I think I have discovered a new calling if mapping & analysis don’t work out for me – travel agent (even though that’s a bit of a dying industry). My hotel booking skills have been pretty spot on. The hotels I’ve chosen have been great as far as quality and for the most part, location, especially for the Baltimore & Pittsburgh stops. Both were less than 5 minutes away from the Rise & Shine locations and anyone doing MTTS knows a few extra minutes of sleep are very precious.
Mom and I decided to not follow the official route for this leg as we were staying with my cousin Bruce outside of Detroit and we wanted to maximize the time to visit with him. We met up with the group at the track – how cool were the horses, by the way – grabbed some breakfast and didn’t win any prizes. I don’t think I’m in the Pocket of Doom (for the uninitiated, if your name is chosen for a prize, you have until the 3rd time it’s called to claim it and then they move on to another name) but I can say for sure. They had some neat perspective chalk art at the track and watching the horses was really fun.
Because we weren’t following the route, we could take our time to leave – let the main crowds go first and then make our way to Michigan. We followed the route as best as possible although I think there might have been a misprint on the route sheet I printed before leaving home. The app has been great but reception wasn’t great in the hills so I couldn’t double check in the field. Mom drove the first leg since she didn’t want to deal with driving into Detroit so it was nice to act as navigator for a change. I didn’t realize that we’d be passing through a tiny sliver of West Virginia so that was a nice surprise as I was watching the road for Mom.
Before we hit the Turnpike in Ohio, I spotted a sign for Tim Horton’s and I made Mom stop. She thought I was nuts at first but I explained how I’d planned on stopping at one (at least) in Michigan to sample their coffee and donuts to see if they are as good as everyone says. I have to say they it lived up to the hype and we were a bit of an attraction for the staff and the other patrons. We explained how MTTS works and where we’d be stopping and everyone wished us safe travels.
Once we hit the Turnpike, it was pretty smooth sailing, so to speak. It was nice to run into other MTTS folks and Pit Crews at the Service Stops along the way, and to see the Shop MINI USA vans on the road too. Since was “navigating”, I was able to snap a couple of fun pics of the vans. I was hoping to spot the bus but it must have been behind us.
We made excellent time and $11 to pass through a state is a bargain compared to toll roads in Texas. I think it costs at least that much to bypass Austin on Texas 130! We also managed to bypass Detroit entirely – Mom was nervous about going into the city but I think it would have been nice to at least see the skyline – on the way to my cousin’s house. He directed us to a great car wash that did a spectacular job on cleaning Snoopy, which guaranteed it to rain tonight. Sorry everybody, but my car got soaked too. But at least most of the bugs are out of the grill now. We met up with Bruce at his house, got the grand tour and headed out to dinner to an Italian place that makes their own pasta in house. I had some of the best gnocchi I’ve ever had (no, I’ve never been to Italy) and we were able to catch up a lot. I worked on him to bring his daughter to Texas for a visit sometime and I hope it works out.
Milestone: Rolled 74,000
Wildlife avoided in the road: tiny, quick & very lucky chipmunk
Goal achieved: Tim Horton’s coffee and donuts