Thursday, April 30, 2015

Detroit, Michigan

When we left Maumee, Ohio we were bracing ourselves for the "big city"- Detroit,Michigan.  And as we drove down the freeway with the sparkling high rises on the right,Kid Rock's song "Detroit, Michigan" was running through my mind.  As I looked around I thought, oh it's not as bad as everyone portrayed it-Detroit looked like a typical metropolitan city.  The gleaming signs for the MGM Grand; the bluish silver windows on the towering skyscrapers reflecting the sun and the white puffy clouds. Yes this is Motown, just like Kid Rock was singing about. And then I glanced over to my left and there right along the freeway were the scenes he wasn't singing about.  Neighborhoods or the shell of neighborhoods left behind. Row after row of crumbling houses; broken windows;piles of destroyed houses. And every once in a while a home inhabited by someone, holding on to whatever was left of the neighborhood. A little ray of hope in an overwhelming display of hopelessness.  I felt like I had been punched in the stomach.  How could this be in America ? Land of opportunity.  And then I remembered the time I spent in New Orleans back in 2007. Almost a year after Katrina and when I arrived sections of the city still looked like Katrina had just hit-destroyed homes; piles of garbage; businesses boarded closed. This looked eerily similar,but a force of nature hadn't caused what I was looking at in Detroit-a force of man did this.

And yet everywhere we went, sprinkled in among the hopelessness were pockets of hopes.  A little playground filled with flowers and colorful jungle gyms for the children. The park was empty when we went into the restaurant for lunch, but when we came out, it was filled with families and kids playing-here-right in the middle of downtown Detroit.

Mudgies Deli , home of the best sandwiches anywhere-stop and check it out if you are in Detroit

Our family took us on a little tour of the downtown area after lunch and I was curious to see the old train station since it was such an imposing building on the skyline of Detroit.  Unfortunately the razor wire keeps you from getting close to it. There is a deal going on right now to make this area a huge park area including restoration of the train depot.  The depot has become an international symbol of the decay of Detroit and I understand why. There is a small homeless community that has taken root around the station, I wonder where they will end up when the improvements happen.

Since Mudgies Deli was in the middle of the Corktown neighborhood of Detroit, we took a little tour of the neighborhood. Again it's so incongruous seeing the blight and then driving down a street and seeing these sweet little historic houses inhabited by people who are making a go of it, one way or another, in the middle of the city.

This composition struck something in my heart-the old boarded up wooden building; the beauty of the brick church and the towering skyscraper of glass windows-a little window of historical progression ?

An amazing place-we enjoyed the Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo exhibit ; on a Friday morning it was busy with busloads of school children and tourists. 

I so wanted to look away as we passed empty apartment building, wondering what happened to the people who used to call this place home. And if we turned down just one block we would stumble on the huge inhabitied mansions.  I can't begin to describe the emotions I felt that day-hope; hopelessness; amazement at the beauty; amazement at the desolation; a profund sadness that this is the country I live in and I'm not doing anything about it. That's what embarrasses me and makes me feel shamed. I look and shake my head and go on.

Detroit is bouncing back,slowly, but still moving in the right direction.  More restaurants are opening; more activities are happening and bringing people to the parks and streets. Detroit has a Blight Removal Project composed of 84,641 structures-that's a lot for any city much less one struggling from bankruptcy. 

So when in or near Detroit-do what you can-support the local businesses and arts.  I know so many people are afraid of getting shot or robbed-seriously use your common sense-know your neighborhood. And when you get a minute go and listen to Kid Rock's song "Detroit, Michigan". It will remind you of what Detroit was and can be again.

