In the movie Broadcast News Holly Hunter plays a brilliant producer who suffers no fools — even her own boss. It shows in this scene:
What’s also awful is that’s pretty much what I think of myself. Except my life winds up like a series of Frasier episodes where Karma takes my “I know what I’m doing” attitude, liberally applies the Law of Unintended Consequences, and leaves me on the side of the road with a pink feather in my butt.
Half of my mind wants to strut into a room and challenge everyone else. “C’mon, any other brain wanna neuron-wrassal?” The other half — probably the truly smart half — is more, “It’s better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than to open it and remove all doubt.”
I don’t listen to that half of the brain very much. As you’ll be able to tell from some later posts about this trip.
The first instance of “Rawkin’ Ray’s Pure Dumbassery ®” occurred Friday afternoon. A couple of zillion people had passed me toting their campers, trailers and fifth wheels. I knew Monday was going to be an easy day, work-wise, because we were closed for Memorial Day. I was casting good thoughts for blue skies, warm weather, and gorgeous scenery all along the Lake Huron shoreline resort areas.
Let’s review, Class:
- Memorial Day Weekend.
- Resort areas.
- Everyone and his mother is taking advantage of a long weekend.
- And I haven’t booked any lodging for Saturday or Sunday night.
It’s not like when you’re in a car and winging it. You can stop at a place, ask if they’ve got something, and if they say no, you can inquire where the next closest place is. Some 20 miles? Not a problem, thanks.
20 more miles on a bicycle after you’ve already ridden your fat ass 60 to 80 miles? Naw baby naw.
I called my youngest — the one who’s giving up her life to watch my weasels — and begged yet another favor of her. I’m going to be in the Presque Isle area on Saturday night. Would she please take Google for a spin and see if she can find something reasonably priced. Asked her not to spend a lot of time on it. If she couldn’t find anything, I’d search once I reached my stop in Oscoda.
A few hours later I got an email from her saying she’d only been able to find two that matched my criteria. I thought it odd that the area codes of the hotels were different than what I’d expected. I looked a little closer, then mapped out the directions to where she’d found the hotels. (Gotta say, the kid’s got amazing faith in how far her old man can get on a bicycle.)
I did some Googling myself. Found two places in Presque Isle. The first was answered by a machine. I left my information and asked for a call back.
The second call was answered by a kind older fella. I’d looked over their website at what is arguably the most confusing rate chart ever. I asked if he had anything available for Saturday night, one adult, one night.
“Well,” he said, “I could put you upstairs. You’d have to share a bathroom.”
Did I time warp back to the 50s? Did I actually search for hostel instead of hotel? On the other hand, I was a little desperate.
“May I ask the rate for that room, sir?”
“$45. But that includes breakfast.”
“Sold. Would you like my credit card information?”
“Naw. We don’t take credit cards.”
Uh oh. Means I have to remember to find an ATM. (Spoiler alert. I forgot to find an ATM. Eh. Had the cash on me . . . just had to give them nine $5 bills.) “What other information do I need to tell you to reserve the room.”
“Just your name. We’ll see you on Saturday.” And with that, he hung up.
Oooo-kay. Guess I’ve got a room on Saturday night. But that half of my brain — the truly smart half — was a little apprehensive:
- Shared bathrooms.
- They don’t take credit cards.
- They didn’t ask for my phone number, even.
Great. I’m walking into “Children Of The Corn 7 — Harvest of the Bicyclists.”
Oh well. The kids’ll throw me back because I’m old and tough.
I was pleasantly surprised Google Maps didn’t give me accurate distance information on Saturday. (This “Google Not Being Accurate” will bite me on the ass on Sunday.) The mapping service had said 70 miles. It was only 62. With as much pain as my butt was giving me, I was damned grateful to take those last 8 miles off.
I was greeted by a very sweet lady. Told her I was checking in. “Oh!” she exclaimed as happily as if she’d won the lottery. (Humph. Nobody I know personally greets me like that. Maybe I should just start handing out $45 in cash.) She called me by name (granted, it was written on a card on the desk) asked if I’d found the place ok. I told her I had and was glad to be there. She asked if I had been told it was $45. I said I did and reached in my wallet to hand her the money.
