What I Did On My Winter Vacation

Part One

I don’t ever want to be thought of as, “That kindly old Coot.”  Rather, I want people thinking, “WTF is he up to now.”  With that thought in mind, I took the sorcerer’s apprentice son on a weekend trip to Detroit, to practice my craft.

The son works a midnight shift, and had been up since 7 PM Thursday.  I barely suppressed the adrenalin enough to get to sleep at my usual 4 AM, and was back up to open the door as he got home, shortly after 7 Friday morning.  While he had a bit of midnight snack, a shower, and a change of clothes, I packed bags and boxes, and put them in the car.

Finally ready to leave, we kissed the wife/mother goodbye, and were on the road by nine.  After a quick stop to fill the gas tank, we were soon rolling down Highway 401 towards the border.  Since we planned to stay in Warren, MI, north of Detroit, Miss GPS suggested that I cross over at Sarnia/Port Huron.  I insisted on taking the “usual route” through Windsor.  Recalculating, and you’re still an asshole.

The drive to the border took almost exactly three hours.  We took the tunnel since we were headed north, and there was almost no-one crossing.  I pulled into the shortest line, one car.  It got released just as the dash clock clicked 12:00 – and shift-change/lunch relief happened.

A different guy walked out, and I sat there for eleven long minutes, with the engine running and my foot on the brake, while these two shot the shit.  It was only the thought of cavity searches that kept me from rolling down the window and suggesting they continue their bromance on their own time.

I took down 14 quarters, 6 dimes, 4 nickels, and 12 pennies, for a total of $4.42.  At par for a while, the Canadian dollar has slipped below 90 cents/US, meaning I gained 50 cents theoretical buying power.  I was determined to get rid of as much change as I could, quickly.  A lump in my pocket bigger than a golf ball, considering the neighborhood we were in, I shoulda poured it in the toe of a sock, and kept it handy as a cosh.

We checked into the motel, and Kentucky-born, little black Connie was just so bright and helpful.  We put our stuff in a room where the maid had set the thermostat to 82 F, and walked two doors up the street to have lunch at a place called Crash Landing.  Lots of pictures and model of planes, but I think the place got its name from the barflies falling off the stools.  One o’clock on a weekday afternoon, if you guys don’t have jobs to go to, how can you afford to sit there and drink??

I added 8 quarters to a twenty, to pay for lunch, and put six more, and four dimes and two nickels beside the tab for a tip.  Suddenly the pocket is much less full.  Across the street is an Iranian convenience store, serving the trailer park behind it.  Nice doublewide units on concrete pads – but, a trailer park!  All weekend I kept listening for the tornado.

Later in the afternoon, the son went to the office for some tea, and asked Stephanie, the 3/11 clerk, where to get decent pizza for supper.  She suggested Loui’s, just above Nine-Mile Road.  He thought she said Eight-Mile, and we missed it.  I turned left on Eight-Mile, to turn around in a McDonalds to head back up….and there, right across the street, was Papa Pizza.

The white rapper Marshall Mathers, AKA Eminem, gets his street cred by saying he was raised in a tough Negro area, and titled one of his albums Eight Mile.  I’m in his back yard!  This is not White Breadville – we felt conspicuously Caucasian, but, we’re here.  Papa Pizza is the end anchor to a small strip plaza.  They have three reserved parking spaces.  I take one, and we go in to order.

The service area is ¾ inch thick Plexiglas, from counter to ceiling, capable of stopping or deflecting most handgun bullets.  Pizzas are placed on a rotating plexi turntable and turned so that you can remove it from your side.  They must do a landslide delivery business.  The tiny, empty, eat-in area only had 12 spots, but there were 22 guys behind the glass, making pizzas.

Later, we went shopping.  The wife’s niece asked if I would pick her up some supplements from a health-food store.  A check at the GNC website showed a store in the same strip-mall as a Kroger’s we planned to visit.  When we got there, I found that the stores in the Kroger’s strip were numbered by tens, 370, 380, 390 – PetCo is number 400.  The next building starts at 500.  GNC’s site claims their address is 406, strange, very strange.

