Thursday, April 16, 2009

My Impressions of Michigan

image First off, I've have so many piano studio emails and so much writing to do today, I finally asked Glenn to just drop me at Barnes & Noble so I can work all day. This was just not at all a good time for me to go out of town.

Last night I was upset about this, but this morning I'm thrilled. I'm more accustomed to working. It's more comfortable. And I go through withdrawal if I don't get my 30+ hours a week in the bookstore.

So Glenn dropped me off, drove away with his cell phone off, and the sign says they are without power. The whole freakin' mall. On a sunny day. Thank goodness I have Glenn's laptop (he wanted me to fix something), which has power, but not the stuff I need to work on. My laptop with the writing I need to work on has a drained battery.

So I've spent the whole morning at Burger King getting no work done, which is irritating, because I wanted a full day of work.

But Michigan:

image First off, we've accidentally passed more music stores than EXIST in ALL of Ohio. This makes me happy, because if Ohio were any indication, then piano and music are DYING. But if Michigan is any indication, then Ohio is dying, LOL. I'm fine with the latter, not so much the former.

Secondly, there are a TON of cancer advertisements in Michigan. This makes me think of two things: first, cancer is a profitable business, which makes me feel a little queasy; second, there must be a lot of cancer in Michigan. Is the Lake really polluted? The water? What's up?

Michigan also has the "cyberknife," which sounds a bit scary to me.

Third, every exit stop seems to have an RV dealership, sometimes two or three. Wow. And what's even more bizarre is that you cannot stand in front of a row of houses without 1-4 RVs being in driveways in your visual range. Even from the highway, there is ALWAYS at least one house with an RV parked in the driveway in your line of sight.

In all of Chagrin Falls and Solon, I think I've seen two RVs.

And finally, Michigan only has rest stops on one side of the road. So if you're going South, you have to pass the rest stop, go ten miles to the next exit, turn around and go north for ten miles, and then use the potty. And then you have to drive five more miles North, get off the exit and turn around and drive the 15 miles South you've already covered.

image Going to the bathroom involves a freakin' hour of driving. I wonder how much money they get in taxes on the extra gas this consumes?

All these observations make me realize how writing what you know is nearly impossible. If I lived in Michigan, this stuff would probably seem too ordinary to mention. There are probably a million ordinary things about Ohio that I've failed to notice, simply because it seems normal and unremarkable.

Oooh... the mall has power now! I get to work!

How are you guys doing? What's up this week?

27 bonus scribbles:

Mark Terry 4/16/2009 02:13:00 PM  

Uh, where in Michigan are you?

The rest stop thing is primarily true, I think. You'll have one going north (say on I-75) and the one on southbound is, AT LEAST, 10 miles, more often 30 miles away. I suppose that is weird.

As for music stores, hmmm.... never noticed.

spyscribbler 4/16/2009 02:35:00 PM  

Um, I'm really bad at names. Right now I'm in Midland (Glenn went to Mt. Pleasant). We slept at a rest stop on I-75 last night, north of Midland. (We just throw a futon in the back. It's comfy.)

We're doing a big circle. We came up through the left side of the state, through... Indiana? Just a little corner piece. Then we went to Grand Rapids, maybe? Sheesh, I forgot! Wayland, we stopped by Wayland! That's it. Even Wayland had a piano store. We've been on 10, 20, 75, but I can't remember the rest.

Tomorrow, I think we're going to Frankenmouth, or maybe we're just going to Wixom. I was thinking to ask if you wanted to do lunch (originally we were hitting about five spots in a circle around Detroit), but here it's Thursday and I still have no idea what we're doing tomorrow, LOL!

Mark Terry 4/16/2009 03:00:00 PM  

You're not too close, actually. I do suggest if you guys go further north and west to check out Traverse City, Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes, there are two state parks on Higgins Lake (beautiful lake), maybe Tawas if you're going over into the Lake Huron side of the state. Ludington is beautiful, too.

spyscribbler 4/16/2009 03:07:00 PM  

Oh wow! I wish I had talked to you first. I didn't plan this at all. We just decided to check out RVs, and I left all the planning to Glenn. I'm sick of looking at RVs, so we're just wandering. Glenn wanted to play some poker.

Tomorrow we're headed in the opposite direction: Detroit, then home. I don't know what we're doing tomorrow, but if I get my work done, it sure would be nice to stay in a State Park tomorrow night.

Come to think of it, I don't actually have any idea where you are in Michigan. I sorta pictured you in Detroit, but probably because it's the only city I know! LOL!

