Great Lakes Day 1: Detroit
June 19, 2016
“Detroit??”, you may be saying, “What a depressing place to go on vacation.” I guess we’ll find out…
We got a good start from Kitchener, and took a quick drive through the campus of University of Waterloo. The campus was much as I remembered it from when I visited in high school: very attractive. I was surprised that it didn’t seem to have aged much.
We were making good time down Highway 401 toward Detroit when we saw a lot of black smoke in the distance. A few kilometers down the road things came to a stop for half an hour or so, while we saw a fire truck and ambulance pass on the shoulder. It turned out that a semi truck had caught fire. When we eventually passed, the fire fighters were dousing it. It looked like the fire was confined to the trailer, so the driver was probably safe.
When we reached Windsor and the US border, we opted to take the Ambassador bridge. Our unusual itinerary seemed to amuse the US Customs inspector. “You’re touring the Great Lakes? What lakes are you going to see? What about Lake Superior and Michigan? You’re not going to see Lake Huron, even though it’s only a few miles up the road?” Although he may not have fully approved of our plans, he let us through.
We headed straight to Dearborn to check in at our hotel, and then to the Henry Ford Museum a couple of miles away to make a quick afternoon visit. The museum was excellent, highlighting (of course) automotive history, with many notable vehicles (several Presidential limousines, prototypes, and one of the very few surviving EV1 electric cars), but also iconic examples of cars many of us have owned or driven. The museum wasn’t limited to cars (there were also some airplanes and agricultural vehicles) or even to vehicles (lots of exhibits on 20th century lifestyle). We unfortunately had only a couple of hours to tour the museum, and could have spent much more time. Even so, we enjoyed it greatly.
It was only about 5:30 and we had barely seen Detroit, so we planned a drive through the city and up to Grosse Pointe, one of the nicer suburbs, on the other side. We briefly considered visiting Lake Huron as suggested by the Customs inspector, but decided we had done enough driving for the day. Our drive took us through some of the depressed sections of Detroit (but fortunately, not too much) and the downtown area. When we reached the various Grosse Pointes (G.P. Woods, G.P Shores, etc.) the homes immediately looked much more prosperous. The drive took us along the shore of Lake St. Clair, which was beautiful. We decided to have dinner in the area, and found an excellent sports bar, Bogart’z, and had a pleasant dinner there before returning to the hotel.
This article is part of a series about our recent vacation in the Great Lakes area. To see the introductory article in the series, click here.