To the jenth power ...

I read the books. I watched the show. I unflinchingly wore a sunbonnet to second grade. What started as a childhood obsession has developed into .. well, an adult obsession. I'm going to visit some of the sites depicted in the Little House series of books. Go west, (not-so-) young woman, indeed.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Three Cheers For Beer!

I love the smell of barley and hops in the morning. Don't you?

Since the centerpiece of my plans for Thursday was a trip to the Schell Brewery, and said brewery was near my hotel, I stopped there first in order to see what was what. I checked in at the brewery museum, where I learned that tours would be conducted at 2:30 and 4:00 pm. So I bought my ticket in advance, and spent the morning taking a self-(and pamphlet-) guided walking tour of New Ulm.

Before I knew it, it was T-minus one hour until tour time! I got there early, parked my car and wandered around the grounds of the Schell mansion. I took in the impressive gardens and wondered who, exactly, maintained them - they were pretty extensive and very carefully arranged. As I got near the mansion itself, I spied a little sign on the front door. Of course, my curiosity got the best of me and marched up the stone steps only to find out that the sign read: 'This is a private residence. Please respect our privacy. Thank you.'


So I skulked* back down the steps, feeling like an ass. I could picture the inhabitants watching me from behind the curtains, giving me the stink-eye, and wishing me ill. I can't tell you if this was the case or not, though, because I already felt intrusive enough that I didn't dare sneak a glance back.

(*It may seem to the reader that I've done an inordinate amount of skulking in New Ulm. Skulking down the Hermann Monument, skulking around the Schell Mansion, et cetera. Indeed, it might be more skulking than the average person manages in a year. But me? I frequently get myself into situations that involve either a speedy getaway or skulking. Or both. So, you see, I'm a very seasoned and efficient skulker.)

I did hear a startling yelp, however, but I soon realized that it was a peacock and not, as I'd feared, a pissed-off mansion dweller. My curiosity piqued, I wandered around until I found the owner of those dulcet tones (Yes. That is sarcasm, in case you haven't ever heard a peacock). Indeed, there were a few peacocks wandering around. There was also a pretty nifty Victorian aviary alongside the mansion; you can see it in the photo (it's that little round tower).

Since I still had a little time to kill, I wandered back to my car to have the little snack that I'd brought along. As I sat on the open tailgate of the car munching on Cheez-its, one of the peacocks wandered over to see what I was up to. I held out a cracker, and he took it! And another! And another! Pretty cool.

Not so cool, however, was the faithful friendship that had blossomed - my feathered friend followed me back up the path to the brewery museum. He was only thwarted when a glimpse of himself reflected in the hubcap of a parked car distracted him. So .... you guessed it, I skulked once again, speedily this time. And I thanked my lucky stars that peacocks, apparently, are narcissists.

The tour was great. Most importantly, though, I learned that nobody was currently in residence in the mansion. Whew! All that shame for nothing.

It goes without saying, I think, that the highlight of the tour was the beer tasting. It was pretty good beer, and especially nice to have on a hot afternoon. I tried a number of varieties, especially the Fire Brick. I thought to myself: Self, you have got to get some of this back home. And, eventually, I did - but that's a story for another day.

Since I'd seen everything I'd wanted to see in New Ulm, I wrapped up the beer tasting and got on Route 14 west, on the way to Walnut Grove. It took a little longer than I'd planned because, well ... there's a saying that you borrow beer? Folks, I'm here to tell you that this is true, even for small amounts of the stuff.
Next stop: The Ingalls Odyssey Begins!


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