Our next stop was to the Crystal Cave in Spring Valley. A few of my neighbors had been there this summer, and I thought it looked like something fun and different for us to do as a family. This was the main reason that we didn't have G with us...traveling 75' underground, in dark, damp conditions, with a baby, doesn't sound like a good time to me! The caves were a very cool place to tour...at one point they turned off the lights for about a minute, and I'm happy to say that Ava didn't freak out. Honestly, I was afraid I would feel a bit claustrophobic, but the tour moved at a good pace, so besides the "lights out" portion, we weren't standing in one place for too long.
Once we returned to the sunlight filled terrain, we decided to see if Ava would be a good miner. We had purchased a bag of the sand/dirt "prospecting mix" and ran it through the sluice that was set up. No gold this time, but at least there were some really pretty rocks!
Ava picked out this little guy from the gift shop - sadly, we didn't see any bats in the cave, so this is the closest we got to one. His name is Little Bat Man!
Our mining results!
We had heard there was a cheese factory nearby, and who can turn down fresh cheese?? Off to the Cady Cheese Factory we went! We were a bit hungry at this point so we picked up a few snacks to munch on while we went to our next stop. We had debated going to a vineyard in Chippewa Falls, or heading to more of an outdoor eating area in Maiden Rock. Based on location/distance, we decided to go to Vino in the Valley in Maiden Rock. I had fun sampling a few of their wines, and we enjoyed the view while dining in their outdoor eating area. Ava and I tried their bean bag throwing game, but after it took her three throws to even make it to the board, we decided it was a lost cause for the day. Time to move on!
Not a bad view while dining...
At this point, we were very, very full, but...we had talked to a neighbor about the creamery in Ellsworth. And we were in WI, so...we had to stop and get ice cream right?? Hello, Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery! I managed to eat an ice cream cone, and then decided I didn't need to eat any thing else for 5 more days. And that was fine, as it was getting to be early evening, and we were heading home.
And THEN, Scott saw a sign for another winery, and decided we needed to check it out. This was a fun experience...Valley Vineyard is completely tucked away in a neighborhood. We didn't even see it until we were right next to the vineyard. We talked to the owners a bit, and it turns out that they started off selling wines from a card table in their garage, but they were so busy, they decided they need to expand. So, they built a 2nd building on their property, with the intent of not making it obvious it was a business. They succeeded! There were chickens out front, a beautiful view of the valley, and great wines to sample. We met a very friendly woman who grew up in Rosemount, and sat next to a guy who is a beer drinker, but his lady got him started on wines. There might be hope for Scott yet! :)
After 6 samples, it was time to go. We were stuffed and tired, and I'm pretty sure that Scott had a silent ride back home, as Ava and I were napping for most of the drive. Yesterday was a super fun day with the family, and I'm glad we made plans to spend a Saturday exploring WI a bit!
The rest of our week was pretty full, too...swimming lessons on Tuesday and Thursday (Ava did great on Thursday - she listened, participated, and even went underwater a few times without hesitation!) I had a concert at work on Wednesday afternoon/evening, and then Friday I was off of work and at home with Ava and G (no daycare.)
The three of us has a pretty busy day on Friday...we took a tour of Ava's new school, Red Pine, in the morning. Ava asked a TON of questions, and the secretary was very kind, and answered as many as she could. After that, we headed home to get ready for G's 9-month photo shoot. As usual, he did fantastic, and we got some super cute pictures to share with family and friends. G has also mastered climbing up the stairs - and he's really fast, too! Can't take your eyes off of him, or he'll be up the stairs before you know it!
Friday afternoon, I took care of some things around home, and once Scott got home from work, Ava and I headed out for a pizza and pool party with several neighbors. We spent a few hours there, and only left because it started thundering...but that's ok, it was close to Ava's bedtime, and frankly, I was exhausted. But, it was great to see our friends again, and we already have another event being planned for a few weeks from now!
My dad is helping Scott move some items out of Great Grandma Addy's house today (it's going on the market shortly - she has been moved to a full-time housing facility) and then they are joining us for dinner one last time before they head back to Colorado. It's amazing how quickly these summer weeks are flying by - I can't believe the State Fair will be starting this month, and then school follows shortly thereafter. Crazy!