Adventures

“What You Talkin’ About Willis?”

** Note:  This adventure took place back in June.  If you are friends with me on Facebook or just friends with me period, you may be aware that my mother passed away in early August.  Finishing this particular blog post was put on hold.  I had quite a few adventures with that 91 year old woman; a few that I posted on here.  She loved getting out and going places and her being gone has left an empty feeling in me that I did not expect.  But life goes on.  As mom used to say, “What’s the alternative?  Curling up in a ball in a dark room with the shades drawn?”  Nope.  That’s not an option for me nor was it for her.  Cheers Mom and let the adventures continue!

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June 2017 – Willis Tower.  There, I said it.  All of you who grew up in the Chicagoland area know how painful that was.  Our beloved Sears Tower is gone in name alone.

My latest adventure was a long weekend trip to Chicago.  Amtrak, Willis (ugh) Tower, John Hancock building, Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium, walk along Lake Michigan, Millennium Park, Buckingham Fountain, hot dogs and pizza.  How’s that for a tourist cliche?  Son loves Chi Town, and I love son so off we went!

We caught the Wolverine 350 train out of Troy, MI.  The name of the train alone was enough to hook my X-Men loving son.  Took a little over 6 hours to get to Chicago – not bad considering I could sit back and relax and not have to sit in traffic on a Friday afternoon.

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Interesting scenery along the way – Detroit area.  I found it strangely beautiful…

We arrived in Union Station around 5:00 pm and checked into LaQuinta on Franklin Street .  Highly recommend this hotel – can’t beat the view from our window.

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Willis Tower

Thus began almost 20,000 steps for the day.  Mind you, it’s already 6:00 pm.  How about some dinner, son?  No thanks Mom –  let’s go!  Headed out to Willis Tower first and the Sky Deck.  Heights do not bother me so I was able to enjoy the views.  So were at least 500 other people.  Helpful tip – buy a City Pass if you are going to visit major attractions in downtown Chicago.  Save some $.

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Willis Tower.   Quite a sight to behold.  Son is fascinated with this 110 story structure.  And I’d like to brag that he’s quite the photog as evidenced by the above pic.  After breaking ground in 1970, it took three years to complete and used enough concrete to make an eight-lane, five-mile-long highway. The last beam put in place was commemorated by the signatures of 12,000 construction workers, Sears employees, and Chicagoans.

WELCOME TO THE LEDGE

The reason for our being at this moment.  To step outside the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. 1,353 feet in the air, into the Ledge’s glass box which extends out 4.3 feet from the Skydeck.  Crazy?  I don’t think so.  And on this clear evening – I believe we were able to see four states…

Short intermission – enjoy some Aerosmith – Living on the Edge – sorry – have to go to YouTube to watch and listen – follow link – silly copyright laws.

 

Next stop, John Hancock.  Never mind the fact that we have to walk 1.9 miles up a packed Michigan Avenue on a humid night in Chicago.  Doesn’t matter.  Lots of interesting things to see.

 

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So photogenic – Hello?  Modeling agencies?  Not that I’m biased…

 

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The beautiful Wrigley building.  Mom used to work here back in the day.

 

We finally make it to the mighty John Hancock and proceed to the 360 Observation Deck .  Because who doesn’t want to step into a clear glass container on the 94th floor and have it tilt out from the building?  I was so exhausted and hungry that son could have talked me into bungee jumping from the roof if I knew I could grab a  hot dog on the way down.

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Finished up our tilt time and headed back on Michigan Avenue.  Chicago was hoppin’ that night with about three different major events happening that weekend.  We grabbed a cab back to the hotel and collapsed.  Big day tomorrow.

Next morning.  Cab time again.  A little more harrowing than last night.  First stop was the Field Museum ; a favorite of mine since childhood.  Hard to forget the many field trips taken there in those seatbelt-less school buses.  And don’t forget those wax figure machines that we would blow our allowance on.

