Dear Readers: It must be noted that after an exhausting weekend, I sacrificed my treadmill time this evening, sacrificed my time with the maddening machine that melts the pounds off of my thighs, just to stay up late and keep to my word that I would get this post up this weekend. Just so you are all aware of my love and devotion to you. Oh, and I hope you'll still love me despite the fact that the word "cute" might appear in this post no less than 4,782 times. Not to mention the frequency of the word "totally" -- apparently I felt compelled to speak like I was back in the 1990's.
We woke up to a bright and glorious morning on Day Three of our little roadtrip, enjoying our breakfast of cereal and milk in styrofoam bowls. Our destination was only about 5-10 miles away, but I still figured we should get a move on to arrive early, just to be on the safe side. So we loaded up the RV, pulled out of our first home-away-from-home-RV-resort (waving goodbye to the goats and llama bleating at us all the way) and headed out. Thank goodness for early bird-planning -- due to an error via Yahoo Maps, we found ourselves a bit lost and about 10 miles out of the way five minutes before our appointed time. So much for being early. We stopped in at a local post office, got the correct directions, and made it there a whopping 10 minutes late. (FYI -- I am a person who likes to be either early or on-time. In my almost seven year-marriage, that desire has been tested on an almost daily basis, as I am married to someone who doesn't exactly have the same ambitions. What used to drive me absolute bonkers has now been accepted as reality due to the fact that I have also learned when to pick my battles and what to just give up and deal with.)
Thank goodness our late arrival was not an issue as we were joining up with a large tour group comprised of other preschoolers and their parents. No one hardly noticed our tardiness due to the large flock of ants-in-their-pants children running around. Where did we end up, you might ask? Why, here...
...at the Shatto Milk Company -- a dairy farm in Osborn, Missouri.
Seriously, this was hands down my favorite destination on our three-day-tour. I stumbled upon their website when searching for fun places to visit, and thought, why not?! Touring a dairy farm is perfect since our three-year-old is quite the milk connoisseur, and it certainly wouldn't hurt for him to see where his milk actually comes from.
We started out in the milking room (don't know if they actually call it the milking room, but that's where we were). There were about 6 or so cows lined up in stalls, and the staff demonstrated how they hooked up the machines to the udders to milk them.
Our demonstrator would pat a cow on it's hind quarters and ask the kids what flavor of milk they thought came out of that cow. For the various shades of brown and red and black of the cows, she joked that they got strawberry milk and plain milk and chocolate milk and root beer milk (huh?) -- it wasn't until later I understood her little joke. One very cute thing was that the cow on the end closest to us, "Pat", was only there for the tours. She had stopped producing milk a while ago, but they kept her around regardless and still made her feel "important" and a part of the gang by bringing her in on the tours.
I thought it was cute that a.) they named each of their cows, and b.) they treated them each with a bit of dignity, even past their prime.
After the milking demonstration, we moved next door to a barn filled with...
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NEWBORN CALVES. Lots of them. Sweet, sweet little babies. Some of which were two days old and the oldest of which were a mere two weeks old.
I'm sorry, but there ain't a whole lot out there in the world cuter than brand new baby calves. Especially brand new baby calves on spindly little legs still trying to get the whole balancing thing. And especially brand new baby calves with their eyeballs rolling around in their cute little heads, still trying to grasp that sight concept as well.
Shatto Milk Company knows how to pull at the heartstrings, I tell ya'. They let us stay in that barn area for a good long time, petting and brushing and letting the little calves suck on our fingers for pretty much as long as we wanted. And if the cute factor wasn't already off the charts, all the little babies already had their names -- there was even a "Cupcake" in the bunch -- reminding us all that they would be well taken care of through their little lives and not forgotten as just another sweet face in the herd.
I'm not gonna lie -- the thought of grabbing two of these babies and making a mad dash for it did cross my mind. I am no match for the cuteness. And they would have totally looked cool in the RV.
Man, I was in heaven in that barn. "Me + animals = heaven" anyways, but then change the equation to "Me + calves sucking on my fingers = unbelievable bliss".
(In case you were wondering, dear readers, yes, I am that very lovely shade of pasty white in real life. Notice how I seem to blend in with the white fenceboards? Vampires have nothing on me.)
Oh, the cuteness. (Okay, and maybe, just maybe, I might have been the most excited person in the whole barn, even above the throngs of three and four-year-olds. I was like a kid in a candy store.)
Once they pried my body out of the barn (not really, don't worry, I didn't cause a scene even though in my heart-of-hearts it absolutely killed me to leave my new babies as we were just starting to bond) we all crammed into the little country store/gift shop to sample the milk. Mmmmmmm. Dee-lish. We got to try orange milk (no joke), chocolate milk, banana milk, root beer milk (one of my favorites as it tasted like a melted root beer float), regular milk, and strawberry milk. Pretty good little tour so far, eh?
After that we moved into the bottling side of the tour. First we saw the big machine that washes and sterilizes the bottles.
