OAKLAND COUNTY: Backroads & More….

21 Nov

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 Not yet ready to relinquish all that is autumn we decided to enjoy a scenic drive on a mild November Sunday. We gassed up one of the vintage cars and headed to Rochester, then northwest on Orion Rd, a real beauty with its twists and turns. Our first stop was the Goodison Cider Mill; we parked on the side, the aroma of just fried donuts greeting us as we exited the car. The building sports a fresh coat of blue paint, windows are trimmed in white. Inside we are face to face with all of the standard cider mill offerings; bags of Michigan apples, jars of jam and apple butter, gallons of cider, and an entire glass case filled with donuts, oh, and the specialty of the house: pistachio bread. Kris and I only had one thing on our minds; cider and donuts. I can’t resist the plain old cake style donut, here the blueberry are Kris’s favorite; a glass of cider and we were set. We sat on a bench under the partly sunny sky and ate our goodies, then it was back in the car headed west.

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Up the road slightly we hung a left on Clarkston Rd, the road covers rolling hills and passes several picturesque lakes; leaves are smoldering in large piles, they fill the air with their unmistakable scent. We arrive in downtown Clarkston, a charming village with quaint shops and fantastic restaurants (one of my favorite combinations). We park the car and walk down Main Street, we are heading up the hill to Clarkston Union. We arrive just before 3pm, brunch is ending, the dinner menu starts at 3, so we wait to order. The Lions are on TV, as 3:00 arrives the door continues to open as hungry patrons fill the seats. The building was originally a church, the stained glass window in the front floods the space in colored light, church pews provide ample seating. The menu is filled with really good, hearty dishes, they were known for their Mac & Cheese before it became trendy. We ordered a Plowshares plate and the Union Press of the day, so much good food and so delicious! The ingredients rotate for both selections; we were served salami, Roma tomatoes, red onion, white cheddar, carrot sticks, a baguette and fresh fruit on the Plowshares plate. I’m not exactly sure what was on the panini….roasted red peppers, maybe some artichokes, doesn’t matter, it was fantastic! We ate till we could eat no more.

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Next door is Union General Cupcakery, you can see where I’m going with this… We stepped inside to find a quaint little shop, the centerpiece being, of course, the display case loaded with cupcakes, cookies and dessert bars. Antique furniture fills the room, bookshelves are packed tightly with cookbooks and kitchen do-dads. Unable to decide on a cupcake flavor I continued to walk around the shop; kitchen goods give way to a gift shop stacked with unique and funky goods. After browsing through books, smelling candles, and trying on jewelry I was ready to make my decision. Kris knows what he likes, so the caramel pecan bar caught his eye immediately, the carrot cake cupcake won me over with its tasty batter and heavenly cream cheese frosting. They also serve ice cream, coffee drinks and a variety of hot chocolates, so remember to save room. Barely able to move we walked slowly back to the car; this is definitely one of those towns  worth the drive. Spend the day window shopping, have a great meal and check out the lovely homes.

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Back in the car we made our way to White Lake Rd and continued west through the wooded landscape to Indian Springs Metropark. The Environmental Discovery Center has wonderful exhibits and a cool underwater pond viewing room, that’s where we started. We descend the stairs, the reflection from the water creating a pattern on the walls and floor, we come to the tunnel, we are surrounded on three sides by water, albeit cloudy, for a cool yet creepy effect. Above, a layer of sand and algae lay on the glass, we proceed further into the dome area; fish swim near the bottom, sunlight plays upon the water, we have the area to ourselves. I sit on the bench and look out across the pond, Kris snaps photos of fish as they swim past, it is an interesting perspective of pond life. Down a narrow hall, a series of windows grants us more views, pieces of wood appear to be fuzzy with the growth of underwater vegetation, some resemble sea monsters…… Back upstairs we follow the displays and learn about our surroundings; a giant cattail shoots up from a glass basin mimicking wetlands, an over-sized grasshopper clings to a stem as a giant frog leaps toward a lily pad. We step out onto the deck and gaze at the pond, this time from outdoors. We follow the gravel trail and stop to read the informative signs along the way, all the while keeping an eye open for rattlesnakes, seriously….at last circling the pond. Surrounded by beautiful backroads this 2,200 acre park has plenty to offer, give it a look.

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