austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

Looking for a home

There's a couple things from Saturday that I managed to forget to include. Well, one may have been Sunday --- I'm not positive --- but bunny_hugger thinks it had to have been Saturday. Let me fill in those gaps. Also, if you've been looking for photographs of our various trips and are impatient waiting for mine, you should know bunny_hugger is doing her own trip report with photographs integrated into the events. Those pictures are just a subset of those she's got on Flickr, so please don't overlook that all.

The one set on an uncertain day was while we were in Northport and looking for somewhere we could eat and not quite finding anything offhand because the restaurants were aimed at tourists a bit more upscale than we were. bunny_hugger said to me, in a quiet tone, something like ``Boy, and I used to think Suttons Bay was the more chi-chi place''. A guy the other side of the street and walking the other direction called out ``That's what I thought too!'' and strode on. We were amazed by all this repeatedly over the week.

Another moment was again in Northport as we wandered around the beach. A guy and two kids were there, with the younger kid running out into the water and the bigger kid standing warily at the edge. The little kid and the adult were trying to coax the bigger kid into the water and he was having none of that, asking such background questions as ``are there fish in there?'' And yes, they admitted, there are fish in the Traverse Bay, but they aren't going to be bothering him. ``Are there eels in the water?'' And the adult granted that there were eels in Lake Michigan, but they were not going to be anywhere within wading distance. The little kid kept pressuring the bigger one and finally the bigger kid stepped out far enough to maybe get the lower half the lower half of his ankles wet, under protest. The adult looked to us with a ``can you believe this?'' I just marvelled at getting to see the real live Petey from the comic strip Cul de Sac.

Now, Sunday we went to the really quite small town of Omena, a quite small and unincorporated municipality which was the center of many of bunny_hugger's childhood visits up north. Our immediate objective was lunch, for which we went to a restaurant that had once been a somewhat seedy bar where she played her first video games, and which has been through many renovations over the decades. She and her brother would try piecing together just what had used-to-be there. In its current incarnation it's one of a pair of mildly upscale ``New American'' type restaurants, catering to ... well, my mother's college friends. We seemed to be the youngest people in the place by a generation and an economic strata. bunny_hugger was torn between relief that the place --- which had been closed for a few years --- had reopened and sadness that it'd lost so much character, based on an early Sunday afternoon lunch.

One of Omena's attractions is the Tamarack Gallery, with art primarily from local artists. It's the kind of place that has a totem pole of a beaver, bear, rabbit, and eagle out front, as well as a metal-wire sculpture of a dog. We let a family with an enormous pack of kids go in before us, and waited, letting them wash over the gallery and leave so we could have a more peaceful visit. The building looks like it's a converted family house --- the upstairs even has a small kitchen, with full-sized refrigerator that had some film in the freezer --- and so naturally organizes into a bunch of rooms to nose around in. I thought that while upstairs I heard the radio playing ``Video Killed The Radio Star'', but it was such a faint playing that I wasn't sure I wasn't imagining it, and so I didn't say anything.

The most obviously distinctive thing about the Tamarack Gallery is the winged border collie that's represented in statue form in one of the outer windows. This is Eugene, billed as the greatest dog in the world, who was the companion for one of the gallery's founders and used as a mascot for the gallery. This has grown into a shrine to the dog, with pictures and paintings and sculptures and photos from local parades where he'd been shown off as the greatest-dog-in-the-world and so on. The shrine is still there, a decade after the dog died (and nearly as long after his owner died), in what seems to have been the upstairs linen closet. It's easy to be glib and look at it as an expression of Crazy Dog Person-ism, although, given that however much you like your border collie you can't really say he's the greatest dog in the world without at least a bit of a grin, and many people came together to play up to this grin, the whole Eugene shrine ... well, I can't take it glibly. I'm not perfectly sure what to make of it, beyond the obvious that it's not the sort of thing you'll see in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

bunny_hugger looked over some of the jewelry they had on sale and might have bought a pair of earrings with tiny portraits of rabbits in them, but both earrings had the rabbit facing the same direction. A pair of earrings like this would normally be mirrored, so that, when worn, both rabbits would be facing forward (or backward, if you wanted), and this was apparently two earrings from different pairs that got mixed together. She instead bought an earring pair with mermaids, which matches a necklace she already had, and fits with thoughts of the Great Lake.

There's a general store in Omena, your classic style thing with shelves packed full of everything imaginable, but we'd spent enough time in the gallery that it had closed by the time we got there. Through the windows we could see, well, the collection of stuff. I pointed out they had at least two long shelves full of VHS tapes, in case I suppose someone was visiting the Leelanau peninsula and had an urgent need to see Wag the Dog. There's also a cute little post office but we didn't expect that to be open. The post office did have a sign urging people to, if they needed to mail packages or buy stamps, please come to the window so as to do that business, in order to help support keeping the post office open in general.

