Last spotted in San Francisco, USA on March 28, 2003, 1:23 pm
Who is he? Where is he going? Where has he been? David Barrett / Quinthar
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My final leg in the US took me through Kentuky and Ohio, where I my extended family for a few days. Then off to Saginaw, Michigan -- probably the most accurate "home town" for me as it's where I went to Swan Valley High School -- to visit high-school friends. Finally off to Ann Arbor, home of the University of Michigan, and Ypsilianti (home of my brother). With the US tour complete, I hopped on a bus in the seedy part of Ann Arbor and started the long trip south to Mexico.

On a dark and rainy night, my cousins (cousin and his wife? cousin and cousin-in-law?) and I went to the Red Lounge. Matching the rain, it's a dark and sultry place where I imagine people go to not be seen. They fix a mean Belvedere martini and Sapphire and Tonic, have a jukebox full of Sinatra, and offer a good selection of very good food. During the summer (and when not in the rain) it appears that they open the garage doors to let in the light and out the music, but for our visit we had the seedy place all to ourselves.

PS Shannon: You made it!
As I passed through Ohio I stopped by Hillsboro to visit my grandparents on my father's side. It was around lunch that I was to show up, so we agreed to have a nice small lunch together. However, as best as I can tell, my grandmother knows how to fix exactly three meals: fried chicken, pork chops, and salmon patties. Every time we go over there we always have the same exact meals, and they are always as large as they are good. Despite there only being the three of us, and despite it being only a "small lunch", the table was just as full as it is when there's twice the guests. Given this, I just had to get a picture (even though, to Mammaw's dismay, she didn't have on the lace tablecloth).

And if you're curious, we had salmon patties. They were delicious.
The night before driving across northern Ohio a storm came through and coated all the trees with a thick layer of ice. For miles upon miles of highway, every tree I saw was glazed over like new Crispy Kreme donuts. Eventually I just had to stop and take a couple pictures.
At the heart of the University of Michigan is the brass M. Many a legend is bourne from this fixture's powers. Step on it before your first bluebook and you'll fail. However, by running from it to the puma's while the clocktower strikes twelve, you can undo the curse. Slither over it like a snake if you lose a bargain, or run over it naked after the last exams. During the days the M is covered by preachers, hippies, protesters, and even students. At night it's been home to candlelight vigils, romantic walks, and cries of anguish from those that stepped into the ancient curse and mystery of the M.
At the time of this writing, I have to say that the Espresso Royale Cafe on State St in Ann Arbor, MI has got to be the best coffeeshop in the entire world. Not that it's the best in everything: no hot waitresses that refill your tea without asking, no panoramic view of the ocean, no massive tea selection. No, what it lacks in quantity it makes up in quality. Peep this:

The ERC has a fantastic crowd of University of Michigan college students. Not that they're any better than other college students (though, being a Wolverine, I have to say that they are), but it gets points for not being eternally filled with wannabe goth teens or CEOs and their trophy wives.

The ERC has free wireless Internet access, Ethernet ports for the wired folks, and PCs available for the rest. 'Nuff said.

The ERC has a large (though not massive, like Pango) tea selection, and it's all loose leaf. Take that Tazo!

The ERC has not one, not several, but a veritable bunch o... [more]
Well, today is the day.

First, I must apologize for my extreme tardiness in updating the site. I did manage to get much (but not all) of my New Orleans experience up online, but I still have a long, long way to go. You might think that traveling around the US is all fun and games. Well, generally it is. But that takes up more time than you might think, with precious little left over.

Furthermore, it's going to get worse before it gets better. In a couple hours I jump on a bus that will drive for a long, long time before I get off and get onto another bus that will drive even longer. At the end of all that, who knows how many days from now, I hope to find some place to sit down and update for real. But until then, well, it's not looking good. So, though the fact that you're receiving this negates your need to hear it, anyone not subscribed to the mailing list should do so now in order to learn when I manage to get updates out in the future.

So, with that o... [more]
While waiting for my bus out of town I wandered around Ann Arbor's main street to get lunch. (Incidentally, I'm happy to report that a new Quizno's has opened up, no thanks to my friends that refused to go there with me despite my massive discounts.) During my wanders I stumbled across Crazy Wisdom Book and Tea Shop. The name sounded familiar, but not the location. After meandering in and asking about, it turns out they moved from a remote location to the prime spot on Main Street about four years ago (right after I graduated in '98), opening up the tea shop in the new location. And what a tea shop it is! In minutes I was sipping piping-hot Earl Grey and mulling over my upcoming bus ride while looking over the Main Street traffic. The tea was great and served in an impressive array of porceline: while most places don't think to give me one dish, Crazy Wisdom gave me two! That's crazy!

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