Tuesday, September 2, 2014

A Week Long Moving Trip

Hey everyone, well it's time for a story about one of my adventures. This time, I went on an adventure with my brother and dad to move my brother back into college. He goes to college on the farthest side of the state, 12 hours 1-way. For this reason, when he is moved in or moved out, whoever goes takes a bit of a vacation and see the sites on the way there. Last year all of us went to move him in, and then it was just my parents that went to move him out. This year, it was the guys that went.

First we started with leaving at 8AM Saturday morning. We packed the rental car the night before and all that was left was a couple of last minute things, like my travel bag.

We drove for 4 and a half hours and took about an hour lunch break. We had Burger King. After eating, we went to a local outdoor and sporting goods store that was right there, because Dad needed more of a break than the 20 minutes it took for us to eat and we just wanted to check it out. It was a pretty nice outdoor and sporting goods store. They had a lot of camping and hunting stuff. I'm not a big fan of camping and outdoor sports, but I appreciate a nice boom stick and accessories. We enjoyed looking around and just gazing at the fire arms.

One point of mention is the convenience store/gas station we stopped at out in nowhere. We just had to use the bathroom, get gas, and maybe some snacks. My brother and I both got a party bag of chips for snacking on the way there. Well the place was selling live bait, and not some little tubs of worms that are stored in a refrigerator, I mean minnows. They had this big tank in the back with nets to scoop out your minnows. As a city boy, this was a little different for me. Here's a picture.

After 3 more hours of driving, we got to our motel. As a small motel out in the middle of nowhere, it had a lot of character. Check out the pictures.

The room was quite small, like 12 foot by 12 foot. The bathroom was also really small.
Like there was only 3 inches of clearance between the ceiling and my head. Check it out

For dinner, we went out to this restaurant called "The Dog Patch." Apparently it's based off an old comic strip that I've never heard of. It was recommend to us by my uncle. Unlike the motel, this place had theme. Everything was hillbilly themed, because that's what it was like in the comic apparently. The menu was quite hard to read. I had to go over it like 4 times just to figure out what the hell it was trying to say. It was quite confusing. I eventually decided to get a burger I think. It was called something really crazy, like "Ma Strader's famous budiddle." I get that it's theme and what not, but when your customer has to read the menu 4 times to figure out what is being said and you have to send the waitress away not "because you need more time to figure out what you want," but "because you are still trying to figure out what the menu is saying," that's a little much. It was still pretty good.

The place we were staying was once an iron mining town, with a lot of water falls. We went to a small iron mining museum that is run by the DNR. It was pretty cool. Unfortunately we didn't take any pictures. Since my family has a little back yard forge and do some occasional blacksmithing stuff, I enjoyed it. After the museum, we went to some water falls and a cove. After seeing Niagara Falls, all other falls are a little lack luster, but it was still cool to see them. The cove as also really cool. The look out point was like 200 feet above the water. We looked at the water and saw a little cave at the base. We made jokes about going caving. It was low tide, and if it was high tide you couldn't see it because it would be under water. If you went caving without scuba gear, you'd likely die. Here are some pictures.

I threw a rock off the look out point, I lost track of it because it was such a drop.

After doing some exploring, we went to a small grocery store and bought bread, pop tarts, mountain dew, beer, and wine. We called it "the breakfast of champions." When we got back to the motel, we just hung out and watched 60s Batman with Adam West, and then some every Simpsons ever on FXX. That was fun to find.

After that night, we packed up and left around 8 again. We traveled for about 2 hours before we met up with my aunt, uncle, and PepperBC while they were moving PepperBC in at her college. My brother and PepperBC don't go to the same college, but they are about 20 minutes apart from each other. We helped get my aunt and uncle out of their motel room. Their motel had some good character as well. They had a nice lake view and a deck that over looked the lake. After helping them check out, we went out to late breakfast (lunch basically) with them. It was a nice little diner restaurant. I had pancakes. After late breakfast, we said our goodbyes and continued our journey up to my brother's college.

After a couple more hours of driving, we got to the hotel and began to check in. After taking a breather at the hotel (watching Simpsons and surfing the web), we went out to some sites that my dad used to go to as a kid and an old copper mine. The copper mine was really cool. We go into the gift shop and ticket purchase and what I notice first is that the lady running the register is holding a skunk and petting it like a cat. She had another one running around behind the register. My brother said "that's a cool ferret," and she said "oh he's not a ferret, he's a skunk. They're like cats but more social." According to her they make good pets. We had to watch a safety video and a video about a dive exploration that looked into the tunnels of the mine that are under water.

