after week nine

Things I’ve Learned:

1) The DeVos family owns Grand Rapids – fear them.  Since 1979, Rich DeVos has made political donations totaling 4.1 million dollars. Of that vast amount, $4000 has gone to Democrats.  The pyramid scheme he founded, Amway, contributed $500,000 last year to the National Organization For Marriage, which opposes same-sex marriages.  His son and daughter-in-law are dick’s, too.  Oh, and so’s his dad.  Point being: they’re all awful and their names are splattered all over Grand Rapids, which probably doesn’t mind because it’s situated in that horrific part of Michigan that’s as solidly Republican as any other part of the country.

After almost six weeks, my time in Michigan is just about over.  As I’ve mentioned here often, the general awesomeness of Detroit took me by surprise – I can’t wait to return, as there’s a bunch of Detroit that I still want to see and photograph.  More predictably, Ann Arbor also endeared itself to me quickly, and the many weekends that I’ve spent here have been wonderful.  Really, the entire eastern side of the state, along with most of the route north towards Sault Ste Marie (“most of” because Saginaw truly blows), has been terrific.  My travels through all of these areas have been happy ones that I will remember fondly.

But everything west of Lansing (and including Lansing) is utter garbage and I’m more than happy to not have to go back there for a very long time.

2) For a brief moment (actually, about 9 hours), I seriously thought that a ghost had stolen my Kindle Fire, giving further proof that I’m an idiot. This was at a Howard Johnsons in Battle Creek.  The Kindle was next to my laptop, then it was gone.  The door was latched the entire time.  I was completely stumped and freaked out.  I tore the room down – checking drawers, my luggage, even lifting the toilet tank cover – with no luck.  This was around 1am – when I woke up the next morning, I was ready to concede my Kindle – a Christmas gift from my lovely parents – to the spirits.  Then I remembered where I put it, and everything went back to normal.  I’m an idiot.

The Week In Hotels:

My week began at the same Red Roof Inn in Lansing that had previously smelled like pomegranate and wet dog fur.  It smelled okay this time around.

The next two days were spent at a Super 8 in Grand Rapids.  Prior to checking in, I checked the online reviews for the hotel.  Every single one of them was overwhelming negative.  However, one of them also mentioned that the porn channel was unblocked (they somehow considered this a bad thing), which briefly gave me something to look forward to.  Alas, there was no free porn channel to be had, leaving me to make do with all the free porn found online.  In the end, the hotel was fine – the only negative I would give it is that it was a three story building with no elevator, which is a huge pain when you’re lugging around 60-70 pounds of luggage, electronics, and work material.

The rest of the week was spent first at the Howard Johnsons in Battle Creek that did not have a g-g-g-ghost, then back in Ann Arbor for the weekend at the sleek Motel 6 that was once-again affordable now that all the graduation crap is over at U.M.

Restaurant Reviews (None Of Which Are Particularly Exciting – Sorry):

1) Jersey Giant – Lansing
A return visit, this time for a roast beef sandwich.

2) Pizza Hut – Grand Rapids
My first pizza order of the trip.  Their spicy Sicilian pizza was very good and filling enough to provide me with 3 meals.

3) Culver’s – Battle Creetk
I had a bacon cheeseburger (or butterburger or whatever) which was about as good as can be expected from a fast food place, even though the onions were a bi–ohmygod, this is so boring.  Sorry – I’ll try to have more adventurous meals next week.

4) Food carts – Ann Arbor
A bunch of them were squeezed into a very small space in downtown Ann Arbor for some kind of monthly music-and-food fest where one can sample the wide diversity of ethnic food that’s been re-appropriated by white people who own food carts.  The items sampled included a whitefish taco (good mainly due to the garlic sauce), carnitas taco (meh), pork bun (with pork belly, which is apparently now the hipster’s choice cut of the pig and that’s fine with me because it’s always fatty and wonderful), mushroom bun (also very good, even with no pork fat involved), and Thai coleslaw.

5) Shredded squid and squid salad from some Korean supermarket in Ann Arbor.
I had almost forgotten how much I like squid.  Both of these items were so, so good – totally worth the atrocious burps that followed.


1) Trunk wine
It’s starting to heat up a bit, which is making me wonder how much longer I can carry around a bunch of wine in my trunk. Three bottles remain in my current case. After those are done, it might be time to switch tactics and start buying bottles (or a couple cool, refreshing beers) at each stop. I’ll miss you so much, trunk wine!

2) Two bottles of Shock Top at a basement wedding pre-party in Saline, Michigan, in which half the people there were Russian.
In other words, a typical Friday. The beer was okay.

Up Next:

Fucking Indiana for two days, then it’s finally time to begin the Chicago portion of this adventure.


Photos are from Marshall and Grand Rapids. More pictures can be found at my Flickr page.

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