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This summer, on our way to Lake Tahoe, Weston and I stopped to see our friend Mary.  Her family owns one of the most beautiful pieces of property in Amador County….15 minutes from downtown Sutter Creek.   There they grow grapes and make some delightful wines under the name YORBA.    Sutter Creek is a quaint old gold rush town off of HWY 49.  It has some great restaurants and historic buildings and hotels.   YORBA also has a fantastic tasting room in Sutter Creek, where we stopped and Ann Kraemer (Viticulturalist and Mary’s sister) gave Weston a lesson on wines. See picture above.   Sutter Creek is a great weekend spot as they also have other wine tasting rooms, but Yorba is the best!    Some weekends if you are lucky you will run into Dan Kraemer…the patriarch of the Kraemer family who will keep you entertained with all his stories and raising 8 children.  It is a family run business so everyone pitches in…including the grandchildren.  For more info on Yorba Wines:

Yorba Tasting Room  *  51 Hanford Street, Sutter Creek  *  Thursdays to Sundays  *  Noon to Five
Right next to the Hanford House Inn.

The grandchildren have also started another label for the family:   Also a favorite of mine!



Part of this Michigan trip included a drive from Detroit to Petoskey, Michigan and then we took a ferry to Mackinac Island. The journey itself is half the fun.  I drove most of the way while my brother Jason navigated and Mom was stuck in the back.   At points along the way ,Jason and I were laughing so much we were crying and I should have pulled over as I couldn’t see or breathe……this is the best laughter ever…yet dangerous!  So one of the gems we came upon was Frankenmuth.   AS I now look at a map, I have no idea how we just happened to drive through Frankenmuth as it’s just off of HWY 75…, maybe Jason did tell me to take a turnoff as I  was so freaked out after driving through the outskirts of Flint.  I had previously driven into a police perimeter in Detroit and had no clue until I hit a police barracade….apparently an inmate from the local jail, made a shank from a comb (I love the work shank and shiv), stabbed the guard in the neck and took his uniform and escaped , then hijacked a car.  I love Detroit!  Anyway , I’ve gone off the tracks — back to Frankenmuth.   So it’s a pretty uneventful drive on the highway, then you get to Frankenmuth…a German Bavarian Village in the middle of Michigan.  The whole town looks the part.  They even have a store….a huge store, that is Christmas all year…Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland….RV PARKING!   Frankenmuth is a great place if you like sauerkraut and sausages and beer! As I research I see they have many festivals.  In May alone they have: World Expo of Beer,  Dog Bowl –  Nation’s largest Olympic Style event for dogs, Balloons over Bavaria – hot air balloon festival.   We didn’t stay long, just for lunch and I didn’t take pictures but it was a refreshing change along our journey.  Place just made me laugh and smile- so many wonderful small cities that no one really hears about.



Since I made this tab/page – I figured I needed to put something in to start.  In September of 2013, my brother Jason and I took my mom back to her homeland of Detroit.  She is like 100 years old and we knew it would be her last trip.  Ok ,so she isn’t 100 but only 82 but I like to tell everyone she is 100 as its FUNNY, really!  And don’t worry, the old bat is fine and still goes to her job at Stanford 4 days a week — and will read this blog. She will laugh at this as our entire family has a warped sense of humor.  Anyway back to my story:   Growing up in Detroit she was poor and walked barefoot in the snow to school……..but she always wanted to go to Mackinac Island. (Mackinac is the French spelling of an Indian word and it is pronounced it mack-in-awe.)  So to make this long story longer……we took her!   I knew nothing of this island, but it is located technically on/in Lake Huron – where it meets Lake Michigan. The Mackinac Bridge connects Michigan to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan** — or the UP as the Michiganders call it….but wait…you CAN NOT get to Mackinac Island by the bridge— only by ferry.  **AND if you didn’t know Michigan had 2 parts…GET OUT AN ATLAS, or Google Maps!

So my point of this travel info was to say, this is an amazing place…right out of Downton Abbey.  I have never seen Downton Abbey but I can only imagine this is it!   No cars allowed, horse drawn carriage or bikes to get around the island.  We stayed at Hotel Iroquois, which is a beautiful Victorian House right on the water.  The Grand Hotel is the biggest and best known hotel on the island, as they filmed  “Somewhere in Time” there.  I found the Grand Hotel  too touristy and big but great to check out.  Apparently Mackinac Island  is known for their fudge, yes fudge…who knew.  So I made a point of going to all the different fudge stores to compare ….and then felt sick.  I have no official statement on the best fudge because I really dont like fudge but felt compelled to try it all.  Sacrifice is my middle name!   Jason and I rented bikes and rode the 8 miles around the island (mostly flat – an easy bike ride) . My mom and cousin Jody took the horse drawn carriage.    I would go back again as it would be a great getaway and there are beautiful historic homes to rent if you had a family reunion there. Island has a historic Fort , churches and homes.   Here is a link so you can tour at your leisure:

This is bloody mary at the Pink Pony when I got off the Ferry

This is important…my bloody mary at the Pink Pony when I got off the Ferry. I love that it had a pickle in it!

There is the 100 year old women!  Wonder where she got the shirt?

There is the 100 year old women! Wonder where she got the shirt?


3 thoughts on “Places

  1. I can’t believe you didn’t do this sooner! I can’t work!!! All I want to do is read this blog. You are so good at this Josh!

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