Thursday, May 31, 2007

"You are here."

I am here.
My horoscope for today:

"You encounter frustrations that throw a wet blanket on your enthusiasm. You feel blocked and hemmed in. You may have to abandon your approach to an activity and try a new angle. However, don't give up on things that are important to you just because they meet obstacles. Draw upon all of your patience, willpower and determination to meet the obstacles you face. Wise actions will build a stable foundation for your future."

Which is freakishly accurate, given the fact that I've been stuck in Minneapolis all night.
Jet setting sucks.

Long story short, there was bad weather in Minneapolis. MSP closed down a bunch of runways. My plane sat on the tarmac in Duluth as planes from MSP were routed north for refueling. We sat. And sat. We finally got here at 9:20 P.M....five minutes after my flight to Helena left. The last flight to Helena.

Rainbow at the Duluth Airport.
(Weather in Duluth last night.)

After an hour or two of desperate phone calls all over creation, I wound up at my Aunt Judy & Uncle Bob's house--oh my god, they rock. My Uncle Bob brought me back to the airport this morning, where I've been wandering semi-awake since 7:00 or so...

And maybe it's just the early hour or the fatigue or the madness setting in, but isn't this hilarious?
Oh my god.

I leave for Seattle--yes, you read that right, Seattle--in about an hour. I leave from Seattle for Helena around noon (Pacific time). I get to Helena around 4:00, god willing & the creek don't rise.

Rock bottom.
Jet setting sucks.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Orlando (sans Bloom).

Florida pictures--the first volley. (More to come after I get the Montana trip under my belt.)

Rock.
Were you aware that there is an Aerosmith-themed rollercoaster at Disneyworld?!? It's like injecting 50 ccs of ROCK directly into your brain.

Downtown Disney.
People, people, everywhere.

Ridonkulous.
Got some spare change lying around? Then perhaps you should consider investing in this crystal-studded castle replica.

MORE RIDONKULOUS.
Wait, you don't have $37,500 in your crystal-studded souvenir budget? Then perhaps this would be more suitable for someone of your more...shall we say..."modest" means.

Also ridonkulous.
It's an $18.00 sink stopper, though, so you'll still be a high roller.

All this is enough to drive people to drinkin'.
Shazannon, drinking.
A banner evening.
A banner evening.

But you don't need to be sloshed to enjoy a ride on Pirates of the Caribbean, chanting "WHERE'S JOHNNY DEPP! WHERE'S JOHNNY DEPP!" ad nauseum (much to the bemusement of the middle-aged people in front of you).
"Where's Johnny Depp?" *clap clap*

You also don't need to be sloshed to enjoy a round of "whimsical" mini-golf.
Mmmminigolf.
(Although let's be honest, considering that I lost two balls and scored a 65--when par was, like, 40-something--I may as well have been sloshed. )

Nor do you need to be sloshed to enjoy Liz & Peter's wedding.
Wedding.

Or to enjoy doing "the motorcycle."
Doing "the motorcycle."

(I'm flying out to Montana tonight after work, with stops in Helena, Missoula, Kalispell & Glacier National Park scheduled...and I'll be back on the 5th. More then!)

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Do flamingos and woodpeckers flock together?


Look at the size of this guy!

Woodpecker.

I did indeed have a funky, fast, peppy experience.

In celebration of Travis' birthday last Saturday, he gathered with a group of his most trusted associates (plus, uh, less-trusted associates like myself and Shannon--hey, we're new to the fold, it takes a while to get into the inner circle, you can't just have people running in all willy-nilly!) at Famous Dave's in Canal Park for some pork-related feasting. After their bellies were sated with hot greasy meatstuffs and copious amounts of barbecue sauce, the party was drawn (like moths to a flame, or geeks to a Star Wars movie premiere) to the neighboring Canal Park institution that IS..."Thrillz." (Formerly "Bananaz," and prior to that, "Grand Slam." The names, they keep getting more...z-filled?)

