Jun. 4th, 2009 08:24 am
xnera: Icon of a closeup of the Detroit Industry fresco. (Detroit Industry)
Decided to have an Internet-less day. Yes, this includes XBL. See you all tomorrow! <3
xnera: Photo of my cat sniffing a vase of roses  (stop and smell the flowers)
What was your most memorable vacation, and why?

There is no possible way I can choose just one. Vacations are something special to me. They're not just a chance to get away and see new sights. It's a chance to renew, re-energize, revitalize. I often come back from vacation feeling like I've experienced something profound, something life-altering.

I first noticed this trend on a business trip to Seattle. I was far away from home, and far away from a relationship that had been causing me stress. All too often we get stuck in a rut, staying in a situation that is not good for us just because we're familiar with it and unable to fathom anything different. But here I was in an far-away city, being forced to deal with the unfamiliar. Everything was new. And I found out that the unfamiliar, well, it wasn't so bad after all, and so when I came back I was able to end that relationship that was stressing me so much.

You want to hear life-altering? The city was Dublin. The year was 2000. The date: October 30th. It was a cold, windy, and rainy day due to the typhoon hitting England. And I was walking a marathon. Nearly seven years later, I still consider this one of the greatest things I'll ever do. The whole experience tested me and pushed me to do things that weren't easy. Getting up at the crack of dawn to train. Obtaining the necessary documents for the passport. Traveling out of the country for the first time, without the safety of my family. Being aggressive with taking photos. It was more than the race itself that mattered; it was the whole experience. I kind of feel like I've lost some of the things I learned from it. It may be time to do another grand event.

Las Vegas taught me about relationships and values. It taught me about myself. Things I didn't know I had an opinion on suddenly became clear. I learned that I was not comfortable to have my boyfriend pay for nearly the entire trip. I learned that money can be oh-so-closely tied to emotions. Money is not just a means of obtaining items; it's a symbol: of love and intentions and things left unspoken. Almost five years now, and I still haven't gotten the courage to date again, and a lot of that has to do with the state of my finances. I am not willing to to accept a symbol I'm not ready for.

January 2002 at WDW was full of happiness, tears (the good kind), and family. The peaceful quietness of walking through Epcot waaaay early in the morning. The thrilling, crying, bursting excitement of walking down Main Street while hundreds of spectators cheer you on (a memory that never fails to make my eyes leak). My mom throwing her arms around me at the end of the race in pure joy and love. Seeing my Aunt Bev & Uncle Raymond for the first time in many many years and learning again just how fun they were. Meeting everyone from the Disney-Deads mailing list for the first time and feeling immediately like I was amongst friends. That vacation was a reminder that many of the best times in life often happen in the presence of family, whether they be of blood or of heart.

Ah, Detroit, how I loved you! Detroit was about adventure, identity, and dreams. It was about having the courage to do something daring in order to fulfill a need of my soul. Hearing Uematsu-san's work played lived was something I had to do, and I am very, very glad I did it.

To steal one of their own phrases, Disney in 2006 was all about "Remembering the Magic". Hearing those two words--"Welcome Home"--when checking in at Old Key West. Tearing up at race memories when I entered Epcot, and walked down Main Street again. Feeling a childlike sense of awe and wonder the first time I rode Soarin' and Mission: Space. It truly was magical, and I can't wait to experience it again.

It'll be a while before I go on vacation again. I have a tenative plan for a vacation next year, but perhaps I'll see about taking a short weekend away sometime sooner. I've got a vacation fund in Mvelopes now; I felt it was extremely important to have one. It's got $43 in it so far. It's a start. :)
xnera: Icon of a closeup of the Detroit Industry fresco. (Detroit Industry)
And then I heard those magical words: NOBUO UEMATSU.

I was in the right place! I WAS GOING TO SEE FINAL FANTASY!

I got my ticket, and headed indoors. The atrium was smallish, but nice, and I could hear the sounds of flutes floating through the air. I immediately made a beeline for the souveniers. I wanted to get two soundtracks--one for me, and one for my mom.

Oh, I haven't told you about mom yet. She had misgiving about this vacation. She wasn't too sure about me going to Detroit alone (and I don't blame her for this at all; I was a bit nervous about it myself). But she also couldn't wrap her mind around the concert.

"So what are you going for? A concert."
"Yup. It's a concert of video game music."
"...Video game music."
"Yup. It's really, really good."
"Is it outdoors?"
"No, it's a symphony. It's at Orchestra Hall."
"Oh. I see."
I could tell that she didn't. "Let me burn you a copy of some of it. I think you'll enjoy it."

I was too busy that night to burn anything, but gave Dad my copy of the Symphonic Suite the next day at work (it was a burned copy for traveling).

Mom called me that night.

"Karen! I just had to call and tell you how much I ENJOYED the CD! I was so disappointed when it ended and I realised there were only seven tracks! WHERE CAN I GET MORE?"

So yes, mom's a Uematsu fan now. ^_^

Back to the souvenir table. Hmm, I don't see any CDs.

"I don't see it but I've got to ask: Do you have the soundtrack."
"No! I wish we did! We'd be selling them like hotcakes!"


It's okay; I can probably get it online. But it would have been even specialier to get it at the concert so I could listen to it on the train on the way home, and so I could present mom with her own copy. I did buy a program, though.

Fifteen minutes to showtime! The ticket checker told me the boxes were on the second floor, so I headed upstairs. It turns out that the flute music I heard was live--a high school flute choir was playing on the second landing.

Hey, that sheet music looks familar...

"We'll play The Royal March next."
"I've played that!"

Giggles from the schoolgirls. I hadn't meant to say that outloud, but it kind of just blurted. *grins* It was one of my favorite songs from chamber ensemble in my high school days, and it was a thrill to here it again.

On to my seat! I get my free poster as I enter, and am shown to Box K, Row 1, Seat 7 - just off center on the right-side. I sit down in my chair, which is much more comfortable than what I'm used to at the theater.

"Oh, awesome awesome awesome."

This got me some weird looks, but I didn't care. I was excited!

And now the moment you've all been waiting for: the concert, the concert, the concert.

The concert. Was. AMAZING.

First song: Liberi Fatali. One of my favorites, as I fell in love with Squall the first time I saw it. I wasn't too sure of the high school choir at first since they pronounced the Fithos Lusec Wecos Vinosec different than I'm used to, but then the orchestra crescendoed and Squall was fighting Seifer on the screens and I was completely enthralled. I may have cried a bit.

Then To Zanarkand, the first Final Fantasy song I fell in love with (I went home and downloaded both the .mp3 and the sheet music after Roger played me the opening of FFX.) So, so beautiful, and sad, and haunting. They chose to play most of the Yuna's dance during the sending, which was effective even though that's not the music that goes with that scene. I got chills during this one.