Mark Terry 4/16/2009 03:28:00 PM  

Oxford, about an hour north of Detroit. Between Lapeer and Pontiac.

Eric Mayer 4/16/2009 07:25:00 PM  

The rest stop arrangements still isn't as bad as Massachusetts. At least when we went through there years ago. Coming into the state a sign warned that all the rest stops were closed. We named it the Iron Bladder State.

I've only spent about 4 days in Michigan. Once visiting friends in Detroit and once at an orienteering meet. The Detroit friends took me only briefly to downtown to see the monorail than for a longer excursion to Belle Isle park in the Detroit River to see deer. So my impression of Michigan is mostly of parks.

Edie 4/16/2009 08:25:00 PM  

That is odd about the rest spots. I'm worried about missing my emails when I'm at a conference in June. I'm addicted.

Jenna 4/16/2009 08:37:00 PM  

Spy, I live in Michigan--in the Pontiac Mark spoke of :)...about 30 to 45 minutes north of Detroit--depending on traffic.

I have noticed our rest areas are spaced out along the freeway but I've never minded it--but then again I've been up and down them multiple times a year my whole life so I've just learned to plan accordingly. I actually prefer them to the huge center plazas in other states, the ones with food and bathrooms, the walk from the parking lot to the bathrooms takes forever when you have a kid holding it ;).

I know further south there are more RVs (the huge Walt Michaels RV is down there) than in Metro Detroit and Northern Michigan and I think it's because from southern Michigan you can get to other states pretty quick and those that love to travel with an RV can hop out of the state quick and easy or head north (if you ever get the chance Northern lower Michigan or the Upper Peninsula are the parts of Michigan you want to see).

There are some really great hospitals and cancer centers in Michigan (UofM, Karmanos, etc.) so they must be ads for them.

Did Glenn grow up in Mt. Pleasant or go to Central? My hubby and I both graduated from Central.

I hope you get to see some better parts of Michigan--Mt. Pleasant, Detroit, and Wixom are not our best representations--Frankenmuth is an ok rep.

Take Mark's suggestions if you can--those places are beautiful--and if I remember correctly I think there is a wine festival going on somewhere on the west coast of Michigan and some other kind of festival going on close to where Melanie grew up.

Don't forget to go easy on us :)--we're hurting bad here, we need the tourists this summer--they may be the only hope for our economy.

Aimless Writer 4/16/2009 09:33:00 PM  

Perhaps the rest stop issue is why everyone owns an RV? Then they have their bathroom with them.

I'm glad Glen's home. With all the pirate trouble I was worried.

Dominique 4/17/2009 12:02:00 PM  

I've always heard that the rest stops here in Michigan are often placed so they're just ahead of bigger cities--the reasoning being that folks traveling to those places might want to stop just before they get there to hit the restrooms (traveling sales people and the like). So...say if you're heading north into a city, the rest stop on the northbound side would be just before the city for northbound travelers...and the rest stop on the southbound side would be the other (north) side of the city so that the southbound travelers would be able to stop before heading into the city.
Never really paid attention to see if that's true with the older rest areas anyway.

I thought Indiana had more RV places because they made a lot more of them there.

Melanie Avila 4/17/2009 01:56:00 PM  

ROFL! I started reading Jenna's comment before I saw who wrote it and had a moment of "ANOTHER person lives there TOO?" D'oh.

I was born in Pontiac but moved to the west side as a kid and spent YEARS going to those rest stops on my way to visit Jenna. :)

Yes, lots of RV stores and hospitals over where you are. I'm curious to hear what you think of Frankkenmuth. I couldn't wait to get out of there the one time I went.

Charles Gramlich 4/17/2009 05:04:00 PM  

Been a busy week here, although car trouble short circuited me today.

Michelle Lauren 4/17/2009 09:23:00 PM  

Hey Spy. Wow, I'm with you: What's up with the cancer advertisements, Michigan? I never heard about there being a higher than average number of people affected by cancer in that area.

I'm so sorry you had to spend all day in Burger King. It's terrible being without power. During a hurricane a few years back, I was without power for about a week and I literally cried because I couldn't use my computer to write and I couldn't check my email. It just leaves me feeling so disconnected from the world.

Enjoy your trip!

