Hopping Around the “D”

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Things are hoppening in Detroit. Just pop in to one of the dozens of downtown bars and sample for yourself. Cathryn and I did just that, the other day, after dropping off family at the airport. We planned on eating in Greek Town so I parked the car in the lot at the corner of Munroe and Brush. Right next to the parking lot was a place we knew as Marilyn’s on Munroe, that is now called the Firebird Tavern.

We liked the place right off the bat, with its turn-of-the-century dark wood bar and tables, and tin ceiling. Lisa greeted us at the bar, offering a list of craft beers, adding that anything local was half price during happy hour. They had a tasty selection of bottles and draft to choose from, and she happily let us sample a few before ordering.

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The Two Bill’s – Part 2

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This story appears in my first book, A Casual Traveler

 The Way Back 

            Usually, going somewhere is more fun than coming back. Whenever I plan a trip I try to take that into account. I don’t know how everyone else feels, but I hate covering the same ground twice. I’d much rather make a loop and go out of my way, than drive down the same road more than once. Unless something is worth seeing again, from a different perspective.

            Cathryn and I had a great ride getting to Vancouver, but I knew I had my work cut out for me, trying to find an eventful and scenic way back home. The whole idea of the trip was to cover new ground, since both of us had been out west before. Seattle came to mind. Although I’d been there twice, I never had time to see more than a few token attractions on the waterfront.

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The Two Bill’s – Part 1

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This story appears in my first book, A Casual Traveler

 Westward Ho

Cathryn’s big question was, “How do I pack for a whole month?” She was faced with the dilemma of how to get her clothes, shoes, and toiletries into one small suitcase, that fit into the trunk portion of our Harley Davidson motorcycle. I had laid out a plan to ride all the way to Vancouver, and back, within a month…or so.

“You only need to pack for five to seven days,” I offered, “We can do our laundry along the way when we stop for more than a day.” I broke the trip into segments, staying in a few different places for more than one night at a time, so we could take a rest from the bike, and not have to be on it every day of the trip.

We met with our friends Greg and Brenda, to discuss the first leg of the trip. They changed their final destination, deciding to only ride as far as Milwaukee with us. It didn’t matter, we were going on with or without them. Figuring traffic would be lighter, and a hotel in downtown Milwaukee cheaper, we left at 9 am on Sunday, July 3rd.

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Seattle’s more than Seafood

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Seattle deserves a lot more time than we allowed ourselves there, but with a Kamikaze agenda, we hit enough bars and restaurants to give us a good taste of the seaside city. For me, downtown Seattle means Pike’s Market on the waterfront. You could spend a whole day wandering through the dozens of shops in buildings on both sides of the street, and not see it all.

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Bikes n Brews

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Milwaukee, Wisconsin…home of the Brewers. And I don’t mean the baseball team. Shlitz, Blatz, and Pabst put Milwaukee on the beer map years ago. The Harley Davidson Museum is now a tourist attraction for motorcycle riders from all parts of the globe. They have their world headquarters and a factory there. IMG_2995

The old brewery buildings downtown have been converted to upscale condominiums. The city also converted other industrial buildings along the river into trendy shops and restaurants, creating the River Walk. It was hard to look at the old brewery buildings and not think about Laverne and Shirley.

 Milwaukee was our first stop on our cross-country motorcycle trip. Our friends Greg and Brenda made the first leg of the ride with us and did the museum tour at HD. Cathryn tried out one of the bikes to get the real feel of riding a hawg, then her and I took a ride along the lakefront, where they set had off 4th of July fireworks the night before.

We stayed in the Astor, an old hotel downtown that has been refurbished to include trendy apartments.

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Lord Amherst-burger

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By Cathryn Gagnon:

The historic town of  Amherstburg is the home to a cozy little pub called, Lord Amherst Public House and Wine Bar. It’s located at 273 Dalhousie Street, and named after  Lord Jeffrey Amherst, who served as the first Governor General of British North America.  This quaint meeting place comes complete with creaky wood floors and traditional English pub fare. Separate from the pub, there is a wine bar upstairs. It has a rustic European décor and features imported and local wines.

Our server was sweet, welcoming, and attentive.  We started off with a Grimbergen, dark lager, craft beer. It had caramelized undertones with a crisp coffee finish.  Since it was my birthday lunch, and my mother was buying, I thought I would splurge. We ordered soup and sandwiches.

