Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Road Trip: Ann Arbor Michigan & Madison Wisconsin

While I think Cuyahoga National Park could deserve more time, after our morning there, we were on a mission to get to Ann Arbor, Michigan by late afternoon. The next few days of our road trip wouldn't cover as much ground, but were social & practical visits to two great cities. We didn't spend much time listening to music, but chatted or I read my book group book (The National Parks) both to myself and interesting parts to Joe while he drove.

My trusty un-updated GPS from 2010 landed us at the University of Michigan just at the time that Joe's friend was expecting us. She gave us a tour of her lab and introduced Joe to some graduate students. Since I specialize in early education and not graduate studies, most of the conversations about grants, research, proposals, and papers was a bit out of my realm. We didn't stay terribly long before heading to the downtown area of Ann Arbor.

After parking the truck, we strolled up and down checking out the stores and restaurants. We both seem to be food and drink driven, we decided to stop at The Blue Tractor to sample some beers while we waited for Joe's friend to be free again. Its hard to imagine what it would be like to go to such a large university in a major college town. While I'll never regret going to my small college, there is something alluring about college towns.

We made our way to Zingermans for sandwiches (huge reputation and solid sandwiches) before walking along the main strip of Ann Arbor again.  We end up on University of Michigan campus where a movie was about the begin on the quad.  None of us were that interested in the movie (and honestly I was dead tired by this point) so we wandered back down and to our cars.

It was neat to see a city that I know a few people have loved while in college and also to see Joe interacting with people that we haven't known for over 15 years. We found our hotel easily and crash hard. It was one of our shortest driving days and I've never felt more tired!

We had nearly 400 miles between us and our next destination in Wisconsin. With the hope & plan to catch Joe's people before they left work for the weekend, so we were up and on our way quicker than most mornings.

Joe lived in Madison for a few years (a few years ago) and had left a storage unit there filled with things that he'd likely survive without but wanted regardless.  (I have a basement filled with those same things that I kept trying to leave at my parents house until I became the one with a basement and now own all of my family members random keepsakes)

We navigated around Chicago with ease and managed to avoid any significant traffic. A major win in the eyes of the driver.  As we made it closer to Madison, I was able to shut off the GPS and let Joe travel by memory.  We ended up parking the truck close to his old apartment and he was excited that we could rent a B-cycle to bike around town.

We grabbed two bikes and headed over to the south student union to meet up with Joe's former adviser.  We grabbed two pitchers of beer, headed up stairs and hung out.  Again, I was left out of most of the conversation at first, but I didn't mind. I am not known for being quiet or really for listening for that matter, but having no knowledge of a subject forces me to do both, which is a nice change.  As an extrovert, sometimes it feels as though it is my responsibility to maintain a conversation flow (its not but still, its not always east being an extrovert!)

As the beer disappeared, we were invited to head over to a cookout, mostly in Joe's honor.  So we headed out and had our only home-cooked meal for the entire 2 weeks that we were traveling. After stuffing ourselves and enjoying good company we made our way to our hotel determined to sleep forever.

While I rock at taking naps, sleeping in isn't really my thing, although we didn't have an early start we were up and planning our day in Madison. The major purpose of our visit was to close out the storage unit- so I voted that we tackle that first, which would leave the rest of our day free. We set off across town, only to be distracted by the farmers market that was happening. The Madison farmers market is the largest in the country.  We did a loop around (enjoying some delicious sugar snap peas) before heading into the Capitol for a look.

view from capitol 

What amazed me was that the capitol was completely open for people to walk through (and go to the roof) that would never fly in Albany! After thoroughly enjoying the sights, we headed back to the truck to continue our journey to the storage unit.

Emptying a storage unit is a lot easier than filling one as we just moved everything from the unit to the truck before long we were back on the road.  We stopped for some lunch before I was able to get Joe to see the value in afternoon naps.  I can be quite convincing.

We went back to the hotel and relaxed before I struggled through a run & he did a workout in the hotel gym.
random trail I decided to follow during my torture run 

  Once we pulled ourselves together, we rented another B-cycle to bike to the Terrance to enjoy some beer & hopefully catch the sunset.The weather didn't agree, since it brought in clouds early, but we enjoyed people watching and staring out on the lake.  There were promises of fireworks on the other side of the city, so we biked over just in time to catch them.

As we watched the fireworks, we could see a lightening storm making its way for us, not ones to scare easily, we kept enjoying the fireworks ( yeah America !!- as said by the really enthusiastic dude nearby).  Although it would be about a 1.5 mile walk back to the hotel, we figured that the path would be too crowded to try to use the bikes.

The storm continued to come closer, but the sky above us was still stars and clear. We were about a half mile from the hotel when the first raindrop hit.  And it was a big one.  About 15 seconds later, it was a full on shower.  I kicked off my sandals and we started running.  It was pointless really to try to out run it, since we were soaked (I've been dryer in the shower before)  but we ran anyways. We entered the hotel leaving a trail of puddles behind us.

We had a good laugh the whole way through and luckily none of our electronics were damaged (although Joe's shoes have a bit of a smell now)  I was surprised at how cool & large Madison is - not being all that familiar with the Midwest, I never would have realized how much the city has to offer. There was a half marathon in town the next morning, and while I was tempted to run it, opted not to so that we could get on the road to start making our way to South Dakota.

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