The weekend camping trip in Michigan turned out to be a smashing success, complete with a real campsite, real hiking, a real campfire, and real mosquitoes. Essentially, all the essentials. Of course, not being a group of people bound by the chains of tradition, or the handcuffs of standards, or the bungee cords of common practice, Sayak, Divya, Rakhi, Eric and I gave the weekend our own unique flavor. Although we did make sure there were s'mores.
The flavor I refer to was mostly that of Brooklyn Bagels, a discovery we chanced upon during our few days' stay in Muskegon, Michigan. Brooklyn Bagels is my new favorite bagel shop, and if that's really how they make bagels in Brooklyn, then Brooklyn is my new favorite place. Let me be the first to say, "Holy crap." You know how they have Cinnamon Crunch and Asiago Cheese and other "special" (boring) flavors in Panera? Well, Brooklyn Bagels is like "Hey Panera, suck on this!" Actually, that is far too crude and vulgar. What Brooklyn Bagels actually says is something like "We'll see your four to five special (boring) flavors and raise you, oh, let's say 20 other flavors." Flavors like Roasted Red Bell Pepper and Spinach Parmesan. Brooklyn Bagels: It's breathtaking. I suggest you try it.
I'm glad we chanced upon Brooklyn Bagels up in Muskegon, because we started out the weekend with a flavor extravaganza that was far too "ganza" and not nearly enough "extrava." Since Divya, Sayak and I got up to Michigan fairly late on Friday night, we just camped out (ha!) at Rakhi's apartment, where we decided to play some cards and drink some wine. Of the three bottles we chose, some idiot (...) picked out 3 Blind Moose Cabernet Sauvignon. I defend this choice by stating that I tried another 3 Blind Moose wine before, and it was pretty good. Anyway, the Cab-Sav was watery, to say the least. Eric called the 3 Blind Moose feedback line noted on the back of the bottle, but was forced to leave a voicemail. If he actually gets a call back from 3 Blind Moose, it will be both unexpected and the impetus for at least one post (perhaps a series?) in which I call multiple customer service feedback lines for consumer products to see what it's like to engage in casual chatting with the people who work in these types of jobs. Please note that Eric's call was not some kind of cheap drunk-dial, because the 3 Blind Moose was the first bottle we opened, and the watery consistency was noticeable right from the start. I can't say with confidence that my call to the Chewy Chips Ahoy hotline a bit later in the night was quite as clear-headed.
Rakhi has an extremely cute kitten named Pochi, which I believe is Hindi for something like "Little Shit." That may be totally wrong, but I'm going to translate it that way. Pochi enjoys playing with a paper grocery bag from Meijer, pouncing on feet that move, chasing laser pointers, and climbing screen doors Spiderman-style (0:22). Oh, and setting off heinous allergic reactions in yours truly. I've never had problems with pets before, or any bad allergies for that matter, but Pochi just about did me in. I started sneezing a bit while engaging in the above-mentioned card game and didn't think anything of it, and when I woke up in the morning with a burning throat and chest I thought it might have been due to Rakhi's delicious spicy Indian food. But when my eyes starting itching and watering and I started needing to blow my nose every five minutes, I figured that something else was at play. Geez. Future visits to Rakhi's apartment may involve goggles and a respirator.
Adorable, cuddly death.
Finding an open campsite at Muskegon was a clear sign that it was destined to be a great weekend. All the campsites were supposedly reserved when we checked online earlier, so upon arriving and inquiring and finding that there was one left just for us, a distinct vibe of "luck is on our side and/or the Force is with us" ran through the group. We wasted no time setting up the tent, obtaining some Grade A Emerald Ash Borer-Ridden firewood, and running to the grocery store to obtain various sundries fit for a night under the stars. Hot dogs, marshmallows, chips, Absolut - all the goodies. On a rather unimportant but still somewhat intriguing note, the three varieties of chips that were purchased included the following: Doritos (Nacho Cheese), Sun Chips (Original), and Lays (Wavy). Now, your internal alarm system, if well calibrated to truly insignificant things, should be going off like crazy after reading that last sentence. Clearly "wavy" is not a flavor. Well, "original" isn't really a flavor either, at least in the descriptive sense, but bear with me. When and why did "wavy" ever become a distinct chip option? Why do people prefer wavy chips to regular chips? This is a complete mystery to me, and yet I readily admit that I much prefer wavy chips to regular chips. They just taste so much better! I would say that this is a cheap yet clever marketing scheme, like the Miller Lite Vortex bottle, but wavy chips have endured! They have endured! Why is this?! Quick! Mother Internet! Come to my aid!
Research findings: Wavy chips are sturdier, allowing for better dipping.
That is all.
And they taste so much better!!!
