austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

Into the middle eight

Our plan for Friday was to meet bunny_hugger's parents (again), and to go to Crossroads Village, just outside Flint, for their annual decoration of the historic village in anachronistic but quite pretty lights. Also to get kettle corn. I like kettle corn, certainly, and bunny_hugger does too, but her father really, really likes it, to the point we were considering whether the trip as enjoyable as it might be might not be a disappointment after all should they not have any.

It was a warm day, to our surprise; bunny_hugger has been there on evenings it was over twenty degrees below zero Kelvin. This did inspire some fear that it might do unpredictable things to the attendance pattern. Also different to us was that we were heading out the day after Thanksgiving, which would prove to be the first day of the Christmas decorations, so they'd have more things going on than we expected. The night before bunny_hugger and I had found that their web site describes not just the cost of attendance but also of what discounts are available for groups of as many as 1500 or more, and we marvelled at the idea of having 1500 or more people in the park at once, never mind all from the same group. We were younger, then, and more naive.

It would exaggerate things to say we almost didn't make it. Actually, we just missed one little turn, despite the stern instructions of bunny_hugger's satellite navigation device, and apparently it was a turn she had never, ever missed before because we discovered things she had no idea were there. Some of them were generally better signs pointing to the park; apparently we'd always been coming from the second-best path. Another was a coney island which promised to be open late at night, in case we were hungry after the park.

On our past visits, which for me had always been the Saturday or Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend, the park had been decently attended but not packed or anything. This time was different; they were crowded, so crowded that they had to have parking lot guards waving people into dedicated sections and even at our early hour --- barely minutes past the park's opening for the evening --- the nearest lots were closed. Between the weather, the day-after-Thanksgiving date, and the season's opening, we had picked maybe the most packed day they would get. (Maybe; who knows what Christmas Weekend will be like?)

I did have the idea that maybe I'd find a nice little Michigan-flavored gift for my mother, whose birthday was coming up just after I returned, but there wasn't anything really suitable. They have fine little gifts, but they're all for either kids --- like the books on How People In Washington's Time Lived, or Kid's Amusement Games Of The 1800s (my favorite there being cudgeling; wrap newspapers into clubs and whack each other until Mom sends you outside) --- or were vaguely baking-oriented stuff (my mother doesn't bake, apart from some flourishes around the holidays to remind us that she knows full well how to) or were homemade candies (my mother's not one for artisanal jolly ranchers). The search would carry on.

Another weird thing came when we got to the amusement rides, the antique carousel which actually runs fast enough to be exciting, and the Superior Wheel, a Ferris wheel which attempts to reach the speed of 88 miles per hour and send the passengers through time. It's not that they were running, but that they were packed. I don't believe we've ever --- in winter or summer visits --- had to share the Ferris wheel ride, but this time we did. Any amusement ride is more fun shared with people, something I might have suspected but had proven after my weird solitary journey along Seaside Heights' Casino Pier, but these were ones we were just accustomed to having to ourselves. Still, consider them recommended.

We went for a ride on the train, and the park was packed enough that the 7:30 pm train was the first we could get. That wasn't a bad idea, except it turned out that at 7:30 they also were having the Offiical Dedication and the tree-lighting ceremony, a business with lights and song and even fireworks. But we wouldn't be able to wait the extra hour to ride the later train --- bunny_hugger's parents had to get home to care for their dogs --- so we made do. We missed the songs and such, but we were able to catch some of the fireworks when the train was in the right spot.

We were also a little worried that one of bunny_hugger's favorite light decorations along the train's route, a dragon, wasn't in the correct spot. They'd moved it to a later point in the circuit, though, so after the worry and dread that it was gone this year there was the relief of finding it just about at the end of the ride.

I would've been up for wandering around the village a bit more after the train ride and honestly expected we'd buy a second bag of kettle corn, but bunny_hugger's parents felt they should get some dinner and return home soon. So, we paused a bit, made sure everyone got a bathroom break, and went to the coney island we'd spotted earlier. The place was charmingly small-town diner crotchety and I remember something was amusing about the paper placemats, although at this remove I couldn't tell you what. I should've started writing earlier.

But we did get home at something like a reasonable hour, and her parents got home at a reasonable hour plus one, and their dogs were to all accounts in good working order. The only depressing thing was that I had the e-mail from United Airlines encouraging me to check in for Saturday's flight home.

Trivia: While preparing for the extravehicular activity during Apollo 17's return from lunar orbit, Command Module Pilot Ron Evans found he could not hear the caution and warning tones on his headset, although his transmitter and receiver seemed otherwise normal. For the EVA he used the Lunar Module Pilot's communications carrier instead. Source: Apollo 17: The NASA Mission Reports, Volume 2, Editor Robert Godwin.

Currently Reading: The Jungle, Upton Sinclair. I'm spending some time reading books I just never got around to reading before, plus I got the copy for free anyway so why not?

PS: Eliminating Your Footprints, making sure once you've discovered something mathematical, nobody's left with that awkward idea of how you did it.

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