First night

First nights are the best. You arrive in your destination, and you have the whole night ahead of you. Our first night started with drinks and tacos at The Still in The Mirage, followed by gelato and macaroons from Le Macaroon in The Venetian. As we wandered back towards our hotel, I got a decent shot of our home for the next four nights.

The Mirage
The Mirage

Vegas, baby!

I finally convinced Andrea to return to Vegas. It only took a lot of tears and a cat, but it happened. With a long weekend of sun and excitement, we headed to one of my favorite places. True to form, we stayed at a hotel we had never stayed at before, The Mirage. It was a beautiful place with the smell of coconuts laying just underneath the haze of cigarette smoke.

But enough about the casino – the only time we saw it was walking through it to someplace more interesting. The room was nice, and fairly quiet, with only a hint of noise coming from the lout next door as he shouted his way into his next door room.

Our view was pretty amazing:

The Strip
The Strip

Granted, it didn’t always look like this – sometimes the sun was up. Four days of cloudless skies – you can’t often say that while spending time in Michigan.

And what would a trip to Vegas be without a trip to Fremont?

Fremont Street
Fremont Street

I didn’t remember the sheer amount of freaky people hanging out there. Men in pink bikinis, naughty female cops, Transformers – I really just wanted booze and to lose some money. Both of which were accomplished at Binion’s. While my last visit there netted me $11 off of a quarter, this time, the video poker machine did a number on my wallet. We didn’t lose much, luckily, and the free margaritas helped dull the pain.

I got those “My lawnmower don’t work” blues

The only time you know your mower isn’t working is when you try to use it. I found that out yesterday when I started my 10+ year old Toro lawnmower and it started, then sputtered, and died. Repeatedly. Though I thought staring at it for a while would fix it, it didn’t, strangely enough.

What instead worked was taking apart the carburetor. The bolt that holds the little cup has several little holes, and those were plugged. So I cleaned them out with a safety pin, and I was back in business – it was running like an old lawnmower should. Both the garage and I smell like gasoline for the rest of the night, but the lawn looked great.

Hard work isn’t always labor

We spent part of our Labor Day on our seats. Andrea, Elena, and I hit the Lansing RiverTrail for a sunny outing. We started at Crego Park, someplace you’ve probably never been to, but it sits on Mt. Hope between US127 and Aurelius. It has a large pond for kayaking, but it’s real appeal is a large parking area for the RiverTrail.

We headed west towards Potter Park, then turned south to take the trail through Hawk Island Park. This area is well-paved with copious amounts of shade, and enough curves to keep it interesting, and with the thrill that you could plow into somewhere around every wooded corner. We continued south, along the newer sections of the trail past Jolly, where the path dips under I96 on it’s way to the southern trail terminal, Valhalla Park. Fond memories of Valhalla – I was baptized there, and I would often walk the trails on my lunch breaks when I worked nearby at Pennsylvania and Miller. Don’t fondly remember the job, but the proximity to the park – that was nice.

Altogether, a good time with the family that ended with watching Back to the Future Part III and Death by Chocolate ice cream from QD.

Since I’m on the subject of cycling, I just wanted to show you the results of biking on Mackinac Island on a rainy day. I was a bit stir crazy from a day-long rain, and decided to hit the roads despite the wetness. The results of this is the shirt and shorts you see below. And since it was Mackinac Island, that isn’t just mud. I love my Rubaix, but sometimes, the lack of fenders gets messy.

Mackinac "mud"
Mackinac “mud”


My home for last weekend, the Hotel Iroquois on Mackinac Island:

Hotel Iroquois
Hotel Iroquois

The clouds give just a hint of what the majority of the weekend was like. Though Friday, our arrival day, and Sunday, our departure day, were beautiful, Saturday rained from sunset to sunrise.

Our first-floor room overlooked the Straights of Mackinac, with a balcony that could seat four. Not bad.

Iroquois Room
Iroquois Room

I got some of my best sleep ever in that room. It pays to be exhausted after a day of walking, hiking, and biking. Despite the rain, we still managed to see a lot of the island.



Find the cat

It’s really not that hard:

Crouching Cat, Hidden... Cat
Crouching Cat, Hidden… Cat

This is Loki, a wild and dangerous cat in the wilds of Barryton, MI. Where is Barryton? Exactly. It was where we stayed for a night after a kayak trip on the Muskegon River. Kayaking may sound strenuous, but really, but this trip, the most strenuous thing I did after getting the kayak off the boat was catch the Jell-O shots being flung my way.

What does this have to do with Loki? He was the resident wild animal at the cottage. He may seem OK, but he’d kill you as soon as look at you. If you’re in Barryton, watch your butt: Loki awaits.

Cedar Point 2016

I made it! That makes somewhere around fifteen years in a row. I’ll have to do some scholarly research to determine how many it actually is, but it’s been a nice streak.

My first ride of the day was Rougarou, last year’s new ride. Well, sort of. It is actually the Mantis with a new paint job and  new trains. Instead of standing up, you sit down. It was a neat ride, and it saved Cedar Point a bunch of money by not actually building a new coaster. One of the buzzwords of our post-productive society is recycling, so now we have recycled coasters. Still, it was a walk-on, and a decent ride.


I’ll have more tomorrow. I know, your appetite has been whetted by awesome Cedar Point stuff.

Champions of the World

OK, perhaps “the world” is not quite right. Perhaps “Champions of the Gier Park rec league” is more accurate:

Sand Hoppers

Yes, we came, we saw, we managed to conquer. We saved our best games for the final day. We celebrated with beer, pizza, and popcorn at Zoobies. We would have done the same had we lost, but it just felt better having won.


Reunion Accomplished

We are spending a good part of July in parts north of home. Last weekend was at Andrea’s family reunion, bringing people as far as Tennessee. We didn’t operate too far from our home base in beautiful Beulah, our longest excursion being to Crystal Lake for some swimming and ice cream. But it was relaxing and rain-free, with lots of good food.

Our trip home involved going sideways to eastern Michigan, where Elena was safely dropped off at her home for the next week – summer camp. She was pretty excited to go there, and I was pretty excited about getting G’s Pizza, along with their awesome cheesy bread sticks.