Then Terra's Theme and Theme of Love. I've never played VI and don't have Terra's Theme on any of my assorted discs, so this was new to me. I liked it, though, and thought the video clips looked interesting. Theme of Love I'm well familiar with, and was glad to here it expertly played.

Then came Dear Friends and Vamo'alla Flamenco--more favorites, especially the latter. I have to do extra gushing for these two. While the orchestra was warming up, I noticed an acoustic guitar player sitting in the front row. Odd, because you don't usually see guitars at the orchestra, but very cool, I thought. He played on these two songs.


He watched the conductor more than he watched his sheet music, so that he got the cues perfect. Dear Friends sounded more poignant than normal, with the slight hesitation before each note was struck, and Vamo'alla Flamenco... *explodes from glee* Just amazing. Absolutely amazing. Not only the guitar player, but the whole orchestra. So very good!

Rounding out the first half was Love Grows More Squall & Rinoa! I squeed when they played the Waltz of the Moon clip. May have gotten more looks for this, but I DON'T CARE. A favorite song (not this arrangment of it, but still a favorite), with possibly my favorite video clip from all the games, played by an excellent orchestra. I couldn't not squee.

Intermission time! I decided to go downstairs and get a soda. While I was waiting in line I smelled something wonderful, and saw a girl walk by with a plate of pasta, so I craned my neck and saw they had a mini-buffet where you can purchase food. So I switched to the next line so I could get a better look, intending to get some of the wonderful-smelling pasta since I missed out on my Fettucine Arrabiata earlier, but then I saw this CHOCOLATE. MOUSSE. CAKE. and since I had thought it would be cool and sophisticated to get desert after the concert, well, why not get desert AT the concert?

Woah. Richness. Silky smooth and definitely a mousse if a heavy one, and by the taste of it, likely dark chocolate. It was very, very yummy, and disappeared too fast.

On my way back to my seat I saw a girl dressed as Rinoa. Hee! I so would have come in costume, but I can't pull off Rinoa because of my weight, and can't do Lulu because of my legs (I really would't want to be her, anyway, but Roger kept telling me I should. Apparently I have her boobs), and I'm not familiar enough with Tifa to go as her, and yeah, it would have been fun to go as Yuna and I likely could have done it (her summoner's outfit), I simply didn't think of it ahead of time. But I was wearing my pretty pretty floral outfit, and so I was happy. Very cool to see people in costume though, and I rather expected I would.

Most of my favorites were played in the first half, but the second half still had lots of goodness. Aeris' Theme. You're Not Alone. Ronfaure, from FFXI--first time hearing this and seeing the game. I didn't realise online games could be so graphic intensive! I mean, I know computers have come a long way, but the only online games I play are Boggle and the like. I'm assuming the FMVs are played from the local harddrive, and not served over the network; still, very impressive, and makes me wonder if I should try it. :D

Then it was the Final Fantasy I - III Medley. *squees madly* I love these melodies. The Symphonic Suite tracks were always my favorite on the N Generation CD, leading me to splurge for the full Symphonic Suite. It was so. very. awesome. to hear these played live by an orchestra--and a really good orchestra, at that!

Next was Cloud Smiles, from Advent Children! It was fun to hear a sneak peak of the FFVII:AC soundtrack, and to see those lovely videos. From a musical standpoint, the song was interesting because you could hear strains from the FFVII soundtrack flowing through it. It was just okay, though, because it didn't stick in my mind much, not like when I heard To Zanarkand or Liberi Fatali for the first time.

The concert ending with--of course!--Final Fantasy. Just the regular orchestral version of it, but still so very lovely, if short. A great end to a great night!

Or was it the end?

The orchestra stood up, and conductor Arnie Roth took his bows, and the audience was on its feet cheering madly. Roth then left the stage while we continued to clap and cheer.

And then he came back out. And so did the choir. :D

Now, I don't know if it is normal for orchestras to do encores. I haven't been to enough symphonies, alas. I don't recall if there was an encore at the LOTR symphony, but that is likely because we were so high up and it was hot and uncomfortable up there so I was sleepy. There WAS an encore at the Do-It-Yourself Messiah, which was very fun because we got to encore OURSELVES with another round of the Hallelujah. Fun!

Anyway, back to Detroit. We are standing and screaming (screaming at the Orchestra? Sounds like a rock concert!) and someone yells "ONE-WINGED ANGEL!" and Arnie hears and says "Maybe". And he does a poll at Uematsu-san's request, asking the audience how many were from instate and how many from out of town. The instate audience is loud, but the out-of-staters (myself included!) make an impressive noise, and one person behind me yells "OUT OF COUNTRY!!! CANADA!!". Arnie then asks us wouldn't be fun if we could have the orchestra in our living rooms as we play the games? We all laugh.

And then they launched into ONE-WINGED ANGEL.

OMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMG. I cannot begin to describe how awesome this was. It was awesome. Awesome. AWESOME. So very powerful and strong and PERFECT and lovely and GUH. Awesome. *loves madly* I am so tempted to write to the DSO to squee at them madly and tell them how awesome they were and to maybe send a donation. That's how awesome they were.

I wish there could have been even more! But alas, that was the end. :( But what a way to end, huh? DID I MENTION IT WAS AWESOME?!?!?!

Arnie Roth is signing autographs in the atrium. Mr. Roth is like a nobody to me--I don't know who he is, and have never heard of him before. But I stay anyway, to soak up more of the atmosphere. Because these are my people. These are the people I can relate to, because we all share the same love. I'm in line behind some teenage boys, but the age difference doesn't matter, and we spend most of our time in line squeeing over the various games and discussing our favorites. I heard some spoilers for FFVII, alas, but I wasn't about to tell them they couldn't talk about it because I haven't finished the game yet, and I've played enough into it that although they were spoilers, it wasn't a total shock, so I'm alright with it. One guy programmed FFVIII's card game for his Texas Instrument calculator! And then I mentioned Chrono Trigger, and the kid in front of us turned around and said "Chrono Trigger is a sweet game", and the discussion got even larger. :D I don't recall everything we talked about, but it was a lovely way to end the evening, especially since I was still all hyper about the concert and needed an outlet for the hyperness.

Finally reached the front of the line. Folks were getting their posters signed. ARE YOU CRAZY? THE POSTER HAS UEMATSU-SAN'S AUTOGRAPH ON IT!!! NO ONE IS FIT ENOUGH TO SHARE HIS AUTOGRAPH!! I had Mr. Roth sign the front of my program-which promptly got smeared. *sighs* That's okay--like I said, I was mostly in line for the atmosphere, and not for the autograph. I told Arnie how I had missed the concert in Chicago and had come to Detroit just to see it. It was kind of loud and I was dazed, but I thought I heard something about "concert" and "2006". COULD THEY POSSIBLY BE DOING ANOTHER CONCERT SERIES NEXT YEAR?!?! OMG! That would SO rock. And if it comes to town, I'm bringing my mom to it.