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Belles in Cowtown

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By Cathryn Gagnon:

A recent visit to see Cityline in Toronto brought the girls and I to Yorkville.  We discovered that a favorite restaurant named Ciao, at  133 Yorkville Avenue, has been renamed Cibo Wine Bar. It did not disappoint.  I was pleased to hear that there now is a Cibo Wine Bar on King Street as well.The place is huge, among the other posh eating establishments in Yorkville.  Cibo is trendy and loud, but the whole atmosphere is vibrant.

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Taste Sensations:

  • CARPACCIO – thinly sliced raw beef, arugula, shavings of parmigiano.
  • FUSILLI – chicken, porcini mushrooms, light cream sauce.
  • ARUGULA – Prosciutto di Parma, shaved parmigiano reggiano, red wine vinegar, extra-virgin olive oil.
  • TONNO SCOTTATO + CAPONATA Seared Ahi tuna*, black olive salsa, green beans.

We chose to eat a lighter fare, but every mouthful was amazing.  I highly recommend Cibo Wine Bar, rating it 9 out of 10.

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Relax at the Ben Miller Inn

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Two of the main buildings at the Ben Miller Inn & Spa are over one hundred and thirty years old, but it’s the simplicity and charm of the old grist mill, that keeps visitors coming back for some good old fashioned country R & R. It’s nestled in the rolling hills near Lake Huron, about ten minutes from downtown Goderich.

Rooms are available in different buildings or cottages, depending on the experience you are looking for. We stayed in one of the Mill rooms that overlooked a gushing stream and the Maitland River. The sound of the water and the view were amazing.

The room was clean will all the amenities, including a mini hideaway kitchenette. I was a bit disappointed with the overall condition of the old Inn. There is being old and there is looking old; the Inn looks like it could use some TLC. It was more evident on the property away from the main building.

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DoCK 21 – Harrow Pit Stop

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We had nothing to do on this beautiful sunny Sunday and all day to do it so we jumped on the Harley and headed to Riverside Drive. I drove west along the water, through downtown Windsor, LaSalle and Amherstburg. While it was sad to see an old watering hole like Abar’s down and out it looked like something new is going on at the Sunnyside, in LaSalle.

After a spin through Colchester my gas gauge told me it was time to get gas. Cathryn said her tummy was growling and she was on empty too. We rode into Harrow in search of gas and grub. On the way to the gas station I noticed a new pub on the main drag, where the IMG_1161Pie Lady used to be. It’s called “DoCk 21 Fine Pub.”

We were looking for a light lunch, late in the afternoon – something to hold us over till dinner. DoCK 21 was the perfect pick.

The dining room was empty at that time of day, but we love to belly up to the bar and chat with the staff and locals – two of whom said the seafood chowder was good.

They weren’t exactly correct. It was awesome and not something out of a can…lots of seafood and not filled with potatoes. A perfect creamy texture. Cathryn had a the cranberry spring mix salad with chunks of chicken almost the size of golf balls. It was fresh and crisp with just the right amount of dressing.11701225_1459598907698989_7545775035711729447_n

The only thing that was disappointing was that I didn’t get to sample any of the inviting draft beers they had on tap.  I strictly limit my alcohol consumption when riding on only two wheels.

A woman near us had the chicken quesadilla and gave us the thumbs up and two other patrons left with a doggy bag so I figured the food must have been plentiful and good enough to take it home. We give DoCK 21 a 4 out of 5 stars on their Facebook page.

 

The Kingsville Krawl

IMG_1151The town of Kingsville is about a forty minute drive from our house in Windsor. It boasts a handful of unique pubs and restaurants as well as several wineries that are just outside of town. Cathryn and I have visited and/or stayed in Kingsville on many occasions.

It can be a bit quiet in the winter, but that’s when places like Lakeside Park come to life with their beautiful Christmas light display.

On this occasion, Cathryn scored a Groupon for $90 that gave us accommodations in a beautiful century-old home, above Jack’s Gastro Pub. The deal included $35 in food or beverages of our choice.

Jack’s is a hot-spot in Kingsville, with it’s open veranda and shaded patio dining areas. The menu is ever changing, but always has delicious choices. We like to hop around town to try different places, eating and drinking as we go. IMG_1155

After dropping off our bags we walked down the stairs to the little bar, right below our room. Too handy. We got into the craft beers, starting with an Okanagan black lager that tasted like more. I had another.

We wanted to try something different to eat so we ordered the bacon cheeseburger spring rolls. Then went perfectly with the dark beer.  I had to share the appetizer and I wasn’t quite full so I decided to try a Belgian craft next. It was like having dessert before my meal. Continue reading “The Kingsville Krawl”