February 20, 2012 § Leave a comment
It took four hand washings to get the smoked chicken smell off of my hands. It took a lot longer to get what happened in the Jack Pine Bar basement out of my mind. The unusually great day started earlier then that so let me back up.
Dad asked us to go along for a ride. It was a about a two hour drive to the middle of nowhere where he had to meet a client for work. Without giving it much thought, my mom and I agreed to go – mostly to keep my dad company, but also because we were bribed with food. There was nothing to do at our destination (and by nothing, I mean nothing) so we nestled in to the magazine section of the public library. Time ticked slowly on as I read an issue of Mother Earth News – brushing up on the toxic facts of BPA, beet growing tips, and information on where to buy a hot tub heated by woodstove.
Being that there was nearly nowhere to eat in town, the librarian directed us to a bar some miles away frequented mostly by snowmobilers. We giggled as we arrived, the log cabin surrounded by tall pines and an unusually small amount of snow, the chalkboard signs out front letting us know that most items on the menu would be smoked. Inside, the walls were covered in deer antlers; the windows decked with plaid and country-print curtains. Snowmobile oil was sold next to the bottles of liquor. Beer was served in bottles – no tap, no glasses. A couple rednecks in Camo and Carhart sat sleepily at the bar as we ate our unexpectedly delicious (and of course, smoked) bar food.
Rhonda, the waitress and bartender with blonde, crimpy hair piled atop her head, would not let us leave before she took us into the basement to show us the politically (and anatomically) incorrect Native American statue that had once had a place on the front porch of the bar some 70 years ago. I will not go into much detail about that statue, but Rhonda meant well and seemed to take pride in sharing her unrehearsed and uncensored jokes and brief historical fact. After stopping in the restrooms, aptly marked “Does” and “Bucks”, we headed home with huge smiles and a free sample of smoked jerky.
I rode home with my eyes wide – looking for moose or aurora borealis – all the while thinking about that great stop so unpredicted and yet greatly amusing. We could not have planned a more entertaining dinner had we tried, and never had I thought such a place could lie so peacefully there smack dab in the middle of nowhere. Very rarely does going from point A to point B seem to be the moral of the story. All the planning in the world cannot always predict the greatest stops along the way. It is a lesson I repeatedly have to learn; something that cannot be told but must be experienced. So if you ever get a chance to stop at the Jack Pine Bar in the middle of nowhere, order something smoked, drink a beer straight from the bottle, and if you are lucky, let Rhonda take you to the basement. And then you too will understand exactly what I am talking about.