Push Your Luck

firepole.jpg

So it was another trip to FireKeeper’s Casino and Hotel in Battle Creek today. The enormous colorful sign on the side of the highway advertising it is hard to miss on the way there. More than 66,000 people pass that sign each day, which means most will get excited about the potential of winning a lot of money at the casino and will be going or think about going in the future.

When you walk through the front door of FireKeeper’s casino, you will immediately notice the large fiery orange pole going from floor to ceiling with a helical metal structure climbing around, to symbolize the flames of the firekeeper, referring the job a Native American would have in the tribe.

If there is one machine that I loved in this place and was doing really well for me and I wanted to find it again, it would be next to impossible to find it, because it’s a sea of machines with various bells and whistles and themes, most of which put the idea into your head that you could get rich quick just by playing.

Today was not my lucky day, though it was for my mom who won over a hundred dollars. Good for her on getting money that is basically free. I’m going to learn eventually that if I suddenly earn more than I came with I should just call it quits and walk away, but it’s the thought that I could win so much more and I could have a really lucky day at hand.

 

Advertisements

Welcome, Stranger

A middle-aged man named Adam Anderson was traveling from his home state of Wisconsin to his brother’s wedding in Bay City, Michigan. He had been on the road for two days and the wedding was tomorrow. After a long, grueling drive Adam finally crossed the Michigan border and strolled into a busy looking town called Jackson during the night. He intended to rest here and seeked out an affordable, quality hotel for the money he had, this happening to be at the Baymont Inn and Suites off a Bondsteel Drive across from a Planet Fitness. Adam checked into the handsome looking hotel, got his room, and settled in with what little luggage his had – just a couple of shirts and jeans; his suit for the wedding was being reserved until he arrived in Bay City. The king size bed in this room felt like sinking into a heap of clouds and Adam easily fell asleep, setting the alarm for seven.

1011.jpg

The next morning, after a cheerful tune commenced, the journeyman arose from a luxurious sleep and got ready to head back on the road. He showered, dressed, and went down to the continental breakfast helping himself to waffles, eggs, sausage, muffins, and glasses of sweet orange juice. A TV was hanging on the wall in front of Adam and there was a news broadcast currently tuned in. A run off of events happening in the city and elsewhere, nothing too interesting to Adam though something about a shooting in Jackson caught his attention; he put down his fork and twisted a finger in his ear to hear clearer. The shooting happened somewhere near his location, involving three men fighting over some money and drugs. Adam shrugged his shoulders; every city has its fair share of crime and this place seemed to be no different but to be so close to the scene disturbed him.

After gathering his things and checking out, Adam left the Baymont, beeped his Altima, and headed out onto Bondsteel for a new day. The sun was gleaming brightly over the industrial skyline. Jackson didn’t look like a place Adam would suggest to anyone looking to travel, but he did not want to leave quite yet. He figured he could spend a couple hours exploring the place (he always wants to check out obscure cities on the map) and get to know his surroundings better, adding to the experience.

As he went into the heart of the city, the first major thing Adam saw was the enormous Henry Ford Allegiance Health hospital and Consumer’s Energy building as he was driving through the inner metropolis. Turning on the radio, he caught local stations talking about Detroit sports, college sports, and high school sports teams. After more of a drive Adam began to see that this city is quite tame and uneventful at times. There aren’t many high-end restaurants in this mid-size development, mainly local eateries that offer affordable meals such as a Denny’s and Steak n’ Shake, and the usual fast food joints found along either side of the main strip. Adam took a trip into Downtown Jackson and felt like he could fit at least ten of them into New York City and there didn’t seem to be much activity going on except for a shady looking bike rally that was only really appealing to roughneck biker men and women and people who like loud, raucous music.

Adam’s one day experience in Jackson already had him observing that citizens here seem to follow ordinary everyday routines, going about their lives in uninterrupted fashion. He also made a first impression that they are all like robots, walking around with little expression and enthusiasm on their faces. It’s like they just live for necessity. That’s probably the strangest part of Jackson, though this can be said about other cities as well. Adam came to the conclusion that no famous celebrities would ever come around here since the place is quite depressing and the entertainment value is subpar at best. There are quite a few things to do in Jackson though after Adam consulted his travel brochure from the hotel, seeing many opportunities of fun that he had not known about, such as the Cascades Light Show.

