Monday, November 6, 2017


As a delayed 10th birthday present Keenan came with me (Philip) on a trip to Michigan for his first ever college football game against the Minnesota Golden Gophers.  That was really going to be the main 'guy thing' we did but it turned out to have so much more and Joia dubbed our trip the "Man-cation."  We headed for the airport on Thursday morning...

We had a very short connection in Atlanta but thankfully landed a little early and had time to grab some food for lunch.  We didn't have time to eat it before boarding so we ate on the plane to Detroit...

I had originally reserved an economy class car but then changed to a Toyota Prius a few weeks before when I checked back on prices because it was actually going to be cheaper than the economy (and it would use way less gas)!  Well when we got the Hertz Gold Club board (free membership for USAA members) it didn't have a slot number and just said "Pres Circ" which meant we could get any car from a group of really nice cars.  I was still looking for a Prius but Keenan saw a Dodge Charger and really wanted to get the "Mustang" instead of the Toyota.  I told him that it was a Charger but then spotted something one aisle over that looked like it was still in the President Circle aisles...

Keenan ran over to the attendant and was out of his mind excited to confirm that we could have it for no extra charge.  It took a little work but we managed to jam our bag into the tiny trunk and hit the road for Perrysburg, OH.  We would be staying the first two nights in Perrysburg because I attending a medical eduction conference about updates in psychiatric management.  It was raining on Thursday  but thankfully on Friday afternoon it had cleared up and we were able to put the top down...

While I was attending the conference Keenan was able to hang out with Charlie and Micah on the farm.  As if riding in a Mustang convertible wasn't enough crazy fun, Micah took him for a ride on their quad and showed Keenan how to drive as well.  He took me on a ride through the woods behind the farm...

They also let him fire a revolver and showed him how to aim a rifle and do some target practice (his first ever time using a firearm).  After the conference wrapped up I headed to the farm and we ate the delicious venison chili Charlie prepared for dinner.  After that we helped with the preparations for the "Beef, Bacon and Bullets" event that would be going on the next day.  When I first contacted Charlie to see if Keenan could hang with them during the conference he'd mentioned that they would be doing this thing but I wasn't sure if we'd be able to attend since the game time had not yet been announced.  When the broadcasters finally decided on a 7:30 kickoff it was set.  While a night game in an open stadium in Michigan in November didn't seem like the greatest plan in my mind it at least meant we would have plenty of time on Saturday before the kickoff!

Charlie then showed Keenan how to load and fire a 20 gauge shotgun.

Here is some video from that evening.

I took a half dozen or so shots with a 12 gauge and managed to actually hit the clay pigeon a few times.  Keenan stuck with the 20 gauge so as to not be dropped on his backside by the recoil.  Trisha had arrived home just before dinner the day prior but we didn't get a picture until Saturday morning...

Go Blue!

The men's event started at a nearby church with some worship songs and then Charlie's brother Joe shared his testimony.  They also talked about the plan for the morning and range safety to prevent anyone from getting hurt.  I'm not sure if I'd ever been around that many Buckeye jackets, hats and sweatshirts in my life and hoped they would not confuse me and Keenan with the targets.  We also learned about the Chevyota Priuck - a combination 1946 Chevy Pickup and 2002 Toyota Prius that Joe had built.

The whole range ended up with 20 shooting boxes and 4 clay pigeon throwers

Keenan missed on this shot (either his 3rd or 4th) but had a perfect hit on the fifth attempt (which I unfortunately didn't catch on video).

We couldn't stay for the whole event and hit the round shortly after noon to drive up to Ann Arbor, but not before getting dogs and burgers from the grill.  Thank you so much Winters!

Michigan Stadium didn't have permanent lights, or luxury boxes for that matter, when I last attended a game over 10 years ago so this was going to be a much different experience.  One benefit to a night game is reduced traffic earlier in the day so we were able to drive right by the Big House in the afternoon before things were totally packed.

Keenan's first view of the stadium

The parking attendant in this lot let us hop out to get a quick daytime picture

I then took Keenan on a whirlwind tour of the campus to show him where I'd spent 8 years of my life and a few places that he had visited in his first couple of months of life outside the womb.

The Lurie Tower in the center of North Campus

My Chemical Engineering class had a group photo taken in front of this structure outside of the H. H. Dow building where we had most of our classes.

There had been so much construction since I first moved to North Campus in 1999 but some things still seemed the same.  We drove bast Bursley Hall where I spent my first two years and also found some parking near the Wave Field.  North Campus brought together an interesting mix of people because it was not just the home of the College of Engineering but also the Colleges of Music and Architecture.  It seems fitting then that the Wave Field was designed by Maya Lin who designed the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial in Washington D.C.

Joia always thought this was the peak of Nerd Art.  Keenan just wanted to stretch his legs.

