We pulled over in a small foresty parking area and meandered down the road a bit...
...and then we got crazy, and hopped over a gate in front of a clear path back into the woods. Look what we found back there:
This photo is Denise's handiwork.
A cemetery, an old, old cemetary, filled with stones from the early-to-mid 1800s. The next photo is also Denise's. This stone was difficult to read, even in person, but we did determine that this family lost a 1- and a 2-year old child within one month of each other. We talked about how unimaginable this would be, and how different life is for us, than it was our ancestors.
Back at the parking lot, we stopped to poke at some guts in the gravel, and scream. Because we are 12 years old.
You heard me right:
After we left there, we pulled over to gather up some hedge apples. They ward off spiders and mice in cellars and basements, but Denise just wanted a few because, she said, she likes the way they look.
We hit another country store called The Crow's Nest, where I picked up some cool dish towels, candles, and some of this to send to my kiddo in Ft. Riley:
Our last stop of the day was another we didn't originally have on the list. Just down the street from the Crow's Nest is the Ludwig Farmstead Creamery. I've been buying their cheese at the Farmer's Market when they are there, but I had no idea where they were actually located. What a treat, to stumble upon them!
When you walk into the creamery, you can watch employees preparing cheese through large glass windows on one side. On the other side, more windows where you can see all of the cheese that is aging to perfection.
The coolest part is that you buy your own cheese using the honor system. Shop from the cooler, make a note of what you bought, bag it up and leave your money. Make change if you need it. I love doing business with folks whose message to their customers is "we think you're good enough people to make your own change."
We were also told to roam the dairy barn if we wanted to, and meet The Girls. They were shy at first, but agreed to work the camera for me when I told them I'd put them on my blog.
When we were done in the barn, we walked out back for a few minutes, checking out the meadow. Denise made me laugh when she pointed out the tree that she would stand under if she were a cow. I then picked my own cow-tree. Still I somehow didn't come with a picture of either one of our trees.
To top it off, we were back to her house by 1:00 or so, where her daughter, Bailey, warmed up bowls of Zuppa Toscana—a rich pototo soup with italian sausage—with bread and the cheese we'd picked up at the creamery.
It was a perfect Autumn day, laughing with my beautiful friend. So often the stars don't align—it rains on your day off, or you have other commitments and obligations that keep you from taking time out like this—that it makes days like these all the more special.