Little Miss GPS is both helpful and frustrating in this new area.  She shows how to get to a Meijer’s plaza, a couple of miles away, but as we get close, “In 65 meters, turn left on Progressive Drive.”  I’m not from around here!  Where in Hell is Progressive Drive – in the dark??!  Recalculating.  Oh, right, back there!  Now we do the Michigan Shuffle.

At many intersections they won’t let you turn left.  You must go a hundred yards past, pull over to the center and make a U-turn at special lanes.  Some have traffic lights, giving you the right-of-way, eventually.  Most don’t.  You just pray (optional for atheists), force your way into a hole in traffic, and hope you can get over to the curb lane in time to pull in.

If you don’t, you get to play the game again from the other direction.  Tomorrow, when my blood-pressure recedes, the saga continues.  I’ll take you to the knife show.  Remember to wear sensible shoes.

19 thoughts on “What I Did On My Winter Vacation

  1. BrainRants says:

    Try a venture to New Jersey and their jug handles. I still can’t explain that traffic invention.


  2. 1jaded1 says:

    Loui’s…Michigan lefts…change in your sock for protection….there is no place like home. Standing by for part two.


    • Archon's Den says:

      Eight Mile at DeQuindre is a little more….earthy, than Taylor, but we heard no gunshots all weekend. I had never heard of Loui’s strangely spelled pizza. Not being from Warren, if you have, I should probably research the chain. A vendor at the show was selling “boppers”, not a gun, not a knife, a 1 inch steel ball bearing woven into the end of a 14 inch paracord lanyard. “It’s just a watch fob, Your Honor!”

      Part two will be fun, informative, and have you pining for home. 🙂


  3. Jim Wheeler says:

    Time was, driving across country was a pleasurable adventure but now its more like a video game, except when you crash or get lost, it’s real. I know it’s been at least 10 years since we did it – I’m not so adventuresome any more. I remember coming through St. Louis on the interstates, at rush hour and sans GPS in those days. Now I read of even more congestion as well as automatic cameras for speed traps and light changes. My navigable world is shrinking. Thanks to you, Archon, I can get some highway adventure vicariously. Good luck out there.


    • Archon's Den says:

      Like video games, urban driving is getting to be a kids’ adventure. I brought the son (and his glasses) to read street signs I would be too busy to see – and we still got lost misdirected. Fun in retrospect, but not at the time. I hope to have a few more highway sagas, for you, and my other visitors. 🙂


  4. Never been to Detroit other than the airport. Looking forward to the next installment on the knife show!


  5. whiteladyinthehood says:

    Sounds like the start to an interesting vacation, Archon. (hope you guys had fun) I LOL at the jokes about the Crash Landings bar and I think driving in Michigan would probably scare the piss out of me!


  6. I’m not sure why you have ventured across the border to Detroit. You mentioned knives in your last sentence, so I’m thinking a knife show which would be quite apropos for Detroit.


    • Archon's Den says:

      I had mentioned in previous posts, that we were using a knife show as an excuse to go to Michigan for a weekend. I am abashed that I failed to mention it in this post, for any latecomers. 😦

      The gun/knife show was actually in the more upscale, and couth, city of Novi.


  7. benzeknees says:

    Try living in Edmonton Archon, we have round abouts everywhere! They’ve had them since I was a little girl & we used to visit the area! If you know what you’re doing, they are great at keeping traffic going.


    • Archon's Den says:

      I thought Waterloo Region was among the first to adopt roundabouts. They started popping up here about ten years ago. I guess we’re just the most avid adopters. We now have dozens of them, from too big, to too small. They do work well….when drivers learn to use them properly. That would be somewhere other than here. 🙄


  8. […] sheriff’s office was just beyond the neighboring hotel. Unlike our trip two years ago, to the ‘hood’ in Detroit, this time there was no need for armed security […]


  9. […] and tall’ size that Ontario Wal-Marts no longer carry. The first one we tried was down towards Eminem’s Eight Mile, surrounded by ‘houses made of ticky-tack, and they all look just the same,’ occupied mostly by […]


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