They were taking people's names and email addresses, and I happily left mine. And then it was time to go. As I left the building I stopped one of the employees and asked if there was some way they could call me a cab. He walked out with me and looked for one, and when he couldn't find one immediately available, directed me to the end of the block, where there were three security guards working who would be able to get me one. So I walked down the block, and just like everyone else I've met this weekend, they were uber nice, and they got me a cab within five minutes!

I got back to the hotel right around 11:00. I had hoped the bar would be open so I could get another drink and pretend to be all sophisticated, but they had just closed, so I went upstairs and settled for soda. I sat down and t00bed about on the AlphaSmart a bit, writing up my experiences of the day, but I didn't last very long: I was tired, and had a long, busy, and early day planned for Monday.

Onto post seven!
xnera: Icon of a closeup of the Detroit Industry fresco. (Detroit Industry)
I got back to the hotel around 6:00. The plan was to order room service right away and hop in the shower. I figured by the time I finished my shower, the food would arrive, and I could finish getting reading and eat and make it out of the building in plenty of time to catch the 7:00 bus.

One problem: I wasn't really hungry, since I had just eaten lunch at 3:30. And while I am right this now I know the bus was at 7:00 then, but I didn't know it at the time and so wasted about 15 minutes looking at the bus schedule and perusing the room service menu. I placed my order at 6:15, deciding on Fettucine Arrabiata with a Caesar salad. I thought it best to eat something instead of just going without dinner, and this sounded really, really good. Maybe I could put it on ice or something if I didn't finish it.

So I take my shower and get dressed and actually blow dry my hair and style it so it looks nice, and it's 6:40 and I'm already to go. I just need to eat. Surely the food will be outside my door?

Checked. Nope. Okay, I'll wait a bit longer.

6:45. No food.

6:46 6:47 6:49 no food heck I'm calling them.

So I call downstairs and a perky voice answers, and I ask after my order and she doesn't even see it there. WTF? So she asks what I ordered.

"Fettucine Arribiata."
"...We don't serve that anymore. Do you want me to bring up a new room service menu?"
Crap crap crap! "No, I'm going to the concert and I'm running late. Is there something quick, like a salad?"
"Caesar salad. Would you like that with chicken?"
"Yes please."
"I'll bring that right up."

"Right up" was about ten minutes later *grr*. I open the door to see Asia, who served me the previous night and is about the happiest server I've ever had. She remarks on the coolness of my room compared (the hallways were HOT). I ask her why the person who originally took my order didn't inform me that the item I ordered was no longer available.

"Was it a guy?"
"That's Steve, the bartender. He's a temp so he doesn't know the menu."

She wishes me a good time at the concert and leaves. She's such a peach that I'm less annoyed about the mix-up, and any annoyance I have left is directly at Steve the Temping Bartender ad not a the hotel.

I eat quickly, and leave as soon as I'm done. It's 7:15. I'll ask the front desk to call me a cab.

It's Jeryl working the front desk again. Jeryl is the male equivalent of a peach (I'll take suggestions for what that might be).

"Hi, can you call me a cab?"
"I certainly will." Pause. "Oh, did you check the motor lobby? There should be one waiting there, on the left side."
"No, I didn't check."
"why don't you check because it should be there, and if it's not, I'll definitely call you one."

So I go downstairs. No taxi--which I kind of expected as that's how my day has been, except for a few short hours of zoo and river tours and Marge.

I go back upstairs. Of course there is no someone checking in, so I have to wait. I'm impatient. Logically I know I still have plenty of time, because it's only about ten minutes away by car (if that), but I'm still impatient because I'm nervous. This is what I came for. I had nightmarish visions in my head that it would go wrong. Either I would get the date wrong, or the time wrong, or go to the wrong venue, or they just wouldn' have my ticket because the transaction didn't process even though it said it did, or I'd be caught in a traffic jam and be late and they wouldn't let me in. I wanted to GET THERE already so I knew that YES, this is a reality;, yes, I AM going to see the Dear Friends: Music From Final Fantasy concert.

Finally the people checking in leave, and Jeryl calls me a cab, promising it would arrive in five minutes. And sure enough, it does. I climb in and announce "Orchestra Hall", and off we go. It's 7:25.

When I was traveling about town earlier in the day, I kept my eyes peeled for Orchestra Hall. I knew it was on Woodward as part of the Max J. Fischer music center. I did see the Max J. Fisher building, but thought that it couldn't possibly be Orchestra Hall.

I work in the Loop area in downtown Chicago. It overlaps much of the theatre district, so I've seen all the big theaters and know they by name and sight. And they all have one thing in common: a marquee announcing the night's performance. Usually a huge one, all lit up with a covered walkway guarding the entrance, but at the very least, a small digital sign. In either case, it's obvious that (a) this is a theater, and (b) here's what we're showing tonight.

The Max J. Fischer center, on the other hand, did not have such a marquee, that I could see. It was not marked "Orchestra Hall", or "Home of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra". It didn't even have a very large facade--only the size of 2-2.5 normal storefronts.

So I had my misgivings that this was the right place. But that's where the driver dropped me off, so it was possible it was. The large line out front made it likely--but oh, what it wasn't, and they're all here for something else? I nervously got in line, still thinking nightmarish thoughts. This isn't it this is a different concert I've got the date wrong they wonm't have my ticket they can't find my confirmation this. isn't. it.

But I was heartened at seeing the youngish crowd. And then I heard those magical words:


Onto post seven!
xnera: Icon of a closeup of the Detroit Industry fresco. (Detroit Industry)
Saturday afternoon

So where was I? Ah, yes--I had just boarded the Royal Oak bus on my way to the zoo, after being out in the rain for nearly two hours. I got to the zoo at 12:15 p.m. I was planning to go on a 3:30 river tour back downtown. There was a 1:05 bus going back that would get me there in plenty of time, or a 1:50 that would be cutting it awfully close. I didn't want to be at the zoo for less than an hour after taking so long to get there, nor did I want to risk the 1:50 bus. So I decided I would take a taxi, even though it would be pricey ("It'd be $30-$40!" -- lady at the fairgrounds transit center). This way, I could stay until 2:00 or 2:15, and get to enjoy more of the zoo.

My day was starting to brighten up--lierally! Because just as I arrived at the zoo, the rain stopped and the skycleared up. So maybe there WAS some luck in getting stuck t the transit center, because I could now enjoy the zoo in the sunshine, which would help with my photos.

My first stop was the Butterfly garden. This was my third one--I'd been to the Seattle one once, and the one in Chicago at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museeum many times. I always enjoy them, and this one was lovely, too. A bit smaller than Chicago's, with many of the same species, but that's okay. I got to try out the Automatic Advance feature on my new camera, trying to catch some butterflies in flight. Hopefully I've done so.

