Fall Fun; Wolcott Mill, Romeo Farm Markets, Lipuma

4 Oct

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We are just entering the splendor of Autumn; there’s no better time for a drive in the country! Nuzzled along the banks of the Clinton River in Ray Township sits Wolcott Mill; built in 1847, it is one of the few remaining historic grist and feed mills. The mill is located within a 2,380 acre park and is part of the Huron-Clinton Metroparks, another great reason to purchase a yearly Metro Park Motor Vehicle Permit. Park in the designated lot and follow the walkway; the setting is picturesque, lush green grass, tall maples already turning red, a pedestrian bridge over the river as you overlook the large white structure with it’s signature water wheel.  Inside are exhibits dedicated to the history of Wolcott and the items it produced right up until 1967; you really get a great feel for the area and the times. From this room go through the door into the mill itself, it is still complete with all of the grain grinding machinery that was used for its operations. Informative signs and samples of the grains take you through the process of making both flour and feed, it’s really interesting to see how it’s done.

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The surrounding park area offers 3 scenic walking trails, parts of the trails follow the north branch of the Clinton River while other sections lead you across fields, through woods, and over wetlands. The longest of the three is Settlers Trail which is 2.2 miles.  There is also the par 72 Wolcott Mill golf course, and situated a short drive away is Wolcott Farm, check out our previous post on the Farm here.

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We left Wolcott Mill and took 29 Mile Rd west to old Van Dyke, then went north into Romeo. I love this section of the road, especially at this time of year; Van Dyke is bordered by fruit orchards, cider mills and farm stands. Somehow the village of Romeo has managed to maintain its small-town feel among all the new development going on around it. Our first stop was Verellen Orchards on the east side of the road, we walked into the market and were  greeted by the aroma of apples. The length of the storefront showcases variety after variety of apple piled neatly into bags,  showing off their colors; reds, yellows, golds and green. Opposite is a glass case offering up baked goods; donuts, pies, and other goodies. I made my purchase and we were onto the next market. The largest by far is West View Orchard and Cider Mill, along with the standard cider mill fare they have an ice cream and candy shop, a petting farm, corn maze, and all sorts of other family activities. On a warm fall day cars will be lined up on Van Dyke waiting to get in! It was early and the temperature was still chilly so we had no problem getting parked.  We stepped into the store to have a look around; shelves are stacked with homemade jams and jellies, bags of apples are lined up on a table, hot cider perfumes the air as trays of donuts are brought in and empty trays are taken to be refilled. There are deep dish pies in fruit or cream flavors, flips, breads and of course pumpkin logs. We picked up a few donuts and cups of cider and went outside to sit and eat, yum! Next stop, Van’s Valley Produce. Just a bit further north, their Autumn display is gorgeous; huge pots of mums blooming in burgundy, yellow and rust colors, multi colored pumpkins and gourds are stacked upon one another in an eye pleasing fashion, scarecrows and hay bales add a touch of whimsy. Large carts of produce are arranged outdoors: fresh picked cauliflower is massive in size, acorn and butternut squash are plentiful, indoors you can find tomatoes and other market fare. It is impossible to drive by without stopping, I wished I could buy everything ! Residential Romeo is is made up of magnificent Victorian homes; drive up and down through neighborhood streets taking in the beautiful historic setting. Tillson street in particular has a grand reputation for it’s amazing Halloween Decorations, they even have a website! The week of Halloween is probably the best time to check it out, it’s unbelievable, and worth the trip.

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                                                                                                                           The sun came out and with it the crowds, it was time for lunch so we hit the road. There’s a kitschy little hot dog place in Rochester we thought would be fun to eat at, so we drove to Lipuma’s on Main Street. It seemed a lot of people had the same idea and when we arrived there was a short line out the door, thankfully it moves quickly. Once you eat here, you’ll always come back; the list of hot dogs and toppings is long, fries are pile high, service is fast, and the food, delicious. The building is nestled next to Paint Creek; they have a large covered deck overlooking the running water, when it gets chilly they enclose it and add portable heaters, in nice weather you can sit outside at picnic tables along the creek. I have one warning for you: Beware of the Ducks! Well, okay, it’s not like they’re a real threat, but than can get very friendly, and they like hot dogs…… As a matter of fact there was one female who came right up on the deck waddling from table to table looking for a snack, when nobody gave in she went right back out. When we finished our Chicago, New York, and Mexican dogs with chili fries we strolled out to the water, for a moment the ducks were excited to see us, they came over to see what we had to offer, when they realized we were empty handed they retreated back to the creek. The sky had finally cleared, a perfect way to cap off a wonderful afternoon.

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