Detroit – “We’re not in Disney World anymore”

If it wasn’t for the marriage of one of my best friends, Helen Davis, to an awesome guy, John Remski, I likely would have never set foot in Detroit.

Helen and John having their first kiss

Helen and John having their first kiss

Since they are so awesome, I was incredibly excited to go to their wedding – no matter where it was.  When I told Charlie that we were going to Detroit he had an unexpectedly ecstatic reaction.  Apparently Detroit has always been on his bucket list as his Mecca.  He has awaited his pilgrimage to visit his holiest of sites – SS100X – the actual vehicle where JFK was shot.

Detroit as a city has a reputation similar to Bill Cosby.  It used to be completely awesome and America was built on its ideals and image.  Some bad stuff happened and now most people get the willies when they think about it.  As I took in the landscape after first arriving, Detroit struck me as looking exactly like New Jersey.  That shouldn’t have surprised me.

I was pleasantly surprised by how beautiful the airport was.  There was a train inside the terminal and every sign was written in English, Japanese, and Chinese!  The stores looked similar to those in the basement of a fancy department store rather than an airport.  Perhaps all of the city’s money went into its airport rather than keeping buildings from falling down.  Who am I to judge priorities?

I was far less impressed with the rental car company.  We stood in line for about an hour while the three employees all worked diligently to assist one customer with getting a red SUV with a license plate that had a G in it that had fewer than 400 miles (I’m not kidding).  AVIS’s slogan of “we try harder” made me wonder exactly what they try harder to do.  I tried harder than some people in line not to get angry.  Our car was filthy and didn’t even have a full gas tank.  Thanks, Obama.

First stop was some fast food.  My disgust and hatred of all fast food is only overcome by my excitement and desire to try something new.  I spotted a Culvers, which I had never heard of, and made us get their famous butter burger and concrete shake.  It was delicious.

worth it.

worth it.

We pulled up to our hotel – a Best Western.  About 2/3 of the guests were attending the wedding and the other 1/3 were probably under cover cops because it was absolutely the kind of motel where stakeouts happen.  I was thrilled to potentially be a part of Detroit history.

The wedding, however, was unlike the rest of the city – it was on a gorgeous lake with ducks and an an old beautiful house.

Wedding ready

Wedding ready

Helen’s wedding is awesome enough to deserve its own post, but I will just give the highlights.  Since I am getting married in 5 months, it’s really exciting to see how other weddings are done.  Helen’s was a great example because she did things her way!

Bridesmaids in floral dresses

Bridesmaids in floral dresses

The outfits at this wedding were unique and awesome.  The bridesmaids had floral dresses with headbands and bouquets with ribbons that they waved around.  Helen’s dog, Rusty, was an integral part of the ceremony and stood at the front with his parents the whole time.

Helen's brother walked Rusty down the aisle!

Helen’s brother walked Rusty down the aisle!

Did I mention the officiant wore a cape?  But the best of all was Helen’s dress – made by one of her friends!  Helen’s favorite color has always been purple, so it made sense that her wedding dress was…purple!  As the most fun person I know – Helen’s dress suited her!

Purple dress!

Purple dress!

It made Helen look like a queen!  Actually, it could have even been at a renaissance fair!

Newlyweds Dancing

Newlyweds Dancing

purple haze

purple haze

Dress code was "camping formal"

Dress code was “camping formal”

The whole wedding was perfect and had the best live wedding band I’ve heard in a long time!  Congratulations, Helen and John!

After sleeping in the motel (don’t worry – I checked for bed bugs), we went back to Waldenwoods for breakfast.  In a bacon-induced coma, we continued on our pilgrimage for Charlie.  Ironically, we passed another important spot.

The real slim shady

The real slim shady

Charlie’s FAVORITE is Eminem and I tried really hard to exit onto 8 Mile Rd.  “It’s 2015 – it can’t still be bad” I said.  Charlie looked at me horrified, mumbled something about watching the news and Detroit, and made sure the steering wheel stayed straight on the highway.

The Museum

Henry Ford was pretty awesome.  The Henry Ford is his museum, which WHOAH – we were not expecting.  All Charlie knew was that JFK’s death car was at this museum, so we were willing to go just to look at that.  Walking in the front doors, the caravan of presidential cars confronts the guests.  Beginning with Regan and ending with Teddy Roosevelt (omg!!! it’s not even a car!!) it’s crazy to see how presidents rode around.  None of it compares with the armored vehicles presidents have now.  The Kennedy car was scrubbed and cleaned and put back into service for a few other presidents to use.  It would have been exciting to see the blood stains still on the seats, but no such luck.  Charlie still wanted to stand and look at the car for 30 minutes.

Kennedy was shot in this actual car!

Kennedy was shot in this actual car!

Just around the corner is about every American car you could imagine.  The museum is HUGE.  There were also giant trains!

choo choo

choo choo

Some of the depressing aspects were a 1984 Chevy van in the “history of family cars” section.  I’m not thrilled about having something that I probably drove in sitting in a history museum.  They also had an ipod – not even the first generation.  As I was feeling uncomfortable, a really old couple in their mid 80’s came walking by looking at memorabilia from the 50’s.  I’m not sure how they felt but they looked happier in their nostalgia than I was.  sigh.

Once the ground transportation section was thoroughly observed, we went to the unbelievably large aviation section.  There were full planes and exhibits from the wright brothers with other notable aircrafts.  My favorite fact that I learned was the original stewardesses had to be 25 years old or younger, be no more then 5’4 or 114 lbs. and make a pledge to stay single!

After 3 hours we were only halfway done with the museum.  We skipped most of the large agricultural section, but stopped for a photo op with the wiener mobile.

I'm pointing at the wiener.

I’m pointing at the wiener.

The furniture section had original pieces owned by lots of historical figures.  This museum had the original EVERYTHING.  This is the actual chair Abraham Lincoln was sitting in when he was shot!

Lincoln's death chair

Lincoln’s death chair

There were so many original pieces, as we passed by a photograph of Rosa Parks we joked that her original bus was probably in the museum…

Next we looked at the history to future section.  They had an old housing concept that was pushed as the home of the future.  It was circular and left no wasted space.  Only one was ever lived in.  That one home was now in this museum.

Dymetrix house

Dymetrix house

There were other cute exhibits like one where you could pretend to be a child in a classroom during the war.

Written on the chalkboard: "duck and cover"

Written on the chalkboard: “duck and cover”

Or one where you could be on MTV.

Check me out on the TV screen.

Check me out on the TV screen.

We kept wandering through a more historical section, turned the corner and saw…

Rosa Parks' Bus

Rosa Parks’ Bus

We guessed it – The actual bus Rosa Parks sat on when she refused to move to the back!  This museum actually has everything!  I got to sit in her actual seat.

Rosa Parks was HERE!

Rosa Parks was HERE!

When Charlie asked me to move so he could sit down, I couldn’t help but refuse.  Eventually, I let him.

Hmmm....

Hmmm….

That was absolutely my favorite piece of history in the museum.  What an awesome movement that signified and I felt honored to sit in that seat.  We actually closed the museum down after spending all day there.

Best. Museum. Ever.

Thanks, Detroit!  I may never see you again!

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