Road Trip: Ann Arbor or Bust

Load ’em up and move ’em out

Not a word was said about it again for the rest of the summer, but I was beginning to wonder if all of her gear would fit in the Flex. With all the stuff that my daughter had accumulated over the summer, I was thinking that it would take more like a large-sized empty cargo van. In any event, when I pulled up that fine August morning in a simply stunning Ruby Red Metallic 2013 Ford Flex with a black roof, 20” aluminum wheels, chrome tipped exhausts and leather-trimmed seats, Jenna was stunned. “Wow, it’s so big!” she said as I dropped the third row of seats and one middle bucket and started piling in the works. Bags, bedding, towels, a 34” flat screen TV, multiple suitcases and a small refrigerator–the Flex gobbled it up without taking away my back or side views. And there was still a lot of room for me, Jenna, and Dylan, my son.

Stocked up on sandwiches, chips, fruit and water, we took off early. Our goal was to get to Ann Arbor by sundown making only necessary stops. For us, it was all about the landing. Route I-80 W takes us through New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Ohio.

Ten hours of driving through Pennsylvania and Ohio isn’t boring. Not too far from New Jersey, the horizon opens up, the highways smooth out and tollbooths are few and far between. The roads are wide, well maintained and leisurely loopy against a backdrop of rivers, rolling hills and farms stocked with horses and cows. The only annoyance was the large trucks. However, traffic moved evenly and was well-spaced. If I have any advice for long routes in the Midwest, it’s to stock up on healthy foods so you don’t need to stop at restaurant chains. Also, get gas before you need it. There are miles (and miles) between gas stations and rest stops.

We kept rest stops to a minimum. By the time we had emptied our last bag of corn chips, we blew into Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Ann Arbor is a vibrant college town with activities going on 24/7. You can expect to see everything including pledges wearing fraternity and sorority t-shirts, couples in dreadlocks and professors clad in Dockers and button down shirts. Even to a NYC girl, Ann Arbor has some surprises.

Stuff to eat, student approved

Jenna and her friends compiled this list for me. I can say that I truly prefer to eat like a college kid when I’m visiting. It’s much more interesting and lively.

Amer’s: Jenna described this as a “Michigan student staple for sandwiches and salads.” This Mediterranean deli has three locations in Ann Arbor.

Zingerman’s: A deli comparable to NYC’s Katz’s!
422 Detroit Street; (734) 663-3354

Blue Tractor: Awesome barbeque, burgers and locally brewed beer.
205 E. Washington Street: (734) 222-4095

Frita Batidos: A funky place to go for tropical shakes and Cuban style burgers.
117 W. Washington; (734) 761 -2882

Kilwin’s: Since 1947, this down-home confectionary has been serving up homemade goodies including ice cream, waffle cones, fudge and salt water taffy.
107 East Liberty Street: (734) 769-7759

Rendez Vous: The place to go for a quick crepe.
1110 South University St; (734) 761-8600

Shopping finds

Wazoo Records: Located one level up right on the main drag, this vinyl packed store is a place to hang out and reminisce about your old favorites.
336 1/2 S State St; (734) 761-8686

Pitaya: Inexpensive clothing finds with an inventory that changes weekly.
315 S. State Street; (734) 761-4444

Where to stay

Places to stay in Ann Arbor fill up quickly. I was lucky to find Stellar House Bed & Breakfast online and have made it my second home in Michigan. Located in a country-like setting minutes from downtown Ann Arbor, the two bedroom B&B offers guests their own large living room with a fireplace. House mom Hillary Baldwin makes inspired breakfasts and yummy homemade muffins! When you call up, Hillary asks about your dietary preferences.
3990 Gleaner Hall Road; (734 369-3106)

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One Response to “Road Trip: Ann Arbor or Bust”

  1. Adeline says:

    Great tips, I love that this car has a refrigerator. I find the worst part of long trips is having to eat fast food. I never eat it at home and resent having to eat it on the road. Packing a cooler works but knowing that you don’t have to worry about getting ice is wonderful. What happens when the engine is off, does the refrigerator shut down also?

    I haven’t been to Ann Arbor, but when I do I’ll take your list of places to go! Thanks

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