Sunday, October 09, 2011


Has this ever happened to you?

A vacation, tour, wedding, party, or some very big event is planned for weeks and weeks.  Certain facets of that event are expected to be the highlight of the event: something occurs, or an event intervenes, or a subject jumps in, which never would have occurred in the planning; it becomes the memorable event, instead.

After months of high expectation our great road trip to a Moroccan Reunion finally got underway. We drove a pickup because I had to carry a oxygenator about medium luggage size with me for night-time use. I could have had it sent to our end destination except I had to have it for six nights' lodging (round trip) on the road. We might could have traveled by air, but we had too much to carry. We could have shipped our luggage by UPS, but overall, we wanted to see the countryside, as the states through which we traveled were a 'first' for one or the other.

Husband (H) did the driving so I enjoyed the scenery. We split mileage into three days driving an average of 350 miles per day. I know this seems minuscule, but we are in our mid-70s; our attention span, reaction time, etc. are not what it used to be.

We traveled I-35, I-135, US 81, and I-90 en route to Rapid City. We spent nights in OK City, York NE, and Mardu, SD en route. I have already regaled one near disaster in Kansas. [See PORTA-POT SAGA CONTINUES - AN EMBARRASSING MOMENT] In upper Kansas; in Nebraska and South Dakota I was impressed with plentiful amounts of bales of hay and grain already harvested, lying in the fields and the highway right-of-ways. I wondered who got the right-of-way bales?

My sister in Texas knows a man who drives to SD for those huge round bales; he sells them and turns right around and goes back for more. Not all livestock has been sold off, but what is left will be expensive when sold.

As designated navigator in charge of GPS, I, of course, checked surroundings to be sure the GPS and our route were coinciding. One way was to read billboards about various subjects ahead.
Naturally, there were hundreds of Wall Drug Store signs, a place in Wall SD we would later visit. These signs reminded me of the Burma Shave rhyme signs throughout the South and Southwest during the '40s--'50s.

But there was one sign that really caught my eye which said something to this effect: 'Visit Prairie Berry Winery, Hill City, SD, home of award winning Red Ass Rhubarb Wine.'

I leaned over so H could hear me. "Who on earth would name a wine RED ASS?" I said. There were several such signs driving into Rapid City.

The first touring day, we traveled through Hill City en route to Mount Rushmore. As our female tour guide mentioned the multiple award winning Prairie Berry Winery as we passed by, the whole bus hooted "Red Ass Rhubarb Wine" so we weren't alone in our interest of the name. Poor tour guide--this was her first bus tour, a military group at that. I bet she reverts to smaller groups after this 4 day ordeal.

The third day lunch was at a lovely German restaurant in Hill City. By now the poor woman tour guide was tired of hearing about the RED ASS RHUBARB Wine every other breath, I guess. When we again boarded our bus she announced we were going to stop at a convenience store nearby and paused. I thought, 'why are we stopping at a convenience store, we just ate?'

She then announced, this store had 21 bottles of Red Ass Rhubarb Wine. We had 30 minutes to make purchases. Nearly half of the 42 tourists exited the bus including H who bought 2 bottles. After the group returned to the bus, they were giddy and raucous as if they had consumed their purchases. They half-listened to the tour guide the rest of the day, and we had an evening at a chuck wagon style restaurant with a western band that night yet to attend with same tour guide.

Our two bottles were for my best friend (food editor for local newspaper) and a couple who were her close friends. But by the time we e-mailed around, everybody wanted to try the strange named wine, so I called liquor stores in Rapid City and  found a case which we brought back to Arkansas.

The 4th tour day several mentioned tasting the wine, but one guy said he drank the entire bottle the night before and it was "pretty damn good!"

The biggest paradox was two teetotalers buying 14 bottles of wine with a less than proper name back for souvenirs. We laughed about it all the way home.

Two bottles went to my half brother and half sister in Texas; two bottles went to our neighbor (helped water or new landscaping) and his sister who recently moved to Arkansas: two bottles went to two long time female friends the 31 years we've lived here; one bottle went to a couple who helped water our new landscaping. Of course, best friend got her two bottles, too.

Then at church Life Group, the house vacated of men after our communal meal and before our lesson; we women looked outside. H was dispensing 4 bottles of wine, and another man was displaying some beautiful hand-made knives. I think we have one bottle left which H says he is keeping for now.

 So much for uplifting fellowship.......

The Red Ass Rhubarb Wine is only 10% alcohol and made from raspberries and rhubarb. I have dispensed cough syrups with alcohol content as high as 47% in my early years as a pharmacist. There is very little alcohol in cough syrups these days. Elixirs were known for alcohol but that has been reduced, too.

Another winery in Hill City is named Naked Winery. I wonder if we have to strip naked to tour or buy their wine? Can't be too careful with these winemakers! I believe I will stick with the donkey wine.

I hope our female tour guide and coordinator did not resign after this ruckus bunch of retired military persons. She was used to guiding smaller tours. We were her first bus tour. Her knowledge of the history and the area was outstanding. I learned a great deal; she was open to questions, too.

Whatever gave me the idea Mount Rushmore would be the highlight of our tour?


Arkansas Patti said...

I loved this post. I don't drink either but will go on line to see if I can't find some of this for my drinking friends. Actually if it weren't for the alcohol content, it might just taste good.
You all kind of reminds me of kids at Christmas getting more fun out of the packages than the present. Mt. Rushmore vs Red Ass??

faye said...

interesting read... years ago I would buy wine with interesting names over
the more established brands...
some good some not so......
my favorite was hamburger ..the label was
adorned with a great shot of a huge

Linda said...

What a fun story. I greatly enjoyed it.

Anonymous said...

This is a great post and I so enjoyed reading it. I have recently opened my Blogger blog again and I am trying to get caught up on reading some blogs. I need to backtrack and read some of your earlier posts. It sounds like your trip was very interesting. Hugs

Lisa said...

Oh! I enjoyed this post! So funny! Sounds like you All had a great time.
One year we made wine from muscadines. It was okay but I'd rather have the jelly.

Amber Star said...

This post cracked me up. Those bottles of wine probably made a better gift than some goffy souvenier bought in a shop.

Oh about the hay. He probably has to go all the way to SD to get some hay. The drought continues even though we did get some rain this past weekend. Even Austin got a little rain, at least the weather sites said they did. I haven't talked to my daughter yet to find out for sure.

Lorna said...

Amazing what can grab our total interest. great post.

Grandma Yellow Hair said...

What a great post. I so enjoyed reading about your funny adventures. Especially everyones fascination with this wine.
They knew what to name this didn't they. hahaha
I have to scroll down and read your other post about the out house.
Glad you liked your tour guide.

Pat C said...

I guess I was the first one to report back to Carol as to how well I and my daughter-in-law liked my bottle of "Red Ass Rhubarb" Wine. It was delicious with our Italian dinner she made. Now trying to get the other female friend to share her's with me. Thanks Carol for the very nice treat. Will long remember your thoughtfulness.

Liz said...

I love that an amusingly-named wine takes on such importance in this story!