With both of my older girls in marching band and our youngest still playing AYSO soccer, it’s pretty much a given that our October weekends will be full. We used to be able to take some day trips to pumpkin patches or to visit friends, but free weekend time is much more limited than it used to be.
I’d been planning to drive over to Detroit for the marching band state finals all year. It’s an exciting trip – the band performs at Ford Field, home of the Detroit Lions. No matter how they end up placing, it’s fun to watch them on the ‘pro’ field and a great experience for the kids.
For Abbi’s freshman year, the other four of us made the trek over to Ford Field. As a lifelong Lions fan, it was exciting for Ron to see the stadium and we wanted to support Abbi and the band. However, we weren’t fans of the ticket price – or the crowds. So last year, I attended state finals solo.
This year, I originally planned to head over to Detroit alone again. But the girls quickly talked me into a pit stop. My close friend Mary and I visit back and forth several times a year, but with her daughter being in marching band in their home town as well this year, plus our schedule – a free weekend just wasn’t to be had this autumn. The kids lobbied hard for a pit stop – a quick overnight visit down to Coldwater after state finals.
It was generally do-able. Our Flight I performance schedule put us finishing around 7:30pm on Saturday evening. And we could stay through dinner on Sunday, giving the kids a good 24 hours (we thought) to hang out. It would mean bringing Becca with me to state finals, but she was amenable to that, as long as she could bring stuff to do to keep busy.
I also planned another stop – my mom and brother live in Ypsilanti, which is about 30 minutes west of Detroit and not horribly out of the way. My mom’s health hasn’t been the best, and with our busy schedule we don’t get to see them as often as we would all like. It was only Becca and I – the other girls would be riding the bus from the high school to Ford Field.
The weekend turned out as expected, but with a few hiccups. Becca and I stopped in Ypsilanti and had a nice lunch with my mom and brother. Then we headed over to Detroit and got settled in for our afternoon of band watching. We saw most of the Flight IV bands (smallest high schools) and then all of our Flight I (largest high schools). The crowds were crazy and we spent $7 on a bucket of popcorn, but overall it was a good time. Our band did well, keeping their 7th overall in Flight I spot.
Mother Nature has given us some rather rainy Saturdays this year, and this one was no exception. A strong storm system blew through during the evening. Since Ford Field is a covered stadium, it didn’t affect the performances, but the bands do warm up outside, so the rain did cause a delay. Plus once Flight I was done, the storm wasn’t over yet, so having kids walk the 3 blocks to our buses carrying expensive instruments wasn’t a great plan. We waited about 30 minutes until the rain let up.
I’d hoped to get to Mary’s around 9 or 9:30pm, but with the rain delays, it was after 11:30pm by the time we pulled in to her driveway. The girls were exhausted from a full day of rehearsals and performing. They stayed up for a brief while but were sound asleep much earlier than is typical for one of these visits. Mary and I stayed up later catching up and making cake. Mary loves to bake and used to run a cake business out of her home. Since my birthday was the following Monday, she just had to make my favorite cake, german chocolate.
We spent Sunday hanging out, eating cake and relaxing. Hannah and Mary’s daughter Emma have been best friends since birth, so love spending every moment together they can get. We did have to leave a bit earlier than originally planned – Hannah is doing ‘running crew’ for our fall play and needed to attend at least some of Sunday’s rehearsal. We left for home around 5pm and dropped Hannah off at the high school at 7:15pm.
All in all, it was a full, fun weekend. I don’t know if I’d want to do that much driving every weekend – two hours to Ypsilanti, 30 minutes to Ford Field on Saturday, then another two hours to Coldwater that night and two hours home on Sunday. But we got a chance to see friends and family and to cheer on our marchers.
Plus, I got a birthday cake as well. And Mary’s cakes are definitely worth driving for.