2010.12.15 What I learned: Morenci 2010 Edition

Written by David Green.

When my son-in-law Taylor visits, I’m always able to extract a guest column. This one arrived by e-mail four hours before deadline. Plenty of time the way we work.

By TAYLOR BALLINGER

The old cliché goes “You learn something new every day.” I suppose it’s true, considering I get on Facebook, Twitter, and a number of news sites daily and there’s always some new bit of information I’m receiving on there. For instance, did you know the Mona Lisa has no eyebrows? Did you know that in 2000, Pope John Paul II was named an honorary member of the Harlem Globetrotters? Here’s one more thing I recently learned: it’s against the law to mispronounce “Arkansas” (Ar-kan-saw) in the state of Arkansas.

This past weekend, Rosie and I came up to Michigan for “the Big Chill at the Big House” hockey game, and a baby shower. I wasn’t on the internet much, but I still managed to learn something new each day of the trip.

• (Friday) – If you get a chance to go to “America’s Number One Place to Pig Out,” do it. Just know that you’ll regret it for a couple of days.

Rosie and I, along with our Canadian friend Ryan, drove up from Little Rock on Friday morning. We had an extra ticket to the hockey game, and figured Ryan, a former high school hockey player, would love to attend.

On the route from Little Rock to Morenci is a little town called Sikeston, Missouri, home of Lambert’s Café. I don’t know how to describe Lambert’s other than it’s like Cracker Barrel on steroids. Each plate comes with enough food for at least two people, they are constantly passing out rolls (literally throwing them through the air) the size of softballs, and the drinks come in 34 oz. mugs. Rosie got the fried chicken tender platter, which came with eight large chicken strips, two sides, and several pass arounds (foods that don’t count as sides, but the servers just bring around to each table without any limit) like fried okra and fried potatoes and onions.

Ryan and I each got the small chicken fried steak (11 oz. as opposed to 16 oz. for the large), which is about as unhealthy a food as you can eat. Our meal came with three sides along with the pass arounds and rolls. Lambert’s is the portrait of American gluttony.

The food was delicious, but I’ve never felt so disgustingly full. Sikeston is about eight hours from Morenci, and we didn’t eat the rest of the car ride. We did, however, spend most of the ride groaning and complaining about our stomachs being so full.

On Sunday morning we got up to take Toronto to the Greyhound station for his trip back to Toronto. I asked him what he wanted for breakfast and he said “nothing, I still can’t really think about food after Friday.” That, ladies and gentlemen, is one substantial meal.

• (Saturday) – Outdoor hockey is almost as fun as indoor hockey.

Rosie, Maddie, Ryan and I had a great time at the hockey game Saturday night. It was not too cold, the rain held off just long enough, and the atmosphere was electric. The Big House clearly wasn’t meant to host a hockey game, though. With the ice at the center of the football field, everyone was pretty far away from the action. We were fortunate to have seats up a little higher, so we could see everything, but the folks down low couldn’t really see above the boards.

It was exciting to be a part of the record-setting crowd, but I feel like the game-watching experience would have been much better indoors. In an arena we would have been able to see and hear the action much more clearly. That way, Ryan could have better explained to me what was going on, because let’s face it, I never played much hockey growing up in Kentucky.

• (Sunday) – The Lions are going to be good soon.

I watched Sunday’s disappointing Lions/Packers game (I’m a Packers fan) at my grandfather-in-law’s house, and I’m convinced that in a few years the Lions will be a formidable team. Their defense has been good all year, and they have some solid offensive players as well (Jahvid Best, Calvin Johnson). Thanks to another bad record, they will get a pretty high draft pick in 2011, and if they can hit another home-run like they did with Ndamukong Suh, they’ll be in business.

Next year, if Matthew Stafford is healthy and productive, and the defense is again improved, I think the Lions may sneak into the playoffs. I hope so, anyway. I don’t cheer for any team over the Packers, but I think it’s about time the Lions were relevant again. The good folks of Michigan deserve a decent professional football team.

