A Relaxing Anniversary
By Christine Smith
“Mom?” My daughter’s voice cut through my bubble of concentration. I’d been working on the monthly taxes for the business that my husband and I run from home, a task which needed to be completed before we left town for the weekend.
“Did you hear what I said, Mom?” my daughter continued. “Volleyball practice starts at 8 on Monday morning.”
“I’ll add it to the calendar,” I said, opening the app on my phone. “Wait. Your sister’s art camp starts at the same time. How can I be at two places at once?”
“Don’t worry about it,” said Mike, walking up behind me. “I’ll take her. All you need to do now is focus on relaxing.” He placed his hands on my rigid shoulders and began massaging them. “You definitely need a break.”
He was right. After weeks of working from home while entertaining the kids—who were on summer break—I was ready to relax. That afternoon, Mike and I would be traveling to Lake of the Ozarks for a weekend getaway to celebrate our anniversary. Although we’d just be two hours away from home, we’d be far away from the distractions and responsibilities of our daily life.
The weekend begins
After dropping the kids off at my parents’ house, we headed to the lake. While Mike drove, I finished some final tasks. I was so focused on catching up on work that I was startled when Mike parked the car and turned off the ignition. “It’s 5 o’clock on Friday,” he said, closing my laptop. “The workweek is over.”
I looked around and noticed that we were parked on a hill; there was a stone building to our right and a patio to our left. “Where are we?”
“Shawnee Bluff Winery,” said Mike. “I thought that having a glass of wine would help us unwind.”
We found a table which offered a stunning view of the lake and ordered wine and an appetizer of brie with black truffle honey; the creamy cheese, spicy walnuts and sweet honey tasted heavenly. We waited a while before ordering our entrees, appreciating the opportunity to have an unhurried adult conversation.
At one point, we sat in comfortable silence, our eyes focused on the lake below. Hints of gold shimmered on the water, creating a peaceful, hypnotic effect. I took a deep breath. “This is beautiful.”
Mike chuckled. “I see that the wine is working its magic.”
After our laid-back evening at the winery, we were ready to turn in for the night. The soft glow on the front porch greeted us at the Inn at Harbour Ridge, a cozy B&B that has earned the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence for more than five years. The owners, Sue and Ron, ushered us inside, where soft music and candlelight set a tone of tranquility.
“We’re so glad to have you here,” Sue said, and I felt she genuinely meant it; both she and Ron exuded a warmth and friendliness that immediately put us at ease. “I’ll show you to your room so you can get settled.”
She led us to Captain’s Quarters, a room accented with coastal decor, and painted in shades of soft blue and pale yellow, reminiscent of water and sand. “There’s also a private Jacuzzi just outside there,” Sue said, pointing to the glass door on the far side of the room.
Sue asked us what time we wanted breakfast in the morning, and then said goodnight. I immediately sprawled out on the heavenly king size bed and rested my eyes, enjoying the serenity of this quiet place in the woods.
“Wow, they really think of everything here, don’t they?” said Mike. I opened my eyes and saw him nibbling a chocolate chip cookie.
He handed one to me and I took a bite of the warm, gooey treat. “I can’t think of a more perfect way to end the day.”
“I can,” said Mike, opening the patio door. “How about a moonlit soak in the Jacuzzi?”
A day to celebrate us
On Saturday, I awoke later than usual. Stretching lazily in bed, I luxuriated in the feeling of sleeping in, then opened our door and retrieved the mugs of hot coffee that Sue had brought us.
I placed Mike’s coffee next to him on the nightstand. “What’s that wonderful smell?” he asked groggily.
“Your caffeine fix,” I said, settling into bed to sip on my own. “Hey, are you planning on going for a run this morning?” I was hoping to sneak in some work while he was out.
Mike sat up and looked me in the eyes. “Oh, I get it. You’re trying to get rid of me so you can work. But I’m not going to let that happen.”
“In fact,” he continued, “I scheduled a couple’s massage for us for today. Hopefully, that will make you forget about work for a while.”
I was speechless. Usually I was the one who planned everything, and for Mike to arrange this surprise for me was one of the sweetest things he’d ever done.
In the dining room, we ate a breakfast of fluffy, heart-shaped pancakes, accompanied by mimosas made with a hint of local moonshine. Then we headed to The Spa at Old Kinderhook, which is located at a stunning golf resort.
The first thing I noticed in the massage room was a scattering of rose petals on the floor—a nice, romantic touch. That was also the last thing I noticed because once the therapist began expertly working out the knots on my back, I drifted into a state of bliss.
When the massage ended, Mike and I moseyed over to The Trophy Room, where we ordered a light lunch. With its fresh, high-quality ingredients and attentive service, I felt like we’d stumbled upon a hidden gem in the Ozarks.
We returned to the inn just in time to collapse on our bed for an afternoon nap, a luxury that I hadn’t indulged in for years. I awoke before Mike and headed to the gazebo in the inn’s shaded garden, where I planned to read. This time, I’d brought my book and left my laptop behind. Mike will be so proud of me, I thought.
For our anniversary dinner, we had reservations at Michael’s Steak Chalet, housed in a quaint historic Swiss-style building. We sat on the patio, shaded from the setting sun by lush, mature trees, and savored the breathtaking view of the lake. I could see why it was recently voted Most Romantic at the Lake by Lake Lifestyles. We both ordered steak, which was tender and flavorful.
The balmy summer night beckoned us to linger long after we’d finished our dinner. While we talked, the years melted away and I saw Mike as that young man that I’d met years ago at another lake—the man that I fell in love with before careers and children entered our world. I raised my glass: “To us.”
On Sunday morning, it was Mike who woke me up. “It’s 9 o’clock,” he said, shaking me gently.
I couldn’t remember the last time I’d slept that late. I guess I was acclimating to lake life, and it felt delicious.
After another delectable breakfast in the dining room, we changed into our hiking clothes for prepare for our next destination, Ha Ha Tonka State Park, where we’d see caves, bluffs, a natural bridge and—the most unique sight—ruins of a turn-of-a-century castle.
We packed up our things and I met Sue and Ron in the foyer while Mike did a final check of our room. “Thank you for your hospitality,” I told them. “I really needed this.”
“But you didn’t need this,” Mike said, emerging from our room with my laptop in his hand.
I stared in disbelief. “It’s not like me to forget my computer!”
“Seems like it had some serious competition this weekend,” Mike said, putting his arm around my shoulder. “And it lost.”
I looked at my husband and smiled. “Thanks for helping me relax. Being here at the lake with you was the perfect way to celebrate our anniversary.”
Plan your own romantic getaway to Lake of the Ozarks.