Michigan's New Years Eve 2012 on two wheels

New years eve started out as a quite day on the boat. I lounged around updating one of my web sites and the occasional marina walk. It was a warm lazy day for Michigan with temps around 40 degrees. I was enjoying the long weekend reviewing my past year of ups and downs. The last few week's events have made for a hard ending to a rough year.

I was so lost in my thoughts that I was thinking New Years eve was on Sunday night rather than Saturday... Around 9:30 PM Saturday night I decided to hit the shower house and freshened up before sliding out to find a cold beer thinking the bars would be empty being the day before the big party... I traditionally stay home for new years or spend the night wherever I go to avoid drunks, ice and cops on the road.

All cleaned up I jumped in the van and headed toward town to get some gas and hit a McDouble or two as a base for the beer to soak into. I was confused why McDonalds was closed at 10PM as I rolled into the lot...That's when the light bulb went off in my head! Tonight was New Years eve, D'uuh!

I turned the van around and headed back to the marina with a new found burst of energy and uncovered the bike and fired her up! It was 37 degrees out and felt pretty good. I pulled out my warmer 3/4 helmet with a face shield and heavy gloves while kicking on the seat and hand grips warmers. In no time I was rocketing past the guard shack and out onto road with a smile on my face and tunes cranking on the stereo.

I slid up and over the river riding a few miles to my favorite bar in the area. The Eastside Tavern is a small gem unknown to most. Those in the loop call it the Basement bar. The bar is in the basement of an old farm house. The 6'2'' tall 14x33 foot room was dug out under the house over a hundred years ago and served as a hideout during prohibition for the locals to relax and get a beer.

In 1933 it was legally named Eastside Tavern. It is now a landmark lost in the residential area next to the Clinton River. The beauty of such a small space is you are forced to interact with others making a visit there a community event. You are truly hanging out in Frank's basement.

Like every Saturday the always lovely Vickie was serving up the drinks and there was a band packed into one end of the room jamming rockin blues all night! Seating is limited when the band takes up a third of the floor space. It quickly turns into a standing room only until someone leaves and you get a shot at a bar stool.

I parked the bike safely near the front door and took my favorite spot standing next to the juke box in the walkway leading to the back room. There I can easily lean between the small counter holding the TV and the juke box letting my 6'4" plus boots height squeeze under the low ceiling.

The band rocked and the regulars rolled through all evening. The small table of food in the corner was nibbled up by the crowd and the beer flowed. Every hour or so I would climb the stairs to the back door outside and wading through the sea of smokers I would check the bike and road conditions. There was a light chance of precipitation and I would have to get the bike home before it froze on the road. Every lot check went good and it even seemed like it warming up some....or was it the beer?

Midnight came loud and proud although with the passing of my friend Pirate John last week and other lifes challenges it seemed hollow. Soon the band was crankin and the party swung into full tilt boogie. The Bars are open up to 4 AM on New years and with the closing of this bar at 2 AM or so that left possibilities. The crowd was way too drunk and the employees saw a chance for a rare shot at hitting a bar on Saturday night themselves. The hardest people to push out was the band! They didn't wanna quit.

I left to find my bike had been vandalized by someone on their way out leaving a mirror knocked off. Probably a drunk owner of the more trendy brand of motorcycle. I run into that a few times a year since buying a BMW. With a little patience I got the mirror reattached and off I went.

Next stop was a dive bar around the corner called Fast Eddie's. This is a rough and tumble little neighborhood bar with a younger crowd, louder juke box and even louder patrons. It was even more lively than the last bar and I settled in with the regulars for a couple of beers.

Once the owner Eddie left out came the cigarettes. four or five of the usual suspects started sucking on their cigarettes like it was their last day on death row and the executioner was coming down the hall. The other 50 patrons were force to endure the smoke in the previously smoke free room.

The reasoning being that it is better to inconvenience 50 with someone else's addiction than inconvenience 5 with their own addiction.The bar smoking ban in the state angers allot of people but I love being able to breath and hate stinking like an ashtray when I get home from an evening at the pub to make the 19% of the population that smoke stop whining.

When the smoke got too heavy I politely said good night and headed back out to the bike. The temp read 42 degrees on the bike's readout and the flashing "ice warning" light had gone out with the warmer temps.

I rolled up into downtown Mt. Clemens wondering if a small upstairs bar I've been to a few times would still be kickin. As I rolled down the main strip of a ghost town of closed bars I realized it was already 4AM. This left just me on a motorcycle and the cop car looking for something to do cruising the "Clem", not a good mix. I enjoyed an easy ride back out to the safety of the water and with a spirited run through the marina I put the bike on the center stand at 4:30 in the morning and called it a night.

Sunday was a windy ugly cold day. I slipped out for a great Shish-ka-bob dinner at the Pier III Galley before returning to the boat where I recruited some of the other liveaboards to help me empty a shelf on my fridge that was being blocked by a case of Labbatts Blue Light (a great Canadian beer for those not on the northern border). We had a blast and when the dust settled I had a nice clear shelf to stock with food!

It was a fun weekend full of friends and laughter mixed with the refection of the year's events effecting my life and the people in my life I lost. My year ended roughly with the passing of my sailing partner Pirate John last week and hopefully life will lighten up some with the new year. This was a good start!!

Frank's Eastside Tavern

Fast Eddie's

Pier III Galley