The thought struck me, while recently strolling the scenic trails at Shepherd of the Hills Adventure Park, waiting on a group (drove or herd if you will) of people attending the Shepherd of the Hills Outdoor Drama, that this area that I’m blessed to live in and work in is just South of Heaven. From the majestic lakes and breathtaking views, the well-manicured properties to the nature preserves, the tiny to the tremendous moments this pleasant slice of Heaven on Earth provides are truly immeasurable!
Take, for instance, that particular evening that I got to enjoy taking in just a bit of all that Shepherd of the Hills now has to offer visitors. It started with the perfect temperature and fortuitous timing of hunger pains, which prompted me to stroll over to the Shepherd’s Grill. Here I was greeted with a huge smile and friendly hello! That set the tone, right away, for a pleasant meal. I walked right up and placed my order. There were some tempting items on the menu, but I’m always drawn to a good, hearty wrap so the obvious choice for me was the Mountain Man Wrap filled with pulled pork, coleslaw, shredded cheese and a zesty barbeque sauce.
After sustenance and some quiet time, I started making my way around the property. I sauntered into the adjoining Mercantile (Aunt Mollie’s no less) and was pleased to be greeted with another big smile, warm hello and some delightful gift items that had me wondering why I don’t shop locally more often?! Souvenirs, games, and unique items were displayed with a variety of sharp-looking t-shirts, hoodies, sweatshirts and more! Now it was my turn to return the big smile as I departed with the perfect gift for a friend of 30 years.
I wanted to turn left and step into the heavenly aroma of home-made ice cream, waffle cones, and fudge at Sammy Lane’s Sweets N’ Treats, but I was willing to wait until I wasn’t quite so full to truly enjoy the abundant home-made goodness that abounds within. So I turned right and headed past the Playhouse Theater, where a sold-out performance of WhoDunnit HoeDown Murder Mystery Dinner Show was going on. I rounded the corner and embraced the celestial beauty of artisans working on and showcasing their hand-crafted wares. From knives to knits, this was (is!) undoubtedly one of my favorite areas on the property! Something about living a creative life really speaks to me. I was pleased to learn a little history from each artisan and even came away with an inspiring story or two...
...and then a real transformation happened! I entered the Historic Farm & Playland area just as the sun was quietly setting on the horizon. The glorious rays of remaining sunlight shining on Old Matt’s Cabin and the little church were so picturesque. I spent the next half hour taking as many pictures as I could! All this before I even got to do what I went there to do, which was to see/experience The Shepherd of the Hills Outdoor Drama!
Finally, it was time to connect with our group, many of whom had glowing smiles of their own after enjoying the beautiful respite from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. We had a blast with the driver of the tram and made our way down to the outdoor amphitheater. After we got situated, it was easy to tell we were in for a treat. The beloved story of The Shepherd of the Hills was enacted on the same stage that it has been for decades! With live animals, a lively cast of cha cast of characters, and an intriguing storyline, the audience was captivated.
At intermission, I knew it was time to head over to Sammy Lane’s Sweets N’ Treats! To say the homemade ice cream was well worth the wait would be an understatement. It was genuinely the best!
As we wrapped up the evening, it was evident that I wasn’t the only one feeling a heavenly vibe. The entire audience seemed to be as contented as I was. As we ambled on down the road to our respective cars, chuckling and chattering, it seemed highly appropriate to make myself a promise to return soon to this special place just South of Heaven known as Shepherd of the Hills Adventure Park.