Playing host a lot more fun these days

Friday, October 4, 2019

With relatives in sunny California, my family and I have always had some great vacation opportunities.

Stay with my sister and brother-in-law or my mother in Orange County (Mission Viejo to be exact), use one of their vehicles and see the sights. Canít beat it.

They have taken us to Disneyland, the San Diego Zoo, Newport Beach, the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Sea World and my favorite restaurant on this planet, The Fishermanís, which is on the wharf at San Clemente where the waves crash on the beach beneath you as you enjoy fresh seafood.

But what would I ever do to reciprocate if they came my way? Turns out it wasnít as difficult as I imagined.

That happened earlier this week as my sister Jennifer and her husband Ken drove down to see me from Chicago where they had been visiting friends and relatives.

Thankfully they didnít even try to tax my hosting skills, booking one of the stylish surroundings at Rashell and Chris Harcourtís Namaste Lofts above the north side of the Greencastle square.

They certainly could have stayed in my loft on Highwood but with me being indisposed for three months that would have required some heavy-duty cleaning on my part. And I have yet to even navigate the stairs to my second floor since Iíve been home, so their choice of accommodations was certainly much appreciated.

I know they were more concerned with helping me get around and run some errands than being entertained but I still wanted them to have a good time while here. Turns out it was easier than I ever would have thought.

While checking emails earlier in the week, the Chamber of Commerce came through with a list of activities its members had planned. One of those was a wine dinner (if youíve never gone, watch for the periodic events) at Almost Home on Tuesday night, the first night of my sisterís stay.

While Jennifer and Ken have visited Napa Valley, as well as some of the other wine districts up and down the coast around north central California, they were nonetheless interested in what the wine expert would have to say about his wares and knew well the areas from which the four wines we tasted had come.

We enjoyed his candid presentation as well as the four courses of food and wine (for only $35 per person). Chef Gail Smith whipped up Indiana watermelon with prosciutto and gorgonzola, mixed Indiana tomato salad on arugula, apple-glazed pork tenderloin (a personal favorite of mine) with grilled zucchini and roasted potatoes and an apple crumble with vanilla bean ice cream dessert that was to die for.

Going along for the ride on our palates were tastes of Terra Díoro Chenin Viognier, Charles & Charles Rose, Cloudfall Pinot Noir and Terra Díoro Zinfandel.

My California company was more than impressed.

That was Tuesday night. Wednesday I made reservations at Bridges, where were able to sit under the stars on their rooftop area that keeps you asking, ďCan you believe weíre in Greencastle?Ē We enjoyed a Wise Guy pizza and a bowl of corn soup made with Bobby Zaringís famed sweet corn from out Fillmore way.

And before Jennifer and Ken departed Greencastle to visit Starved Rock over in Illinois, I even managed to work in a visit to Bert & Bettyís Kitchen out in Fillmore where we all chowed down breakfast delicacies, and trust me, nobody came close to starving. I wasnít sure I could eat again that day after wolfing down an order of French toast.

From all indications I successfully entertained my family Ė complete with obligatory John Dillinger and Buzz Bomb stories -- and can now go back to recuperating from my three months off work.

I didnít even try to talk them into staying for Friday, which of course, was First Friday which figured to be a big draw with temperatures in the more fall-like 70-degree area.

Thatís OK though, my youngest daughter Nicole and her kids were headed my way from North Vernon to enjoy that.

Happy host that I now am, maybe I can coerce them into cleaning my house. Then perhaps Iíll take them all out for a covered bridge tour.