Reps. Dan Benishek and Bill Huizenga are hitting the back roads of the Wolverine State Thursday for their 2nd Annual Congressional Snowmobile Ride — a wintry romp punctuated by plenty of meaty pit stops.
The Michigan Republicans ventured out into the snow-covered landscape in 2014.
The bonding session proved so successful, the neighboring lawmakers are mounting back up for a two-day excursion scheduled to carry them 100 miles north and zooming through a section of Manistee National Forest — from Muskegon to Beulah.
“The best part of the ride was seeing the beauty of Northern Michigan in winter and being able to enjoy the outdoors. There are many scenic landscapes that are unlike anywhere else in the country,” Benishek said via email.
Team Huizenga mused about the fine line between roughing it and ROFL. “Last year, our District director dumped his sled,” a Huizenga aide told HOH. “Thankfully no one was injured, but it did create more than a few laughs on the trip.”
The 29-hour odyssey features a handful of public meetings that happen to take place at local restaurants specializing in slow cooked, Southern-style barbecue. (Ride ho, Meat Weekers ! )
Things kick off at 8 a.m. Thursday at Full Moon Diner & Saloon, a Muskegon watering hole that deals in comfort foods (roast turkey with mashed potatoes, homemade chicken and dumplings, spaghetti and meatballs). After a town hall at the Veterans of Foreign Wars chapter in Montague and a chat with the ice cream-dishing, farmstead cheese-aging employees of Country Dairy , it’s off to lunch at River City Inn & Resort — a wilderness retreat that deals in porterhouse steaks, smoked baby back ribs and something called a “turd basket” (jalapeno cheese balls, brat bites, waffle fries and seasoned waffle fries).
Not four hours later, the crew has penciled in a dinner date at Chase Creek Smokehouse in Chase, Mich.
The off-the-beaten track eatery — one Yelp user dubbed it “an awesome destination for a motorcycle ride or snowmobile ride” — not only dabbles in Tennessee-style pit barbecue, it has created the Italian-American mash-up “pulled pork alfredo.” Per Team Huizenga, the boss is very familiar with the restaurant’s brisket.
Come Friday, the ride is expected to resume around 8:45 a.m. — after the off-road warriors get their fill of Annie’s Kozy Kitchen in Wellston, Mich .
Once a scheduled town hall luncheon with Kaleva snowbirds is in the rear view, the ride is expected to roll into Geno’s Sports Bar & Grill at 3 p.m. for another meet-(meat?) and-greet.
The neighborhood joint serves up a half-dozen burgers — including a traditional patty melt and one topped with green olives (hmmm) — hot peppered pork rinds (Tums-ta-tums-tums, tums), broasted chicken and St. Louis-style spare ribs. “He is particularly fond of the burgers there,” a Benishek aide said of the boss’s favorite munchies at Geno’s.
Anyone with a snowmobile (and a healthy supply of wet naps) is welcome to join the rolling caravan. Additional pols may even be allowed to join in down the road.
Team Huizenga said an invitation was extended to freshman Rep. John Moolenaar, but the scheduling just didn’t fall into place.
“Next year our goal is to expand and include another congressional district,” the House aide said.
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