Intelligence is Not Trying

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147 Days left until the Zombie Apocalypse…

Yesterday, we talked about the importance of sharing our favorite places with other people.  Today, I figured we could continue on in a similar vein.  After all, it is equally important to allow them to share theirs with us.  No one can see everything that the world has to offer.  We are all different and we see the world very differently–I learned it on Sesame Street and everything!  Seriously though, it’s the truth.  Sometimes we have to let other people lead us or show us.  We have to see the world through a different perspective.  This principle admittedly applies to pretty much every aspect of our lives.  However, I think that the easiest way to practice is by letting them share something that they love with you.  It makes you more open and willing to try and see things their way when it’s more imperative that you do so.  Plus, it’s ridiculously fun!!  So for today’s edition of the “30 Things I’ve Done Before the Age of 30”, I thought I’d share a really special family vacation with you…

GM Headquarters haha

A few years ago, my father decided that he wanted to take us on a vacation to see where he grew up in Michigan.  He wanted us to better understand the many ways that living there shaped him.  I had always known that he was raised in Detroit.  I had also always known that it was a place he really loved.  It was an easy decision for me to agree to go along–especially when he told me would be driving up through Canada too to see the Falls.  I was super excited about it, but I don’t think I truly knew what it was exactly that we were going to see…

Detroit is pretty rough.  I’d always known that too.  I’d hear about the murder rate or about racial divide all the time.  However, I never gave it much thought.  All cities have problems.  For me, that wasn’t the real Detroit.  The real Detroit was Red Wings games and leaves falling on brick houses.  The real Detroit was the birthplace of the American auto industry and of good middle class values.  The real Detroit was this magical fairytale world that I had always wanted to live in.  As it turns out, the “real” Detroit wasn’t very real at all.  Naturally, it was a complete shock to see how bad it was though.  We couldn’t even stay in the city.  We could only drive down for the day, and my dad was very adamant that we not be out after the sun went down.  He told us that it wasn’t a place to take women and children to at night.  In fact, he said that the only way he would be there at night was if he had a big group of guys with him.  I think we all laughed.  He had to be exaggerating!  Only he wasn’t…

Feeding the deer at Belle Isle

Our very white family piled into our very white rental van–complete with Texas plates!!–and went off to see some of the worst parts of the city.  He showed us his old neighborhood.  There were no other white people around.  None of us are racist–we are Californians through and through!  But it was definitely…uncomfortable…to say the least.  Everyone would stare at us as we drove by.  They didn’t seem particularly happy to see us there either.  As we drove down street after street, we did see lots of beautiful brick houses.  However, we also saw lots of empty lots…where beautiful houses used to stand.  My dad explained that the people there are so poor and miserable that they burn them down.  He would tell us, “So and so lived there…but now the house has been burned down.”  He showed us his old schools–one of which had also been burned down.  He took us to Belle Isle.  I was especially excited about that.  My mom had told me stories about how beautiful it was.  They had gone there as part of their honeymoon.  She told me how the deer roamed freely on the island.  She told me about the orchids and the aquarium.  It seemed like such a magical place.  It wasn’t anymore though.  the aquarium had closed the year before our trip.  The Conservatory wasn’t open when we were there either.  Both had an abandoned feel to them, complete with decaying vines and broken bricks.  Most tragically, the deer were no longer roaming free.  They’re still there, but now they live in a fenced off pen.  One of the employees there told me that they had to be put away so that poor people would stop killing them and eating them.  I don’t know if he was serious or not, but it definitely gave me a new perspective on the city I had always loved from afar.

Weirdly enough, it didn’t necessarily change my opinion of Detroit.  I still think of it as a magnificent city.  Only now, it’s a magnificent city not because of what it is, but because of what it could so easily become once more.  It could be just as incredible as it was before–if the right people gave it the right chances.  It’s become a bit of an obsession actually.  Did you know that right now you can buy a house there for less than $10/ square foot?!  It’s ridiculously cheap!  If you think about it, that also means that it could be ridiculously easy to salvage if people really wanted to do it.  The people who live there wouldn’t be a problem either!  They would definitely want to see their city made glorious again.  You can see it in their rage and in their inability to let it stand as it is.  You can probably taste it in their tears.  They just need help to get there once more.

God.  That makes it sound like it was a depressing trip.  It wasn’t at all though.  It made me want better for them is all…

The really unique Tahquamenon Falls

Even so, I have to admit to being very relieved that we left the city long before the sun went down.  The rest of our road trip focused on seeing much happier things.  We went exploring at Tahquamenon Falls and watched the ships move through the Sault Locks.  We put our feet in every Great Lake we came across.  We spent nearly two weeks at my godparents’ cabin, doing nothing but watching cheesy horror movies and floating down the creek on inner tubes.  They took us to Frankenmuth–which is easily one of my favorite places in the world now!!  I could probably live in their clock shop, just sitting and listening to the ticking, tinkling bells, and songs of a thousand different clocks set at slightly different times.  It’s incredible.  If they won’t let me, maybe I can hide out inside one of the Christmas inflatables at Bronner’s.  That is officially my very favorite store in the world.  It’s a dangerous one though too–I have a rather big weakness for Christmas ornaments.  It’d leave me with very little money for all of the very tasty Bavarian food they have there…

On second thought, it’s probably good that we moved on from there…

Riding in style on the car in front of us haha

Our adventure then took us up to Canada.  My dad had heard about their African Lion Safari park.  Since we are all animal nerds, it sounded awesome–and it was!  It’s one of those parks where you drive along through different enclosures to see the animals up close.  The best part was easily the primate enclosure.  There was a sign posted there saying that the park would not be held responsible for any damage done to vehicles.  We thought it was weird since there hadn’t been one in any of the other areas.  There was even an alternate route to go around it–which a lot of people were taking.  Naturally, we had to go through it to see what the fuss was all about.  The animals were insane!  They were climbing on cars and tearing off things like windshield wipers, weather-stripping, and headlights.  It was one of the funniest things I have ever seen and I highly recommend it if you are ever up in that part of Canada.

At the top of the Canadian side of Niagara Falls

I also highly recommend their biggest tourist stop–Niagara Falls!!  It’s beyond incredible.  There is just so much water that it is hard to believe it!!  I remember as we drove around the bend, you could see the river and then it suddenly just stopped as it plummeted down 167 feet below.  We took the Maid of the Mist out to the base of the falls.  There is so much water that the mist itself coats you in enough water to need a raincoat!  I think part of what makes it so incredible is that people are crazy enough to do things like go over the falls in barrels!  I don’t think that’s something I could ever do–regardless of how many planes I may one day jump out of.  The odds are a lot more risky–to my knowledge, only 11 people have gone over the Falls and lived to tell about it.  Way too dangerous!  It’s like that old joke says, “Skill is successfully walking a tightrope over Niagara Falls.  Intelligence is not trying.”

In any case, the Falls are definitely a must-see item for your bucket lists!  I’ll be forever glad that my dad chose to share them–and everything else along the way–with us.  It was one of those trips that is easily “the trip of a lifetime”…

Sincerely Yours,

The Butcher of the Bard

This entry was posted in 30 Things I've Done Before the Age of 30, Countdown to the Zombie Apocalypse, Day to Day Circumstances, Down the Rabbit Hole, My Bucket List and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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