« Mon.08.14.2000 »
3:20 am EDT 64°F (18°C) in Ann Arbor
UPDATE #99 -- 1 MORE UNTIL 100
WARNING: LONG UPDATE
I don't even know where to begin, because so much has happened this past weekend. Why don't I try the chronological-order organizational method?
Thursday was basically a boring day -- I worked until about 5:30 pm, then packed, got gas, etc. and left for Ishpeming. I pulled into Nym's house at 1:50 am Friday, and after wasting about an hour surfing channels, I proceeded to go to sleep. Friday wasn't too much more exciting; after waking up at noon, Nym and I hit Marquette's Presque Isle. I remembered that I had left my camera in Ann Arbor, and we ended up going back into downtown for a disposable camera; then it was back to the park, where I took some pictures the second time around.
After leaving Marquette at about 6:00 pm, we proceeded out to their camp at Lake Arfelin. After a steak dinner and a walking tour, I experienced my first real Finnish sauna. (Note to trolls and other non-Yoopers: the correct Finnish pronunciation is "SOW-na", rhymes with "cow", not the more common but incorrect "SAW-na". Finlanders and Yoopers out there will love me for enlightening you.) There, I learned the true meaning of löylyva (the steam that rises when water is poured on the hot rocks, not just any steam, mind you).
After the sauna, Nym and I decided to check out the Perseid meteor shower. I must admit it really sucked, mostly because there were some high clouds that kept obscuring the northeastern sky. We left camp the next morning for the Copper Country; Houghton was the first stop. We drove through the campus of Michigan Tech, stopping at the MacInnes Student Ice Arena (the first WCHA arena I have seen). After lunch, it was on to Copper Harbor, but not before we experienced Finn Street in downtown Hancock (Houghton's sister city, across Portage Lake). I couldn't believe it until we drove up it myself -- you're climbing 300 feet in less than ¼ mile. It has to be at least a 45° hill -- I'm not kidding or exaggerating.
Once in Copper Harbor (after 40 more scenic, but otherwise very boring, miles), we drove about two miles beyond town to "The End of U.S. 41." It's amazing -- 1,990 miles of U.S. highway just ending in a large cul-de-sac in the middle of nowhere. We thought we could take the snowmobile trail at the cul-de-sac all the way to the end of the Keweenaw Peninsula, but that turned out not to be the case. We spent an hour lost in the woods, driving down sometimes-rocky, barely passable snowmobile trails, but because of the ruling powers of Nym's 1985 Toyota Tercel 4WD wagon, we didn't even need four-wheel-drive. Finally, we found our way to Estivant Pines, from where Nym more or less knew his way back into Copper Harbor. From town, we headed toward Brockway Mountain, a bluff some 726 feet almost immediately above Lake Superior. After going back into town, we began heading back towards Ishpeming, where we would stop at Da Yoopers Tourist Trap just outside town. Then it was off to the mines (Tilden Mine and Empire Mine, two iron mines about two miles south of town), before pizza dinner at the Congress. After an exhausting day, I slept pretty well last night.
I finally left Ishpeming at 12:30 pm Sunday. Unlike the easy drive I had on Thursday night, the Sunday afternoon drive proved to be a headache in stretches -- nobody wanted to go more than 60 on the two-lane roads in the U.P. except when I attempted to pass them, leading to a few perilously close passes; I got stuck in a huge pack of slow (65 mph) traffic on I-75 before my gas-and-food stop in Gaylord; and I-75 was stop-and-go all the way from Bay City to Flint. I ended up detouring around 15 miles of I-75, going 20 miles out of my way to do so. I got back to Ann Arbor around 9:00 pm, about an hour later than I'd hoped, but 924 miles later, the trip was over.