This mine was really cool. We had to walk down 100 steps into the mine and looked at all the cool things. We had to wear hard hats because parts of the mine ceiling would erode and fall onto the people. Nothing big, just the small rocks you would find on the path. At least that's my assumption, because if there was anything significant like a cave in, you'd be dead. They had signs that pointed out some things that were used in the mine. One thing they pointed out was a vein of copper. At one point in the mine, they had it lit with the same amount of light that the miners had. It wasn't easy to see a lot of things with the low light, but a cool experience. Then my brother had his flash light so we would use that to see things better if we wanted to. Really cool place. I didn't get a ton of pictures because it was bad picture conditions and all we had was a point and shoot, but I did get some

After the mine, we saw some ruins of the old mining establishment. It's quite amazing to see all that nature took back. It's only like 100 years old. I got some really good pictures of that.

That was the end of the mine trip.

After the mine, we went to check out the places my dad went as a kid. We went to the top of a mountain, or like the highest place in that part of the state. It was so windy. They had a big hanging sign that I'm guessing weighed like 100 or more pounds, and it was blowing in the wind. Dad and I made sure we took off our hats because they would surely blow off. My vest almost blew off. I was ready to fly off with my cape like in Super Mario World. After the mountain, we went to the end of a major high way that goes from one end of the United States to the other. That was pretty cool. We got a picture with it. After that, we drove around some more to see nature and stuff.

After seeing nature, we hit up a gas station. We were almost out of gas. Dad saw the tank before we left and thought it would be enough for us to get up the mountain and back down. Well it was barely enough. I have a feeling he was just riding gravity at some points of the way down. I bet he was also expecting to hit a gas station while we were heading back, but we just hit a whole lot of nothing. We were like 1/16th full when we found a gas station. Crazy. After getting some gas we went to dinner at Applebees's. When the waitress asked if we wanted anything to drink, Dad said "oh yeah, get me a beer." Not much else happened that night. We just hung out and watched more Simpsons.

Well it's day 3. This day is when we moved my brother into his dorm. We woke up at 8AM and had free hotel breakfast. We went over to his dorm and started moving his things in. Well, actually we pull into the parking lot and all his friends come out to help him move in. They start saying "hey [VikingPollock], how have you been, give us stuff to steal..I mean help move in." Yeah fun stuff. It took us like 2 hours to move in. Everything got up in 2 trips, and then unloading was really easy without "mom help."

After moving in, we made a trip to Wal-Mart because my brother forgot some things. One of his friends decided to tag along. I looked for my cargo jeans, but they didn't have them. I did find a couple of PS2 games, and you can read the full story at Bitlanders, because if I went into detail on that, this blog would be significantly longer. After Wal-Mart, we went to lunch with all my brother's friends. His friends have many similar traits to my friends. I know people just like his friends.

After lunch we kind of went our separate ways, brother with his friends and Dad and I out to explore. We looked around some places to see if we could find a place for my brother and his friends to go camping, because they like to do that. We found a lot of private property no trespassing. We also found a whole lot of nothing. We went down this one road and there were literally no buildings off the road for 16 miles. And I mean real "literally," not teen white girl "literally." We saw a couple of unmarked streets which we assume to be drive ways to some far back house, but nothing. We eventually found this city called "Gay." That's right, the city was called "Gay." There was a bar called "Gay Bar in Gay." We have a picture of it.
That bar was kind of the only thing there. They didn't even have a general store from what we saw.

After leaving Gay, we decided to see if we could get some lake views, but we just kept getting trees. We went down this one road to see if we could reach a lake view. Dad said "this is either going to dead end or we're gonna get some lake." Well we stumbled upon a coast guard station. There was a big fence with razor wire and a sign that said "Coast Guard. Keep Out. Trespassers will be federally prosecuted." OK we're turning around. We then found some garage/antique sales. I was hoping to maybe find some inventory for ebay or maybe just something for me. Unfortunately not. It was all basement antiques, really old but really common and not worth much. After that we headed back to the hotel.

Close to the hotel, there's this videogame store. They have everything from NES to modern. I looked at the PS2 selection, but everything was retail price. The PS2 is still relatively new enough that people don't consider it retro and I can get them really cheap. Also I'm not at the point where I'm looking at select games, just a bunch of games. It'll be a little while till I have to buy separately. I got 3 N64 games; Army Men Sarge's Heroes, South Park, and Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six. If it wasn't for the buy 2 get 1 free promotion, I would have overpaid according to price charting, but price charting doesn't consider shipping so it's about accurate. We went out to dinner with my brother. We had pizza and garlic toast. After dinner we dropped my brother off and said our good buys. We were going to see him the day after, but we knew he was going to be up all night with his friends and we wouldn't see him the next day. It was a nice goodbye. We then went back to the hotel and just hung out.

