I was sad to learn this week that Detroit has gone bust. Not that I have any great reason to root for the city, but it is one of the few large American cities that I have visited. (Just for the record, the others are Boston, New York, Washington and San Francisco and I have also driven straight through Reno.)
I've just checked and I see it was actually nine years ago that I was in Motor City - July 2004. I was there for the Lions' International Convention and I spent all of a week in the city. I freely admit I wasn't greatly impressed - but then, I'm no fan of cities full stop. I flew into the city airport and was whisked through immigration faster than I have been at Boston, Washington, New York or San Francisco. It seemed the immigration officials actually wanted me to visit. That was the only time I have ever been met by somebody holding up a card with my name. The driver took my case and I travelled into town in style in the back of a limo.
There was time to see a little of the city in between the Lions activities. Although the water front (or should I call that the river front?) was attractive enough between my hotel and the Joe Louis Arena, there were large parts of the city no much farther away that were very run down, with big spaces where building had once stood. I took a ride on the monorail (am I right in thinking it's called the People Mover?) to see a bit more and I took the wrong exit from a station I decided to get off at. This led me straight into a casino - my first ever visit to such an establishment. I was astonished to see how many people were playing the slots and the intensity with which they watched the dials spinning round. And this was only about 10.30 in the morning! It took me a good 20 minutes to find my way out of the maze and onto the street.
It was in Detroit, at that convention, that I first met Skip and GS in person. Skip and I had "known" each other electronically for some time and it was good to meet up in real life - and to be introduced to his delightful wife. Grandma Skip had family in Detroit and they were generous enough to invite me to share in a barbecue to celebrate a family birthday. It was Independence Day as well, but I think the birthday took precedence.
It was a good week, and I have fond memories. This is how I remember Motor City: