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It’s been a long time since I got in the car and drove 850 miles across the country in one day. Last fall, Dan and I took a tour on the outline of the mitten part of Michigan ending for a couple of days in Frankenmuth, one of our favorite places. But along the way we stopped in many of the towns of western Michigan. But June 6 my oldest great-niece Miranda was graduating and we had to be there. She always has been a big part of our lives and it had been five years since we had been to see them in Bel Air, Md., northeast of Baltimore. My niece Trina and her husband Riki along with their son Jordan and Miranda had moved into a new home and we hadn’t seen that either. I’ve always considered Trina my second daughter. So off I went in my car with my daughter Mel and my mom leaving at 4:30 on a Sunday morning, arriving in Bel Air at around 6:30 p.m. Eastern time. I had just gotten the boot off of my broken ankle and was a little leery. For about 2½ months, I had been incapacitated with this ankle and it threw my back out. So I was concerned. But riding in the car wasn’t so bad and with Mel’s help we got there OK. We were able to visit Miranda’s college — University of Maryland Baltimore County about 45 minutes (with good traffic) from her house. It’s very modern on a rolling, hilly campus; you’d get your exercise. We attended the awards ceremony at her high school where she earned a Presidential Award and was a Maryland State honor student. And here’s a fact I found astonishing — Patterson Mill High School — one of three in Bel Air, accumulated more than $5 million in scholarships for its approximate 250 graduates. So the ceremony was very impressive. Of course, a party and the actual graduation were part of the week’s festivities. A fun time for all. In five more years, we’ll probably be there for Jordan’s graduation. As an addict to the Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives” with Guy Fieri, I keep a list in my phone of places I think I might like to go. I had some in Baltimore and one that stood out was Chap’s Pit Beef. I was reminded of it because many restaurants were advertising pit beef. So off we went one afternoon and landed in an area I might not always go to visit Chap’s. And an experience it was. Located next to a strip club and across the street from an adult video store, I thought it was a good thing it was daytime but the place was hopping in a small metal building with limited seating inside and out. There was a line but it was efficiently taken care of and while waiting for your food you could watch them flipping huge chunks of meat over an open pit grill. As the time came, the chef would yank one off and slice it. He looked hot. I had the pit beef. Sounds simple but the menu was extensive. This was the best sandwich I think I’ve ever had — thick beef on a Kaiser roll, though you had a choice of bread, this was the house fixing. That day we also saw where Edgar Allen Poe lived but probably wouldn’t live today. So off we headed on Saturday for Canton, Ohio, home to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. As we headed up the Ohio Turnpike, we had the opportunity to travel the back roads of Ohio through Salem and over to Canton traveling behind the slowest drivers in the world. I don’t have a lead foot most of the time, but we weren’t even going speed limit most of the way. You’ve heard of Sunday afternoon drivers? These were Saturday night slugs. Oh, dear. But the next morning’s visit to the Hall of Fame was awesome. We were greeted by Walter Payton who was on a big banner on the front of the building. The Bears were well represented. Did you know an induction class must be of at least four and no more than seven? There also was a display of the Super Bowl rings with Josten’s of Princeton crafting most of the rings. Very cool. The dark and lifesized bronze busts of each player by the year inducted was most impressive. Each was highlighted with a lone light that made you want to whisper. And just one of the highlights of a relaxing, if not long, trip? My I-PASS worked in every state we were in. Cynthia Rolando can be reached at (815) 220-6934 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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