Once upon a time – well, twenty-six times – I have had a birthday. Though I suppose I’ve only had one ‘birthday’, and have had many celebrations of said birthday. This year, I found myself in a position where I absolutely wanted to do something for my birthday. Husband, in all his goodness, said “okay. What are we doing?” at which point I took to the internet to brainstorm. So here’s what happened.
I found this website, TravelZoo, which is kind of like Groupon for travel-related things. In the middle-of-nowhere Pennsylvania, there was this ‘country inn’ with a gourmet restaurant and a brewpub all on site. The TravelZoo deal was, “you can have a room, drinks at the pub, custom beer glasses to take home, and a $40 credit at the fine dining restaurant” for (insert price that is $30 less than the cost of just the room here). TA DA. Birthday adventure bargain it is.
So on Saturday, once my class was done at 12:30 (more on that in… another post) we trekked Northward on our adventure. Pennsylvania’s kind of pretty, you know. Very nice for adventuring. Along the way, we needed to stop a few times… and this happened. There is a Sheetz with a custom FroYo bar, y’all. It’s in Monroe, Pennsylvania for your planning purposes.
Moving on. We made it to our destination right at check-in time and I managed to bump up our dinner reservation, so we found ourselves eating our Fancy Dinner as the sun set. The dining room was built like a greenhouse, with windows all along one side and the roof. The trees in the yard were decked out in white Christmas lights and made it feel, well, Fancy.
Our Fancy Food was, in a word, scrumptious and tasted all the better knowing we had a credit for our meal. Fancy Food ain’t cheap, y’all, but there are bargains to be found everywhere. We split some Szechuan chicken wings to start, with pickled celery and wasabi blue cheese. Whoa, flavor. In between, they brought us a mini-dish of soba noodle salad with rare tuna. Birthday discovery: I actually like tuna! When it looks like a fish, not pureed canned stuff. Lemon sorbet to clean the palate came in next…followed by dinner. I had snapper, Husband had pork tenderloin, all was well. Then they brought us the dessert menu. Did we need dessert? Of course not. But it’s my birthday and such. So the massive frosted brownie with raspberries, creme anglaise (a thing I learned on the Food Network actually showed up on my plate!) and raspberry sorbet somehow managed to be demolished by the two of us. They even lit a candle for me! Sadly, this is the only picture I remembered to take, and the window screens in our room are making their presence known. Alas. It was snowy and pretty!
Post-dinner, we headed to our room to….watch Jeopardy! (Yes, really). And then of course, we headed over to their brewpub to cash in our free drinks for the bargain birthday celebration. Their brewpub is a giant barn. A really nice looking barn, kinda like that “rustic chic” wedding thing that’s going on lately, but a barn. Pretty sweet. Suffice to say, their brewmaster is well employed.
But wait! There’s more! After a fab night’s sleep, we feasted on a breakfast that included cheesy grits and sausage. Birthday discovery: cheesy grits are kinda yummy. Never thought I’d say that. We adventured to the local parish, St. Columba, and spent approximately twenty minutes finding a legal parking space in a town with very narrow streets and massive accumulations of snow and ice. We were treated to a great homily (love when that happens), and commenced our adventure Southward with a final destination of Lancaster.
Why Lancaster, you ask? Because I’ve never been there, and Husband’s never been there, and it’s supposed to be an adventure, goshdarnit. We stayed in a renovated cork factory hotel, because I like quirky things like that, and “adventured” around town. Note, on a cold day, this meant: we saw the big St. Mary’s but couldn’t get in; drove past the nice-looking ballpark a few times; were shocked at the grandiose nature of the Lancaster train station; made our way back to the hotel to warm up. Alas. Sometimes adventures go like that.
Off we went, on foot, to the local Lancaster Brewing Company. (Yes, I planned that). We opted to skip the tour because honestly, you’ve seen one brewery…you’ve seen them all. We did not opt to skip the sampler. I mean, if their job is to craft excellent drinks, you want to be a fair and impartial judge and try them all, right?
We took our time, to say the least, and tried them all (along with some fab food, like my wild mushroom pizza). Fortunately we have different tastes and were able to split up our samples. I must say the espresso stout was likely my favorite to be followed by the “Double Chocolate Milk Stout” which was effectively Hershey’s Syrup For Grown-Ups.
Later on in the evening, we tested out the hotel’s capacity for desserts and they went Above And Beyond delicious with a peanut butter-chocolate-mousse-thing that was perfect.
And then Monday came. My actual birthday! Off we went to experience the Turkey Hill Experience.
Husband was not happy to take a picture of me with a giant cow, but did it anyway. That’s Love.
For the next hour-and-a-half I acted like a complete child and had fun learning about cows, iced tea, and ice cream. I had more than my fair share of free ice cream samples, and those are not small samples. I wore my Turkey Hill hat with pride and played all the games. The following photo is a complete representation of how I spent my morning. It was fun, fabulous, and I wasn’t at work so it was exactly what I asked for. God knew what he was doing when he paired me with a guy who would be willing to spend an entire weekend adventuring with almost no actual plans, just for the sake of doing so. What a gift 🙂