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Back from Michigan

Amanda and I returned from a weekend trip to Michigan for my cousin’s wedding (congrats again, Jen!). The ceremony was beautiful and the reception was a great time, with some excellent, personal flourishes. My favorite was having the entire wait staff enter to “Be Our Guest” carrying their silver platters to begin serving dinner.

The trip itself went fine, but two things really got into my craw that I want to impart on the rest of you. First, suburban Detroit must be one of the most depressingly laid out communities I’ve ever been in. This image shows the area we were in:

Sterling Heights, MI

The main roads are all divided, with frequent U-turns. Strip malls with no continuity or sense of organization flank them, interspersed with the occasional automotive related industry. The housing is all buried into the center of these large, droning blocks. No character whatsoever. It’s a Sim City experiment gone bad, even though my experience playing the game reminds me this was one of the most effective layouts. Even the strip malls themselves are mazes to navigate, as to get from one side of the road to the Cold Stone Creamery on the other (which was visible from where we were) involved a U-Turn, a quick crossing of 4 lanes of traffic, a right into an access road which lead to another access road behind the building we wanted, then a cut through a break in the strip mall to the parking lot which was sandwiched between the main road and the building. Trust me, the worst sections of Transit Road and Niagara Falls Blvd. have nothing on 15 through 23 Mile Roads.

The second tidbit of happiness from this trip is the takeaway of what a complete mess traveling across our borders has become. Our trip to Michigan involved cutting across Canada and crossing the Blue Water Bridge back into the U.S. An hour and a half wait at that bridge turned what used to be an easy 4.5 hour trip into one that dragged out over 6 hours. For what? So I could have a cranky, U.S. Customs agent ask me the same list of questions twice trying to catch me in some sort of lie, even after seeing our passports? No thanks. Coming home, we took the long way around Lake Erie, adding 100 miles to our trip, yet still resulting in about a half hour less of road time.

The other bonus of going home that way was a side trip to a restaurant I’ve been dying to go to since their introduction at last year’s Buffalo Wing Festival – the Fiddle Inn, in Harborcreek, PA. We sampled the Fiddle Sweet BBQ – a light BBQ flavor, frankly not the best I’ve had, the Rancheros – a tomato and ranch based sauce, with just enough spice to liven them up, and the Somethings – a slightly different variation on their Everythings that won awards last year. The wings themselves made taking the long way around worth it. If you’re traveling down the I-90 in Western PA, skip Quaker Steak and Lube and venture a little farther off the exit to this place. They have 30 or 40 other varieties that we didn’t get to try, but are looking forward to their return trip to the Wing Festival this year.

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  1. Hey Derek,
    If we do a Blogger-con at the central Terminal next month (Octoberfest), can you arrange a table for us like last year?

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