July 12, 2017
Lunch at a roadside pig farm. Swimming in the Great Salt Lake with stinging chicken pox scabs. The winding street in San Francisco. Vegas clowns. Lamps purchased in Mexico. Having my feet be on the middle “hump” in the car. My first taco at my aunt’s hillside house. The Grand Canyon. The little boy in the window with a bare behind.
Those are part of the scattered memories of my first real road trip. I think I was five years old and for some reason, my parents thought it would be a good idea to load up our family of five into our green Ford LTD and drive across the country from Michigan to California. I mean, it was a great idea for the kids, but I can’t imagine taking that on as a parent. (Shout out to my dad!) Then again, we were pretty good kids. (Shout out to my sisters!)
Since then, I’ve been on plenty of road trips. Our family also drove to Washington, D.C. and Florida during spring breaks. We bought a camper and drove all around Michigan. (They still tease me about conflating Interlochen and Leland and asking when we were going to Lelochen.)
As an adult, I did at least a couple too many straight-through drives to South Dakota where the Air Force stationed us. There’s nothing quite like driving across the plains of South Dakota in the dead of winter – a whole lot of nothing but dark skies and snow.
There was a trip to Boston – when my two-year-old decided that would be the right time to potty train. Because there’s nothing better than a 16-hour drive when you have to stop every few hours for a toddler to try the big-girl bathroom. We also did the drive to Florida – where my husband caught the flu just in time for the return trip. We’ve done a ton of drives to Washington, D.C. and New York, including the time we were stuck on the Pennsylvania Turnpike for hours on end. We’ve even gone on international drives to Toronto and Montreal. Just a few weeks ago I wrote about my trip to Iowa with my coworkers.
And then there were the crazy international road trips. I’ll never forget the wild kidney-jarring ride up into the mountains of China where we dodged fallen boulders from an earthquake. Or the bumpy day-long rides to remote African villages, including the one where I thought the Tanzanian police might detain us because our driver was using a car that had once been used by a group trying to stage a coup. (He had purchased it without knowing this knowledge.)
A plane might get you there faster, but there’s something fun about a road trip – especially when you’re a Spartan. Next week, a group of my colleagues are setting off on The Great State Road Trip all across Michigan to highlight cool things Spartans are doing for the Mitten State. They’ll traverse from East Lansing to Detroit and up the U.P with more stops along the way. They’ll be showcasing some cool research with big impact and featuring all sorts of Spartans along the way. And, they’re inviting you to come along! Well, I mean, not joining them in their car, but by following along in real time through the university social media accounts. Or, if you like, maybe you can even try to find them if they happen to come through your town. Check out the details in MSUToday and get ready to follow along for some fun!
Lisa Cook is another Spartan who’s done her fair share of traveling. She’s an economist who not only helps students understand the impact of economic plans and policies on humans, but has used her expertise at the White House and around the world. Watch the short video in the MSUTODAY FEATURE: The human side of economics, to learn more about her work.
If you’ve taken a road trip to the south part of campus lately, you might have seen a new building near the railroad tracks. That would be the 9,370-square-foot, state-of-the-art Scene Shop for the Department of Theatre, just one of the many things Kirk Domer, the department chairperson and associate professor of scene design, has seen come to fruition during his tenure. Check out the short video in the FACULTY VOICE: Staging new opportunities, to learn why he encourages students to challenge what he does.
Anne-Sophie Bohrer, a postdoctoral research associate in the biochemistry and molecular biology department, is all about sharing her knowledge with the people of Michigan. She was recently the coordinator of the Fascination of Plants Day that brought all sorts of Spartan research to the public. Read her STUDENT VIEW: Fascination of plants, to learn more about the event and why she enjoys this kind of community work.
There are a lot of roads on this campus, and they all lead to one thing – Spartans doing their darndest to make this world a better place. But Spartan roads don’t stop in East Lansing. They stretch out across this great state, impacting people and communities in ways you can’t imagine. Spartans cross oceans, mountains, plains and fields to find places where they’re needed most. When they do, they use their drive and determination to roll up their sleeves and get to work. The road to a better future is paved with Spartans Will.
Photo by Kurt Stepntiz; video by Kevin Epling