Wednesday, September 24, 2008
I score a 60% in my tour of the Great Lakes. After making stops in Chicago and Detroit my Rust Belt Odyssey took me to Toledo, Cleveland and Buffalo. These are cities that I'd like to like more. Nothing wrong with them, I just wasn't about to start looking for a realtor. This area of the country has some of the lowest costs of living, a pretty sweet deal considering my mediocre means.
The only thing i had previously known about Toledo is that Maxwell Klinger from M*A*S*H* had called it home. Now I know another thing about Toledo, it's kinda boring. Clean, friendly, boring... Pretty much sums it up.
Cleveland has more going for it but has a really weak downtown. Lake Erie is no Lake Michigan, Cleveland is more of a Milwaukee than a Chicago. It has the whole Pittsburgh Rust Belt look going on, but Pittsburgh had more character.
Buffalo was rainy and grey, it was full of Cubans honking horns and walking slowly across the street in a diagonal manner. The rain got worse and I moved North.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Something is going on under the surface, a quiet and persistent movement that is gathering strength. This isn't a reference to Obama's convention speech, this is much less important. This is a free Weber Genesis gas grill via Marroitt Rewards Points. All these surveys marked in yellow result in a rather choice $1000 stainless steel grill. This post may lower the bar, but I'm living the dream.
Monday, September 15, 2008
That title is completely accurate so long as you replace vacation with survey and bad with horribly unlucky. Detroit has been dealt a rough hand for the past few decades. As I arrived at the formerly swanky Residence Inn of Dearborn the mayor of Detroit was being kicked out of office. Both the Obama/Biden and Palin/McCain campaigns were in town speaking out to unemployed and underemployed residents of this rust belt city. I hope there is a brighter future for this area but some neighborhoods are a modern day Hooverville.
I had a good time driving around the city and exploring abandoned neighborhoods. I felt completely safe because nobody was there, even crackheads have moved on up from the worst of it. The only other people were hipsters exploring abandoned warehouses and Tigers fans getting a final glimpse of Tigers Stadium before it becomes yet another vacant lot in the neighborhood of Corktown.
I was shocked at the number of American cars on the road, it was nearly 95% American made. The area is proud of their hometown companies. There is even a Ford Taurus exhibit at the Henry Ford museum, they love 3rd generation Tauri.
From what I saw Detroit was once a hell of a place, I hope the worst of it is behind them.
Sunday, September 7, 2008
Nestled between Nevada and Colorado an is oddity of Mormon influenced culture; Utah the weakest state of the West. It brings very little to the table as a state being seriously outclassed by its neighbors. The cities are chock full of high-end ski boats on trailers in driveways while its largest lake is a brine filled wasteland. Bars are few and far between, they're technically illegal but fly under the radar because they're private social clubs. These social clubs are different than actual bars in two very big ways. First, the cover charge is hefty because it actually a temporary membership. The other key difference is people tend to get married early in Mormon culture, so there are limited prospects as far as finding single women. Its like arriving to a party two years too late.
Dining in the Salt Lake area is a culinary delight, the bacon cheeseburger has been replaced with the pastrami cheeseburger, pretty gross but I had to give it a try. Those inventive people of happy valley also decided that while fries are unhealthy they could do one step worse and supplied the region with fry sauce. Fry sauce is a concoction of ketchup and mayonnaise blended together. While all fry sauce is gross be sure to get fresh fry sauce, premixed sauce is packaged in small containers, usually kept in some back store room in the sun.
With all these setbacks stacked against me, I was shocked that two months in Utah was a legitimately good time. This is partly because its a place I would have not otherwise visited. It can be assumed that Vegas, New York City, Disney World and The Grand Canyon can be seen by John Q. Tourist. Utah was a experience because it was seeing day to day life in areas not covered by anybodies summer vacation.