25 June 2014

MICHIGAN Lansing - Lowdown on Lansing

In early spring my bro Bob let us know the touring version of The Book of Mormon was playing at Michigan State University's Wharton Center. We held our breath til the day we could buy tickets, punched the computer button one second after purchasing opened, and got four front row balcony seats--two for them and two for us. Tickets were $100 each but way better than the $350 each price we saw on Broadway in NYC last year.

A few months later June 11th finally rolled around. We drove up to Lansing, a 75 mile and 1-1/2 hour journey. There we checked into the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center, a bit dated but clean and comfortable. We had a lovely corner room with windows on two sides overlooking the MSU campus.

We were supposed to meet my brother and his wife Lo at Hop Cat Brewery in the "action" district about 10 blocks way. It was hot, but we enjoyed a lovely stroll along the campus grounds. As it turned out Bob was delayed due to unexpected events at work, so the three of us downed beers and appetizers. Bob joined us two beers later, enjoying his own pint and the leftover appi's.

Hop Cat Lansing has a different vibe than Hop Cat Grand Rapids, where we have visited before. GR is in an old, but updated building with a smallish bar and restaurant. Lots of wood and beams and weathered construction. Lansing Hop Cat is much newer with lots of steel and industrial touches. Both interesting in their own way.   www.hopcat.com

Next we went to Dublin Square, an Irish pub. This place is beautifully appointed with new construction that looks old, dark wood, Celtic decor, fireplace, warm and welcoming. Our nephew, Kendall, joined us there. Mike and Bob ordered Irish whiskeys and we all had a taste. Not my style!  www.dublinsquare.net

Last stop before the play was Beggar's Banquet for dinner. This was kind of a sentimental stop. Years ago when my younger brother Kevin was about 14, we took him on a trip up north to Frankfort, MI. Our mom gave us $50 to feed him (big eater) on the long weekend. We stopped at BB and spent the whole $50 in one meal. Not to worry. We didn't starve the rest of the weekend because eating Up North was pretty cheap some 40 years ago.

Prices had gone up, of course, but atmosphere was essentially the same. Food got mixed reviews at our table. The place did not seem as great as we remembered, but there must be something to it having thrived for 40+ years.   www.beggars banquet.com

Lo bowed out on the play because we only had four tickets. As we zipped over to the theatre, Bob gave us a little tour as he had graduated from MSU and knows his way around. We found a convenient parking spot, entered the theatre, and waited in anticipation til the curtain rose. This Broadway play was written by the creators of South Park--Trey Parker, Matt Stone and Robert Lopez. That tells you something right there.

This religious satire musical is the winner of nine Tony awards including Best Musical in 2011. The play got mixed reviews in our group. The three guys LOVED it and I mostly loved (in lower case) it. The story is insightful and hilarious (but a little raunchy and too far-out-ish for me). That is typical, however, of these creative genius creators. Read more at:

The next morning Mike and I took a stroll through the campus grounds. We saw the MSU Stadium, the famous Sparty statue, and the W. J. Beal Botanical Garden. This garden was established in 1873, shortly after the MSU Agricultural College was established.

This outdoor laboratory was created for the study and appreciation of plants. It is laid out in separate areas of the main collection, endangered species, forest, landscape, wetlands, plant families, useful plants, and non-flowering plants. There is a live growing sample of more than 2,000 different plants, each with a sign stating the name and a little about it. We spent about an hour perusing. It was totally fascinating. Avid gardeners would LOVE (in caps) it.
For more info: www.cpa.msu.edu/beal/

That ended our Lansing and MSU trip this time around, but we are inspired to return. Go Green! (Sorry, other brother Kevin who is a U of Michigan fan.)

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