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Indiana, Michigan, & Toronto {days 8-10}

by allison on July 11th, 2011

From Chicago we left and headed for Detroit, but first we had to make two very important pit-stops…

The first stop was to witness the infamous Touchdown Jesus himself on the Notre Dame Campus.

Personally, I’d assume people at Notre Dame would be offended by us calling this epic painting of Jesus “Touchdown Jesus” but Ben says everyone calls him that… especially since during game time you can see said Jesus from behind the goal line; hence, Touchdown Jesus.

I think it’s pretty flippin’ fantastic that anyone would call him Touchdown Jesus. Don’t get me wrong. We all love Jesus. I mean, Notre Dame is a Catholic school after all.

I think it’s Ben’s personal dream and mission in life to visit every top football college in the Nation. He loves college football! He made sure to wear his UT shirt the day we were visiting the campus so that all the photos would show his unyielding loyalty for The University of Texas.

From South Bend we drove straight to the next college campus, The University of Michigan. Ben’s asleep as I type this so I actually had to google their mascot – a wolverine. I was totally going to say Trojans. Oops. The photos are crappy since we got there late that night and it was dark outside.

Travis (and all of us actually) thought this fire hydrant was hilarious. Someone painted it to match the Football Team’s helmets.

From there, we drove to Detroit and got a hotel near the airport. The next morning it was time to visit Detroit.

We had a change of plans though after I Google’d “Detroit” from my iPhone in the car the previous night. I was so overwhelmed with how many people said how dangerous the city is that I totally freaked out and refused to let Ben exit the freeway.

I think the biggest issue with Detroit is that nobody lives there anymore. The place is totally abandoned. Streets and streets of abandoned buildings and totally silent empty streets. There’s not even anyone there to cause much trouble. It’s just empty.

Have you ever read the series of books called The Uglies? Detroit reminded me exactly of the way the abandoned cities are described in those books. In fact, I swear I saw Tally and David hoverboarding through the ruins. 😉

So anyway, we didn’t get off the freeway, but I was able to snap a few photos of some very depressing abandoned buildings. According to the internet, where everything you read is 100% true, they say there are about 30,000 abandoned buildings in Detroit. Thirty Thousand. Just stop and think about how large that number is for a moment. And these aren’t just houses. They are huge warehouses, and factories, and plants.

Detroit was terrifying, devastating, and totally depressing all in one. What can we do about this hopeless city?

After we made it through Downtown Detroit with our hubcaps still in tact, we stopped to get some lunch and make a grocery store run. We bought a case of Diet Dr Pepper and as Ben was filling the cooler one fell out of the car, landed on the ground at his feet, and totally EXPLODED. Hahaha! He was soaked from the knees down and his flip flops were full of soda. Sucks to be him.

Next up, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Did you know that Detroit sits on the Canada border? I had absolutely no clue it was so close to Canada. However, we ended up taking the long way from Detroit and headed north for about another hour before we crossed over to the Canadian side.

About 2 minutes into Canada the internet on our phones stopped working. Oops. Us Americans are so self-centered we just assumed the phones would work anywhere. Or, actually, we never even thought about it. So we found a McD’s, got some snacks, and hopped on their free wi-fi to download a few maps.

The McD’s menu in Canada is different from the US menu. The biggest difference that I can remember is that in Canada they aren’t pushing the Rolo McFurry like they are in the states. They are pushing a McFlurry where you pick your own topping.

One of the topping options is “Smarties”. I went to the counter and was all, “You put smarties in your McFlurry’s?” He was like, “dur.” And I was like, “For real? Smarties?? Those little sugar candies???!!!!” And he was like, “ya… dur.”

Come to find out later at a gas station, Canadian “smarties” are basically m&m’s, NOT little sweet sugar candies that are similar to Pez. No wonder he thought I was a total moron.

Why am I fascinated with phone booths? I think it’s because we don’t have them in the US. Heck, we don’t even really have pay phones anymore, except in prisons, much less phone booths.

We had no one to call. But if you saw a phone booth don’t even tell me you wouldn’t be posing for pictures as well.

Okay, so finally… finally we made it to Toronto and the CN Tower. The CN Tower is the tallest tower in Canada, and something like the 3rd tallest in the world?!! I don’t know all the facts. All I know is that it is bloody tall, and I’m bloody scared of heights.

