What is a vacation? Is it flying to a destination, a road trip, a cruise?
This past weekend we went on a vacation in less than twenty-four hours and 40 miles round trip.
Our friend Sue reached a milestone birthday earlier this month. Blake and Laura, her children, decided to throw a party to celebrate. When I say “throw” don’t misunderstand. They both are known for their parties and they don't throw one, they present it. Along with about 80 other mutual friends and relatives of Sue, we accepted their invitation.
The Woodward Bed and Breakfast is a 8,300 square foot mansion built 82 years ago in Holliday Park, the first exclusive area in Topeka. The current owner, Elizabeth Taylor, began the B & B in 1994. It is a popular location for small wedding receptions and parties like Sue's.
The gentile setting is apparent as we approached the front door. The bench, flowers, vines about trellises made us want to stop there and relax.
We did not because the guest of honor had not arrived and we needed to get to our place to surprise her. The surprise was to take place in the library. Chester Woodward, the original owner and builder was known for his extensive library—5,000 volumes. The library is the most beautiful part of the home. Each end has two story high stained glass windows, placed so they gather rays from the morning and evening sun. There are tall windows along the north side for natural lighting without glare. The south side is lined with books all the way to the ceiling as under the other windows also. A circular staircase brought us to the mezzanine, more books and where we gathered to wait for the guest of honor.
While waiting we all gazed down on a beautiful floral arrangement; breathtaking in its beauty and size. All evening I along with the other guests kept going back to enjoy the fragile yet majestic beauty of the flowers.
Our birthday girl, Sue, arrived. She jumped right off the floor when we all yelled our Happy Birthday greeting. The party began.
Directly across from the library, through the entry way and sitting room, is the formal dining room. The antique china cabinets with beautiful colored glass and warm glow of small lamps gave the feeling of stepping back in time. The long wood table covered with food was accented by roses, daisies and lilies arranged as a topiary two feet above the table. Unique and beautiful.
We first admired the flowers but soon all were enjoying the delicious food, definitely more than the hor devours stated on the invitation. I immediately spotted the warm chocolate sitting by a big bowl of strawberries and the German chocolate birthday cake. That’s when I decided I was on vacation—eat and enjoy.
Everyone mingled, ate, sipped wine with a talented pianist in the background. All too soon the 11:00 bedtime hour arrived. This is a bed and breakfast and there are rules in the home. Sue’s birthday guests left with a beautiful thank you gift of a fuchsia vase signifying Sue's love of flowers.
We weren’t ready to let the party end so we moved out of the house and into a Caribbean pool garden. We were told we had to be quiet (there were other guests in the house). The garden featured a 8 by 40 foot heated lap pool with little romantic niches with cushioned chairs which all could be viewed from an elevated cabana on one end. We swam, dangled our feet and talked until after midnight.
Sue and her kids had rooms so we tiptoed in to see them. Sue’s room had at least nine small lamps that she looked down on from her very high antique bed. The other two rooms were equally as beautiful. Not to be left out, we pulled our Roadtrek up to the back of the house and we all finally said good night.
We were up by 8:00 Sunday morning. Dan and I decided to enjoy the pool area with morning light where Ms. Taylor treated us to a fresh cup of coffee. Gradually everyone emerged to enjoy the morning and the blooming perennials around the pool. More conversation and reminiscing about the party.
Breakfast (yes we ate even though our bed was the Trekker) was hot scones, eggs and fruit and more coffee.
We were home shortly after noon. Thank you Blake and Laura. Your Mom will never forget her birthday party and neither will her guests.