Hi guys sorry for the tease, ended up getting ****ed by US airways and having to spend an extra night in Boston but back home now so here's part 5
Firstly to answer a few questions, as stated we went to Detroit to visit my friend, in addition our flight back was Detroit-Atlanta-Dublin and we did plan on going home without booking even more flights!
Sadly we didn't go skiing maybe next time :P To the person who said everyone had been incredibly nice to us thus far you are absolutely right, we were blown away by the kindness of Americans but I think we were massively aided by our accents and the fact our story was an entertaining one.
Ok so part 5!
A Policeman A Pimp and a Weirdo Called Jeff, Part 5
Petoskey is like all the typical small, clean, picturesque American cities we see in all the films, where children play in the streets, people are friendly and respectful and nothing bad ever happens. It's a wonderful place to go if you're into things like farmer's markets, pottery demonstrations, walking tours and enjoying the beautiful scenery around northern Lake Michigan.
This, almost by definition, meant it was not the kind of place where two Irish guys in their early twenties could expect to have a good time.
We were pretty determined though, so we got into the truck and drove from the hotel to the city centre in the hope of finding a good bar.
We parked and went for a walk around to see if we could find somewhere to have a drink and meet some people. It was about midday on a Friday so we assumed the bars would be open - they're certainly open in Ireland at that time of the day. We walked down the street and passed a few places, none of which had any sign of life inside. We'd later realise that bars don't tend to open until mid-afternoon and that drinking during the day is somewhat frowned upon in America. At this point we changed our plans and decided to try to find an electronics store where we might be able to buy some chargers for our phones, so we could try to contact Savanna again. We were randomly walking around the city, when completely by chance I noticed a place called “Roast & Toast” down one of the streets. This made me stop in my tracks because I recognised the name. I asked Jono, isn't that the place where Savanna works? He replied that it was the same company but she worked in another branch, in the hospital. We decided it would be a good idea to go in there for a cup of tea anyway and to ask someone where we could go for chargers.
Roast and Toast Cafe, Petoskey
It was pretty busy inside which was encouraging. So far we'd only seen empty bars, quiet shops and the odd car driving around, so it was nice to actually see some people and some activity. We ordered our teas and asked the waiter if he knew of any electronics stores nearby. He was very friendly and chatted to us for a few minutes, asking where we were from and what we were doing there etc. We didn't mention that we were there looking for Savanna. He told us about a Radio Shack just around the corner and gave us our teas before we went to find a table.
We'd been sitting there for about 5 minutes, discussing what we should do next and for the rest of the day, when a girl apprehensively walked over. I didn't recognise her, but Jono did – it was Savanna! She looked completely shocked. We invited her to take a seat, and she did, somewhat reluctantly. Jono and Savanna had never met in real life before. As far as I know they just met online on ChatRoulette or something and continued talking on Skype after their initial meeting. I think they'd been chatting online for a couple of months before this point. I'm sure they never expected to meet in real life any time soon and certainly not in these circumstances, so she had every right to be confused and worried. We asked her if she believed that we were actually here now. She laughed. Her hands were visibly shaking and her voice was hoarse, but she eventually settled down and we were able to have a conversation. She explained that she'd gotten extremely drunk at the house party in Brutus the night before and had passed out on a sofa by the time we arrived, and that her friends hadn't seen us parked outside. She said we should have knocked the door and gone in (I knew it!), but we explained why we thought that wouldn't have been a good idea. While she was sitting with us two of her friends arrived, a girl called Teila and her boyfriend, Matt. They'd been at the same party the night before and were amazed at our story and that we'd been parked outside while they were there. The five of us sat there chatting for about 45 minutes but Matt and Teila had to leave and Savanna had to start work at 1pm. She was only there to cover a shift for someone, otherwise she'd never have been in that particular branch of Roast & Toast on that day. It was also a complete coincidence that she realised we were there – the waiter, being a great lad, had told her that there were two nice Irish guys sitting across the café and suggested that she go over and introduce herself. He had no idea that we were only in Petoskey to find her. With no phones and no internet we may never have met her and instead may have just driven on to another part of the state or country, but by a compounding of several coincidences here we were!
Savanna and her friends had told us there were five pubs in the city centre, and had shown us where they were on our map. We decided we'd go on a pub crawl and visit them all, meeting her later that night when she finished her shift. Maybe we'd even visit each one more than once - there were only five after all. First we had to find a hotel for one more night here, so we got back into the truck and drove to one right in the city centre called the Perry. Once we'd checked in, we headed down the street to the first stop on our pub crawl, the City Bar & Grill.
City Park and Grill, stop one of our pub crawl, having planned to get photos outside of them all we managed a total of one before the debauchery began...
We went inside and took a seat at the bar. The place seemed nice but was empty apart from a family having lunch and four or five members of staff. The barman, Ashley, took our order, and noticing our accents asked us where we were from.
“Oh wow, my favourite person in the world is from Northern Ireland!” he said.
