Unplugged

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"Bananaman" from St. Louis and the author.

HERMANN, Mo. — When my wife, Ellen, suggested we get away for a long weekend with friends to historic Hermann, I thought it was a great idea.

While Hermann is known for its numerous wineries along the Missouri River, there also are distilleries, craft brewers and many German-themed shops and restaurants, with the Hermann Wurst Haus being a must-stop for a smoked meat lover.

To maximize my enjoyment of the weekend, I had another plan I didn’t let my wife in on.

I gave up my phone for 48 hours.

Now, I told my business partners and co-workers that the mean old boss was taking it away from me so, but it was my idea.

As soon as we hit the Christopher S. “Kit” Bond Bridge on Mo. 19 heading into Hermann late Friday afternoon, I turned off my phone and handed it to her.

“Don’t give it back to me until we hit this bridge again on Sunday,” I said.

She laughed and said “OK,” but she was thinking, “He’s going to be begging me for this back tomorrow morning.”

Now, Hermann is only about 2,500 people, but during Okotoberfest, the village’s population balloons. We went to our cabin south of Hermann, unpacked and went back into town where the bars and shops were packed.

It’s a vibe very similar to Hannibal during Tom Sawyer Days or the Folklife Festival. There was live music inside and outside at bars on Friday night and on Saturday afternoon. People were everywhere with live music playing in three different spots.

Oh, and a side note to my friends and neighbors in downtown Quincy: if you want people to come into your shops and establishments … STAY OPEN LATER! We hit a chocolate shop after dinner at 9 p.m. When you close at 5 p.m., you won’t get people barhopping downtown. If you don’t think those people will stop, maybe you need to give them a reason. When the shops are open in Hermann and Hannibal at night on weekends, they are full.

Of course, some watched college football, but my will was strong. I knew Alabama would truck Tennessee and Mizzou was off. Of course, the Tigers’ defense has been off all season, but that’s not the point.

We actually never made it to a winery the entire weekend, but at Tin Mill Brewing, they had a rather nice Okotoberfest beer that was … tasty. I had a small one, but my friend decided I needed a big stein.

The big stein was filled a time or two and we enjoyed the live music. Lots of St. Louis folks were there as they took over the train for the day. Lots of “Go Blues!” being yelled back and forth. One St. Louis group arriving in Hermann early in the morning was disappointed to find the bars and restaurants weren’t open until 11 a.m., so they hit Save-A-Lot for some Anheuser-Busch product and sipped while they waited for the doors to open.

There are open container laws in Hermann and signs all over saying so, but that seemed to be merely a suggestion.

The well-lubricated St. Louis group next to us in the Tin Mill Beer Garden had finished their Save-A-Lot beers and made their way through a lineup of craft beer offerings. The guys in our group parked there while the ladies went antiquing.

One St. Louis gentleman said we needed a safe word in case he or we saw our wives coming. We suggested “banana” so our friend became “Bananaman.” When the wives arrived with us, they found Bananaman to be quite entertaining as we discovered he went to Francis Howell Central (because you always have to know where the St. Louis folks went to high school).

We ate at the Tin Mill’s restaurant, and it was quite good. Nothing like good German food to soak up the Oktoberfest. The rain held off, and we walked the riverfront and the surrounding area.

My wife even ran into some other Quincy people we knew. We won’t rat them out, but they were having fun as well.

We were back at the cabin by 9 p.m. as the rain started to fall. We had a snack and a nice visit, but the day had worn us out.

Sunday was brunch at the Wurst Haus, and we loaded up on bacon and brats to take home and a little more antiquing. I found a really cool 1967 Cardinals World Series glass that I grabbed.

1967 World Champions Cardinals glass with player names and Busch Stadium II

Then we headed north, back up Mo. 19, from Gasconade County, through Montgomery and Audrain Counties, past my hometown of Perry and eventually back to Quincy for the 2.5-hour trip.

Once we got off the Bond Bridge on the way back, I still didn’t grab for my phone. When I finally did turn it on about halfway home, it lit up like the Fourth of July.

I turned my phone over and closed my eyes, soaking in the waning moments of serenity before I dove back into reality.

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