In mid-October, my son turned 24 on a lovely weekend with near-perfect weather. My friend Audrey drove up that Friday evening and, after a gut-busting big breakfast the next morning, she, my daughter, and I headed an hour west to Lincoln to spend the day with the birthday boy.
As if to harken back to a time when my kids were little, I took them to a pumpkin patch where we rode some rides, played "spooky" mini-golf, and had a hard cider made just for the pumpkin patch by one of my favorite cideries: Glacial Till.
After pumpkin patch shenanigans, we headed to a winery east of Lincoln called Deer Springs. For the past few years, it has been the place where my son and I stopped for a glass of celebratory wine on his birthday - although I first discovered it with my friend Libby. This year, as a surprise, I also got tickets for their Fall weekend hayrack rides. We sat around a bonfire beforehand, where we enjoyed a glass of wine. The hayrack ride was not only fun but informative; the owner gave us a history of the place before taking us to the edge of the property where another bonfire and s'mores-making awaited.
It was a nostalgically fun day, and after dropping off my daughter who decided to stay for a few days, Audrey and I headed back to Omaha. We arrived late, but happy.
We visited for a few hours the next morning over another gut-buster before she left to return home. Since it was another beautiful, yet slightly drizzly day, I thought it would be the perfect time to combine an autumn drive in the Loess Hills with a mini-hike. It struck me then that when I had talked to my dad earlier in the week he mentioned that he and my stepmom were taking a Loess Hills drive that very day.
I called him up and asked if he was headed North or South - an important distinction as he lives north of me. He said they were heading south so I offered to drive north where we could meet later in the day for supper at a mid-way point.
Plan in hand, I set off. The first stop was a perennial favorite - Hitchcock Nature Center. I decided to leisurely walk the boardwalk, soak in the brilliance of autumn colors, and snap a few photos.
No matter what time of the year, but particularly in the Fall, there's something so transformative about being surrounded by nature. Seeing the trees frame an impossibly majestic background that seems to stretch for miles, with a gentle breeze blowing through your hair and rustling the leaves, while a bird chirps off in the distance; provides an experience that cannot be properly encapsulated in words.
The sky was sprinkling down intermittently by the time I got back to the car, which was fine by me as I was headed up the road.
I stopped along the way to take this photo. It's actually a shot I've wanted to take every time I've driven by it so I felt accomplished in my success.
My second destination was the Harrison County Historical Village, another favorite place that I've talked about here several times over the years. Today my goal was to walk on the trail they have up in the Loess Hills behind the Village.
Pluviophile that I am, nothing makes me happier than an overcast, misty day.
As I weaved my way along the trail toward the top, I turned a corner and was treated to a full rainbow! I can't even remember the last time I saw one of these beauties.
As I moved along, I could see a hint of a double rainbow at one end.
The sun would peek out occasionally from the clouds, the rain cleared up (for a bit), and the rainbow began to fade away.
A view from the top provided expansive views across my beloved Iowa Mountains.
The Sun, briefly.
After my little hike here, I drove into Missouri Valley and met my folks for supper at a local bar and grill there. We lingered over a shared meal and conversation before going our separate ways. It was a perfect autumn weekend.