18 May 2013

May 2013 MICHIGAN Traverse City 1 - Another Sibling Celebration

My brother's birthday is May 4th and his wife's BD is May 2nd. This year they invited my sister, younger brother, and me (plus spouses) to join them in a celebration weekend in Traverse City, Michigan. The "young one" (16 years my junior) couldn't attend due to a sports commitment with his son. Start of season for something sport or another. And the kid is good at all of them.

Mike and I picked up my sis and her hubby about 9:30am on May 3. It was a pleasant 3-1/2 hour drive. Being en-canned in our Prius (actually it is quite spacious) gave us a good chance to catch up in conversation regarding life in general. A big topic is always our niece (whom we visited in Rhode Island in January) and we love hearing about her latest capers.

On the way up we saw a few really HOT cars--schoolbus yellow Ferrari, black Ferrari Testarossa, lime green Lamborghini, pearlized orange Porsche, and a herd of Corvettes. Turns out there was a sports car rally in T.C. and they were all staying at our hotel. So we got to stroll around the parking lot, checking them out at fairly close range. We ran into them all weekend. Wherever we drove, they were not far behind or ahead. Mike was in heaven.

We stopped for lunch in our usual downtown Cadillac, Michigan, bar and grill--Maggie's (www.maggiestaverncadillac.com). It has a mix of decor including a boudoir photo of Jason Alexander (the chubby putz on the Seinfeld Show, of all people). Besides that, this is a cool place with good food and hearty drinks. You start off with plenty of free popcorn and end with free chocolate cookies (although a bit crunchy for me). I had a wet burrito, Mike had fried clams, Laur had a burger, and Tom au jus. A real mix, but all was good.

Got to T.C. about 1:30pm and check-in was available at The Park Place Hotel (www.park-place-hotel.com). YayIt is kind of fancy, but we love it. We got our usual 7th floor corner room, and my sis and bro were the next two rooms all in a row. Quite convenient. They all had connecting doors, but we didn't make use of that. All had lovely views of the Grand Traverse Bay. This hotel was completed in 1930 and is most conveniently located in the heart of T.C. It has a fine rooftop bar, good food in the restaurant, and nice indoor pool area.

The birthday pair were not expected til about 4p, so we decided to explore a distillery we had heard about on our last trip here. It is the Grand Traverse Distillery (www.grandtraversedistillery.com) and their spirits have won many awards. Their vodka was rated in the top six in the world. They make vodka bourbon, whiskey, and all in several styles. We got a personal tour of the distilling room and "rick house" area. We had a pretty good discussion with the distillery manager as Mike and I had just been to Tennessee to a bourbon distillery in January, so we were up on the process and jargon, although this was a minuscule operation compared to that in TN.

Back downtown, we had more time to kill, so ended up snacking and wetting our whistles at Seven Monks (www.7monkstop.com). It's a beer place with lots of beers on tap. I'm not a beer drinker, so I had a cherry mead, which was delish. After a beer and a snack, my BD brother called. He and his wife were hanging out at the spectacular rooftop bar back at the hotel.

You can see for miles through the wrap around windows. The last time we had been here happened to be during a hot air balloon rally. They were taking off at the harbor that day with big bursts of flame to lighten the balloons of many colors and design. Today, however, was overcast and a quick rain stormed through for just a few minutes. That was cool also. We toasted the BD couple and then headed for dinner.

Dinner on a Friday night in T.C. is a challenge, especially for six with no reservations. We went to a number of stand-by eateries, but ended up in a new one to us named Bootleggers. It looked like it had been run hard. It had an old tin ceiling with an upside down Christmas tree hanging from it, old clocks and other aged things on the wall. It had a worn down, used-to-be-classy, comfortable feel. Service started off a bit slow, but then we found our pretty pregnant waitress was basically holding down the very busy "fort." The other gal looked new-ish.

Once we got going, things went well. Mike had another clam platter (better than Maggie's he said) and I had baked potato skins with mushrooms instead of bacon. Not sure what the rest ordered, but everybody was happy when we left.

T.C. is the cherry capital of the world (no lie) and the streets were lined with huge artsy cherries of every ilk. Must have been an art competition and they were decorating the downtown streets with the entries. We shopped (too late for a caramel apple dessert at Kilwin's...darn) and mozied back to the hotel. Each settled into their own room cave for "private celebrating," you might say. Beds and pillows were really comfy.

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