Usually there's some time pressure involved, including this past Friday. But not because I had ended up with two Friday evening panels. Since I'm not teaching this semester and Mrs. Dr. Phil took the day off, getting to the Detroit suburbs early was the easy part. But I had a doctor's appointment at the Wound Clinic for 9:45am. So we really had to be packed and loaded and out the door between 8:45 and 9 -- we pulled out at 8:51. Perfect.
Afterward we drove over to East Beltline and up to Sheskco near Celebration North. Originally we thought to just get some Middle Eastern takeout, but it always takes an hour or so at the Wound Clinic, so by the time we got there, it was just in time for an early lunch. Oh. Yum. We both had the lamb shwarma plate, grilled vegetables on one and slivered almond rice on the other, lamb chili and lamb vegetable soup. And Mrs. Dr. Phil got two rice puddings to go. Made an amazing Saturday morning breakfast. (grin)
Usually I get gas at Portland Exit 77 both ways on trips east on I-96. But because Mrs. Dr. Phil had gotten a special coupon on Thursday, I delayed getting gas as far as possible so she'd be able to use it when we got home. So I drove on another 52 miles to Exit 129 and a Mobil station which was ridiculously easy on/off the highway. The Low Fuel light had come on just before the Okemos-east-of-Lansing Exit 110 -- the light comes on way early, with up to a six gallon reserve.
Funny thing about getting gas on the far side of Lansing, we soon passed an electronic sign for the exit to I-696 and it was hardly any distance at all -- about thirty miles.
Ten days ago the weekend forecast was all sunshine and a few clouds. The reality was overcast, but we were chasing blue sky to the east. By Detroit it was bright blue sky and still 31°F at around 2:30pm. Early enough to check in, unload, run by Registration and still have a nap before starting my ConFusion with a 6pm panel. Not feeling rushed and in rush hour traffic like usual.
Two years ago, ConFusion 2013 was in the Doubletree Dearborn the first time. Since I had to leave from WMU, I was on that miserable I-94 the whole way, including that tragic area that just had the 193 vehicle crash and is dangerous even in nice weather. (Last night, even conservative Congressman Fred Upton was on TV saying it was imperative to cough up the money to rebuild that 17 mile stretch from somewhere around Climax to I-69.) So I approached the hotel from the south that year.
From the north? Unbelievably easy. I-96 to I-696 to the recently rebuilt M-10 and M-39 to the exit to the Ford Highway -- and then there's an entrance to the hotel right off that access road.
Only new thing were electronic gates for the parking, BUT the Doubletree gave ConFusion complementary parking. And they even had a convenient slot to dispose of your old dead room keycard after using it one last time to raise the gate. Well played.
On Sunday I had my reading at 10 and a panel at 11am, so by noon, I was clear. I had checked Saturday night to see if we could extend checkout time from noon to 1pm -- they said call the front desk in the morning. In the morning the front desk had said NoPossibleWay WeAreFullyBookedForSundayCheckins Couldn'tPossiblyMakeAnExceptionSoTough. That was okay, we didn't have much to pack. And we had a small cooler and a good sized refrigerator in the room. Had made cheese sandwiches earlier. Sat outside the Consuite. No cold cuts, but we split a hot dog as well. (I realize they don't want them to leak, but plastic relish packets are damned hard to open. Kept on expanding the little tear only to milk out more pickle juice but no substance.)(grin)
Then it was hit the road time. Drove past the Westin where Penguicon will be end of April -- note to self -- contact Programming at Penguicon. Managed to not pay attention and take the wrong I-96 leg off of I-696, but only a few minutes of diversion. It was wet in the city, just enough so you needed the delay wipers to push away the winter grime that was being kicked up. Clear sailing -- most traffic going the other way, just like Chicago.
And as so often happens, the MOMENT we turned into the driveway, the VERY moment, and stopped so Mrs. Dr. Phil could get and grab the Sunday paper, the Low Fuel light comes on. It's that last slosh in the tank as one comes to a halt, plus a very slight downgrade, which always seems to trip the sensor. The good news? Mrs. Dr. Phil this morning had a 99.9¢/gallon gasoline coupon. ONE BUCK GAS. FTW!
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