Category Archives: Family & Friends

Oktoberfest in Hermann, MO

hermannhof

Yesterday Andrew and spent the day in Hermann, Missouri, which is just under an hour and a half west of St. Louis. Some of our close friends from college visit there every year with their family during Oktoberfest, which takes place all throughout the month of October, so they invited us to come along.

Hermann is best known for its multiple wineries, and during Oktoberfest they have all kinds of extra food, drinks, and dancing. Andrew and I had never visited before, but it sounded like it would be a lot of fun and a good way to see some friends we don’t see very often. Hermann is also conveniently right in the middle between us and our friends, so no one as to drive particularly far.

We left early in the morning, packed with some snacks to munch on throughout the day, and arrived about 10:30am. We were early enough that they weren’t terribly busy, and we greeted our friends and their family.

For $20 a person, we could buy a trolley ticket which would stop at each of the wineries on a continuous loop. So we bought our tickets and headed to the first winery, Adam Puchta. There was a $5 cover charge, but this included the music and wine tasting. Of the four we visited, this one was one of the smaller ones, and it was somewhere in the middle of my favorites.

We started with the wine tastings which included six different wines, three red and three white. I wasn’t a big fan of the red wines since they were dry and not very sweet. I liked the white wines a lot more; one even tasted faintly of pineapple. From just those first six wine samples, I was already feeling a bit of a buzz.

From there, our friends bought a couple bottles of the white wine to share and Andrew bought one of the frozen slushy wines (anything frozen is immediately my favorite!) for us to share. We found a picnic table and broke out all of the snacks.  Andrew and I brought an assortment of crackers and cheese; when we went to the grocery store the night before I wasn’t quite sure which would go best with wine, so I just bought everything. :P We brought Gouda, Gruyere, Brie, Babybel, and then sharp and mild Cheddars. We favored the Gouda the best, but they were all very good!

snacks

Our friends also brought strawberries, grapes, cheese dip and chips, and then their own cheese and crackers. I also brought a cheese board that we got as a gift for our wedding. We hadn’t used it before but I thought that this would be the perfect time to use it! It came with four different knives that you could use to cut and spread the cheese. It really came in handy!

We stayed at Adam Puchta’s for about an hour and a half before we hopped on the trolley to the next winery: Stone Hill Winery. We skipped the tasting at this winery because it was more expensive and came with a tour and there were just too many people. I would like to come back another time and do a tour, but it would have to be a lot less busy! This winery was a bit more fun because they had a dance floor, and while I don’t particularly dance, it was so much fun watching out friends and their parents dance. Stone Hill also offered a frozen slushy wine, so I bought another one of those. I even got to take home a souvenir wine glass with it!

Stone Hill

We also stayed here about an hour and a half before moving to the third winery: Hermannhof.

Hermannhof was my least favorite of the four wineries. I think I would have enjoyed it a lot more if it wouldn’t have been Oktoberfest because it was just way too crowded. The tables were really close together and it was in a kind of confined area. There was a lot more dancing and music here than at the others, but there was just too many people. We did another of the samplings and tried a couple of the reds and one white. One of the reds was strawberry flavored and one was raspberry, but we didn’t care for either of those. The white was called Germantown, which I think was their best-seller. I preferred it over the reds but it’s not something that I would order in the future.

The last winery was one of my favorites. Oak Glenn was situated higher on a hill and had the most spectacular view. While the other wineries were cute and quaint, this one really boasted the best view. I’m not sure if this winery was so busy because of the time we came or because it was just popular, but it didn’t feel too crowded despite all of the people there.

Oak Glenn Winery

My friend suggested I try the sangria here as it was one of his favorites, so we got in line. Right before it was our turn, two ladies cut in front of us, and Andrew being very frank and outspoken said, “Sure, go ahead and cut in front of us!” I was embarrassed, but the lady was very friendly, though a little bit drunk.

“Oh, I’m sorry!” She apologized. “My friend used to work here! Did you come for the sangria? Let me buy your drinks!” So she bought our $8 sangrias for us and our friend! And they were so good, but man did I feel the kick later. I can’t remember specifically which wine we bought later, but I remember liking it the most of the ones we tried that day. We wanted to buy some of the sangria, but they didn’t sell it bottled which was a shame.

