Big Trip 2011 - Day 10: Dearborn Bound

Today we bid goodbye to Chicago with more than a bit of sadness. We loved our stay there and all four of us are anxious to go back again soon. I think a week-long Chicago trip might be in order sometime soon (maybe over spring break?). Though we were sad to go, it’s good to get back on the road again, too. We had a little detour on our way out of Chicago when Kathy missed the ramp onto 90 East. It gave us a chance to see a different side of Chicago than we’d seen during our stay.

Our original plan had been to zip right across Michigan to the Detroit area. A few weeks before the start of our trip, I found out which cemetery in Grand Rapids my great grandparents are buried in, so we took a slightly longer route up through Grand Rapids. It was a nice enough drive and the weather was gorgeous, but unfortunately we arrived at the cemetery fifteen minutes after the office closed for the day. It’s not a huge cemetery, but it was much too big for us to search through late on a Friday afternoon. We took a few minutes to make a cursory search of one small section before the futility of our search fully sank in. Ah, well, at least I know they’re there somewhere.

We arrived in Dearborn a little after 8pm and checked into our hotel. Before we even went in, I had a bad feeling about the place. Not that it was particularly dirty or unsafe, just a little run down. When we went in, the smell of stale smoke hit us. Ugh. Though we had booked (and received) a non-smoking room, the smell was pervasive. These days the smoke issue barely crosses my mind when making reservations as so many places are smoke-free. It didn’t help matters that the room was also small, cramped, and dated or that the faux colonial look came across as tacky. For a single quick night we could probably make do (we’ve certainly stayed in far worse), but the thought of coming back to that room after a tiring day at The Henry Ford Museum tomorrow was… unpleasant. I got out my computer and made a reservation at the historic Dearborn Inn a couple miles away. I’d passed it over originally because of the price, but booking at the last minute fetched me a great price–only a few bucks more than the first place. We checked back out, went to dinner, and headed to our new hotel.

The Dearborn Inn is a classic. It was designed by Albert Kahn to Henry Ford’s exacting standards and opened in 1931. Later in the 30s, several colonial homes were constructed behind the main building, replicas of the homes of Edgar Allan Poe, Walt Whitman, Patrick Henry and others. The whole place has been lovingly renovated and restored more than once over the years and looks gorgeous. When we finally checked in after ten, they upgraded us to a suite in one of the colonial homes. Score! I’m so glad we didn’t settle for the stinky smoke pit. For a few bucks more, we were in a huge suite in a beautiful replica of Oliver Walcott’s house. (Kathy says it smells, too, but more like her grandmother’s attic. Nostalgic rather than repellant.)

There was more to the day, of course, but not much of note: our third Culver’s visit and a couple stops at Starbucks. I wonder if they do any data mining on Starbucks Card usage. I’m sure my usage pattern must be interesting: months with no usage at all followed by periods with multiple visits per day, all out-of-town.