Walter P Chrysler Museum, Red Knapps Dairy Bar, Paint Creek Cider Mill

20 Aug

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What do you like to do on a rainy Summer day? We got off to a late start on Sunday so we began our outing with lunch. Red Knapps Dairy Bar has been a staple of Main Street Rochester since 1950. I have been coming to this place all my life and enjoy it just as much now as I did when I was a kid. The decor is authentic kitschy diner, I like to sit at the dairy bar on the vintage red barstools. The food is exactly what you’d expect;  burgers, fries, onion rings and of course shakes and malts. The burgers are large here; they’re not fancy but you can dress them up with a variety of toppings, onions and relish are delivered to you in tupperware containers. You must try the onion rings, they are massive in size; cut fresh to order, battered and deep fried, they are the best we’ve ever had, one order can easily feed two. I much prefer a malt over a shake, but you can’t go wrong with either here, flavor choices go way beyond vanilla, chocolate and strawberry; how about mocha, peanut butter or butterscotch? I order mine double chocolate (made with chocolate ice cream) and extra malt, you don’t get malts like this just anywhere. It arrives at your table in a tall old fashioned glass with both a spoon and a straw along with the remainder left in the shiny metal mixing container, you can easily get another full glass out of it. Knapps is still owned by the family, Red’s son Gerald and his son Miles are in charge now and they still do things the old fashioned way, and we’re all glad for it.

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With the anticipation of the Woodward Dream Cruise in the air, we paid a visit to the Walter P Chrysler Museum in Auburn Hills. The 55,000 sq. ft. museum is spread out over three floors and has something for everyone. Cars have always been more than just transportation, they tell the history of America and what was going on in the world, they reflect the fashion of the times and the way people lived. Historical exhibits explain the significance of the more than 65 vehicles, and take you through the timeline of the Chrysler Corporation. The cars themselves are gorgeous; huge chrome bumpers, mouldings, and grills. Two-tone paint jobs in pink and cream, high impact colors like Sublime, Plum Crazy, and Vitamin C, and don’t forget wood-grain. Every decade is represented here; From Chrysler’s inception in the mid 20’s to the Art Deco styling of the Air Flow, right through WWII to the fabulous fins, chrome and colors of the 1950’s. Next up Muscle Cars with their stripes, scoops and spoilers; names like RoadRunner, Challenger and Super Bee. I love the clever marketing terms used in this era, a language all it’s own; Mod Top, Air Grabber,Tuff Wheel and Shaker! Would you like your ‘Cuda with a Pistol Grip or Slap-Stik shifter ?  Hood pins or rear window louvers your style? Paint it Sassy Grass Green or Moulin Rouge, it was all up to you. Then continuing into and out of the gas crunch with the Cordoba and Volare, K car, Shelby’s and Mini Vans. Then we arrive at the present with the gorgeous 2011 Dodge Challenger and Charger, I wish I could take them all home.

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Downstairs in addition to race cars and Jeeps you will find one of my favorites the Dodge La Femme,  specifically designed for women, this vehicle came with a matching umbrella and handbag, how cool is that! Kris has a great passion for cars and while he was initially attracted to the Muscle Cars, and he’s had his share, we have both grown to like and appreciate cars of all eras. When we travel we always like to go to the ‘local’ museum, it allows you to get a real sense of the people and the significance of a place when you know more about them.  The same can be said of the Chrysler Museum and Detroit, this city put the world on wheels, we have a truly amazing manufacturing history, one that we can all be proud of. They did a great job with this place, you can easily spend an hour or more just looking around. 

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When we left the museum we made our way over to scenic Orion Rd to get an ice cream at the Historic Paint Creek Cider Mill.  Located just off the Paint Creek Trail they are now open 7 days a week. Inside you can choose from a wide variety of flavors of Hershey’s Ice Cream, try the Cappuccino Crunch; coffee flavored ice cream with bits of crunchy toffee with deep chocolate fudge running through it. Yes, they have donuts even in Summer , how about a Maple Bacon? The massive covered porch allows you to sit outdoors even if the weather is less than ideal. We enjoyed our ice cream and the peaceful setting, before you know it the leaves will be turning and lines will be out the door!

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