The only downside of Oak Glenn was that you weren’t allowed to bring in any outside food or drink. Despite that we still had a really good time and ended up staying until they closed at 6pm. After that, we headed to a local bar that our friends said had some really good pizza. At this point in the night is where all of my drinks really started to catch up to me, but I remember the pizza being really good and a very loud rendition of “Family Tradition” by Hank Williams Jr.

I think afterwards we were intending to finish the night at a beer garden, but our friend’s mom went into a club so we all followed. I’m not much of a dancer, but we had so much fun there! Then I got tired all of a sudden so Andrew and I went outside to wait for everyone else. Even though it was only about 8pm, we had had a long day and I was pretty ready to head home. Andrew had sobered up by then, so we hugged everyone and said our goodbyes.

I think this weekend was so much fun because of who we spent it with. Our friends and their family are like a second family to us so it’s always extra fun since we don’t get to see each other as often was we would like. I’m hoping that we can make this an annual tradition and do it again next year!

When it’s Time to Go

Tabor as a puppy

7:00 a.m.

My alarm went off, but I was already awake. The past couple of weeks have been busy, with applying to jobs and Andrew starting work that I haven’t been walking Tabor, my dog, every day like I had been.

Today we were going to make a morning of going to two new parks: Fenton City Park and Laumeier Sculpture Park, both of which are dog-friendly.  They are both about a twenty minute drive from my house, so I was a little nervous as to how Tabor would do on the highway. He loves car rides, but is pretty adamant about having the windows down.

I said the magic words, “Want to go for a ride?” and he started hopping and barking and running in circles. He has always loved car rides, even when he was a little puppy. My parents gave Tabor to me as a Christmas present when I was thirteen years old, and he has been spoiled by numerous car rides since then.

I clipped his leash on to him and he jumped into the driver’s seat. I gave him a look and he reluctantly scooted over to the passenger seat so I could get in.

He was perfect on the drive over. I made sure to bring a bowl so he could drink from some of the park’s water fountains and I brought a water bottle for me.

It was pretty warm, even at 8:00, so we walked as much in the shade as possible and we walked almost the entire two-mile trail around Fenton City Park. As we looped back, I took out the bowl so he could have some water, but the water fountain didn’t work, which I thought was dumb. So I poured him water from my water bottle and made sure he drank it all.

Tabor

One man asked if he could pet Tabor, and I nodded, but warned that he could be a little shy even though he’s such a big dog. The man was wearing a hat, and for some reason hoods and hats scare Tabor, so he kind of hid behind me. Eventually he warmed up to the man and let him pet him. Silly dog.

We drove over to Laumeire Sculpture park, which has a lot of neat modern art sculptures. I noticed a lot of other people there that were playing Pokemon Go, and Tabor just plodded on next to me. One lady that was jogging complimented him on how good he was behaving with all the people around.

I gave Tabor some more water and figured it was time to head home. It was a good morning, but we were both tired and it was getting very hot.

We got home and I got myself some water and sat down to cool off. After a few minutes, I noticed that Tabor had been pacing, and hadn’t laid down yet. He also hadn’t touched his water. That’s odd, I thought, but just figured he was too hot.

About ten minutes later, he started coughing and dry heaving. I rushed him outside, but he never actually threw anything up. My concern was increasing.

He was fine for a few more minutes, but was still pacing, and then started dry heaving again. Unsure what to do, I texted Andrew at work and asked if he was on his break yet.

No response. Tabor starts dry heaving again. I look up his symptoms, but there are many different things it could be, but all articles advised taking him in to be seen. I’m in a bit of denial though; he was fine this morning. Nothing can be seriously wrong with him, right?

Andrew finally calls and I explained what was going on. “Call the vet,” he said. “They are pretty good about advising when there is something wrong, or if he’s just too hot. Try to make him lay down.”

I tried to make him lay down, and like the obedient dog he is, he tried. He hunched his back and spread his hind legs as he did so, and then promptly stood back up. He couldn’t lay down.

Any reservations I had before about calling the vet were now gone. I looked up their number, and they advise me to bring him in immediately. By then, I am freaking out. The possibility of something bad happening had my eyes filling up with tears.

