2012's Second Road Trip
For the last few weeks, my wife has been fighting through physical therapy and the recovery process of back surgery. She has given up on the pain medication prescribed by the doctors and has simply dealt with most of the days' discomforts. About halfway through the rehab time frame, the long road back to full strength has been, at times, frustrating. Yesterday's chore of receiving and dividing 3000 cases of Girl Scout cookies to be distributed to the troop was demanding even in good health.
The alarm clock did little to budge us from the bed. The decision of what to do today was as painful as a root canal, knowing we had to leave the comfort of the bed on this rainy morning. In the clouds outside the window I saw inspiration and maybe a way to break out of "recovery frustration", a spur of the moment road trip. A ride to the farm country of Pennsylvania and the wineries there was in order. Hopefully the rain would hold a lot of the crowd at bay and the wineries open late enough on Sundays to allow for our tardy start.
The highway route to the our first stop had little traffic and we were able to reach the beginning of the wine trail before the opening. With time to spare, we were able to visit Country Junction, an odd mix of a store filled with hardware, furniture, knick-knacks, old-time candy, a pet store, a petting zoo, antiques, and a country diner. The kids loved all the interactive displays and the samples. It is truly a piece of roadside America. The place held enough, and lots more, to kill the half hour before the winery was ready to receive guests.
The Lehigh Valley Wine Trail consists of eight local wineries. It used to have more, but for whatever reasons some places have decided to no longer participate in the trail's events. Each place bottles their own selection of wines. They are spaced, for the most part, approximately ten minutes apart and each has its own special scenery, from soaring, expansive views to cozy farmhouses nestled within plush green valleys. During the month of March, they host a wine pairing event in which each place pairs a popular wine with a favorite homegrown recipe. After the pairing, a visitor can try the rest of the wines offered by the vintners.
This was just the ticket to forget the previous weeks filled with soreness and back pain. It was a welcome change of scenery and pace. The day was filled with back roads and smiling people. After that first winery, the sky would brush away the clouds and the sun would warm our faces. We could open the sunroof and feel the wind. The second winery was just around the corner and the day was just beginning. The third place stood tall above the valleys of the other wineries. It was our first photo op and my kids' first Thai peanut chicken. We dropped down out of the mountains and into the farmland. The old brick homes and stone Amish farmhouses were mixed with new developments but both seemed to respect the other and gave respectful spacing. The wineries were closer together than the first half of the trail but the hospitality was the same.
By 4:30 we had arrived at our last vineyard, a hidden little spot on the backside of a cornfield, only accessible by a dirt road right down the middle of the field. Their fruit wines are sweet and delicious. It was a fitting end to the wine trail. Now, all there was to do was find a good brewery for the designated driver to have a beer and wash the day's dust from his throat. The GPS found a nice place not too far away, down by the river (in all honesty, I secretly made reservations as the rest of the family ambled out of the house in the morning). It is customary for us to end a wine road trip with a stop at a craft beer restaurant. It only seems fair to have a beer and buy a few to keep all the new wines company in the back of the truck.
With full bellies, a wife fuzzy-headed from a day of wines, kids food drunk from generous tastings and larger desserts, and the air cooling, I head for home. The highway traffic again is light. The sun has given way to the moon and I am surrounded by contented snores and the hum of the tires. After shepherding the groggy bunch into the house and their beds, I am left to write about the day's success at relieving some pain, if only for a little while until the healing can finish.