We travelled to Michigan last week for about five days. We spent one night in Chicago, in a very nice hotel room (Thanks, Dad) and then four nights at my uncle's house in Paw Paw (Thanks, Uncle Bill) with my parents, my sister and her family. My uncle's house is a renovated Victorian right on a lake, right down the street from Paw Paw's "theater district." Well, okay, there's one theater, playing "Horton Hears a Who". But everything is about marketing these days.
We had an awesome time. Lucy got to play with her cousin, the plane ride (we rode cheap, without buying L a seat) was surprisingly fine, and it snowed! In April! Which was amusing and sad, at the same time.
I was a little saddened by Paw Paw, though. It's a cool little town, where my dad grew up. It has pretty good schools, a lovely lake, a gorgeous courthouse, some pretty architecture on Main Street, and some nice restaurants. And yet many of the businesses on the main street are shuttered, and the really bustling part of the town is on the freeway, with all of the fast food chains (and where a Wal Mart is going to be built soon).
I can't speak for the town's residents: I don't really know what it's like to live in a smaller town these days. Perhaps things are going really well in Paw Paw for most people--and things are just the way they want them to be. But it made me sad to see such a pretty part of the town neglected, in favor of the kind of soulless backside.
But that's what our society values: the quick freeway exit, the predictable, safe offerings of national or international chains, and the easy parking available.
I do want to put a shout out for "That Coffee Place", this cool little coffee store close to the Arby's. It's not on Main (too bad...) but it's not a chain, their coffee and tea is really good, and the people were really friendly. There are comfy couches, and a bright orange bathroom (it was tasteful and electric at the same time!) A very nice regular gave us directions to the closest mall when we were going stir crazy at my uncles (we were alone there, it was raining, and the only place baby-proof was downstairs in the basement...without any windows. After a few hours we were ready to see some other people/daylight/something/anything). I know, I know, a mall? But there wasn't anyplace else to be outdoors. Once our family arrived, we had plenty to do.
So if you're ever in Western Michigan and need a little kick in the pants, stop by That Coffee Place. Sock it to The Man.