Day 6: Rockford, IL > Ann Arbor, MI
States: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan
We had to get on the road first thing in the morning in order to get to Ann Arbor in time for a 4:30pm apartment showing, which meant limited lingering over brunch with the extended family, much to my disappointment. It was nice to get to see everyone – hopefully next time we won’t be so rushed. After a quick stop for hugs at Jenn and Bill’s, we were on the road a little after 11 and motored on around Chicago, dipping down into Indiana before hitting Michigan’s glorious 70 mph highways, rolling into Ann Arbor just in time.
Apartment #1 was a 2 bedroom with a basement located in a tree-filled neighborhood about 1.5 miles from Kerrytown and the U of M campus. The landlord’s dad gave us a tour, mentioning along the way that the current tenant worked at the library. On our way out, we noticed a stack of articles about institutional repositories on his coffee table. What are the chances, right? We had some time to kill before apartment #2, so we made our first trip to Zingerman’s.
Zingerman’s! Sigh. The stuff of dreams. Walking around Kerrytown felt like going home to Champaign – neighborhood-scale streets, friendly people, good food. We immediately found a co-op and I literally leapt for joy – or would have, if I hadn’t felt totally brain-dead from the driving and the hangover. With two days ahead of us, though, we decided to save some exploring for later, and went to check out apartment #2, which was closer to the fun stuff but also much smaller and weirdly laid out. Satisfied with our house-hunting, we checked into our hotel, signed the lease, and headed off for dinner.
I really can’t describe to you how happy we were that evening. The weather was perfect. We had a new apartment, and along with it a huge weight off. We wandered around the downtown area, settling on Blue Tractor for a totally adequate dinner, then heading back to our hotel to pass the hell on out.
Day 7: Ann Arbor, MI
We’d expected to have to do a bit more househunting, so with a lease signed and sealed, we found ourselves with a full day free in Ann Arbor. We started off with breakfast at Zingerman’s – polenta for me, and the Kentucky King Platter for Shane. The rest of the morning was dedicated to lazy walking around, exploring little shops in Kerrytown, and sitting in a park and feeling sleepy. We had a late lunch at Red Hawk on campus, then went back to the hotel for a nap. I ❤ vacation naps.
After a bit of driving around, we decided to park ourselves at a coffeeshop in order to enjoy the beautiful weather and our books – then ended up at Ashley’s for dinner and, as it happened, trivia. Shane went to Ashley’s for dinner when he was in Ann Arbor for his job interview, and was so enamored with their drafts list that he insisted we go back. This turned out to be a fortuitous choice! We had our books sitting on the table, and a girl came up to ask Shane if he was, in fact, reading Infinite Jest. She said that she was part of a book club participating in Infinite Summer, and invited him to join them for their discussion in the future. Fun and random, right? Well, as the evening progressed, we inadvertently eavesdropped on her conversation and learned that not only is she a nice person who invites strangers to a book club – she also works at the U of M library in a department that Shane will be working with! Upon discovering that, we exchanged contact information and exclaimed about the coincidence! That made two totally random encounters with library people – or library people’s stuff – in two days, which to me feels like a pretty good sign that we’re moving to the right place. In addition, thanks to my otherwise totally useless knowledge of The Doors, we came in 2nd in trivia, winning a $10 gift certificate to Ashley’s that we look forward to using once we arrive.
Back at the hotel, we were in for an interesting night. We turned in around 11, hoping for a good night’s sleep before a long day of travel. We were definitely not in luck. From 11-1, we were treated to unending noise from our upstairs and other nearby neighbors. It wasn’t a lot of noise – just enough to keep us both awake. Shane tried to call the front desk – no answer. I finally got dressed and went to talk to the management, only to discover that they closed up shop at 11. Perfect timing! I guess that’s what you get when you’re paying $50 or less for a hotel. I went upstairs to knock on the hotel room door, and instead ran into three cops dusting for fingerprints on a busted vending machine. I have no idea what they were really doing there – but whatever it was, it quieted down our neighbors, and we finally got some sleep out of the evening.
Day 8: Ann Arbor, MI > Alexandria, VA
States: Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia
The final day of our trip was also the longest day of travel – for Shane at least. Having used up all of my earned vacation time for this trip, I had made arrangements to work the late shift on the day of our return. Not knowing how much time we’d need in Ann Arbor, though, we’d talked it over and I’d booked a one-way flight home from Detroit. After breakfast at Zingerman’s (trip #4, including a stop for a beverage and Caroline’s coffee), we drove to the Detroit airport. I wheedled my way onto an earlier flight, putting me back in sweaty-sweaty DC at 3pm – just enough time to cab home, take a shower, feed the cats, and turn around and head back into DC for work at 6pm. If anything noteworthy happened on Shane’s long looong loooooong drive home, I’m not aware of it, as by the time I got home at 9:30pm, he had been home with enough time to unload the car and bottle his beer. I owe him one – a big one – for that trip.
So, all told, we logged 1837 miles in 8 days, acquired several cases of beer, saw a lot of family and friends, found a new home, and made it back in one piece. We were patient and kind to each other, despite forgetting both camera and iPod chargers. There were no major incidents of any kind. A successful trip!