I’m baack!


We just returned from a two-week road trip to attend Elder Son's graduations from 1, UMich graduate school of public health in Ann Arbor, and B, the Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai in NYC*. Such a trip it was! Lots of driving, lots of eating, lots of celebrating, and — last but definitely not least — lots of knitting.

It will take several posts to cover all the highlights. For now, how about some bullet points?

  • It always — ALWAYS! — takes us a lot longer to get ready than we think. This time it was largely because the last three days before we left were cold, windy, and raining, definitely not the kind of weather in which one wants to be carrying stuff out to the motorhome and carefully packing it in.
  • Happily, the day we were to leave was cold and a bit windy, but the rain held off until after we left.
  • Tragically, that meant we arrived in Ann Arbor at precisely the time we were supposed to show up at a pre-graduation reception for the Graduate School of Public Health graduates.
  • Since we had driven all night and were still in our jeans and flannel shirts, we required a short freshening-up stop at the motel first. 
  • We still made it to the reception in time to eat and chat at length with one of ES's favorite professors.
  • Said professor confirmed the rumor heard by ES that he (professor) had met John Lennon back in the day. 
  • Not only met him, but chatted with him.
  • Due to a user (me) map-reading error, we almost didn't get to the actual graduation ceremony. Who knew there were multiple buildings named Hill Xxxx on the UMich campus and that only one of the them was the actual Hill Auditorium?
  • Poor Smokey couldn't walk the entire way (l-o-n-g way, according to my faulty map reading) and ended up cajoling a construction worker leaving a job site to drive us to the correct location. 
  • Said construction worker had received a parking ticket a few days previously; we paid him enough to cover the ticket.
  • The auditiorium was drop-dead gorgeous.
  • Music was provided by the head of the UMich music department playing a pipe organ.
  • Needless to say, the music was fabulous and chill-inspiring.
  • ES wore a t-shirt and raggedy jeans under his graduation robe.
  • At least it was a school of public health t-shirt and said Epidemiology on it.
  • No actual diploma was received. "They will mail it later."
  • We took ES and a friend to Slow's Bar-B-Q, chosen by ES, in inner-city Detroit.
  • Entrees were just okay, but the sides were exquisite — corn bread, sweet potato mash (and I am not usually a fan of sweet potatoes), mac 'n' cheese (I had never heard of mac 'n' cheese as a side; travel broadens one's horizons), baked beans, mashed potatoes and gravy, others I cannot remember. Every one was the tastiest thing I had ever had (until the next one).
  • The place also had 50+ microbrews on tap. 
  • Smokey goggled at trying to imagine the plumbing labyrinth in their basement that would accomodate 50+ tap beers.
  • ES did his best to taste all 50+ — "Not only is Dad paying, but he is also driving!" — but I think he only made it to 5.
  • The next day I took ES's Aveo to drive back west to see Kym in Kalamazoo
  • Much knitting and laughter ensued.
  • Whilst I was enjoying myself with Kym, Smokey and ES loaded the mini-mini-motorhome with ES's furniture and belongings.
  • We left the crammed-to-the-roof m-m-m'home with Smokey's cousin in Lansing and boarded the dogs — OF COURSE, WE HAD THE DOGS ALONG! — at a vet/boarding facility practically next door to them.
  • Smokey, ES, and I, none of us petite nor diminutive, drove from Lansing to Queens in ES's teeny-tiny Aveo.
  • I discovered that my iPhone could be a mobile hot spot.
  • I spent much of the time through Indiana and Ohio and Pennsylvania on Twitter and catching up on email on my iPad.
  • Such activities make a long car trip a lot less boring.
  • Lucky Smokey got to drive the part across Manhattan and the Bronx and Queens to our motel near JFK. I drove I-95 through the Bronx and Connecticut when we took ES to visit colleges in 2002, plus in 2005 I drove a Dodge conversion van into Lower Manhattan, where the streets are 8", wide to pick up ES after his sophomore year, so I felt okay about Smokey driving this time.
  • Siri was a tremendous help in all this driving. We have never had a really good GPS, so this was a gigantic step up from a paper map.
  • Smokey had mistakenly packed his diabetic syringes in the mini-mini-motorhome back in Lansing, so we had to the opportunity to see a couple VA facitilites in Queens to get him more.
  • Once again, Siri was a great help.
  • Yay, Siri!
  • The med school gradution ceremony was in Avery Fisher Hall in Lincoln Center.
  • Yes, I was impressed when I learned that. 
  • Two of ES's fellow UMich grads, Mike and Alí, also drove out to NYC to attend his gradution.
  • Because of Smokey's limited walking range, the four of us got ourselves into the handicapped line at Lincoln Center, which allowed us to enter and be seated ahead of the rest of the crowd.
  • Aisle seats, row 7 — the first row behind the reserved seats.
  • ::smirk::
  • The med school caps and gowns were a lot nicer than the UMich public health ones.
  • Go figger.
  • ES still wore a t-shirt and raggedy jeans under it, though. 
  • This was an Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai t-shirt, though.
  • Yes, he matched his t-shirt to each ceremony.
  • He is a fashion guru.
  • Music was not as good at this ceremony, though. No pipe organ; only a brass quintet. Although for all I know, they may have been members of the New York Philharmonic.
  • I videoed the administration of the Hippocratic Oath.
  • Yes, I am a dork. Also a proud mom.
  • After the ceremony the five of us went to Katz's Delicatessen on the Lower East Side.
  • Katz's Deli was the site where That Scene from When Harry Met Sally was filmed.
  • The pastrami is to die for.
  • If it didn't cost more to ship it here than the pastrami actually costs, I would put in a standing order.
  • That night the five of us and a couple more of ES's friends celebrated a late dinner at yet another barbecue place, this one in Brooklyn.
  • ES does like his barbecue.
  • And beer.
  • Alí introduced me to my new favorite beer — Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale.
  • It was darkish and very malty and I think I tasted chocolate in it.
  • Much internet searching has disclosed that I may actually be able to purchase it locally.
  • More on that later, when I actually attempt it.
  • The next night we had dinner at the apartment of ES's favorite attending physician, Dr. Estrada.
  • The doc and his wife are both of Puerto Rican heritage, although both were born in the US.
  • Mrs. Estrada cooked us arroz con pollo Puerto Rican style.
  • Once again, the most delicious thing I have ever tasted. OMG, the subtle spices, etc.
  • Much wine and beer were ingested, much laughter and merriment ensued.
  • Dr. Estrada owns the building where his apartment is located.
  • Other family members occupy the other apartments.
  • All doors are open within the building, so there is a lot of back and forth among the children and grandchildren.
  • We met one son, one daughter, two grandchildren, and a nephew.
  • Marvelous.
  • Next day, we packed ourselves back into the Aveo to trundle across (this time) the Verazanno-Narrows Bridge and Staten Island into New Jersey.
  • I kept smelling the flowers blooming on Staten Island. With the occasional whiff of Newark thrown in for contrast.
  • New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana (way too much of Indiana due to more navigational errors by me; Siri is no help if one doesn't pay attention), and on into Michigan.
  • Picked up the dogs, visited with Smokey's cousins some more, ES took off in his Aveo to visit a friend in Madison, and we drove to Illinois to visit Smokey's brother.
  • More visiting, not to mention more eating.
  • We managed to lose the key to the mini-mini-motorhome while there, and Smokey's brother was looking up locksmiths when I came upon my spare keyring.
  • Which against all odds had a key to the m-m-m'home. Yay!
  • After all the driving we couldn't quite make it home in one day, although we have never had to stop before. Spent the night in Eau Claire and got home this afternoon.
  • Whew!