A butterfly at the Detroit Zoo's butterfly garden

After going through the required double doors on exit, the butterfly garden led immediately into the Free Flight exhibit. I was looking forward to this one, as I had read online it had hummingbirds! What fun they'd be to shoot! Alas, there were no hummingbirds. :( I did enjoy the birds I saw, though. But it would have been better with hummingbnirds.

I then decided to go to the reptile house, especially since [ profile] hillary_gayle posted some photos of a baby garter snake recently. I love snakes, and hoped to see lots at the reptile house. Along the way, I saw a few amusing signs, and walked on a woodchipped nature trail, which was nice on feet.

(am typing this on the train home. we have pulled into a side track momentarily to allow another Amtrak train to pass. and then we are going to BACK OUT of the side track and rejoin the main track. Cool! too bad it's going to cause a delay, though).

The reptile house did not disppoint. There were a TON of snakes there! There was also a nesting alligator. And get this, Harry Potter fans--they had BASILISKS!! They weren't snakes, though, but a type of lizard. It was obvious they weren't the "real" thing as I didn't drop dead or get petrified. I took a photo anyway because of the coolness.

A nesting alligatorPython in B&WBASILISK!!!

The reptile house definitely made the trip to the zoo worth it. I had hoped to see more, but it was about 1:50 at this point, and I was tired, hot, and hungry, so I decided just to turn around and head back to the gate. I stopped at the gift shop, which did NOT have floating pens (those bastards!), but I got myself a small stuffed koala, and some gifts for the kids. And because I spent over $40, I got a free stuffed gorilla. Woohoo!

I decided to collapse on a bench before hitting an ATM for more cash and the phones to call a taxi, becaus my feet (okay, all of me) needed a rest. Someone else had the same idea, and asked to sit next to me. Of course I said okay, because I am nice like that, and we had a small talk about why I was in town and my plans to take a taxi back.

"I'm leaving too, and I could turn one way, or I could turn another. I could give you a ride downtown."
*breathes* "That would be wonderful."

Now, I know what you're all thinking: ARE YOU CRAZY? YOU ARE TRAVELING ALONE. YOU DO NOT ACCEPT RIDES FROM STRANGERS! And normally I wouldn't, but I felt quite safe, because:

1) She was female.
2) She was a zoo volunteer.
3) She was 71 years old, with arthritc feet and a replaced hip.

So I had a nice ride and chat with Marge, whose husband died nine years ago and who doesn't have any children. And who likes everyone--except her family, who she hates and never wants to see again. She is leaving all her money to the zoo or the Human Society, and once offered the zoo $1000 if they'd allow her to see a polar bear cub before it went public (they didn't).

She also told me a bit of the history of Detroit, and of the buldings that have come and gone. She loves Comerica park and thinks it's really nicely designed, especially the giant tigers at the entrance. She was sad when Hudson's moved out of town, and when the old Kerns building was torn down, as their clock tower was a favorite place for folks to meet downtown ("meet you at the Kerns!"). So she was quite delighted to see that they put it back up once the new building was completed.

She also told me about a trip she took to Chicago on her own when she was nineteen, and how she had gotten lost in the city and went into a bar for a coffee and sandwich and maybe some directions, but they wouldn't serve women who were without an escort. The guy sitting next to her said "She's with me!", and told her it was obvious she just wanted something to eat and wasn't looking for trouble. A taxi driver sitting in the bar warned her not to accept drinks from strangers and to make sure her drink was never left unattended, because bad men slip stuff into the drinks of women, and the women end up as sex slaves. Marge remains convinced that Chicago has a lot of trafficking of humans.

She dropped me off right at my hotel around 2:40, which gave me enough time to run upstairs to change into a dry shirt and head out to the river tour, maybe getting something for lunch along the way. I tried going to the Cobo Center People Mover, but the doors were CHAINED and I couldn't get in there. It was 3:00 at this time, so I hurried down Larned so I could catch the PM at the Financial District station. On the way I spotted a Subway. Lunch! I got it to go and hurried on my way, taking the PM to the Millender Center stop.

Now, to find Hart Plaza and the tour boat. From the map it looked like it was near Randolph, so I tried that, first, but it was obvious that that wasn't the way. So I headed back up Jefferson. Maybe it was at Bates? Nope--just a parking lot and some kind of building that looked closed. FINALLY found the plaza between Woodward and Griswold -- only a block from my hotel. -.- I could have walked from my hotel quicker! The PM actually went out of my way! THEIR WEBSITE LIED!! >:O!!!

And it was now 3:20, and Hart Plaza was BIGGER than I expected, so I worred I was going to miss it. NOOO!!! I walked as quick as I could, looking around in all directions for the boat. Oh, there it is! Head off to my right. About halfway there I got a funny feeling, and looked over my shoulder back to my left. Sure enough, it was back the other way. DAMN! It was now 3:25, and I oh, what if they don't allow me to take my sandwhich on board? I'm starving. I need to eat!

I walked as quick as I could, sure that I would see it pull away before I could reach it. I rounded a bend--and saw a line. Yay! I wasn't too late! A guy in front of me had a huge oversized mug. They asked him what was in it, and only allowed it because it was water--but they don't usually allow even that. So when I got to the front, I promised the guy I'd ditch my soda before boarding, but I hid my sandwich so i could sneak it on. (I'm such a rebel.) I immediately went upstairs and took a single chair on the riverside of the boat, right by the railing, thinking"this will be a great spot!", and ate my sandwich quickly before I got caught. and then felt a bit queasy from the rocking, but I was pretty sure I'd be fine once we launched and the motor started.

And then we were off, and I was fine! And I was happily taking photos. But about ten minutes in, I realised I was missing everything on the Detroit side. And thus started my nonstop movement around the boat, from one railing to another. As I was passing by a guy for probably the twentieth time, he said "You're from out of town, huh?"

"*laughs* I guess it's pretty obvious with the two cameras, huh? And it doesn't help that I'm a photo buff. I take a lot of photos."

"How long you've been here?"

"I just got here yesterday, and I'm leaving tomorrow. And let's see, I've taken *mentally counts* four rools of color and a roll and a half of B&W."

This drew appreciatve and amused comments from his family. I wish I could remember what they said,because it was funny. Oh well!

And so the rest of the trip went that way, with me bouncing back and forth between the two railings, shooting like mad. I fear I lost a roll of B&W, though, due to it not loading properly into my Canon. I've had this problem before, and i don't know if it's me or the camera; all I know is that the picture count moves but the film never advances, so I usually don't realise it didn't load properly until I hit 28 or 30 on a 24 exposure roll, and I tried to rewind it only to feel it pop off the spingle immeditely. *sighs* But see, this is why I take two cameras, so I have a back up as well as two mediums to play with. If the B&W doesn't turn out, as least I'm guarenteed plenty of color shots!

