In the state of Michigan, in which I live, the first of the bars/restaurants able to fully open for business for dine-in services were in the Upper Peninsula and “Up North,” which opened May 22. Now, all of the bars/restaurants in the state can be open for dine-in.
The very first bar we visited for a post-quarantine drink was The Hideaway Bar in Mancelona, MI. It was a place we’d visited several times in the past, while on our “Up North” adventures – especially when renting a nearby cabin owned by some friends. In the winter, it’s not uncommon to see snowmobilers, and in warmer weather, it’s not uncommon to see off-road vehicles (and their operators). The Hideaway is actually right on a popular ORV route, so riders will quite often park at the bar and have some drinks after a dusty ride!
We were camping in the area and our friend living nearby said they had a good “social distancing” setup. So we decided to visit on a sunny Friday afternoon – when temperatures were in the ’60s. This bar has both American – and Canadian owners and is located on Starvation Lake (though you can barely see it through the trees during the summer).
The Hideaway Bar – Mancelona, MI
Pitcher of Atwater Brewing’s “Dirty Blonde.” Note the pickup window in the background – where customers can place/pick up orders.
We were only the second party to arrive, but this place was full by the time we left. Our friend Janet is at the window picking up her order.
Love ’em or hate ’em – ORVs are definitely a “thing” when you’re “Up North!”
Don’t Touch My Tent, Lady!
After camping for two nights “Up North,” we headed south and were going to camp for two nights at a campground near Grand Rapids. The campground – sadly – didn’t meet our standards – so we decided to leave and head home rather than camp there. It just didn’t allow us the privacy we desire when we camp – there were too many people crammed into a small space, kids and adults were walking right through our camp site while we were on it, and there were cabins overlooking our site, which was…kinda creepy. Also, the view right in front of us was a fishing dock on the water, which was pretty much chock full of people. While this might be an ideal camping setting for some, it was NOT what we were looking for. When a drunken woman invaded my site and started to try to “help” me set up my tent, that was pretty much the last straw! It took ALL of my reserves of patience not to sock her in the jaw and tell her to:
Don’t touch my stuff, bitch!
I kindly – and calmly- asked her to let me set up my tent on my own! Also added that I appreciated her trying to help (which I really didn’t). I knew that if I had reacted more like I WANTED to react, she would’ve immediately gone to her baby daddy, or husband, boyfriend, or whomever – and said that I had disrespected her, which would bring more people to our site and, well let’s just say things wouldn’t end well in that scenario (even though I did have a hammer handy in our camping bag).
There was also a site next to us chock full of people blaring loud auto-tuned music. Some of it was also the kind of music you’d hear in a Mexican cantina, which is neat when you’re having tacos and margaritas in a cantina, not so neat when it’s on full blast on a Bluetooth speaker the size of a Chevette. We decided that it was just not to be for us to spend an outdoor slumber party with these folks, so we packed up (thankfully we didn’t have to pack up too much) – and left. And geez that kid riding around on his bike (and on our site) was kind of creepy! Like that kid with the banjo in Deliverance… Proof that sometimes a campground just isn’t that much into you…
Cedar Springs Brewing Company
Before hitting the road for home, we decided we’d check out a local craft brewery called Cedar Springs Brewing Company, located in Cedar Springs (about a half hour north of Grand Rapids). The most notable thing about the town are their red street signs (most street signs are either green or blue). It took only a quick drive through the town to notice the whole town seemed to have a “red” theme, which made me think of another small town called Milan, located about 20 minutes south of Ann Arbor. Milan uses some kind of red high school mascot called “Big Red” or something like that (I don’t live there and haven’t inquired too much about it). Is it a big red-haired lumberjack? A way to make money by advertising Big Red cinnamon gum? A nod to the Army’s “Big Red One?” Is it some kind of phallic thing? Inquiring minds want to know, but that’s another blog topic entirely!
As for Cedar Springs, a bar server said the “red” theme (including the high school mascot Red Hawks) might come from a factory that used to exist in town that made red flannel pajamas (don’t quote me on any of this for fact, this is just what she told me). But yeah, after a couple of beers, I’ll buy any story you tell me…
I’d heard that Cedar Springs Brewing Company specializes in German beer styles – which are among my absolute favorite beer styles, and what better to get the taste of that crowded, noisy, people-infested campground out of our mouths than some delicious cold beer?