Friday, March 31, 2006

how to spend your sister's birthday in southeast michigan (2)

Our next stop was Frankenmuth, which bills itself as "Michigan's Little Bavaria". An odd place for a tourist town, tucked in between Michael Moore and Michigan Militia territory. Flint is 15 minutes to the south - if you're seen any of Moore's films, you'll know why we bypass it, though Dort Hwy (M-54) is a hoot for its alternating pattern of auto body shops and massage parlours.

You know you're headed into tourist country when the first site you pass is a giant year-round Christmas store. Having exhausted our holiday cheer on Dec 25th, we drove along.

Next Stop: Dinner, Little Bavaria Style

Classic Sign Time

Dinner was our sole stop. I'd passed through Frankenmuth, but never dined on the chicken dinners the town built its reputation on. Zehnder's has served up monster dinners for decades, in a building that began as a hotel in 1856. Popular place - at 4:30 there was a long line, which moved swiftly. While they waited, I walked out to Main St and snapped some pics.

Christmas Buggy Ride In March
Buggies take the old Christmas Eve on Sesame Street tune "Keep Christmas With You" literally.

Glock Around The Clock Tonight
We're gonna glock around the clock tonight...

Homeland Security, Frankenmuth Style
I consulted with the local head of Homeland Security, on watch outside the Bavarian Inn, if I would be safe while dining. He assured me all was well to the strains of oompah music.

I was warned that Zehnder's didn't skimp when it came to the trimmings for dinner. One wonders how large was the family their "family-style" meals were designed for, though now it might feed the typical American nuclear family.

Frankenfeast - Noodles, Noodles, Noodles Frankenfeast - Still Life of Liver Pate, Cheese Spread and Toasts
Left: Chicken noodle soup. Bulged with fresh noodles.
Right: Chicken liver pate and cheese spread. Both were better than they looked.

Frankenfeast - The Birthday Girl
Amy was a happy camper...

Frankenfeast - Mom
...as was Mom. Among the dishes in front of them are peas, stuffing, gravy, potatoes, preserves and coleslaw.

Frankenfeast - Dig In!
Here's the chicken and buttered noodles. Guess who grabbed them first. The chicken lived up to reputation - meaty and not greasy. My wacky digestive system smiled. We ate in moderation, only ordering seconds of items mentioned in this paragraph.

Frankenfeast - Dessert
Luckily, dessert was on the light side. The only heavy aspect of the orange sherbet was the slowly-sinking elephant.

We worked off dinner by heading to our usual destination in the area, the outlet centre at Birch Run. I hadn't been there for several years, when it seemed like it was starting down the road to dead malldom (Great Lakes Crossing opened 50 miles to the south - you might have caught a glimpse of it in Bowling For Columbine). Any downward track didn't last long, as the centre appeared healthy. Mom and Amy did well buying "smelly stuff", Amy's term for all the lotions, sprays and toiletries she stocks up at Bath and Body Works. I picked up a few more cookbooks in a series I've been building for years from Borders' bargain tables. This time: Vietnamese and Ice Cream.

On the way home, we stopped at Meijer and dealt with a frustrating u-scan machine that didn't like any of our items. I originally lined up at another checkout, but found myself stuck behind dingalings and decided to toss my groceries in with Mom and Amy's. This led to some yelling by the clerk in charge of the U-scan. It took a few minutes for them to clue in I was with my family and not purposely ignoring their shouts that the u-scans were closed. Good example of technology not making life easier.

At the border, the guard was too engrossed in a paperback novel to ask any questions. We sat there for a minute, with no words or apparent security checks before he waved us off. - JB

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