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We were able to use our City Pass again and were looking forward to the animatronic dinosaur exhibit.  Unfortunately, we had to evacuate the tour a few minutes into it; no explanation given.  Maybe the T-Rex ate the baby.   Disappointed and no refund due to unforeseen circumstances.

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Beautiful day in Chicago!

 

No trip to the museum is complete without visiting Sue the T-Rex.  Looking good girl (Dave too)!

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Finished up the museum and headed next door to the Shedd Aquarium.  I can’t tell you how nice it is to have these two wonderful attractions next to each other.  And, right on  Lake Michigan.

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We finished up our day with a walk along the lakeshore and picture taking.  What a wonderful day enjoying Chicago.  Not done yet.  Had to catch a train out to Aurora to help my brother and his wife celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary.  Great times!

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Now this was a full 2 days – beautiful weather, fun attractions, great food and a lot of steps!  Train travel is something I would do again.  Takes a little longer but very relaxing.

Until next time!

Motor City Comic Con – May 2017

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I am Groot…

Forget Groot – how about I am worn out after attending the 2017 Motor City Comic Con in Novi.  Unfolding at the Suburban Collection Showplace, this annual event features more than 250 comic book artists and writers, more than 50 actors from fan favorite movies and TV shows, and vendors offering a million-plus comics, toys collectible items and gear, crafts and gaming products.   This comic con is the second largest in the nation behind San Diego.

Luckily, son and I attended on Saturday, the only nice day weather wise for this three day event.  Our 50 minute wait in line was no bother as both of us are people watchers – especially when the majority are dressed up as their favorite character or participating in cosplay.  For those non-nerds out there, cosplay is the practice of dressing up as a character from a movie, book, or video game.  A few examples…

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Heath Ledger Joker
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Tobey Maguire Spidey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thousands of fans poured into the exhibition center.  About 50,000 people were expected over the three day event.  Son was absolutely thrilled – his main goal being taking as many pictures as possible with his favorite super heroes.

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Star Wars!
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Surrounded by Star Wars

Let’s see.  How can I describe the vibe at this event as I watch the hundreds pass by and try to read the looks on their faces and body language…

Gleeful:  First time at Comic Con; Wearing a kick ass costume; Being a young child and seeing your super hero live

Awestruck:   Meeting Michael Rooker aka Yondu (Guardians of the Galaxy) and Merle (Walking Dead) in person.  Now that line was loooooong.

Frantic:  Lost a child; Having to wait in line at restroom; Realizing that you need a ticket to stand in line to meet Lou Ferrigno

Frustrated:  Crowd; High prices for picture/autograph; Upset that your tight Harley Quinn costume isn’t getting the attention that it deserves

Chill:  Me enjoying my day with son. Oh and the 20 guys walking around dressed as Negan carrying barbed wire bats.

I refuse to pay for someone’s autograph and/or picture.  Prices range from $50 to $100 for each one.  So tacky as it may seem, I take pictures from outside the waiting area which makes for some not so good pictures.  But here goes…

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Ron Perlman- Hell Boy and Sons of Anarchy

I find it sad when actors have a few or no fans in their lines.  Kristy Swanson, James Remar, and the great Mena Suvari from “American Beauty” had no one every time we passed by.  They just sat there texting or talking with their reps.  Guess I shouldn’t feel too bad.  They seem to have done ok for themselves.

I found it fascinating that Barbara Eden was there.  She’s 85 and still kicking it.  And I was happy that she had a few fans in line.  Also there – Sean Astin (Hobbit); Rob Schneider (Water Boy), and Dennis Rodman, to name a few.  Couldn’t even get near Rodman’s line.  He’s an odd dude plus an ex-Piston so I can see the attraction in the Detroit area.

We spent about 3 hours there which was enough.  Saw everything that we needed to see, and son accomplished his picture taking goals.  Stepped outside to some fresh air, space and sunshine.  And a line of fans and cosplay wrapped around the building just like when we arrived.  We’ll be back – a little smarter and ready for the crowds.

