Get up to Hop Lot Before the Snow Melts!

Cozy outdoor play area at Hop Lot Brewing Company in Sutton's Bay Michigan

In the northern part of Leelanau County, just south of downtown Sutton’s Bay, is one of the newer breweries to the area. It’s Hop Lot Brewing Company, and we recently ventured up West Bay Shore Drive to check it out.

Ordering beer at the bar at Hop Lot Brewing Company in Sutton's Bay Michigan

We were lucky to meet one of the owners, Kurt Ludke who told us a little about the building process. They used huge wooden beams to frame the building. He recalled what it was like being up that high hammering away. The space has lofty ceilings and a nice open feel. There are long tables that seat large parties and encourage mingling. The inside is moderate in size, with a back yard that is expansive and welcoming. Kurt told us how they wanted to bring the brewery experience together with nature. A great idea since we Grand Traverse-ites, (or would we be Grand Traversanians or Grand traversanders?), whatever we call ourselves here in the northwest lower peninsula of Michigan, we love our nature. With that the Ludke’s nailed it, and this brewery turned out to be an awesome place to hang out.

Flight of beers at Hop Lot Brewing Company in Sutton's Bay Michigan

Even in the winter there is a large area out back cleared of snow so that you can enjoy your company and your beer while keeping warm by the fire. On this quiet weekday evening in February there were several fires burning. The yard was beautiful all covered in snow and lit up with the warm glow of hanging lights all around. Kurt explained that in the summer the crowd expands out to the grassy area filled with long tables for friends and strangers to sit together, and talks about a play area for kids that is surrounded by hops growing tall creating a fort inside. We’ll have to come back this summer to see that. Big kids can play in the hops too, right Kurt?

Grand Traverse View fans will want to see it too, but take my advice, don’t wait until summer. Hop Lot is too much fun in the winter to miss out. We Grand Traverse(inians?) love a good winter campfire, don’t we? So call up your people and make it a date soon. Of course, we’ll want to hear all about it. Please come back here and leave comments telling us how much you love Hop Lot too!

Winter wonderland at Hop Lot Brewing Company in Sutton's Bay Michigan

Fun by the fire outside at Hop Lot Brewing Company in the winter

 

 

The menu from www.hoplotbrewing.com

Hop Lot Menu

Hop Lot Brewing Company

231-866-4445

658 S West-Bay Shore Drive
Suttons Bay, Michigan 49682

Michigan Breweries Map

Hop Lot Hours

Monday Closed Closed
Tuesday 3 PM 9 PM
Wednesday 3 PM 9 PM
Thursday 3 PM 9 PM
Friday 3 PM 10 PM
Saturday 12 PM 10 PM
Sunday 12 PM 8 PM

 

Found the Funnest Little Antique Store

Right downtown Maple City, in a little house next to the post office, is the cutest little store you could find. Unassuming from the front, it looked to me like someone had turned their side enclosed porch into a little store.

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When I stepped inside, I realized that the whole house was consumed. Everywhere you turn. You have to stand there a moment to take it all in.

The first thing I saw were some old 6-packs of Pepsi and Vernor’s bottles Continue reading

Chocolate Puddles in Leelanau County

Chocolate meditation? I think I could get into that. I have practiced meditation most of my life. Ever since I can remember, I’ve also been totally into chocolate; although I never thought to marry the two. It sounds like a brilliant idea.

“On any given day you’ll find chocolate-makers in deep chocolate meditation”, says the website of a local chocolate shop, Grocer’s Daughter Chocolate.

Here, in a little village in northern Michigan, apparently, “on any given day”, you can walk into Grocer’s Daughter Chocolate and witness this! So today I drove over there to see it for myself.

Google map to Grocer's Daughter

Google map to Grocer’s Daughter

By the time I got to the lakeshore, out of Traverse City, and into Empire, I was in a full blown snow storm. It’s almost April and there was blowing sleet and snow.  When I stepped inside the happy little green building on the side of the hill, I quickly forgot about the weather outside. Inside it was warm and welcoming. And it smelled amazing.

Grocer's Daughter Chocolate storefront

Grocer’s Daughter Chocolate is a local foodie favorite. And to some degree, it’s still a relatively un-discovered gem. While they haven’t (yet) won nationally acclaimed awards like Moomer’s Homemade Ice Cream has, they have become a ‘must do’ on the annual bucket list for many summer visitors. For some, it’s right up there with climbing the dunes, tubing the Platte River and a day trip to Leland.

The bright green building sits on the edge of an empire, just around the corner from the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Visitors Center in Empire, Michigan. When you pull up outside, you get a sense of its charm, but until you enter through the door, you couldn’t possibly imagine how special this place is.

Inside Grocer’s Daughter Chocolate shop, the warm, natural colors and it’s simple decor are comfortable but not pretentious.  Wooden crates and baskets filled with different chocolate creations line the walls. Continue reading

As good as it looks! Pizza from Pegtown

Large pepperoni pizza please.

A few minutes later, this was on the table. I mean, just look at that crust!

Pizza at Pegtown Station Maple City

The texture was crusty on the outside and chewy on the inside.  Just how I want my pizza!

Best crust pizza Leelenau CountyI know this may seem weird, but I had to show you the bottom of the slice. It was perfectly coated in corn meal (which is one true measure of a good crust if you ask my husband).

So the place is Maple City, formerly known as Pegtown.  Right on the corner across from the Post Office and Gabe’s Country Market you’ll find Pegtown Station. Continue reading

A Taste of Detroit on M22

market22 on Little Traverse Lake Leelanau County from the road

Right across from Little Traverse Lake on M-22 north of Maple City in Leelanau County, I found a little piece​ of t​​​he big D.  From the antique truck at the edge of the driveway to one of the best square pizza’s I’ve had in a long time, this little market is a nostalgic reflection of the best that Michigan has to offer.

