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Mackinaw Honeymoon: Ambushed by Eagles

During the rest of our trip, we visited other historical parks around Mackinaw City because we love them.  One of them (Mill Park) had a zip line and a reconstruction of the area's first water-powered saw mill.  Darwin couldn't bring himself to do the zip line, so he waited while I did, and here we ran into one of the problems of visiting a history park--The Lecture.

The Lecture comes whenever you visit an event at a history park.  First you get the call.  "Come see how the sawmill works!"  "Demonstration of the blacksmith in five minutes!"  "Firing of the cannon!  Come see the firing of the cannon!"  So you go, hoping to see something cool or educational or both, but when you arrive, you first get The Lecture.  Someone, usually a morbidly obese man in bad period dress, stands up in front of the crowd and gives an achlingly long lecture about whatever it is.

"Now this is a Bindlefuddle rifle. It was made in 1762 in the Bindlefuddle factory in Gricklecrabbingsmere, and only two of them were actually ever made because they were the least accurate rifles in all history.  We have them here because I'm the only expert in Bindlefuddle rifles in the world.  Isn't that great?  How about some applause?  Thank you!  To load a Bindlefuddle takes some practice.  First you use a klackermacker rod to clear out the snicksnacks inside the barrel. You have to ram the rod exactly eighteen times, and it takes forty-seven minutes to do it right.  We're going to do it right.  I want you to count with me. Ready?  Are you ready?  Is everyone ready?  Can you count to eighteen?  You sir--can you count to eighteen?"

"No," I say.  "I just want you to fire the fucking rifle."

At which point, an embarrassed Darwin drags me away.

I've learned over the years that whenever someone announces, "Flower folding demonstration in five minutes!" you can actually show up in thirty minutes to see the good stuff.

However, I got caught off my game during the zip line at Mill Park. A group of us donned the safety gear and dorky helmets.  (What, exactly, is the dorky helmet going to protect me from?  If all eighteen thousand things fail and I fall off the zip line, my head is the LAST thing that will hit the ground.  Not only that, this zip line was running OVER WATER.  Why was I not wearing a life jacket instead?)  Looking like Martians from a 1950s TV show, we dutifully trooped up the hill after the guide lady to the zip line.

She kept stopping along the way.  "Here we have an oak tree.  It's a really big oak tree.  Sure is huge.  Nice and tall.  Okay, let's keep going."  So we kept going.  "Here's some poison ivy.  Don't touch the poison ivy.  See that two-story sign that identifies it as poison ivy and warns you not to touch it?"

"Yes," I said.  "We all saw it on the way in.  We do know how to read."

"Leaves of--"

"Three, leave it be," I finished.  "We're from Michigan.  We know the rhyme.  Zip line?"

A little miffed, she lead us further along, then abruptly stopped.  "Now here we have some good news and bad news," she said in an exaggerated schoolteacher tone that I disliked immensely.  "The good news is the park has two special residents.  Can anyone guess what those residents are?"

"A pair of bald eagles," I said, pointing to a sign behind her that proclaimed this was a bald eagle habitat.

"That's right!" she gushed.  "They've lived here for ten years now.  They built a nest."

"Shouldn't that more correclty be called an 'aerie'?" I said in my own teacher voice.  I couldn't seem to help myself.

"Wow!" she enthused.  "You know your eagles!"

At this point, people were craning their necks, checking the treetops for eagle nests--or aeries.

"But the bad news is, we can't see them," she went on sadly.  "The eagles live far, far away from here, in another part of the park.  Bald eagles are. . . . "

And she launched into a canned lecture about these birds that could easily be found on a number of web sites, if we cared.  I didn't.  She wasn't telling me anything I didn't already know, and I'd paid for the zip line, not a gushing lecture on eagles.  I finally took my cell phone out and played video games.  My dorky helmet was getting itchy.

At last, the gushy lady said, "Does anyone have any questions?"

Thank heavens to was over.  But to my horror, people ASKED QUESTIONS!  At this point, the children in the group were becoming restless.  They wanted the zip line, too.  The gushy lady gushed on about more eagle stuff.  More children became restless, and the gushy lady said, "Uh oh!  Mama Eagle has noticed her babies are becoming unhappy.  Did you want to go on the zip line?"  I SWEAR that's word-for-word what she said.

"Yes!" the kids said.

"Does anyone have any other questions before we go?"

And another person RAISED HIS HAND.  At this point, I interrupted.  "I'll tell you what," I said, "why don't you send those of us who don't have questions down the zip line, and the people who DO have questions can stay a moment longer and get them answered?  It will save lives."

"Save lives?" gushy lady asked.

"At least one," I said, staring directly at her.  (This is why Darwin needs to accompany me everywhere.)

The gushy lady didn't get it, but this suggestion was greeted with nods of relief from everyone else in the group.

"So Mama Eagle's babies want to fly, do they?" she gushed.

My god, I swear I was going to hit her with my dorky helmet.

At last we mounted the steps to the zip line.  I zinged across without further incident and met Darwin on the other side.

"What took so long?" he asked.

"We were ambushed by eagles."



( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 29th, 2016 03:37 pm (UTC)
Apparently you and I and my husband are related.

I will not tell you the story of the walking tour of the Castro that I seemed to have ruined for my ex. (ahem)

What? I like history.
Jun. 30th, 2016 04:17 pm (UTC)
Oh, do tell!
Jun. 30th, 2016 05:19 pm (UTC)
Wheeeen I came out I did what I always do. I studied. I read books, I looked for documentaries, I did the whole thing. I love history and context. It's kinda a thing.

So here are my ex and I, after almost a year of planning to go to Castro (my first time), annnd we split up. As we fly down together to stay at a B&B together, we're two days in to not being a couple.

We go at one point on a tour of Castro with Trevor. A bit of a legend in the area. She'd been doing the tours at the time for ever and ever. She'd lived in the area for a lot of the history she was discussing.

So we're walking, we're walking, we're walking annnnd stop. And here we see the divide between the Haight Ashbury and Castro areas. And she launches into a description of the development of the gay neighbourhood. She asks a question.

And I answer.

For about ten minutes. About the original town and the lawlessness that often had society's outcasts (among them gay men and women) front and center. And often without recrimination. Which led to a pre-existing environment that was less harsh and more accepting. With the added bonus of being a port city, which as you know, Bob, usually tends toward more permissive historically as a type of city... and then there was the end of World War II and the great dump off of individuals who were gay from the armed forces that now, after being more than happy to have them fight and die, wanted them gone...


I got a few seconds of silence and blinking.


Don't ASK me shit like that. (sheepish)
Jun. 30th, 2016 04:17 am (UTC)

"The eagles live far, far away from here, in another part of the park."

To which I would  have said, "So the eagles moved to Mordor after the Ring was destroyed?"

Jun. 30th, 2016 04:17 pm (UTC)
The perfect example of staircase wit.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
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