The owner (also our tour guide at this point) told us that he had to hunt for such a machine as they are not made anymore (in our world of plastic) and go to NY to pick it up. I believe he said that this big piece of metal was made sometime back in the 1950's, you know, back when people knew how to really build quality. Then we went into the main room where the milk is actually bottled and watched the process for a minute or two.
If it's not enough that buying milk out of a bottle doesn't make you feel all warm and tingly inside, they have to go and throw the words "YUMMY" and "FAMILY" on their bottles. Seriously. I'm never throwing my cute bottles away.
In the winter they also make cheese and butter when the milk production is at its height -- in the summer, when it is unbearably hot, the cows obviously produce less.
It is here that my suspicions were confirmed -- cheese should be white. If it is not white, it has probably had some extra little somethings added to it. Note to self: stick with white cheese from now on.
All-in-all a truly enjoyable experience. We stopped back in at the little country store on our way out and bought two big glass jars of milk -- one whole and one 2% (I think) -- took them into our little RV and enjoyed our first glass with some Walmart chocolate chip cookies, of course. And let me tell you something -- this gal will never be the same, thanks to the Shatto Milk Company. No, really. In my almost 32 years on this earth, I have never been a big milk fan. I can tolerate it in my cereal bowl, but you would never find me pouring a tall frosty glass and enjoying it -- until now. Oh, my deliciousness. I am unable to put into words what pouring a tall glass of Shatto milk can do to a person. The freshness just oozes out of it -- seriously, the milk we were enjoying came straight out of the udders that morning. Of course, herein lies the problem -- this here new milk addict (that would be moi) is terribly upset because now that I have developed these new intense cravings for Shatto milk, wouldn't you know, they don't deliver to our city. Or our state even. I will only be able to buy it when I make trips up yonder and remember to take a cooler along to bring back more frosty goodness. Sigh. And before you go playing your world's-smallest-violin for me, just know that my husband has even purchased a few other brands of bottled milk for me to try thinking they might measure up -- but no cigar. Oh, Shatto milk, how I miss thee...
We left the Shatto Milk Company and got back on the interstate to head home. It was roughly a five-hour drive (possibly longer in an RV), and at first I was a bit intimidated by the wild winds. Seriously -- driving an RV on a windy day is about as fun as a root canal. Thankfully they died down somewhat and I was able to loosen my deathgrip on the steering wheel after a while. Although our tour of the dairy farm was my favorite part of the trip, I cannot overlook the other gem of an adventure later that afternoon...
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...oh yeah, baby...a TRUCKWASH.
You just thought that the trucker hat and the beef jerky in hand and the spending the night at Walmart was the icing on the cake. Oh, no my friends. You should have heard me squeal with excitement when my husband told me earlier in the day to keep my eyes peeled for a truckwash. I totally already knew where to find one and could hardly contain my excitement the rest of the afternoon. (And yes, I'm totally that girl that pays attention to the strangest and smallest details, and knew exactly where one might find a truckwash, simply based on the fact that we had passed this very truckwash trip after trip in the years previous, and just the word alone -- "truckwash" -- always captured my fascination. Come on, don't tell me you've never wondered how fun it would be to be in a giant carwash? Okay, okay, maybe it's just weirdo little me. I'm okay with that. My little brain is a carpetbag of sorts -- a la Mary Poppins -- you never know what I have stored up in there for just the perfect instance.)
Well, my friends, I'm here to tell you that TRUCKWASH = AWESOME. Hilarious!
I pulled Big Bertha (yes, I firmly believe with all my heart that all RV's must be female -- how else can you explain the sheer genius of being able to take your home with you on the road?!) into the stall (not an easy feat as there were mere inches on each side of where the truckwash dude was motioning for me to pull), and the magic began.
Just like in an automatic carwash, there were giant spray nozzles and brushes and everything that moved back and forth over the entire RV. Then three or four guys came up with long-handled brushes to get all the parts on the top and sides. They told me they had no idea how I could see out of the window with so many dead bugs! When I pulled out of the carwash, it was so crystal clear.
Which, of course, I completely enjoyed for a good five minutes or so until the little dead carcasses started covering up the window again. Ha. Truckwash? Check.
It was on the way home from the truckwash (another two hours to our home) that it really dawned on me the hilarity of me sitting in the driver's seat. I began to notice how many strange or smiling looks I got from other truckers on the road (for the first time in my life, I was sitting up eye-to-eye with those big semi's, now level on the playing field). Neither I nor my husband got tired from all the hilarious looks, laughter, and good ol' boy winks and waves I received. (Haha, no, I am not talking about those special middle-finger waves either.) Aw thanks, my new trucker buddies, for making a gal feel so special.
After we got home, unloaded the RV and returned her to the RV dealership (for an oil change and tune-up), I must admit a wave of sadness washed over me. I really enjoyed driving that RV, and I have a feeling this could be a lifetime love of mine. It was with a heavy heart that I climbed back down into my little Celica and drove us home...