“No, no, just pay us when you leave.”
Uhhh, what? “Well, uhh, you may not be open when I leave. I’m probably going to leave around 6 or 7AM.”
“You can’t do that!” (Corn flashback.) “You’ll miss breakfast!” (Everyone keeps mentioning this breakfast. They must put on quite a spread.)
I told her as beat as my body was that I may just consider sticking around long enough to eat breakfast. But in the meantime, I’d feel more comfortable paying for the room.
I didn’t have an opportunity to take a picture of it, but this is exactly what their cash register looked like:
The lady pushed a few buttons, turned a crank or two, stood on one leg, made the Sign of the Cross, and the machine opened its maw. She took my nine Lincolns and put them right next to the Confederate dollars.
“You’re all set,” she chirped.
“Umm, my room is . . . ?”
“You can do through there,” she pointed through one of the dining rooms, “or you can reach the room from the stair outside.”
I told her I had a bicycle so I’d probably use the outside stairs. “And a key . . . ?” I asked.
“You don’t need a key. All the rooms are open.”
I could literally hear children shucking corn.
She then let me know that dinner was from 6:30 to 8. They were having mashed potatoes, roast turkey, and corn. (Corn? Of course.)
I toted the bike up the stairs and into the hallway. First thought I had was right out of Poltergeist:
The actual hallway:
Home sweet home:
I went back downstairs to ask about any on-site laundry. Had a chat with this lovely lady:
She seemed genuinely disappointed that I couldn’t do my laundry. (Hmmm. Hadn’t showered at that point so maybe . . . ) I told her not to worry about it. I’d find a laundry on down the road. I then asked about dinner. (Two nights in a row where the only place to eat was where I was staying.)
She ran down the menu for me and quoted a price. It seemed reasonable (well, reasonable compared to going hungry) so I peeled off some more bills.
I was then asked, “How much laundry do you have?” I responded it was a couple of pair of bicycling pants and a couple of shirts. She said, “Come on, baby.”
We went around to the back of the main building into:
She showed me which machines to use and waved away my offer of paying to use them. As we walked back around to the front, I told her I’d get my stuff and would be right back.
“Wait a minute, are you a guest?” (Do they get that many dinner reservations of people who need to do a laundry load?) I answered that I was. “Did you pay [insert someone’s name that I don’t remember]?”
“I don’t know who [that person] is, but I did pay someone for the night. I’m upstairs in room 27.” You know. The room where some little old lady is going to pop out from behind the dresser and tell me to “go into the light.”
“Then I need to give you back your money for dinner. You’re a guest. Dinner is included.”
I asked her, “How do you people make any money? A room, dinner, and breakfast for $45?” She made some vague comment about keeping costs down by not answering official missing persons inquiries, but I didn’t get all the details.
I threw all my stuff in the washing machine and headed into the dining room. Dinner was quite tasty. The dining room was full of people who’d been coming to this place probably since it first opened in 1908. (I’m not exaggerating.)
The young lady who brought me dinner was very pleasant. At the end of dinner she said dessert was either strawberry short cake or ice cream. I asked her what flavor of ice cream.
She rattled off about 8 different flavors. The last one was . . . “Superman.”
“Really?” I was wearing one of my Superman shirts (‘natch), had on my ring, and had to show off my tattoo to her. She gave me a look that said, “You’re a customer so I have to be nice to you even though you’re a fucking freak.” She politely asked about my Superman obsession, then trotted off to
warn the others fetch the ice cream.
Out the window were several people waiting to start dinner. How could you help but smile at a place that lets a beagle mingle with the guests?
Turns out the place had kind of gone to the dogs:
The view was spectacular:
The public trophy room was eclectic. (No telling how you get to see the private trophy room!)
I have to admit: the folks at The Fireside Inn were the friendliest people I may have ever met in Michigan. (Granted, an ex-mother-in-law was from Michigan, so that bends the curve down sharply.) It seemed like every person who came into the dining room was greeted with a hug and a, “Hey, you made it through Winter!” I’ve been picking on them a little bit on this post, but I’d go stay with them again.
Even the truly smart half of my brain agrees with that.