Selfridge Air Museum, New Baltimore Farmers Market, Bad Brad’s BBQ

3 Sep

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The tiny community of New Baltimore MI, located on beautiful Anchor Bay, is about 45 minutes north east of downtown Detroit. There have been subtle changes over the last few years making it more appealing to tourists and day-trippers. We take the scenic route whenever possible, in this case that would be Jefferson to M 29, then turn onto Washington Street into town; historic buildings line the two-lane stretch, American flags hoisted high on poles wave in the lake breeze, straight ahead lies a playground, beach, and tree studded park. Go right down to the water; walk to the end of the dock and gaze out over the blue water of Lake St Clair, fisherman cast their lines in hopes of a big catch, swans paddle gracefully by all the activity.

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  From now until October 23 you can visit the Farmers Market on Sundays from 8am-1pm. I can’t get through a summer without homegrown vegetables, so we came to get our fix! There’s nothing like a farmers market to show off the bounty of a Michigan summer; piles of zucchini that are at least a foot long, pickles overflowing from round wicker baskets, brightly colored peppers, corn, tomatoes, purple onions and peaches! Baked goods have their place here as well; breads, pies, cookies and granola all entice you to buy. How about a hot dog, or an ear of roasted corn, come hungry! There are perennials and crafts too, one booth even sells cookies for dogs.

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After shopping at the market take some time to visit some of the local businesses; Washington Street Wine House is one of the newer businesses and a great addition to the area; quite charming in a historic building complete with a tin ceiling and hardwood floor, they offer tastings, bottles, and a variety of wine accoutrements tastefully laid out in the space. The staff is knowledgeable and friendly, I’ll bet you leave with at least one bottle. Stahl’s Bakery is a short walk up the street to the corner of Washington and Main; the smell of fresh baked bread and cookies will lure you in, tasting the samples on the counter will convince you to buy. Famous for their Belly Button Cookie, Stahl’s has been hand baking for 78 years. We were lucky enough to meet the cookie baker on our visit, she was kind enough to take us back where the real work is done; a giant mixer stands on the floor as tall as me, probably older than me too, stacks of huge metal bowls wait to be filled with butter, flour and sugar, an over-sized oven remained warm from the previous days use, a wide butcher block table sat empty this Sunday, worn and warped from years of use. Here is my advice for you: Get the Belly Button cookie!! Thin and crisp, the color of dark brown sugar, its buttery taste and chocolate chips will win you over. 

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Just a short drive away on M 29 is Bad Brads BBQ, our lunch destination. The weather was perfect for outdoor dining so we had a seat on the patio. This is not your ordinary patio; the sizable space offers a variety of seating from picnic tables, high top tables and stools to square tables that seat 4 comfortably, the one thing they all have in common are the thick wood plank tabletops, quite fitting. A brick and stone fireplace sits at the furthermost edge of the patio, a pond with a trickling waterfall is centrally located, there’s even a bar out here. The menu is just what you’d expect; an array of meats smoked in house and made from scratch accompaniments, house made sauces in squeeze bottles rest on each table. We tried a little of everything; The BBQ chicken salad is awesome, smoked chicken atop crunchy greens served with their own BBQ ranch dressing, spicy good! We had a sandwich with their pork; smoked to perfection it was tender and juicy, served with their homemade spicy corn chips it’s a great combination. I liked the spicy sauce best, Kris’s favorite was the sweet. When you eat at a barbecue place you have to try the Mac and Cheese; served in a small pie tin the top was browned and a little crunchy, noodles firm, coated in a mild and creamy white sauce. Servers were friendly and attentive, our glasses were never empty. Be sure and check out the cool artwork by Detroit’s own Jerome Ferretti inside.

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We left on southbound Jefferson and took it all the way to the Selfridge Air Museum and Air Park, this place is cool. I know zero about planes and yet I find this place fascinating. Activated as a military installation July 1, 1917, all branches of the military, active and reserve units alike, are represented on the Base. Selfridge trained pilots, aero mechanics, aerial photographers and gunnery personnel for World War I. Many famous names in aviation history are associated with Selfridge, Charles Lindbergh completed his training here.  The museum is open to the public April through October on weekends from 12:00 – 4:30 pm, adult admission is $4. When you arrive at the Selfridge ANGB gate you will stop at a booth where they will ask you to park you car and then come inside where they will look at your drivers license, car registration and proof of insurance, and issue you a pass, then simply drive over to the museum parking lot and go inside.

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The museum is laid out in chronological order starting with the Wright Brothers. The base was named after aviation pioneer Lt Thomas E. Selfridge; the first military officer to pilot an engine-driven aircraft, and while flying with Orville Wright, the first to meet his death in powered flight. There are great historic photographs throughout the venue, glass cases are filled with uniforms and memorabilia, full size engines are on display along with coordinating diagrams. Climb into the cockpit of a real F-16; It had to be  a tight fit for the pilot, you will be astonished by the number of buttons, switches and levers that surround you. As you proceed through time you will see an old military Jeep, rockets and missiles, taking you all the way to the space age and up to the present. When you are finished indoors, exit through the door to the Air Park.

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Dozens of vintage planes sit at rest in the park, signs tell the significance of each. The day we were there the Lockheed C-130 Hercules was open to visitors; the interior is immense, a full size Jeep is stored inside and is barely noticeable. The cargo bay door is fully opened and will surprise you with its gigantic gateway. Go up front to the cockpit and have a seat, wow! Volunteers are available to answer your questions, and more importantly (to me, anyways), to tell you the stories of the aircraft. I am truly captivated by such things. The array of planes is vast,all the way from World War I to present day, it’s wonderful to be able to get up close to see them. The Lockheed P-3 Orion aircraft was also open, take advantage of the opportunity and go inside. If you like planes you could easily spend a couple of hours here. The museum preserves the heritage and tradition of the Air National Guard in Michigan and the military units past and present headquartered at Selfridge ANG Base. Come see for yourself. 

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