 

Have a great week and thanks for stopping by!  I’ll leave you with my favorite part of Motor City Comic Con…

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Dogs, Drag Queens and Downtown Grand Rapids

Quite the adventure filled few days.  Before you wonder what I’ve gotten myself into, let me breakdown the blog title:

Thursday:  Tour Leader Dogs for the Blind – Rochester Hills

Friday:  Drag Queen Bingo – Royal Oak (side note:  bingo only, no dress up for me…not that there’s anything wrong with that…)

Sunday:  Leg 2 of concert tour with son – Breaking Benjamin – Grand Rapids

Leader Dogs for The Blind – Rochester Hills

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The City of Rochester Hills has started an interesting program for their employees – touring different locales within the city in hopes of educating employees as well as hoping that those same employees spread the word to others.  This is my first after work tour with the city and one that I was not going to miss.  I love dogs and have always thought how wonderful and fulfilling it would be to work in the service dog industry.

Leader Dogs for the Blind was founded on April 4, 1939 by the Lions Club as the Lions Leader Dog Foundation. The next month, the Foundation leased a small farm in Rochester Hills to house their new venture. Fifty dollars per month rented a farmhouse for the clients and staff, a barn for the dogs and a garage.  The first class of the official Lions Leader Dog Foundation graduated on October 8, 1939. The cost to graduate a client/dog team was $600.  The current facility, aka the international headquarters,  although much larger and remodeled, is still on this same piece of land.

Fast forward to present day – Leader Dog has paired almost 14,000 dogs with the visually impaired worldwide making it one of the largest organizations of its kind.   Currently, the cost to graduate a client/dog team is now averaging $39,000.  Leader Dogs is a nonprofit organization where all expenses, including room and board, airfare, and the dog itself, are offered free of charge. An Applicant, after being accepted into the program, travels to Leader Dogs headquarters and must spend from nineteen to twenty-six days of training with his or her new dog, after which the dog belongs to the applicant officially.

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What a wonderful field trip – thank you City of Rochester Hills.  I’m sure a lot of visitors who tour the facility hope they will be able to frolic with puppies and interact with the dogs.  That is not the case.  It is a very structured environment with complete vet, breeding and training facilities.  The volunteers and workers are professional and friendly but realize that they have a very important job to do in keeping the visually impaired safe.  These dogs have someone’s life in their “hands”.

 

Drag Queen Bingo – Royal Oak, MI

 

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His name is “Sabin”, and he takes no prisoners.

Nothing like doing a 180 degree turn from the night before at Leader Dogs…

Friday night, a few car loads of co-workers headed to downtown Royal Oak and a venue called Five15.   Let me be clear –  Drag Queen Bingo was NOT a city sponsored event for employees.  No way.

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Let’s just say, Five15 could be a fire marshal’s nightmare.   The place was packed full for the two hour show with women and men of all races and orientations, which made the pickings easy for Sabin.   No one and nothing was off limits – I mean nothing.  He was raunchy and rude but hilarious and had the place screaming with laughter.  It was a great time to just let loose – you could say the event was cathartic.  Our seats were upfront which meant we were easy targets.  We had one co-worker as his go to target; thankfully, she has a sense of humor and/or at least no sense of political correctness when she entered those doors because he spared her no mercy.

Not embarrassed to say that I enjoy bingo and was a little disappointed that we only played a few games, but Sabin’s ongoing chatter as he rolled the old bingo ball drum made up for it.  I came close to winning a few times, but if you win, you have to go up on stage and join Sabin in what could be some uncomfortable banter.  So you want to win, but you are nervous about winning.  I think I could have handled Sabin, plus I would have won a t-shirt and mug.

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Costume change.  A true drag queen needs to switch it up…

This show is definitely not for the faint of heart or those easily offended.  I enjoyed it, it was only $20 and I got to know my coworkers in a different light.   Would I go back?  Probably not.  But I would go back to explore Royal Oak, and I suddenly have an urge to search out some bingo halls.

Downtown Grand Rapids and Breaking Benjamin

Ah, leg 2 of our concert tour.  Son and I headed off to Grand Rapids, MI on a rainy Sunday to attend a concert of one of his favorite bands, Breaking Benjamin.