We drove back to Suttons Bay to wander around the shops there. One we'd particularly meant to visit had garden statues and tchotchkis like that, including a sidewalk lined with rocks painted to look like owls, staring that the onlookers. But they were closed for the day already; between this and finding them closed Friday night we wondered a bit if we'd ever see them open.

The science store was open, though, and pretty great as these go (granting that they're always great). Besides the expected display of telescopes they had maps and globes of the Moon --- I've always had a fondness for globes of places besides Earth --- on which we were able to find the crater Kant and some others we've heard of. bunny_hugger had thought it was on the dark side of the Moon (it's actually not that far, in a global view, from the Apollo 16 landing site) and the scruffy old guy showing off the telescopes spoke up about pointing out that there wasn't really a dark side of the Moon. bunny_hugger thought he was angling to make a Pink Floyd riff (I hoped he was myself) but he actually just wanted to explain, to a fully grown woman, that every part of the Moon gets about the same amount of light as shadow (I feared he would). He is, or had been, an astronomy instructor and maybe we didn't give off the vibe that would suggest we knew the dark side could only be meant as the less-known or (for such a long time) unknown side.

Anyway, he was friendly and pleasant and we liked the shop and I think I picked up a flyer about some of their organized events which might have included meteor-watching.

We got ice cream at the place that had been closed Friday night and wandered around town, then returned to our hotel room to look up where exactly that miniature golf place was. It was on Route 31, but a different stretch and when we retraced our steps I was able to see where we had gone wrong before (it's one of those intersections where not just do major roads come together but the signage of roads converges and splits off again), and this time around we found the place without serious problem.

It's a good-sized and pretty well-kept family entertainment center, with a pair of golf courses and a bunch of other rides, some water and some just ... run around doing stuff that would probably hurt you if you fell from the top of them. No roller coaster, though, so Kokomo's still has that on them. We got on the Blackbeard's Treasure course, if I remember right, and I remember wondering what Blackbeard would think if he knew such things as a small roller coaster at Great Adventure and a miniature golf course in the northeast lower peninsula of Michigan were named for him for some reason.

The course has a lot of great props --- one of them's even a ship broken in half in the pond that faces the highway --- and little trivia panels about pirates decorating the course. It's also got one really nasty hole where the ball has to go under an extended tunnel, with the ground flat beneath it so yes, your ball can so get stuck under the tunnel. This encouraged our tendency to linger over stuff, naturally, as did things like having a little pirate's cabin setup with the challenge to find all of a list of items within, and between all that we were at the mini-golf until well past 9 pm.

This made dinner a challenge: where could we eat that late on a Sunday night? bunny_hugger despaired that there'd be anyplace, and I didn't help matters by dithering about whether we might try going downtown (she doubted anything would be open) and not seeing a Mexican place that we might have gotten to and then there was that horrible intersection where we'd gotten going the wrong way the previous night. We did finally locate a restaurant that looked maybe-closed, and tried it out of a sense of what did we have to lose?

They were set to close in about ten minutes, but offered to make something for us to take out and we picked some things off the menu that looked like they wouldn't be too annoying for the kitchen staff at closing to deal with. As we waited we looked over to the restaurant's bar, which was also closing up. It had a juke box with a credit left, and we didn't find anything particularly interesting on that. bunny_hugger picked their Pink Floyd choice and here we learned the system was turned up to 6.2 on the Richter scale. We told each other it was the bar's own doing if they chose to make Pink Floyd available at that volume. One of the waitresses wandered over from the eating area and closed the bar's door, muffling Roger Waters, without looking quite at us or explicitly blaming us for all this.

So that's the dinner we brought to our hotel room and that tasted so extremely good.

About midnight we went back outside, as the meteor shower was still on, and this time we brought the picnic blanket and wore our hoodies so as not to feel the cold. We stretched out on the ground, looking up and at the dark. And we got to see meteors, including the big ones that I always heard were out there, but never was in a position to see.

So we drew our thoughts more intensely to the part that isn't the moral law within us, at least until we'd had our fill of the meteors and of the cold.

Trivia: The French Republican calendar month of Messidor was translated into Italian as Messidoro, into German as Erntemonat, and into Dutch as Oogstmaand. Source: Mapping Time: The Calendar and its History, EG Richards.

Currently Reading: Project Orion: The True Story Of The Atomic Spaceship, George Dyson.

Tags: traverse bay
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