In Pursuit of the Poppy Paparazzi
After a day and a quarter of unimaginable fun and hijinx in Fredericksburg, our cousins – the Globetrotters – had to return to Houston. That left only the Cap’n and I to find trouble. So, we decided to follow these guys to see what they were up to. They had been making frequent appearances in droves on Main Street – yet did not appear to be there for the purpose of shopping in quaint stores or touring vineyards.
On Sunday, we found out their true destination – Willow City Loop.
Willow City Loop is a bit outside of town, and is known for its scenery. It is also known for being a private road, and has many postings, such as this one, warning that you should not get out of your car.
You will also see many of these signs:
But, this is the only loose livestock we saw:
Note that these people were not in cars. This herd seemed oblivious to threats, and were willing to make any sacrifice, apparently, to get a good photo.
And there were many good photo opportunities to be had. This is wildflower season in Texas, and this year they seem to be particularly bountiful.
I managed to get a few good pics myself – without getting a ticket, jumping out of a moving car, being flattened by a motorcycle, or getting shot by an angry Texas ranch owner.
So, that is how we concluded the Great Cap’n Firepants 40th Birthday Celebration Weekend – following a bunch of hogs to heaven.
You Can’t Find this Stuff at Macy’s
Although Fredericksburg may not compare to Rodeo Drive in California, it is known for being a Texas Hill Country shopping mecca. After heartily imbibing Grape Creek wine on Saturday, we returned to downtown to be certain we did not miss out on any one-of-a-kind-items-that-must-be-had-at-any-price.
I think Cap’n Firepants and Mr. Globetrotter made it one block before they ditched Mrs. Globetrotter and I for another round at Fredericksburg Brewing Company.
What do they sell in Fredericksburg? These signs will give you an idea.
One place Mrs. Globetrotter and I had to investigate was Dogologie, which, I suppose, fits into the “Everything” category -although it does sell canine couture. That’s where we met the cute pup I featured in Sunday’s post. You can probably guess from the name of the store what type of products are sold there. I was actually shopping for a gift for Mrs. P.I.B. (who turned 11 on April 1st) that would be Wonderbutt-proof. I am hoping it will be another candidate for a P.A.W. Award from Wonderbutt.
It turns out that Dogologie is not the only animal-friendly store in Fredericksburg. Several stores have resident canines.
One even had some newborn kittens.
Our animal encounters were the only part of our weekend get-away that Dimples was sorry she missed (other than seeing our Globetrotter cousins). The Cap’n and I were thankful that Dimples was not present during the kitten sighting. That could have resulted in a major schism in the Firepants family from which we, and the town of Fredericksburg, might not have been able to recover…
Note to Self: Do NOT Bring Your Credit Card on a Wine Tour
So, it turns out that when the Firepants and Globetrotter contingents get together, we are lushes. That certainly was not the intention for the Grand Birthday Celebration of Cap’n Firepants, but when you get 4 adults together (sans dogs and kids) in Fredericksburg, Texas, and you start out the weekend at a place called Fredericksburg Brewing Company, moving on that evening to the Lincoln Street Wine & Cigar Bar, well, what can you expect?
The following day, we had scheduled a tour of one of the local vineyards. Oenophiles and sommeliers will quite likely be shocked by, and perhaps a bit skeptical of, my next statement. Unbeknownst to us, the area around Fredericksburg is the second most visited wine region in the United States, second only to Napa Valley, according to Orbitz Travel!
That piece of trivia was one of many that we accumulated during our tour of the Grape Creek Vineyard. Our seemingly knowledgable guide taught us all kinds of things we did not know. I am reticent to call him an expert because A.) There was no one else there to contradict him and 2.) We were so snockered by the end of the tour that I probably won’t remember any of his “facts” correctly anyway. Throughout our tour, all I could think of was that none of the steps in the wine-making process that he was describing occurred in the famous I Love Lucy grape-stomping episode. And that, to me, is the ultimate reference guide to wine-making.
For example, he informed us that the only difference between red and white wines is that the skin of the grapes is completely removed from the wine-making process for whites. I am pretty sure he is wrong on this. Purple grapes make red wine. Green grapes make white wine. And pink grapes make blush. (And brown cows make chocolate milk, by the way.)
Also, according to the guide, this is the handy gadget used to remove the leaves and stems from the grapes. I am confident he was really showing us a giant cheese grater.
The fun started once we entered the building. We began the “barrel tour”, and got to taste the wine being made in three different barrels. Our guide was quite generous with the “tastes.”
As I debated whether I should surreptitiously pour my third “taste” into a nearby sink (since it was only 12:30 in the afternoon, and I really kind of wanted to be somewhat cognizant during the remainder of the day), our guide said that it was about time to move on to the tasting portion of our tour – where we would get to taste six different wines from the bottle.
I’m sure it is no coincidence that the 8th wine I tasted that day was the best one I have ever had.
I’m not going to tell you how many bottles of wine we eventually bought. But I will say this: if I owned a company, I would definitely adopt this business model. Get ’em drunk and lead them to the gift shop. I’m surprised someone doesn’t shove a shot glass of tequila into my hands every time I walk into the mall.
Now, Who’s the Control Freak?
Anyone who has ever met my husband, Cap’n Firepants, will probably agree with me that “spontaneous” would not be included in his list of character traits. Unless you were to say, “He is a man who might spontaneously combust if you throw him into unpredictable situations.” Therefore, on the Cap’n’s 40th birthday a couple of weeks ago, I felt that I was doing him a favor by at least giving him a card with the directions to not plan anything for the last weekend in March. I felt like two weeks would be ample time for him to prepare for an “unplanned” adventure. In retrospect, it does not seem very logical, I suppose, to tell a man whose father had a heart attack on his 40th birthday that I am going to take him to an unknown place using an unknown method of transportation to participate in unknown activities at an approximate date and time.
I finally revealed where were going the day before the trip. Cap’n Firepants seemed happy to be leaving town, and that we would be using the automobile as our sole method of transportation. I probably could have told him that we were heading to a shack in Death Valley, and he would have been fine as long as we didn’t have to fly.
As usual, several factors conspired to make us leave later than planned. Which added to my stress level because I had another surprise waiting for him in Fredericksburg – our destination point. But, we finally left town, and I allowed him to choose our route as long as he promised not to offend my virgin ears with streams of obscenities if we ran into any traffic. Which we did. And he didn’t.
We arrived in Fredericksburg, and I immediately rushed the Cap’n to drop off our bags at the hotel and walk to Main Street, declaring that we had reservations at a local restaurant, the Fredericksburg Brewing Company, for dinner.
We did not have reservations. As a matter of fact, Fredericksburg Brewing Company does not even accept reservations. And that could have ruined the next surprise.
Entering the restaurant, my moment of truth swiftly greeted me. If something didn’t happen before the hostess swooped on us, I was going to have to admit that we had no reservation, and the Cap’n was going to
think receive further confirmation that I am a lunatic for rushing him for no reason. Or, I could start yelling at the hostess, claiming that someone on the phone had taken my reservation, and demanding to be seated at once. Thereby making it Cap’n Firepants’ worse birthday gift ever because he is absolutely mortified by any public confrontations. The last time I asked the waiter to bring a straw that he had promised, the Cap’n turned beet red at my gall.
But then the Cap’n saw them. Our cousins, the Globetrotters, seated casually at one of the tables, waving. They had driven down from Houston to help him to celebrate his
heart attack special birthday.
Surrounded by family – and the immense beer stills of the brewery – the Cap’n was finally able to relax. Of course, that’s only because he didn’t know that I had a couple of other surprises up my sleeve…