(Three Rivers, MI)- I haven't enjoyed my lunch so much in ages!
Recall that back in September, I took one of my ambitious road trips with my friend Steve, winding around Lake Superior generally, though Michigan, Ontario, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, and back to Indiana.
On the way through Michigan, I was very insistent upon wanting to return to a trackside restaurant in a small southern Michigan town. The reason was that in June 1997, I took on one of my all-time favorite road jobs: mapping a fiber optic path for Level 3, from Detroit to Chicago. This trackside restaurant was discovered happily by accident, walking, yes, at trackside. It was loaded with railroad decor, complete with an attached converted caboose, and had good, cheap food. This is also how I discovered the Bell's Brewery. More on that with another post.
I thought this place was located in Niles, but discovered upon arrival there that my memory had failed me.
Last week, I was with Alex in Tucson, at the Pima Air & Space Museum. One of the volunteers asked me where I was from, and I told him. For some reason, he felt compelled to tell me that he is from Michigan. I took the bait and asked where in Michigan. He turned it around and told me that I wouldn't know. "Try me." His reply- Sturgis. I knew exactly where it was. I rattled off the names of towns nearby: White Pigeon, Three Rivers, Portage, Kalamazoo. He was stunned.
Then it dawned on me. "What is the name of that restaurant with the caboose by the tracks?"
He laughed. "That's Frankie's by the Tracks! I ate there just two weeks ago!"
I had the same thing I ate there 10 years ago: a wet burrito and an ice tea. I really enjoyed the decor, even if they did update all the locomotive photos to black Norfolk Southern units. No reason to get rid of the old Conrail "Big Blue". Oh well. They even have stained glass windows in a railroad motif. My kind of place!
After lunch, I went to the tracks to see if there was any evidence of the old project. Sure enough, there were orange marker signs, about every 500 feet or so.
Very satisfying. I love seeing my projects built. Too bad I couldn't have remembered back in September and taken Steve. He would have gotten a charge out of it all.