The last few times N and I have been to our special place, other people have joined us. This past weekend, we had a chance to break away - just the two of us. All of our weekends away have been memorable, but this past one was magical. It felt like we were in a different emotional space marked by a shared vision and readiness to move forward together.

Over the weekend, we spent time with inspiring locals. The first is a developer who converted an historic winery into modern lofts. He reused as much of the old winery as possible in order to limit waste and also create a sense of historical integrity. His quiet and peaceful demeanor was calming and renewing. Before we parted ways he looked at us with sincere eyes and shared some nurturing wedding advice.

Next, we met with a husband/wife team who designed and furnished a tiny Inn (the Mrs is an interior designer). Their vibrant and fresh take on inn-keeping, devotion to the small details and desire to incorporate the natural surroundings will make lodging luxurious for their guests. They opened their home to us and we fell for their Tiffany-blue kitchen cabinets and playfully feisty French Bulldog, Lulu.

We ended the day with dinner and a trip to the Tradewinds Casino. I've never gambled and often question the value of such a past-time, but agreed to go out of curiosity. Good thing I did! N took me to the roulette table and encouraged me to pick our numbers. My first win was selecting our wedding date number of 18. Then we divided all our chips between red & my number selection - 1. The ball landed on 1 and we walked away with $540!

On Sunday, we prefaced our drive back to Chicago with a visit to a conservation community in IN. We met with a dream team of a couple (both architects and artists) who work with the community developer to build progressive homes that respect and incorporate the natural preserves they are surrounded by. In the home they are living in, they salvaged a beautiful slab of jasper for part of their bathroom wall and barn doors to serve as sliding room dividers. They asked what we like about the area and I told them about our ritual of watching the sunset on each visit to MI. The Mrs shed some tears reminiscing about the sunset that made her realize they had to buy the acreage they now live on. I think my favorite part of the visit was talking with their young daughter and swooning together over our shared love of minerals and gemology.

After saying goodbye to the family, we spent some time on the land and the magic was everywhere. But, the best place was between us.