Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Up From Down South

You could tell I wrote the previous post on location (in a hotel room) and in a hurry as it was only after I'd published it that I noticed several spelling mistakes and other typos in it - not up to my usual standards at all.

In my defence, not only was I being hurried so we could go out to eat, but the laptop was on battery and giving out serious warnings and dire threats that if it wasn't given a lifesaving 110 volts of juice pretty quickly, then it would explode or self destruct or some such nonsence.

I guess I buckled under this extreme pressure !!

Anywho, we had a fabby time and made it back safely late on Monday. Before I go on, here are 2 photos I snapped out the truck window on the way down and I was pretty pleased with them both - considering I had the new camera in one hand and the manual in the other. It sure takes a bit of getting used to compared to the much simpler Canon G2 I had before.

This 'hells angel' blasted past us and I used the camera's excellent servo focus feature to keep him in focus and get him pretty sharp despite the speed we were both going at.

I wanted the background to be a blur to show this speed but I hadn't got to that page in the manual !

Sadly it's captured the image so 'well' that it looks like he's stationary at traffic lights. You only have my word that we were going at 72mph and he was still overtaking us. Honest.

The next photo has been given a bit of an edit using Photoshop. I was really just messing with it as I didn't even want to keep it at all - but again I was pretty pleased with the sharpness considering our speed and anyway, it WAS a nice looking church.

We were just heading into some awful weather and the clouds soon blotted out the previously blue skies. It went as dark as night and the rain bounced off the road like wet bouncy stuff.

Then as we approached Grand Rapids it suddenly stopped raining, the sun came out and we came upon bone dry roads. We were able to unload our belongings into the hotel under a glorious warm sun and so began our weekend there.

Sunday was an even better day, weatherwise, and we shopped and ate and shopped some more.
One place we wanted to go to was Costco as I'm a member back home in the UK. My card caused a bit of confusion and could not be recognised by their system even though it has worldwide use AND their system is set up to access UK memberships. When queried, it kept saying 'SYSTEM BUSY' and never showed anything else the whole time we were there. As this had happened in Canada too, I have to assume 'SYSTEM BUSY' is Costco-speak for 'WE HAVE NO IDEA ABOUT YOU JOHNNY FOREIGNERS BUT WE'LL GLADLY TAKE YOUR $$$$'S ANYWAY'

This was all happening at the Customer Service desk and after being assured that we could shop till we dropped and that we'd have no problems at the checkout, we passed into the warehouse.

I immediately came to a row of little booths set up for special services and products - we have them in the UK stores too. There was a carpet area with a few carpet samples to look at, a tyre section with lists of the tyres sold by Costco.......but the one which really stopped me in my tracks was the one offering deals on coffins, or caskets as they are called here. I'd heard of one stop shopping but this took the prize.

Yes, dear readers, caskets. They even had corner pieces on display so potential buyers could see the quality, colour and craftsmanship of the units. No doubt about it, American caskets put our British coffins to shame. Many a homeless person would be more than happy to climb into one of these beauties every night as the luxury has to be seen to be believed. Talk about a right royal send off ! Seems a shame to send it 6 feet down to be recycled into pulp again.

I was all for going back to the truck to get my camera but I decided they might object to me taking piccies of such delicate and sensitive products - so I did the next best thing and picked up a brochure and later I took photos of a couple of the casket offers in this brochure.

I'm not sure how they decided on the names for these caskets or indeed why they felt that names were necessary in the first place.

I think I'd have been satisfied buying a 'black metalic effect casket with ornate siding and luxurious trim' without the need to refer to it by a name made infamous by Monty Python. I wondered if their naming department really did have such a wacky sence of humour.

In any case (or casket), it was a very nice vehicle for leaving this earthly domain and at a cent under $1100, I felt it was a steal.

There were several others but I've only included one more here - just to show that the previously mentioned naming department must've decided that a Brian was enough and even they didn't see the need to develop a Fred, Barney or Bambam. Praise the Lord.

Speaking of Him, I think this model below offers excellent value for money.

Not only has it been given a perfectly reasonable name (well for Christians anyway) but it even has the name embossed inside the lid in case the dearly departed 'comes to' a few months later and is DYING to know the name of his casket. Sick I know. I'd throw in the invoice to give him something to read, but that's just me.

For $800, I was tempted to get one myself but I didn't fancy getting it back home. You know what these new carry on regulations are like - no liquids, no nailclippers, no caskets. It'd be just too much hassle.

But we bought a few items and passed through the checkout with no problems. My membership card didn't register of course but they had been warned I was coming and unlike Eddie Murphy at a KKK meeting, I was warmly greeted and made to feel special.

On Monday we shopped a bit more but again the weather was terrible and the thunder and lightning were worthy of the end of the world. At noon it was like midnight and the roads were like lakes. Once we left the city, we saw blue skies ahead and for most of the drive home we were blessed with glorious sunshine.

A lovely end to the weekend.

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