The two most fun portions of the tour were when we were making the turns. At the east end, they warned us there would be a cross-wind and to hang on to our hats, belongings, wigs and toupees, and to watch out for flying chairs. They weren't kidding! It got super windy, and I got sprayed with water even though I was on the upper deck. FUN! And down on the west end, they told us to hang on because there'd be some rolling from the waves. And yeah, we rolled quite a bit. FUN!

We also had fabulous views of both downtowns, the Ambassador bridge (should be fun shots of that!), abd Belle Isle. I had thought about going to Belle Isle because a lot of the stuff to see there was free, but I'm glad I didn't because it was HUGE, and the bridge to it wasn't nearly as close to downtown as I thought it would be. We also saw a few lighthouses, several gfas stations, the Peace Fountain, the Odette Sculpture park, several gas stations for boats, a hotel the Beatles stayed at, two Coast Guard stations, a small Viking sailboat who was rolling so much int he wind they had to take their sail down, and the US' only floating post office, complete with its own zip code.

Viking vesselRenaissance CenterAmbassador Bridge
Bluebill (a large boat)Detroit SkylineGregory's Fuel Dock

We got to the dock around 5:30. This gave me just enough time to go back to the hotel, shower, change, and order room service, and leave at 7:00 to catch a bus to the concert.

Or so I thought.

Onto post five!
xnera: Icon of a closeup of the Detroit Industry fresco. (Detroit Industry)
Sunday Morning

9:06 a.m. - Set my alarm for 8:00. Got up at 7:59 (heh) to rain. We're supposed to get "strong storms" today. Great, just great. The plan was to be outside all day, at the zoo and on a river tour. I don't mind rain--I hardly ever use an umbrella at home -- but it's going to ruin my pictures!

oooh... TWC says we'll hav clouds only (no rain) at 3. That's when I'm going on the river tour! Yay! Lets's hope they're right and the rain stays away for at least the duration of the tour.

Now, off to scrounge up breakfast and take the bus to the zoo. Keep your fingers crossed for no rain on tour!

10:59 P.M. The day started out not fun at all. I got a late start because of watching the Weather Channel this morning. It was 9:15 when I walked out the door, and the plan was to get to the zoo at 10:00. I probably could have done so if I had hopped on a bus right away. Except I wasn't quite sure where the buses turned around (I'm only a block or two in from the river) so I decided to walk a few blocks inland to be sure of catching the bus, and also to maybe find a McDonald's for breakast. Well, the "one or two blocks" turned into four as I couldn't find a bus stop (unlike Chicago, the busses don't stop at every corner here), and then I saw an Au Bon Pain, and thought BAGELS! So I went there and got a bagel and veggie cream cheese, and also an apple caramel coffee cake because it looked really, REALLY good, and I liked the idea of having desert after the concert. I was already quite wet by now because it was POURING. As I was eating breakfast this guy kept looking at me, making me nervous, especially as he was just at the next table. When I got up to leave he pointed to outside and said, "You're going out in that?" Yup. "Won't you get cold?" Don't think so.

It was another block to a bus stop, and then a wait for the bus. The firstone that came was a 53. It doesn't go directly to the zoo--it stops at the fairgrounds, and then there's another 53 bus (or perhaps just some routes extend, I was unsure of that) that goes to the Royal Oak Transportation Center, passing right by the zoo. I also could have taken a Smart 450, which would have gone directly there, but it was 10:15 by this point and I had wanted to be at the zoo by now! So I got on the 53, because I knew that the Royal Oak bus usually leaves within minutes of the downtown bus arriving at the fairgrounds.

Mistake, mistake, mistake.

We got to the fairgrounds at 10:45. The next Royal Oak bus didn't leave until 11:15, but I didn't know tht at the time. So I settled down to wait in the bus shelters, which really weren't much protection as they were leaking like mad, so mostof the bences were drenched.

And I waited, and waited, and waited.

Now, logic would say that the Royal Oak bus would be marked, well, Royal Oak. I was watching all the buses carefully so I didn't miss mine. I saw a 53 pull in from downtown with the "Fairgrounds" destination on the marquee, and the transit center cheif (for this was a major hub of the bus system) stop to talk to it, and then it pulled out headed to Royal Oak, but still with "Fairgrounds" on the marquee.

What. The. Hell.

I was pretty ticked at this point, so thought fine, I'll take the Smart. But this plan fell through, too, because the Smart doesn't pull into the Fairgrounds transit center--it's stop is further down, on the street. I had no way of knowing this. So I watched and waited for the 450, only to see it zooming by, and I tried to run for it but no go.

I was pretty peeved at this point. I was drenched from running back and forth to the transit office, looking at the schedules posted on the windows. I actually had known a bus was due at 11:15 because I had checked the schedule, and I was watching for it intently, but I was expecting it to come from the Royal Oak direction, not from downtown. Grrr! And it was 11:30 by now, and I was really very upset because I had planned to head back to downtown around noon, so my plans for the day were rapidly getting screwed. Plus, it was CHILLY because of the rain and the overcast sky. It got so dark that the streetlights turned on for a few minutes.

At this point I thought "Fuck the bus, I'll take a cab", so I ran out to the pay phone (I had left dad's cell phone t the hotel. *sighs*). I first tried calling 411. No go. I then tried calling the operator, who told me directory assistance would be $0.35, so I deposited 50 cents.


"I'm waiting for you to deposit the charge."
"I put fifty cents in."
"It hasn't registered."
"Push the coin release, and try it again."
I pushed the coin release. "*annoyed and exasperated* It's not giving me my money back, and that was the only change I had."

Operator mumbled something. The coins came down. I redeposited them.

"Hello? Hello?"
"Hello? I'm here."
"Ma'am? Ma'am?"


I slammed the phone down and stomped back to the shelter.

A lady asked me what was wrong.

"I'm upset. I've trying to get to the zoo and I'e been waiting over an hour."

"I don't think the bus there runs on Sundays." Nods from others.

"I'm pretty sure they do. But I'm sick of waiting, and thought I'd take a taxi, except directory assistance wouldn't work for me."

"898-8000. Or 898-8300. Try one of those."


So I darted back out in the rain AGAIN, and tried 898-8000.

"You have not deposited enough money to make this call. Please check the rates and try again."

What the hell? It's not telling me how much more to deposit? And besides, I figured it was a local number, and I put in the right amount for a local call.

Tried the other number. Same message. *headdesks*

Well, maybe it's this phone, since directory assistance said my deposit wasn't registering. I was just about to try the other phone when the lady in the shelter started hollering and waving.

I run back.

"I got a schedule. The next one's due in ten minutes. That will save you a lot of money. I took a cab once from eight mile and it was 14 dollars!"


