PLYMOUTH: Concours d’Elegance, Automotive Art….

9 Aug

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Detroit: referred to as  Motortown, America’s Automotive Capital, Motown and of course, The Motor City; any way you look at it, we love our cars. It is no surprise then that Concours d’Elegance of America chose the Detroit area to hold one of their prestigious events. The first 32 years were spent at Meadowbrook Hall, after outgrowing the space, this was the second consecutive year at the Inn at St Johns in Plymouth MI. The Concours series of shows are unique, combining the best of both automotive and fashion design. This is no ordinary car show; the vehicles here are prestigious, rare, magnificent, even priceless. It is a celebration of beauty, design and innovation, truly making it an event.

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 We had never been to the Inn at St Johns before today; the former Seminary and Chapel sit upon immaculately maintained grounds. The early Italian style architecture makes a perfect backdrop for the 300 vintage cars in attendance. White tents serving food and beverages dot the golf course, larger tents are used to exhibit and sell automotive art. Women wear sundresses made of beautiful fabrics that flow in the gentle summer breeze. There are hats and scarves, I am fascinated by the poise of women wearing high heels on a golf course. Men wear summer slacks, polo shirts, even suits, all on a mid 80 degree day. You have to dress up when in the company of such extraordinary vehicles. Cars are arranged by class; the Jet-Age Station Wagons got a lot of attention. These rarely seen examples date back to the late 50’s and early 60’s; the size alone is amazing! Great fabrics, lots of chrome, fins and that signature design that defined the era. All the big names showed up: Packard, Cadillac, Duesenberg, Auburn, Cord, Chrysler and Pierce Arrow. Looking better than they did on the showroom floor, their appeal has withstood the test of time. There’s a bit of everything; horseless carriages, Slingshot Dragsters, Trans Am Racers, and concept cars. These are the finest examples of their kind; trained judges examine both inside and out before bestowing the awards. Grandstand seating allows you a look at each car individually, an announcer gives a brief a history, often times owners dress in period clothing, it’s all very interesting.  On the way out was a cool collection of Chrysler concept cars on display; great colors and designs. 

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We were famished from all the walking in the hot sun, downtown Plymouth was just a short drive away, which meant food was not far behind. Walkable streets, sidewalk cafes, coffee shops, galleries and specialty stores make this a popular town. We got ourselves parked and then set our sights on finding a restaurant. Housed in a former bank building on the corner of Main and Penniman is the Greek Islands Restaurant. The type of restaurant is fitting to the architecture of the building; made of stone and accented with Doric columns you immediately think Greek. The interior is newly redone; the ceiling is painted blue with soft clouds like the sky, walls are painted with images of Apollo, Poseidon, Athena and Pegasus. The menu offers traditional Greek selections along with Coney Islands; looking around the ratio of coneys to gyros seemed 50/50.  We ordered a Greek salad and one of the best bowls of chicken lemon rice soup we have ever had. The combination plate arrived with squares of Moussaka, Pastitsio, Spanakopita (that’s spinach pie to you and me) and a large portion of rice topped with a tasty red sauce. Each item was delicious, a mixture of sauces and textures, meats, vegetables and noodles, delish! Only opened for three days it is already popular.

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As we were leaving downtown we came upon the Dairy-Go-Round on S. Main St; as the name implies it is an ice cream stand designed to look like a merry-go-round. It just so happened we had enough room left for ice cream….imagine that….   Hard scoop, frozen yogurt, or soft serve, the choices are endless. A turtle sundae for me and a Heath caramel sundae for Kris, we sat at a tiny table and raced the heat to the finish. Those so inclined can eat their ice cream perched upon a stationary carousel horse, I bet the kids love that!

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Hines Park Drive is one of Kris’s favorite scenic routes to take from this side of town. Covering nearly 20 miles, it travels from Northville in the west to Dearborn in the east. Pure recreation from end to end it has much to offer: soccer fields, baseball diamonds, picnic areas, volleyball courts, playscapes, bike trails and fishing docs. The park is extremely popular with joggers and cyclists. The road itself zigs and zags along the Rouge River, small elevation changes weave through the park. Mature Maple trees and Weeping Willows line the roadway, it is a spectacular sight in the Fall. The drive is relaxing; traffic lights are few and far between, folks in canoes paddle on the river, Swans float by on the shoreline, the scent of hot dogs and hamburgers from roadside grills waft through the air.  The scenery changes with the seasons; spring flowers, summer ball games, autumn leaves and a blanket of white in the winter. Hines Park is also home to the Wayne County Lightfest held annually every November and December. 

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