* How did he manage to graduate from two different programs 1,000 miles apart in the same week? Back in 2012 when he was about to finish med school, he left a tiny bit undone, thus delaying his med school loans from coming due. A year and a half at UMich, 10 or 12 weeks back at Sinai, and voila! Two diplomas!

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0 Responses to I’m baack!

  1. Heather says:

    So proud of both your sons, for their many accomplishments. Hard workers, the two of them – they have great things ahead!

  2. Carole says:

    Wow, that’s a lot of stuff crammed into that trip! You and Smokey must be exceedingly proud. And yes, Kentucky Bourbon Ale is good stuff. I think it’s best on tap but bottled is pretty good, too.

  3. Kym says:

    I’ve been waiting to hear about the rest-of-your-adventure! Sounds like an Epic Trip — and I’m so glad I got to be a stop along the way. CONGRATULATIONS to Andrew — and to all of you! What an accomplishment! (The educational milestones AND the trip to see it all.) XO

  4. gayle says:

    Two graduations in one week did sound like clear over-achievement… 8)
    What a wonderful adventure you had!

  5. Big Alice says:

    That sounds like an EPIC trip. Congratulations to ES!
    And thanks for the rundown, I enjoyed playing along vicariously 🙂
    (also, nice one on the t-shirt matching!)

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