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Circus Trip 2018: Kalamazoo, Michigan

Day 72, Tuesday, September 25, 2018
In and around Kalamazoo, Michigan

After more than two months on the road, my car was a bit of a mess.  Staying at my Aunt and Uncle’s place gave me a great opportunity for reorganizing!  You get a few weird looks anywhere when you are laying all of your possessions out on the driveway, but at least this way I could put it out on the concrete and not on campground dirt.

Mom and Dad had 16 jars of cherry preserves that they wanted me to fit in the car, since they had flown out to Michigan on that trip.  Cherry preserves are tough to find out here in Washington – it is apparently a regional flavor!  So I spent a few hours retucking, consolidating, folding and rounding up strays that morning – soon enough I had a neat, controlled environment in the camping car again!  Then it was time for an afternoon of fun with my cousin!

Megan and I headed over first to the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts to see some of their exhibits.  Some of the art was very sexually risque, with an entire exhibit of contemporary art of naked men with erections.  Not really my thing, but I guess art offers something for everyone.  There was plenty of other art that was more to my taste, with elaborate blown glass, Western art, and some interesting sculpture.  At any rate, it was a good visit to an art museum I hadn’t seen before.

Next up we did a quick stop at Henderson Castle, a Bed and Breakfast in Kalamazoo.  It is a ten bedroom, seven bathroom castle that was built in 1895 for Frank Henderson and his wife Mary.  Frank’s company made uniforms and regalia for secret societies, fraternal organizations and the military.  It is a beautiful home and it would be fun to stay there!

We ended our afternoon with a couple of stops at wineries in Paw Paw.  We went to St. Julian; the wines were good, but sadly our server was very disengaged.  It was unfortunate, because I always like hearing about the wines and talking with the server.  I did buy a couple of their wines to take home; their sparkling Brut was delicious and I wish I had some now!

Last but not least we went to Lawton Ridge, which was a winery I have visited before in Paw Paw.  We shared our flights so we could try more wines, and enjoyed several.  I ended up buying a bottle and a cute wine t-shirt.  It was a fun visit!

After our day out, we went home to my Aunt and Uncle’s house and had burgers with pickles and olives, and corn on the cob.  Yum!  We watched TV for a bit, but then I went to bed early in order to do some route planning, so I could resume my travels the next morning.  After a week with family, I would be hitting the road again!

 

Circus Trip 2018: South Haven, Michigan

Day 71, Monday, September 24, 2018
South Haven, Michigan

Monday, my cousin had the day off, so we had the opportunity to take a little day trip over to South Haven, Michigan.  We were ready to have a little cousins relaxing time!

Our first stop was at the South Haven Brewpub for lunch.  I had the Philly Cheesesteak and the Sunset Amber Ale; it was a great lunch!  The sun was warm; by the end our lunch, Megan was already getting sunburned!

After lunch, we headed over to Warner Vineyards for a little wine tasting.  There were lots of options, so Megan and I split our tastings.  Megan and I have different palates for wine; Megan likes the sweeter wines and I like the drier ones.

After wine-tasting, we did a little poking around in shops in South Haven.  I got a Michigan zipper hoodie.  It was fun seeing all the cute items.  

We did one more wine tasting that afternoon, at 12 Corners.  I got a couple of bottles there, including their Aromella, which was really good!  

We wrapped up our day with a walk out to the South Haven Light.  It is a beautiful lighthouse, bright red at the end of the pier!  It was a beautiful, sunny day, but it was so windy!  We had a good time getting selfies with the lighthouse and taking photos of the lighthouse too.  

We ended our day with dinner with my parents, and my aunt and uncle at the Chinese buffet.  It was a good day to a fun day!  

Circus Trip 2018: Gadby’s Tavern, Alexandria, VA

Day 59, Wednesday, September 12, 2018
Gadby’s Tavern, Alexandria, Virginia

After I left the Boston area, I had plans to visit a friend of mine who lives in Alexandria, Virginia.  I was going to spend a few days there, and use that as my jumping off point for visiting Washington, D.C.  I had left Quincy, Massachusetts, and embarked on a long drive through multiple states to get to Alexandria.  I split it over two days, as it is a total of about eight hours driving, through a lot of traffic.  Heading from Massachusetts to Alexandria meant I had to skip some great locations, but you can’t possibly see everything on a trip, I suppose.  It was tough to drive through so many great places and just pass them by!  Connecticut, New York City, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Delaware, and more!  I so very much want to go back and see all these places!

All that said, I rolled into Alexandria about 4 in the afternoon, and headed to Jason’s house.  He had planned a surprise for my visit! He knows how much I love history, so he made reservations at Gadsby’s Tavern!

Gadsby’s Tavern was originally built in 1785 by Marylander John Wise, and opened the building next door as the Federal City Tavern in 1792.  There was another tavern on the site before the current building though, which reportedly was in business from around 1770.  An Englishman named Gadsby leased the tavern in 1796; the current name is a nod to him. 

Back in the late 1700s, several notable guests frequented the tavern, including Founding Fathers and Presidents!  George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, and the Marquis de Lafayette were all known visitors to the taverns here.  A banquet was even held in Washington’s honor here in 1801; how cool to be in the same place where these men talked politics. 