Well it's day 4, and we found a bag of my brother's dirty clothes in the van before we left, even though we ask him if this was everything before we said our goodbyes. We packed up everything in our hotel room and checked out. We went over to his dorm and I ran the bag up to him and just left it on his door, because it's 8AM and he's not up. After that we left and went on our way back home. We passed a lot of things we saw on our way there. We were going to see some museums that my uncle suggested we see since they were so close to the motel we would be staying in that night.

After many hours of driving, we get to the motel. Like the one from before, this one also had a lot of character. It had 2 rooms, a bathroom, and a kitchennet. What I really enjoyed was that the owners of the hotel had to go out and just left our room open and said "went out, you're in room 1." I have a picture.

Dad took the room that was closest to the bathroom and I took the one that had the TV.

After unloading, we went to the museums. We went to a boat museum. It was pretty cool. Lots of old boats and other nautical things. Just check out the pictures.

The other museum was basically the city historical museum, which is fancy talk for "here's some cool old things from back when the city was founded till now." It was cool to see all the old stuff, but nothing super impressive.

After the museums, we explored the town. They didn't have much of anything. We did find an endangered species. I got my picture with it.

Yeah I found a pay phone and phone booth. That was cool. We found a little general store close to the phone booth. We picked up more pop tarts. Other than this phone booth, there wasn't anything to really write a blog about, so that's when we went back to the motel.

Once we were back at the motel, we officially checked in. The people that ran the motel lived above the main office and were in the back in their garage. The dog ran over and greeted us. We just hung out for a couple hours, watching storage wars for a couple hours (they didn't have FXX so no Simpsons) and me checking the internet. Unfortunately for me, there was only 1 outlet that was 3 prong. There were plenty of other outlets, but they were all 2 prong and my laptop charger is 3 prong. Surprisingly the air conditioner used a 2 prong, and all the air conditioners I know use 3 prong.

We went to dinner after a couple hours of storage wars. We went to this little family owned restaurant. Apparently it was a "please seat yourself" place, but we didn't see any sign that said "please seat yourself," so we assumed it was a "please wait to be seated" place. We're standing by the front door and waiting to be seated. Then one of the local customers tells us that it's a "please seat yourself" place. We sat ourselves and ordered our food. We both had the french dip, roast beef and mozzarella cheese on a sub bun with au jus dipping sauce. We shared a side of french fries just for some more food. After eating we headed back to the motel.

But before we went to the motel, we went to a gas station so dad could get a caffeinated coke for the morning. We went in and they had coffee, so we didn't need the coke. I looked around a little bit, because as with every gas station I go to in the middle of nowhere, there's always more to the gas station than just gas and a slightly smaller 7-Eleven convenience store. This one was a pretty big convenience store, gift shop, and video and game rental. I checked to see if there were some sales on videogames or movies. Unfortunately not, but they had VHS tapes for sale, which I thought was funny.

After the gas station, we headed back to the motel. We watched some Big Bang Theory and Storage Wars. We wanted to get back home at a reasonable hour so we decided to leave as soon as we woke up. Dad went to sleep around 9PM, and I was thinking about going to bed around that time as well, but then I decided to stay up a little later and watch some youtube videos. I fell asleep watching youtube videos around 10. When I saw all the lights were still on, I thought it was morning. Then I looked at the clock and saw it was 1AM. I passed out on my bed.

I woke up around 7AM and we left soon after that. I told Dad about passing out watching youtube. We drove home and made great time. That pretty much sums up the trip. 5 days, 1500 miles. If you'd like to see the pictures I wasn't able to include in this blog, check out the myspace album. Well this has been Pokematic signing off and bu-bye.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Happy 80th Birthday Grandma

Wow, this weekend was super fun. So my grandma turned 80 this past weekend. I'm just finishing up from the fun festivities. If you want the short, it was great. All my relatives on her side from all over the country came to our neighborhood, and we live in the USA, and people are from EVERYWHERE. I got off work for 4 days so I could enjoy it all. Now I think I'll get to the details.

I normally work on Fridays. I was able to get Friday off and enjoy the big pre-birthday dinner with everyone. My great aunt and uncle (grandma's brother and sister), 2 of my aunts, and their kids tan-man and MMT. My one aunt is my mom's sister, the one with tan-man and my other aunt is my mom's cousin with MMT. They were there when I got there. I haven't seen tan-man in years. He used to live relatively close to my family, but then he moved away like 10 years ago, across the country. I haven't seen him in 5 years. When I asked "so how have you been?" he gave the normal "I've been good, got my first year of college done." Then I said "yeah, but what about since the last time I saw you?" He chuckled and was all "well lets see, I graduated high school, I decided on what college to attend," and other things that happened since the last time I saw him. I told him how I took the NES home since it kind of was my grandparents for us to play with as kids, but it wasn't working anymore. I told him "yeah, the 72 pin connector is shot, we were rough with it as kids." I saw MMT 2 summers ago so it wasn't such a big deal, but it was still fun to catch up.

