Arrington Vineyards in Arrington, TN. This vineyard is owned by Kix Brooks of the music group "Brooks & Dunn". My favorites were dessert wines: Muscat Love & Raspberry. The Raspberry wine is especially good with the specially made truffles that have the Raspberry wine in them. This combination is to die for!! I also liked a few of the white wines: Riesling 2008 and the Gewurztramier. Both are delicious. They had some good red wines but I am just not a big fan of red wines. On the deck they had this very cool "christmas tree" made completely out of horse shoes and strung with white lights. For some reason that picture is just not cooperating on getting posted. I could have sat here and tasted wine all day then went and had a picnic on the deck and enjoyed the scenery.
On our family vacation we took a road trip cross country with Kari, Nate & Elijah's house in North Carolina being the ultimate goal. Friday, June 12 we headed to Iowa to visit Bridgit, Chris, Caitlyn and Natalie for a few days. There we played games, went swimming and climbed the rock wall. Then on the road to St. Louis, MO where we went to the top of the Gateway Arch. The kids thought this was really neat looking at all the cars and boats from way up high. Next to Arrington, TN to Arrington Vineyards. I sampled 6 different wines and felt a little loopy. This was the first time I had had a drink since having Evan so I wasn't surprised. After purchasing 6 bottles of wine we were on our way to Atlanta, GA. We arrived at the hotel in Atlanta a little after midnight and it was 82 degrees!!! The next day was hot and humid and the sun was out in full force. Speaking with some locals they said this wasn't even a hot day!! Guess I could never last in the south!! First stop was Zoo Atlanta where we saw panda bears, reptiles, and lots of babies. A lot of the animals did not have the huge cages around the exhibits like they do here. The giraffes, zebras and ostrich's were roaming free. There was only a fence and a creek that separated us from the animals. It was very neat for the kids to get an opportunity to see the animals this close and to get some great pictures. Next stop was the World of Coca-Cola. The tour was neat with years and years of memorabilia and a neat movie on what happens inside a pop machine. The Coca-Cola panda bear was there taking pictures with guests. He was a hoot. He scared the pants off one lady, and Nick just about dies laughing. Then a girl about Sam's age had a stuffed penguin and he put it in his mouth and was refusing to give it back. Then he snuggled up to a cute gal and gently gave Evan a kiss on the head. The neatest thing was the 4-D movie complete with moving seats, wind and water effects. We got to try different kinds of Coke from all over the world. They have unique flavors from Asia, Africa, Europe and Latin America. Some were pretty good like the sour apple and others were awful (Beverly). We got to take home our own commemorative bottle made only at the World of Coca-Cola factory. Due to the hot and humid weather, and advice from Bridgit, we took a walk over to the Olympic Centennial Park. They have the 5 Olympic rings that are fountains. The kids had a ton of fun and were soaked but cooled off a little. The next day we packed up and headed to North Carolina. We hung out at Nate & Kari's house most of the time and played games, and just chilled. One day we spent at the beach. The kids had tons of fun finding shells, jumping waves and trying to make sand castles. I could definitely live near a beach and spend most of my days there. Listening to the waves is so soothing and jumping waves and running on the sand is a great workout. Plus it provides hours and hours of entertainment for the kids. It was another hot & humid day but a nice breeze from the ocean provided some relief. The ocean water was the perfect temperature to cool off in. Evan slept most of the time but I did take him into the water once. He DID NOT like this water at all!! It was a little chilly and being the warm boy he is I figured it would not sit well. After a few days in North Carolina we headed to Louisville, KY. We ended up staying Lexington, KY. The drive from Lexington to Louisville was absolutely gorgeous!! There were rolling hills and horse ranches on both sides of the highway. Of course it had to be raining so I could not take pictures and the ones through the windows were not doing the beautiful area any justice. I was hoping to be able to take some back roads and enjoy the scenery but unfortunately we were short on time. We went to the Louisville Slugger Museum and toured the factory where they make bats. Unfortunately they do not make bats on Sundays but this was probably better since I am sure it would have been loud for Evan. At the end of the tour we each got our own little bat and being Father's Day, Nicholas got a special "Most Valuable Dad 2009" bat. Next we went to Churchill Downs were the Kentucky Derby is run. Sam, Katarina, Ian and I took a look around the museum and took a tour of the grounds. We were lucky enough to be at Churchill Downs on a race day so we got to see the "locker room" area where the horses are kept and walked around so people can decide which one to bet on. Then the horses were dressed and the jockey's took over. A jockey is around 5'3" tall and weighs between 108-115lbs (finally a job tailored just to me!!). Next the horses and jockeys go out to the track where they take a leisurely lap around the track. Something I didn't know was that usually the first time a jockey ever meets the horse is in the "locker room" area just before the race. Then we got to watch a race. The track was definitely a lot bigger than I thought it would be. Watching the horses come around the corner and listening to their hooves on the dirt was amazing!!! There was one horse that was being particularly stubborn before the race which is the one Sam would have bet on and that horse won!! After a long day in KY we decided the next destination would be Chicago, IL. We took in Navy Pier amusement park and went on a pirate ship ride into Lake Michigan. Next off to the Shedd Aquarium where we went through a "flood season" and how the wildlife changes throughout. Then onto more local aquatic life and finally into the ocean. In the lakes exhibit there was a fish that was about 3 times the size of Evan!! And snakes that were about 8 feet long. Ian really liked the sharks and Katarina loved the corals and colorful fish of the ocean. They had a huge sea turtle that I would guess was at least 5 feet around, just on the bottom of his shell!! Very neat experience, just wish we would have had more time to enjoy it. Then off for home. We decided to drive right through and arrived home around 12:30am on Tuesday, June 23. All in all it was a great trip and we could not have asked for better behaved children, especially in the car. Hopefully this is just the start of many new adventures!!!
Katarina, Nick and Sam climbing the wall. Ian taking a turn at wall climbing. Evan's first time in a swimming pool, at the Waukee, Iowa YMCA. Caitlyn, Natalie, Bridgit and Katarina having fun at the YMCA pool. We finally took a family vacation this summer. Our first stop was Waukee, IA to visit Bridgit, Chris, Caitlyn and Natalie. While in Iowa we had a great time hanging out, playing games, playing the Wii, trying wall climbing and swimming at the local YMCA. They sure have a nice pool and facility, wish Chippewa would get something like it. See our next posts for more of the stops and fun on our 11 day family vacation road trip!!