I Get Allergic Smelling Hay

I used to think that Indiana was the most boring state to drive through. You can go for hours without passing anything of note (LIKE STARBUCKS), and the scenery consists mostly of farmlands, fields, adult bookstores and religious billboards. I was wrong, however.

Northern Michigan is more boring to drive through. It doesn’t even have billboards. Or bookstores. Or Starbucks. (You can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a McDonalds though, and as someone who doesn’t eat McDonald’s this is a pretty neutral discovery for me).

Three plus hours in the car with the girls to attend the memorial service for my mother’s sister-in-law, a woman I barely knew, but who my mom and her husband loved tremendously. A woman who was a fantastic sister to my mom’s husband, and in recent years, a wonderful friend to my mom. I went to be of support to my family and their extended families.

I have to say that I’ve been in a somewhat funky mood for the past several days – nothing about this trip seemed right for me – starting with the fact that it required the purchase of a new portable DVD player since ours had gone kaput in the middle of our last (TEN HOUR) road trip. I wasn’t about to replay that scene, so a new machine was in order. Got that installed minutes before hitting the road.

Actually, it did a fantastic job of keeping the kids occupied. However, because the thought of my kids having sound blasting directly into their eardrums for hours on end, I didn’t opt to have them wearing headphones. Instead from their dual screens I had movies playing into my ears the whole way. This meant: NO RADIO FOR SARAH. And to me, driving without music is TORTUROUS.

So, no music.

Nothing to look at either. Hills, trees, grass.

Yeah, that’s pretty much it.

I’m not immune to the charms of how beautiful Michigan is or can be. I am, however, kind of a city girl. Yes, I prefer a Starbucks on every corner to a local espresso shop that doesn’t open before ten on a Friday (seriously, what is THAT all about?). I prefer knowing that I can essentially throw a dart at a map to determine what kind of fresh cuisine I could eat, if I wanted to (this is nearly a moot point – I will almost always pick Mexican, Spanish or Cuban food if presented with a host of options because …YUM) over a local pub that reheats frozen entrees from a local distributor’s freezer section.

Like I said, I was kind of cranky on this trip.

We arrived to a hotel that hadn’t been updated since the 70s, complete with wood paneling, a blue toilet, and pink tile in the bathroom. None of the outlets could accomodate my laptop’s power cord. The room key was AN ACTUAL KEY. And I picked up the wifi of the hotel across the street better than this motel’s so-called wi-fi.

Thursday night, I slept horribly and woke up several times. This was in part due to the fact that Pumpkin evidently talks in her sleep and partly because I was at a really tense part of “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” right before I went to sleep. Oh, and partly because the hotel skeeved me out.

Friday morning, we drove around for an hour looking for a place to get donuts for the girls – a Friday tradition we relish, whether we are home or away. AN HOUR. And after all that? After I found grocery store donuts? I still had no coffee.

And yet, there was so much beauty. So much beauty and I couldn’t quite wrap my head around it – so frustrated I was by the lack of convenience, the bickering of my daughters and the sleep deprivation.

Because really? This is pretty.

I know that. You know that.

And I love the water, and the lakes and the oceans and beaches, and I love the serenity of waves crashing and sand between my toes and yet…

I love the roar of a city street. I love street vendors selling pretzels. I love the architecture of a skyline punctuated with skyscrapers. I love a glass building that reflects all it sees. People playing guitar on the street for change. The blur of a yellow taxi streaming by. Neon lights. Anticipation and energy hanging on the wind.

And though one is not better than another, for me, someone who needs a lesson or two on how to chill out – the bustle of a city makes it easier for me to catch my breath.

About sarah

Sarah is a book nerd, a music lover, an endorphin junkie, a coffee addict. Oh, and a goof ball. She writes, she tweets, and she sings off key.


  1. I’ll be driving the kids to MN later this summer and the Indiana stretch is the killer part of the trip. I love my in-laws place in rural MN and I think the small town its near is adorable. I enjoy visiting cities, but I don’t know if I ever want to deal with living in one again. I may have to experiment with one in a more temperate region than MSP to be sure. 😉

  2. One area I have never visited. Sounds like you had quite an experience. We stayed in a “keyed” hotel in Jacksonville of all places. Seems THEY would be in the 21st century… But an HOUR for DONUTS? You win the mom award for that one.

  3. Love the lighthouse pic!

    And McDonalds? Yuck!

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