After awhile my other aunt and her daughter showed up, and both of these relatives are geeks like me. It was so fun to see peperBC (my cousin) again. We talked about geeky stuff like Dr Who, Monty Python, and Pokemon. I also asked her how her first year of college went, but since we live in the same state (just kind of on opposite sides), I see her a little more often than my other cousins, so there wasn't much catching up to do. Mainly what we did was make plans for what we would do together if we got away from the group. The big thing was this comic book/video game/all around geek store that's right by my house. We never got that far, but we did have fun planning. She's a little quiet, so I kind of did most of the planning. Another big thing was I wanted for peperBC and her mom to listen to Pac-Man Fever with me. Why? Because it's wonderfully 80s and is about classic arcade games, something all 3 of us really enjoy.

The dinner was fun. I got to talk to my aunts and uncles that I haven't seen in years. One thing about my family is that we get really silly. Like you would think that we had a lot to drink silly, but we we could all pass a sobriety test. We went out to the little park right by my grandparents house and took some pictures that were reminiscent of our youths. And if you think I'm talking about my cousins and I, no. We did that yes, but not to the extent that my mom and aunts did. We looked super serious compared to them. Like one of the things they did was all slide down the slide and not get off so that everyone was right up against each other. One of them yelled "straddle me!" Yeah. That's my family everyone.

This wasn't even everyone. In my generation, we were missing turtle girl, and my mom's generation was missing one more of my aunts and my one uncle. Funny thing with my family tree; my grandma had 2 daughters, my great aunt had 3 daughters and 1 son. When they all got together, and when they still get together, all the girls get really crazy and silly, and my uncle just kind of sits on the side line. Now he has some of my uncles to talk about how crazy their wives are, but he still is like "I'd rather sit this one out." Well if I didn't have my brother and tan-man, or if peperBC wasn't a geek as well, I'd feel the same way, because we're all very much like our mom's and aunts when we get together; and then my one male cousins who's MMT's brother and didn't come, well he's kind of like my uncle since he's normally left with MMT and turtle girl alone. But yeah, it's all good. We had our fun and then came back to "my" house for the sleepover. My grandparents and my family unit are the only ones that are local to the party, and with our house being funner, all the young cousins stayed at my house. We watched National Lampoon's Vacation and then went to bed.

Saturday was basically a day for us to do what we wanted. We didn't have any party or set-up so us young people were left on our own. All of us went to 2 of our "local" malls. One of them is a very upscale place with a lot of the high end and expensive stores. Also, a lot of clothing and accessory stores. They got rid of all the toy stores, electronic stores, video game stores, and the other fun stuff. They do have a microsoft store and a somewhat novelty electronics store with things like massage chairs and pocket video projectors, but not like anything super fun.

However, the main reason for us going to the upscale mall is because they have Build A Bear. When we were little, my grandma loved taking us to build a bear. We made her a bear with our voices in it, and we would get different outfits for it for all different occasions. Fast forward 10 years, and she still likes it. We don't do it as often, but we still get her a bear outfit for occasions, and since my grandpa accidentally threw out her entire bear's wardrobe, we've been slowly building it back up. Well all 6 of us went to build a bear and made her a birthday bear. We tried using their new voice station thing were it's out in the middle of the store and you talk into the background noise canceling microphone. Unfortunately since tan-man, my brother, and I all have deep manly voices, the machine thought we were background noise and it came out all muffled. The girls voices were fine, but ours weren't. One of the employees got us the old version voice box, took us to the back room, and let us record it there. We did and it turned out great. We picked out the bear and had it stuffed. This was a sight; when you stuff the bear they have the little kids get one of the little stuffed hearts and rub it on different parts of their body so the bear has different attributes; like "rub it on your forehead so the bear has all the wonderful memories." All 6 of us are between 18 and 21 year old young adults, my brother and I have pretty full beards, and we're doing this routine. Rub on our cheeks for smiles, rub on your tummy so never hungry, rub on your muscles so it's strong, etc. After that we did the "wash the bear" station, which is toy brushes and a smart screen that projects an image of a bath. Yeah. We then look through all the clothes to get a good outfit. We chose a summer look. We set up the birth certificate and got the bear ready. Quite fun actually.

