News Item: Looking for offbeat fun? Go to Hell
(Category: General News)
Posted by
Thursday 22 June 2006 - 15:22:28

Well, that's enough being good for one lifetime. Having been to Hell and back, it turns out that the place is as much fun as I always suspected.

There is no highway to Hell. The several routes to the tiny village that shares its name with the underworld involve two-lane roads through rural scenery blanketed on both sides with greenery and the occasional house. (I saw no good intentions, either - just asphalt. So much for truisms.)

The two buildings in what might loosely be called downtown are the general store and the bar. Populated as it's rumored to be with the ranks of the irreverent, it should be no surprise that Hell doesn't take itself too seriously. Hell's Country Store, attractively painted with flames licking the sides of the white building, gladly sells all manner of signs and T-shirts to folks who want to bring home evidence that they have visited the site of eternal damnation, as well as biker gear and camping supplies (a slightly unorthodox marriage). Oh, and it houses the Hell post office, which stays open until midnight on April 15 so your postmark can tell the IRS what you think of your tax bill.

And next door is the Dam Site Inn, which proved to be a darn good way to pass a Friday night.

It is, in fact, on the site of the dam of Hell Creek, giving it its wildly appropriate name. The decor is filled with kitsch from the store, from road signs pointing to Hell to a framed poster of a crappie fish. (The sign over my seat at the only booth available when we arrived said "Witch X-ing,'' which I chose not to take too personally.) There is one pool table in the back, separated from the tables by a half-wall, and on the opposite end of the establishment the live entertainment set up shop and became a dance floor as the night wore on. This particular Friday featured music from the Ypsilanti-based band Kinks and the Krew, who delivered an array of good-time rock and roll covers that ranged from Steve Miller to John Cougar Mellencamp, with a little bit of Temptations thrown in for good measure. Gotta have Temptations in Hell.

Mike Sylvester has been serving up Hell's cocktails for over a year, and says that though the place was once pretty much a biker bar, that's not really the case anymore. "All the bikers now are businessmen and lawyers anyway,'' adds Brad Baden, who lives in Milford but has been coming to the Dam Site for about 15 years because it's on the way to visit his mother.

They have left behind an interesting tradition: beer in the can. Behind the bar, where one generally finds shelves of liquor and short, refrigerated cupboards for the cold drinks, the Dam Site instead sports a full wall of coolers that look remarkably like the ones found in party stores. It's a holdover from rowdier days, when glasses and bottles were in danger of ending up as weaponry by the close of the evening, so all of the beer was served in a fairly innocuous aluminum can. It still is.

Whatever the serving vessel, Hell takes its drinking seriously. Sylvester doles out a remarkably fruity and light shot whose secret recipe contains a blend of 10 liquors. The owner, Mike "Smitty'' Hickey, has developed a recipe for bloody mary mix called the Bloody Devil that is available for purchase in some stores as well as at the bar. A poster in the restroom inquires about your mood using a word that rhymes with Smitty, and then recommends one (or several) of the beverages as the antidote.

Baden says that the place is mostly populated with locals, though of course a fair share of tourists come through. The famous 06-06-06 party, which was heard of the world around, brought about 15,000 people into the little hamlet and literally overran it - Sylvester said that the Dam Site was out of beer for days, despite their very best efforts to prepare. Two or three thousand bikers come through each May for the Blessing of the Bikes, in which a year of good riding is conferred upon them. And Hell has just opened a wedding chapel where, according to summer resident Jim Maddock, "you can start a marriage in the same place most folks end 'em.''

So I say unto you: Go to Hell. It's a blast.

This news item is from White Trash Networks
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