Aeries Winery and Vacation Villas: Grafton, Illinois
When Marketing Werks told us they were going to ship us home for a week between our second and third markets, I wanted to shout from the rooftops J.Cole's lyrics: "I'm coming home, I'm coming home, Tell the world I'm coming home..."
As cliche as it sounds "Everything happens for a reason." If I were to be still working at KUSA/9News (love you guys) I would not have been able to see my mom as much as I have this year after she was diagnosed with Stage II breast cancer. During this tour I have been able to visit home three times and have a fourth visit scheduled on our drive from Atlanta, Georgia to our fourth market in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Sure I still question, why did you have to choose my mom for breast cancer after everything we've been through, but the answer is simple: because we can handle it. My mom is the strongest person I've ever met, and if anyone or any family can handle a situation like this--it's ours. Bring it.
During my time at home I had a fantastic time with my mom, supported her through her third chemotherapy treatment, had a blast taking care of our house and even got to meet up with my best friend, Amie Tillery, for the third time this year....another miracle and something that I wouldn't be able to achieve if we didn't live life on the road (a dream come true). If you don't know me, I was raised in a rural small town in which I thoroughly enjoy mowing the front and backyard, painting and doing as much housework as I can. I was raised to be outdoors and to be handy and sometimes I greatly miss the experience.
(Aside from painting our basements steps, I tried to return to my true love of painting. I usually work with oil pants but tried my hand at acrylics. I was frustrated as I'm out of practice and not the best with acrylics versus oils but overall I tried my best to impress my boyfriend--despite my St. Louis Cardinals loyalty).
When I met up with Amie, we agreed to head to one of our favorite places and where we celebrated her 23rd birthday--the Grafton Winery. There were many times where as a child, my father would take our family for a ride up "The River Road" to spot Eagles and get fish from one of his favorite Grafton spots. Even in his last days, we enjoyed trips to this treasured spot as it brings out the true beauty of our "Small Town, USA" agriculture and takes your mind off the eggshell smelling refineries and instead directs your attention to something more beautiful.
Upon meeting Amie at her parents' house (she currently resides in Las Vegas, NV) I met her brand new puppy, Willow. Seriously could that puppy smile anymore at the camera or is it just me? In addition, once we arrived at the Grafton Winery it was clear that it was no longer open as it's weekday hours closed down the place at 7 p.m. The only problem with being on the road, or in Amie's case having summers off (school psychologist), you never know what day it is...
Now to take this detour even further up the mountain (sorry for the spotty story) but we ended up going to a winery Amie suggested after we found out our favorite place was closed for the night. Instead we ventured to Aeries Winery and Vacation Villas in which she just heard about as her brother is now dating a gal that works as a waitress at the unknown gem. Apparently, the venue has been around for ten years, but I had NO IDEA it existed. I must say as we took the 1998 CR-V up the hill to Aeries, I wasn't sure it was going to make it. The hills were steep, but it was worth it. Just a street before the Grafton Winery, it was well worth the 25-year wait.
It takes a lot to make our town or the surrounding areas look beautiful, but as soon as I took a step out on this converted house's balcony it was love at first sight. The scenery was breathtaking as you could see east and west of the Mississippi River, the Illinois side, the Missouri side and beyond. Shield off the humidity with the deck's ceiling fans and intimate atmosphere. I still can't believe a place like this exists in our area and I would recommend it to anyone back in East Alton, visitors or gals looking to have a wedding at home for cheap without paying thousands for the view and venue.
If you ever find yourself venturing down the "Great River Road" in Grafton, Illinois definitely make this a stop especially if you happen to hit Raging Rivers on the way during the summer months. ;)