A day in Michigan with two of our grandsons from Las Vegas and we already knew that Michigan humidity doesn’t agree with them, of course when the humidity and temperature is high in Michigan, it doesn’t agree with Michiganders either. The last time that they were here we took them to see the Detroit Institute of Arts and Greenfield Village, two of the premier tourist attractions in the area. We have taken them to museums and similar venues in Las Vegas that they had never seen, and I think it is good for them to keep learning even by osmosis. We decided that they should see the Henry Ford Museum, which is part of the recently named The Henry, which also has Greenfield Village. Unless one actually visits the Museum, it is hard to believe all of the Americana and inventions that have been amassed under one roof, and not to mention the collections. One does not usually see collections of trains, not miniature toy setup, but there was one set up that day, airplanes, trucks, automobiles, busses, campers, stoves, telephones and in fact, if you name it, it is probably there. Some sad memories of our history as well, like the chair that Abraham Lincoln was sitting in when he was assassinated at Ford’s theater and also the Ford Motor Car 1961 Lincoln Continental convertible that John Kennedy was assassinated in. The good news was that both of my grandsons knew those two presidents from school. We also stopped and had a quick bite at Lamy’s Diner, an actual diner that emulates a dining car that was moved into the museum and originally only had prop food, but not offers some diner options. I had to laugh at the kids, because they had never seen a menu with so few choices, three sandwiches, a soup and some desserts. True to the concept of The Henry, the period restaurants offer period food and there were no foodies per se back in the days of the original diners, so no imagination, but edible. We washed it down with Faygo pop, which is a great idea, since Faygo pop was a Detroit company and I went to high school with one of the granddaughters of the founders. We also took them to see the Star Trek exhibit and made a film of them being teleported to another galaxy, though Star Trek was lost on them, just like a pair of high-buttoned shoes.
We then took them to Downtown Detroit, so that they could see Detroit with people on the streets, not as crowded as when I was there age, or as crowded as The Strip in Vegas, but people and activities and commerce. We drove through some of the areas that are still blighted and then they also got to see how gentrification is working to save the city from the decay of just a few years ago. They also saw what was left of the old Tiger Stadium where the field is still being used and it was that day and the businesses and condos that are now surrounding the field. They also got a chance to see and feel the old brick road surface that is still in parts of Michigan Avenue that goes from Downtown Detroit to Downtown Chicago. After walking around the downtown, seeing the stores, the two new stadiums and then down to Hart Plaza along the Detroit River we pointed out that across the river was Canada and the only point where Canada is south of the border. We also took them out for dinner, in what can be the most argumentative subject in Detroit. We were going to have Coney Islands. If you are not aware of it, Detroit is famous for Coney Island meals, which is either a hot dog in a bun covered with a meat laden chili, onions and mustard or a Loose Burger, which substitutes fried ground round for the hot dog with the same toppings. The kids have had second rate versions of this Detroit delicacy that they tried with their Mother in Dearborn, and I took them to try one at the D Hotel in Vegas, but it was a very poor imitation. Side by side in Downtown Detroit with entrances on both Michigan Avenue and Lafayette Street are American Coney Island and Lafayette Coney Island and here is where the battle will begin. When I was a kid, the two restaurants were owned by brothers and the employees between orders would step out on the sidewalk and twirl their towels in the air and try to persuade customers to enter one eatery rather than the other (and I may add that it was all in good fun). American Coney Island is a beautiful emporium that has expanded into the old United Shirt Factory store and has updated and remodeled a couple of times and they have expanded the menu a couple of times; whereas Lafayette Coney Island is the same dingey diner with the same counter, some long community tables and a few smaller tables and the only addition to the menu was when they added French fries. You guessed it, we ate at Lafayette, I mean give me a break, American has salads that they introduced to entice the Yuppies, the only thing I think Lafayette did was get a better refrigerator, because the beers seem colder. The boys even were amazed at the quality of the hot dogs, they couldn’t put it into words, but a Detroiter will tell you that real Coney Island hot dogs snap when you bite into them. I may get chastised for my selection, but I stand by it, as I have been going to Lafayette, even before I was going to school.
We finally reunited the boys with their Mother as they had someplace to go that evening and my Bride and I returned home, well fed, but tired. I went into the refrigerator to get something to drink, since we were good guardians and I didn’t even have a beer with my Coneys at Lafayette We had a bottle chilling of Good Harbor Vineyards “Tribute” Barrel Fermented Chardonnay 2013 from the Leelanau Peninsula in Michigan that we had received as a gift. The Simpson family were originally in the cherry industry in the 1950’s in the Leelanau Peninsula. In the 1970’s John Simpson sent his son Bruce to the University of California – Davis to learn about viticulture and oenology. In 1980 Bruce and his wife Debbie opened Good Harbor Vineyards and they were the fourth winery established on the Leelanau Peninsula. They now have one-hundred-twenty-five acres devoted to Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Gruner Veltliner, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Pinot Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Zweigelt, Lemberger and Cabernet Franc. The winery is now owned and operated by the second generation of Simpsons. This wine was created as a “Tribute” to their father Bruce and the wine was aged in new French Oak. This is a special wine from them, as the majority of their wines use Stainless Steel, and a couple of wines get very quick aging in French Oak. I was surprised to find some Lemon Rind on the nose and on the finish and it was a very easy drinking wine that made the evening a bit easier without the kids.