His day in this little metropolis was not all cherries and cream though. As Adam was going downtown and seeing all of the various shops and attractions, including the historical and recently renovated Michigan Theatre according to his guide, he was suddenly cut off in traffic, a white pickup honking its horn and racing around him, leaving Adam in the dust. The truck ran a red light and narrowly avoided colliding with an SUV coming from the left side of the intersection. Stunned, Adam decided to stop at the Michigan Theatre and check out the shows playing there. He parked on the side of the street near the theatre, being careful not to park in the timed zone, and headed for the set of old fashioned wooden green doors with red trim around the inner glass frame. Adam was simply awed in amazement as he stepped inside the front entrance; it looked like something in a museum, the sculpting of the walls, ornate marble columns, the vintage red rope by the 20th century ticket window. There was a concession bar on the left as Adam sauntered through the open theatre doors. A tall man, about fifty, with black framed glasses saw him and casually nodded. Adam walked up to the counter and asked about the shows going on here. The man, who seemed to be the owner here by his look, said a classic western hour was currently running and would be $3 to see. Adam wasn’t the biggest fan of westerns but figured it would be a shot of entertainment. He put down the cash and walked into the lone theatre on the right, his breath being immediately taken away by the vastness of this chamber. The place was like an old cathedral with meticulously crafted designs on the walls and ceiling. The giant Victorian light fixtures in the ceiling also gave this theatre a vibe of historical significance. Adam sat down in one of the seats near the back that looked like it had not been replaced since at least the 1930s, adding to its value, and immediately felt a comfort rush over him as the previews before the western hour consumed. This place felt like home to him, he could have stayed here for hours and reveled in the comforting magic it seemed to engulf him. The western hour commenced and Adam was subjected to a fantastic hour of gun-fighting, horseback riding men galloping with a superior authenticity, and dialogue that was as dark and gritty as the westerns intended them to be. This definitely became Adam’s favorite place in all of Jackson.

Adam eventually made it to Bay City, in the thumb, in time for his brother’s wedding, bringing back memories of his trip through that old fashioned town.

Now the wedding turned out to be a complete disaster. Someone accidentally fell into the cake and the expensive ring was swallowed by the uncle’s dog that was attending the wedding.

Across the States

 photo land_zpsajermzo3.jpg photo klhj_zpspajb5qsb.jpg

 photo jiuio_zpso5fxnukh.jpg
The Boilermaker Special

 photo jvjh_zpsqkxdnkdj.jpg photo jbkh_zpssedqvzgj.jpg photo jnkjn_zps3smqxbgw.jpg

 photo kbkjb_zpst6z6zqbj.jpg
Chicken Alfredo

 photo knljn_zpsur2caakt.jpg photo jnl_zpsf61wafkt.jpg photo fyjhg_zpsmb6f2wb1.jpg photo bkjb_zpst9pgwnqd.jpg photo 989_zpstevopjzi.jpg photo belin_zpsr96ppume.jpg

 photo childrens_zpsg5cjyccf.jpg
Children’s Museum

 photo hghg_zpsibdoeatk.jpg photo ioy_zpsstdlvhr6.jpg photo desertishot_zpshxkxus3t.jpg photo ijokj_zpsgm1ynvdt.jpg photo mklmk_zpsm4dbix2e.jpg photo windmill_zpshriz37f3.jpg photo water_zpsxleem5nt.jpg photo zdhn_zpsq8gwpgjp.jpg photo us1_zpsyvwu7lib.jpg

Pictures from my trip across several states this week.

Repurpose, Solitude,  Shadow

Going to Kansas

The train is moving again. The glorious sounds of the engine meshing with the blurring of the landscape as the Amtrak rushes, backwards from my seat position, through the countryside of Michigan, the lush forests, farms, and hills of an old land that reflects the early days of the state and even the country, when cities were few and far.

We’re packed up and ready for another trip down to Olathe, Kansas. This would be the 5th or 6th time that the family is headed down to the Heartland to see the youngest sister and her significant other, the first time being in the summer of 2014 when we visited the University of Kansas. Kansas is still quite new to us as we have only scratched the surface of it, having only been near the border cities and not into the deep part of the state.

The conductor checked my ticket again today, as he always does, scanning it and giving it back to me where I place it back in the top compartment of my luggage bag.

Because of Kansas, I get the song “Dust in the Wind” playing in my head, and eventually on my computer. It is a song symbolizing our short time on this earth, that in the end we are just made up of earth stuff, living our lives and then being recycled back into the environment, continuing the cycle. We rent a period of time here to do as much as we can, to explore and learn about our history and what is beyond our imagination. The band is actually from Topeka, Kansas and released “Dust in the Wind” in 1977. The title comes from a passage in the Bible by Ecclesiastes:

I reflected on everything that is accomplished by man on earth, and I concluded:

Everything he has accomplished is futile — like chasing the wind!

In the end, everything we do, all the money we may or may not have, doesn’t matter one little bit, because all of it doesn’t go with us. The only thing we can hold onto are our hopes and dreams and to believe that there is more to life than just living and dying.

It sure is a big break from me playing video games for many hours straight, only getting up once in a while to eat something or use the facilities. I’ve become so addicted to playing Batman: Arkham Knight, the explosive finale in the Arkham series of games. Probably one of the best games I’ve played in a while, besides Skyrim, which is why I’ve had a hard time putting it down, because there is so much to see and do. From what I know so far, near 90% completion of the game, it is the ending stories of several high profile criminals in Gotham, and they all get locked up in prison, though I’m not sure yet if they escape or get released by some outside help.