Grand Rapids is a nice city and one that I hope to return to and explore more.  We stayed right downtown at the City Flats Hotel.  The hotel is billed as eco-friendly and I could see that throughout.  Very modern and best of all – walking distance to everything that we needed for that night and the next morning.

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The concert was being held at 20 Monroe Live which just opened in February.  I know how nasty concert venues can be so I was very happy to hear this.  Had a light dinner, tasted some home-brewed beers at Grand Rapids Brewing Company and then headed out.

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I’m going to turn all Yelp here about 20 Monroe Live:  I give it 3 out of 4 stars.

Thumbs Up:  Security and employees everywhere you turned, felt safe, clean, bands were on time, sound was great

Thumbs Down:  Felt like I was in a stampede leaving my seat and out in the hallway.

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We had a few wackos around us as is common at these kinds of concerts.  But no liquid of any kind was spilled on us and no one stood up during the songs in front of us.  Win, win.  Breaking Benjamin did not disappoint my son, and I knew quite a few of their songs after hearing them for the past 8 years.  I did have to stick my fingers in my ears so that I could hear the lyrics over the bass but hey,  being one of the oldest there, who cares.  Oh, and when they played a cover of “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, you know who knew all the words.

Great concert experience and stay in Grand Rapids.  And to top it off, we got to have breakfast the next morning with a member of the National Champion Aquinas Men’s Hockey Team!

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See ya Grand Rapids and thanks everyone for stopping by for my latest adventures!  Until next time…

Margaret

Old Lady and The Dude – Nationwide Concert Tour – Leg 1

I’m baaaaack.  Be afraid, be very afraid.  Just kidding.  Always wanted to say that.

Hi everyone!  I’m glad to be back blogging.  I missed it.

Our Michigan winter really wasn’t that bad in comparison to the horror stories I’ve heard since moving here.  Hard to believe that one year ago we embarked from Flower Mound, Texas to Shelby Township, Michigan in a car stuffed with three people, three dogs and all of the junk that you end up throwing into a vehicle when you realize that you have to clean everything out of the house for the new owners and that you’ve left the curb in front of your house looking like a garbage dump.  That trip took a toll on all of us.  But we survived and are doing quite well, thank you.

Any who, I’m back to kicking and screaming and wanting, nay, needing to get out of the house.  Which leads me to my first adventure of 2017, divided into three parts.  I will sum up this particular adventure in a few words:  this old lady still enjoys going to rock concerts.  Since attending events with son, I’ve heard the gamut of comments from people in my life including, “you’re crazy, you’re too old and good for you”.  To me, this is a win-win situation – I continue to do what I enjoy which is go to live music events AND I get the chance to watch the joy in my son’s face as he is able to listen and see his favorite bands.

Don’t ask me how, but son and I kindof like the same music.  What I really mean is that I had no choice but to listen to his music over the last 15 years and have actually grown to enjoy several of his favorites.  I have been to best guess 20 concerts since my teen years – Fleetwood Mac, Rare Earth, Beach Boys, Whitney Houston, Ronnie Milsap, Lee Greenwood and Alabama (my country years),  Aerosmith, Tina Turner, Chicago, and multiple festivals.  I would have to say my favorite was seeing 38 Special at Navy Pier in Chicago back in the early 80’s with of all people, my dad.  Guess he took pity on me, but I like to think that he liked adventures as well.  Fast forward to recent concerts with son which include Avenged Sevenfold, Shinedown, Papa Roach, Stone Sour, Panic at the Disco, Godsmack and Muse.  And some back up bands that my ears would rather forget.  But definitely a different genre than my teen years.

We planned three concerts for 2017.  Adam Gontier (ex Three Days Grace) in Detroit, Breaking Benjamin in Grand Rapids and Muse/30 Seconds to Mars at Red Rocks in Colorado.  Now I’ve sat in the middle of dusty fields in 90 degree weather as well as questionable lounges watching concerts over the years, but the  Red Rocks  venue will truly be special.

