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Joel McNeece: A road trip to remember

You may be dreaming of a White Christmas, but I’ve seen all the snow I care to see this year.

Dr. Bruce Longest and I were in Detroit last weekend for our 13th annual NFL trip, which happened to coincide with a winter storm that blanketed the Great Lakes region. Approximately a foot of snow fell in less than 24 hours making this NFL excursion unlike any of our previous.

The only other time we went this late in the year was when we flew to Baltimore to see the Army-Navy game on Saturday in Landover, Maryland (Redskins’ stadium) and the Ravens and Colts play on Sunday.

Dr. Longest always kidded that he wanted a true frozen tundra, Lambeau Field experience. Green Bay was our very first trip and we got a sunny, 70 degree day in mid October. I’d sign up for that every time, anywhere we go.

The coldest we’ve ever been was in Pittsburgh when the Steelers hosted New Orleans several years ago. Bruce native Fred Thomas was still playing for the Saints at the time and he got us tickets via the team. We discovered how Pittsburgh treats visiting teams when we located our seats at the tip-top of the open air stadium with gusting winds in 30 degree weather. We’ve ordered our own tickets ever since and mostly in warm weather cities.

Detroit wasn’t one of those. Ford Field isn’t close to the best stadiums we’ve seen. That would have to be in Dallas, Seattle and Arizona, but the warmth of an indoor game in the midst of a blizzard outside left me very appreciative of all its amenities.

Like most of our trips, this one centered around good eating more than football. At the game, that included a “Big Blue Donut.” It was exactly what it sounds like and the size of a football. It was good with its Apple jam insides, but we didn’t come close to finishing it.

We dined at Iron Chef Michael Simon’s restaurant Roast the first night. The self proclaimed “meat-centric” chef didn’t disappoint. While it may have been the darkest restaurant I’ve ever been in, (I couldn’t have identified anyone at the next table if it were my parents) the dry aged ribeye was as good as it gets.

Sunday night we were at Selden Standard, a more eclectic spot with a diverse modern American menu. My favorite was the dessert – “donuts and cider” – which featured two donuts smothered in cinnamon and sugar and placed on a plate covered with caramelized apples, sage crumble and a cider sorbet.

The snow was well above our ankles when we left the restaurant, but the locals for the most part seemed unphased by the wintry mess – just another day in their routine. Ty Allushuski, who has done some football season work for us at The Journal the past few years, has returned home to his native Michigan for a job in Detroit. He texted me Sunday night and said he had just spent an hour shoveling his driveway and would have to do it again in two hours to make sure he could get to work Monday. Not me, without a mountain and a pair of skis, I have no use for that much snow.

It was nice to get back to Mississippi where the precipitation only accumulates in puddles and the forecast never involves numbers with a minus in front of them. Driving home from the airport we talked about next year’s options – suddenly Oakland and Miami have moved to the top of the list.

Joel McNeece is publisher of The Calhoun County Journal in Bruce. You may email him at joelmcneece@gmail.com.