Saturday, October 20, 2012

Comfort Me With Apples

Jeff and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary in August.  Our kids put together a slide show and they honored us at church and gave us a beautiful gift.  Then we went out for dinner at Oregon's only 5-star restaurant, The Painted Lady, which happens to be right in Newberg!  It was fabulous...more than just a meal...a culinary experience for all 5 senses.  We loved it.   Then, this weekend we went back to the Columbia Gorge Hotel, where we got engaged, spent our wedding night, and our 5th anniversary.  We plan to celebrate in some way each season of the year...thoroughly enjoying our anniversary and making it memorable.

Since we enjoy going to the Hood River Apple Festival, we thought we'd plan our fall celebration around that, since our engagement and wedding night hotel just so happens to be in Hood River.  The weather forecast wasn't in our favor, but somehow we danced around the rain the whole weekend!  The clouds parted for us as soon as we entered the gorge, and by the time we had checked into the hotel the sun was shining.  We took advantage of that and went for a walk through the beautiful and extensive gardens surrounding the hotel...and down to the waterfall where Jeff proposed more than 25 years ago.  It's still beautiful.  I think Jeff did an amazing job picking that spot...especially considering that "back in our day," big, spectacular proposals weren't the trend they are now.  (I actually feel sorry for young couples who have to bear the pressure of coming up with a bigger, better bang of a proposal because it has to be shared with 1000 of their Facebook friends and a million strangers on You Tube!  I was so not like that when I was 21.  In fact, after Jeff asked me to marry him but before he could kiss me, I made him walk with me away from the waterfall, which was the focal point for the diners in the hotel restaurant above us, because I didn't want my first kiss to be viewed by an audience of strangers!  But I guess things are different now!

After walking, we went for a delicious dinner and then the rain began to fall.  But that was actually quite nice, because our room had a fireplace.  So Jeff worked on his sermon and I read (I always bring a pile of projects to work on whenever I travel, but this time I caught up on pleasure reading!).  Then we ate popcorn and watched a movie in bed (which is something we can't and would never do at home because we don't and never will have a TV in our bedroom), and then we did what we always do before going to sleep...

We read our Bibles together.  Yep.  I'm totally serious.  How do you think you stay happily married for 25 years? 

I woke at 6:30 as usual.  I contemplated the luxury of sleeping in, but then I thought of all I wanted to do before check-out, so I slipped quietly out of bed, got dressed, grabbed my camera, and headed outside into the barely-dawn, fresh-washed morning...and was instantly glad I didn't sleep in.  By the time the sun had fully risen I was ready for breakfast.  So I went back to my room and made a pot of french-pressed coffee and ate yogurt, berries and granola.  Then, while Jeff headed out for his coffee (home-brewed is never good enough for him), I took a bubble bath in the big, deep, old-fashioned tub!  That is also something I never do.  And I set my laptop on the little marble side table and played soothing music, and I read!  I honestly can't remember the last time I did that...10 years?  After that long, luxurious bath there was still time to sit by the fire and read some more, although Jeff made me turn off my music when he returned.  He hates my soft, girlie, romantic music...almost as bad as Christmas music!  (See why we read our Bibles every night?  We just might argue over turning off the Christmas music if we don't!)

We checked out at 11 and took the beautiful scenic highway up the mountain and into the Hood River Valley.  We decided we should pick apples first, because the clouds were banking towards the south.  It was easy picking, but the fruit was cold and wet after a night of rain and my gloves were soon soaked.  But I ate one of those rain-washed, night-chilled apples right off the tree, and I honestly think it might have been the best apple I've ever eaten!  From there we drove over to the Apple Valley Country Store for some cherry-wood smoked ribs, truly fall-apart tender!  By this time a brisk breeze had started up.  Although it definitely made the air chilly, it also stirred up all the bright leaves and whirled them around us like colorful ticker-tape.  It was so quintessially fall!  We browsed the store to warm up and bought a marionberry hand-pie because we hadn't eaten enough lunch, and then drove all the way back into town and down to the river to the apple festival grounds where we searched to no avail for apple-cider donuts.  Disappointed, we got a coffee for the road and headed home as the first rain drops fell.  By the time we hit the highway, it was pouring.  We were pretty pleased with our timing!  As we were nearing home, I remembered a pumpkin patch I had visited once with my mom that served both apple-cider donuts and pumpkin-spice donuts, so we made a side-stop there and found sweet success!  And the rain let up just at that moment!  When we got home, it started pouring again...then hailing!  But now it felt great to be cozy in the house with a cup of tea and a box full of apples waiting to be sliced into pie.  We ate the warm donuts with the kids and settled comfortably back into routine.  Perfect fall day...perfect fall anniversary celebration!

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