Sunday, December 20, 2009

Fun Begins At 5

Five o'clock mountain time, that is, in the western Nebraska town of Paxton.

Inspired by the great wine we tasted at the Golden Spike Tower and Visitor Center Friday night, the Mister and I decided to head to the small town of Paxton just eleven miles west of Sutherland for an evening at the 5 Trails Winery.

Our evening started with a dinner at the Windy Gap Grill.
This is the historical information taken from the back of the menu at the Windy Gap.
The printing is a little hard to read in this view, so here is what it says:

Windy Gap is the historical pass that slices through the craggy hills that divide the North and South Platte River Valleys. It was created by the wagon wheels of Kinkaiders who settled in the sandhills north of Paxton, hoping to make a new start from the parcel of land given to them by the government in the early 1900’s. It was a grueling life for them. Several times a year they made the two to three day trek into town with their eggs, cream and ear corn to sell and trade for supplies. Their wheels cut deeper and deeper into the sand and a ceaseless wind blew through the gulch.

It was an exhausting trip and sometimes the settlers would spend a night in the Globe Hotel before making the return trip. The hotel served multiple purposes. Tasty meals were served by some of the prettiest girls in town. The hotel proprietor was also the town midwife. Numerous babies were delivered in the hotel rooms. A nice room was let for fifty cents and the others were a quarter.

As the years passed, defeated by howling blizzards, drought and dust storms that turned day into night, the settlers one by one, gave it up. They sold the land back to the ranchers who had once claimed it. The days of open range for cattle were gone and barbed wire fences sprung up all over the sandhills. Gaping blow-outs blemished the rolling prairie where the plows of the settlers had defiled the virgin soil.

In 1935 Windy Gap was transformed from a sandhill trail into a real road by a government work project called the WPA. It was chiseled out by the sweat and determination of desperate men, just glad to have a job at the end of the Great Depression. They were assisted only by some draglines.

Windy Gap – the gateway of the past.
By Gayle Wid

Windy Gap Grill – Your Gateway to great Food at Reasonable Prices.


As you can see from this picture, the Windy Gap is a typical small rural Nebraska town watering hole. The atmosphere is friendly and casual, with the regulars seated at the bar watching football and sharing stories.
What sets the Windy Gap apart, though, is the fantastic food. The advertising slogan on their menu "Great Food at Reasonable Prices" isn't just talk - they deliver. I enjoyed the Steak Sandwich, $5.95.
The Mister's choice was their signature "Juicy Lucy" hamburger - $5.25.
Paxton is a very unique community in western Nebraska. With a population of just over 600 people, it supports two restaurants and a bar, a grocery store, hometown bank, service station, lumber yard, thriving library, and of course, the 5 Trails Winery, along with numerous other businesses. Paxton is only a mile south of Interstate 80, at the Paxton exit is a Days Inn hotel and a convenience store.
Six o'clock on a Saturday night and the street is packed with cars. Some are enjoying dinner at the world famous Ole's Steakhouse and Lounge, others a drink at Swede's,
While others, like us were eating at the Windy Gap. Sorry for the quality of the picture - the Windy Gap side of the street isn't as well lit as the Ole's side.
And now on to the highlight of the evening. A delicious glass of wine and great entertainment at the 5 Trails Winery.
Since they can say it better than I can - the following is from their brochure:
Your 5 Trails fun begins at our downtown Paxton winery and tasting room. You'll find us just one minute off Interstate 80. Comfortable chairs. Cozy fireplace. Modern decor. And a fully appointed tasting area where you can sample the full range of 5 Trails wines along with specially prepared meats, cheeses, gourmet pizza and chocolate to enhance their flavor - and your enjoyment.

And since we're all about fun, 5 Trails Winery is also the scene for talented singer/songwriters, inspiring art exhibits and other one-of-a-kind entertainment and experiences.
While the wine is fantastic, it was really the entertainment that drew us to Paxton tonight. The multi-talented singer/songwriter Paul Siebert, with more than twenty years of performance experience, entertained the crowd gathered at 5 Trails with a mix of Christmas music, covers and his own brand of folk/Americana music.
If you're a regular reader of this blog, Paul might look familiar. Here he is, in another persona, performing in the trio Double D Wranglers, who were entertainers at our November House Concert.
Paul sang and played the guitar, banjo and hammer dulcimer for friends and new acquaintences enjoying a good time. We are definitely going to invite Paul to perform solo at an upcoming House Concert.
The 5 Trails Winery is a family affair. Patriarch John, returned to nearby Roscoe when he retired.
With the help of his two sons, John started the family’s first vineyard, which quickly grew to become 5 Trails Winery.

On what they now call the GRAPE PLAINS, the Gamet guys and their families found the good life. Steve is responsible for the vineyard and is on the faculty of the Viticulture Department at UNL. Pat and his wife Lori run the winery and tasting room—and John continues to have a hand in the overall operation.
The wine is all made in the back room of the renovated building (former an auto/farm machinery repair shop) located on Paxton's main street.
Thank you for stopping by. The coffee is always on, or we could opt for a glass of wine at 5 Trails.

ShareThis