Michigan Mondays

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October 19th 2015
Published: October 20th 2015
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I'm not going to include a city in the location for this post, since there really wasn't one single place I stayed longer than the others. Truly, I've been in Toldeo, Ohio, now longer than any place I visited in Michigan. But since the overwhelming bulk of the day was in Michigan, I'll just leave it at that.

The day started in Illinois, and by the time I finished, I had been in 4 states: Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio, too. My absolute first stop was for gas and a breakfast pizza at Casey's General Store, which Beth had told me about on Saturday and for which I had been searching. I found it, bought it, ate it, and loved it. Then I made my way to the NIU campus to find Huskie Stadium. Check. I had also seen that the main library in DeKalb, IL, was from 1930 and art deco. I tracked that down, and it did not disappoint. And like that, my time in Illinois came to a close.

My main goal was to see as many Michigan football stadiums as I could, which basically meant that my trajectory would be Western Michigan, Michigan State, and Eastern Michigan. I had already seen the Big House at Michigan, and I agonized over whether or not to make the 2-hour side trip to Central Michigan, but I just wasn't going to be able to do that without adding another day to my trip. Plus, my hotel last night didn't have internet, so I couldn't plan out much in the way of travel times between Michigan schools, etc. I even decided to take toll roads today to save time. I don't normally do that, but the GPS said that I could save 35-45 minutes by using them. So off I went. It cost $6 in total - the first entryway I just had to fling 6 quarters into a basket, but the remaining 3 all had attendants to give change - which was worth it to me if I could avoid Chicago traffic. Plus, if you like to drive 20+ mph over the speed limit with impunity, I recommend taking I-88 and I-294 around Chicago. It was quite a lesson in aggressive driving.

I barely buzzed Indiana, though I did stop to sample Culver's, a regional fast-food chain recommended by Erica, who's turning out to be an unanticipated guru of the Midwest. Their food was yummy, and as soon as I saw they had Wisconsin cheese curds, I was sold. I didn't get one of their renowned frozen custards because I figured I had enough dairy with the cheese curds. After that stop, my remaining time was spent in Michigan for the afternoon.

Western Michigan is sort of a Mecca for American medievalists, so I was glad to finally make the pilgrimage. Nice campus, puny stadium. No surprise. One thing I will say is that it was incredibly windy today. That made for some unhelpful, unannounced shifts when driving. I visited the City Hall in Kalamazoo, an art deco building. Unfortunately, someone had apparently had a tumble or a heart attack on the building steps, and EMTs were all over it. They lifted the guy into the ambulance before I left, and with no rush, so I guess that's a good sign.

Lansing was my next stop - they had an art-deco High School I wanted to see, and it also did not disappoint. In East Lansing, Michigan State's Spartan Stadium was indeed impressive. I wanted to get a picture of the Spartan statue outside the stadium, but there were a couple of guys and a video camera set up, proclaiming "Spartan Watch," so I opted not to do that. I'm guessing they protect the statue from vandalism - I just wonder how long their vigil lasts. The on-campus Spirit Store was useless for pennants, and so as the shop right across the street from the Student Union. I did manage to pick up a student newspaper that had that a big picture of that "miracle" play from the game on Saturday on the front cover. I just had to laugh.

My next stop was Ann Arbor, and I would hardly call it a "stop." My brother asked me to pick up a shirt for him and his friend if I passed through the area, so I stopped at the M Den downtown. Nightmare parking. But the shirts were acquired, and I moved on. To Ypsilanti, only 6 or 7 miles away, to the Eastern Michigan campus. I had really wanted to see their stadium, since it's solid gray. It was actually pretty to me. And I was afraid I wouldn't be able to get in, to see the actual field itself. That's the whole reason to go there! But fortunately, the gate was wide open, and I climbed the bleachers for a good overlook. I know they're a horrible football team, but I wouldn't mind seeing a game there.

Finally, I began to make my way terminally south. No more northern travels for me on this trip. I'm back in the Eastern Time Zone, and I'll be going roughly south the entire remainder of the trip. My first stop in that direction, and the last one for today, was Toledo. Specifically, the University of Toledo, which has shocked everyone by how well they are doing this year in football. Their stadium has a rocket outside, and for good reason: they are the Toledo Rockets. Night had fallen by the time I got to the stadium, but their gate security was quite lax. I pulled a bar up and the gate swung out, so I obliged by letting myself in. After that, I went to their campus bookstore, which was open until 9 PM - take a lesson, other schools. And then I went to see Goosebumps at the nearest movie theater. Not a bad film, but not really an Oscar contender, either. Now I'm at the Quality Inn in Toledo, and I'm looking to make my way down to Kentucky tomorrow.

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