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Posts Tagged ‘Sports’

November 24, 2014

The Big House and Jolly Pumpkin in Ann Arbor

Good morning! The highlights of our weekend all happened in Ann Arbor, Michigan, so that is exactly what this post is going to cover.

Ann Arbor is located a little over an hour south of us. Any time I hear someone talk about the city, it concerns at least one of two things: The Big House (the University of Michigan Stadium) and the food!

Scott had been through the city a couple of times for events, but neither of us have been able to to stick around long enough to try out one of the many well-known restaurants on Main Street. I’m so glad we got to this time!

University of Michigan Football Game

Scott and I returned home from our respective commitments just around lunch time Saturday. We changed and drove over to our friend Alex’s to all ride over to Ann Arbor together.

Both Alex (Alex’s boyfriend) and Scott had been to a U of M football game before, but this was Alex (girl) and I’s first time visiting The Big House!

u of michigan game with alex and alex

The four of us pulled up about a half an hour before game time and walked towards the entrance to meet the rest of our group. Alex (boy) is a big U of M fan, so he had been here before and knew exactly where to go.

We would have tried to get there sooner to tailgate, but everyone was worried it would be too cold and rainy to be outside longer than necessary. We got pretty close to the stadium and paid to park at a private residence a couple of streets away.

walking up to the big house u of m stadium

As we walked up, we noted that we weren’t alone in the idea of showing up right on time. There were very few tailgate parties going on, which was a bit of a bummer. We’ve heard that U of M tailgates can be just as fun as the games. Maybe next time!

We met a couple of friends (Nichole‘s parents!) by the main entrance, and the boys checked out the retail store while the girls found the restrooms. I came out to the sight of an adorable maize and blue hat Scott bought for me. Twenty brownie points for him.

Without much time to spare, we made our way up to our seats and found the Joseys. Thank you so much for the tickets, you guys!

u of m game with the joseys

It was great to be able to experience my first U of M football game with such die hard fans. I didn’t exactly know what to expect, but I had heard that the sold out games get crazy. The stadium holds close to 110,000 people, so I can only imagine how loud and exciting it gets when the seats are completely sold out!

We sat down with about twenty minutes on the clock and as we were waiting for things to kick off I realized how long it had been since my last football game. I’m pretty sure the last time I sat in the stands to watch football was in 2008 when the University of South Florida played the University of Central Florida at the Bright House Networks Stadium, which only seats about 43,500.

(Fun fact: I attended both of those schools!)

I absolutely loved dancing for USF and remember how exciting it was to stand on the Raymond James Stadium field. That’s also the home of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and is the largest stadium I have ever been to attend a football game with less than a 66,000 person capacity.

Needless to say, the atmosphere in this stadium seemed HUGE. I loved it!

university of michigan football game

It’s a shame that the Wolverines haven’t been doing as well this season. Their 3-4 record, along with rainy temperatures in the 30s definitely affected the attendance of the game. Even so, the stands looked packed to me and totaled over 101,000!

I honestly expected it to be way colder than it was. I did my best to layer up and used Scott as a human heat generator slash recliner for the majority of the game. That did the trick. Twenty more brownie points!

scott and i at the university of michigan game 2

It started raining during the fourth quarter, but lucky for us, our tickets sat us directly under an overhang. It really could have been a lot worse!

I had a great time, however, I did get teased by a few Ohio State friends after posting this picture on Instagram. They are U of M’s biggest rival, along with the inner-state battle with MSU, of course. As a Florida native, I have to play the neutral card here. Dress me up and take me to a football game and I’ll be cheering. I’m pretty easy to roll with y’all.

My OSU friends will appreciate this one. During halftime, the marching band played a video segment of OSU’s movie themed halftime for their ode to Jurrasic Park (which starts at the 5:17 mark.) The performance ended with a Pirates of the Caribbean battle between OSU and U of M, and of course, they made the Michigan boat sink. (<- The whole show is really impressive!)

To retaliate, the U of M band made the dinosaur and had a meteor destroy it, followed by a re-birth of U of M. That was a fun video (starting at the 9:20 mark) to send to a few certain somebodies.

u of m marching band

Michigan didn’t end up pulling a W, but they put up a good fight. Surrounded by a sea of maize and blue, I picked up on the school chants, and Scott, Alex and I fit in in no time. It was a fun experience!

u of m game with alex

After the game, we walked back to the car and sat in traffic on Main Street for at least thirty minutes. We knew there were plenty of options to grab dinner, so we took some time looking up where to go.

Anywhere looked good, but we decided on good ‘ol Jolly Pumpkin.

Jolly Pumpkin Cafe & Brewery

While reading articles about the food in Ann Arbor, Alex stumbled upon the 23 Reasons Ann Arbor is the Best Food in All The Land via Buzzfeed. Number one is the truffle fries at Jolly Pumpkin. Done.

Jolly Pumpkin cafe & brewery ann arbor

We put our names in and sat down at our table thirty minutes later. Since Jolly Pumpkin is also known for their brews, we had a round of them. I ordered a cider (obviously) and the table shared not one, but two orders of truffle fries.

jolly pumpkin truffle fries and cider

They are every bit of dreamy I was hoping them to be. Alex kept describing them like McDonald’s fries (the only kind she will eat), and I just kept shaking my head in disappointment. The only way these are anywhere close to McDonald’s fries is if you started from scratch, cooked them with truffle oil and dressed them up in fancy tuxedos with a rosemary aioli sauce as the bow tie… (i.e. not similar at all). They were so good!

