Stories from middle America

Last weekend Jessica, Ginger, and I braved the Great Outdoors (it is November in Nebraska, after all) with a stay at Slattery Vintage Estates Vineyard and Tasting Room about an hour from our homes in Omaha. We planned the trip as a working retreat for COOP, but also as an opportunity to drink wine, eat good food, and just relax.

What we found upon arriving at Slattery Vintage Estates was nothing short of breathtaking. The scenery alone was satisfaction enough for me, even if all we did was sit outdoors and take it all in.

Gently rolling hills. Wide open sky. Crisp fall air. And silence. Silence so overwhelming it was a gift. No traffic. No sirens. Nary a ringing cell phone within ear shot.

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It was wonderful.

Following a little brainstorming for COOP and a walk around the estate, we happened upon a proposal. The owners tipped us off, so we were certain to watch from afar. The proposal happened among the rows of Slattery’s wine vineyards. The day’s weather was picture perfect, creating the ideal setting for this memorable experience.

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That evening, Slattery hosted its first trivia night. Teams of three or four competed in eight rounds. And wouldn’t you know it: the more we drank, the more creative our answers! The delicious chili and meatball sandwiches — all homemade, mind you — provided the perfect dinner.

We then retreated to our adorable bungalows for the night. Of course it was cold, around 30 degrees. But nestled under the covers, space heater humming and electric blanket toasty, I quickly drifted off to sleep.

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I find few experiences more gratifying than waking up in the country, just as the sun begins to rise. Sunday morning, around 6:30, was no different. The first few peeks of sunlight, the fresh air, the endless views. The drive home, surrounded by fall’s colorful display, was the perfect ending to a perfect weekend. Jessica, Ginger, and I agreed to return to Slattery sometime next year.

{Jessica says … }
Our mini retreat is a perfect example of COOP’s focus: accessible and sustainable luxuries. The cost per night to rent a bungalow is between $50 and $65, which I can easily manage even in my tight budget. There is a focus on local wines, family-style entertainment, and even sustainability, with their solar-powered showers.

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I would suggest going earlier in the season than we did. November was quite chilly even though we had a space heater and electric blanket. (Ginger and Wendy seemed to stay warm during the night, but my face and hands were freezing.) I’d also recommend bringing your own snacks to munch on after the tasting room closes for the night.

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My favorite part of the whole experience? Seeing so many stars in the sky. I never consider Omaha a city large enough to dim the night’s sky, but clearly I was wrong. The expansive sky above Slattery Vintage Estates was so crisp and clear. For the first time in a long time, I really stopped to stare at something beautiful.

{Ginger says … }
Oh sure, Jessica and I are becoming pretty fond of each other. With our new venture in a partnership at Birdhouse, countless hours together building our brand, and now with a glamping weekend under our belts, there is a whole new meaning to the word “fond.”

Only two tents available out of four, Jessica and I were happy to share one tent giving Wendy, our early bird, the last tent to herself. With a double bed built for two and my unfortunate bout with brown bottled flu midway through the night, I think Jessica quickly decided she bunked with the wrong COOP teammate.

Slattery Vintage Estates rests in a quiet little valley off a gravel road in southeastern Nebraska. The area brought back a flood of childhood memories. Farmers parked their trucks along the road to visit with other farmers and neighbors who live nearby. Drivers greeted one another with the unmistakable one-finger wave.

The grounds provided a lovely break from the hustle and bustle of my current schedule. My favorite part of the visit was definitely the tents. They are cozy and charming. Plus, since it was the middle of November, the electricity was a nice perk considering the cold overnight temperatures. Without the heated blankets or space heaters, the evening would not have been as pleasant.  The staff at Slattery was so warm and welcoming; they made our stay even more special.

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Editor’s note: This blog post was published in collaboration with Slattery Vintage Estates.
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