After we visited the Shaker Village, we drove north for 30 minutes or so to Wildside Winery, which offers free overnight stays to members of Harvest Hosts. We got there in time for Kate to enjoy a wine-tasting flight and buy a bottle of cranberry wine. This was a fun, comfortable place, with a couple of large dogs for mascots. We enjoyed talking with the owners, Neil and Rachel, who have a new Alto trailer on order from Canada. (It’s like a teardrop with an expandable roof.) They hope to someday do what we are doing.
The winery is just 15 miles outside of Lexington, where some old friends. It was last-minute, but I hoped to track them down for a quick visit. The Betts family had lived across the street from us when I was growing up in Grinnell, Iowa, and every year, I still get an informative, handwritten Christmas letter from Jackie, the family matriarch. Ray, her husband, died several years ago, but their son, Jim, still lives in Lexington, where he owns the Bluegrass Baking Company.
I hadn’t seen either Jackie or Jim in at least 15 years, but when I got Jackie on the phone, her voice filled me with instant comfort. I have such fond memories of our families together, and Jackie in particular was a special person for me. I remember her teaching me to make a lattice-top cherry pie, and giving my brother and sister French lessons before school. Our two families hung out together almost every Friday night, in one house or the other. And Mardi-Gras was a festive event at the Betts house.
We went to Jackie’s condo for a visit, and then she took us out to lunch at very nice local place where the waiters know her by name. We went over to Jim’s bakery, but Jim was home sleeping after working all night baking. Still, his employees showed us around and sent us off with an armload of baked goods that they wouldn’t let us pay for. It was fun to see the sourdough starter that originated in Jackie’s kitchen decades ago. My mom had kept some of the starter going for years, and had even sent me back to California with some. On the way back, we passed our favorite store, Trader Joe’s, and we all did some shopping.
It was after 2:00 before we left Lexington, and we ended up sleeping in a Cracker Barrel parking lot near Knoxville that night, but it really didn’t matter. I love that for the most part, we’re not on a schedule. And when something comes up, like reconnecting with a dear old friend, we can just do it. Those hours with Jackie left me with such happiness.