What a confusing day... Detroit has shown me two extremes of glamorous upscale downtown and the boarded, abandoned structures that were once homes.
We spent the evening yesterday with good friends, who welcomed us to their Toronto living room for the night, to break down the drive to Detroit. I must say, I've always found to drive to Toronto long, but it seemed short yesterday, and getting to Detroit was short too... Maybe my mind is already getting used to the long road ahead...
The border guy was a big enough d*** to make us (wrongfully) think Detroit was not so friendly to it's visitors. Apparently, two girls, nurses, one who works in Saskatchewan, one in Ottawa, who both live in Ottawa, who plan to drive to California and back, was difficult to grasp. I was in the passenger seat and I decided to start answering the border guy's questions for Jack because she was getting short tempered. We all know how great I am with border agents... What's too much information? What's too little?
That part done with, on we go! We went straight for the Detroit Institute of Arts, mostly because it was the only address I had for my GPS... Which was beautiful! We arrived almost directly at the museum, so hadn't seen much else at this point. The museum is ridiculously beautiful, and huge, and screams money. Oh the irony. A building that screams money in a city we all know isn't doing too well... The Public Library across the street was an old, what was once I'm sure a beautiful, building, under construction. It's a weekday and no one was there, I have a feeling there isn't much rebuilding going on...
Art museums, more Jack's thing then mine, but honestly really well done! Their special exhibition for the month - photography of The American RoadTrip. How perfect! Their descriptions of certain paintings even made me happy I read them, and I hate reading.
We then headed out more into suburbia. Suburbia to me means pretty row houses and greens lawns like Orléans. This was a different suburbia, a community where the Heidelberg Project colored houses with all kinds of hilarious and happy things, with "art" lining the sidewalks. I would say 75% of this community was abandoned and boarded houses. Quirky, odd, perfect. Off course there was a lady there to welcome you and explain what you're currently starring at, who just HAPPENED to have an uncle AND a cousin who died recently, and she had to go to the hospital today for dehydration, and she lost her house, all in the last few months! So she asked for money. She also spoke super fast with a think Detroit (said with swager) accent, so I only understood every few words. That aside, this was a surreal experience.
Honestly though, at first I was thrown off by the "hey, how you doin'" from everyone we passed, but eventually you get used to it. They all ask, and they all wait for an answer. They seem really genuine when attempting to check in. The unfortunate part, and Jack actually agrees with this, is it's still difficult to find a sense of security around here. I want to. I want to trust the people of Detroit, to think they just have a bad reputation, and that's it. But when you see first hand the amount of abandoned houses, of people clearly struggling, of businesses closed down, of empty streets, you understand why some people can resort to violence or crime.
Blocks away from downtown Detroit, you have empty or abandoned buildings. It doesn't wait to hit the "bad" neighborhoods, it starts right smack downtown. Of course there's your usual fancier suburb, some with "neighborhood watch" signs (we won't be parking there for the night!), some with beautiful green lawns. But they are vastly outnumbered by the falling apart, sometimes still lived-in-can't-understand-how-its-still-standing houses.
Detroit has been interesting for sure. A quick walk through the downtown core that showcased the incredibly rich architecture, topped off with a quick drive around Belle-Isle to admire the water front ended the day. We found our parking for the night through a pretty clever little app - RV Parky, and we're settled-in in front of the Michigan Welcome Center, where the view of the Ambassador Bridge is absolutely amazing.Read more