austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

Go ahead and play it on through

For dinner, bunny_hugger took me to a pleasantly quirky place: the Travelers Club International Restaurant and Tuba Museum.

The name is reasonably accurate and efficient in explaining the place: if you ever were unsure whether you wanted to eat or to see many tubas, some of them exotic, this satisfies both urges. According to its web site, it began when ``William (aka Tuba Charlie)'' realized he had enough tubas to open a museum, and so you see how this becomes a restaurant. I think I may have missed a page somewhere. But the decor is both tuba and international, featuring tubas of many sizes, shapes, and various ages hung on the walls or from the ceiling. Some instruments that superficially stretch the definition of tuba, such as the sousaphone, get included too. And they boast having the only example of a Double E Flat Helicon Tuba, inscribed ``The Majestic Monster'', which dates to Austria sometime around World War I and has tubing estimated at nineteen feet long. It's no shorter on the international side of things, with features like maps of the world by various keys such as geography and national borders.

I mention feeling like I might have missed a page, which is quite possible: the menu, in almost violent defiance of Gordon Ramsay, comes in at well over twenty pages --- one review puts it at 24 pages --- and it makes a decent effort at covering every genre of food likely to be ordered. You may be finally quite adjusting to the ``Latin, Asian, and Middle-Eastern Menu'' --- think of the fraction of the world covered in that description --- when you run across a page of essays or poetry or whatever happened to be dropped in to the miscellaneous pages which I understand rotate fairly regularly in time. It's a smaller spot than I had imagined, although it's near enough campus that this apparently helps guarantee them a comfortable dining base, and it surely gets good word-of-mouth just as a place where you can get burritos, Korean sesame soy stir fry, and a Vegan burger with fries while staring at enormous tubas.

Next door to it is a music shop, which again brought to me thoughts of ``banjo strap!'', and possibilities about how to make my messenger bag usable again.

After dinner we went to the Lake Lansing Amusement Park. Unfortunately we were a bit late getting there, as the park closed in 1974. It was, bunny_hugger explained and I hope I got this about right, one of the ``trolly line'' parks which opened up in ages gone way back in order to be a local amusement park. Also it would provide demand for electricity and trolley services when there was lesser demand for them (particularly trolley service on the weekends). But parks age, and trolleys stumble into bankruptcy, and the electric company doesn't need to dazzle people with the idea of light anymore, and the park came to its end long before either of us could have thought of it.

bunny_hugger had for her own intrest found documents describing the park, and old aerial photographs, and was able to describe roughly the location of some of the features that were there, particularly the roller coaster. The lake is still a good point of reference, of course, as is a pentagonal building which surely serves some role other than being bathrooms and snack vendors. And there are some further connections including a piece of the park that's still `living', at that: the Dentzel carousel which the Lake Lansing amusement park had was sold to Cedar Point in 1971 --- bunny_hugger mentioned one of the death throes of an amusement park seems to be selling their antique carousel for ready cash, sometimes replacing it with a modern replica, an easy way to make sure the last couple years of operation get that extra drop of sadness --- and then transferred to Dorney Park in 1994 to replace one lost in a fire.

Otherwise, the spot is a pretty nicely sculpted park with tall enough trees that if you weren't aware it used to be an amusement park you wouldn't know. There was some sort of concert in the final twenty hours of wrapping up on the main lawn there, so we had that background sound of bands trying to bring their show to a close and families sprawled out on the grass applauding until they're allowed to leave.

We would end up wandering toward the water's edge, looking out over Lake Lansing, and I'm sure my joking about identifying the far side of the lake as being Ontario was exactly as funny then as it is now. We spent much of the sunset watching the light fade, and the boaters motoring back and forth, and teens by the sandy approaches to the water going into the water only briefly and leaving again. I was also mystified by a group of seniors who walked past us in one direction, to a part of sidewalk which terminated at the trees which divide the south park from the north, and who didn't seem to go back again. We concluded they had to have walked out across the lawn, which I suppose is the more logical supposition than to think they teleported out of the park, but I would have expected them to stick to the sidewalks. Of course I've been wrong before.

I did, as we grew closer to night, decide to step into the water and get my legs halfway up to my knees soaked. Mostly this was curiosity about how warm the water was (it wasn't), although it also struck me as a nice ritual baptism of my sandals, which were several months old but hadn't been taken into any water yet. bunny_hugger sensibly declined to join me in the waters of Lake Lansing. We did take a stroll out onto the floating docks used for many of the boats and a handful of people fishing, though, and got a good look down into only slightly turbid water as the light was fading further. We were able to watch fish moving about, and to hear quite a few frogs off in the more northern section of the park, and spot various birds in the process of splashing down. It was a further quiet evening, in the gathering cool of an early summer night, and just the right thing to do.

Meanwhile, back home, my mother had met up with some of her rowdy college friends and they were off to reunion weekend.

Trivia: Japan joined the Allies against Germany on 23 August 1914, with an amphibious attack on Tsingtao. The colony's fortifications had been based on the assumption of a naval attack, with landward fortifications designed to check the Boxers. The German garrison would surrender on 7 November. Source: The First World War, Hew Strachan.

Currently Reading: Beyond Singularity, Editors Jack Dann, Gardner Dozois.

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