´¯`•. July 11, 2017

Jackson Day Trip (2 of 3):  On the Town

I’d originally wanted to go and visit McCourtie Park, but driving an hour and forty minutes one way just to visit a park for an hour… it seemed wasteful.  McCourtie Park was very near to Jackson, which I’d looked at, a few years ago.  There are some amazing things in Jackson that I’d wanted to see – but I’d thought it would be a good overnight trip.  And it really (honestly) is better as an overnight trip.  We ended up having to skip some things, and will probably go back, someday, to see them.  But I do the best that I can.

After McCourtie, it was definitely lunch time.  So we headed downtown Jackson to the Coney Island.  The first Coney Island.  Did you know that?  The first isn’t in NYC, it’s not in Detroit… it’s Jackson, Michigan.  In 1914, the first coney dog was served… and the restaurant is still open, today.  Granted, it’s been remodeled (and is ugly on the outside), but it’s very old diner style on the inside, yet.  And the owners were really nice to the kids.  We ate right up at the counter, and yes… we left the place unclean.  I’m not thrilled when it happens, but it does occassionally happen.

You can’t miss it – it’s canary yellow!

Coney Island in Jackson is literally right across the street from the Amtrak station.  Why am I mentioning this?  Because the train depot in Jackson is the oldest, still-operating train station in the country.  It’s beautiful.  It’s also only open until 2:30, and we missed it by just a half an hour, unbeknownst to us.  But peeking in the window, it was beautiful – still as it was in the 1800s.

Train station back in the day…

… and today.

From a time gone by.

Perspective.  As always.

Stolen from the ‘Net, of the inside of the station.

Across the tracks was a beautiful antique mall, so we went there, in search of an antique train to have as a souvenir.  We came out with something to remember the trip by, but it wasn’t a train, alas.  It was an amazing place, though… with an actual antique car inside of it!  Not something you see in an antique mall, every day!

‘Summer Night Tree’, by Louise Nevelson.  Downtown Jackson.

‘Under the Oaks’ park is a very important place in this country – it’s the place where ‘Murphy’s Forty’ gathered together to form a group that would stand against slavery.  That meeting was the birth of the Republican Party – right here in Jackson, Michigan.  (Note:  It’s on a corner in a slightly skeery inner city neighborhood.  Just clarifying.)

Jackson likes it’s building skinny and super tall.

Jackson High School  Isn’t THAT beautiful!?!?

Next we headed out to the prison, which I’ll write about tomorrow – it was a long and involved visit that deserves it’s own post.  Jackson prison was first prison in Michigan and the largest walled prison in the world (1839-1934)!  There’s also Armory Arts, and Cell 7, which is why I need a separate post – I’ll show it all to you, tomorrow.

After that we walked down on the train tracks along the Jackson Belt Railway.  It was so pretty, just walking through the woods in the quiet, along the train tracks.

After we had a nice walk, we drove out to try to find ‘The Cascades’ Park.  Yet another marvel that is here in Michigan.  Mr. Sparks was a part of a marching/performing troupe (that went on to tour the world with Buffalo Bill!  And later performed with Danny Kaye in ‘The Court Jester’!), and he wanted to build a venue that would bring entertainment to a new level in Jackson, Michigan.

Just a conceptual picture of what he had in mind.
(And I apologize for the glare.)

A photo of the actual fountain.  It’s 16 levels, 500ft long, 64ft in depth.  Eleven of the levels of waterfalls are illuminated in a light show every weekend in the summertime.  So we needed to find out where/how much/etc. it would be.  It’s impressive as you drive up to it.

We had time to spare, so our next stop was to ‘The Parlor’ for Ice Cream.
And when I say ice cream?  I mean ice cream.

The parlor is arranged oddly – with U-shaped booths that run back and forth, with stools on all sides of them – so you’re facing people as you eat.  There’s a jukebox in the corner, and pictures of the place from the 50’s and 60’s on the walls.  And then the ice cream…

There’s a wall of champions who actually eat this mamma-jamma!
Do you think you could eat one of these?
And they’re not little scoops – we’re talking softball sized servings.

This is the Jr. Banana Split.  JUNIOR. banana. split.
Three scoops.  It was the size of a fruit bowl!

Brian and I got a turtle sundae.  Thank goodness we teamed up and shared.
Aaron and Isaac got a blue moon thing… it put the hurt to Aaron.

Back to ‘The Cascades’, we still had some time before dusk, so we went for a walk.  It’s a huge park with multiple beautiful bridges, boardwalks, and ponds.And a play area with cement animals.  There were turtles and a camel and a porpoise…
I wonder if McCourtie’s cement came in handy for this!

You have no idea how much fun they have with just a simple bike rack.
They vaulted them, they raced around them… it was fun.

We got our seats, and while we waited for the sun to set, they played THE MOST FUN music over the speakers, so my gang was singing like mad, to everything from ‘La Bamba’ to the Everly Brothers to ‘Ghostbusters’ to Colby Callait, and more.  We also walked up and around the entire fountain in small groups (and got sprayed by the fountains!), and went the the Sparks Museum on the grounds.  I loved watching the colors deepen as we waited.

Can I be honest?  The show was nice, but like an X-mess light show.  They even did ‘Dance of the Sugarplum Fairies’ by Trans Siberian, hello.  It… wasn’t as beautiful or inspiring as the dancing fountains in Grand Haven.  (If you haven’t been, GO!)  I was also severely disapointed in the people – the moment it started, they all started getting up and LEAVING (walking right in front of everything, of course).  By the time it was over?  There were only four couples/families other than ours left.  People are just so rude, nowadays!  I couldn’t believe nobody would sit through a half an hour show.  It’s a sad statement about the world.

We enjoyed it, nonetheless.  Moreso the build-up to it, actually.
(And of course the getting to stay up until MIDNIGHT to get home!)





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