See the big bowl section around the middle? That is where most normal people go to view Toronto. BUT, if you pay more, you can go up even higher, to the base of that white needle on top. That is where Ben and Travis went. Kinsey and I stayed back in the regular viewing section, which was still about as tall as the Sears Tower.

Posing in the upper viewing area. I’m surprised you don’t need oxygen tanks this high up. You are practically to heaven up there.

Last year Ben and I went to a wedding in Toronto for some good friends of ours. While there he and I did the CN Tower, so really this was our 2nd trip. And here’s me, for the first and only time in history, stepping out onto the glass floor that looks down something like 120 stories. It only took me an hour and constant coaxing by Kinsey to get me to step out on it. I’ve never seen Ben so shocked. He didn’t think I’d do it in a million years. I probably won’t ever do anything so reckless again, so I hope he enjoyed it.

Toronto really is a beautiful city. If you want an amazing view, I suggest you wait in line and go up in the CN Tower. Totally worth the money.

The kids found these fish sculptures near the CN Tower and forced us to stop in our tracks and take pics of them on the fish. They are pretty cute, no?

And finally, for dinner we found this tongue-in-cheek restaurant called Jack Astor’s (say it 5x fast). We’re all for good humor, so we stopped.

They had the best artwork all over their walls. Here’s only a small sampling of what was in there:

I about choked when I saw this one.

And this one forced an audible laugh causing half the patrons to turn around and stare at me. It’s hard to tell, but each of the picture frames in the background (all except William and Kate’s) have huge cracks through them.

Also, all their light fixtures were totally awesome and were a variation of this one made from Tabasco jars.

If you want my honest opinion of Jack Astor’s, they put all their time and energy into the look and feel of the place (A+ to them for that), but leave little to be desired with the food. I was actually quite disgusted with the majority of the food, the service was pretty bad, and the way we checked out was so tacky I can’t even begin to describe it, but I’ll try. Basically, the waitress brought over a little credit card machine, ran our card at the table, gave me the machine, and then stood there hovering while I was expected to punch in the tip amount. In front of her. Awkward. And totally uncool. And so unprofessional, IMHO.

And then, to top it off, our bill was over $65 (Canadian dollars) which is more like $70+ in American dollars. We NEVER pay that much for dinner.

All in all, I got some good laughs, but the food was gross and was totally overpriced. It was still a fun experience though, and we’re glad we tried a Canadian restaurant instead of a generic chain.

From Toronto we next headed to Niagara Falls! Check back soon to read that leg of our trip.

From → Family

  1. I just went through and read of your previous road trip posts and enjoyed every child ignoring moment that I spent doing it! Being from Indiana and now a west coast resident, your trip so far reminded me so much of every family road trip we would take with our family of six growing up. I’ve been in the washing machine like vessel that takes you to the top of the St. Louis arch more than once (hmm…am I proud of that fact…not sure). It brought back the memory of all six of us standing in front of the arch in the early 80’s trying to get a family picture (probably Polaroid) while my baby brother Ben screamed and my mom affectionately tried to console him by patting (rather aggressively) his cloth diapered bottom. A kind passerby stopped and offered to take that baby off of my mothers hands for fear of abuse. Of course my mom was shocked that anyone would think that she was trying to hurt her sweet baby. After all little Ben just liked it rough (that’s what she said!). In hindsight, she probably should have taken him up on that offer!

    I am disappointed that while it looks like you drove right past (or through) my alma mater (Purdue University) you took the time to stop at Notre Dame (the much more overrated of the college football programs if you ask me). However, being blindsided by the fact that Notre Dame had a touchdown Jesus, I probably would have stopped there too. All we have is the worlds largest drum…then again, you stopped at a rocking chair that didn’t rock…we all have our “things”.

    I am happy to see that you made it out alive through Detroit. Next time I would recommend The Ford Museum. Not sure why, but I think part of my childhood hasn’t been totally blocked out and that vague memory still remains of a trip to the museum.

    Enjoy the rest of your trip. I will be happily following along now. Happy trails to you.


  2. Jen permalink

    If I had known you were coming to Detroit, I would have gladly given you a very safe, family-friendly tour! I live in one of the closest suburbs.
    The media reports are very scary to be sure but Detroit has so many great things to offer. A wonderful science center, art museum, children’s museum, riverfront park, and a one of the oldest public markets in the country to name (more than) a few. Next time you’re here, let me know! 😉

  3. Man! I live SO CLOSE to the Michigan Stadium. Like walking distance. I wish I had known when you were here so I could have shown you around or something. Would have been cool to meet!

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