Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Driving Through the Woods for Pizza

Picking up my sister at the Denver airport, we started talking, and memories began to flow. Remember when we went to Michigan together, and ended up driving through the woods for pizza?

Oh, do I! Northern Michigan's roads through the woods are beautiful. At night they are very dark. There are two kinds of signs. One says, "Do not pass on hills or curves." Since there are really no places without hills or curves, one wonders why the signs don't just say, "Don't ever pass." The other signs, about every four miles, say "Deer crossing, next five miles." It would probably make more sense to have periodic signs saying, "This is the U.P. Deer are going to jump out at you. Deal with it." That probably wouldn't fit on the signs, though.

Cousin Susie promised us the best pizza in the Upper Peninsula (U.P.) and so she and our other cousin Suze were barreling down the highway through the dark. The road was two lanes, with signs flying past, and trees in wild profusion growing right up to the edge of the road with not much margin for error. I kept looking at Ellen, and her eyes were getting bigger and bigger, while her head kept sinking lower.

In case you've never been to the U.P., remember the accents from the movie Fargo. That would be close. Finally, I yelled up to Susie, trying to slow her down a bit. We wanted to live long enough to attend the family reunion two days later. "Hey, Susie, those deer signs are pretty funny. They come about every four miles, saying deer crossing next five miles. Are there many accidents?"

"Ya, you betcha," she said. I'll paraphrase the rest the best I can remember. "And they don't read those signs. They just jump out of them trees. I got hit by two at once about four months ago, and I was standing in front of the car, kicking at the stupid things, trying to move of them out of my way so I could get going when the cruiser comes up and wants to give me a ticket for killing them. I told him I didn't go into the woods with a gun. They tried to kill me, and he could just either shut up or help me get them out of the road so I could get going. I was pretty mad. They messed up my car, I can tell you."

"That must have been really scary," I said. "Not really," she said thoughtfully. "Scary was up around that next curve up here, when that big bear came out and I hit him. The car wouldn't drive, and he wasn't dead. That was pretty scary."

Luckily we made it to the pizza place without incident. It was in a tiny old railroad sidecar. After mounting the steps, we entered the place to find little tables for four with a miniscule aisle that the waitress had to move down nearly sideways with her pizza trays. She came to us then, smiling, and said, "Hey! Four? Smoking or non smoking?" Being in the lead at that point, I looked at the small place. There were about five tables on each side of the aisle. "What's the difference?" I asked. The waitress just smiled at me. It seems that smoking was on the right of the tiny aisle, and non-smoking was on the left.

The pizza was great. The memory was even better.

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