It turned out Ashley was a massive fan of survival expert Bear Grylls. He told us he'd recently bought himself a replica of Bear Grylls' knife as an early Christmas present, and was a bit of an extreme survival enthusiast himself. We joked that Bear's cameraman deserved the real praise, since he does all the same things as Bear does but doesn't get any of the credit, and confirmed that if there was ever a nuclear holocaust or something the last three people on Earth would probably be Ashley the barman, Bear Grylls, and his cameraman.
“Your first round is on me guys, it's great to meet people from the same country as Bear Grylls!” he said. We thought this was a little bit strange but we were willing to accept the free beers!
We chatted with Ashley a bit more while drinking our pints. He was a remarkably friendly and interesting person. Every time one of our glasses was almost empty Ashley would casually take it away and fill it up without breaking eye contact or conversation, so we ended up drinking way more than we intended. Everything was just going on a tab (which Ashley informed us he'd named “IRA” in the computerised till) and we'd just pay at the end, which seems to be the norm in America.
After several pints of Hangin' Frank (a beer specifically brewed for this pub, named after a former owner who hung himself in the basement - his ghost is rumoured to haunt the building to this day), we decided to leave and continue our pub crawl. Next on the list was the Noggin Room.
The two of us getting a pint in in the Noggin Room, you can see the trophy glasses hanging from the roof
The Noggin Room is a cosy place with a small bar and only a couple of tables, situated in the basement of the hotel we'd checked into earlier. There are hundreds of glass mugs hanging from the walls and ceiling, each one with a name and date engraved into it. We'd later enquire about these and find out that they're a trophy you get if you try one of each beer they stock, which we assumed to be an easy task since they only had 6 or 7 on tap, but in fact there are over 120 different beers to try. We took a seat at the bar beside a group of about 7 guys and 1 girl who were all the same age as us or a little older. (Excuse me if the trip report becomes a little hazy after this point, my memory of some parts of this night has become a bit jaded.)
As far as I know, we have a few beers here and then inevitably end up trying to talk to the girl in the group beside us who we would come to know as Mary Bea, a local artist who introduced us to everybody around us (No huge surprise that everyone seems to know everyone in Petoskey!). I remember Jono discussing the emerging Belfast art scene with her which came as a slight surprise given we know nothing about it! It turns out they are a group of joggers who decided it was too cold to run today so they just went to the pub instead. That's the kind of attitude we admire, so we ended up befriending them all and getting a table, continuing to drink and having banter. They were all a little older than us and weren't really up for having a mad night, only planning to have a few quiet drinks. One of the guys worked as soccer coach in the local high school and they were all planning to go there to watch a basketball game, and they invited us to go with them. We thought going to see a high school basketball game would be a great experience, so we agreed, as long as we could go to a liquor store and buy some alcohol to bring with us! They were initially reluctant to let us do that, given that it's illegal to bring alcohol into the grounds of a high school, but we talked them round and another guy called Todd agreed to take us to a liquor store in his car. Apparently Todd used to be a bit of a loose cannon back in the day, but now he'd settled down quite a bit. We were happy to have rekindled an old flame in him and got him back into his old ways! We settled our tab at the bar which was surprisingly only $9 depsite the fact we'd had about 5 beers each there. Jono questioned the barman, but he just told us to be quiet about it, they were on him – more free beer! We left him a large tip to say thanks.
Myself (Jono/GAWA9) and the lovely Mary Bea
Todd brought us to the liqour store where we bought a large bottle of vodka and some water bottles. Emptying the useless water from the bottles and replacing it with delicious vodka, we were ready to meet the others at the game!
We got to the high school basketball court and the stands were full to capacity. I don't remember if we had to buy tickets or if we got in for free. Jono and I looked around and saw a section where a large group of high school kids were vigourously cheering on their team, so we decided to go and join them, vodka bottles in hand, rather than stand in the boring section with the adults. We quickly became honourary Petoskey High School supporters due to our alcohol-enhanced enthusiasm! If we hadn't been spotted trying to give vodka to the kids we may have even been allowed to stay until the end of the game - The soccer coach had seen our antics though and realised that his job may be in jeopardy if we disgraced him any further, so we were quickly ushered out of the school, drunkenly laughing and cheering.
Next thing I remember is being in a place called the Mitchell Street Pub, back in the city centre. It was pretty busy, and incidentally this would have been one of the next stops on our pub crawl, but that plan was long forgotten. We must have been brought here by Todd or another member of the jogging group, as they were all here too. Jono and the joggers occupied one end of the bar while I entertained myself by walking around and talking to literally every other person in there. I have no idea what I talked to them about, but judging by the photos we got they seemed to have been thoroughly enjoying my company. Jono ended up deep in conversation with one of the joggers and found out that he had a pregnant fiancée at home. Concluding that this was the man's last night of freedom before his son or daughter was born (which wasn't the case, she wasn't due to give birth for another month or so), Jono decided that it was time for them to go wild and get a few Tequilas in! From what I've been told, the man's fiancée phoned him at one point to ask why he wasn't home yet. He told her they'd all gone to the pub and met two Irish guys and that they were drinking with us. Jono then spoke to her on the phone and told her she should come to the pub and meet us, which she did, depsite being heavily pregnant. It was becoming pretty obvious that this town didn't see visitors from Ireland very often, people were very excited (and confused) to see us. Hopefully this gleaming report will inspire more people from here to visit – you'll be treated to some of the finest hospitality you can find and plenty of free beer, so give Petoskey a go! Tequilas were flowing at this point and it was still before 11pm, the night had potential for us to turn from local attractions to foreign disgraces but we were on a roll and everyone seemed to be enjoying our story, as always in America everyone's morale was sky high so it was easy for them to get into the spirit of things and soon everyone in the bar seemed to be celebrating our new friend's last night of freedom.
