Chelsea, Battle Creek, Hickory Corners, Kalamazoo

Our last day of explorations for the book - a short distance, but lots of things to check out.  Even before we left Ann Arbor we had a wonderful breakfast at Angelo's - an upscale diner that makes its own bread and creates some delicious dishes that range from the fried egg and potatoes (that Kate had) to my deep fat fried raisin bread French Toast with whipped cream and strawberries and blueberries (no this is not a Weight Watchers special).

Chelsea is a small town with a lot of character - wonderful brick businesses, coffee shops, garden stores, to name just a few.  Jiffy has a large plant here and we suspect that is in no small part a reason the town is thriving.  It is also near the Waterloo lakes area.

The idea of a Bridge Park intrigued us. We found a small park with picnic tables and playground, but also a collection of old iron bridges that have been moved to this site. A little stream flows beneath them and wetlands surround them. The Kalamazoo River flows next to the park, and a noisy freeway is unfortunately close, but this is a monument to engineering in the midst of a lush green valley and the freeway bridge fits right in.

In Battle Creek we drove through the Leila Arboretum and stopped when we saw a sign for the Peace Labyrinth. Kate suggested we get out and walk it. (Note from Kate - this is where our differences in personality really showed.  I religiously followed the curving path. Mike was soon stepping over the 'lines' to take pictures and claimed to have followed the path. Not so. But then he's always been one to color outside the lines.)

We ate lunch in Battle Creek at Clara's By the River.  This fine restaurant has a large outdoor dining area located close to a channelized section of the Kalamazoo River. The barbecue chicken pizza on a thin crust was all that I hoped for. Kate had a Jamaican black bean soup and a fairly blah chicken salad sandwich.  Clara's is in the historic train depot - a beautiful brick building with wide overhanging roof. Inside the walls still have the ornate wooden wainscoting on the walls and the Ticket Office is now a dining space.

Taking another great break between meals we went to Hickory Corners and the Gilmore Car Museum which might be the best of the many car museums in Michigan.  It began as a personal collection and has grown to a showplace for cars from many decades and a collection of buildings and car related memorabilia that makes this a must for any motorhead.

 Hard not to love these gleaming ancestors of our car culture - they have so much more personality than today's.

Finally, in Kalamazoo we checked out Henderson's Castle - a B&B and restaurant.  We have struggled to find 'Romantic Getaways' on this trip, because it is such a personal thing. When we got married and into the 90s B&B's were all the rage, but today our daughter Alyssa says they're just too 'futzy' for her generation. If anyone reading this knows of or has suggestions for romantic places to stay in Michigan, please let us know.

We finished our day with a sampling of five Stouts (the Imperial and Smoky were as good as any stouts I have ever tasted) and one IPA (my favorite - Hopslam) at the Eccentric Cafe of Bell's Brewing.  I thought that the Eclectic Travelers stopping at the Eccentric Cafe was a fitting location to end this  journey and exploration.



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