I really ought to have written this all down last weekend, when it was still fresh, but as usually I’ve procrastinated. I imagine I’ll still manage to be entirely long-winded, so here’s some cut-tags to spare your screen. 🙂
Thursday: Leaving On A Jet Plane
aiela and I had been discussing my coming up to visit her in Detroit for quite some time. It was my turn, after all, and I wanted to actually get to meet davehogg, plus we drank all that soda for a reason, didn’t we? So after a bit of looking over mutual schedules, we determined that St Patrick’s Day weekend was the best bet.
Thursday night, kitanzi picked me up from work and dropped me off at North Springs so I could take the train to the airport and not have to pay for parking. The trip down to the airport was uneventful, and I was able to get through security, pick up a sandwich, and make it to my gate a good half hour before my flight boarded. The plane was absurdly crowded — I don’t think there was an empty seat — but it’s only a 90 minute flight so it wasn’t so bad, and I got to catch up on all the exciting new products in the Sky Mall catalog.
My first impression of the Detroit airport was that I couldn’t recall the last time I’d seen an emptier concourse. Aside from the people spilling out of my flight, there were very few people actually in that section of the airport. Of course, my first impression was quickly forgotten when I got to the bottom of the escalator and encountered the Psychedelic Tunnel of Love™. This is the tunnel that connects the B/C concourses to the main terminal, and features about 200 yards of flashing red, green, and blue lights, strobing in time to music. Despite myself, I skipped the moving sidewalks just so I could savour walking through it a bit more slowly.
Once past the PToL™, I met up with aiela, who was waiting for me just past the security gates, and we quickly made our way to her car and up the road to home. Collapsed on the sofa and chatted with her and davehogg for a while, observed the entirely too cute antics of Spark the kitten, and then setup the air mattress that was to be my bed for the weekend and drifted off to a comfortable sleep.
Friday: Lots of planets have a north!
The next morning, I got to spend a very brief amount of time with the household before everyone went off to work and school (As usual, I managed to get up quite some time before anyone else in the house. This household found it just as bemusing as previous ones (wave tigerbright)) I did have a chance to give brittanyaliera the presents I’d brought for her, including a copy of The Arbuthnot Anthology of Children’s Literature, one of my favourite books from when I was her age, and she gratifyingly refused to let go of it as she left for school. Eventually, everyone was gone away, and left to my own devices, logged into #filkhaven for a bit and chatted with everyone while I caught up on Livejournal. Around about noon, I started to get hungry, so I decided to actually leave the house and wander down the street to find the little grocer that Angie had told me was there.
Dave and Angie live in a lovely neighborhood. It’s a very small town sort of vibe, with sidewalks down quiet streets and houses with small yards, but not cookie-cutter houses like you’d get in a subdivision. I found the grocer’s easily and picked up a sandwich, some pasta salad, some watermelon, and a half-gallon of milk, taking the time to chat up the cute girl behind the deli counter, and then wandered back to home base to eat. I then wasted the latter part of the afternoon playing City of Villains, which Angie graciously allowed me to install on her computer.
When Angie got home, we disappeared upstairs for a while to catch up, and then curled up on the living room couch to watch the American debut of last season’s Doctor Who. We’d both already seen most or all of the season — me from the Internet, and her from CBC on the cable (jealous) — but I’m a big enough fan that I didn’t want to miss it. Overall, it was still enjoyable, though the first two episodes of the season are not the strongest stories in the set, and whoever was responsible for deciding where to cut to commercials should be fired. About the only boneheaded thing he didn’t do was cut to commercial in the middle of someone’s sentence. So, will I be watching Unquiet Dead when it shows tonight on Sci-Fi? Of course, I will, don’t be absurd.
By the end of the second hour of Doctor Who, I was seriously having trouble staying awake, so we went back upstairs to comfortably snuggle, and at some point, Angie left me to sleep, promising she’d come wake me in a couple of hours. Shortly before 2am, I woke up, stumbled downstairs just in time to welcome Dave home from covering 400 hours of college basketball, and resumed my slumber on the guest bed.
Saturday Morning: They stopped me right there and said…(Canadian Content)
I woke up Saturday bright and early, had a shower and went through my morning rituals, and eventually was joined by Dave and Angie. We spent the morning watching Catwoman with the sound off to see if it was less stupid that way (Verdict: Not really, but it *is* more watchable), and an episode of a program called “Cheap Seats” to determine if 30 year old pro wrestling programs are more fun with MST3K style heckling (Verdict: Quite a bit.)
