Time just keeps on rolling as the hours turn to days become months and the years go by. I went to a wedding last weekend with my wife Dixie. Her brother’s oldest son got married. Everyone had a wonderful time but it did bring back some memories. The groom is now 28 years old. We remembered him as a baby, small child, high school graduate, and now married. I started to think back about some of my favorite family memories. While talking the subject of cider mills came up.
For over 20 years, my wife, two sons, and I would spend part of four or five weekends each fall going to cider mills. I was lucky enough to live in Sterling Heights, Michigan with lots of apple orchards within a half hour drive. Funtober has a list of apple orchards around the country. Traditions are things that get passed down within the family. After he retired, Dixie’s father, Sam, would read the local papers looking for festivals, events, air shows, and activities that he wanted explore. This was long before the internet. He got us started with weekend excursions to cider mills every fall. He is not with us anymore yet I can still remember him, my kids, and the fun we had on his explorations. Those memories become real special for me as I am about to become a grandfather for my first time. Yep, early October , my youngest son and his adorable wife are expecting their first child. My wife and I are so happy for them.
Back To My Cider Mill Stories:
My oldest son started fishing at Stony Creek Metro Park around the age of four. He would sit on the bank for hours waiting for his bobber to move. Sometimes that little red and white bobber would only be a foot or two offshore but he didn’t care. He caught fish. Lots and lots of small fish were caught right next to the shore. While doing some research today I came across this video about someone fishing at Stony Creek. This isn’t us but I have fished those same spots and caught exactly that same size fish. My son and I today both laughed and remembered those times nearly 30 years ago. Actually we fished that spot for most of 15 years. Hope you get a feel for the area as this part of the park has not changed one bit.
Another place we fished was at a Huron-Clinton park near the intersection of Avon and Dequinder in Rochester, Michigan. It was a about a 40 foot wide stream with fast running water. Personally I do not think I ever caught a single fish at that place but my son just loved to fly fish there. The fish loved those artificial flies and ignored my bobber and worm.
The reason I bring this up is Yates Cider Mill was directly across the street. A big red barn building housed an old time cider processing plant that is now about 150 years old. We probably fished that stream 5-10 times each year. Sometimes in the fall we would fish it early in the morning and my wife and youngest son would come out later as we would walk across the street to the cider mill. I was fascinated with watching how they operated the cider press. They always sold donuts but I do not remember when they added in ice cream and the small store. In any event I don’t think we ever bought cider from the grocery stores. We liked the fresh stuff only in the fall.
Yates is still there and going strong. The corner of Avon and Dequinder is one very busy intersection as more and more of the surrounding area has lots of home development. Yates was a little different than some other local cider mills. Blake Orchards and Miller’s Big Red both were part of working family farms and orchards. Yates, like another local, Paint Creek Cider Mill had their apples brought in by train and trucks. Either way fresh pressed apple cider always seemed a little sweeter in the fall.
I did find another video of fishing across from Yates. Note the big red barn in the background is Yates Cider Mill. Also look at all that traffic on Avon Road. You don’t see the intersection but it is there. Something about fishing, cider mills, and family traditions always bring back some great memories.
Don’t get me wrong, I like Yates, but I also like Blake’s and Millers. Blake’s had an apple strudel with ice cream and warm donuts that my wife absolutely loved. I enjoyed the pick your own pumpkin farm and their food tent. Blake’s also seemed to have the most fascinating cider press so I spent lots of time watching them work the press.
Now that I remember it perhaps Paint Creek has the most interesting press. A whole lot larger than the others. The building was rented from the city and had a fancy fine dining restaurant in part of the building. I think that restaurant has been replaced by a snack shop. What was unique about Paint Creek was they had train tracks and a path that ran behind the building. We spent hours walking the tracks and seeing the sights with the kids. There were some big houses along those tracks. I never saw a train go by but they probably serviced some auto plants just north of there. In any event, walking the tracks remains special to me.
Well I hope you excuse me for this little walk down memory lane. If you are in an area that has orchards and cider mills then start some family traditions of your own by taking the family for a visit. Keep checking out our Funtober blog as we continue to write about fun things to do in the fall.