I returned last night from spending six days away from home. I flew to Detroit, Michigan for the 75th anniversary celebration of Lawrence Technical University (www.ltu.edu/ – originally Lawrence Institute of Technology), in conjunction with the 75th anniversary of the LTU chapter of Phi Kappa Upsilon fraternity (www.phikapp.com/). No, I didn’t go to school there, nor was I ever in a fraternity. I was just along for the ride. During my time there, we visited many tourist spots in addition to the college and frat activities.
Thursday night, Steve and I arrived at the Detroit Airport separately (his plane arrived first, so he was there to greet me), rented a car, and made our way to the Westin in Southfield. It was a nice room, but the wetbar was locked so we couldn’t put anything in it (they just want you to take stuff out of it, I guess, and they want to know when you are doing so), and the bottled water on the dresser had tags to let you know that they were $4 if you drank them. The coffee maker and coffee were gratis, but I can’t drink coffee without cream and I couldn’t buy cream because the fridge was locked. Oh, well. There was a Starbucks in the lobby of the hotel, so that all worked out.
On Friday, we tried to go to the Motown Museum (www.motownmuseum.com/), but it was closed for a private event. It seems the city was unveiling the street signs for having named the small part of Grand Ave. in front of the museum “Berry Gordy Ave.” I didn’t really recognize anyone, but I’m pretty sure a couple of famous people were there.
The Polish Art Center in Hamtramck (polartcenter.com/) was another stop, made at my request. I dabble with pysanky every spring, and when I moved last year, I had to pour out all my jars of egg dye. I am once again collecting quart Ball jars in anticipation of my Lenten psyanky-fest, and the Polish Art Center is where I usually purchase my pysanky supplies via mail order. It was a wonderful treat to be able to go there in person to choose the individual dye packets, look over the colorful instruction books and see all the other craft tools available. To my great delight, I found that the Polish Art Center also carries an impressive amount of baltic amber set in sterling silver. My self-control was intact, barely, and I did manage to retain enough money in my checking account to make the car payment. Barely.
Then we went to a fraternity brother’s house for an informal get-together that evening. They had a beautiful house and all the people were quite nice, and they played a film of a Little Caeser’s commercial that was made in the frat house in 1984. Someone else had filmed the making of the commercial and they were all surprised and excited to realize that one of the unknown actors who was brought in for the commercial (and didn’t make the final cut of either of the two ads) was Tim Allen!
Saturday we went downstairs for Starbucks. It was not open on Saturday or Sunday. Hmph. We found an alternate coffee fix, returned to the Motown Museum and had a WONDERFUL tour. The docent was lively and entertaining and knew and loved his subject matter to the extent that he really made the visit worthwhile. What was normally a 45-minute tour, he stretched into over two hours, and we only left then because we had to be back over at the frat house for a tour of the new alumni lounge.
The rest of Saturday was filled with fraternity and college activities. We toured the frat house where Steve lived all the time he was in college. The alumni group has just redone the garage into a VERY nice alum lounge with a sauna, shower, wet bar, leather couches, wooden lockers, and a big screen TV. They had a formal ribbon cutting, christening the outside wall with a bottle of champagne. Then, everyone caravanned to the college for several large group photos, and then on to the Skyline Club for the formal dinner and dance. Godiva chocolates as table favors and bottles of champagne as parting gifts for each couple. Indeed, a good time was had by all.
Sunday found us at the Franklin Cider Mill (www.franklincidermill.com/), where we saw chopped apples being smashed in stacked layers under a VERY large press to extract fresh cider. It smelled wonderful. And the cider and fresh cake doughnuts tasted wonderful. The mill is powered by a water wheel in a stream that runs underneath/beside the mill. The ducks that live in the stream outside are very fat and very spoiled. I witnessed many doughnut bites thrown into the water at the ducks. Unless the bits were within easy reach, the ducks did not even bother to scramble. They just looked at the tossers with a mixed air of disdain for poor aim and jaded expectation of the next offering.
The Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village (http://www.hfmgv.org/) took all of Monday. Actually, Greenfield Village took most of the day, and then we rushed through the Henry Ford Museum before it closed. We visited the weaving shop, the glassblowers, the print shop, the pottery studio, saw Edison’s Menlo Park workshops, walked into the inside of a Georgia plantation’s slave cabin, saw the 15,000,000th Model T to come off the Ford assembly line, strolled through the Wright Brothers bicycle shop, and visited the homes of Noah Webster and Robert Frost. We walked a lot.
We talked to the weaver about the loom he was working on and the other looms in the shop, one of which was a Jacquard loom. Two stories high, it was designed to use punchcards as programs for the weaving design. Turns out Jacquard licensed International Business Machines to utilize this punch card technology in their calculating machines, but he required them to alter the cards so they were not identical to his. So, they had to cut off one corner of each punch card. For those of you who remember punch cards, now you know why the corner was cut off….
In the Henry Ford Museum, we got to sit in the actual seat, in the actual bus, that Rosa Parks was too tired to get up from, that started the Montgomery bus boycott in 1955. It was actually quite moving and awe-inspiring. We saw a bunch of cars and a bunch of planes and a bunch of trains, but it was about 4:30 by then, and I was worried about whether or not we would get to the gift shop in time to adequately look around, so I think Steve got more out of the museum part of the visit than I did.
We left the museum and drove across town to Grosse Point (yes, just like the movie) to Bob and Joni’s house, and proceeded from there to dinner at an Italian bistro that I can’t quite remember the name of. It was quite yummy, and the creme brulee was served in a soup bowl, and topped with many strawberry slices and much whipped cream. We were a little concerned when our waiter dropped the torch as he was assembling it before caramelizing the top, but he didn’t catch any of us on fire, and it was quite impressive overall. Joni pointed out to Steve more than once during the evening how nice Kerrville, Texas is, and how he should really consider moving there. I could only smile, as I have said that a few times, myself.
Tuesday morning was spent packing, and after we checked out of the hotel, we made one last scheduled stop, at the Lawrence Tech bookstore for the final round of souvenir purchases. Then lunch at T.G.I. Fridays (don’t try their mini-desserts – nasty), and off the the airport. We hadn’t realized until the night before that the first leg of our outbound journies coincided, and so we were quite delighted to find that we did not have to actually say goodbye until we both changed planes at the Nashville airport, and then we were so rushed to get me to my connecting flight that there wasn’t much time for anything more than a quick kiss and hug. *sigh*
I finally got in to the San Antonio airport around 9 p.m., got out of the the terminal and to my car by 9:30, and then made it back to Kerrville just before 11 p.m. I had called Mother from the airport to let her know my plan had arrived safely and to give her an ETA, and she waited up for me. She said she missed me and I couldn’t be away that long again.
It’s nice to be missed, and it’s nice to be home, but it was a very nice time away.