Monday, April 12, 2010
This past weekend Annie and I surprised our excellent pal, massage therapist extraordinaire and partner-in-crime since 2002 (Annie and Kat go further back, but we're gonna go by my timeline, here) with a superbly awesome girls' getaway trip to Harbor Country, Michigan.
I had never thought about Michigan in that way, before.
I have been a fool.
For starters, we sent Kat a text on Thursday afternoon, saying she'd receive instructions the following night. An actual reply text: "I get INSTRUCTIONS? Like, go to the graveyard. Bring pennies and string. Tell no one?"
I replied that apparently she no longer needed instructions.
But the following night we told her to pack a bag with a few different types of outfits and to be ready the next morning at 10ish. When we picked her up and she tossed her bag in the trunk, she seemly awfully surprised that WE had weekend bags in there, too. (I guess one of our closest friends thinks that a "birthday surprise weekend" entails us dropping her off somewhere, alone.)
We crossed into Indiana. She seemed even more surprised. But when we hit Michigan her responses turned supersonic. "Two state lines!" We wondered to ourselves if maybe we should've checked with her parole officer. Or Annie's. (I don't have a parole officer. I've never been caught.)
Ninety miles outside of Chicago proper is the town of Sawyer, Michigan, quite possibly the cutest place ever. As we pulled into the Rabbit Run Inn, we were greeted by three dogs peering out of the "office" half door. One was a greyhound. I love greyhounds. Our room was called The Seagrass Room and it was downright decadent. It had a private porch that overlooked the koi pond and the grounds. It was a short walk to the beach. (Also, to the neighbors' property where they seemed to be having a rip roaring time until- oh, two in the morning. There was a bonfire and a spirited game of what Annie errantly called 'bunghole.' "I knew it was wrong!") And now it is in print.
The vineyards- oh, the vineyards. I had mistakenly believed that nothing amazing could come from a Midwestern winery, when in fact I sampled what may be the BEST PINOT NOIR EVER at Domaine Berrien. Also, a Viognier. And a nice table red. Also- the Cabernet Franc. And something with a 'G.'
After enjoying the tasting room, we bought a bottle, some cheese, crackers and tapenade and stayed awhile on their lovely deck overlooking the vineyard and pond. (What is it with Michigan and ponds? Also- hanging plates on the wall. In the inn, the wineries, the diner- the gas station. Decorative plates.) This part of the day was especially fabulous, as the weather was in the 70s and, well, we were sitting on a winery deck with wine and cheese and each other. Even better was when a huge gust of wind blew the napkins and plates off of the table, forcing Annie to jump up and 'rawr' after them like an impressive Velociraptor. She got them all! And I almost fell out of my chair.
Next was the Round Barn Winery, up the road in an actual Amish barn. There was a tasting bar that encircled the entire structure- and it was elbow to elbow with people when we arrived. It took a soft-spoken Brit (Annie) to get space at the bar for her friends who were content to sit on the ground (Keely and Kat.) The deal at the Barn was that for 7.50, one would buy their tasting glass- and they would FILL IT with no less than five types of wine, one dessert wine, a vodka sample or martini AND you'd get a beer token to take to the adjacent beer barn. (They had a beer barn, too!) My samples included a Blanc de Noir (we all decided this was an excellent New Year's Eve wine), a lovely Riesling (for some reason my tasting notes on this one stated that "Annie has a crisis"), a Gewurztraimer (excellent with Mexican cuisine, forcing me to exclaim rather loudly that I was looking for a good taco wine), a Cranberry wine ("Is this alcoholic?" "No, but I think we kinda are"), a sweet Redel Doux (Kat- "I feel like someone just shoved a grape straight up my nose." However, I bought a bottle), and the Apricot dessert wine ("This tastes great but smells like cleaning products." "It really does!"). Then they gave us a sample of their vodka- made from grapes!- mixed into a martini with their cranberry wine. I didn't know you could do that! It was really, really good. Kat said it was Darwinism in a glass. I don't remember why she said this, but it was really apt at the time. And we laughed. A lot.