After North Campus we drove past the fields where I officiated and played flag football and the "Med Student Ghetto" of Island Drive Apartments before stopping at University Hospital (where I visited as an undergrad following a concussion sustained during the aforementioned flag football experience).  Obviously I eventually spent a lot of time there as a medical student but my first visits during undergrad were actually to spend some time with Granddad Dooley after a radical surgery for head and neck cancer.  I would often cover the "swing shift" so Grandma Dooley could drive home before it got too dark and then one of my Aunts or Uncles would come for the night.  Keenan was the first Dooley grandchild and we picked his middle name, Lawrence, in honor of Granddad.

I didn't take Keenan up to any of the inpatient floors but we walked along the second floor (the one that connects the various buildings) and I had to text Joia when I saw that they had removed the Wendy's where we would often get food when she could visit me in the middle of a 30 hour day.  Most of the campus buildings we'd tried to visit that day were locked since it was a Saturday, but we were thankfully able to get into the medical science building where the more recent class photos are displayed.

Keenan standing below the Class of 2007

It had really started pouring while we drove around the Medical Campus and thus some of the rain gear had to come out to walk around Central Campus.

Keenan on The Diag with the brass "Block M" in the center of Central Campus

Fun shot looking north from The Diag

And looking South with the UGLi (Undergraduate Library) in the background

Selfie in the Law Quad (a particularly beautiful bit of architecture on campus)

We had dinner in the basement of the historic Michigan Union

And he took The Cube for a spin on our way back to the car

At the car we changed into some warmer clothes and started walking down to South Campus (about 1 mile away) carrying our rain gear.  We arrived at Revelli Hall just before the marching band should have started their Step Show as I'd planned to have Keenan watch this show and follow them on their march to the stadium.  Well, God had other plans because as we arrived there was a flash of lighting and a huge clap of thunder.  The band leadership quickly cancelled the step show and I pulled out my phone to look at the weather radar.  There was a nasty cell of red bearing down on Ann Arbor so we took a few minutes to don our rain pants and resumed our walk to the stadium, hoping to find some shelter under the concourses.

As we got within sight of the gates the overhead speakers announced that the opening of the gates had been delayed and they would not be opened until 30 minutes after the last lightning strike.  We were advised to seek shelter in one of the other athletic campus facilities and so we decided to try and make it to Crisler Arena.  It started to pour while we walked past tons of tailgaters and we got inside before the hail started.  It was jam packed and we had to start stripping off as many layers as possible to avoid soaking ourselves in sweat.  At first we were not allowed to enter the actual arena but the concourses were finally overwhelmed and the event staff allowed weather refugees into the upper bowl.  It was nice to have a real seat because we ended up spending almost two hours in Crisler before the weather blew through.

The upper bowl slowly filled with people and we watched some other Big Ten Games on the Jumbo Tron and heard the University President address the special event that was taking place on the floor

Finally back outside and ready to head into the stadium

This was my first ever experience outside of the student section and while it was certainly tamer (we didn't stand for the entire game) and a G-rated experience for Keenan, the best part was the view.  The bowl flattens out if you get too low but I thought we had an excellent vantage point from the 15 yard line and Keenan could easily see everything.  We were also only a few rows up from the lower entrance tunnel so he could make a quick escape to use the bathroom at halftime.

Keenan's first view of the field as the teams started warm-ups

The folks in the row behind us offered to take this shot shot


These seat cushions were very nice to have since we weren't standing the whole game

The crowd was certainly a little thinner due to the weather but it eventually started to fill in.  Keenan used the binoculars to find Coach Harbaugh and some of the other players he remembered from watching games on TV.  Eventually the teams went back into the locker room and it was time for the show to start...

Band, take the field!

The Victors!

Gotta love them marching as a giant M

And then the team takes the field under the "Go Blue" banner

He was also pretty excited about the giant pretzel we bought

Kickoff eneded up only being delayed by one hour to 8:30 and the game was tight for the first quarter or so.  However, Michigan's running game really started to break through and there ended up being three touchdown runs over 60 yards each so lots to cheer about and Hail to the Victors!

Kicking an extra point!

Halftime panorama

At this point he got so warm from cheering that his jackets came off and he was down to just one shirt :-)

He enjoyed doing the wave, then the fast wave, and during the slow wave I caught one of the highlights of the game!

Pretty sure not all of these people actually made it to their seats

During a TV timeout people started turning on their cell phone lights which created a cool effect that you certainly couldn't see during a day game.

The Little Brown Jug officially stays in Ann Arbor for another year!

Father - Son selfie before starting the walk to the car
(after they announced that the band would not perform a post-game show)

The new scoreboards are massive

This granite block M is not exactly tiny either

Keenan is off to a good 1-0 start in the Big House just like I started out 1-0 vs. Notre Dame in 1999.  And yes, I did "go to school" with Tom Brady (first proof is 90 seconds into that linked video).  That game came down to the wire, was an "instant classic" and was my first ever college football game but I think this game with Keenan was an even better memory.  As we walked out I asked him it had lived up to his expectations and he said it was even better.  I said that was surprising to me because he seemed to have pretty high expectations (barely sleeping the night before we left) and he said that he did have super high expectations and it was still better than he expected!

