Well, actually, I didn’t lose, my team did. I actually won more than I lost during our recent adventure.
So this plan slowly evolved over the years. Once we heard Michigan was coming to play in Seattle, followed by them hosting us the following year, we toyed with the idea of going back to Ann Arbor when it was the Huskies’ turn to travel to the Midwest.
Then, COVID hit and last year’s meeting in Seattle was postponed to 2028. Great.
We have a couple of Michigan friends and the more we talked about it, the more we decided to make it happen. I have friends that have done the Husky road game thing and the idea of me being able to go back and see “The Big House” in person, it was pretty much a bucket list item.
Of course, this was back when I was believing all the hype about how good the Dawgs were going to be this year.
So, I thought I would pass along everything I learned from this experience so that, should you ever decide to try and do a Road Trip Weekend, you’ll gain from my lessons learned.
Here’s how the game plan looked:
Catch an 8am flight, arrive in Chicago around 3pm, hang out with our Wolverine friend, Kristi, and then get up early and hit the road.
Get up early and hit the road. Wait, I just said that. We arrived in Ann Arbor by 2pm with a couple of potty stops thrown in, grabbed some lunch and began walking.
We walked all over the U of M campus, hearing stories of our friends’ time back on campus. At one building, as we were going in, a future Wolverine leader asked me, “Washington….is that D.C. or the state?” I answered his question so he wouldn’t have to look it up.
From campus, we walked to a nearby golf course, where Kristi’s family had a tailgate party set up. We were surrounded by a sea of Maize & Blue. We enjoyed the delicacies of the day and then, walked to the game. Notice the key word, “walk.”
We were surrounded by 108,000 fans, most from Michigan, with a smattering of Purple and Gold throughout the stadium, including us.
And after the walk from the library where we parked, to the campus, to the tailgate party and then to the game, we got to stand pretty much the entire game if we wanted to see it. Despite the fact we didn’t want to, we still stood.
As the game ended, we headed out to our rendezvous point to meet up with our group and then WALK back to the library. Throw in post-game traffic and a 25-minute drive to our hotel room and we didn’t lay our heads down on our pillows until 2am.
The alarm went off at 7am, we met up in the lobby at 8:15am and then headed to a breakfast place I found in Yelp. it was awesome. What a discovery!
After breakfast, we made a couple of stops before beginning the trek back to Chicago.
Our first destination was a place called Novi, around 30-minutes out of Detroit, where my cousin Pat lived. I mean, c’mon, we had traveled all this way and to be just a few moments away from a cousin I had only heard about and never actually met–I just had to get by and say hi!
From there, we swung through Kalamazoo, Michigan, the hometown of our Wolverine tour guide, Kristi. We got the abbreviated tour, stopped by to see her parents, pick up a cooler that had been left with one of her brothers at the Tailgate party, and then headed off to the Windy City.
Oh, and on our way out of Kalamazoo, we drove by the Pfizer plant where they made that now-famous vaccine.
Hours later, Kristi dropped us off at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, where we caught our flight home.
Since we were flying home on a Sunday, both my wife and I wore our Seahawks blue. As we made our way through the terminal, a little voice yelled out, “Hey!” I turned to look to see if he was talking to me and he was. It was a 3-year-old kid wearing a Seahawks jersey, so I yelled, “Go Hawks!” and he replied, “Go Hawks!” What a special moment. Nice to see parents raising their kids the right way.
Was the whole trip worth it? Absolutely, for so many reasons. A Husky win would have been the icing on the cake, but I did pick up some tips about trying this kind of thing, so I thought I’d pass them along to you.
Give yourself more time.
Yes, you CAN do it in three days, but trying to do everything we did in that allotted time was insane. Several of us had Fitbits on and we figured we had taken 26,843 steps on that Saturday. Up to this point in my life, I haven’t taken that many steps. It was so many, my Fitbit reported itself stolen. That’s 75 flights of stairs.
Lesson: Pad both sides of the trip and give yourself a couple of days to do things leisurely, rather than wedging them in. Your knees will thank you.
Bring a Portable Phone Charger
I had actually thought of this and charged mine. I just left it at home. The result was, I was constantly on the prowl for energy sources so I could charge my phone. It wasn’t about me being connected. it was largely due to the fact our game tickets were on an almost dead phone
Lesson: Bring TWO chargers.
Keep reminding yourself to be in the present and take it all in. It already seems like forever ago and I’m realizing that I brought back almost more memories than I could pack.
It’s a trip I’ll be talking about for years, filled with special moments and lessons. My goal is to try and remember at least half of each.
Go Dawgs! And, until we meet again, Go Blue!