Everything else we ordered was also delicious. The restaurant had a hippie eclectic feel, and those types of places always create the best menus.

I ordered the Grilled Chicken with Brie sandwich (it had apricot jam!), and it came with a Market salad with super fresh greens and a side of pickled zucchini.

jolly pumpkin sandwich and market salad

While I was plenty satisfied, I saved enough room to split the vegan chocolate cake and dark chocolate coconut ice cream with Alex.

jolly pumpkin vegan chocolate cake

The boys (afraid of anything with the word “vegan” in the title) split the pumpkin whoopie pie, which was also fantastic. (Yes, I stole a bite!)

jolly pumpkin pumpkin cakes dessert

We only got to spend a handful of hours in the city of Ann Arbor, but all four of us kept talking about how we want to return soon. I would revisit Jolly Pumpkin again just to try something new, and there were also a list of other places we need to get to first.

Until next time, Ann Arbor!

>> Linking up my weekend snapshots with Katie and Erin.

Questions of the Morning

• Is there any city two hours or less away from where you live that you have been wanting to check out? What’s stopping you?

• What’s one highlight from your weekend?

Other than returning to Ann Arbor, Scott and I really want to make a trip up to Mackinac Island, although that is close to 5 hours away. We also need to get to the Upper Peninsula one of these days… most likely when it warms up in the summer time!

November 13, 2014

Bulls vs. Pistons + Mercadito’s Tacos

Good Morning! It’s a snowy one here in Rochester Hills, Michigan.

Yep… we woke up to a thin layer of snow on the ground this morning.

Not okay.

But before I get sidetracked on that, I have a trip to Chicago to share!

We arrived in the city in the mid-afternoon on Monday, and I had a couple of hours until game time. Scott went with our friend, Barry, to the arena and I hung behind to work on my race recap and get ready for the game.

While in Chicago, I re-acquainted myself with Uber, the car service. We ordered car rides and pick-ups from the app on our phones throughout the duration of our stay, and it was so much easier than trying to figure out where to park and how to drive in the city. We have Uber in Detroit, but it’s not nearly as accessible to us as it is to cities that thrive on taxi services like Chicago or New York.

I arrived at the United Center an hour before the game started. I planned to meet Scott by our seats and was happy to see a friend of theirs come and get me to bring me under the tunnels until my friend arrived.

It’s always fun to see how different teams and arenas work on game days! It was the usual hustle and bustle of getting everything ready and situated before tip-off.

Bulls Game with Scott 2014

(That’s what we got after this, of course.)

Scott and I at Bulls Game 2014

Scott and I headed up to our section with plenty of time to catch the intros. The Bulls have always had a memorable introduction that started back in the days of Michael Jordan, and they just redid the opening video this season.

Chicago Bulls game intro

I have never even worked for the team and I got chills. I absolutely loved it!

The game was themed out in camouflage and filled with soldiers the crowd applauded to acknowledge Veteran’s Day. Everything from the dance routines to mascot costumes had something extra patriotic and special about them.

Chicago LuvaBulls

Since the Bulls were playing the Pistons, it was extra fun that our friend, Katlyn (who I used to dance with in Detroit), joined us in the stands. She tried out for the Luvabulls this season and I am very excited for her to dance in this city!

It was her game off, so we were happy to have her sit with us.

Wearing his Entertainment Director hat, Scott took notes in his phone and got ideas of in-game bits and aspects to take home. Every NBA team does things a little bit differently, so it is nice to take a trip to another arena for game day every now and then.

One thing that never changes (or gets old) is the team mascot. Benny the Bull has been buds with HOOPER for years, so it didn’t surprise me when we got a special visit complete with confetti and silly string!

selfie with Benny the Bull

(Benny selfie)

He’s crazy and wildly entertaining, y’all. Pulling similar stunts our crazy horse would, he had the crowd on their feet and slightly nervous at what would happen next the whole visit.

Benny the Bull balancing in stands

I’m pretty sure he used an entire can of silly string on Katlyn, too. Charming.

benny the bull was here

(Benny was here.)

The game was exciting, and as a Pistons and a Bulls fan, my team was sure to win. The Bulls ended up pulling the W, but Detroit put up a fight and still gave a good challenge. It was the perfect game to come over for!

Bulls game with Katlyn

After the game, we found our friend Barry and all wanted something to do and eat. It was a Monday, and there weren’t too many late-night options, so we were glad to squeeze into the last seating for dinner at Mercadito’s.

Mercaditos with Barry and Scott

It was a cool and eclectic looking place that reminded Scott and I a lot of MEX in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.

Mercaditos restaurant chicago

With a solid appetite, we ordered a trio of guacamoles to start.

Mercaditos chips and guacamole

And… a round of their specialty margaritas!

Mercaditos margarita

The guacamole lasted about two minutes, so we ordered another trio of different guacamoles and they were all very fresh and delicious.

Mercaditos guacamole

I left it to the boys to order the entrees. We all have similar taste, so we ordered a smorgasbord of different tacos and I enjoyed sampling them all. I almost tasted the tilapia. I’m not a big fan of fish, but they all raved about this one.

Mercaditos tacos

(Of course that’s the one that came out later I didn’t take a picture of.)

Stuffed, we closed the restaurant down and made our way around local spots looking for something to do. It was a great start to our trip!

I hate to make it short and skip the ability to proof-read, but I need to get out the door and take the fur kids to the vets for their annual exams.

See ya back in a bit with the rest of our Chicago trip highlights!

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