This is one of the reasons why I love my job…
“Out of Office – Across the street at the Roadhouse”
What you’re interested in cabinetry for your kitchen…oh you can find the sales people at the bar across the street!
Now it’s not as bad as it seems since the bar is the only establishment in the one-block town that serves food, thankfully we now have Thirsty’s as well but technically that’s one mile north of town, so if my boss and I are so inclined as to grab a bite to eat our options are a bit limited.
On a side note, the bar across the street is no longer Rocky’s, nor is it Mauldoon’s Saloon, the Torrey Inn or even Wolverine Haus, but Jamie and I still call it Rocky’s, funny how locals tend to refer to landmarks by names gone by…even funnier perhaps that I just referred to myself as a local.
On any given afternoon you’ll find a sparse assortment of colorful patrons inside the roadhouse. During the winter the bar is lined with guys suited up for a day riding the trails on their snowmobiles and even more bikers during the summer months, oh and Jake, you will always find Jake at the far corner of the bar. On this particular afternoon there were three, two
rough neck locals gentleman and a young dark haired woman.
I took my seat at a nearby table waiting for my boss to join me and couldn’t help but wonder about the trendy looking young woman at the bar. Her stay appeared to be nearing an end as she was digging through her purse next to an empty glass on the counter, when she asked the bartender something about helping her find her hotel. That was the first clue that she clearly was not from around here as there are no hotels for miles, a few roadside motels perhaps but nothing as grandiose as a Holiday Inn with a continental breakfast.
One of the other patrons, a man wearing a fluorescent green road worker’s vest, was more than eager to pipe up, “where are you headed, er ah where are you staying?” he asked in a voice rife with years of Marlboro and gin.
“Petoskey” she replied in a tone that made me wonder just what she’d had to drink and how long she’d been there. “I’m going to wedding at the Castle?”
“In Charlevoix” the bartender offered.
“Yeah there, but I’m staying in Petoskey, some hotel on Spring Street but my GPS…”
At this point I couldn’t help but join in conversation with this vibrant and friendly lady who was so clearly lost and carefree.
“No don’t use your GPS!” I say to her with pleading eyes, as my boss and the bartender emphasize as well “Turn it off it’ll just get you lost!” “Seriously it’ll take you on two-tracks don’t use it!”
I approach the bar where she is seated and with my hands begin gesturing,”when you leave here TURN RIGHT at the pretty gazebo, STAY on that road it will take you all the way to your hotel.” I must have seemed like an idiot to her as I gave her directions like she was a preschooler with finger paints, but judging by the empty pink glass next to her I figured I had a lost, no make that very lost, buzzed and jet lagged tourist on my hands.
“Is Petoskey big, like will I get lost?” she asks
“Oh it’s busy alright”, green vest man adds clearing his throat, “this time of year it’s real busy, lot of traffic…”
“Well I’m from LA so…”
“You’re from LA?!” I interrupt excited because I’ve never met someone from LA and suppressing the urge to ask her if she’s even seen anyone famous, “Oh then you’ll be fine in Petoskey the traffic will be nothing like what you’re used to.” She laughs in agreement.
“So my husband bought this bouncy-house for our twin two-year olds for the weekend while I’m gone! Can you believe that?! OMG They could get hurt! Do you wanna see a picture of them?!” Clearly missing her kids she thrusts her phone in front of me and begins scrolling through pictures…”when did you start potty training your three year old? I got them these potties but they don’t use them really yet, OMG they’re just like little people you know….I miss them so much…I can’t believe he got them a bouncy house!”
I try to end the impromptu slideshow as politely as possible and return to my table to order lunch, Hollywood however still befuddled by her circumstance begins to contemplate the meaning of life in Wolverine, Michigan.
“How do you people live here?!” she asks in a voice that isn’t so much how do you stand the winters or how do you ward off cabin fever – no she’s asking the same question I ask every time I drive through the UP, how do people scrape together a living in a place so remote and unpopulated, I mean where do they even buy toilet paper for their outhouses?!
Laughing a bit we all ask her the same question “How you do live there?!” Honestly the traffic and people and the traffic….it takes all kinds I guess and as much as I can’t handle the thought of living day-in day-out in a bigger city, for this young woman the thought of living in God’s Country would be just as foreign.
She can keep her fancy city and movie stars…I’ll take the dark starry filled night skies of Northern Michigan eight days a week. I image as she drove Mitchell road to Petoskey without her twin toddlers in tow and passing only a few other vehicles she may have had a glimpse into why we live in and love this rustic wilderness.