Have you found your vacation-length sweet spot? When planning a big trip, I often find myself landing on 9-10 days. Fly out Friday or Saturday, come home the following Sunday. Leaving Montana is expensive no matter where you’re heading, so I always feel like that’s the best way to make it worth the money. At this point we’d done a couple 10-day-ers, namely Mexico for our honeymoon and Boston and New York for our first big Red Sox Road Trip, and the signs were there that I had started playing with fire. I love Joel and always love doing fun things with him but going from hopefully seeing him for a few hours at night during a work week to spending every moment with him in an unfamiliar city and, more importantly, unfamiliar bed, things tend to get a little dicey around day 9. This is exacerbated by my obsessive need to plan every moment of the vacation and irrational anxiety around straying from said plan. Mexico had ended with a less than fun sushi dinner, and Boston/New York ended with tears at the airport, albeit not from Joel or me. Still, I probably should have known that a 10-day trip spanning 4 cities and 11 games (plus a bunch of other stuff) was too much. But if my inner voice was trying to warn me, I didn’t listen and instead proudly handed Joel our jam-packed itinerary at the beginning of the trip without a thought of anything going any way but perfectly.
To be completely honest, the trip was great. We saw great games, great cities, and ate great food. By Sunday, however, we were exhausted, missing our own bed and shower, and comparing every living creature to at least one of our dogs. Add in the fact that the breakfast place I’d planned had a 2-hour wait by the time we got there so we had to adjust our schedule (blasphemy!) and the Raiders (Joel’s team) lost an absolute heartbreaker on Sunday Night Football, and you had all the ingredients for a crappy last day of vacation. Still, though, we got to make our third trip to Little Caesar’s Arena and see how they dressed it up for the pre-Blake Griffin Pistons during Star Wars Night.
Outside of Little Caesars there is an old brick wall the has the Red Wings logo with “Hockeytown” written on it. The Red Wings aren’t particularly good anymore, but let me tell you, Detroit is certainly still “Hockeytown.” Our seats for the Pistons game were a million times better than the hockey game and significantly cheaper. We were first bowl free throw line extended behind the Pistons bench. They did a bunch of cool things for Star Wars night, including lots of folks in costumes and little kids dancing, but unfortunately, our enjoyment was stymied by being on day ten. I was cranky, Joel kept yelling at Stan Van Gundy (who later was fired), and I don’t really remember what all happened except that I was mad that Luke Kennard got benched and some dude on the Magic had the weirdest hair I’ve ever seen. Seriously, go Google Elfrid Payton. You’re welcome.
The Magic were not good, and the Pistons managed to pull out the win despite a less than stellar performance from Andre Drummond. Joel and I got in a fight about his pestering of the Pistons coach on the way to our car, and that was that!
You know how the one benefit of Little Caesars pizza is that it’s cheap? Well, that’s not the case in Little Caesars Arena. They of course have concession stands everywhere with Little Caesars offerings, but you have to pay like $20 for a $5 Hot and Ready. Instead of doing that, we started at Mike’s Pizza Bar, which you can access outside the arena. There weren’t many people there, so we were seated right away and had a pretty good meal. I, naturally, went to a pizza place and got a panini, but the Roasted Chicken and Pesto Panini lived up to how appealing it sounds, and I feel good about my decisions. Joel went with the basic pepperoni pizza, and he wasn’t a huge fan. He loves a ton of sauce (I’m the opposite) and between not having a ton of marinara and being a thinner crust, he wasn’t too pleased. Should have splurged for the Little Caesars.
Earlier in the day we’d tried a brunch spot downtown, but downtown anytime after 9:30 is apparently impossible on Sundays, so we left the "hip" area and headed to a wealthier part of the city called Grosse Pointe and a restaurant called The Jagged Fork. I think I still have a food baby from our meal. There were really too many good options that I had a hard time narrowing it down to one- I mean, Cinnabun or Oreo pancakes? Red Velvet waffle? Banana Nutella crepes? I almost had major breakfast paralysis by analysis, but I ultimately pulled the trigger and opted for the Strawberry Shortcake French Toast. My parents always make weird references to things from the 80s and early 90s that I don’t understand, one of which is “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing” but really I can’t believe I did except that it was too delicious to let any of it go to waste. Joel went with some good old Eggs Benedict, but nothing was competing with my feast. Sorry hun.
I’m hoping that as Little Caesars Arena gets some more years (and maybe even championships) under its belt, it adds a little more character. There are pockets of cool things here and there, but with any arena, especially in markets like Detroit, it’s the history that makes the experience. Having two teams play in one arena can contribute to the challenges with making new stadiums memorable, but it also doubles the opportunities for something great! We probably won’t go back to Detroit for a while unless it’s in the summer, so hopefully by then Little Caesars works some magic!
I say 10 days is too long for a vacation, but my most recent and next vacations span 10 days, so I must be a slow learner. I will say, however, that my last 10 day-er (which you’ll hear about later) was made much better by actively stifling (some of) my planning tendencies. Don’t get me wrong, it was still packed with fun stuff, but I tried to limit planning meals, over-planning days, etc. We’re not there to do stuff we can do at home, but a morning sleeping in, trip to a fast food spot, or an afternoon nap isn’t the worst thing in the world. At least I’ve learned that!
Just a couple of sports fans touring the world, one stadium at a time.