Michelle Lauren

Robin 4/18/2009 08:57:00 AM  

I hope you guys have a great time! I've only been to Ann Arbor, so I have no real Michigan experience. But I'm going to keep my eyes peeled for the weirdness in PA. How funny!

spyscribbler 4/18/2009 05:58:00 PM  

LOL, Mark. That's another thing I love about Michigan: the town names sound so... exotic to me. :-)

We ended up hitting Wixom on Friday morning and going home. I think Glenn was exhausted!

spyscribbler 4/18/2009 05:59:00 PM  

HAH! Eric, that is hilarious! "Iron Bladder State." I'm never going to forget that!

That sounds cool. We have to see more of the scenery next time. This time, we were mostly concerned with seeing RVs.

spyscribbler 4/18/2009 06:02:00 PM  

Oh Jenna! I have to make sure the next time we go to see both you and Mark for lunch! :-)

Glenn's from New Orleans. He's a total Southerner, through and through. (We definitely have cross-culture difficulties, at times, LOL!)

Ohio's hurting, too. :-( I actually find the music thing and the RV thing to be HUGE points in Michigan's favor! :-) We were mostly concerned with looking at RVs, but next time, we will have to do some camping and checking out of the scenery. It's a pretty state, for sure!

spyscribbler 4/18/2009 06:04:00 PM  

OH AIMLESS! I have to TELL you! Their boat got stopped by the Coast Guard, and a SWAT team boarded with guns and sawed-off shotguns and EVERYTHING! They did a check on everyone's passport.

It's typical for the Coast Guard to board once every couple years, but usually it's one or two guys, and they set up in the galley.

This was guns blazing and yelling and everyone up on deck and EVERYTHING. With a whole team!

It took all day, and Glenn almost going to have to delay his homecoming for a day. (It was right outside Seattle.)

spyscribbler 4/18/2009 06:04:00 PM  

PS: They theorize it was because there were more than a few Somalians working in the factory.

spyscribbler 4/18/2009 06:05:00 PM  

Dominique, we almost went to Indiana! We're planning on it, actually. That's a wise arrangement of rest stops. At least there's a reasoning!

It's new to me, though. I'm used to one on each side of the road, LOL. :-)

spyscribbler 4/18/2009 06:07:00 PM  

Melanie, it's curious to me, because there's some big hospitals in Cleveland--they have whole floors for when a king or sheik or whatever comes, LOL--but they don't really advertise their services. They do think well of themselves, though. Just not a huge number of billboards advertising, LOL!

You know, it could be that Michigan health insurance is arranged so that consumers have more of a choice. Here, advertising would be almost useless, because our insurance generally only lets us go to either University Hospitals OR Cleveland Clinic.

spyscribbler 4/18/2009 06:08:00 PM  

Ooh, Charles! Did I read on your blog about car trouble? Knock on wood--we want to buy a car in November or next spring, and I'm holding my breath that ours will hold out until then. (It's over ten years old.)

spyscribbler 4/18/2009 06:09:00 PM  

Hah! Michelle, I love that you cried! I know that feeling well! That's hilarious! I would do it, too! I feel so lost and disconnected without the internet, now.

spyscribbler 4/18/2009 06:10:00 PM  

Ooh, Robin, I'd love to read what you see in Pennsylvania! If anyone can find weirdnesses, it's you!

(Okay... that sounded a little weird. It was a compliment, I swear!)

Stewart Sternberg 4/18/2009 10:00:00 PM  

Mt. Pleasant. B-r-r-r-r-r-r. Here in Algonac, on the St. Clair River, as it passes along by Harson's Island, life is simple. Not simple as in...uncomplicated, but simple as in...stupid. Natural. Not natural as in...without preservatives, but natural as Shakespeare meant the term....

My next door neighbor has flowers blooming. Of course they're plastic, but hell, nothing says Algonac like plastic flowers. His son, a recovering alcoholic on disability, suffering from diabetes and God knows what else, was out in his motorized wheelchair, orange vinyl flag flapping in the April breeze.

And next door, the woman with the interesting lawn displays, a cornocopia of kitsch for each holiday, was cleaning her garden getting ready for the warm weather. All my neighbors were out, like undead they came, pasty skinned, milky eyed.

Ah. Algonac.


Of course, I'm no fan of Ohio either.

Robin 4/18/2009 11:20:00 PM  

Spy, that was an awesome compliment! Second only to when everyone in my stand up comedy class called me "devilish". ;)

mom2brie,  4/19/2009 10:46:00 PM  

Mom had gamma knife surgery - a cyber knife is very similar - it is really a high tech radiation to get at tumors that are impossible to remove via "typical" surgery. It is actually not really a surgery and not really a knife - rather radiation - go figure. PS - University Hospital also offers cyber knife.