Perhaps it takes having multiple children to realize the perfection in going away and just doing nothing. In the past, Neil and I have looked forward to anniversary trips as a chance to travel, explore different cities, find new restaurants, do lots of cool things, and come home exhausted. This year, we stuck close to home. We truly relaxed and spent quiet, quality time with each other. We tried very hard to have no schedule, no interruptions, no rush. We hardly went anywhere or did anything. And I think we'd both agree, number six was our best anniversary yet.
It helps that we found the most idyllic place on earth to stay, a mere 20 miles from home. We rented a cabin for the weekend, just outside Platteville. It's in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by fields and forest, complete with fireplace, whirlpool tub and all the whimsical touches you could desire. We truly never wanted to leave, and it truly was perfect. If you're looking for somewhere like this, I highly, highly recommend Walnut Ridge. It really seemed like the owners have stayed there themselves; everything was right where you wanted it, just where you needed it, perfectly comfortable, perfectly convenient...perfectly perfect!
We started out the weekend with a shopping trip to Hy Vee. We sipped coffee and chatted as browsed the aisles for our weekend wares. We took our time choosing cheese, wine, snacks, specialty beer and steaks for Saturday's dinner. And let me say, unless you have kids, you won't realize what a treat this is! But it was. We spent almost an hour in the grocery store! And it was fabulous!
From there, we headed to 111 Main in Galena for dinner. (Once again...highest recommendations!) We decided to try their four course seasonal tasting menu, and it was fantastic! We took our time chatting over our appetizer of apple cider pork sliders. We tried to guess the herbs in delicious course number two; sweet potato-chipotle soup. (We were way off! Basil and chives was our guess...turned out to be rosemary and parsley...what!? And we call ourselves good cooks!) We both had fun sampling the other's main course, chili-sugar cured duck breast over sour cabbage and potatoes for Neil and butternut squash ravioli with leeks, carrots and sage cream for me. And then (obviously) when we got to the dessert course, (pumpkin maple cheesecake with maple raspberry drizzle), we were so full that we couldn't do much justice in the eating. So we mostly admired, and then got it to go.
From there, we headed to the wilds of Platteville, accompanied by our (non-kid) music and good conversation. We'd been the the cabin a couple times before, but walking in was just...magical. We lit a fire in the fireplace. Then we exchanged gifts. We like to follow the traditional yearly gifts, putting our own spin on things to make it personal. Number six was our "iron" anniversary, and ironically, Neil got me a new cast-iron dutch oven, and I got him a cast-iron cookbook! What can I say, we're M.F.E.O. (That's Made For Each Other, if you've never seen Sleepless in Seattle!) From there, we enjoyed staying up late drinking wine, enjoying the fire and tub, without a care of being woken up in the night, or early morning...and it was wonderful! I'll spare you the details and the photos of us lounging about in robes, so really, there's not much more to tell!
In the morning, we slept until we felt like getting up, stayed in bed as long as we wanted, and when we got hungry, went to the porch to discover what the "breakfast fairy" had left for us. This is yet another fun Walnut Ridge touch, and it's always exciting to see what the battered yellow basket holds! We enjoyed muffins, pastries, juice and coffee by the fire, and just took our time...heavenly!
We headed into Platteville to get some coffee and poke around for an hour or so, which was the only diversion we needed for the day. I found a fun thrift store and scored some cozy new sweaters, while Neil was just happy to take some model shots under the sign for (the sadly no-longer existent) O'Neill's pub!
We headed back to the cabin for some lunch (pumpkin soup, bread and cheese, and white wine), a leisurely stint reading books in the tub, and an evening nap! We started cooking dinner at about 9pm. (See what I mean about no schedule? Wine for lunch? Sure! Afternoon bath? Why not? Evening nap? Yes please! Late night dinner? Of course.) We cooked steak with whisky-cream sauce, shrimp, baked poatoes, stuffed peppers, and mushrooms. We ate by the fire and it was wonderful. We finished up the evening by enjoying our traditional chocolate ganache cake and cracking open our "anniversary wine", the famous Rockway Glen Baco Noir, Vintage 2005, just like us! And it was just as good as we remembered!
Sunday morning, after we'd eaten our "last" breakfast (mini-egg bakes with ham and cheese), taken a "last" bath, had a "last" fire, and packed up (with much sadness), we headed back to Galena for a bit of shopping and some lunch. We found great gifts for the kiddos and our wonderful babysitters. We had a fun time exploring all the shops and looking for interesting and out of the ordinary trinkets, foodstuff and books. We enjoyed fish and chips and a pint at the Irish pub. Then we headed back to Dubuque, and after a quick coffee and browse at the book store, it was time to go home. We lamented the ending of a great weekend, but actually were excited to get home and see the boys. I think that means it was just about perfect!
I really can't begin to say how wonderful this trip was. It was so nice to be able to slow down, reconnect, enjoy our time and just have fun together. We reminisced about the last six years, and thought about the future. We realized anew how much we have to be thankful for. And I think it's safe to say that we came home ready to get back to real life with some renewed vigor and enthusiasm. Stu and Becky, thank-you from the bottom of our hearts! We know the boys had so much fun with you (and the rest of the Pitman crew!) and it was so nice to be away and not have to give their well-being a single thought. You are dearly loved as siblings, and much appreciated as babysitters! I think we'll do it again, exactly the same, for anniversary seven!