For now, I continue to listen to the train’s whistle as it rumbles down the track. The usual route is stopping in Chicago at Union Station and then taking a bus to Wisconsin, but that is not the case this time. It will be a longer train ride to Lawrence, Kansas, going through a lot of flat farmland in Illinois and Missouri. It sure is a lot better than driving down there, which is what we did the first time, staring at boring scenery for hours and hours, but I remember it fondly and cherish every moment of it.

Lush

The Guy on the Train

Image result for amtrak train

Good evening, everyone.

It’s been a great two day holiday in Wisconsin with Liz, Shaun, and Jace, but it’s time to go home now, back to normalcy, back to my usual 300 something day lifestyle. The cheese that is made right here in Wisconsin on the many farms simply out bests “regular” cheese by big name brands.

food2.jpg

With over four hours of Christmas music playing on YouTube that was projected via HDMI on the television, the lot of us opened up gifts and played some Apples to Apples (an updated version). Ate at the rustic Texas Roadhouse for dinner beforehand (where it is normal to drop your cracked peanut shells on the floor). I ordered a sirloin steak and grilled shrimp combo with Caesar Salad and mashed potatoes on the side, along with a frothy white margarita with a lime wedge on the edge.

img_20161206_2137501

I’m on the Amtrak train now heading due northeast towards Michigan, this time sitting in the seat that is in the opposite direction the train is moving. It’s a peaceful journey through the Midwest, the choo choo sound of the train’s engine a great reminder of how trains are still a classic way to travel. The view outside my window is all dark now with the occasional train racing past in the opposite direction that my train is going. The air is cool in the compartment and the car gently rattles on the track. Riding the train has become one of my favorite ways to travel now, obliterating my idea that the travel method was all but obsolete compared to faster ways.

img_20161206_2137291

There are 19 days left until Christmas and then all of this holiday bonanza and anticipation simply vanishes, the down spiraling crescendo often anticlimactic and underwhelming to say the least.

Home of Many Strange Winters

Tahquamenon Falls, with its loud rushing waters, is a place I would like to visit again someday. I last went there as a thirteen year old, remembering how I had to roll up my pant legs when wading through the shallow water with my two other siblings. There are pictures of us crossing under a concrete bridge spotted with grafitti, awkwardly riding in a paddle boat in the chilly water of Lake Superior, and standing on a rocky cliff overlooking the magnificent wonder of Northern Michigan. I must had really looked the part in my “Wolf Lodge” shirt, but had a hard time posing for the camera because of my new pants being too big that I had to hold them up (the beginning of my belt years).

Twelve favorite places of mine I’ve been to in Michigan:

  1. Mackinaw City, Upper Peninsula – going to breakfast at Audie’s Chippewa Room, sitting in an uncomfortable wooden chair while staring up at a menu on the wall wondering if there is anything different than in the LP.
  2. Downtown Ann Arbor art festival – being more interested in my delicious bratwurst than any of the many paintings and sculptures set up in the streets.
  3. Fifth grade camp at Mystic Lake in Clare – be very afraid of Bruno
  4. The historic Michigan Theatre
  5. Michigan International Speedway – getting sunburnt in the “cheap seats” behind pit row.
  6. Tahquamenon Falls, Upper Peninsula
  7. Sleeping Bear Dunes, Empire – trying to reach the Lake Huron shore miles away, etching my name in a wooden post that I would like to try to find again someday.
  8. Hell, Michigan – an icecream shop, that’s about it
  9. Jiffy Mix factory in Chelsea
  10. The Henry Ford museum in Dearborn
  11. Ford Field and Comerica Park in Detroit
  12. Dahlem Nature Center in Jackson

Here in the Great Lakes state, our word for soda is “pop”, as in “Can we get a bottle of pop to go with our pizza tonight?” Though, I haven’t heard it been used in a number of years because of me and other close family members having cut down on consumption of the carbonated beverage. “Pop” was what I heard frequently during my preteen years, like late ’90s to the early naughts, but now I rarely hear it be used at all, even if a recent chart says 90% of the people in my hometown use it.

Where I come from, there aren’t really any accents, but rather we all sound like typical Americans. Except for the few people I’ve met from other countries such as Australia, Japan, and Germany – some of them foreign exchange students at my high school – the majority is straight speaking English.

If there’s one thing that defines my immediate region, it is acres and acres of fertile farmland by country roads, most of the homegrown vegetables and fruits going to the local supermarket store, previously known as “Thrifty Acres”, accessible by a main strip of fast food restaurants named after the city airport – which is nowhere near that but so isn’t the city of Michigan City, which is in Indiana.

The one other big thing that my modest looking town is known for, even by people in far flung places around the country, is it was formerly the home of one of the biggest prison’s in America – so at least we’re not a total afterthought. Oh, and we are home to Tyler Oakley, the flamboyant YouTube personality, so there’s a slice of glamorous fame for us.

Other things we’re known for:

  • Bridge Cards
  • 10 cent bottle returns
  • Bad drivers
  • Complaints about gas prices
  • Random weather

Write about whatever you’d like, but write using regional slang, your dialect, or in your accent.