My mother and I have been heading north to visit my home town, Flint, Michigan, every year for some years now. We went initially because I encouraged her to go back while she still had friends there who were alive and getting around. And also because she no longer could walk very much which made sight-seeing vacations a logistical nightmare (that would be mostly mine… since she blithely assumes I’ll figure it all out).
I went to be the driver and general support. I didn’t much like my home town so I didn’t expect to enjoy it. And, to be honest, that first time I kind of dragged Mom, who, shall we say, lacked enthusiasm. We’d been making trips to places like Vancouver and Florence and Nice for some years and she wanted something exciting and exotic.
Most people my age left the area when General Motors waltzed off so the visiting is mostly all my parents’ friends. I’ve known them all my life and wound up surprised by how much comfort and enjoyment I found in meeting them again as an adult, knowing all those years stretched between us. Miraculously, though they’re all by now mid- to late-80’s, most of them are still there and getting around!
Old favorite restaurants are miraculously there and thriving. Over the years we’ve added newer places. I also made sure I did a bit of research and figured out some fun things to do. I’m always a fan of an art museum visit but my mother… not so much. But the lovely Flint Institute of the Arts is small enough to be easy to negotiate and has a very thoughtfully put together collection, given the obviously small-ish budget, so she wants to go every time.
Visiting friends at Ann Arbor during college years left me with fond memories so I insisted on spending a bit of time there and a day
down there has become a highlight of every trip. From the venerable and lovely Gandy Dancer–where my parents occasionally celebrated long-ago New Year’s Eves with friends–for lunch to strolling the fun shops of Kerrytown to riding around some of the lovely historic areas, we love every minute.
On the way up we’ll be stopping at Findlay, OH. We started out by finding a great little place to eat downtown — not too far off the freeway but a world away from your usual freeway stop. Then we looked for a way to start driving a little later in the day and avoid wearing ourselves out on day 1 so we tried out spending the night in Findlay. We’ve discovered a few spots we love and now that’s a highlight too.
We’re so looking forward to this — we wouldn’t have believed it if you’d told us on that first trip, something like 8 or 9 years ago, that we’d still be going back and loving it!