Before settling down to the late evening campfire, we did a little bit of relaxation and hiking along the shore of Lake Michigan, which is surprisingly nice at Muskegon. Nice sand, lots of boats to watch, etc. After enjoying the water and finding (and then quickly retreating from the smell of) a dead catfish that had washed up, we found a trail and headed into the woods. Buying some bug spray at the store turned out to be a wise decision because the trail we chose led to The Lost Lake (aka standing water), where mosquitoes abounded. The Lost Lake wasn't exactly spectacular (it's quite understandable that nobody would want to find it), but the hike through the woods was pleasant.
Just another quick tangent, if you will. In the store, the bug spray was situated right next to other bug-related products, such as Raid. Now, it probably makes sense for these products to be together, but isn't it easy to envision a scenario in which some person goes to the store to buy bug spray because they've heard that they'll need it for a hike, and upon seeing the 8 ounce bottle of Off and the 18 ounce bottle of Raid thinks "I better get the big size?" (The person has, for whatever reason, not been exposed to bugs much in life). Maybe this is totally crazy and would never happen, but I just have this mental image of a person spraying their legs and arms up and down, getting a fine sheen of Raid all over.
Raid: Now with SPF 40. Guaranteed to keep the bugs off your burning flesh.
After the hiking we got a nice fire going and settled in for the usual deep, philosophical campfire questions. You know, the big questions of life that everyone gets contemplative about while gazing into the glowing embers. Questions like "If you could have one characteristic to describe you in life, what would it be?" Or "What does our continued focus on physical attractiveness say about the true evolution of our society?" Or "Is marshmallow on Doritos Nacho Cheese chips a good or bad combination?"
Answer: The flavor of toasted marshmallow overwhelms anything and you don't even taste the second flavor.
To bring the weekend to a close the next day we did a bit more hiking and then headed home. The only other point to mention from the weekend excursion is that the elected position of Drain Commissioner is a HUGE deal in Muskegon. Repeat: HUGE. We saw signs for no less than four candidates vying for this enviable post. The position of Drain Commissioner came to our attention because there were signs all over the place for the various candidates. In raising the topic just a few sentences ago in this post, I thought I was merely making a fuss over something that really isn't significant, as is my habit. But then I found this:
Muskegon Drain CommissionerWhere can you find a job that pays $74,000 per year, doesn't require any education or experience, includes health benefits and a car to top it all off? Right here in Muskegon County, as the Muskegon Drain Commissioner!
Every four years, the public gets to vote for who should be the next Drain Commissioner for Muskegon County. Anyone can submit their name as a candidate and when election time comes, your name will appear on the ballot. If you are lucky, your name may be the one voters choose to fill the drain commissioner job.
As a bonus, you're allowed to choose your deputy drain commissioner and pay them $33,000 yearly, anyone you like but ideally, someone that can help you get the job done.
Perhaps you feel that you don't have the qualifications? None required! If you take a look at the candidates for this years election, you'll see they are from all walks of life and some have no experience at all; for candidate info and job description see Muskegon County Drain Commissioner.
So what are you waiting for? Make sure to get your name on the ballot for the next election and you just may be the next Drain Commissioner!
Want to apply for the position, visit Muskegon County Clerk's Office. Because the previous Drain Commissioner was removed from office having served only two years, this election is for the remaining two years. If you didn't get your name on the ballot this time, you only have to wait 2 years to try again, at which time the term will be for 4 years totaling more than $300,000 in salary and benefits!
I copied the text rather than just providing a link in case the content of the website changed in the future. Turns out there is a reason we saw so many signs for Drain Commissioner, and we only saw the tip of the iceberg. Seems the position is especially newsworthy this year because of the scandal surrounding the most recent Drain Commissioner. You could say that his career is really going down the drain. But I guess that's what you get when you drain the confidence of the public. Right? Don't you agree? Oh c'mon, you know that any candidate who throws out some of those lines in a debate is going to get the crowd behind him and have a leg up on the competition. You simply can't worry about humor potentially "watering down" your candidacy. You just have to "take the plunge" and go for it. If you win, you could even groom your successor for when your term is up and create a "pipeline" of talent for the office. What? For a moment I was even thinking about running for the office myself, but I was able to successfully chase down my friends before they left me behind back in Muskegon.
This post starring, in no particular order:
Rakhi and Eric
The next Drain Commissioner of Muskegon. It's all about the water.
Timothy the seagull
Carl the seagull
Roberto the seagull with no face (he runs into things a lot)
Phillipe the mushroom
Log 1 and Log 2 (fire stunts performed by Log 3 and Log 4)
The Lost Lake. Let us never speak of it again.
A suitably thought-provoking picture to end this utterly ridiculous post.