Not that we had to drive 500 miles. That's what a woman from Hancock got to do. The S.O. and I drove a mere 464 miles one way before arriving in Michigan's capitol city. We were not impressed. On the positive side, I'm no longer annoyed at politicians sucking money out of the U.P. and spending it in the Downer Peninsula. I'm not sure just where that money goes, but it's not going into infrastructure any place close to Lansing. To describe the roads, both the Interstate and surface streets, as "bad" is to indulge in understatement. Granted, they weren't as bad as the roads I recall from a brief visit to Detroit a decade or so ago (the pavement there was so full of potholes you'd swear they'd been subject to mortar rounds; the city definitely resembled something out of a post-apocalyptic movie [or maybe a news clip from Baghdad]-- and that was before the bankruptcy), but they were bad. Lansing overall seemed remarkably seedy, very reminiscent of the Third World nation (aka DeKalb County, Georgia) we'd moved from a few years ago. I really hope the Humanities Council figures out that technology exists (Live Meeting, Go To Meeting, etc.) that would save us Yoopers from having to go slumming again any time soon.
Then again, my impressions of Lansing may have been colored just a wee bit by the bargain hotel I'd found on-line. It is part of a national chain, one that is known for being on the more basic end of the spectrum (e.g., rooms with televisions that are still the huge old analog sets, decor that's trapped in the 80s or earlier, no breakfast bar in the lobby), but as long as the rooms are clean and the beds are reasonably comfortable, the fact the drapes are 40 years old shouldn't matter.
On the other hand. . . when you have trouble finding the hotel because the current management hasn't gotten the old Days Inn signs totally obliterated yet and the new ones are one step above being done on poster board with Magic Marker this is not a particularly good sign. Neither is seeing a notice in the hotel lobby warning that any guest bringing a shopping cart (yes, like the ones you find in Kroger parking lots) into the hotel will be asked to leave. There are bargains. . . and then there are hotels that are leasing blocks of rooms to an organization that provides temporary housing to the homeless. Guess which one we found.
I shouldn't complain. The hotel itself actually wasn't bad. The fact there were notices for counseling services, free lunches, and access to clothing donations was not typical for a hotel, but as long as no one tried talking us into going to a church service on-site I didn't really care what flyers were taped up in the elevator. I was actually a little disappointed there were no Bibles on the table in the lobby -- there was note up telling people to take one if they needed one; apparently enough people felt the need that the supply was temporarily exhausted. I actually thought it was kind of cool that homeless families had a place to stay that was reasonably safe and not a total slum.
As for our experience, the room was clean, the bed was comfortable, and, despite the hotel having an overall air of having seen better days, the room included one of the best televisions we've encountered in a hotel room in a long time. The fact it had a fairly limited number of channels wasn't a big deal; it was more of a positive than not considering there was no remote so we got to change channels the old-fashioned way: getting up and hitting an up (or down) button until we got to what we were looking for.
The amenities in the room were actually a little strange -- there was no clock radio, but there was that good tv. No coffee pot, no ice bucket, no waste baskets (I had to request one at the front desk), but there was still a blow dryer in the bathroom. No luggage rack to set the suitcase on, but really good quality coat hangers. No plastic water glasses, but top quality shampoo and body wash. I will concede the peel and stick tile (or half of one) covering the hole in the wall where the tissue dispenser used to be was a little odd, but I've seen stranger. We were also easy walking distance from multiple good restaurants, and while I was at the meeting the S.O. found a Menard's a couple blocks away. In the end, overall it wasn't a bad experience, at least not for me. The S.O. may have a different take on it.
So, if I have to go to Lansing for a meeting again will I stay at this particular bargain hostelry again? Probably not. Being spitting distance from a great Greek restaurant is definitely a plus, but I am lazy enough that if I'm watching tv I want to be able to point and click.
I am, of course, hoping that I never have to go to Lansing again. Now that I know why all those trolls are desperate to vacation here in God's country, I don't need to repeat the experience.