Summer Vacation 2023: Part One

A recent Friday night at my happy place: Soaring Wings Vineyard

Hello, friends. In my last post, I mentioned that I was on vacation. I planned my vacation for the last two weeks of June but since that would put me back at work on Monday, July 3rd, and because the 4th is a holiday, it seemed silly to come back for one day. So, I took the 3rd off, too. This means that between vacation days, weekends, and the 4th of July holiday, I had 18 days off. I needed it, I really, really, REALLY did. I think we all need a good chunk of time away from work a few times a year to just relax, which is exactly what I did - although plenty of fun was also involved. 

Since I'm going to Europe next year, I decided to make this a more cost-efficient vacation. Instead of flying somewhere far away, I spent my time hanging out with my closest friends, the friends I don't get to see much of, taking various short trips, grabbing another high point (finally!), and being with my kids. 

I left work on Friday, June 16th and with all these days off ahead of me I didn't waste any time. A coworker friend and I headed out to my favorite Friday night spot in the Summer: Soaring Wings Vineyard.

In the Summer, the vineyard has live music on Friday nights for $5. The cheapest bottle of wine is $16 and you can bring your own food in, a rarity in the winery world. So, we enjoyed live music, wine, food, and good conversation. It was a great way to start off a long vacation. Apparently, the wine was going down good because I couldn't take a clear picture to save my life. haha!

The next morning, I had a long, leisurely morning drinking coffee and relaxing. I finally motivated myself to shower and pack for a short jaunt up North to spend the weekend with one of my besties, Amy.

She greeted me with this bottle (not my photo, obvs) of Rhubarb Gin her husband had brought back from his recent trip to Iceland. Made by Reykjavik Distillery, this gin was sweet and amazingly delicious, with a hint of tartness from the rhubarb. We had some drinks, watched both Knives Out movies, and relaxed.

The next day, we took a drive out to her family farm, a place I hadn't been to in over 30 years, so it was a nostalgic journey. She drove me around the fields, talking about what's she doing with the land and her future plans for it all. Since she didn't have to work the next day, which was Juneteenth, I drove back home late in the evening.

The next afternoon, Monday, I ventured up to the Benson neighborhood to hang out with my friend Maggie, someone I don't get to see very often. We started off by going to Barchen Beer Garden for supper and drinks. 

We went to another bar a few doors down for a drink after that, before landing at our third, and final, stop of the evening: Eleven Eleven, a wine bar. This wasn't here the last time I went out in Benson, so it was nice to see this establishment up here. 


The next day, after another leisurely morning of nursing a mild hangover, my daughter and I made the hour drive West to spend a couple of days hanging out with my son in Lincoln, NE. We went swimming at his friend's apartment complex and stayed up late doing our hair, talking, and playing games. 

I have a wife-husband friend who also lives in Lincoln, so I got together with them the next evening in the downtown area for drinks and supper. After a few beers at Kinkaider, we walked to Tipsy Tina's for Mexican food and a goblet of cider. Yum!

We headed back home Thursday evening and I spent the rest of the night relaxing, as well as most of Friday. On Saturday, my bestie, Rebecca, and I drove down to Brownville, NE to see the museums, the winery, and spend the night at a riverboat hotel - along with a riverboat dinner cruise. I'll do a separate post for that.

That following Tuesday was my daughter's birthday, and my son had come home the evening before to celebrate and prepare for our upcoming vacation. Her dad came over that afternoon, and we all packed into the car to get outside for a while. We ended up on the banks of the Platte River.

The kids skipped rocks and I got a decent photo of a raptor flying overhead. I believe it's a red-tailed hawk, but I'm not 100% positive.

Right across the road from the Platte is Schramm State Recreation Area, a place I've hiked hundreds of times over the past 15 years. Although we didn't hike this day, we had to stop and climb around on the park's geologic rock wall.

My kiddos!

The next day, Wednesday, was spent buying groceries and packing up that and our gear into the car for our four-night camping trip on the Mississippi River in Eastern Iowa. 

We hit the road early, Thursday, and made a pit stop at the Iowa 80 Truckstop, the World's Largest Truckstop. They're not kidding either.

There were old cars around the place.

As well as a myriad of shops. The green sign in the upper right-hand corner tells one that there are showers, a barber, a movie theatre, a dentist, and public laundry on the second floor.

There is also a handful of restaurants in restaurant row that reminded me of a mall food court. This side is more like the gas station side while the other side is a legitimate truck stop for truckers to get gear, parts, and supplies for their rig. Between the two are the myriad of shops I mentioned earlier.

A mural adorns the wall next to the dining area. Directly off to the right is an arcade.

Goodbye, World's Largest Truckstop! Our destination was only a thirty-minute drive from here so it didn't take us long to reach it after this.

We did so many cool things during our trip to Eastern Iowa that each day deserves its own post. I will get those edited and out in what I hope to be in a timely manner.

Until then, have a great weekend friends!



Popular Posts