After going to the upscale mall, we went to a more low key mall. This one has a lot more fun stores. It has gamestop, FYE, an arcade, hot topic, and the Sears where my grandma used to take my brother, tan-man, and I to get our photo taken. Thankfully for us, Sears Portrait Studio is no more. The 3 of us went to the place where the portrait studio once was, peered in and laughed. The girls didn't come with us, because they never had to endure "birthday pictures," "Christmas pictures," "Halloween pictures," "Easter pictures," "end of the school year pictures," "beginning of the school year pictures," "groundhog day pictures," "we haven't had your picture taken in 2 weeks pictures," etc. After laughing at the demise of the weekly torture station, we went to the food court and had Panda Express. I had beef and broccoli. I also had a taco from taco bell. After lunch, pepperBC, tan man, my brother, and I went to FYE. PepperBC and I looked at the anime and Doctor Who stuff. Tan man and my brother looked at all the movies, music, and TV shows. After FYE, pepperBC and I went to the arcade and had fun playing some arcade games. We tried the DDR clone, and we accidentally set the difficulty to high. We failed missurably. After failing at DDR, we played some pinball. Man I love pinball. Once I get my own place, I'm getting a pinball table. After pinball, everyone was ready to leave. We went back to my house.

Once we got to my house, my great uncle, his wife (Aunt C), and my grandparents wanted to go to the hardcore pawn shop. My great uncle and Aunt C love Hardcore Pawn, and since it's less than an hour drive away, they wanted to see it. I've been there before, so I knew what to expect. I took them down there, and as we pulled into the parking lot, we saw Les Gold making a deal on a classic Cadillac. We stood there and watched for a couple of minutes. Aunt C is exclaiming "THAT'S HIM! THAT'S LES!" She was really impressed. I walk them up to the front door and she's star struck. She sees the front door and is like "that's the front door." We walk in and she sees the loan window; "that's the loan window." We walk onto the showroom and there's Seth Gold. "That's him, that's the Son." She walks over to the small merchandise sections and picks out a Hardcore Pawn t-shirt and mug. My great uncle got a matching shirt. By that time, Les and Seth are right there. They welcome may relatives and shake their hand, except for Aunt C and Les, she gave him a hug and said "I watch your show all the time, this is so cool." They hadn't completed the shirts and mug transaction yet; all together the 2 shirts and mug would normally cost $75, but Les saw how happy she was to see them so he gave her a deal, $50 for everything. He and Seth also autographed everything. That made their trip.

After getting the t-shirts and mugs, they wandered around the shop floor. It's not a huge place, I was able to see them no matter where I was in the store. My grandma wanted to get me something for my birthday, and I saw a couple of PS2 games. I asked how much and the employee said $5 each. These were like madden titles and other games that aren't worth $5 used, new maybe, but not used. She was like "[Pokematic] let's get them," I calmly say no, "why not $5 isn't much, $5 is reasonable," bear in mind, she's saying this rather loudly, not screaming, but loud enough. I whisper to her "those games aren't worth $5 each," to which she loudly exclaims "they aren't worth $5!" I'm hushing her telling her to not make a scene and just drop it. She does. I look around some more. They have a pinball table. See some other things. Well then my grandpa notices the fur coats. My grandma has a fur coat she wants to sell because she never wears it and never really did wear it. He's like "[Pokematic] why don't you bring the coat down here?" I calmly tell him no. He says "why not I'm sure they'd give you a deal." My grandma gets in on it and says "yeah, just sell it to them." I whisper to them "I'll get more if I sell it myself." Like before, "you'll get more if you sell it yourself!" they exclaim. Shhhhhhh, not so loud. "I guess you would get more if you sold it yourself! But we don't care so long as you get some good money for it!" they exclaim. "shhhhh just drop it. Don't talk about it." Really, I was worried we were going to get kicked out because they don't comprehend that you can't openly "badmouth" a place of business at the place of business. Oh well, we were fine. They really enjoyed seeing a place they see on TV all the time.

That was basically it for Saturday. All my cousins and brother went to put put while I took my older relatives to American Jewelry and Loan. All us young ones watched Frozen. It was fun.

Now is the main event. Grandma's birthday party. We all woke up relatively early to get ready.We set up all the tables and food areas. We got the living room ready for the photo studio, and we made sure everything was all set. Then the people started arriving. My aunt, mom of tan man, and her friend the photographer showed up first. The first picture we took was a recreation of a picture we took the last time everyone was together back when we were REALLY little, like 12 years ago. That was fun. Then my grandparents and her siblings showed up. More pictures. Eventually everyone made it and we had fun. Lots of normal party things happened. I talked with people whom I haven't seen in a while. I had snacks. Eventually it came time for my grandma to open her presents. She did that. We then ate dinner. After dinner, my grandma's friend that plays the accordion played her accordion. Always a fun time. We then did a little celebration for my grandpa because his birthday is on Christmas and he always feel like he misses out on something. Since everyone was there, we had a little celebration for him as well. What a day. After the party we began taking things down. Just so much.

