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Trip review: July 4 weekend at ‘home’

I’m back on the East Coast after a relaxing Midwest weekend spent drinking wine, visiting with family, drinking wine, catching up with old friends and drinking more wine. But, it wasn’t a trip without hiccups — most of which revolved around the airports.

Day 1: Flying BWI –> DTW

After work, I drove to Baltimore Washington International airport, located in neither Baltimore nor Washington. I planned to park in one of the long-term parking lots. I typically shoot for Long-term A since it is a right-hand turn when coming from I-97, my preferred route to the airport. This time I had no choice. Long-term B was closed, and all cars were directed to a corner of the lot. I have parked in this particular lot a dozen times over the past three years, so I knew parking there would make for a long shuttle ride back to my car on Monday. And it was.

Peach Perfection smoothie at Jamba Juice at the airport. Apparently, I match my smoothie to my outfit. So color coordinated.

Peach Perfection smoothie at Jamba Juice at the airport. Apparently, I match my smoothie to my outfit. So color coordinated.

Check-in and security went smoothly for the day before a national holiday. I’ve always found TSA agents in Baltimore to be friendly — much more so than anywhere else I’ve flown. (I’ll let you know if that changes.) On this trip, the agent who checked my boarding pass and driver’s license joked that I might find a hockey player to marry while in Michigan. Stranger things could happen. Detroit is Hockeytown, after all.

My latest tradition at this airport is to get an all-fruit smoothie at Jamba Juice. So, I did that, and headed down to my gate. I often fly Southwest’s last flight to Detroit, slated to leave around 9:55 p.m., and it often gets delayed. Of course, that was the case this time, too. It wasn’t a long delay though, and we got to Detroit around midnight. Sorry, Mom.

Day 2: Fourth of July

I began the holiday with a walk around the Dearborn, Mich., neighborhood where I grew up. My dad and I strolled through Levagood Park, stopping for a moment to see the pool where I spent the majority of every summer as a kid. We continued through the residential area, past the Kingsbury Castle, a beautiful house built in a Bavarian architectural style and rumored to have underground tunnels, secret passages and an eerie past. And on past Divine Child Catholic Church and Haigh Elementary School, where I attended second through fifth grades.

For lunch, I met up with Ashley, who has been my friend since we were second-graders at that elementary school. Over bagels and smoothies at Einstein Bros Bagels, we talked about her recent trip to St. Thomas. You can read all about her trip in the second installment of my blog’s Postcards From Friends.

Einsteins asiago cheese bagel. So doughy! So cheesy! So delicious!

Einsteins asiago cheese bagel. So doughy! So cheesy! So delicious!

If you regularly follow this blog, you already know how the rest of the Fourth of July went. We feasted. And, it was fabulous.

Day 3: Feast recovery

The majority of the day was spent recovering relaxing and blogging. My parents and I ate dinner at The Sardine Room in downtown Plymouth. Later, I watched Silver Linings Playbook, ate a creamy key lime cheesecake for dessert and drank a smooth 2003 Cakebread Cabernet Sauvignon with my dad and sister. It was a pretty lazy day, but that’s what vacation is for, right?

Two of the greatest things in life: cabernet and Bradley Cooper.

Two of the greatest things in life: Cab and Brad.

Day 4: My cousin got married!

We donned our dresses and high heels and drove out to the country. The wedding was at a small church in Richmond, Mich., and was followed by a modest reception at a local VFW Hall. We chatted among cousins, laughing at old stories and swapping new tales.

"You may kiss the bride," and he did! Congratulations, Eric and Stephanie!

“You may kiss the bride,” and he did! Congratulations, Eric and Stephanie!

I know those of you who read my post about packing for this trip are just dying to know which dress I wore to the wedding, so here’s your answer:

With my cousins Shelby and Eric, the groom, at the reception. We're all grown up now!

With my cousins Shelby and Eric, the groom, at the reception. We’re all grown up now!

Day 5: Can’t go to Dearborn without …

Eating at LaPita! On Sunday, I met up with Megan, another friend since my Haigh Elementary days, and her fiancé. Since I ordered the delicious and uber-filling almond rice salad during my last LaPita excursion. This time, I got the chicken shawarma wrap with garlic on the side. And, it only costs $4! I can be a cheap date.

Later, I went to Westborn Market with my mom. It’s a longtime Dearborn establishment. It has the best selection of fresh produce in the area, a case full of baked goods, a large deli, a small grocery section, and a fine selection of wines. We picked up fresh salmon to grill and Clos du Bois Sauvignon Blanc for dinner at home that night.

Desserts from local bakeries fill the case at Westborn Market in Dearborn.

Desserts from local bakeries fill the case at Westborn Market in Dearborn.

Day 6: Baltimore bound

I flew Southwest Airlines out of Detroit Metro back to Baltimore. Southwest is my go-to airline for domestic flights. I explained why in this post.

One perk of flying Southwest is that the airline will notify customers of delays via text message or email. You select which way you’d like to be contacted when you purchase your flight.

I was booked for a 1:10 p.m. flight that would have put me back in Maryland at 2:35 p.m. Around 10 a.m., I received a text message from Southwest that my flight was delayed by an estimated two hours. The Detroit area was supposed to get storms in the afternoon, according to a weather forecast I had checked. I wasn’t fully packed yet and would have needed to be at the airport in less than a hour at that point, so I was relieved to have extra time to pack and finish up other odds and ends. Around 11:15 a.m. I heard my iPhone buzz. I just knew it would be Southwest with a message that the flight was not delayed two hours after all. And it was.

The flight was now delayed only 20 minutes, according to this latest text, so I needed to get to the airport stat. My parents’ house is only a 15-minute drive from the airport, so I threw my things together and made it to Detroit Metro with plenty of time to check in, go through security and even get lunch.

Side note: Detroit’s TSA agents could work on their manners — most of us are just travelers, not terrorists, but you’d never know that based on how Detroit TSA agents treat everyone. At least, I can say that Detroit TSA agents are equally unfriendly to everyone.

If you find yourself flying out of Detroit Metro’s North Terminal (which services Air Canada, AirTran, American Airlines, Frontier, Lufthansa, Royal Jordanian, Southwest, Spirit, United and U.S. Airways), one of the best places to grab a bite is Earl of Sandwich. It’s located between gates D26 and D28. It shares seating with Villa Pizza and is near a USA Today Travel Zone, where you can buy reading material, snacks and Caribou Coffee drinks. All Earl of Sandwich’s fresh, toasted sandwiches cost $6.85. I ordered the veggie sandwich topped with lettuce, tomatoes, roasted red peppers, cucumbers and cheese. It was delicious. The tuna melt is also a solid bet.

Earl of SandwichVeggie Earl of Sandwich

After boarding the plane at 1:30 p.m., we ended up sitting on the tarmac for 1.5 hours. It turned out we all could have had that extra time at home rather than rushing to the airport. Finally, we landed at BWI, and I made it back to my apartment around 7 p.m. — three hours behind schedule with a slew of stories to edit for work.

So, that was my trip. It started and ended a bit rocky, but it’s always relaxing to be “home.” This post is a bit more personal than most, but how could I not make a trip to my home, visiting my family and friends, not personal? It just is. As they say, home is where the heart is. For that reason, no matter where my address is, Michigan will always be home.

Wish you were here,

Erin

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