I call my mom, and I’m already crying and blubbering when she answers the phone. “I’m really worried about Tabor,” I manage to say. “Can you come with me to the vet?”

It seemed like it took her hours to arrive. I walk Tabor out slowly to the car, and he clambers in. I give my mom directions, and Tabor tries several times to lay down, but each time stands back up. I know he must be exhausted from the day at the park and he can’t even lay down.

My heart is already breaking.

When we arrive at the vet, the tech takes his vitals and weighs him. She goes to get the doctor.

The doctor listens to his heart and then starts to feel his sides and his chest. “His stomach is a little distended. We need to take some x-rays.”

They take his x-rays. He shows us the pictures, and begins to explain. “He has bloat and torsion.” He shows us his enlarged stomach. “His stomach is filled with gas, and as it expanded, it shifted and twisted. Nothing can pass through the stomach, and unfortunately this is life-threatening.”

My mind is racing, and I just nod dumbly.

He continues to explain the option of surgery. Any surgery is high risk, but this will be a little more because he is an older dog. It had only been a couple hours since it started though, so there should be less complications because of that. My mom asks how much surgery would costs, and he says several thousand.

Tabor playing

I’m still stuck on “life-threatening” and “surgery.”

“I know this is a lot to throw on you in just five minutes,” he says, “but we have to quickly make a decision if you decide to go with surgery.”

He hasn’t discussed the other option yet, but I’m afraid to ask. But I don’t have to; my mom asks for me. “Besides surgery, what other option do we have?”

He pauses, and then says, “If you decide against surgery, he will have to be put to sleep.” He spreads his hands placatingly. “I will give you two a couple of minutes to talk.”

He shuts the door and I start crying. My mom asks what I’m thinking and I shake my head. “I don’t think I want surgery.”

“Call Andrew,” she says.

So I do. He doesn’t answer the first time, but he answers the second time I call. “What’s going on?” He asks gently, but then another sob comes up and I can’t speak so my mom takes the phone for me. She talks to him and then has the vet talk to him.

Once I’m a little more calm, she hands the phone to me.  “What do you think?” He asks. “I will support whichever decision you make.”

“I’m leaning away from surgery.” I say.  “We can’t really afford it, and he’s an older dog…” I trail off.

“Surgery and recovery will be painful for him, too.” He says quietly.

We’ve arrived at a decision, but neither of us can say it aloud.

I start to cry again, still not quite believing that this all is happening.

It’s not time for him to go. It can’t be. He’s not quite nine years old, and he has been happy and healthy, even this morning. There’s no time to call my brother or my sister or my father; there’s no time for anyone to say good bye.

And even if there was, none of us would be ready.

The doctor returns and he asks if we have come to a decision. I try to clear my throat, choke down another sob so that I can answer him. But my mom speaks for me, again. “We’re going to put him to sleep.”

A tech brings forms in for me to sign to authorize the euthanasia, and my mom signs for me.

They bring Tabor into the room, and he’s wobbly from the sedative they gave him. How helpless and adorable he looks at the same time have me crying even harder. He lays down on the floor – the first time he’s been able to all afternoon – and rests his head on his paws. I stroke his head and run my hand over his ears. I pet his scruff as the doctor inserts the euthanasia.

In fifteen quick seconds, it’s over. The doctor checks his heart beat and leaves the room to give us some privacy.

I can’t bring myself to touch him, and for a moment, I feel like I have betrayed him. Maybe two parks in one morning was too much. I just can’t process that two hours ago I had a healthy, normal dog.

And now I don’t have my dog at all.

As I come home, I expect him to greet me at the door. As I go to the bathroom, I expect him to burst in and expect to be petted. As I shower in the morning, I expect him to stand there and keep watch. As I cook dinner, I expect him to wait patiently for something to be dropped. As I eat dinner, I expect him to be at my side, begging for just a piece. As I get up in the middle of the night, I expect to have to tip-toe around so I don’t step on him. As I put my tennis shoes on, I expect him to get excited thinking he will get to come, too. As I open my car door, I expect him to jump in before me, because he loved car rides more than anything.

I knew that this day would come eventually, I just never expected it to come so soon. And it doesn’t ease the pain knowing that I’ve lost my best friend.

You’re never ready when it’s time to go.

Tabor Puppy