Going through customs is always annoying, but it can become more so when you don’t have proper proof of citizenship. We hadn’t planned on going to Windsor, so we didn’t have our passports with us. Then again, we didn’t plan on getting a large bolt through one of the Saturn’s back tires, either, and when that happened we were effectively without transportation until tomorrow morning.
But more about the car later.
Following a few online suggestions, we decided to take the bus to Canada, and, in retrospect, that was somewhat of a mistake. Windsor was a bit of a hole, one that actually made us want to get back to Detroit. Getting back to Detroit turned into a challenge in itself, first with the bus being over a half hour late, and then with customs. Everyone else passed through quickly. Lisa and I… didn’t.
I handed him my driver’s license.
“Proof of citizenship?”
“That’s what I have.”
“All this proves to me is that you drive in Minnesota.”
I didn’t have much of an excuse. “We weren’t planning on going to Canada.”
“Where were you born?”
“______ _____, Wisconsin.”
“Why were you in Canada?”
“We went over this evening for the heck of it.”
“Why are you in Detroit.”
“We’re on vacation.”
Long pause. “Think about what you just said. Who vacations in Detroit?”
“Well, I do.”
“I’m an architecture nerd.”
“That’s the only good reason. Is the Thunderbird Hotel still in Minneapolis?”
When Lisa was asked why we were vacationing in Detroit, she replied “because my boyfriend is obsessed with it.”
So, Detroit has actually been pretty fun. Or, at least it was until the bolt incident, which exposed one of the primary ways Detroit lacks as a city. Just about any other major city I’m familiar with lacking a car could at worst be an annoyance. In Detroit, you’re pretty much fucked if you don’t want to spend a lot of money on cab fares. Tomorrow morning will be an early one, as we make the trek to the only tire store the concierge was able to find that would be open tomorrow. It’s almost 15 miles north of here. Dammit.
Anyway, the drive down from Mackinaw City was pretty painless, except for the cruise control shorting out and killing the car in the process. (We were able to revive the car. No such luck with the cruise control.) I’d wondered how I’d introduce Detroit to Lisa, and in the end decided to drive in Woodward from the Davison Freeway. It turned out to be a good way of doing things, as Lisa was able to see both the devastation and signs of hope that mark the city. Vacant lots on one side and burned out buildings on the other one block, then tasteful restorations and new condos on the next. Hope, destruction, and back again, ad infinitum.
We settled in at the Renaissance Center and grabbed the People Mover to Greektown, a block-and-a-half strip with a lot of restaurants. As we paid our bill our server learned that we weren’t from Detroit. His response was kind of typical of what we got from the locals here: “So, do you think Detroit is as bad as everyone says it is?” Lisa responded that she didn’t think it was, and the server launched into a short speech on how he had to defend it to his family and convince his mom that the area he lived wasn’t, you know, all that bad.
Today we started by wandering around the downtown and had lunch at the Hockeytown Cafe. (Hey, we’re tourists, and everything else was closed.) When the rains came we retreated to the Detroit Institute of Arts, which despite showing an extremely limited portion of their collection due to renovations, was still an interesting and worthwhile visit. From there we embarked on a short tour that was going to take us around Tiger Stadium, Michigan Central and Belle Isle before heading to some of the more interesting suburbs for dinner. The bolt made it’s introduction at Michigan Central, and the evening went downhill after that.
Lisa noticed Michigan Central well before we left Tiger Stadium. “Oh my god, what building is that?” It seems to have that kind of effect on a lot of people. Standing in front of the station, a fantastically beautiful yet utterly destroyed piece of architecture, we watched four other groups drive up and do the same thing we were doing: Look, point, and probably wonder how the hell something like that is allowed to happen.
The front of the building probably would’ve been enough, but no, I had to show Lisa where the sheds used to be located. That’s when the tire got fucked up. You’d think Detroit, with it’s obsession with cars, would have at least one 24-hour tire place, but no. We got a hold of a number of towing companies, but they all just changed tires, not replaced tires.
It was kind of sad to see Tiger Stadium again, knowing that it’ll probably be gone the next time I’m here. It’s a great stadium, and deserves a better fate than demolition, be it partial or otherwise.
Well, it’s getting late, and now we have errands we have to do tomorrow. Mackinac Island will have to wait for some other time.
The next entry may be from Indiana. Or from Wisconsin. Or maybe a Sears Auto Center in suburban Detroit.