Now for the last and final day of the festivities. My grandparents and other relatives enjoy going to Frankenmuth, a very German city in Michigan. If you like chicken, the Bavarian Inn and Zender's in Frankenmuth has some of the best chicken so I'm told. I don't like chicken, so I wouldn't know. Both restaurants also own 1 hotel each; the Bavarian Inn Lodge and Zender's Splash Village. My grandparents used to take my brother and I to those hotels at least twice a year. Splash Village is mostly an indoor water park with a small arcade. The Bavarian Inn Lodge has a giant arcade, 4 different pools, a mini-golf course, and a little indoor playground thing with some free bar games. Memories aside, we first went to this place called the River Place shops. They have a bunch of different shops and boutiques. They used to have a huge and awesome arcade with this nerf ball fun place thing, but then they replaced it with a clothing store and moved the arcade to a different building, significantly downsizing it. They no longer had pinball, DDR, or any classic arcade games. Oh well. We went to this fudge shop and I bought a half pound peanut butter cup. This thing was massive, check out the picture.

We went to a bunch of other shops. There was one place that was kind of a nerd and immature humor store; like I saw some videogame joke t-shirts and Obama condoms. Anyway, the piece de resistance was when I heard the original version of "What's Up" on their radio thing. Not the techno version He-Man sang, the original. I had to use everything in my power to not break down laughing.
This one. Though it would have been very funny to hear the techno He-Man version.

4 Non Blondes | What's Up by phatt n00b
All 6 young people generally stayed together, but then pepperBC and I got separated from everyone else for a little while. We went to some other stores. They now have this hall of mirrors, and an all day pass is $7. If we had more time to just do our thing, that would have probably been fun. The guy let us look in to see it, but we didn't have the kind of time to spend in a hall of mirrors. Oh well.

After the River Place, we went to the Bavarian Inn. They have more than just the restaurant. In the basement, they have the Castle Shops. We went into one shop with some fancy things. They had these clocks that like, dance, when they strike an hour. They were really cool. They also have a candy store, a store with some novelty souvenirs, a toy store, and a wine store. We spent some time in the novelty souvenirs and toy store. My brother and I played checkers. I won. After playing around, it was time for dinner. Almost everyone had family style chicken dinner, except for me, pepperBC, and her mom. I had the rib dinner and they had like the chicken finger lunch. Now the Bavarian Inn has some of the best chicken noodle soup ever. I don't like having vegetables and chicken bits in my chicken noodle soup, only broth and noodles. They do it only broth and noodles, and the combination of seasoning and whatever they use is incredible. I think I had 3 cups of it. Thankfully it's unlimited. The ribs were good.

But now it's time for my favorite part of Frankenmuth, the Glockenspiel at the Bavarian Inn. They have a glockenspiel that "plays" a song on the bells. It has all these bells, but it plays a recording over a loud speaker, no real bell ringing happens. But that's not the best part. The best part is the story of the Pied Piper of Hamelin as acted out by these statues that were made in Germany. When I was a little kid, I loved it. My grandparents took me to every showing, because I wanted to see every showing. They were sick of it. To this day I still know the entire story. Watch it here.

I wasn't about to watch it by myself though. No, I took all the young people out to watch it. My brother and tan-man saw it when they went to Frankenmuth with my grandparents, but MMT, turtle girl, and pepperBC only saw it once and they didn't really remember it. Me, I get excited every time. I'm really hyping it up. The pre-show bell song went on much longer than I remembered it. I kept saying "and now it's going to start" every time there was a pause, but the bells kept ringing. Then it finally started. Afterwards, I was happy. My brother remembered it, and he sees it every time just because it's a staple of our Frankenmuth trips and it wouldn't be the same without seeing it. Tan-man hasn't seen it in years, and he told me afterwards "I don't remember it being so dark." Yeah, you kind of don't realize that the piper stole the town's children as revenge when you're little. As for the girls,  well they were kind of "well, OK. I guess that was cool." Mom reminded me, "there's a bit of a difference between first seeing it when you're 4 and watching it every time you're in Frankenmuth since, and first seeing it when you're 18" (the age the girls are). Though here's something I learned. I always knew they told the story in German afterwards, but I didn't know they did the whole statue thing again. My grandparents always told me that they just said the story. For 15 years I've been believing a "we want to do something else" white lie. Oh well.

