There isn’t anyone who enjoys spending time with their family more than I do. Just when life gets crazy and I don’t think I can handle much more stress, something like Hermann Oktoberfest arrives! I knew this weekend would be fun, memories would be made, and a lot of wine would be drank. But, the trip surpassed my expectations and of course it was a memory for the books. For those of you who don’t know – my family has this strange luck of a highly ridiculous situation that could only happen to us occurs on every adventure we embark upon together. Whenever these events happen to us someone usually concludes the event by saying “making a memory.” At this point it has almost become a game and the highlight of anything we do. Someday I will share some of our many memory experiences, but for today I will tell you about our trip and the memory that was made this weekend.
Saturday morning we work up early to get a good start on our trip. Needing to leave the house by 8 at the latest, naturally we rolled out around 8:20am. Our weekend driver, Gene, who has been making this trip for 25 years, was not impressed we were getting a late start and was convinced to make the time up in driving. In all seriousness we did have wine waiting for us! After hitting traffic on I-70, several bathroom stops, and a loose antenna slamming against the window for an hour and a half; we were in search of the Sweet Springs breakfast pit stop to fill our tummies. Come to find out, Sweet Springs Café had shut their doors since last year, along with Bobber Café, Boonville Café, and every other breakfast place along the highway. Hint, the start of a memory. At this point we were starving, anything would have made do. I was even contemplating opening up the Ziploc of summer sausage and pepper jack cheese. But, next exit – Rocheport, Missouri – In case you haven’t heard of Rocheport, it is supposed to be this amazing little gem, hidden with great wine, antique shops, and cute cafés. We did see the wine, glanced in a few shops, and then found Abigail’s Café. Our group of seven thought we hit gold when my Mom walked in and confirmed they were in fact open. The staff told her yes and we all headed in like we owned the place; however, we were stopped at the door by a woman holding a knife, apparently they were not opening for another 30 minutes. Obviously, already behind schedule we didn’t have time to wait around for lunch. So, we were lucky enough to find the best café along the 237.7 mile stretch of the Katy Trail. The Trailside Café known to the locals is where we would enjoy breakfast on this beautiful Saturday morning. As we approached the doors and the flashing open sign we thought we had struck gold. Not even thrown off by the cook out back smoking on a milk crate and playing a hand held Gameboy. (By the way, they still make those?) We walked in the doors and started looking thru the ONE menu they had on the counter. We probably should have known when all of the totals were coming up different that this wasn’t quiet as smooth of an operation as we thought it would be. The cashier, who had not come down off her high from the night before couldn’t figure out how much anything was, and used about 30 minutes (of time we didn’t have) to ring our order up. My cousin Max asked for French Toast and the cook was so put out by the request he told Max “They were really just too busy to be able to make French Toast.” Keep in mind, we were the first ones in there and at the time there was only one other couple behind us. After sitting for another half hour our plates slowly starting coming out one by one, with the wrong freezing food, the nastiest eggs I have ever smelt, and some missing items we paid for. The food might have taken a little longer because some man rocking Garth’s early 90’s hairdo (Garth from Wayne’s World) purchased the pancake batter from the store after we ordered and then began mixing.) Literally by this point everyone was beyond frustrated, the gourd table decorations couldn’t even bring a smile to our faces. Max went to the counter and just asked if we could have our money back for the missing items so we could leave, since we were out of time. The cook replied with the world class customer service answer of “Man, give me a break here.” Needless to say, we walked out five dollars richer and packed into the car to resume the rest of our trip. One thing was different for this part of the car ride; our trusty friend Bud Light would be joining us. I don’t think a beer ever tasted so good. The sound of that can popping open was the mutual relief we needed, making a memory!
On the road again it didn’t take much longer until we arrived at the Best Value Inn, Hermann, MO. I have never stayed at anything other than a B and B in Hermann, and I don’t think I plan on changing that after this stay. We thought for 80 bucks a night the place would be nice. Boy, were we wrong again. Maybe they just missed cleaning our rooms, replacing our mattresses, or washing our towels. Regardless, we were in Hermann and it was time to enjoy the trip! We went to 3 different wineries and they were all great. First, we made a stop to Adam Puchta’s. We tasted quickly and came out with an entire case of wine. They have my favorite wine, Adam’s Choice; it is sweet and refreshing but not quite a dessert wine. Somehow, Patrick and I got carded, but Max didn’t. Aunt Sheryl used the double wide port-a-potty and we got a cold bottle of wine for the car. Then, we headed to a beautiful winery, but it was a little far away. We had to stop at a gas station to use the facilities because none of us could make the 20 minute drive. Hint, we were already having a good time! After we tasted and picked up an additional 2 cases of wine we went out to the hill and took pictures. The grapes looked awesome with the changing fall trees in the background. And, I looked down on my shirt to see a Ladybug, love you Grandpa! (In my family a lady bug signifies by Grandpa Bob who passed away 10 years ago.) We took some pictures, grabbed another bottle of cold wine and headed to our third and final stop. Blumenhof! This is the best one of all, the location is perfect. They have the best live band, a stage for dancing, and large groups of tables to lay out our spread. We set out all of our snacks and began enjoying what we came for. We danced for a couple of hours, mainly with a 75-year-old man who changed our lives (according to him) and some of us sampled smoked oysters. I declined the offer, maybe next time. I could not have planned a better trip, the day was perfect, the weather way beautiful, and the company was the best part! There is nothing like enjoying times like those with people you care about so much. That night we headed to the barrel bar to watch the Cardinal’s game and enjoy some adult beverages. It was a success, the Cards won and we definitely had our fair share of the bar. Patrick scored a free Bud Select, but that’s not my story to tell! We ran into people we knew and celebrated the weekend together as a family! Gene got us home pretty early and which was pretty good considering the other people at the hotel probably didn’t like us too much even around 10pm. The next morning we woke up early, and we actually had an amazing breakfast! It was the first meal we had eaten since Friday night, and the prices on the menu were accurate. Patrick and Mom got what was called the diet plate. Let me explain the diet plate – biscuits, sausage, eggs, and hash browns all smothered in gravy. Truly a diet plate for sure! After breakfast was over we headed back to KC. What a trip! It was a great time, lots of laughs, and some unforgettable memories. I am so thankful for the time I have with my family and the fun things we did together. I can’t wait for next year; however the meal planning situation will be at the top of my priority list! We already scoped out where we will eat breakfast next year, as long as they are not closed! Here are some pictures from the trip. Hermann Oktoberfest 2011 – Heather, Patrick, Debbie, Sheryl, Max, Gene, and Norma!