2009 LIGHTS AND LIBATION TOUR
September 19-20, 2009
The fifth annual Wine, Cheese, and Beer tour is history. This year we called it “Lights and Libations” as we spent the weekend in Michigan and Indiana visiting lighthouses, a winery, a brewery, and some great restaurants. We spent much of the weekend in the Eastern Time zone. It really felt like we were sleeping in. We didn’t find much fresh cheese, but we did find a fresh fruit market. We filled the space left by the missing cheese with fresh peaches, pears, corn, and more.
We met at the hotel Friday evening to drive to the first restaurant. We dined at the Pump House Grill in downtown St. Joseph. The hostess was entertaining and the food was exceptional. Even though we had arranged for separate checks, someone with the initials RA arranged to have a total tab brought to me. I am now planning revenge. After dinner, some of us walked around the old downtown area before heading back to the hotel. It was a little cool when we got back, so the parking lot party moved indoors. We ended the evening with fine beverages and conversation.
The weather this year was perfect. No rain during the tour at all. Saturday morning was cool and sunny as we headed north from our hotel. We passed through St. Joseph on our way to the first lighthouse at South Haven. We found it impossible for twenty-one cars to stay together. There were lots of towns with traffic lights and stop signs. The result was a missed turn leading to some of the groups getting north of South Haven. We finally arrived at South Haven Beach where we posed for a group photo. We had time to walk out to the light and enjoy the sunshine and increasing warmth.
Our next destination was the Grand Haven Lighthouse. We weren’t able to park close so we ended up with a photo opportunity from the municipal parking lot. After leaving the lighthouse we headed off to lunch at the Kirby House Grill. We had a choice of several dishes from the menu and beverage. We were almost back on schedule after lunch as we drove south toward our next stop.
The next leg was the most challenging as we came to a closed bridge with no marked detour. This was the first and last time I didn’t have my trusty Gazetteer with me. Our GPS would not take us around the bridge and the maps I had did not have the detail to show us the way. After a few miscues, we managed to get past the bridge and back on course to the Round Barn Winery. We arrived at the Round Barn and found them packed with a wedding party. We still managed to sample their beer (quite tasty) and some wine. We spent some time on their patio before heading back to the hotel to get for ready dinner.
We had time to freshen up and change for our planned banquet at Tosi’s. We had a great meal and some of us even had dessert. The food was really excellent. After dinner, we went back to the hotel for our evening gathering. Some of the tough ones stayed out in the parking lot. The rest of us spent the evening in the hotel dining room again. We sampled some fine wines and beers. The outside group was not so much tough as enjoying cigars under the awning. I managed to stay awake until after 11:00 and was very pleased until I remembered it was only 10 in Chicago. What is going on?
On Sunday, we met in the parking lot packed and
ready to go. We headed north to visit our third lighthouse in St. Joseph. We were separated again by a sailboat going through the drawbridge. When we all arrived we walked out to the end of the pier to enjoy the view and fresh air.
It was time to head back toward home, but first we had another lighthouse to visit and lunch. As we drove south along the Red Arrow Highway, it became obvious to Ann and me that we were going to be at the Brewery/ Restaurant way too early. Fortunately a farm stand appeared on the left and we made a detour. The impromptu stop was a real hit and we had time to shop and chat before continuing south toward the Michigan City Light. We also learned that Roger and Shirley Goebbert were grandparents again. Their son and his wife had a baby boy.
Old Michigan City Lighthouse
We drove on into Michigan City and made our way to the old lighthouse, which now houses a museum. We walked around the lighthouse and down to the river to see the pier light. We then headed over to our restaurant for lunch. I had hauled a pair of growlers along all weekend to re-fill at the Shoreline Brewery, only to find Indiana law does not allow growlers to be filled on Sunday. We could still have pints of their beers and wine and we had another great meal. After lunch some of our group went to the lighthouse museum or to Rag Tops auto museum. We headed on home hoping to beat the rain that was coming into Chicago. Most everyone I heard from made it before the rain started except for Dan and Nancy Herman who had rain from Batavia home to Lake Carroll.
We had a very nice weekend. There were forty-three participants. We had seventeen MG’s, two TR6’s, a late model corvette, and a beautiful new Solstice coupe. Reinout drove his M to dinner Friday and all day Saturday. Reinout and Hennecke’s friend Nea Geiske won the distance award, traveling from the Netherlands to join us. Dan and Nancy Herman spent the most time in their MG, traveling just under 800 miles for the weekend. The weather was near perfect.
We have a destination in mind for next year, so it is not too early to start planning to join us.
See you on the road!
-- John and Ann Schroeder