Since we didn't get see the band march to the stadium we waited for them to march back to Revelli Hall

Aunt Mary and Uncle Ty generously opened their home to us yet again so we made the drive to Troy after walking back to the car and creeping out of Ann Arbor.  Keenan was out cold long before we made it into their driveway and could barely drag himself into the house and up the stairs to Davis' bedroom at 1:30 A.M.

Very thankful for the end of daylight savings which allowed an extra hour of sleep.  Uncle Ty served up a delicious breakfast and Aunt Mary coordinated our visit with Grandma Dooley.

One quick selfie before getting on the road
(Yes, Uncle Ty and Taylor insisted on donning MSU gear for this photo)

I forgot to get a picture with Grandma and Uncle Phil but we had a lovely chat with them (my first time to see their new digs since they moved a little over a year ago) and showed them some of the pictures and videos you've seen posted above.  After that we headed to "Rocky's" which was always a must visit stop when we came from Florida to Michigan.

I was pretty impressed with my selfie skills on this one

On second thought, probably didn't need to get doubles

Beside one of the climbing spots that led to us calling the place Rocky's as children
(As a side note, this boulder seems to have shrunk is size by 75-90% from what I remembered.)

After that it was back to the airport.  Our flight to Minneapolis was delayed by about 30 minutes due to weather but thankfully we had a longer layover on the way home and had no issues making it to our connecting gate.  I thought there might be some Minnesota fans on this first flight but I actually saw far more Wolverine fans on the plane and we actually sat next to someone else who had been at the game with us.

On the second flight he finally hit a wall...sooooo tired

It was really fun showing him around a place where I had spent 8 years of my life and all of the extra unplanned bonus awesomeness (Mustang, four wheeler, shotguns, etc.) was just perfect, even escaping the thunderstorm allowed him to see the inside of the basketball arena where we had my first graduation ceremony in December 2002.  What a great trip!  It was really as much a present to me as it was to Keenan.  Happy 10th Birthday "Big Squishy"!  Thanks to Joia for holding down the fort at home and letting us have a few Dude Days!

**Joia starts here**

The day that Philip left, Caleb and I had an appointment in the morning, so Moriah hung out with our friend, Wendy.

 Pretty ladies at the salon

 After getting her hair done

They went to lunch and also to the pet store to cuddle cute furry things..

 First a bunny

... and an adorable puppy!

Caleb and I had an appointment for him to be assessed (as Moriah was two years ago) at Fundamental Learning Center.   As we suspected, he is also Dyslexic.    His is a little milder than Moriah's and we aren't going to start him with a three times a week tutor yet.   Instead, I will be taking a two day course at the end of the month called "Emerging Reader" in order to be able to tutor him at home.   He had a Great time during his evaluation and when it was my turn to go in, the woman said she could have talked to him all day! =)

After his appointment we went out for lunch and then went home, had a nap together (yay!) and then did some drawing together in the afternoon.   His creativity, especially in the area of drawing and building is directly connected to his being dyslexic!

Us with some Christmas themed drawings

Each night that Philip and Keenan were gone, Caleb and Moriah did "sleep overs".   They spent one night in each other's rooms, and one night in their "secret hut", under the stairs =)

On the Saturday afternoon, we and our friends, Wendy and Harby, went to a "White Christmas" play

Caleb took this picture of us in our sweater dresses before we left

Before the play, we had lunch with Wendy at Jason's Deli:

Two pretty girls

The handsome guy I sat with

We killed some time at Barnes and Noble before picking up Harby and heading to the play.   It. Was. Fantastic!!   I know I say this about all of the CYT (Christian Youth Theatre) plays we attend, but it's Always true!   Our friend and babysitter, Juli had several parts in it, so it was fun to look for her and admire all of her various costumes!

After the play, Wendi came back to the house with us - the kids had pizza, we made our own (delicious) cauliflower pizza crust and then watched a movie and she slept over.

On Sunday night, Philip and Keenan returned and half of the Anderson family spent a brief night (9 pm to 5:30 am) here on their way home from Topeka.

It was so much fun hearing the boys tell us all about their trip and it makes Moriah and I excited to plan our own "girls trip" when she turns 10!  =)


Anonymous said...

Wow Philip and Keenan! What an amazing trip - so special and something he will remember forever! Thanks for all the details, Philip; I always enjoy your writing.

And looks like you guys had fun at home too, Joia :)

I can see why Moriah is looking forward to her trip!

Love all the special traditions and memories you're building with your kids <3


Mom W. said...

Wow, that was amazing, so good, so happy the guys got their getaway!!!