The next thing I remember after being in Mitchell Street is being back in the hotel room with Savanna, Teila and Matt. I vaguely remember being in Teila's car and asking her if she'd let me drive, thank goodness she didn't. Jono tells me that they'd all come to Mitchell Street to pick us up after Savanna had finished her shift. They've since told us that the scene in the pub when they arrived was amazing. It was more full than they'd ever seen it and we seemed to be friends with every single person in there! We tried to buy them drinks but they're all under 21 so they refused, as did the barman. Apparently it's a pretty serious offense to buy alcohol for a minor over there. Anyway, Jono tells me they then drove us to a liquor store and we bought a large bottle of rum, some vodka and some mixers and brought it to the hotel. I can just about remember being in the room with everyone, drinking and asking Matt how he'd managed to pull a girl as attractive as Tiela, and begging him to teach me his methods. Repeadedly. Must have been embarrassing for the lad but at least Savanna and Teila were laughing. The night went on, not that I remember any of it, and after a brief session in the bathroom inexplicably shouting at myself and looking at my reddened face in the mirror, Jono thought it would be wise to put me into bed and I quickly passed out.
When I woke up the next morning Matt and Teila were gone but Savanna was still there. Empty bottles and glasses from the night before were strewn across the floor. One of the trophy glass mugs from the Noggin Room was on the bedside table - damn, must have stolen one when we were in there!
Savanna had work that day so she left a short time later, but not before trying to persuade Jono to stay in Petoskey for just one more night. He wasn't having it though. We'd had two nights in Petoskey now, there was nothing more here for us - Our plan was to to go Chicago, having been advised by several people in the pubs that it was a great city and we'd have a lot of fun there.
More hungover than I'd ever been in my life, I slowly got out of bed and had a shower. Moving was difficult, my head was banging, although I wasn't tired at all. Apparently we'd arrived at the hotel at about 10pm the night before and I was asleep by 11! Jono felt even worse given that he'd spent more of the night awake than sleeping. The two of us made our way down to the restaurant and enjoyed a really good breakfast, in a room with a great view of the calm Lake Michigan. We'd brought the Noggin Room mug with us so we could bring it back down to the bar, it was pretty embarrassing to have it on the table at breakfast since the waitresses would obviously know where it was from. I stealthily returned it to the empty basement bar after breakfast and we checked out, planning to go to Roast & Toast to see Savanna one last time before we would drive on to Chicago.
Savanna was on a break when we arrived (another complete coincidence – my phone was dead at the time but she had just text me to let me know she was on a break, we wouldn't get that message until a couple of days later when we were hundreds of miles away). Matt and Teila were there too. We each got a cup of tea while they told us all the hilarious and embarrassing stories from the night before. When we finished up and Savanna had to start work again, we left and got back into the truck.
As we drove off, a very worrying thought hit me – Had we paid Ashley for our drinks in the City Bar & Grill, the ones on the IRA tab? Neither of us could remember paying, and we didn't want to leave Ashley in a bad situation after he'd been so good to us. We had to go back and check.
When we got there we saw a couple of people we'd evidently met the night before. They were laughing and asked us if we'd enjoyed the basketball game. We had no idea who these people were but we thanked them and told them we'd had a great night!
Ashley was standing behind the bar and was visibly happy to see us again. We explained that we weren't staying, we'd just come back to make sure we'd paid him for all the drinks. Thankfully he told us that we had.
“Thanks so much for coming back to check though! Enjoy the rest of your trip!” he said as we shook his hand and left.
With that, we were ready to leave Petoskey. We were sad to leave, as we'd met so many great people and had a really good night, but we had been told that Chicago was the place to be, with its tall buildings, thriving nightlife and millions of people – way better than Detroit. We checked the map and saw that it was about 360 miles away, which we estimated would take about 8 hours, assuming no problems with the truck. Better get started then!
Some extra assorted pics from our day out in Petoskey:
This picture, of which I have zero recollection for some unknown reason is we believe of a friend we must have made while buying vodka for the basketbal
Gareth and Petoskey friend in a rather cramped car from basketball back to pubs!
This man who has come to be known as the mysterious Petoskey man looks slightly bemused at being photographed, we believe he must have been in the last liquor store and we only hope we befriended him before taking a random snapshot..