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If I told you I’d gone to the city to see a few shows, listen to some impressive live music, catch a cutting-edge film festival, spend time in world-class museums, and chow down on an astonishingly diverse and multicultural dining scene including Cuban, Ethiopian, Mexican, Italian, Asian and Turkish food, you’d probably assume I was talking about a big city. Somewhere like Chicago or Seattle or New York.
Ann Arbor, with a population of around 116,000 and home to sports and academic powerhouse, University of Michigan, rivals big urban destinations in terms of food, entertainment, and culture.
I spent a few days looking, tasting, and exploring. Here’s a roundup of my favorites:
Feed Your Mind
Ann Arbor boasts a number of superior museums. The University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA) offers an impressive collection of fine art and artifacts. Two of my favorite pieces were the Samurai armor in the Asian collection and John Stanley’s “Mt. Hood from the Dalles”, a beautiful landscape painted in 1871 with an iconic view of Mt. Hood from the Columbia River.
Another fascinating stop is the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology. This state-of-the-art facility, housed in an exquisite Victorian-era Romanesque building complete with turret and Tiffany window, is centered around the late-19th Century and early-20th Century collection of it’s namesake, Francis Kelsey. Some highlights of the more than 100,000 artifacts include Roman glassware, Egyptian masks, and an elaborate sarcophagus. The coffin’s owner, the missing Mummy Djehutymose, has his own popular Twitter feed and Facebook page.
The nearby Gerald Ford Library Museum and archives is also worth a visit. Primarily a holding place for more than 25 million pages of historical documents pertaining to Ford’s political career and the Cold War era, the center offers an intriguing view of the man, including the story of Ford’s birth and childhood.
Taste the World
My first meal in Ann Arbor, a Cuban burger and batida ( a frozen concoction of mango, pinaeapple, scoop of ice cream and a splash of dark rum) and a basket of what may be the best fries I’ve ever tasted, at Frita Batidas, set the tone for the rest of the week. Everything was delicious and often unexpected. Some of my other favorites were the Ethiopian Injera (soft bread) and Gomen (collard greens cooked with spices, onions and jalapeno peppers) at Blue Nile and lamb-stuffed grape leaves and cold vegetable salads at Ayse’s Turkish Cafe. Of course, no visit to Ann Arbor counts unless you stop by world-famous Zingerman’s Deli. For beer lovers, there are a growing number of microbreweries in the area and you won’t regret a day spent tasting local brews.
Football may draw the crowds in the fall, but Ann Arbor hosts large events throughout the year. Seasonal favorites include the winter Folk Festival, a springtime FestiFools puppetry and public art festival, and a three-week summer festival with art, music, food, and film.
The number of antiques, collectibles and vintage shops within walking distance of Main Street was a nice surprise. Treasure Mart, in the Kerrytown area near the farmer’s market and Zingerman’s Deli, is a rambling historic building full of all kinds of interesting things. Some of the rooms are decorated and arranged like an antiques mall, others are crammed with goodies strewn on tabletops or piled in corners just waiting to be discovered.
Located in the Nickles Arcade, a 1918 covered passage lined with unique shops that make the place feel like a bit of Paris in the mid-west, The Arcadian antiques is a jewel box. Crystal and china line the shelves and the store stocks fine antique furniture, but the highlight is a collection of beautiful estate jewelry. I watched a couple shop for wedding rings, trying to choose from trays of lovely old diamonds and gemstones.
I did a lot of window shopping but I didn’t come home empty-handed. At Antelope Antiques and Coins, a funky store on the lower level of a downtown building. I plucked an autographed photo of Woody Herman ($10) out of a box of old photos and postcards, and did a little happy dance when I found a Waterford goblet in my (somewhat obscure) “Kylemore” pattern, for only $15.
Like most travelers, I have a fantasy “I could live here” list in my head made up of places I’ve been and couldn’t forget. After this first visit, Ann Arbor moved to the top of the list. A robust arts scene, a vibrant main street, an energetic farm-to-table movement and a cosmopolitan foodie-friendly ethos, paired with a dedication to preserving the past, makes Ann Arbor, Michigan hard to resist.
Cheryl-Anne Millsap’s audio essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the U.S. She is the author of “Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons” and can be reached at email@example.com
A GRIP ON SPORTS
I am a sucker. There, I admitted it. That feels better. Read on.
From Pullman — The Washington State football team extolls the virtue of limiting its focus to one game, series and even snap at a time. As such they've been reticent to discuss the possibility of playing in a bowl now that they're one game away from bowl eligibility. We, however, aren't taking the field on Saturday and as such don't have to limit ourselves. Because WSU (5-5, 3-4 Pac-12) is favored against Utah at home this weekend it seems appropriate to take a look at the Cougars' bowl situation. After all, a postseason bid could have big benefits for the Cougars. Here's what coach Mike Leach had to say about the extra practices granted bowl teams.
No question. I think you get more than 15 … I think it's 22 but anyways you get quite a few. But yeah that's huge, I think it's incredibly helpful. We went to 10 straight bowls and I thought in the middle of 10 straight bowls that everybody should have the practice opportunities because it's a definite advantage. And then your young guys, you know, you can work them and the young guys will have improved a lot since camp.
More on bowl possibilites after the jump.