Eventually, Angie and I got ourselves in order and set out for the day’s big adventure, which was to pop across the bridge into Windsor, Ontario, so that I could say that I’d properly been to Canada. (My previous brief stop in that country doesn’t count, since they wouldn’t even let us off the plane.) Everyone always says that the real trick isn’t getting into Canada, of course, but getting them to let you back into the US, but I had my passport, just in case. We paid our toll and rolled up to the border guard, who asked our intentions for coming to Canada. “Just coming over for lunch and maybe some shopping,” we said. “Well, have you ever been fingerprinted?” “Sure,” I said, ever truthful. “Have you ever been arrested?” Now, the truth of the matter is, yes, I have. Over 10 years ago, I bounced a cheque and, with one thing or another, forgot to go and pay it. Six months after that, a nice sheriff came to my door to explain to me that this sort of thing wasn’t allowed and gave me a ride in his car to the county jail, where I spent an hour or so waiting for my friend Craig to bring me the $100 or so that I’d need to pay it all off. (the original cheque was for less than $20.)
The guard looked at me suspiciously, and then gave us a yellow slip of paper and instructed us to pull into the inspection station. So we pulled over and parked, and a couple of very nice guard type people thoroughly searched the car, perhaps to ensure we weren’t trying to bring more bad cheques into the country, and making us mighty grateful we’d gotten the microwave out of the trunk before we made the trip. They then told us to go see the nice immigration folks.
Now, folks, there was only one of two reasons that the nice folks in immigration would want to talk to us, and one was to give us honorary Canadian citizenships for being so brave and honest to the border guard, which we didn’t expect, and the other was to yell at us for making them do a bunch of extra paperwork just so we could have lunch in a foreign country, which is what we expected, but when we got up to the window it turned out there was a third possibility, because before we could say a word they stopped me right there and said “Kid, have you ever been arrested?” So I proceeded to tell them the story of the bad cheque massacree and the three part harmony and they stopped me right there and said “Kid, did you ever go to court?” So I told them story about the campus cop and the failure-to-yield-at-the-nonexistent-stop-sign story and they Stopped Me Right There and said “Kid, we want you to go sit on that bench over there, marked Group W.” So Angie and I went and sat on the bench and had a good time playing with the pencils while they ran background checks on us to make sure we weren’t wanted international criminals sneaking over the border to bother their women. Finally, the loudspeaker came to life and said “Kid, come and get your passport” and we went back to the window and the lady said “Welcome to Canada, have a nice day.”
Having going through these ordeals just to get into the country, we were determined that we weren’t going to eat our lunch just anywhere, so we drove for awhile. Like most fairly urban areas in other countries, it was a curious mix of familiar and strange. We kept rejecting most of the restaurants we passed, either for being too dubious (The Pita Pit?), or too American. (I didn’t go through that much hassle to cross the border to eat at a Subway). We ended up at a little fish and chips shop near the river called Sir Cedrics, which promised the best Fish and Chips on either side of the border. I have no idea if that’s true, but it was awfully darn good!
(Two signs of note: a church with the following message: “Our Lord In Heaven, Please Send Us What You Know We Need Today”. I commented “How delightfully Canadian. ‘Oh Lord, if it’s not too much bother, just send along whatever it was that you thought we might want. But only when it’s convenient. OK, thanks, bye.“ The other sign was an sex shop with a sign out front advertising a ”Condom blowout sale“. Angie: ”Doesn’t really inspire you with confidence in the product, does it?“)
Being fed, we made a stop at the local mall, at which I snagged a bottle of Canadian Tylenol, a book on the Beatles that I spotted at Cole’s, and five Arrogant Worms cds and a Barenaked Ladies DVD. This satisfied my desire to buy some things I couldn’t easily find back home, and, suitably impressed with the country as a whole, we decided to head home.
Of course, given the our travails getting INTO Canada, we were prepared for a real hassle on the way back. We took the tunnel this time, rather than the bridge, because after nutmeg, variety is the spice of life. We pulled up to the border and endured the following exchange:
”Whatcha bringin’ back?”
“Have a nice day.”
And we were back on native soil.
We stopped off at a local adult shop to see if anything looked interesting and pick up some useful supplies, and left speculating on whether the girl behind the counter was actually old enough to work there, then returned to the comfort of home. We eventually noticed that Dave had come home and so emerged to be sociable and stuff.