• (Monday) – If the windchill is hovering around zero, put on some pants.

Like a fool I decided to wear shorts for the car ride back to Little Rock on Monday. I figured that we would only make a few stops, and that the car would stay pretty warm, so I wanted to be comfortable for the trip. The cold temperatures froze our windshield wiper fluid, though, and we had to stop about 10 times to get out and clean the nasty road-salt spray off the front and back glass. It wasn’t bad if the breeze was stable and the sun was out, but those gas station car-ports block the sunlight and act as wind tunnels. I got a lot of funny looks during our stops – and I deserved each one of them.

Now it’s Tuesday morning and I feel a bit feverish. Maybe it was being exhausted from finals week and not eating well on Friday and then being outside all day Saturday that got me feeling a bit sick. Or maybe it was dressing like it was a cool fall afternoon and not a miserable winter morning. When I was a kid and wanted to wear shorts in the winter my mom would rationalize it by saying “he’ll put pants on if he gets cold enough.” Well, mom, I think I’m retiring my shorts for the winter.

  • Front.bridge Cross
    STEP BY STEP—Wyatt Stevens of Morenci makes his way across a rope bridge Sunday during the Michigan DNR’s Great Outdoors Jamboree at Lake Hudson Recreation Area. The Tecumseh Boy Scout Troop constructed the bridge again this year after taking a break in 2016. The Jamboree offered a variety of activities for a wide range of age groups. Morenci’s Stair District Library set up activities again this year and had visits with dozens of kids. See the back page for additional photos.
  • Front.bridge.17
    LEADING THE WAY—The Morenci Area High School marching band led the way across the pedestrian bridge on Morenci’s south side for the annual Labor Day Bridge Walk. The Band Boosters shared profits from the sale of T-shirts with the walk’s sponsor, the Morenci Area Chamber of Commerce. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.eclipse
    LOOKING UP—More than 200 people showed up at Stair District Library Monday afternoon to view the big celestial event with free glasses provided by a grant from the Space Science Institute. The library offered craft activities from noon to 1 p.m., refreshments including Cosmic Cake from Zingerman’s Bakehouse and a live viewing of the eclipse from NASA on a large screen. As the sky darkened slightly, more and more people moved outside to the sidewalk to take a look at the shrinking sun. If you missed it, hang on for the next total eclipse in 2024 as the path comes even closer to this area.
  • Cecil
    THE MAYOR—Cecil Schoonover poses with a collection of garden gnomes that mysteriously arrive and disappear from his property. Along with the gnomes, someone created the sign stating that he is the Mayor of Gnomesville. He hasn’t yet tracked down the people involved in the prank, but he’s having a good time with the mystery.
  • Front.rest
    TAKE A BREAK—Last Wednesday’s session of Stair District Library’s Summer Reading Program ended with a quiet period in a class presented by yoga instructor Melany Gladieux of Toledo. Children learned a variety of yoga poses in the main room at the library, then finished off the session relaxing. Additional photos are on page 7. Area children are invited to visit the library today when the Michigan Science Center presents a flight program at 11 a.m. and roller coasters at 1 p.m.
  • Front.batter
    THE DERBY—Tyler “Smallpox” Flakne of Minnesota’s Home Run League All-Stars goes for the fence Friday night during the National Wiffle League Association’s home run derby in Morenci. This year the wiffleball national tournament moved from Dublin, Ohio, to Morenci’s Wakefield Park. During the derby, competitors had two minutes to hit as many home runs as possible. The winner this year finished with 21. See page 6 and 7 for additional photos.
  • Front.green Screen
    OUT OF THIS WORLD—Elizabeth McFadden and Elise Christle pose in front of the green screen as VolunTeen Noah Gilson makes them appear as though they are standing on the Moon. More photos from the Stair District Library’s NASA @ My Library program are on page 12.
  • Front.fireworks
    FIREWORKS erupt Saturday night over Morenci’s Wakefield Park during the waning hours of the Town and Country Festival. Additional festival photos are inside.
  • Front.batter

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