Market 22 sits across from Little Traverse Lake in Leelanau County

Market 22 sits across from Little Traverse Lake

Market 22 was carefully crafted out of an antique barn on the side of a road near Glen Lake, Michigan.  The interior is warm and inviting with an eclectic mix of re-purposed woods and chalkboard menu signs.

market22 on Little Traverse Lake Leelanau County cool decor

The first (chalkboard) sign I noticed after stepping inside the warm inviting space, said “Featuring Detroit Style Pizza in the true automotive blue steel pans”.  When I asked what was a Detroit style pizza, the answer was, “like Buddy’s“.  Ah, yes,  I know Buddy’s Pizza.  Continue reading

Spring Blossoms Overnight in Leelanau

Spring is here! I went driving around Leelanau County today and this is what I saw.

Forsythia.​​  I love forsythia.  Being one of the first plants to wake up in the spring, it is a bright light after many months of darkness in northern Michigan.  The yellow is a perfect yellow and the flowers are so simple.  If you cut it early, before it blooms outside,you can force it to bloom indoors.  Just bring a branch in the house and put it in a vase of water.

Forsythia in Leelanau County

Apple Blossoms​. The apple blossom is Michigan’s state flower. With an average apple harvest of 19.7 million bushels a year, Michigan is the third largest apple producing state in the United States.

Apple blossoms in Leelanau County

Continue reading

Gabe’s Country Smoked Meats, at Maple City Road and M-72

Spring Blossoms in Grand Traverse

When I woke up this morning I could almost hear the blooming trees outside.  So I hopped in the car to take a ride through the heart of Leelanau County to see how the apple blossoms were coming along.  As you head towards the lake (Lake Michigan) from Traverse City on M-72, you’ll find a cute little local market on the corner at Maple City Road. I’ve been meaning to check it out, so I decided today was the day.

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Since this is a main through-way from Traverse City out to Lake Michigan, Empire, Glen Arbor and Leland, it would be a great place to stop and fill the cooler with a picnic lunch. These sandwiches were already made up in the cooler and were very reasonable priced at 2.99 a piece. You could easily feed a crowd without breaking the bank.

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Gabe’s is a cozy little market that has that “up north” feel and by that I mean it’s nothing fancy and far from a big chain style.  And it smelled delicious.  They offered a variety of local meats and cheeses as well as some hot and ready to eat hotdogs and sausage that were made on site.

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This carving on the log was the first thing I saw when I walked up to the shop and at the time I thought it was pretty cool.

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Gabe’s Country Smoked Meats

12963 S. Maple City Road

Maple City, Michigan  49664

231-228-7928

Monday – Friday 8 am till 8 pm (summer hours)

www.gabesmarket.com/gabesm72store.htm

 

In Search of Marsh Marigolds

One of my all time favorite flowers blooms only in the very early spring. They can be found in swampy areas around the Grand Traverse region. Marsh Marigolds grow in wetlands and pop with the brightest of bright yellows.

Just when you think you can’t take the dullness of winter any longer, the marigolds bloom.  A true sign of hope and better things (and weather) yet to come.  If you live in a northern climate, you know what I mean.

This year with our record snow fall- it has been a true test for northern Michiganders. According to mlive.com and the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Grand Rapids, Michigan, a total of 266 inches of snow fell on these woods in Maple City this winter. And I know from the experience, not a lot of sunshine made it through all those snow clouds. Having lived through it, all I can say on this cloudy spring day is, “Thank God for Marsh Marigolds”.

They’re like a cool drink of water on a hot summer day.  Although in this case, a better analogy might be like a hot cup of cocoa on a cold winter day. But the glow of these flowers remind me more of the sun than hot cocoa.

Walt Whitman once said, “Some people are so much sunshine to the square inch.”  I say, “marsh marigolds are so much sunshine to the square inch”.

Marsh marigolds on the side of the road

Marsh Marigolds Caltha Palustris.

 

To me, they are hard to miss. But most people never see them. When you’re driving down the road- look through the woods for patches of bright yellow in low lying areas.

Marsh Marigolds Michigan

If they are there, and you’re looking for them, you’ll see them. The contrast of yellow and green stands out against the dull grays and browns of the northern Michigan post winter landscape.

Marsh Marigolds on the side of the road in Leelanau County

Marsh marigolds in Leelanau County

If only I had a pair of rubber waders in the car so I could get even closer! This is the best I can do with the camera I have and without getting soaked.

Marsh marigolds Leelanau County up close and personal

Aren’t they lovely? Tell me, where have you spotted marsh marigolds?

 

Danger in the Ice Caves

People out on frozen Lake Michigan at the ice caves

CAUTION!

The day we went out to the ice caves on Lake Michigan it was the 34th day in a row that the temperatures were well below freezing, ranging from around 10° degrees Fahrenheit to -17 below. The ice was pretty solid.

​The weather has changed since then, hitting a high of 43 degrees yesterday.

Today it is 37 degrees and what does that mean for the ice?  It’s melting!  Yes, the ice on Lake Michigan is thick, but it will begin cracking and shifting as it continues to turn back into open water.

This makes for extremely dangerous conditions.

There is the possibility of falling through the ice into the icy water with little chance of getting out.  There is also the danger of these huge ice forms falling on you.

Please don’t go out there!  Enjoy the view from here:

https://grandtraverseview.wordpress.com/2014/02/18/ice-caves-on-lake-michigan/