Saturday, September 11, 2010

On the Road - 2: The case of the missing H

Come gather around people for another exciting travelogue. I spent 2 days in Ann "Where is the H" Arbor, Michigan and am now back in Chicago.

Yes I know Ann Arbor is not a harbor and nor is it near a large body of water. Still, it's unsettling to find a city with a name like that. Wikipedia has some interesting theories about this. One theory states that the city, founded in 1824, is named after founder John Allen's wife Ann. Apparently, Ann was fond of grape trees and since the word arbor means tree, the city was christened Ann's Arbor, later shortened to Ann Arbor.
Ann Arbor, MI. [courtesy of]

Ann Arbor, located about 20 miles west of Detroit, is a pleasant little city. The first thing you notice is people in Michigan seem to be living in the future! Three full hours in the future, in fact. Very intimidating for someone traveling from the west coast. Once you get used to that, the next thing that jumps out at you is the astronomical number of dead raccoons. In a span of five minutes, I counted about 8 dead raccoons strewn around on the side of the roads, their innards exposed to the open. Sorry if that is a bit graphic, but it was quite jarring to see these very dead raccoons on the roads.

In Michigan, they have something called an "unpaved road", a curious artifact for someone used to eight-lane freeways clogged up with endless stream of cars. A lot of trees (gotta live up to the name, ya know?) in and around the city - living in LA makes one forget what trees look like.

The weather was pleasant for both days I was there and people there seemed excited for fall. "Believe it or not, we get all four seasons here, unlike you Californians", quipped one person I talked to. The same wit (when someone asked about the severity of the winters said) sneered, "There is no such thing as too cold, only weak people. Get a coat and pair of gloves and get used to it."

The University of Michigan (who incidentally beat bitter rival Notre Dame in a very tense and exciting football game today) is the single biggest entity in Ann Arbor and occupies several hundred acres of property throughout the city in the form of hospitals, research buildings, and an assortment of school buildings. You can see their distinctive yellow block M everywhere.

What else? Well, Ann Arbor is sister cities with places like Dakar (Senegal), Hikone (Japan) and Peterborough (Canadia). Ann Arbor is also the headquarters of Borders. But most importantly, more than half of the population of Ann Arbor is single. The city was named one of the most livable places in America by Yahoo! and Forbes.

With its natural beauty, quiet streets, neat neighborhoods and invigorating weather, I can see why. A good trip into the upper midwest. Nice to get away from the west coast.

If I get time tomorrow, I will do a post about my day in Chicago (my cousins graciously showed me around and fed me good food). Oh and I hear someone named Snooki is in some trouble. With a (nick)name like that, I am not surprised.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds gorgeous Tirth! And it looks so green in that picture! You think what makes the East Coast stand out compared to Cali is that the trees actually belong there - they don't look like gardens, but just pure nature?