We had spent much of the week in a very relaxed and almost drifting fashion: rising late in the day, maybe going to the nearest towns, and not really trying to get anything much in. This was great, must say, as a vacation. But it did mean we were missing some chances to properly tour. Thursday we went out in the early afternoon to Northport, there to walk around and poke into the shops and see many old familiar sights.
For example, the old rock shop, built in this log cabin on the corner of the two major streets --- right across the road from the Tom's supermarket where we'd gotten our foodstuffs --- and there from the dawn of time until ... the end of last summer, it turned out. The owners had retired or something like that, and transferred the rock shop's remaining stock to their son's in (Other place I will never ever remember; maybe Empire). Had we gotten there a week before we'd have just seen a shuttered shop. But now it was the first week of operation for a place called Porcupine, selling ... well, not rocks. But souvenirs and stuff and travel bags and I see in my pictures a box in the window labelled ``FOUND MY ANIMAL'' and they have no idea. We emerged from our speechlessness enough to wish the new shopkeeper well with the venture, and to learn that it wasn't just a building that looked like an old wooden cabin. It really was an old wooden cabin built sometime in the 30s and apparently untouched by modern innovations like insulated walls. Must be a heck of a place in the winter. But it did much to explain the appearance of the place, if it was built by a guy who had some tools, some trees, and a determination to make a thing that was at least some shelter against the elements. So we came away seeing the building anew, but still ... well, I'd only been to the rock shop twice but who would've imagined that was all the visits I'd get in?
Other sights in town: a shop in a dark grey-painted building named ``uniquities'' and explained as ``Luxurious Necessities'' that we didn't even try going into. The Garage Bar and Grill, a bunch of picnic tables outside the open bay of a onetime garage, now serving pulled-pork burritos and the like. A restaurant that delighted us because the cement sidewalk leading up to it had dog prints trailing in. We would later learn that's part of the small chain's gimmick. The antiques shop filled with stuff like old campaign buttons (some apparently vintage, some definitely remakes of earlier campaign stuff), or tiny dollhouse model stoves carved out of metal and feeling substantial enough to be used as blunt-force instruments should the need arise and yet so perfectly detailed you could believe in mouse-people using the things.
And the used book store. We hadn't gone into it the previous year as the shopkeeper was just leaving to take someone to a medical appointment. This year, no such problem. We could putter around and oh they have a dog. A big dog torn between being friendly and flopping out asleep, like us. A delight: bunny_hugger found a copy of Wild Animus on the shelves. This maybe means nothing to you. Wild Animus is this guy's self-published memoir about finding his inner sheep. (Well, ram.) He printed up like 18 kajillion copies and hired college students to give it to everybody at the Phish concert who didn't swat them off first. The Internet is littered with stories about the weird ways they got this weird book. The bad-books podcast I Don't Even Own A Television overcame their bias against self-published books for this one, because the urgency with which the guy wanted the world to know about his inner sheep was too compelling. (It's a worthwhile podcast to listen to, this episode particularly.) And now, here, was an example found on the shelves. bunny_hugger took a picture to share with the I Don't Even Own A Television Facebook group, as is the custom.
We didn't buy it. I did buy a loosely respectable book about the golden age of Greenwich Village. And also Binary Fusion, an endearingly daft story of the Y2K bug and how it would be overcome by cold fusion-powered spherical microchips whose thereby infinite computing capacity would allow them to overcome the Y2K bug and all human strife by perfecting the DNA in an alien-assisted Shroud-of-Turin-cloned hermaphroditic Jesus Christ, but would stop short of an awareness that ``it's'' is not always the correct pronoun to use. I'd send that over to I Don't Even Own A Television but this was, it turns out, a self-published book and while they will make exceptions for self-published stuff with a crazy enough story behind it, I don't think merely having a cover blurb from someone else in the author's family and a web site despite the book being published in 1998 is enough. Although if the web site is still up maybe they'd make an exception because in-between the boring parts is some magnificent goofiness, as you see. Like the time the worldwide network of Oprah fans makes her show taping --- not a final, air-ready episode --- appear simultaneously on every TV set on every TV station in the world. If nothing else had happened the day would have been made.
Trivia: Hiram Maxim's experimental flying machine of 1894 reached 107 feet from wingtip to wingtip, carried two 180-horsepower steam engines (one for each of the 18-foot propellers), carrying capacity for three men, and weighed four tons. In its first test flight it got to the end of the launching guiderail before Maxim cut the engines, let it fall to the ground, and applied for a (United States) patent. Source: To Conquer the Air: The Wright Brothers and the Great Race for Flight, James Tobin.
Currently Reading: The Greek War of Independence: Its Historical Setting, C M Woodhouse.
PS: Next on the agenda? Christmas! Or at least our early-November-last-year visit to Bronner's Christmas Wonderland, one of the most overwhelming things you can hope to do and that I sincerely hope you get the chance to experience sometime. Why? Watch the following Like Thirty pictures and know that I could easily double this count without repeating myself.
The official designated Meeting Point at Bronner's Christmas Wonderland in Frankenmuth, Michigan, looking up. Yes, the meeting point sign offers words of welcome in dozens of languages so if you had any doubts whatsoever about what the place was like, other than the size, you now have them all answered.
bunny_hugger studying the store directory near the entrance to Bronner's Christmas Wonderland. It's the size of a flea market at minimum and yes, the map would turn out to be repeatedly useful.
bunny_hugger considering a few of the options in the Peacock ornaments section. And if you wondered how many Christmas ornaments there could possibly be that were just peacock-themed please consider: I've only got about half the rack in-frame there.
PPS: A Summer 2017 Mathematics A To Z Appendix: Are Colbert Numbers A Thing? I mean, they are a thing, I just want to know who they're named after. It was Stephen T Colbert, but can you believe that?