So I waited once more. 11;45 came, and no bus. >:o!!

I dash to the transit office and knock on the window. "Is the Royal Oak bus running today? I've been waiting for over an hour and I haven't seen it."

She checks the schedule. "There was one at 111:15, and the next one is at noon."

"OKay. It will be marked Royal Oak, right? Because I didn't see the 11:15 bus."

"It was here. I saw you here when it arrived."

"But I was watching the buses closely, and I didn't see it."

"Well, it was here."

"Are you sure it was marked properly? Because I swear it said Fairgrounds when it pulled out. That's why I didn't get onit, because I thought it was heading back downtown."

"Well, I don't know. But yes, the bus should be marked Royal Oak."

"Thank you."

Back to the shelter. I see two 53s pull in and sit by the side before they are ready to leave again. But I don't trust the busses or their marquees, and I'm not about to wait only to see the bus pull out without me because the marquee didn't change again, so I make a guess which one will be mine and run out to it."

"Excuse me, where are you heading?"

"Royal Oak."

"THANK YOU! Can I get on?"

"What's wrong with the bus stop?"

>:o! >:o! >:o!

Okay, on a regular day I would not have been bothered by this. But I'm wet and chilled and angry and have been waiting for too long, so I'm not going to be easygoing at the moment.

"If you want me to go back to the stop, I will."

"No, you're here now, get on."

...And it's 11:45 right now, and I have an extremely early morning planned, so I'm going to leave you hanging and go to bed.

Onto post four!
xnera: Icon of a closeup of the Detroit Industry fresco. (Detroit Industry)
9:29 p.m. - Coming at you live from the top of the Renaissance Center.

The Ambassador Bridge at night

I hadn't planned on being out this late, but that was before I found out the Cobo Center People Mover station is RIGHT ACROSS THE STREET from my hotel. It's not even block walk. Barely even a half block. And there's a PM station right in the Renaissance center, so I thought, why not? I should be plenty safe. So here I am on the top of the world on the 73rd floor in the lounge, sipping a $7.50 amaretto stone sour and feeling uber cultural and classy as I changed into my pretty floral skirt and blouse for dinner.

So, the day. We did indeed get into Detroit at 3:00. The train station was tiny. I have to remember that I come from one of the biggest cities in the U.S., so of course we need things to be bigger there. Detroit can make do with a tiny train station that has only one or two tracks.

I asked a local how much the bus was. $1.75. The bus stop was not very easy to find. I actually walked a few blocks (along with two nice guys with backpacks, also in search of the bus) when we finally found a stop. Unlike the CTA and Pace, which has signs marking the stop and which route it's for, Detorit only has small "bus stop" signs with no indication of the route. Luckily I had my handy-dandy map and knew which bus to get on and in which direction to go.

I was expecting to get on a D-Dot 53 Woodward as they run much more frequently, but I ended up on a Smart 450, which also happened to be a quarter cheaper. Go me!

An employee just came over to make sure I was playing and not working, heh! So far I'm finding everyone here extremely nice, which is, well, nice. Everyone has been friendly and helpful. I think I like it here.

The DIA was not as far as I expected it to be. I actually could have walked it, but it was nice to take a bus even for a few blocks as it was HOT and I had my heavy backpack to deal with. I was worried that I wouldn't have enough time to see everything. Again, used to a bigger city with bigger facilities. The DIA is tiny in comparison to the Art Institute, but that could be because it's ungoing massive renovation so that only a third of their usual collection was on display. I really, really loved it, though. The architecture of the building is fabulous, and they've got some incredible pieces there.

Beautiful statue of a womanThe ThinkerDetroit Industry fresco (detail)

The DIA was my first exposure to Detroit hospitality. A security guard asked to see my bag when I came in, to which I responded I wanted to check it anyway so I didn't have to carry it. After a short search of my bag, I went over to the coat check. No charge for the check, and on seeing the camera around my neck, the lady working the check asked me if I was wanting to take photos while at the museum. !!!! I was kind of surprised to here it was allowed! But yes, it was, and so she directed me to the info desk for a camera pass. And the guy there was very nice and asked if I needed a map.

About the only drawback to the museum was a crazy guy stumbled upon me. He got off the elevator talking to himself, and then he directed a statement at me, and I, being the nice girl I am, stopped to listen. Mistake. I stood there for about five minutes listening to him ramble about ancient cultures, and when he finally seemed to stop, I moved away to look at other exhibits, he followed me! And he kept following me, mumbling on and on. I gave him polite indifference--didn't really look at him, just examined the exhibits and took photos, but would say "hmm" every now and then. Eventually he latched on to someone else.

I then went downstairs to the gift store, where I scored my first floating pen of the trip. Victory!

I had about a half hour left, so I took one last look around. It's really very intersting how they decided to show their limited collection because of the renovtions. Instead of having one whole room dedicated to, say, early european art, they mixed art from different cultures and time period by theme. For example, there were rooms of religious art, and downstairs there was a pottery exhibit showing how different cultures used porcelain. It was a fresh approach, and it worked well.

I was taking a few last photos of one of the main hall when a volunteer approached me and struck up a conversation about my cameras and the museum. That's how I found out that only a third of the collection was shown, though by then with the blocked off rooms I had kind of figured it wasn't the whole collection. He also told me I was lucky to have come now, as they are shutting the museum in August for a few weeks to work on renovations so the staff isn't in the way. It looks like they're really expanding the museum, and I'd love to come back some time and see it in its full glory.

It was still early, but I was hot, sweaty, and tired, so instead of going directly to the Renaissance Center as I planned, I went to the hotel (again taking a Smart bus, go figure). There was a bit of a wait at check-in, but the clerk (Jeryl) was extremly nice (noticing a trend?) and gave me a room with a great view. Actually, it was my second room--the first one was on the 10th floor looking towards Windsor, but it hadn't been cleaned. The new one's on the 23rd floor, looking out on the river and the Ambassador bridge. Neato! The room's small, but that's fine for me.

I then went out to ride the People Mover about town and take photos. The first stop I got off at was Greektown, which smelled heavenly.

Detroit's Greektown

I also helped alady park her car there, heh! She was worried about hitting the car behind her, so I directed her as she rocked it back and forth. The plan was to ride the PM and get off at each stop to take photos, but I was feeling energized so I instead followed the path of the PM on foot for a few stops, taking lots of photos along the way.

Detroit People Mover

It wasn't until I stopped to take a photo for some other tourists that I realized I had already passed some of the Car Tunes On Parade sculptures, so then I had lots of fun taking photos of those. And btw, I LOVE my new camera. Because of the timer, I was able to get a few shots of myself posing with the Car Tunes and with a sculpture at the DIA.


