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From the Butterfly Garden, we ventured to several other places, including the Missouri Botanical Gardens, which was celebrating 150 years.  At the time we arrived, the sun was blazing overhead so the shots I would have loved to get were just a bit too bright with all the light.  But, I made due, and Joel patiently strolled along beside me, waiting until I had my fill of photos.

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Above:  We stopped to feed some enthusiastic Koi.
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Saturday we left Hermann and ventured towards St. Louis to visit the Butterfly House.  Guys, I'm using a 18-55mm lens here and managed to get some half-way decent shots if I do say so myself.  Trust me, I cannot wait to get my hands on some expensive, beautiful lenses.  But if you are in a similar financial situation, it's okay - it's not worth complaining that you just can't get good shots with the lens or camera body you have.  I don't have Photoshop or any other kind of sophisticated photo processing software, either, and these turned out okay.  Learn to use what you have.  :)
(P.S. -- I'm still learning.)   :):)
(P.P.S. -- It's totally cool to have a wishlist, too.)  :)

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Above:  The Paper Kite, from Malaysia/Philippines
Below:  Indian Dead Leaf, from Malaysia
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Above:  Ruby Lacewing, from Asia
Below:  The Paper Kite, from Malaysia/Philippines
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Above:  Thoas Swallowtail, Central & South America
Below:  an older Ruby Lacewing, Asia (notice the faded color and tattered wings)
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Above:  best guess is The Postman, from Central & South America, but the colors are non-typical and are fading
Below:  another Paper Kite, definitely one of the more common butterflies in the House
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Above:  Small Postman, Ecuador
Below:  best guess is The Clipper, from Southeast Asia
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We went and walked down by the riverfront upon awakening the next morning.

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Then, the agony came of having to acknowledge the fact that we had to check out of the beautiful, relaxing room.  Who would ever want to leave?  Certainly not me.  But, I left with a renewed calmness, and a vow that I would one day have a bathroom like the one I spent many hours ogling over.  Come on, dissertation, you aren't going to write yourself...
 
 

After we were done with the wineries, Joel surprised me by bringing me to a bed and breakfast.  If you are imagining all B&Bs to be quaint and country-cutesy, strike that mental image out of your head, because look at where we partied that night:

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Yes, that is a double shower with multiple showerheads.  AND, it functions as a steam shower too.  Can you say, HEAVEN.  You can pretty much bring a circus AND all of Indiana Jones' posse in there and still have elbow room.  It's awesome.  Here's a closer look:
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The picture above is the B&B third floor.  We, for whatever stroke of good fortune, had the ENTIRE B&B to ourselves.  So if you are asking yourself, did she take the opportunity to prance and twirl around naked, the answer is most definitely yes.  Or maybe.

I cannot recommend this place highly enough - every detail was attended to, right down to the complimentary wine, cheese, and crackers supplied to us.  And then you might ask, well did you drink wine in the enormous jacuzzi tub?  And the answer to that question is most definitely - YES.  And, I had picked up some chocolate covered strawberries at a local chocolate store earlier that day and it went perfect, no, divine! with the wine. 

Here's the B&B info.
 
 

Joel was the mastermind behind all of the events you are about to see.  He's a quick mastermind too; I believe he planned all this within two days.  He wanted to treat me to a nice escape and congratulate me on passing prelims, so he told me to keep my weekend clear.  I had no idea what he was planning.

First, on Friday I left my class early and left my TA to proctor the exam my students were taking, and met Joel out in the parking lot.  We traveled to Missouri and went on the Hermann Wine Trail, one of many stops.  Hermann is a charming area, as it has quite a few German descendants and holds quite a wonderful Old Germany feeling to its historic setting. 
Visiting wineries is one of our favorite activities to do together.  We didn't drink much wine, just tasting and buying bottles we liked to bring home.

Winery #1:    Röbller Vineyard

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We bought a few bottles, and moved on to Winery #2:  Bommarito Estate
At this particular winery, we were able to have an extended chat with the co-vintner of the estate.  She was really friendly and gave us some helpful suggestions about sweeting wines.   I didn't take any pictures of the vineyard, but this was the sky above the fields (I couldn't help but blow out the sky in post-processing, the clouds were incredible looking):
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Winery #3:  Bias Vineyards
We stopped here and had a bite to eat as well, as Joel had packed quite the selection into the cooler:  sausage, three types of cheese, apples, crackers, chocolate.  There were some train tracks nearby that we had to cross over in order to leave the winery.
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Winery #4:  OakGlen Winery and Vineyards
This winery had an absolutely incredible view.
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Winery #5:  Hermannhof Vineyards
This is a winery within the heart of the town of Hermann.  Their style is old world, and they even have a cheese and sausage shop attached to the tasting room.  Some photos of the tasting room and their quaint wine cellars:
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We traveled a short distance to Winery #6:  Adam Puchta
This winery had some seriously awesome wine.  Unfortunately, I did not take any pictures (I think I was more enamored with the wine).  Their tasting room, merchandise room, and outside seating were quaint and low-key, but their quality was amazing.

Then, we backtracked a little and went to Winery #7 (phew!):  Stone Hill Winery
Stone Hill has quite the interesting history, and they give tours every half hour of their extensive cellars. 
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With tired feet but happy hearts, we went to our next stop:  a bed and breakfast!
 
 

I love the curves of this neat flower.  The outward curve of the hardy petals, and the delicate curve of the stamen.  As you can tell from the pollen nestled on the petals, the bees/bugs were already busy. 
Taken May 2007.

 
 

Joel bought a book for me entitled Winery Dogs, and as a frequent visitor to wineries, I concur with the quote, "You can't make wine without a dog."  They are an integral part of a winery and all good wineries have one (or more!).  The even better wineries let you bring your own dogs to sit with you as you enjoy the afternoon.

When I traveled to Missouri, I went to one of my favorite wineries.  They have several dogs, two of which are Labs. 

Exhibit A:  Boomer, a.k.a. "Goober!"

Exhibit B:  Luke, a.k.a. The Parking Attendant, The Ultimate Ruler and Supreme Master of the Guests of the Winery

Luke, sniffing wine and getting drunk and passing out by my chair.  Just kidding.  He loved the constant petting.

It's not a bad life for a dog at a winery. 

 
 

Starrfadu is a Springfield, MO band that Kleenex used in their advertisement, "Let It Out."

While I was in Springfield recently I meant to pick up their new album, but didn't get a chance.  I bought their first album when it first released (2005) "A Narrow Road to Silence" and it's nice.  I was able to see them live a few times.  It's always nice to see a hometown band "make it."  (Yes...I just called Springfield my home town!  I miss it!)

Anyway, glad they are getting some national recognition. 

Let It Out, Kleenex commercial