That was only half the weekend's craziness. As per my parents' earlier request, I called them to let them know I'd gotten back to Ann Arbor safely. It turned out my father had been in Ann Arbor on Saturday afternoon for a company picnic, and had heard rumors about a fire at a bus terminal. I did a little checking via the online edition of the Ann Arbor News, and found out that it was U-M's garage. That facility being my workplace, I decided to run down there and check it out. I almost couldn't believe it when I got there -- the garage entrance off Kipke was boarded up -- so I drove into the yard to check things out further. I really couldn't believe what I saw when I got in there -- the garage area was without power, and had sustained quite a bit of damage. The car/small-bus bays may at some point be fixed up enough to be serviceable, but the big-bus area apparently was a total loss. I went around to the other side of the garage, where over the boards, I could see a shell of what used to be bus 3001. It was down to its frame -- body panels, entire interior, everything but the frame gone. I went back into the lower yard, where I saw bus 727 sitting on the fence. Ashes covered both sides, and most plastic parts (light covers, etc.) had been melted. I walked around to the front of 727, by the fence; its destination sign was apparently destroyed in the fire. Through the one window that wasn't covered in ash, I could see that both roof vents had also been destroyed. While 727 is still structurally intact, I can guarantee that it is damaged beyond repair, and will never again see the road. According to what I've heard, faulty wiring in 3001 started a small electrical fire. Apparently 3001 was also leaking either diesel fuel or transmission fluid; when the small electrical fire found the "mystery liquid," the fire quickly jumped out of control. It happened that 727 was next to 3001 in the big-bus area of the garage; that's how 727 was damaged beyond repair, but not destroyed. The total damage, including both buses and damage to the building, is valued at over $1 million, according to the Ann Arbor News. I must say the notations on the "out-of-service" board were quite apropos: "3001 -- Elec. Fire -- R.I.P." and "727 -- Inspection -- char-broiled, well-done, of course, no onions."
Thankfully, the drivers' quarters and offices at Transportation Services were undamaged, save the facts that the ceiling panels were all gone and that those areas are being powered by a large generator. So, I'll still be able to drive my shift tomorrow, but at some point in the future, I may be going somewhere other than 1213 Kipke to begin my shifts.
After checking out the damage at Transportation, I did my weekly grocery-shopping trip to Kroger, and I've been up since then. Hell, it took me close to an hour and a half to actually write all this, just because there's so much. I guess the #1 News page update of all time will have to play a distant second fiddle.
(Sung to the melody of "O Canada")
O Canada, the place where we had fun,
That Customs chick, she almost pulled her gun ...
Scott, Eric, and I hit Windsor last night. Needless to say, just getting into the country proved to be a real bitch.
"Purpose of your visit to Canada?"
As if I was going to tell them we were going to the casino, and then go get drunk or laid. We'd have been arrested on the spot if I'd let Eric keep talking. "We're visiting some friends in Windsor."
She wasn't entirely buying it. "Where?"
"Just off of Ouellette Street, close to downtown."
"How did you meet these friends?"
Fuck, I thought to myself, this bitch is gonna nail us. Thinking quickly, I replied, "By e-mail."
"And you're going to meet them for the first time?"
Sighing, she asked, "Are you bringing anything into Canada?"
Scott, once we were out of the agent's earshot: "FUCK YOU, BITCH!"
That was the worst part. After losing a combined total of about $40 U.S. at the casino, we decided to hit a strip joint. We tried Studio 4, one of Windsor's best-known and classiest adult entertainment places. Unfortunately, the cover charge of $10 Canadian proved to be prohibitive considering our casino losses. However, when my future roommate Billy turns 19 in September, we will drag him over there and have one of the girls perform a "birthday dance" for him.
Most everything besides Studio 4 proved to be closed at 2:20 am, so we decided, "fuck this, let's hit the 'Vu," and left Canada. Some white trash from U-D in a shitty old car cut us off as we entered the tunnel, only because of Eric's U-M bumper sticker. Later, the U.S. customs agent wouldn't take Eric's word for it on my and Scott's American citizenship -- he asked us both to speak for ourselves -- but then waved us on.
The 'Vu being closed, we decided to cruise A2 "for shits and giggles," as I put it. Of course, everything here was closed too, much like Windsor two hours earlier. We then hit the Bursley game room, where Scott kicked ass in a pinball game. It was 6:05 am before I was in bed.
Going to tonight's hockey game against BGSU. We came back from a 2-1 deficit to win last night's Game 1, 3-2, as Bob Hayes and David Huntzicker scored the third-period goals for Blue.