Favorite Places posted by Finn

Fear and Loathing in Patoka Lake, IN

terry's pit stop outside lake patoka - 11pm 20091024

I’m posting tonight from Terry’s Pit Stop just outside Lake Patoka State Park in Birdseye, IN, hidden within the outskirts of the Hoosier National Forest, a half-gallon of gas from the Ohio River, an hour west of Louisville and a million miles from reality.

Terry’s Pit Stop has the look and feel of a log cabin bar. Dale Earnhart, Jr. still wears Budweiser in this place. They honor him with POS (point of sale, jerks :-) ) displays – full length cut-outs and glass paintings. Football, beer, white Christmas icicle lights and karaoke round out the ambiance.

The patrons are all older than I am – by at least a decade. I probably won’t find my future ex-wife in here but after sitting awhile proving my desire to fit in, I’m meeting many a Good people.

I can understand why it takes them a second to warm up to me. Many of them were in high school or later when the US Army Corps of Engineers submerged 9,000 acres of their backyard in order to make this flood-control lake that has become quite the wooded retreat. Now hundreds of thousands of outsiders fill their streets, forests, and watering holes each summer.

They handle my intrusion with grace and southern comfort – so long as I don’t get called up to sing…even though this is the Georgia Satellites!!! Now I’m gonna see my smiling face on the cover of the Rolling Stone! Living my life in a slow hell / wait a minute, Mr., I didn’t even kiss her…(lyrics are from Dr. Hook’s “Cover of the Rolling Stone,” KidRock and Sheryl Crow’s “Picture” and Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Gimmie Three Steps”)

This city boy’s never listened to so much KidRock and Kenny Chesney before. And I haven’t run screaming. Too many people are smiling, communing, and laughing for my cynicism to wax and wane because it’s obvious they know something I don’t about happiness.

How the hell did this city boy get here?

It started three days ago when I was in Orlando, FL, finishing my duties at the NBAA convention, savoring my first Kobe beef ribeye and watching the back of my eyelids flutter when I checked Twitter for updates. Douglas Karr tweeted, asking if anyone wanted wanted to go to a resort two hours south of Indy and blog the experience. Instinctively I jumped at the chance. I found out later that the assignment was on behalf of the Indiana Department of Tourism.

Hunter, leave me alone.

Maybe it was the not-cheap wine that had me tweet aloud my interest. Maybe it was the lack of sleep that comes from working a convention. Or maybe it was the chance to be more than 150 miles from the nearest friend, family member, or colleague for the first time, well, ever…Whatever it was, this turned out to be this year’s salvation decision.

I’ll write a draft on here tomorrow of my experiences at Lake before I submit my post to VisitIndiana, but as for right now I’m going to start good conversations, learn about life before the Patoka dam, and listen to how everybody down here has a connection to John Mellencamp.

And for the record, it took almost three hours before a Cougar classic. And for prosperity, it was Authority Song.

Douglas Karr, you’ll never know how much I needed this trip.

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