Getaway! Day 3



  • Mabel has befriended a bossy little girl she calls “Emma” and a preternaturally small boy she calls “Dandle”.  The two indulgently attempt to coach Mabel into joining them in song but Mabel, never a slave to the agenda, regards them with stoney superiority.
  • A sign at the entry of the park reads “Michigan Critical Dunes.”  What makes them “critical”?  Did they, too, drive here from the suburbs in a foreign car festooned with hipster stickers, an MA folded up in the glove box?  No?  Well, just who the hell do they think they are, anyway?
  • We have lunch at the nearby Crane’s Pie Pantry Restaurant, which is housed in an enormous red barn, a real honest-to-golly-gee barn, thus calling out the phoney balonies of Cracker Barrel.  The smell of gravy is heavy in the damp air, and I catch myself smacking my lips in perverse anticipation of the hillbilly hell that awaits us.  A taxidermied dog is stationed in the vestibule, bearing a little sign introducing it as Betty(1930-1937), a native of Chicago.  How Betty met her maker at such a young age is not spelled out on the sign, but contained within its haiku-ish verbal economy is a dire warning to all smartypants city slickers.  The nostalgia for the Great Depression reaches critical mass in the dining area: various artifacts of Farm Days Gone By swing from hooks, crowd random cubby holes, and hang from the walls.  A tin coffee pot consorts with a child’s hobby horse on the ceiling, twin chains from a grain conveyor belt approximate snakey rails astride a small stairway, a line of laundry gambols around the corner behind our table– it’s as if the folks at Crane’s had hired that ultimate purveyor of Depression-era Country Chaos, the Twister from “The Wizard of Oz”, as their interior designer.   Pie is what we came to Crane’s for, not the cocka-doodle-doo atmosphere, and after a perfunctory lunch, we gobble down warm wedges of almost fuckable deliciousness.  The bloated afterglow spell is broken when I spot a black-face cartoon character leering alarmingly on a hand fan amid the cock-a-doodle-dooery.  It’s official: Crane’s out-crackers the Cracker Barrel.
  • We take Mabel to run off her pie buzz at “Kids’ Kingdom”
    Kids' Kingdom!

    Kids’ Kingdom!

    a gargantuan play structure in a park at the edge of South Haven.  Part fortress, part castle, part pirate ship, and all splintery death trap, the KK is host to deliberately wobbly balance beams, creaky tire bridges, and an arcane network of tiny crawl spaces that are just the right size to eternally ensnare the occasional pudgy, introspective child.  Grafitti roster: “Don’t grow up to be a science teacher”  (medium: orange marker), “Jesus loves me, this I no” (medium: purple chalk), a primitive penis (also in that telltale purple chalk), begging the question “What is Prince doing at Kids’ Kingdom?”.

Navigating the Kids' Kingdom Katakombs

Navigating the Kids’ Kingdom Katakombs

  • Kate accidentally discovers that Italian dressing significantly romanticizes the flavor profile of mac and cheese.  I found that I’ve become deaf to the voice that screams “whatthefuckiswrongwithyou” when I feel compelled to eat a grass and sand encrusted s’more right off the ground.  The Van Buren County 71% Chub Club awaits…
  • Mabel blocks the entries/exits of the lair of the ground squirrels with rocks.  No one knows why.
  • Mabel and I put tiny explosive pops in the road in front of our tent, creating a miniature minefield for passing RVs and campers.  “Take that, you sonsabitches”, I laugh with a sort of unsettling glee.  It is both an attack on the Reactionary Recreational Overlap and a celebration of my place within it.   Three days living in a tent and wearing the same pair of pants and I don’t know who I am anymore.  Umm… Yeehaw?



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