Off the Beaten Track...


First things first, my latest column for The Kitchener Post is now available online here. It’s about the strangeness of people writing Research in Motion’s obituary when the company is still raking in a net income of three quarter of a billion dollars. How is that sane, exactly?

As I may have mentioned, things are pretty slow on this blog here. Erin and I have been busy at home with writing and non-writing related activities, and some of these are actually paying gigs. In between all of that, there simply hasn’t been time to add posts to the blog. And I have a few ideas for posts as well. We’ll see.

I’m writing this in the Day’s Inn at Portage, Indiana. We left Kitchener around 2 p.m. today with the kids and drove west. It’s time for our annual summer visit to see Grandpa Michael and “Granmma Roam-ie”. This is actually a good opportunity for writing. Back when we just had Vivian and she still did afternoon naps, we had a bit of a weekly ritual where we’d pack her in a car and drive out of town. Erin would write in the car while Vivian slept, and I’d write at the bookstore we drove to while Erin played with Vivian. That doesn’t work, now. But on this long trip, Erin was able to get a substantial amount of editing done.

The kids, as always, are troopers. And I should update the earlier post where I told all about Nora’s terror of public toilets. Conquered, now! Last week, she had a breakthrough or something, and wowed her playground school teachers with her willingness to try out the school’s toilet. She’s spent most of the week without an accident, and even managed to spend the bulk of this car journey dry. This latter thing wasn’t our idea. For long trips such as these, we’ve packed diapers for the journey, calling them “adventure pants”, but Nora has been quite willing to wait and hold and notify us when she needs to go pee.

Which has meant a fair amount of stopping and starting on this journey, so you win some and you lose some.

We took a bit of a different route this time. Google Maps, which usually recommends that we take Highway 402, cross the border at the Bluewater Bridge, and then follow I-69 through Lansing to get to western Michigan, instead routed us all the way along I-94 through Detroit. The route was about 10 km longer, but could be done 10 minutes faster.

I honestly can’t tell you if this is the case, if Google Maps knows something about construction on I-69 or what. There was construction on I-94, but it didn’t really slow us down. We made good time through Detroit.

But coming off of I-94 between Port Huron and Detroit, we were looking for dinner venues, and spotted a Tim Horton’s, a Subway, and a green-painted barnhouse named My Place Cafe. Located on 26 Mile Road just east of I-94 near New Haven, this is one of these hole in the wall places that you really take a chance on. In this case, the chance paid off.

Erin and I have paid lip service to eschewing the chain restaurants and taking chances on local establishments, especially after discovering the wonderful beef brisket sandwich at the Villager Restaurant at Walnut, Iowa (now sadly closed), but it’s something we’ve not been able to do as often with kids in tow. However, the smell from the outdoor smoker quickly won us over, and we pulled into the parking lot of this place, which was otherwise out in the middle of nowhere. (The picture above is of a street near the barbecue place, which ends abruptly and has these ornate streetlights that serve absolutely no-one — a hint of a development proposal that went south, perhaps?)

The barbecue was fantastic. Erin and I ordered the two-fer plate, with smoked chicken and brisket. It came with potato wedges and real pork and beans, as well as two slices of cornbread. We were also given a selection of the restaurant’s barbecue sauce. The mild was best for the brisket, in my opinion, tangy with a bit of spice. However, the candied apple sauce (tasting sweet and with a strong hint of smoked applewood) was much better on the chicken. We cleaned the plate. The place was also kid friendly, offering kids menus, games, and a decent grilled cheese and fries for the girls, who also cleaned their plates.

So, now we have a reason to take the I-94 through Detroit.

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