Saturday, September 04, 2021

First Day Detroit Trip to Ford

While I wanted to see the Chicago crew I felt like I'd seen enough of Chicago. So I convinced Natalie and Sus to embark on a little roadtrip to a town I'd never seen before: Detroit, Michigan.

The little Google Maps symbol that popped up when we crossed into Michigan seems to be a little Motown singer. I'm a bit embarrassed to admit that I didn't know that Motown was short for Motor Town until this trip.

Speaking of motors, we went straight after them. We visited The Henry Ford, which is the name to a complex including a museum, a little interpretive village, and a car factory located in the Detroit suburb of Dearborn. I kind of got the impression from this place that Ford was some sort of eccentric. The building that the ticket booth for the museum was in is a replica of Philadelphia's Independence Hall. Why I have no idea. I think the thought was to capture more of American life than just the automobile which just seems like an odd choice.

The area with the presidential vehicles was fun.

The Kennedy Car was a little weird because it's the one he was shot in. Even for something from the 60s it has some pretty high tech gear on board. The gas tank has a plastic foam in it to prevent explosion if bullets were fired at it. There are metal tires inside the metal tires so it can still run even if they are popped. It was interesting to read about the balance between wanting to keep the president as safe as possible but also as visible as possible so voters could see his mug while cruising around.

This was FDR's car and was the first car expressly designed and built for a president. This one was built for security but also had to be specially made for FDR's wheelchair situation.

"President Theodore Roosevelt was not fond of automobiles, and rarely used one. He preferred the old-fashioned style of the horse-drawn carriage for public parades and outings."

"1904 Packard Model L

This was among the earliest automobiles large enough for a family. But few families could afford it. In 1904, automobiles were playthings. They hadn't yet replaced buggies, trains, and trolleys for everyday transportation. The large and powerful Packard cost $3,000 at a time when the average wage was $490 per year. It's no surprise that Packard sold only 207 Model Ls."

I may be weird but I find it super satisfying when something that was for fancy people a long time ago is commonplace and even a better product today.

This thing was super cool. "The Dymaxion House was developed by inventor and architect Buckminster Fuller to address several perceived shortcomings with existing homebuilding techniques. Fuller designed several versions of the house at different times — all of them factory manufactured kits, assembled on site, intended to be suitable for any site or environment and to use resources efficiently. A key design consideration was ease of shipment and assembly.

As he did when naming many of his inventions, Fuller combined the words dynamic, maximum, and tension to arrive at the term Dymaxion."

There was a Jim Henson temporary exhibit that seemed out of place but was cool.

I believe these costumes were featured in Labyrinth.

Greenfield Village was next door to the museum. This was another crazy rich man type of place. He literally was collecting buildings from other places and having them moved here. For example he bought Noah Webster's house of Merriam-Webster dictionary fame, and had it moved here.

There were several old timey conveyances to choose from. I think they have the oldest operational steam locomotive, for example. Anyway they had several Ford Model Ts on hand that you could ride around in.

Our driver was super friendly and knowledgeable. He made it seem like no big deal to own and operate one of these bad boys, and they aren't that expensive. I was interested but I've learned the hard way about the heartbreak and expense of fixing up an old vehicle. I'll just let this car keep living here and visit it whenever I want.

Just in the short time we were riding around one of the other car's tiny ass bike tires popped.

Randomly it was George Washington Carver day at the cafeteria. I don't like to brag but I'm deep in the GWC game and learned how to make peanut milk near his house at the George Washington Carver National Monument near Diamond, Missouri.

Our last Fordy action was to join in on the Ford Rouge Factory Tour. The Rouge's "first products were Eagle Boats, World War I anti-submarine warfare boats". I guess early on vehicles such as the Model T were produced in kit form which were then assembled locally. All the fun of Ikea furniture but with the added exhilaration of a possible explosion. 

There was a cool presentation on how the Ford F-150 is produced, including a couple of cool robot arms and lots of lasers.

The largest green roof in the world.

Back at the Airbnb I felt like I was obligated to try this Detroit-style pizza I've heard so much about. I chose Buddy's because it is apparently this unique style's inventor. 

There's a very motor city story behind the pizza. I guess they originally cooked the pizza using square steel pans that were used in the automobile industry.

Our day was so well planned that I think we just slapped together some night time activities to round out the day. We went to a park where we thought there was supposed to be cool art exhibits but all we could find were these strings suspended from the air.

The Guardian Building is an amazing bit of art deco architecture and it just so happened to be open late. It's funny, Detroit has a reputation for being a rough scary place, but when you're from St. Louis and there's dead bodies in your backyard, other places don't really have that fright factor anymore.

Lastly we hit the MGM Grand Detroit. It was nice.

I'm always excited to see a new slot machine with a fun license. This one was Christmas Vacation. How many slot machines are out there that I haven't tried yet?!

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