so what the hell. 

Boo was in heaven!  Cheese is her favorite thing in the world. 

It was still pretty early after we’d stocked up on cheese, apples and wine….what else could we possibly need?  Exercise, perhaps?!  Yeah. So I googled ‘attractions’ in Google Maps and Parnell Fire Tower popped up nearby. (We find more weird and interesting thing by just searching around us on Google Maps.) 


Boo was not impressed with the bazillion steps that needed to be hiked to even get to the tower, so… Brian carried her. She doesn’t quite seem to get this ‘hiking’ thing.  Or maybe she does…?


Then there are even more stairs once you get to the tower. It’s 60 feet up…. but the view is worth every step. 


That seemed like more than enough exercise for one day, so we headed back home to the RV to snack on our new cheeses and wine.

Cedarburg, WI

I had a miserable night last night.  I started out with a little headache and I’d hoped that it would go away while I slept.  Nope.  It was one of those nights where the pain pooled in the crevices and hollows of my skull like liquid acid.  Rolling from one side to the other only caused the pain to slosh across fresh, tender brain matter where the acid gnawed its way into the brain and bones on the other side.  I got up sometime during the night and took some aspirin and got a warmie for my neck.  I should have gotten something to eat while I was up… I know better…. When I have one of those headaches I usually have some kind of blood sugar issue going on.  My Grandma used to call them ‘Sick Headaches’.  Getting her food and/or sleep schedule thrown off would bring on a ‘Sick Headache’.  I lucked out and didn’t have a major headache today too…. just a little off and on ache… hungry and then not hungry. I’ve had worse.


Brian, a fan of architecture, wanted to see some of the Frank Lloyd Wright houses today. I’m not a huge fan of FLW…. actually, I dislike FLW houses….. I think they’re uncomfortable, ugly and overly impressed with themselves… but Brian likes them.  I knew that Boo wasn’t welcome on any of the FLW tours so Mom and I agreed that one of us would go with Brian and one would stay in the car with Boo.  Since I was tired anyway, I said I’d be happy to stay in the car and Boo and I would read…. maybe take a walk around the grounds.  At Wingspread there was supposed to be a walkway out to a lighthouse or something…. it was on their map in the parking lot. Yeah… no… no walking on the grounds.  Gods forbid we walk around unchaperoned.  Boo and I got sent back to the front parking lot.  The lady, very politely, told us if we wanted to walk we could walk back up the driveway.  Oooookkaay.  Boo and I sat in the car and waited for Mom and Brian to return.  Boo and I remain unimpressed with Frank Lloyd Wright and his leaky houses.


After the FLW tour we headed to the historic town of Cedarburg, WI.  We’ll be going back again this weekend for their Fall Festival, but I figured that the town would be crowed this weekend and if we wanted to see the shops, we should go during the week. It’s a pretty little town.  Lots of old building and interesting shops, but living in the RV has really dampened my shopping abilities for the moment.  I don’t have anywhere to store anything that I buy and since the new house isn’t even built, I don’t know where anything would go anyway.  I did want to check out Amy’s Candy Kitchen though.  I’d read drool worthy reviews of the gourmet candy apples and just had to sample them for myself.


Yup…. heaven on a stick!


We finished off our tour of Cedarburg with a visit to the last remaining covered bridge in Wisconsin.  I’ve got a thing for covered bridges.


We snapped a bunch of photos and then headed back to town for dinner.  


After dinner Mom and I ran into Piggly Wiggly for some groceries.  It was surprisingly civilized for a place called ‘Piggly Wiggly.’