After dinner, we all went to Broners, the worlds largest Christmas store. It is, the largest, Christmas store, in the world. Everywhere you look, Christmas. They have ornaments for everything. Well, everything family friendly. But yeah. They're also very Christian and good at keeping the Christ in Christmas. That's really good. Tan man, my brother, and I hung out and wandered around the store. We saw all they had, they even had things for Halloween, Easter, St. Patric's day, and Valentines day. We looked at the Halloween stuff and started singing "what's this" from The Nightmare Before Christmas. Yeah. We got kind of board after an hour, since it is a bit of a boring store if you aren't everything Christmas. I remember them having a larger toy section, but now it's just a little corner in the store. We fell asleep at the end of the store. It was funny. Now it was about time to go home. Some of my relatives left that night, others left the next day. MMT and her mom were the only ones left at my house that night. Oh well. Still good fun.

Such a fun time. I look forward to the next happy gathering of all my relatives, because we're a fun bunch. I wanted to see if mbinski was able to come over because the last time MMT and pepperBC were at my house for something, MMT wanted to have a party with my friends, and mbinski was the only one who was able to make it on such short notice, and since then the running gag is that we want to have him over, because he fits right in with how crazy my family gets when we get together. When my mom and aunts dropped him off when he had fun with us, he told them he lives by the lions at the zoo, so his name amongst my family is "[mbinski] who lives by the lions." Well this has been pokematic signing off and bu-bye.

PS: I started writing this blog post the last night everyone was here because my sleep schedule is all screwed up due to the hours I work at my job. I got up to the end of the build a bear section, then went to bed thinking I'd finish it in the following days. I finished it 2 weeks after the event, but things were still vivid enough to remember. I would post some of the pictures of my family, but that would require asking them for permission, and I don't want to deal with that.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Merry Christmas 2013, and the rest of winter break

Merry Knishmas everyone. That's a Chowder reference if you don't know. It was their version of Christmas. As for my version of Christmas, it was great, like always. I saw friends, family, exchanged gifts, made a very special gift for my parents, and so much else.

So I guess I'll start out with the Pre-Christmas stuff. About a week before the end of the semester, I ordered an OUYA on eBay. It was the kickstarter edition and still had all the plastic on it. Since I couldn't be sure it made it to my dorm on time, I shipped it to my house. It was waiting for me when I got back. I really love it. One day Happy Gamer will do a review of it. I told ZeldaMaster93 and the rest of my friends on google plus and ZM93  game me a hard time about it since all the reviews he's read have been negative I guess. When we hung out, I brought it over and we played it. He's still not sold on it, but I still love it. We hung out and that was fun. We watched Akira on Funimation.com. We were going to watch his recording off of Toonami, but since he screwed up the recording, he didn't get the first hour, so we watched it on Funimation.com. We had trouble with Chrom loading flash, so I told him to get Opera. Opera worked perfectly, as expected. Great movie. We really liked it.

So what is this very special gift I got my parents? Well my parents and grand parents, like many of the 80s, 90s, and early 2000s, recorded almost everything we did on video tape. My grandparents got a camera that recorded on standard VHS because, as my grandpa said to the store clerk, "I want a camera where all I do is put the tape into the VCR." When we got older, my grandpa bought another video camera because they also have my cousin that needs to be recorded but since EVERYTHING we did was no longer together, my aunt needed a camera as well. He bought a camera that used Hi-8, and since my dad already had extra VCRs for making back-up tapes, we took the Hi-8 camera and my aunt took the VHS camera. We have 36 or so home movies on VHS tapes and I don't know how many Hi-8 tapes. I haven't dug out the Hi-8 tapes. Anyways, last summer we bought an Elgato composite capture card and I was going to convert all our tapes to digital. Unfortunately, the bed bugs prevented me from doing that. I spent a couple days unpacking stuff from the basement trying to find the tapes. After unpacking my vinyl records, penny collection, computer accessory bag, pokemon cards, and lots of other things, I eventually found the tapes. I set-up the converting station in our computer room, complete with our high quality VCR, 2 VHS rewinders, and other computer for surfing the web while the tapes play in real time. I was able to get through 5 or 6 tapes. My parents are happy that I was able to get at least some of them done. Plus they never use that room and it's quite out of the way of guests so they don't care that it's rather messy in there.

Now for the Christmas festivities. We always exchange gifts with them either on Christmas Eve or the 26th. This year it was Eve. As has been tradition since we were little and believed in Santa, we went to the local McDonalds "while Santa put out the presents." Apparently McDonalds was doing an "XBOX ONE and many other XBOX prizes give away instant win peel off" game. I ordered food that would maximize the number of pieces I would get. I ended up getting 2 XBOX 360 XBOX LIVE games; The MAW and Ms Splosion Man. Yay. After eating we went back to their house and exchanged gifts. They bought me my TV for my room so I didn't get much from them. We gave them gift cards to their favorite restaurants, like cracker barrel and red lobster. We put them in Blu-Ray and DVD cases just for fun and unwrapping. It was a nice time. We visited and the like. Really good time. Fast forward a couple of hours, it's now 8 PM and it's time for 24 hours of A Christmas Story and my annual tradition of watching it until it's been 24 hours or I get sick of it. Like most years, it was "24 hours passed."

