On the morning of our fourth day of road tripping I experienced a Starbucks for the first time. I know it must be a bit mystifying that someone my age can never have had a Starbucks product when the chain is so ubiquitous but it was in fact the case. I don’t drink coffee so had no motivation to patronise the place. After our late evening watching a drive-in movie, Mr Pict felt he could do with a caffeine jolt so we stopped in at a Starbucks on the fringes of Toledo. He decided I should finally try something from Starbucks and ordered me this green tea cappuccino thing. I regularly enjoy green tea but this incarnation of the drink was horrid. It had the taste and texture of hot pond scum. I could not abide it and could not drink it. This road trip might well, therefore, be my first and last Starbucks experience.
Never mind because we had a much more appealing and successful edible experience for lunch that day. Having had a quick tootle around Ann Arbor to see the University of Michigan buildings, we stopped in for lunch at Zingerman’s Roadhouse. Although we had gone there on a whim and with no prior research, it was one of the highlights of our trip.
We had a fantastic waiter who not only explained the restaurant’s specialties but also let us sample some of their most famous dishes – a luxuriously creamy and rich macaroni cheese and pulled pork served with a vinegary barbecue sauce and a sweet mustard sauce. I don’t eat pork but I loved dipping bread into the mustard sauce. I could have consumed vats of that stuff.
Our two youngest ordered cheeseburgers with a fruit platter, my oldest had a burger that he rated as a 4.5 out of 5, my 10 year old had the mac ‘n’ cheese, I had pulled chicken, and Mr Pict had pulled pork with mash and collared greens. All were absolutely and perfectly delicious. The twice cooked fries were also incredible but we were all too stuffed to eat them.
My oldest two kids decided to be adventurous and challenge themselves to eating oysters. The waiter explained some of the options to them and they settled on some Beausoleil oysters from New Brunswick, just one each to give it a try. Slightly disturbed by the slime in a shell they were presented with, they decided to do a countdown and knock them back at the same time. My 13 year old guzzled his without difficulty and declared that he really liked it; my 10 year old gagged on his a little and decided oysters were perhaps not for him. I have kids who have happily eaten snails and have now consumed oysters but who dry heave if they find a courgette on their plates. Weirdos. Good on them for trying oysters though.
Dining in Ann Arbor meant that I got to claim Michigan as my 27th state by lunch time. Yipee!
We then headed on to Grand Haven, on the shore of Lake Michigan, for three days spent in a vacation house we had rented. The house proved to be quaintly shabby, clean and tidy enough but with a few annoying quirks like having no door on the master bedroom despite it leading off from the living room and kitchen. Another issue was that the bathroom was accessed via two other bedrooms which meant lots of tip-toeing so as to not wake sleeping children. The idiosyncratic layout was the result of the property being chopped in half as the upstairs level was being rented out as a separate property. Another oddity was that the owner knocked on the door to introduce himself after 11pm, making me nearly jump out of my skin. This road trip was definitely proving to be “interesting” when it came to accommodation. We were all glad of the opportunity to stay put somewhere for a few days though.