Once at the beer barn, I got a cocoa stout, I think Annie got an IPA and Kat ordered the mother-pucker (oh, you guys) which was a sourish beer that Kat could not drink, as she's allergic to hops. So we drank it! Happy birthday, Kat!
Back to the Inn to sit on our porch and stare at the koi pond. I took a break to pump (sorry, but this was a big ol' subplot of the weekend- Kat and Annie frequently acknowledged the rhythmic sounds and compared it to various animals having little animal issues.) THEN we got all dressed up and went to Tabor Hill Vineyard for dinner. Since we had missed a tasting at this winery, we each got two separate glasses with dinner and shared them about. I started with the Cab Franc rose with our incredible appetizers of polenta fries with white truffle oil dipping sauces AND a smoked salmon flatbread, and moved on to a Classic Demi Sec (Bob Hope's favorite! That sure is why I ordered it!) with my rad dinner of tempura lobster in nori. We also got this really cool side dish of "potato salad" that was anything but- sliced and friend potatoes, slivers of green beans, blue cheese, a vinagrette...and some other awesome stuff. (I actually brought that back to the room and ate it for breakfast with a spiced muffin.)
Perhaps the best part of the dinner, though? The 17 year-old busboy who simply could not stop hitting on us. I say this with all modesty. Really. I think he would've hit on the chairs had we vacated them. It started with pouring glasses of water and telling us "what a treat it was to see three beautiful smiles" that night. Aw, we thought. Aren't you cute. Next go-round was a comment that we seemed like a lot of fun. Yes, yes we do. And then he casually dropped the fact that he got off at ten! I almost offered to drop him off at the sitter's house.
However. Incredible meal. We capped off the evening by taking two bottles back to the Inn for our "evening." Okay- proof that we are no longer 24? We only got through one of the bottles, decided that the porch was "too chilly" and passed out in our beds, tucked in and with jammies by 1am. Sure, there was some concern regarding a lamp "we'd hafta keep an eye on" and at one point I laughed until I almost peed (it really wouldn't be one of my stories without it), but for the most part it was pretty tame.
And I slept! Sure, I woke up around 4:45am just to look at the clock (apparently Nora woke up in Chicago around then, too) and then every half hour, just to peer at the clock and acknowledge that it was, in fact, okay to be sleeping. Still counted as a great night's sleep- on an insanely comfy bed. I may or may not have starfished out into Annie's territory (I was snuggling!) but she's too polite to mind.
The next morning we went to the Blue Plate Cafe for brunch- I ordered the smoked salmon and bagel (it was whole wheat- "That's all we have, I think") and it came scrambled up in eggs. Which was not previously mentioned. But it was fine. (I'll admit it- I'm a breakfast snob. My parents and their restaurant have ruined me with awesomeness.) We had a very earnest waiter that I nicknamed 'Earnest.' He was all about being a waiter. It was appreciated.
And then antiquing! Which truly gives a new meaning to the term Adult Weekend. I bought Peej a squirrel doorstop (for our bedroom door that slams whenever an upstairs window is open) and an antique brass door knocker with various keys on the ring. Quite cool- and not a little bit Jacob Marley. Annie started a teacup collection. With one teacup. But it's an excellent start. I had Antiques Regret as we pulled away from the second shop- there had been this vintage green "lizard skin" handbag with a funky handle that I coveted (the tag read Genuine Reptile(!!)- but at 65 bucks, we had to love from afar.
And then homeward bound. It was a fabulous weekend- but I was superbly excited to see my li'l miss, home with her Dad. I had been extremely nervous about leaving her, even for 28 hours, but they were fine, I was fine, the pump was fine, the bottles of wine in the trunk were fine...
...and somehow, turning 30 seems fine. I think the three of us are ready.
(In two months.)