About this time last year, my great Uncle Dan passed away. Uncle Dan was a cool guy who collected interesting stuff and built this killer train set over the course of several years.
It is built on a sheet of plywood, cut in half. Uncle Dan was a city planner and the layout is very accurate, including most every conceivable zone, service and class of living.
When I traveled to Rhode Island (it was a neat road trip through Canada and New England) for the funeral, while visiting with the relatives at Dan’s house, I noticed the train set and it came up in conversation. My relatives weren’t quite sure what to do with it (it is rather large and wasn’t fully functional at the time) and after thinking about it for a while, I said I’LL TAKE IT HOME AND FIX IT UP.
So I did, but not right away. I had to come back about a month later with my mom’s car, to which we affixed a trailer hitch for the purpose. As I mentioned, the train set is on a sheet of plywood, which would not fit in a regular car.
After getting the train set home, I unloaded it into my spare bedroom, where it sat while I began painting the inside of the house.
When I finished painting the pictured room, which is now my home office, I decided the light fixture just wouldn’t do, so I moved the one from the now train room into the office. In doing so, I somehow broke the wiring in the outlet and didn’t realize it until later on when I attempted to install a new light in the train room so I could paint it. I am smart enough to know I’m an idiot and chose to move on to another room, rather than mess more things up trying to repair the wiring, which I am wholly unqualified for.
Fast forward to the other day. While fixing the air conditioning with my friend, he recommended we go in the train room and sort the light out while he was around and get it over with. So we did and now there is glorious light in the train room.
Now the room can be painted, the train set returned to it’s former glory and maybe I can take a nap!
As always, thanks for reading along!
Also, don’t forget to check out my rally goose e-commerce project! Buying rally geese will help me pursue all my weird hobbies, write about them and entertain you!
Yesterday, my friend Mike and I went down to Belle Isle, an island park situated in the middle of the Detroit River, for a quick stroll.
The island, when under the care of the City of Detroit, had fallen into disrepair and neglect. Almost nobody went except hooligans and troublemakers (the author as a young man included).
The State of Michigan has subsequently taken over the park (in 2013, through a leasing deal with the City) and folded it into the State Park system. The State has, in my opinion, (and seemingly everyone else’s, as the island is now a hotbed for summer fun) turned the park into a jewel.
Another interesting tidbit I will point out is the river’s water level. It has risen noticeably over the last few years and the author cannot help but feel the rising water and rising enthusiasm in the city of Detroit are somehow connected.
Sometime in the 1990s, the lake and river system near Detroit seemed to drain. It got so low, the freighter channels had to be dredged out constantly and there was much concern about environmental factors affecting our lakes.
These things are, of course, cyclical and the water has returned. How it all works, I’m not qualified to give an answer, but am happy to see it.
I took a few more pictures along the path on the way back:
That wraps up my little walk in the park!
As always, thanks for reading along! I will soon detail the painting of the spare bedroom, which currently houses my late, great Uncle’s train set and possibly the reconstruction of said train set.
PS: As an aside, I have successfully launched my first e-commerce project, a set of vinyl decals celebrating a hilarious goose-baseball incident, please check it out!
I know it’s been over a week with no updates and a sudden stop to the story of my road trip up north. I apologize for this as I’m sure some of you were genuinely interested in my weird travels and writings. None of this is without reason. Last Sunday (the 24th), my two Dominique hens killed Amelia, the red and grey jungle fowl hybrid. It was simply awful and I have had a hard time looking at the photos from the trip, especially the section yet to be covered, as many of them feature her.
Adding to my frustrations is the heat wave we are currently experiencing in Southeast Michigan, with temperatures tickling 100 degrees F (depending on who and when you ask, it may well be OVER 100) and my air conditioning deciding to quit, because of course. Luckily, with the help of a friend, we were able to diagnose the problems (a faulty electric motor, which then blew a fuse) and order the needed part. It doesn’t arrive until Tuesday, but having something to look forward to and the fun (my friend who helped, Jan, is from Poland and always has something interesting to say) of screwing around with the thing has taken a lot of the sting (as I write this, it’s 88 degrees IN MY HOUSE) out of the situation.
I have also been knee-deep in my first foray into e-commerce, a sports novelty decal I am becoming increasingly unsure will ever see the light of day.
Anyhow, thanks for sticking around and (barring any further disasters!) I will resume bringing you regular, interesting content.
And now for the thrilling conclusion of the Road Trip Saga. I was planning on breaking this up into two posts but let’s just get it over with so we can all move on with our lives. THIS IS GOING TO BE A LONG ONE.
Since it’s been so long, I’ll place the recap links here instead of at the bottom:
One last note: I am STILL fiddling with formats and writing style, thanks for putting up with the nonstop assault on your eyeballs!
Embarking from the Knotty Pine, we drove south, toward and sort of around Escanaba, ending up in Hannahville, an Indian reservation with a rather large casino, the Island Resort and Casino.
