With best intentions of heading to Poor Road, the thought of sustenance struck our minds, and quickly won the battle by justifying an intermission to the hunt with “we must keep up our strength.” As such, we hightailed it in the direction of Barnes Corners. Being that it was Tuesday our regular stop, Tuggers Restaurant, was closed, but Kevin had spoken very highly of a little spot called Louie’s Diner so we headed there instead. Years before on a 4 wheeling adventure he and a friend found themselves in desperate need of gas and apparently the two white gas pumps in front of an old building caught their eye. After filling the machines they entered the building only to be greeted by the aroma of roast turkey. Kev always raved about the gas station dinner where the lady pulled the fresh cooked turkey out of the oven and treated two wet and muddy ATV’ers to a warm feast. Now two wet and tired grouse hunters were hoping for the same type of greeting.
We pulled up just as the rain stiffened and I noticed an old-style roof jutting out from the main building to protect the rusting gas pumps. The only thought in my mind was that I must be in Mayberry, and half expected sheriff Andy in his black and white to pull in behind us being very close to noon. As many times as Kevin had talked about the place, I never expected what I ended up walking into. Sure enough, it was Americana deluxe, like stepping back in time to the 1950s.
Stunned by the aura, I made attempt to only blend, not wanting to ruffle the feathers of this gem. At first I wanted to be seated at the small ten foot bar where I could maybe converse with a patron or two, but was drawn to a single square oak table that seemed different not only in shape but in meaning. After being seated, my hands flowed over its exquisite craftsmanship. Oak frame, with an inlaid mahogany and cherry center, its warmth could touch the soul. On the wall next to our table was a frame that housed a collection of drink chips collected from what seemed like every tavern in the North. Beyond that was the old red Coke machine that, yes, still dispensed the classic little bottles chilled to perfection. My eyes roamed, encountering a countless number of antiques from days long gone, and I vowed to return with camera to record all for posterity.
Time almost seemed to stand still after entering, I could sense the hundreds of snowshoe hare hunters that must have sat at these very same tables, the many deer hunters that graced the stubby bar with tales of back woods bucks, and the local trappers that surely stumbled in after checking the long line. One could only feel humbled to become among the passing grouse hunters to have dined at heaven’s gate. Hot pork fresh from the oven surrounded by a mound of mashed potatoes and smothered with steaming gravy only added to the trance as I stared out the window at the streaming rain. It may sound strange, but I now feel my spirit also has become part of history here in the north country, home of the snowshoe and the king of gamebirds. Warm, dry and full with life, I sigh and give thanks that I too also had the opportunity to lunch at Louie’s.