Gadsby operated the tavern until 1815, and then passed through various hands and it was various businesses, until it fell into disrepair and abandonment.  In 1917, in this sad state, some of the ballroom woodwork was sold to the Metropolitan Museum in New York City, where it apparently remains today.  However, this was the catalyst for the historic preservation.  Gadsby’s Tavern was restored to the period of the late 1700s, and reopened as a restaurant in 1976.

There is a fine dining atmosphere, with delicious food and ambiance.  I had the herb encrusted grill salmon, finished with a balsamic glaze, and served with jasmine rice and sauteed spinach, and a glass of white wine.  To add to its charm, period actors make their way around the room, reciting the words of our Founding Fathers and engaging restaurant patrons in discussions on the governance of our young, budding country!

It was so much fun getting to see Jason and watch the actors engage with people!  An amazing experience for a history nerd like me!  

After dinner we wandered around Alexandria and got ice cream nearby, just chatting and catching up.  I certainly want to go back and see more of this fascinating and historic city!

 

COVID Diaries: Day 374

The weekend has arrived again!  I had to work yesterday on my day off, as one of my employees had a family emergency, so it was nice when the workday was finally over! 

I had a friends dinner date on Thursday night at a new pho restaurant in town.  So simple and so delicious!  It’s so nice to be able to eat in a restaurant again.  We followed it up with a walk to the University, since it is now light out later in the evening. 

Friday night I took a long walk in the Arboretum, and then back down through the University.  It’s so nice to have this wooded park just a few blocks from my front door. Afterwards, I tried a new Raspberry Lemonade canned wine.  It was ok; not great, not terrible.

Today I had to do the unpleasant task of buying a new washer.  Why are these things so expensive and why oh why can they not make quality things the way they used to?  In my first house, the dishwasher was 42 years old and still worked fine.  You are lucky if you get 7 years out of an appliance these days.  But I am now the proud owner of a brand new Speed Queen top loading washing machine with exactly no bells and whistles, which is exactly how I think it ought to be.  Hopefully it will last… 

To reward myself for getting this chore done, I went to the Lost Giants cidery and got a 6-pack of their new Passionfruit Guava cider.  It is soooo good! 

I hope you are all having a fantastic weekend!

 

Oh What Fun!, Day 9

Day 9 in the Wine Advent Calendar was a Chilean Sauvignon Blanc.  Chile was where I learned to love wine, sampling the local selections when I lived there so long ago.

This Sauvignon Blanc was made from grapes from Chile’s Valle Central (Central Valley) and was crisp and acidic, with flavors of pineapple and nectarine.  It had 12.5% ABV and was a very nice, dry white.  One of my favorites!

Cheers!

Oh What Fun!, Day 8

My wine for Day 8 was a Merlot from Chile’s Valle Central region.  This is the only international wine region I’ve been to, so I knew I was in for a treat.  Chile was where I learned to love wine, and they have so many good ones for affordable prices!

I don’t drink much Merlot, and I thought this one was relatively soft and fruit forward, despite the bottle description saying it was full bodied.  I tasted black cherry and ripe raspberry, with medium tannins.  It had 13% ABV, and it was delicious!

 

Oh What Fun!, Day 7

I love Rose – I was excited to see a rose included in my wine advent calendar!

Unfortunately, this was not the dry rose I have come to love.  This California rose was more reminiscent of the syrupy, overly sweet White Zinfandels that were a staple of the 1980s. Honestly, I drank this one very slowly, and had a hard time finishing it.

The description on the bottle was of strawberry and juicy watermelon, which seemed accurate, but it was like drinking a runny, strawberry syrup.

You can’t win them all – it still looked pretty in it’s picture!

Oh What Fun!, Day 6

Cabernet Sauvignon isn’t my favorite grape.  Or maybe the grape is fine, but it’s what most winemakers do with the grape.  I’ve found that so many Cabernet Sauvignons are aged in heavy oak, and the wine leaves you feeling like you just chewed on a 2×4…

So I wasn’t that excited to find this little bottle, but I was pleasantly surprised!  This Cabernet wasn’t over-oaked, and had nice flavors of black cherry and tobacco.

At 13% ABV it was a fairly light Cab, and one I would certainly drink again.

Oh What Fun!, Day 5

I know, I know… I got sidetracked!  But this just means we get to enjoy my Wine Advent Calendar into January!

Day 5 was a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.  It had that crisp minerality that a good Sauvignon Blanc has, with flavors of lemongrass and lime.  I loved this one! 

The grapes were grown in the Marlborough region of New Zealand, and it clocked in at 13% ABV.  Delicious!

Oh What Fun!, Day 4

Our Day 4 wine was a California Zinfandel!

Immediately upon opening, we were met with bold, rich, berry flavors.  We both loved it!  Zinfandel is often a robust wine and this one was no different.  It is a fairly heavy hitter at 14% ABV, but the balance of the fruit flavors and a light oak made this easy to sip.

It was an excellent representation of the grape!