Detroit, Michigan, yeah
Detroit, Michigan, yeah
Detroit, Michigan, yeah
Ya heard about Marvin Gaye, we got him
Can I get a witness?
Talkin' bout Hitsville USA we got it
How sweet it is
We got those fine, fine super Supremes
The kind of girls ya see in your dreams
When ya hear our thunderin' sound
Ya know it comes from Detroit town
Talkin' 'bout Rosa Parks we sent her
Talkin' 'bout Henry Ford the inventor
Talkin' 'bout Aretha yeah we got her
The Queen of Soul
Bob Seger yeah we got him
And that old time rock n roll
Slim Shady set the world on fire
The Big Three baby and the finest cars
George Clinton's P Funk all stars
We spend our days on the line and our nights in the bars
Detroit, Michigan, yeah
Detroit, Michigan, yeah
Detroit, Michigan, yeah
Detroit, Michigan, yeah
Detroit, Michigan, oh yeah
Detroit, Michigan, yeah

Happy Trails and safe travels to all my friends. And please share your ideas ,if you have them, on what we can or should be doing to save our cities and neighborhoods.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Maumee to Magee Marsh

Did I tell you how much we loved Maumee State Park in Ohio ?  Oh , I did already-well let me tell you what is right down the road and just as wonderful-Magee Marsh !

Jim and Carolyn Diepenbruck,Roadtrek Friends forever, drove up from Bowling Green to spend the day with us-why because they are just both so very sweet.  They took us over to Magee Marsh to hike around and bird for a bit. What ended up happening is that we saw more turtles than  birds, but that was okay-it was a great day to be outside.

The rain kept threatening but never came-I’m guessing it’s what kept the birds hiding out or flying low and out of sight of our cameras. Magee Marsh is located in Ohio on the Southern shore of Lake Erie and is a prime stopover for North American Warblers.  Usually about mid May the park is jammed with birders, fortunately we missed the crowds but we also missed all the warblers . But that's okay it was a perfect day.

After we spent about 4 hours walking around and taking pictures we headed into Toledo for a real treat.  Lunch at Tony Packos.  If you haven’t been here you must get yourself there.  It’s not gourmet food,but what it is ,is delicious Hungarian food that a lot of people grew up eating if they lived in the East. And we did !  It's been around since 1932 and was made really famous by Corporal Klinger in Mash when he mentioned that if you were in Toledo you needed to go to Tony Packos for one of their hot dogs-and the rest is history.

The hot dogs with their chili sauce and cheese are to die for and the Hungarian dumplings with chicken paprikash sprinkled in among them-my mouth is watering just thinking about them again.  And when you go, make sure you get the fried pickles-I’ve got to find their recipe and get some of their spicy ketchup to go along with them.  After eating , I felt like we needed to go back to Magee Marsh and spend another four hours walking off the food.

When Carolyn & Jim dropped us off and we said our good byes, Jim and I crashed in the back of Ruby and probably fell asleep before 8pm.  Okay so we aren’t as young as we used to be but that’s really okay because we are enjoying life a lot more than we enjoyed it back then !

What better way to spend a day then with friends,beautiful scenery and animals and good food ? If you aren’t taking advantage of Roadtreking the Group Facebook page, you are missing out on making wonderful connections with people who have a lot in common with you.  Jim and I are basically loners when it comes to camping but the folks we have met along the way have added a richness to our lives that we treasure.  While we wouldn’t do any caravan camping we will always seek out like souls in the areas we visit and I encourage you to do the same.

Happy Trails and safe travels to all my fine feathered friends !

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Maumee Bay State Park, Ohio

We kind of stumbled on this park by accident.  We wanted to stay close to Lake Erie but were'nt familiar with the area so we took a chance on this park-not knowing what to expect.  The online description showed a lodge,marina,golf course,campground,and nature reserve.  We thought we would be checking into a concrete campground-but oh what a surprise.  We have encountered so many birds and and deer-this place is amazing.  Just walking listening to the frogs in the marsh areas and the birds all over-it's stunning.  We were only going to stay a day or two-now we are staying a week. Love this place-great hiking trails and nice level paved bike paths.  You can head for the woods or the beach of Lake Erie.  I don't think I would come here in the summer when we've heard it's quite crowded-but this time of year is perfect !  Going for our second hike today-enjoy my wanderings from last night and this morning.