gym with a friend for some cardio and conversation I met my parents at my house and we headed to Loomis for brunch at the High Hand Conservatory. I didn't really know what to expect, but I was immediately impressed. The nursery was beautiful and the conservatory reminded me of a cross between the butterfly exhibit of Six Flags Discovery Kingdom and the dinning room and patio of Tower Cafe. The food and the service were great as well, I had a shrimp and crab omelet, while the rest of the family had artisan sandwiches and a squash soup. After our meal we headed through the gardens and into the expansive art gallery before heading to the Auburn area to check out the region's wine country. Although we only made it to one winery (we tried for more, but signage was lacking and a few appeared to be closed for private events) it was still fun and I think we chose the right one to go to. Vina Castella in Auburn had fabulous grounds, the vineyards were changing colors (thank you fall - I think - at about 80 degrees it felt like spring or summer) and the tasting room was in a cave lined with wine barrels. The wine was pretty good and we ended up taking home a bottle of Abuelita (little grandma), not only because we thought it tasted pretty good, but because we had two grandmas with us (my grandma and my mom).
After our adventures through Auburn we decided to drive through Newcastle and over to Lincoln to check out the Thunder Valley Casino Resort. Although I only live a few miles away, I had never actually set foot in the casino until today. I lost $1 of my money and $1 of my mom's money (yep, I'm a high roller), I guess I should have cashed out when I was at $3.25 after my first pull on the slot machine.
To wrap up the day everyone came to my house where I cooked hamburgers for the group and then we played pinochle to wrap up the evening. It was great to see everyone, have them come up to my neck of the woods and then be able to host them all at Fort Bradley for a few hours.