I hit the road this morning for two weeks of travels. Today I set out for Grand Rapids (I’ll be here until Thursday, when I depart for New Orleans and the SBL Annual Meeting). Here are a few highlights of my journey so far.
Most ridiculous attempts to check items for air travel:
One person was called back to security for trying to check a Gasoline (!) powered leaf blower. The other person was actually perplexed about why they could not check “safe” firecrackers in their luggage.
Greeting upon arrival in Chicago as we entered the terminal from the plane:
“Welcome to Chicago. We want you to be healthy….” This was followed by 2 minutes of telling people how to blow their noses and wash their hands. Yup. This was our welcome to the Windy City.
Different areas of the country have various regulations about requirements for automobiles. For example, California has tough emissions control requirements. Apparently in Chicago, turn signals are optional equipment.
Chicago locals are very generous. If you ask 3 people for directions, you will be given 4 sets of instructions. And even these will require asking another two people for clarification. Likely, this is their form of the Welcome Wagon.
Once actually on the road, the drive from Chicago, through a small part of Indiana (who knew?) and on to Michigan was quite pleasant. I have never been in any of these states (save to change planes in O’Hare). I am definitely feeling it is more “northern” here. The trees have no leaves left at all. The sun sets REALLY early. While not really freezing cold, the nip in the air is enjoyable.
Why listen to an iPod as you travel when you can listen to the local flavor on radio? Most surprising was Smile FM, which plays “Michigan’s positive hits.” Only a few minutes into the playlist and I realized that this is the area’s Christian radio station. Of course, they never actually said that. Other than the music, the dead give-away was the Blessing for the Hunt that was done on the air!! This blessing/prayer for the hunter, his fellowship, his solitude, his safety, etc. just seemed a bit surreal.
Of course, there was wildlife to be seen. You know you are near water when a great blue heron swoops across the highway just over the tops of the cars. And of course there was roadkill (not only deer, but raccoons and a few unidentifiable mammals). After I had turned north and headed up toward Grand Rapids, the terrain became a little more hilly. In fact, it even started to look like Maine. Just as I had that thought, I came upon a sign for the next town: Bangor. I kid you not.
Local businesses often have funky names. I don’t this one was a good choice though: Olde Strange Inn.
I forgot that I would be coming into Dutch country. Hurrah! I hope to find a Dutch bakery at some point.
There seem to be a lot of billboards here. One advertiser must plunk down quite a bit of change. Their ads were ubiquitous (and I could do without them): the Lion’s Den. I didn’t realize you could spell the word “ADULT” with such large letters. I was, however, almost persuaded to detour off my path to track down the Chocolate Garden (which was featuring a new truffle that had coffee in it). In fact, there was yet another billboard tempting chocoholics: the Chocolate Cafe. I like this state.
The Calvin College campus is quite lovely. And the folks who helped this lost soul find her way around the campus were truly friendly and kind.
I thought we would be staying in some kind of dorm-like rooms. Ha! The Prince Conference Center is gorgeous! Even a fireplace in the lobby. Maybe I will update later with some photos.
Now, to go find some coffee…