Well it's Christmas morning. I watch A Christmas Story before my parents told me to go wake up my brother. He slept a lot. It reminded me of my first college winter break. Just like how he woke me up 2 years ago, I woke him up saying "I am Krampus, you have been naughty, I will whip you." I'm not going to spend the time explaining who Krampus is. Basically if you were naughty, instead of Santa giving you coal, Krampus would whip you with a switch. Anyways, we wake him up, he gets his coffee and showers, and now it's time to exchange. I open up the stuff I got on Black Friday; DKCR3D, Animal Crossing: New Leaf, Ratchet & Clank Collection, Batman: Arkham City, The Internship, a PSN 20 dollar gift card, and various different candy. Sorry I don't have the camera when writing this so I can't show the picture. I can show you this one though.
This is our hamster Swiffer. We wanted to have him involved in the Christmas festivities. We set-up our little fluffy nativity that my brother and I played with when we were little and wanted to get a picture of our hamster in it. Look at him looking at Jesus. Moments later, we had to tell him not to eat Jesus. Didn't you know that there were giant hamsters back in biblical times?

Well our family of 4 Christmas festivities are done. My brother and I played our games. Well fast forward a couple of hours and it's time for the big family dinner. Instead of being at our house, it was at my grandparent's friend's house, the same one that plays the accordion. What was fun is my nerdy cousin and aunt came as normal. We worked at setting up the host's smart TV, and we successfully did. There aren't many apps that he would use, but now he can if he chooses to. Dinner was good. What was a really nice surprise is that my Uncle whom I haven't seen or talked to in 11 years called. Since his parents are my grandparents friends, the hosts, it made sense that he would call and wish them a Merry Christmas. It was great talking to him again.

Now since the OUYA is really small and all the parts fit nicely in my little cooler bag, I brought it to show my other nerdy relatives and maybe play it. I was able to hook it up to the TV and we played the couple of games I had on it. They have a NES so they know videogames. They enjoyed seeing it and playing it.

Now is when the Christmas blog tends to end, but not this time. Since we haven't seen my other grandparents in a long time, we spent I guess "2nd Christmas" with them. We went to see them the weekend after Christmas. It was really nice seeing them. We talked, exchanged a couple gifts, grandma gave me a tour of the valuable collectables, and just enjoyed each others company. They got me a really nice Coleman bag. It fits so much more stuff than my cooler bag. They also gave me ties and socks. They have a 1 show movie theater by their house and they were showing Frozen. I should review it. It's AMAZING. After seeing them, we stopped at my Aunt's house since she's halfway between us and them. She gave us gum, really good gum, and axe soap. It was fun seeing her.

Well that's it for Christmas. Now just for the other fun things I did during break. I'll start with New Years. New Years was really tame. Normally one of our camping friends hosts a New Years Party. This year one family hosted a little get together on the 29th. I told them that they're having the party 2 days early. That was fun. Back to New Years. I rented The Tuxedo and It's Kind of a Funny Story. After I watched my movies, it was time to watch the ball drop. I watched it with my parents, then they went to sleep. I stayed up a couple more hours.

One really fun thing we did was we went to see my nerdy relatives at their house. It was past new years so no gift exchanging. Since they have a working NES, and I still need to replace the 72 pin connector on mine, I brought my copy of Action 52. I told them I never tested it, and my mom gave me a hard time for spending $200 on 1 game that I didn't know if it worked or not. I told them it'd be awesome if it ended up being Cheetahmen 2. It was Action 52 and it worked. We played a couple of the games. Many of them suck, but some are good and it's a piece of videogame history. However, before playing, we went to my uncle's shop to see where he works. It's really cool. After playing Action 52, we played "Wits End," old people vs young people. Young people lost, oh well.

OK, so what else was there that happened this break? Well I saw mskate. She's doing really well. She showed me her blog, I showed her my blogs, we hung out and talked. Really good time. Another thing I did was I went to target and got some after Christmas stuff on sale. I got many bags of chocolate coins and all the cookies and cream Hershey bars they had left. All 6 of them. They were all broken, but they were 30% off. I also got ZeldaMaster93 a gift card since that's what we agreed on for a gift every year. I got him a happy birthday gift card, and it's a joke since his birthday is in July. He gets me an Amazon gift card. When I gave it to him, he gave me his "Really? REALLY? You're an idiot look." I also hung out with mbinski and we played with the OUYA. Since he's a computer guy and general nerd, he enjoyed playing with this open sourced android console. That was really fun.

So this was my Christmas vacation. It was really fun. Well this has been Pokematic signing out and bu-bye.