Here in South Central/Mid/something Michigan, Detroit is a remarkably foreign place to many. For my wife and I, the enormous metropolitan area has been a zone of seemingly never ending exploration. On this particular weekend, there was not even a plan in place to go until just two days before, when I received an email indicating that I would have tickets to see the Pistons take on their not-so-mortal enemies, the Atlanta Hawks. Hey, they were free, and mediocre pro basketball is actually better than great college basketball, so there. That was impetus enough to leave the house for an evening.
There isn’t a single “major” city in Michigan’s lower peninsula that we haven’t spent less time at than Kalamazoo. There’s regions we’ve missed with larger towns, but to call something a city, to have it feature an urban core, to have that sort of population density, places like Alpena and Cheboygan aren’t going to match Kalamazoo. We’ve really only ever driven through here, and I’ve found strange appeal in it because, well, it is strange to me. To fulfill our requirements for elite status with Starwood, and because it was a cheap and interesting sounding weekend plan, we decided to roll west and take in something different.
This summer, we flat ran out of time before we could make it down to visit Eden Springs/House of David to see their progress. We were pretty bummed about that, just because it is such an amazing place. But then word came out about fall rides on weekends in October, and it returned to the schedule. How could we resist a ride through the changing colors of fall on their train? We couldn’t.
For all the entries I’ve written and all the words I’ve typed, some things have slipped through the cracks and never made this blog. One of those things: The Michigan Historical Museum. Located in downtown Lansing, it is the most significant of the metro Lansing area’s museum offerings. Inspired by the possibility of free entrance during Archaeology Day, we were headed there for the first time in a couple years. Just a short distance from the house, we were in the parking lot staring at the white pine tree in the center of the building and preparing to go in.
In the land of never ending summer, our “coaster season” was coming to a close. We didn’t have plans or interest in doing anything else this fall, which meant that this day in September would be when we packed it in and got ready for the long winter. And if you’re gonna pick a theme park to celebrate love of the roller coaster, man, there’s few better options than Busch Gardens Tampa. Just a little over an hour away from Orlando’s tourist district and a really easy ride from our hotel (Westin Universal Blvd), given the close proximity we had to I-4. It was kinda a bummer to take such quick leave of our nice room, but we had to jet.
A scant 5 days after being in Orlando last, we were once again on our way in that general direction. We had passes to get into parks thanks to our Discovery Cove admission, my wife was closing in on elite status with Delta, so why not use this as an opportunity for a super cheap trip, right? Instead of flying into Orlando, we’d travel into Tampa to visit Busch Gardens, and we’d exchange points and use Priceline to make out arrangements. And it worked pretty splendidly.
For the Sea World people, the waters have been a little rougher than they’d prefer, of late. Paying back Blackstone Group has led them to post losses even while attendance is pretty much even. Not that it should be even; there was a major capital investment this year with Antarctica, a ride that has opened to less than rave reviews and might even be characterized as a flop. And that’s too bad, because the unique-to-Orlando ride system was something I had been looking forward to more than any other ride coming into the US this year. Oh well. That doesn’t mean I shouldn’t develop my own opinion of it, of course, along with re-assessing my views about the park as a whole.