It was raining off and on when we arrived and the pow wow, originally scheduled to be held outdoors, had been moved into the high school, deeper within the reservation. I admittedly didn’t grab the greatest pictures of all this, as I was doing my best to:
A. Be respectful (I’m not a big fan of taking shots of people’s faces without their permission and am unsure of pow wow etiquette)
B. Take in the sights myself
The pow wow mainly consisted of various categories of dance and dance competitions, accompanied by authentic singing/chanting/drumming provided by the Northern Cree Singers, a tribal group from Canada. I haven’t the foggiest clue what they sing about, but they have a great passion and talent for it. From what I understand, the drumming and singing not only go with the dancing, but, in fact, dictate it, providing the dancers with cues and instructions via the melody and rhythms of the song.
There was delicious food served in the cafeteria and I chose what is known as an Indian Taco:
After some time (an hour or so, I don’t know), it was announced the weather had cleared and the pow wow would reconvene outside, at the traditional pow wow grounds/camp site.
While the pow wow was migrating, we took the opportunity to tour the Potawatomi Heritage Center, a turtle-shaped (if you were to look at it from above) museum which relates the history of both the Potawatomi peoples and Hannahville. Also housed within this turtle is a truly weird and wonderful exhibit which showcases Michigan copper and presents alternative history hypotheses, none of which I can remember, but I can assure you they range from the reasonable to “Um, okay?”
Unfortunately, I was unable to grab any pictures while inside. I did, however, partake of (read: stuffed face at) a lunch buffet, which had been kindly laid out as part of an open house by the Heritage Center staff, coinciding with the pow wow, which nobody bothered to show up for! How rude! I had to sit there and eat free cheese, crackers, cold cuts and pineapple all by myself! The horror of it all. I made such a huge sandwich I got the meat sweats and had to sit down for a half hour while my friends were……you know what, I don’t know what they were doing. I think they were being given a way beyond normal hands-on tour and meeting the director of the Center/tribe, but I was off somewhere in meat land.
After this excursion into the unknown reaches of lunch meat, I was scooped up, poured into the car and driven over to the outdoor pow wow grounds.
Here, the same things which were going on in the school gym went on………….outside! There was a pass-in-review of sorts, a salute to the armed forces and LOTS of dancing. Some of these people (unsurprisingly, they were the same dancers who walked away with top honors) danced for an hour STRAIGHT. It was amazing to see. Also impressive was the level of detail and craftsmanship shown in the performer’s regalia (costumes or outfits).
Once again, I didn’t get the greatest shots here, looking to protect people’s privacy and not be a jackass.
I also sampled more frybread. Frybread is interesting in and of itself, given it’s history, so I’ll cover it briefly. Frybread is a traditional food at pow wows, festivals and even in native people’s homes. Frybread originated in the mid-19th century, when the Navajo and other peoples were moved onto reservations. The tribes were given flour, sugar, salt and lard as rations and frybread was what they could come up with to nourish themselves, both on the journey to, and upon arrival at, the reservations. I will delve no further into the sociopolitical implications of frybread.
After the pow wow wound down, we set up camp for the night. I did not take any pictures of our tent or campsite, as I didn’t even think of it because we were having too much fun entertaining our neighbors with our weird jungle fowl and listening to an elder’s tales and opinions on a wide array of topics.
I was honestly surprised to be awake at 8:00 AM and yet, there I was, staring at the ceiling of the cabin. I laid there for what seemed like an eternity (it was really about two hours), processing everything that had gone on the day before.
Slowly, my companions awoke, grumbling. They had elected to stay up much later than I, as they had not been up and driving all over the state since 4:30 the previous morning. We lay in our respective beds, saying things (mostly unintelligible nonsense), for a spell.
Eventually, the hunger came for us. The need for coffee grabbed a hold of me something fierce, as well. I require it, you see.
Raiding the kitchen pantry, we came up with the requisite materials: rolled oats, mixed fruit (you know, the snack pack sort in the little plastic tub) and COFFEE. The oats with fruit went well enough on the gas stove but the coffee was a little tricky, as none of us had used a stove top percolator before. Unafraid of making a fool of myself, I ventured to use the strange device to make the needed beverage. Other than making the mistake of attempting to boil the water in a tea kettle rather than the percolator, I’d say I made a fine pot.
Now fed and energized, we only had to await the waking of our host to continue our adventure. Around noon, he ambled over to invite us to his cabin (it has ELECTRICITY!) for conversation and more COFFEE. Eventually, it was time to hit the road once again.
Once again, we piled into the Jeep and traversed the dirt (mud) road. Rob wasn’t kidding at all when he told us the sedans wouldn’t have made the trip. In the night, we could FEEL some bumps here and there, but to SEE the craters, potholes and lakes with water up to and over the Jeep’s axles was something else entirely. Four wheel drive and ground clearance were absolutely necessary.
I did my best to document these road hazards and the relaxing forest scenery:
Yeah, those didn’t turn out the way I thought they would at all. Hopefully they’re enjoyable anyway!
Along the trail, you must cross this neat little gated bridge. I didn’t get a very good look at it the night before, in the dark and all, but had an inkling it was interesting. I especially enjoyed how the only railing or safety device is some posts laid down and nailed to the top.
Completing another entertaining trounce through the woods, we returned to the Knotty Pine, found our birds in good condition, loaded up and headed to the pow wow. I will tell tales of the pow wow experience in a subsequent post or posts!
Thanks again for reading along and don’t forget to check out the other entries in the (seemingly never-ending) saga of my wacky road trip (in order from first to latest):