Monday, August 29, 2011

A Day in Ann Arbor, Michigan Without The Kids

A few weeks ago, my sister called me out of the blue and invited me to join her in Ann Arbor, Michigan for a kid-free overnight (scheduled for the very next day). I'm sure she thought I'd say no, afterall, she's the spontaneous one in the family and this trip required jumping in the car without much thought. Not really my style.

But I hung up the phone and thought, if not now, then when? Baby Arrow's arrival is quickly approaching, and impromptu road trips will become a thing of the past (temporarily, I hope!) My sister and I both have young kids, so the time we spend together is typically consumed by wiping noses, fixing lunches, and desperately trying to get all the kids to nap at the same time (which we are rarely successful at doing). So 24 hours without those obligations and lots of time to chat in the car sounded really good.

Off we went... she was there for a conference, leaving me with several hours in beautiful Ann Arbor to roam and explore on my own. Heaven.

Kerrytown Market

I spent the first couple of hours at Sweetwaters Cafe, a coffee shop in the Kerrytown Market to finish up some writing deadlines that were breathing down my neck. While it sounds a bit boring, any stay-at-home mom will tell you that a couple of hours in a coffee shop is just about the best present you could give her.

From there, I was off to explore the shops themselves. A little too upscale for my taste, but it was fun to browse without worrying about little hands breaking valuables.


Zingerman's Deli in Ann Arbor
By now I was hungry for lunch, so I headed to an Ann Arbor institution--Zingerman's. The deli location of this restaurant/mail order business was just a few blocks away from Kerrytown. Read more on my lunch at Zingerman's Deli here.

University of Michigan Museum of Art

Finally, I thought I'd better get myself to the University of Michigan's campus, the lifeblood of Ann Arbor. I've toured campus before: after my husband was accepted to U of M's business school for his MBA, we gave serious consideration to moving to Ann Arbor. But this time, I got to enjoy it from a tourist perspective.

University of Michigan Museum of Art
I chose to spend a quiet hour wandering through the University of Michigan Museum of Art. It was so quiet and peaceful inside. I didn't know much about the art itself (no time to plan, remember?), but it was heavenly to take my time and read about pieces that caught my eye. If you visit, don't miss the Amalia Pica exhibit. I found it totally fascinating (and modern art typically isn't my forte!)

If you're interested in more details about UMMA, I look to Dominique at Midwest Guest for all things Michigan, and she doesn't disappoint with her knowledge of UMMA.

Then I quickly breezed through the union before heading out to pick up my sister and get home to our babies. (The ride home is a story for another day... we sat in horrible traffic for three straight hours due to an accident, and what's normally a 4 1/2 hour ride quickly grew to a 7 hour extravaganza.)

Days like these are few and far between for me. That's fine--I love having The Arrow as my nearly constant companion. But their rarity makes them all the more special and appreciated. And I love rediscovering who I am as a traveler and adventurer when I'm me, and not just Mom.

This post is a part of Mondays are for Dreaming at The Mother of All Trips. Today Mara is dreaming of a bike ride around Madison, Wisconsin. I actually have one more kid-free road trip up my sleeve to that very city for a friend's wedding later this fall before I become a mom of two, and I hope to enjoy it to its fullest. I'm also dreaming of a return trip to Ann Arbor: I saw so many spots The Arrow would have loved. (I never said I didn't think about him all day...)

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  1. Sometimes a little time for herself is exactly what a Mom needs to recharge her batteries. I'm glad you enjoyed your day!

  2. Cheers to the kid free road trip in November:) Madison, WI is waiting for you!!! Glad you and your sister got some traveling time together.

  3. Nicole - all I can think about is you in the car going home having to pee! (So now you know for real that I've given birth twice). Kudos to you for seizing the opportunity to get away. I definitely wish I'd done more of that before my youngest was born.

    In Madison I definitely recommend wandering around the Memorial Union building - they've always got lots of great exhibits on, the building itself is fascinating, and there are some beautiful views of the lake. I absolutely love to sit an have a beer on the terrace - and you could easily replace that with ice cream (they sell the same stuff we had at Bascom Hall there). Have fun!

  4. I love extemporaneous trips! Mine are few and far between now too, but when I have them, they're memorable!

  5. A day to do whatever I want sounds wonderful. I'm glad you have someone to get away with.

  6. What a wonderful treat to have a whole day to yourself!!