Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Runnin' Wild, Day 1 (Part 2)

Hell, Michigan – Oh, the fun we had with all the ironic wordplay here. Quips like, “Hell is a lot nicer than I would’ve though,” or “The road to Hell is a windy one,” or “I’ll see you in Hell!” And so on. The drive there was just about as fun as actually being there. Interestingly enough, our GPS had no record of Hell, Michigan even being an actual town, so we had to sort of float around that part of the state for a while looking for it. Finally, tucked away somewhere in between Jackson and Ann Arbor, we found the little town with a population of about 300 and had our way with it.

The main attraction was an ice cream parolor named, fittingly, “Screams.” Inside were all sorts of witty t-shirts and keychains and other gift-shoppy keepsakes tattooed with “Hell” all over them. So we did what we do at a place like this—take lots of pictures to prove we had been to Hell and back.

Get it?

Krazy Jim’s Blimpy Burger – Food is such an important part of these trips, and restaurants are hand-picked to ensure that we got the most out of each and every meal. We had to visit the University of Michigan campus to get it for our first dinner of the trip.

The Blimpy Burger was featured on Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives”—a show we trust blindly, as if Guy Fieri were the only person on the face of the planet capable of making intelligent restaurant decisions. The catch here is that you can order your burger in any of a number of ways, with all sorts of special toppings and ingredients. Craig, for example, got a fried egg on his burger. Cole got mushrooms and feta cheese. Me, I got my burger and lower bun placed gently into a paper boat and drowned in chili before being crowned with the head of the bun.

You know it’s a great spot when there’s Sprecher root beer in the cooler. We all washed the delicious goods down with some of that, picked the remnants of burger and feta and egg from our collective craws, and headed to Detroit Rock City, our final destination of the evening.

Tiger’s Game – Comerica was MLB ballpark number nine for hermano and I, headlined by the two Chicago stadiums, Busch in St. Louis, Miller in Milwuakee, Kauffman in Kansas City, the Metrodome in Minneapolis, Jacobs Field in Cleveland, and the Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati. Of all of them, Comerica ranked pretty high on the list.

Granted, the Tigers as an organization are nowhere near my favorite team, but Comerica as a ballpark was more than affable. It is, for example, the only stadium I’ve ever been to with a full-sized, working carousel within its walls. Not that a carousel should say anything about the quality of a park, but I’m just sayin’. Other highlights of the actual building included gigantic plaster tiger sculptures and some seriously bitchin’ bronze statues lining the concourse beyond center field.

Our bleacher seats were second row in left center, which offered us a pretty tight view of the game. To keep ourselves interested throughout the contest, we devised a game where each of us put $5 into The Pot before the game, then passed a half-dollar around all night from one of us to the next as batters stepped up to the plate. The first person to be holding the coin when a homerun was hit would receive the entire pot—until the next homerun was hit. Then the pot money would be transferred to the new winner. The last guy to have the dough when the game ends, keeps it.

The only problem with this was that nobody hit any homeruns all game long. We still had fun hoping and wishing, though, and the fireworks display after the Detroit win made the $19 we spent on tickets more than worth the cost.

Downtown Detroit isn’t a bad-looking place, despite all the horrible things we’d been told about how cruddy the city is. Even at night the area surrounding the ballpark felt like a little mini Chicago in some ways, right down to the People Mover, which is their version of the El. It’s like two cars long, and considering the Red Wings were playing in the Stanley Cups Finals just down the road things were pretty smooshed, but overall there were no problems. No one robbed us at gunpoint, no one kidnapped us and forced us to get the Tigers’ Old English “D” tattooed onto our arms, and Eminem didn’t challenge us to any embarrassing freestyle rap battles down by 8 Mile Road. We just did our thing and headed back to the hotel for one of the worst nights’ sleeps in the history of road tripping.

We stayed at the Renaissance Center downtown, which is part of the complex that houses the GM building. It was a lovely building in its own right, but entirely circular and extremely confusing. For being so “nice” the beds were like sleeping on plywood, and worst of all there was some sort of commotion not unlike an argument from the show “Flava of Love” happening in a nearby room. Just loud, spirited shouting and cursing well into the night. We never did figure out the origin of the noise, but it was like falling asleep with the TV on and having the anger slip into your dreams. None of us slept, but after a lovely Day 1 it hardly mattered. There would be time for sleep later. For now, it was sweet(ish) dreams and preparation for the rest of the Michigan mainland.


Ann said...

Hey buddy. I am a little bummed you didn't visit me. I live down the road from Blimpy Burger and the u of m!

Extreme Brigs said...

Sorry, Ann. We move so fast that we don't always think to call people up. It's inexcusable. Cans't thou ever forgive me?

Ann said...

I will try to find forgiveness in my heart.

Nick Ponton said...

I work in Ann Arbor quite a bit...I love eating at Blimpie Burger. There are so many great foodie options near U of M.

I also agree on CoPa. Love the park. Got tickets to a game later in the year. Don't really agree on downtown Detroit though...the place is dump. I'm guessing you were near the Greektown area which is pretty nice and one of the few walkable areas in downtown Detroit. The RenCen is nice, but desserted..that was meant to be a shopping mecca and it's filled with banks and fast food. We went to dinner at Michael Symon's restaurant back in February (which is on Washington Street in another hotel) and downtown was absolutely desserted. I'm always amazed at how different Detroit is from Chicago.

Had I known you were going, I could have directed you to an outstanding BBQ restaurant near Tiger Stadium (which when you were there, was still partially standing).....or if you'd brought your passports, to an even better BBQ restaurant in Windsor....