Friday, August 20, 2010

"Notes on a Midwestern Vacation - Random Memorettes"

Weather report, printed on the front page of the Michigan City News-Dispatch, August 6, 2010:

“Sunny and downwright gorgeous.”

I love a cheerleading weather report.

The best book I read on the trip was called Empire of the Summer Moon, by S.C. Gwynne. It’s the story of the powerful and greatly feared Comanche chief, Kwanah Parker. When Chickadee Trail crosses Michiana Drive into Michigan, it changes its name. Its name on the other side of the street:




While on a walk, I noticed a street sign reading: Gertner Lane. I then noticed a street sign perpendicular to the first sign reading: Gertner Lane.

This seemed strange to me. Two Gertner Lanes? Then I realized it was not an actual street sign. It was just something the Gertners had put up.

On the same walk, I noticed a black painted line stretched along the middle of Michiana Drive. Above it, also in black paint, were the words: “State Line.” So it looks like I’ve been lying to you. It’s not a different state across the street. It’s a different state half way across the street. Sorry for the misinformation.

Along with this comes this amazing revelation. Every time we cross that state line, our cell phone automatically changes the time. This is entirely beyond my comprehension. How does a telephone know what we’re doing?

We’re in Central Time. We step across the street to look at a bird, and the cell phone knows we did it, and immediately flips to Eastern Time? How does it do that? If we continually hop back and forth, will the phone just keep changing – an hour later, an hour earlier, an hour later, an hour earlier, an hour later, an hour earlier – until it finally texts us to knock it off?


We need a new flyswatter. I think the flies took the last one when we were away. I go into the local drugstore, and I ask which aisle the flyswatters are on. The perky employee behind the counter chirps, “Aisle 14.” I go to Aisle 14.

No flyswatters.

I ask an employee who’s nearby stalking the shelves which aisle the flyswatters are on. He confidently replies, “Aisle 1.” I proceed to Aisle 1.

No flyswatters.

I appreciate perkiness and confidence. But what I like best of all is accuracy.

And while we’re on insects,

Lesson relearned in Michiana:

When women learn to kill spiders, men will serve no purpose whatsoever.


We took two bicycles that had been damaged when a tree collapsed on our storage shed, and we left them at the edge of our property by the road, with a hand-written sign on them saying, “Free bikes.”

They were both gone within twenty-four hours. If we had done the same thing in Santa Monica, nobody would have gone near those bicycles, for fear of a scam, an arrest or some bike-related virus.


Movie prices are lower in Indiana. In fact, in La Porte, a movie ticket costs five-fifty. However, there’s a advisory at the box office that none of the 3-D movies are being shown in 3-D, only in 2-D. I guess you have to pay a premium for the extra “D.”


These prices are actually higher than the last time we were there, when a movie ticket was only two-fifty. There are still, however, free refills of popcorn and soda.


If Michiana Night Noises sound like a hundred people chewing on rubber bands…


then Michiana Day Noises, especially before it rains, sound like a bunch of cottage cheeses, all talking at the same time…


There are not a lot of places where you can tell day from night without opening your eyes.


During our vacation, we spotted eight deer, both singly and in groupings of two’s and three’s. The most memorable sighting were two baby deer bounding along the beach. The most disturbing sighting – and it happened twice – was a deer by the side of the road that in seconds, with a mistimed scamper, could easily have become our hood ornament.

The deer are important to me. When I was in the hospital, and they came to take my blood pressure as they regularly did, as they tightened the blood pressure cuff around my upper arm, I would close my eyes and think back to the visit before, when a deer had hunkered down on our front lawn, and stared at me for fifteen minutes. I visualized myself gazing into his untroubled big brown eyes, and was immediately propelled into a deer-watching-induced “Om” state. My blood pressure was always perfect.

The newspaper paper carried a story, announcing that they were loosening the deer-killing restrictions in a necessary effort to “thin out the herd.” I hope they don’t “thin out” any of the deer in our area. I would really miss those guys.


We attended a stage play in Michigan City. After the curtain fell, when the first actor – who’d had a very small part – came out to take his bow, he received a standing ovation. After some confusion, we realized what was going on. It was Opening Night, and the bit part actor’s family was in the audience. As it turned out, every actor got a standing ovation. Just not from the same people. Unless the family from the actor before were too lazy to sit back down.

I come out of the bedroom one afternoon, and find my daughter Anna stretched out comfortably on the living room couch, taking a nap. I walk out onto the screened-in porch, Dr. M’s fast asleep on the futon.

It was a sublime moment. Though I cannot exactly tell you why.


YEKIMI said...

Ohio is too similar to Indiana for it to be any fun for me to vacation there. That's why I get to go to our property in Maine. Years ago when I was 17 we all decided to go on a hike. Nothing like going around a curve in a trail and coming face to face with a moose [and not the Bullwinkle kind] that looked as big as a 767. It just stood there looking at us with an "I will kill you in 12 seconds if you don't turn around and leave right now!" look. Needless to say I was back in the cabin in 8 seconds. Nowadays, sad to say, too many people have built too many cabins, houses and mansions there and now complain that it's too crowded. So enjoy your little slice of heaven while you can.

Gary said...

Popcorn and soda refills - free? Wait till they hear about this in Pixley! I thought that's where they make their money, on the concessions. Certainly is here, in the "big city." Can't get a popcorn and 2 sodas for less than dinner at Red Robin.