Didn't quite make it to all the stops on the PM, as I was getting tired and HUNGRY. So I went back to the hotel, changed into clean, dry clothes (pretty floral dress!) and went down to dinner at the hotel's restaraunt. I splurged and got filet mignon. I was really hungry and wanting protein, and there wasn't a chicken dish I liked. I do like steak, but don't eat it very often because I don't love it like chicken. I'm actually surprised I eat it at all as I turned up my nose at it as a kid. Seriously--it was one of my least favorite dinners. But I like it now, and it really hit the spot, though I worried for a bit that it was upsetting my stomach. A Rolaids too care of that, though.

And then I took the PM to the Renaissance center and bought a t-shirt for a dual souvenier-night gown, and they had POWERADE so I got one for tomorrow. Alas, no pens. I asked the sales clerk there if there was an obversation deck or restaurant (I was sure of the later) and she directed me to the proper elevator. I had seen it before, but didn't realise wht it was. The restaurant's called the Coach Insignia, and I had onmly seen "Coach", and as there are some shops here I thought it was a Coach purse shop. Oops. But I got here, and here I am, sipping my ameretto (which is only half gone) and feeling all cultural.

I am so going to sleep well tonight. I only got about five hours last night do to last minute cleaning/vacation nerves, and I didn't rest much on the train. Add in a busy day walking plus a drink, and I am going to CRASH. Which will be good, because I need it. Tomorrow I get up early to head to the zoo, yay! Right now, I better finish my drink, take a peek out the window, and head back to the hotel. It's 10:15!

Onto post three!
xnera: Icon of a closeup of the Detroit Industry fresco. (Detroit Industry)
7/23/05 - 8:25 a.m. Am on train to Detroit. How appropriate, that I am taking a TRAIN to the Final Fantasy concert. Hee!

The trip really started earlier this week when I started buying stuff for the trip. I bought a new camera! It's a Konica Minolta Zoom 160C. Of course I am also bringing my Canon AE-1, but I wanted a second camera so I can have colo in one and B&W in the other.

8:30, and we're in Hammond. Small stop! It's basically a strip by the side of the road. Neat.

Anyway, purchases! I went to a travel store and bought LOTS of stuff. Some maps (cute guy across aisle! woot!), a tote bag that squishes up into an attached teeny tiny zippered pouch, a rain poncho also in a teeny tiny pouch, some wicking undies, a camp towel, and a laundry kit. It's going to be HOT this weekend and I'll be outside a lot (LAKE!! LAKE MICHIGAN ON MY RIGHT!) so I wanted the wicking undies and camp towel to help me stay dry. (LAKE!!) I already love the tote bag. It's thin but strong, and large and roomy. Will come in handy.

I also stopped at Jewel and picked up batteries, LOTS of film, and a toiletry kit. Whew!

Since Detroit isn't as much as of a vacation destination as, say, Orlando, it's really hard to find any travel guides or small maps for it. So I made my own! I xeroxed maps of Windsor and Detroit as well as my itinerary cheat sheet and mini-maps of the People Mover and the Tunnel Bus. I arranged it all on a legal size piece of paper, duplexed. So I have a handy dandy cheat sheet that has everything I need on it to know where I'm going.

The itinerary was a realy chore to come up with. So much to do and see in a limited time! But I finally figured out how to see as much as possible yet still allow time for traveling between sites Luckily, just about EVERY FREAKING THING TO SEE is along Woodward in Detroit. And in Windsor, everything's off of either Wyandotte or Riverside. This makes it EASY to get around, as there's just one bus in Detroit I need to take, and likewise in Windsor.

You know, while I'm sure I'll enjoy Detroit, especially the DIA and the zoo, I'm really looking forward to Windsor because it sounds beautiful and photogenic. And I'm bringing a travel tripod along, so I can pose in photos. Plus, CANADA! How cool is that?

I've never taken a train before, not like this. Union Station was interesting, with really neat architecture, but it looked bit shabby, alas. I was also irked that most of the food court was closed. Oh sure, McDonald's was open, as was Krispy Kreme, but I wasn't in the mood for sugar or grease. So I waited for Corner Bakery to open at 7:30. While I was waiting I had a nice conversation with a young African-American woman who was waiting, too. Like me, she was just carrying a backpack (dad was shocked that I got everything into my backpack, but there was a REASON I bought a large one! Anyway, wanted to travel compactly for ease. Ooo, park! Deer!). She was slim, wearing pink spandex and a t-shirt, with her hair pulled back in a ponytail. She's taken the train before and said it's a lot of fun. I told her I was off to Detroit to see the Final Fantasy concert, and she admitted jealousy as she's played the games before. We're picking up speed now! Fun! We went on to talk about shows and plays in general. She saw La Traviotta last year, and I told her my last symphony outing was the LOTR symphony (cue the jealousy).

I had a moment of panic as after getting breakfast to go I only had about 20 minuets, tops, to get to my train. Luckily the walk wasn't far at all, but it was confusing. They had one of the entrances into the concourse blocked off, and it wasn't immediately obvious how to get to the other entrance. Finally I found it, to see a LONG line snaking into the gate. It was now about 15 minutes to go and I was really panicky. But the line moved VERY quickly, and the track was the first one across from the gate, so I got on the train with ten minutes to spare. I'm really surprised there was no security check, other than to make sure you had a ticket and were getting on the right car. And I hadn't realised that there were no assigned seats. But this was actually kind of cool, because I got a seat by the window. By myself, even! I'm riding backwards, but that's okay. It's QUITE comfortable. I'm pleasantly surprised. There's a lot of leg room, and the seats are large and uber padded. I like!

I think I typed enough for now. (LOVE my Alpha. And of course it was coming with me!). Will update throughout the weekend.

9:45 a.m. CDT / 10:45 a.m. EDT. We are in Niles, MI. The station is small, but it's cute. Cobblestone brick chateau at the side of the road. I took a picture. :D

Niles, MI

But what I'm really writing about SERENITY PODCAST! OMG SO GOOD! Really, download! Lots of clips from the show. Heavy on the funny and the gushing. Interesting features and fake Blue Sun commercials. It was just a reminder of how much I love the show, and really cool to hear how much others love it, too. I almost started crying because of the obvious love.

Also listened to soundtrack clips. I like. They're obviously new, but there's lots of little riffs that remind me of the show. Especially the reaver theme.

So far no one next to me. Train's getting more crowded, though, and I fear I may need to share my seat eventually. 3.5 hours left.

11:10 a.m. EDT. -- We've stopped in the middle of nowhere. o_O

middle of nowhere

11:12 a.m. EDT - We're waiting for some train track to clear up. Another train, or are there cows on the track or something?

11:16 a.m. EDT - Monarchs! Pretty! :D

11:20 a.m. EDT - Something just went zooming by. And I hear signals, so I guess it was another train.

11:21 a.m. EDT - And we're off again.

11:51 a.m. EDT - Kalamazoo. Red brick, with a red stone arch framing green doors.