Now that I’ve given a brief introduction as to this multi-faceted adventure, this brave pair already has one concert under our belts.  Friday, March 24, found us at the Diesel Lounge in Chesterfield, Michigan waiting to see Adam Gontier.  I’ve driven through Chesterfield during the day on the way to Lake St. Clair  but never had the chance to partake of their night life.  I received a heads up reaction when I told one of the many millennials at work where I was heading on a Friday night and in turn received a gasp, followed by a laugh and then an eye roll.  Mr. Gontier was set to play after 10:30 pm so I really had to give myself a pep talk to stay awake in conjunction with drinking Cokes.

Son and I drove past the Diesel Lounge a few times due to the fact that we were looking for a building that specifically had their name in lights.  You know, like Studio 54.  I guess I missed the part where the lounge is actually in a bowling alley – Premier Lanes to be exact, only the “L” was missing in Lane.

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Concert being held next to the Hot Tamale Cantina.  Don’t worry Texas foodies – I did not cheat on you.

Premier Lanes is a nice little operation.  Looked clean and filled with your typical Friday night bowling leagues, birthday parties and people who had a few too many and probably shouldn’t be bowling.

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Adam takes the stage around 11:00

I’m still hanging in there!

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The venue or lounge was small but appeared clean.  Different story when the lights are turned up and the stains come alive.  We didn’t stick around for that revelation.  Maybe 100 people in attendance.  General admission only so had to stand  – which is killer on the back.  This straight from the old lady’s mouth.   The norm included vaping, beer, women in skull tshirts, ripped jeans with black boots, men in skull tshirts, leather vests, bandanas, sagging jeans, camo, mullets – you get the gist.  Meanwhile, I was sporting a Talbots sweater and Liz Claiborne purse.  I’m glad that I do have some experience around different concert groups – especially when I can guide son on what not to do or say.

It was just Adam and his guitar on stage which I really enjoyed.  His voice is still strong – just a little raspy which I like.  He sang for about 1 1/2 hours.  Pretty good especially when you are on your own.  Greatest hits from Three Days Grace included Lost in You, Get Out Alive, Let it Die and everyone’s favorite – I Hate Everything About You.  A lot of audience participation on that one.  A little disappointed that he did not sing three of my favorites;  Riot, Never Too Late and Animal I Have Become.  Probably a little difficult to play Riot acoustic and have the same affect, but the crowd would  have loved it.

I find it interesting that Adam is doing shows like this – a lounge in a bowling alley.  His current band, Saint Asonia, is in the studio making an album while he’s out doing his thing.  Oh well – who am I to question an artist and his ways.

Interesting night.  Will I go back to the Diesel Lounge?  Probably not – unless some truly fabulous artist decides to stop over in Chesterfield.  Bruno Mars?  Justin Timberlake?  Are you listening?  I was tired and cranky, it was 1:00 in the morning, raining with probably quite a few drunk drivers on the road.  But we made it home just fine and the experience that son had was priceless.

Thanks for reading and take care!  Margaret

Rochester, MI Big Bright Light Show

What better way to celebrate 29 years of marriage than having a backdrop of 1.2 million lights?  Hubby and I headed to downtown Rochester for some great eats (Rochester Chop House) and to view the Big Bright Light Show 2016.  Neither disappointed.

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The hustle and bustle of the holiday season continues into January in Rochester, a beautiful city right next to ours, population of 13,000 with a very vibrant downtown.  This is the 11th year for the Show.  It takes two crews working 7 days per week for eight weeks starting October 1 to try to get it done before Thanksgiving.

We ate and then absolutely had to walk around to feel better about ourselves and the quantity of food we had just devoured.  It was cold – about 28 degrees with a strong wind so walking briskly was a must.

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Going toe to toe with Mr. Grinch!

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A girl can dream, can’t she?

 

Cheers to us and Happy New Year to all of you!

“Same mind with same old ideas enters the same old year; only the new mind with new ideas enters the New Year!” – Mehmet Murat Ildan