Jan. 4. 2012
The first steps I took in 2012 were up a steep hill off of Bay Shore Drive in Door County.
That’s better than starting the year by going downhill.
The Northern Wisconsin wind slapped my face around like a pimp as I took a gentle curve to the Church Hill Inn in Sister Bay. I was heading to Ephraim. I felt old. I had booked myself into the frilly bed and breakfast because it was walking distance from the Sister Bay Bowl and supper club.
I love the concept of a supper club and bowling alley in one space. I love going to a summer destination in the dead of winter.
And the fact that Whiskey Ditch was playing for free sealed the deal.
What a great name for a band.
The Green Bay band played almost all their songs in John Mellencamp rock style, with the drummer constantly riffing the backbeat of “The Authority Song.” It didn’t matter if it was John Fogerty’s “Fortunate Son” or Ian Hunter’s “Once Bitten, Twice Shy” all the tunes had gnarly four wheel drive. I never thought I’d hear John Denver’s “Leavin’ on a Jet Plane” sound like “The Authority Song,” but Whiskey Ditch pulled it off.
I did not want to motor around Door County on New Year’s Eve with Illinois plates, so the Church Hill Inn was the closest bet to stay away from local authorities.
The Stella Maris Parish church is across the street from the Church Hill Inn, so I definitely was on higher ground.
The pleasantly rotund innkeeper is English. The warm English pub area and parlor is decorated with Winston Churchill portraits, and bric-a-brac such as Churchill tea cup. It was all kind of stuffy, and to make things worse I was booked into a room called “Victorian Times.”
I noticed a framed autographed picture of John Cleese from the hit British hotel sitcom “Fawlty Towers” in the hallway. The innkeeper told me that he had been accused of being “grumpy” so someone gave him the portrait as a gift.
I’m sure I was the only single person at the Church Hill Inn on New Year’s Eve.
Too bad. Wikipedia told me that for every 100 Sister Bay females ae 18 and over there were 69 males.
The grumpy innkeeper rolled out a very nice spread with complimentary snacks and drinks between 4 and 6 p.m. I was writing in my room but snuck out for a ham sandwich and celery sticks.
About a dozen people had gathered in the sitting area outside of “Victorian Times.” The men had white beards and the women wore nice dresses and fancy pearls. They were drinking red wine and eating cheese and crackers near a fireplace. The men would have been smoking pipes had it been permitted. I returned to my room and turned up the latest CD by Bahamas.
And that is how my year went down……….
………..Winston Churchill. Victorian Times. Whiskey Ditch.
It sounds like a trifecta at Arlington Park—or Churchill Downs.
It wasn’t the worst of years, and it never is as long as you have your health. But December was a particularly ornery month with disconnects, layoffs of friends and the noise at my Mom’s 90th birthday party at Hugo’s Frog Bar in Naperville (just kidding sort of Mom.). So it was okay that I would find myself alone around 1 a.m. Jan. 1 trudging up a hill to a church in a town of 880 people. I had wanted to get away, be alone and give myself time to think.
I looked up Churchill stuff at the bed and breakfast. There are many good quotes about booze and war, but my favorite is:
“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”
That only happens by moving forward.