Thursday, June 28, 2012

To Hell and Back Again


You may not believe in Hell, but it exists. Don't believe me? Look at a map! Early last week, my roommate Kimmy and I decided it was high time we went to Hell. So on Wednesday, when we both had the day free of job responsibilities, we hopped in my car and set out on the highway to Hell. It's actually two highways. We took M-23 north to D-32 and drove through a lovely stretch of country. The roads must have recently been worked on because the pavement was smooth and easy to drive on.

A short drive northwest of Ann Arbor is the tiny village of Hell, Michigan, and it's really quite nice. There are three Hell-themed buildings, a souvenir shop, a little ice cream shop and deli that also shares space with a teeny-tiny post office, and a restaurant called the Dam Site Inn, behind which is, in fact, a dam.

After stopping to take some pictures, we headed to the Hell In A Hand Basket shop, purchased some goofy Hell-themed postcards, and mailed them at the tiny post office. Before they put them into the mail, the post office stamps “Been Thru Hell” onto the cards and then holds them over a candle to singe them. Fun times!

When I'd told my friend that my roommate, Kimmy, and I were going to Hell, she insisted that we had to have burgers at the Inn. I needed no persuasion. The Inn reminded me of places I'd been to in the UP; a bit rustic, roughly decorated, staffed by some friendly folk serving some simple, down-to-earth, delicious food. The prices were more than reasonable. There is also a decent happy hour that we just barely missed.

The Inn has a somewhat varied menu. Burgers, of course, and chicken, and fish, each with an amusing, horribly puntastic name. There's a fish fry once a week, though we weren't there for that. Kimmy ordered a bowl of fried chicken tenders over mashed potatoes and covered in cheese. It usually comes with gravy, as well, but Kimmy asked for no gravy. I opted for the large burger with mashed potatoes, gravy, and cheese sprinkled on top. I wasn't sure when ordering if this was going to be a burger on a bun or what, and it turned out to just be a large hamburger patty on a bed of mashed potatoes smothered in gravy and cheese. I was okay with this.

Since we had already learned from the bathrooms that the water smelled like sulfur, I was wary of the glasses of ice water that the server brought. Indeed, the water tasted of sulfur. Grand. So I ordered a fountain root beer, which tasted fine until the ice melted. It lasted my meal, however, and that's the important thing.

Satiated on nourishing vittles, we next headed to Scream's Ice Cream (in the same building as Hell In A Hand Basket and the post office) for dessert. Really, how can one go to Hell and not eat something frozen? They serve Hershey's ice cream, which is really quite creamy and delicious, though it does make me feel sort of bad eating it since it comes from Pennsylvania and not Michigan. (There are so many good ice cream distributors in Michigan.)

Scream's doesn't only offer hand-dipped ice cream cones with fresh, handmade waffle cones, but there is also a sundae bar. In a coffin. Seriously. They put a coffin on a couple of logs, lined it with metal, then placed various ice cream toppings inside, and topped it with a sneeze-guard. We opted for waffle cones instead.
I have been told numerous times that Hell has beautiful lakes and beaches (Portage Lake is supposed to be especially nice, and I've heard Silver Lake touted many times), but sadly, we did not end up going in search of them. All together with the good food, goofy atmosphere, and potential of nice, sandy beaches, Hell is pretty good place to spend the day. Bring the family. You know. I bet you'll have a hell of a good time.

If you'd like to see the Travel Channel's clip on Hell, MI, check out this YouTube video.

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