Matt Carberry (kingpin248) wrote,
Matt Carberry
kingpin248

PNR, days 27, 28, and 29: some big cities with little appeal...

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The Amphitheatre at Millennium Park, Chicago.
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The best way to view Detroit...from across the river and the border in Windsor, Ontario, Canada.
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"Come on down to Cleveland town everyone ... our economy's based on LeBron James..."

From Madison, I continued east on I-94 to Milwaukee. I didn't go anywhere near the center of the city; I simply stopped for some pictures at Miller Park and the Miller Brewing Company. Though signed as east, the highway actually turned south. While stopping for lunch and gas in Kenosha, I noted what had to have been at least the tenth store prominently advertising the sale of cheese. Just after crossing the line into Illinois, I took a little detour down U. S. 41 and Illinois 137 to the place where the journey from civilian to Sailor crushing of souls begins - Recruit Training Command, Great Lakes. I didn't actually go onto the grounds, but from the highway it looked a lot different from when I was there six years ago. They've got it easy these days: galleys in each "ship," and Battle Stations in a single building. No, running all over the RTC grounds all night is too much for this crop of recruits. I continued down U. S. 41, and it eventually landed me on Lake Shore Drive, giving me a spectacular view of both Lake Michigan and Chicago's architecture as I drove in.

Chicago, from the tourist point of view, was a bit different than most of the other cities I've visited on the trip. I did many of the big attractions during the weekend after graduation from boot camp in 2003. Thus, I was uninterested in Sears Tower, Wrigley Field, Navy Pier, or a cruise down the Chicago River. After driving around downtown for what seemed like forever, I finally got the car parked near Grant Park. I walked around Millennium Park and the area just below the Loop, mainly taking photographs of buildings. I spent just about an hour there, and then continued east. Passing Soldier Field and U. S. Cellular Field on the way out, I ended up at the Motel 6 in Hammond, Indiana, five miles over the state line. The night was spent watching coverage of the U. S. Open from Bethpage Black and Ocean's Eleven on TBS. Very late in the evening, I hatched an idea that would totally change the course of the following day, and ended up adding a lot to the trip.

I continued rolling eastward on I-94 on Monday. Upon crossing into Michigan, the clocks returned to their normal and proper reading. That's another way of saying I effected the last of the six time changes of the trip, and was finally back on Eastern time. Shortly after taking fuel and food at Benton Harbor, I ran into the first instance of what I'll take away as the defining characteristic of the Wolverine State - crushing traffic. There was a seven-mile stretch of eastbound I-94 that was straight closed. It took nearly an hour to clear that jam, and it was clear running from there all the way to Ann Arbor. I took a couple of pictures of Michigan Stadium, noting its under-construction status. That's to be expected; it's the offseason, so of course the university is trying to shoehorn more seats in there so it can reclaim the title of America's biggest stadium. After that brief stop, I rolled eastward to Detroit. I can vouch for what many people and much of the mainstream media spits out - the Motor City is not really worth the time. I stopped at the Joe Louis Arena, and then headed to Comerica Park and Ford Field (adjacent to each other). I also took a shot of the famous Fox Theater. I needed to find some food, and the closest place was a White Castle. That experience only lowered my opinion of Detroit. I ordered burgers with ketchup on them; I got mustard. I pointed out the error; the lady simply threw some ketchup on the burgers and sent them back. I wasn't in the mood to deal with this incompetence, so I ate the fries and got back in the car, heading toward...

...Windsor, Canada. This was the idea that I came up with the previous night in Indiana. Rather than drive on to Toledo and hole up for the night, I'd go north of the border and have a little fun. I got across with only a few questions from Canadian customs, and checked in at the Quality Suites. I got a nice two-room suite, and for the umpteenth time, my AAA card provided a discount. For a little over an hour, I relaxed and collected my thoughts. Then I walked down the street to the Caesars in Windsor. On this walk, I got to experience both sides of the municipal workers' strike that had plagued the city for weeks. On one hand, there was garbage piling up at many points along the street. On the other, locals were informing people not to put money in the parking meters, as there was nobody to ticket them. At the blackjack table, I lost money as I normally do, but there were two comforts. I knew that it would be "less" money in U. S. dollars once I returned to America the following day. And two, I had great people at my table. A couple of people from just across the border in Michigan; they were Red Wings fans, and were quite upbeat about next season. There were also two guys from Toronto, who were unhappy about the state of their club. They laughed when I said "at least my team won something - granted, it was the draft lottery." We had a nice conversation about Canada's national game. Upon exiting the casino, I noted all the insects on the ground, and wondered whether their presence was due to the heat and humidity or the strike. After getting back to my room, I had a few beers from the in-room mini-bar (another nice touch) and watched Conan before heading to bed.

On the way out of the Quality Suites, I saw what appeared to be a German choir; the first time I went out, they were actually singing. United States Customs took longer than Canada, but was not a problem. In fact, the first questions asked were "what branch?" and "when did you get out?" He got both of that from the expired DOD stickers still on my windshield. More evidence that you DO NOT screw with the fine men and women of Customs and Border Protection. Then it was more Michigan trafiic; not only was there construction, I had to endure a crash on southbound I-75. Past that, it was a straight shot to Cleveland. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was a bit underwhelming; the exhibits could have been more extensive, and the lack of photography didn't help. I spent a little bit more time walking around downtown Cleveland, but there wasn't much there. Of course, I went down to The Q and Progressive Jacobs Field, and saw the "We Are All Witnesses" Nike billboard. I continued on past the city, stopping in Mentor. I absolutely had to to laundry; I was walking around downtown Cleveland, temperature around 85, in khaki slacks because that's all I had left. I took a chill night; having replenished the clean clothes supply, I also refreshed myself for the final five days of this glorious adventure...

Pictures: Day 27 (Milwaukee, Chicago) | Day 28 (Detroit, Windsor) | Day 29 (Cleveland)
Tags: pnr
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