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Readers Blog: Dobie Maxwell's 'Dented Can' Diary

Softer And Smarter

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Wednesday December 5th, 2012 – Fox Lake, IL/Sault Ste. Marie, MI

   I’m getting noticeably softer as I get older, and hopefully at least a tiny bit smarter also. I have a run of shows in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan this week, and the first stop is at the Kewadin Casino in Sault. Ste. Marie. I’ve been there before and it’s very nice, but getting there is a haul.

   I knew it would be a long drive when I took the booking, but on Saturday I get to do Northern Lights Theatre at Potawatomi Casino in Milwaukee. That’s probably my favorite venue of every place I work, and it’s attached to the run. If I don’t do these other shows, I don’t get the big one.

   I’m fine with it, but there’s always danger taking a gig in the U.P. in winter – and winter could be any time from October 1st through April 30th. There’s no easy way to get there, and I’ve tried going through both Michigan and Wisconsin. Michigan is farther from where I live, but the roads are better. The Wisconsin route can be a nightmare on US Highway 2, especially when it snows.

   I’ve spent more than one entire day stressed out behind the wheel of some tin can oil leaker rat car of mine with bald tires and a ‘Check Engine’ light on, wondering if I’d slide off into the ditch when a semi hauling logs passes the other way and then eventually get eaten by rabid coyotes or sodomized by Sasquatch. There isn’t much civilization up that way and it can get flat out scary.

   This time I decided to hedge my bet and not only rent a car for the trip, but leave a day early to prevent potential stress. It’s about 500 miles one way, with more than half of that being two lane highway with little chance of getting help should anything go wrong. Why tempt the fates? It’s a hard enough challenge to make the drive alone without having to add performing to the agenda.

   There used to be a stop on this run in St. Ignace, MI on Wednesday, but that is now history for whatever reason. Gigs come and go, but it made it nice to have a two night run after making such a long drive. Now there’s just the one, but they allow comedians to get in a day early if we want.

   That’s smart business, as we’ll give a much better show when we’re rested than one after an all day marathon of white knuckling a steering wheel following a snow plow going 30 miles an hour wondering if we’ll ever get there. This idea is better, and I’m glad I got the drive out of the way.

   I’m also glad I rented the car. Why should I pile the miles on mine and risk having another bad experience of something going wrong? I’ll spend the extra coin and take the safer alternative for once. In my early days I’d have left the day of the show in my own car, and let fate do its thing.

   Even though I kept getting burned time and again, I still would try to save the money and make the same decision all over again thinking it had to work the next time. I’ve finally learned to take most of the risk out of it, and I’m delighted I don’t have to be farting around in a frazzled funk.

   The weather was friendly throughout the trip, and there were no incidents whatsoever the entire way. I pulled into the hotel parking lot exactly at midnight, and I saw some snow flurries starting to swirl around my car as I got out to check into my room. I knew I had made the correct choice.

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