Saturday evening: Curse you, Dan Fogleberg!!
Eventually, the notion of dinner was broached, and cjdoyle and jenx were queried on whether they would like to join us for dinner. They had already eaten, but suggested that after dinner we might gather for coffee or ice cream. So we set off for a nearby steak place for large quantities of steak and such, and Dave and I swapped stories about crazy ex-girlfriends. (My comment: “Ok, that’s not fair. All my stories seem boring after that!”)
Once we finished with the food, we headed over to the nearby ice cream shop, only to find it was occupied by a local high-school pep squad. Since the supersonic squealing of vapid teenagers didn’t actually suggest itself as the evening of quiet conversation we had contemplated, we fell back on plan B and relocated to a nearby Caribou Coffee.
Along with cjdoyle and jenx, I was pleased to get to meet moominmuppet, who I’ve known on LJ for quite some time (Amusing sidenote that will only make sense to the six people who were there: As I began this paragraph, “Leader of the Band” by Dan Fogleberg came up in my mp3 shuffle.) We chatted for a good two hours, probably to the bafflement and consternation of the staff and other patrons. At some point, I’m pretty sure moominmuppet and I lost the rest of the table as we ventured off into some extended Tove Jansson geeking, but for the most part, everyone was having a good time interacting with, laughing with, and teasing one another about this, that, or the other thing. Definitely an experience I would repeat, as good company is one thing that I can never get enough of.
Having had our fill of food, coffee, and company, we went our separate ways, returned to home, and eventually slumbered.
Sunday: You are in a maze of twisty one-way streets, all alike…
When folkmew found out that I was going to Michigan, she said “Oh my god, if you get a chance to go to Ann Arbor, you have to eat at Zingerman’s!! So, being the sort who is willing to drive halfway across a state for lunch, I say to Angie, ”Um, how far is Ann Arbor, then?“ ”Oh, about half an hour on the other side of the airport.“ ”Cool. Lunch, then?“ And we set off for the lovely college town of Ann Arbor to eat lunch at the famous deli.
Now, folks, there are people who tell you that this is the best deli in the country. They’ll tell you that you simply cannot get a better sandwich. They will say that its worth every penny you spend there.
All of these people are wrong.
It’s better than that.
All I can say, after having their wonderful Reuben sandwich, is that it’s a good thing I don’t live in Ann Arbor, because I can’t afford to eat there every day. I’d go on about it a bit more, but words fail me. If you’re ever in town, make a stop. It’s one of the few things in life that lives up to the hype.
After eating we browsed through a nearby paper store, getting back to the car just before the meter expired, and headed back home, where we spent a last lazy afternoon of alone time, then headed of to the local Mongolian BBQ for supper, chatting on the way with filkertom, who had only just gotten my e-mail from earlier in the day asking if he’d like to have lunch with us while we were in AA. (He had been in Cincinnati at a con, and was calling me back before collapsing in an exhausted heap. Hope to catch up with you next time, Tom!) After dinner, Angie had to go and pick up Brittany from her dad’s, and then we all hung out for a good while, and then, being that tomorrow was Monday and I’d have to fly home and everyone else had work and school, went to bed.
Monday: Homeward bound
Since my flight left at 10:30am, we were aiming to get to the airport by 9am, just so I’d have enough time to not have to rush for the gate. The drive in was fairly uneventful, and we said our goodbyes by the curb, then Angie went off to work and I wandered into the airport, checked in, and cleared through security before having a fairly leisurely breakfast of pancakes and bacon at the airport Chili’s. I then made my way back down the Psychedelic Tunnel of Love™ to the B concourse and found my gate, with 15 minutes to spare before boarding.
The flight home was the most empty I’ve ever been on. I don’t think we had more than 30 people on the entire plane, and I got the entire exit row to myself, which let me get comfy and read my book the entire flight, rather than feeling cramped in my seat. We landed on time, and I took the train back up to North Springs, where tarkrai graciously picked me up and taxied me home, staying to chat for a brief while about my weekend before returning to his day.
I made some soup for lunch, caught up on Livejournal, and spent the rest of the day relaxing before kitanzi came home and our story fades to black….
What an absolutely fabulous time I had. Thanks very much to aiela, davehogg, and brittanyaliera for having me in their home, and to cjdoyle, jenx, and moominmuppet for a very enjoyable evening Saturday, and to the people of Canada for not deciding I was a dangerous criminal and letting me buy CDs from them.
And of course, love and snuggles to aiela, just because.