Tilt-a-Whirl.
Hanging around.
I haven't been in this place since, oh, maybe I was in college. And that's a big maybe. Because I can't imagine why I would've come here then, unless it was with my younger brother Whitey or something. Frankly, I'm not really a member of the "Thrillz" target audience in that:

A. I'm over the age of 18;
B. I don't have any kids;
C. I'm not all that into videogames; and
D. I'm not male.

Skeeball.
Trio.
Electric chair.

But, I do like carnies. And the trappings of the carnie lifestyle/workspace. And while Thrillz is not run by carnies, I have a feeling that on the carnie scale, it's only one or two notches removed from carnies. They're first or second cousins, or something like that. Blow the roof off this place, and let's face it--it's a carnival. A dirty, swirling, run-with-the-best-of-intentions-but-kind-of-run-down-anyway carnival.

Carousel.
Roughed-up.
Instructions for...the brakes.
Manual for the Tilt-a-Whirl's brake system...laying on the edge of the Tilt-a-Whirl.

Duct tape.
Duct tape.

A funky fast peppy experience

Topical and current:
Disco Fever.

Bunny in homemade camo costume:
Commando bunny.

They guard the mini golf course from their perches on these "rocks."
Behold, the inner workings!

And apparently, they've tied up this alien/lizard dude. Frankly, I found the implied narrative in the minigolf course area a little hard to follow.
Tied up.

Disturbing poster.
Why is the clown trying to crush the roller coaster riders? Why, Mommy, why???

Jetskiin'.
Titanic.
Skeeball.
"Skeedaddle."
I'm familiar with skeeball, but how the hell does "Skeedaddle" work?

Seriously, "skeedaddle"?
I'm frightened and confused.

But, once those sweet, sweet tickets start shooting out of the games, there's no room for fear. Only sheer, unadulterated joy.
Holy heap of tickets!

Or, you could just go buy a waffle iron...
(Well, unless you've got your eye on that waffle iron--I shit you not, that's a waffle iron--because it's gonna take a while to accumulate 15,000 tickets, I don't care how good you are at skeeball.)

But Travis was tickled with his fabulous birthday prizes...and a good time was had by all.
Travis and his fabulous prizes.

THRILLZ!
Tilt-a-Whirl.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Flamingo, baby.

Having returned from their autumnal migration, the flock regains its roost on the driveway for the summer months.
Flamingo, baby.

Not once, not twice, but thrice!

A few Fridays back, I accompanied Sarah, Liz and Peter to a dance that the Ashland & Washburn High School jazz bands were hosting at the super-top-secret Ashland headquarters of...THE MASONS.

(Well, unless having the name of the organization on the outside of the building revokes its super-top-secret status.)
View from the parking lot below.
Lobby.
Elevator warning.
(Ashlanders, can you name this super-top-secret location on the corner of Main Street & 6th Avenue West above Huhn's Pharmacy? )

hulmer_band1_resized
Dancers.

I'm not much of a dancer, but I do like snooping around...so I got right down to business.
Meeting hall.
Behold, the meeting hall of the Ashland Freemasons, in all its mighty glory!

Stage and throne-thing.
Sarah had told me a bit about what was up there beforehand--she'd mentioned a couple of thrones, lots of crosses, something that looked like the lost arc in that one Indiana Jones movie (which obviously forced us to yell "Ayudame, Indie, ayudame!" about seventy times apiece, in an homage to the Spanish-dubbed Indiana Jones movies we had to watch in our high school Spanish classes back in the day), multiple portraits of George Washington, and photos of former Masons lining the hallways.

Stairs to the loft.
Masons.
Liz loves George Washington.
Ron Burgundy-lookin' guys.
Copper Falls light.

(Oh, and also something about a giant slide projector with slides of ancient cities, and skulls. But we couldn't find the skull slides. Just the cities.)
Slide.

But, for my money, the most intriguing items of all were to be found amongst the photos along the wall...
Great-Grandpa Frank Asbach.
GREAT GRANDPA FRANK!

Great uncle Louis Asbach.
AND GREAT UNCLE LOUIE!!!

And he was not once, not twice, but THRICE Illustrious Master! I have no idea what that means, but it sounds pretty marvelous, doesn't it?

I'm pretty sure this means that my brothers and I are pretty much destined to run Ashland someday. Or, the boys should be able to join & drive those Shriner carts in the parades, at least.