12:21 - Battle Creek. The depot looks kind of like an Orange Line stop, with the protected walkway. The local flora is interesting, too. There's some kind of tree that I thought was a fern at first, because of the multiple leaves on each branch.

I've been trying to doze between stops now, but I can't quite get comfortable. Still, even resting with eyes close is better than nothing.

Eek. Just overheard that we are running 25 minutes late. That may screw up my itinerary. Damn.

12:33 - still is Battle Creek. :mad: We were supposed to get to Detroit at 2:30. I was going to immediately take the bus to the DIA, which would have given me about two hours there as it closes at five. If we have more delays I won't even get in until 3;30, which would only be an hour. I *could* go tomorrow--but it would likely mean skipping the zoo or the river tour. *sighs* Well, as long as I have an hour at the DIA I will be happy.

Wonder if the snack car has sandwiches, or just chips and sodas? Going to wait a bit longer for lunch, but starting to get hungry.

On the move now. It's 12:36 p.m. Wow, rust! It's like it's a rust yard (scrap metal, more like it).

1:26 p.m. Jackson. It's BIG. Not as big as Chicago, obviously, but much bigger than the other towns we've passed through. The depot is two stories, but it's still just by the side of the road.

And we're moving already. Wow, that was fast!

They did have sandwiches in the snack car. I got an Italian Ciabatta, a can of Mug root beer, and a Snickers bar. The price was one fifth my train ticket. Oh well--I knew it'd likely be expensive.

Still digging the local flora.

I count six stops so far. That leaves four to go. Argh.

2:05 p.m. - Coming up to Ann Arbor. Lots of water around here.

I'm glad I went to lunch before Jackson, because we were really FLEW between Jackson and Ann Arbor. I wouldn't have liked to walk about the train when it was moving that fast. Sounds like it will be another 30 minutes to Dearborn, so yeah, we will definitely be late.

Lots of sleeping folks when I went to lunch. All curled up in different positions. Heh. The best was a man who simply had his legs stretched out and his head at a title--but his daughter was laying across his lap, both of them peacefully asleep. Beautiful! I wished I could have taken a photo, but I didn't have my camera and it's kind of rude to take photos of strangers (though I HAVE done it).

I really hope we pick up more speed, so we can get into Detroit not too late. Dearborn's not going to be a quick stop, though, as a lot of folks are deboarding there. I know this because when they took our tickets, they stuck a slip of paper above us with a number written on it, which I'm assuming is the stop number. From where I'm sitting it looks like the majority of this car is getting off at Dearborn.

2:37 p.m. Coming into Dearborn. We're supposed to be in Detroit by now. I heard someone say earlier that they were expecting to get into Dearborn around 2:00, so this means we're likely about a half hour away from Detroit. Still wish it could have been sooner, but with luck I'll still get an hour and a half at the DIA.

Half the car is emptying out. Dearborn must be big, then. The depot still looks like a side-of-the-road one, though. I'm assuming Detroit will be larger, though likely not as large as Union Station.

Onto post two!
xnera: Icon of Lucius Malfoy leaving the Death Eaters to perform karaoke  (TIN ROOF!!! RUSTED!!!)
Did massive cleaning spree last night and got most of the dishes done. GO ME! My house is not as clean as I would like, but IT WILL DO. I AM NOT CLEANING ANY MORE, DAMMIT.

So, just need to clean Raina's box, make sure she has plenty of food and water, throw out a bag of garbage, take a shower, and then I am OFF TO DETROIT TO SEE



Quicky itinerary:

Today: train there, DIA, Renaissance Center, People Mover, Hotel/dinner.
Tomorrow: Zoo, Historical (if time allows), Sightseeing cruise, CONCERT!!!
Monday: WINDSOR, CANADA! Casino, parks, bridges, sculpture garden, and duty-free shopping. Then back to Detroit. Science Center, then train home.

See you all Tuesday!

oh no :(

Jul. 21st, 2005 09:12 am
xnera: Icon captioned "a woman bracing herself." (hard times)
More bombs in London :(

In other news, I think I have revised my vacation itinerary about ten times now. Hoping to get it finalized today.
xnera: Photo of my cat sniffing a vase of roses  (stop and smell the flowers)
Does anyone know if it's possible to take a bus or taxi to Windsor, CA from Detroit? I had planned on going to the Detroit Zoo and Belle Isle Park on Monday, but when I was looking at maps of Detroit I saw Canada, and it's very tempting to go over there for the day so I can say I've been there. Also, to get cherry Pez.

edit: Downtown Detroit to Windsor shuttle for $50 Kind of steep, though, but proof that there's options

edit2: WOOHOO!! TUNNEL BUS!! For about $5.00 round trip, looks like. Awesome! Now, to see what's in Windsor so I can figure out if it's worth going.
xnera: Icon of a gray kitten. Caption reads: "Warning: Vampire Kitty. Call me 'bunny' and I'll bite you." (GRR ARGH)
I'm booking my transportation and hotel for my trip to Detroit. The train ticket has been bought. Woohoo!

I wanted to try Hotwire for the hotel. I checked their website FAQs, and it said you could pay for it with a debit card. I didn't see anything about credit cards being required. But then when I selected the hotel and went to finalize payment, there was a big bold notice saying that a valid credit card is required at check-in.

*headdesks* I don't HAVE a credit card. I don't WANT a credit card. What the heck am I supposed to do? I've emailed Hotwire support asking if all hotels require credit cards, but if they come back and say "yes", well, I'll really be in trouble. I googled for hostels because I wouldn't have problems staying at one and they usually let you pay cash, but the two hits I got for Detroit weren't really hostels but rather cheap hotels that did not look inviting.

I hate this. I really, really do. I understand why the hotels require one (to protect against extra charges that may incur) but dude, not everyone has a credit card! This is so, so unfair. And it's not like there's enough time to get one, and even if there were, nobody's going to give me one. Seriously. I just tried applying for the PayPal Visa, and they said "Nope, sorry, no can do" -- which is fine by me because I don't WANT one.

edit: Went ahead and booked it with Hotwire. This is the hotel I got. I'm not as worried about them not accepting my debit card, now, because this hotel comes up when you search for hostels in Detroit, and most hostels don't require credit cards. It's definitely not a hostel, though, as you can see from the pictures on the site, and honestly, now that I see the site proper, it looks much better than it had appeared on the hosteling sites.

Plus, I checked their room rate using their website, and it said $119 a night. So I'm getting a room there for half off! Woohoo!

Work with me, hotels. Put a hold on some funds on my debit card. Require a safety deposit that will be returned at checkout. I can do that. I just can't do a credit card. Bastards.

Guess I will google for hostels again while waiting for Hotwire to get back to me.


xnera: Photo of my cat sniffing a vase of roses  (Default)

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