No pressure for the Washington State football team this weekend, but the rest of the Pac-12 is gearing up for Saturday's games. Here are some links from around the conference.
Saturday is finally here and the Cougars are about to take on Oregon State in a matchup between Pacific Northwest rivals. Don't forget to jump in to our live chat at 6:30 p.m.
Some grim news for the baskteball team as a key player has left the program … but the men's and women's teams still put on a show Friday night … WSU players and coaches won't admit it but Saturday's game is a pretty big deal … What will WSU need to do to win? … Expect a lot of passes.
Dominique Williams returned to practice on Wednesday, and you'd never know he left. That's good news for the Cougars, who regain the services of one of their most explosive wide receivers. The offense carried the day for WSU with starting quarterback Connor Halliday and backup Austin Apodaca looking sharp. We got a chance to catch up with coach Mike Leach and defensive line coach Joe Salave'a after practice, read on for the interview.
S-R photojournalist Colin Mulvany covered the Gonzaga Prep vs. Mead game. Check out this big picture gallery of his photos.
S-R photojournalist Dan Pelle covered University's win against Rogers at Joe Albi stadium. Check out this big picture gallery of his photos.
S-R photojournalist Colin Mulvany covered Shadle's win over Mt. Spokane. Check out this big picture gallery of his photos.
Check out the entire replay of the live chat on Washington State football with beat writer Jacob Thorpe.
S-R photojournalist Kathy Plonka covered Lake City's win over Post Falls. Check out this big picture gallery of her photos.
S-R photojournalist Colin Mulvany covered the GSL showdown between Gonzaga Prep and Ferris. Check out this big picture gallery of his photos.
S-R photojournalist Dan Pelle covered Rogers' loss to North Central at Joe Albi on Friday. Check out this big picture gallery of his photos.
S-R photojournalist Colin Mulvany covered the GSL game between Mt. Spokane and Central Valley. Check out this big picture gallery of his photos.
S-R photojournalist Kathy Plonka covered the CDA game against Skyline. Check out this big picture gallery of her photos.
S-R photojournalist Colin Mulvany covered the CV vs. Rogers game. Check out this big picture gallery of his photos.
S-R photojournalist Colin Mulvany covered the NC vs. Mead game at Joe Albi. Check out this big picture gallery of his photos.
S-R photojournalist Colin Mulvany covered the Ferris vs. Shadle game. Check out this big picture gallery of his photos.
S-R photojournalist Tyler Tjomsland covered EWU's home game against Western Oregon. Check out this big picture gallery of his photos. Eastern won the game 43-14.
S-R photojournalist Kathy Plonka covered the East Valley High game against Sandpoint High. East Valley defeated Sandpoint 37-21. Check out this big picture gallery of her photos.
S-R photojournalist Colin Mulvany covered Shadle Park's opener against Rogers. Shadle Park won 62-14. Check out this big picture gallery of his photos.
S-R photojournalist Jesse Tinsley covered the Ferris vs. Central Valley game. Ferris defeated Central Valley 42-14. Check out this big picture gallery of his photos.
S-R photojournalist Colin Mulvany covered Mt. Spokane's win against North Central. Check out this big picture gallery of his photos.
S-R photojournalist Colin Mulvany covered Mead's game against University High in the GSL opener at Joe Albi, Thursday, Sept. 5, 2013. Check out this big picture gallery of his photos. The game was suspended at half-time because of lightning and will be replayed on Saturday night.
S-R photojournalist Tyler Tjomsland covered the Post Falls High opener against Capital. Capital defeated Post Falls 35-0. Check out a big picture gallery of his photos.
College football all-stars vs. the previous season's NFL champions.
When football players with exceptionally long hair feel their locks get caught against another player and be inadvertently tugged, yanked or even deliberately pulled.
What if it got snagged on someone's helmet?
Yes, that picture in today's sports section made me think about this, though not for the first time..
BALTIMORE, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio school district is refusing to let a seventh-grade girl play football, prompting requests that the board change its policies on female athletes.
Makhaela Jenkins has played youth football around Baltimore, southeast of Columbus, but isn't allowed on the active roster for her school team because the district doesn't allow girls to participate in games and contact drills.
Liberty Union-Thurston District superintendent Paul Mathews said the longstanding policy doesn't violate any gender-related regulations, because the district offers girls other, non-contact athletic options. Full story.
Would you want your daughter to play football?
Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A new report shows Boise State's football team is one of the best in the nation when it comes to how players perform in the classroom. The NCAA announced Tuesday that Boise State posted a team-best Academic Progress Rate of 993 during a four-year period ending in 2011-2012. That score ranks the Broncos second in the Football Bowl Subdivision, one spot behind Northwestern from the Big Ten Conference. The University of Idaho's football team scored at 919, while Idaho State came in with 914. APR measures eligibility, retention and graduation of all scholarship athletes. Schools that fail to meet certain APR standards can face penalties. At Idaho, the women's golf team earned the top APR score with 991. At Idaho State, the women's golf team also posted the highest score with 992.
As a department, all Boise State teams combined for an overall score of 977 and four other teams joined the football squad with top honors in the Mountain West Conference, including men's cross country, men's indoor track and field, men's outdoor track and field and swimming and diving teams.