Monday, June 15, 2009

Delight, Detroit, and DeCelle

I have been traveling. I went to Universal’s Islands of Adventure in Orlando late last month. It was a lot of fun. The Spiderman ride was super, with stunning visual images and very modern 3-D images that come right into your cart. Spidey perches right beside you at one point, and they even sprinkle a little water on you, waft some odors past your nose, and blast air past you at opportunistic and appropriate moments. ( Right: I'm guessing that Wolverine is a Universal franchise.)

Then I went to Detroit, where I took a leisurely early morning run along the waterfront by the Joe Louis Arena. I was saddened to see numerous sleeping homeless persons along the outside corridors under the structure. The Decider’s economic blight has staggered Michigan. The people I met in Detroit were super though.

Since the partial stands behind home plate at old abandoned Tiger Stadium, the only part of the venerable structure still standing, were due to be fully demolished within the week, I took a taxi there from my hotel to see it.

The taxi driver acted as a tour guide for me. A tool-and-die operator in the automotive industry for twenty years with six kids, he was laid off this year. He groaned when I climbed into his cab outside my hotel after asking how far away the stadium was. It was only a short ways down Michigan Avenue from there.

"A four dollar fare, man. I was at the head of the taxi line for the next guest going to the airport for $45."

It was rotten luck for him. He had six kids to support. I started to climb out.

"No, no," he insisted, all traces of his bitterness instantly dispelled. "You’re a guest to Detroit. We treat you right!" He meant it too.

He slowly drove me around the ball park on the encircling streets while I craned my neck and watched spectral images flit across the open field and heard roaring crowds from decades past. We looked for a place in the anchor fence surrounding the field where I could slip inside to wander the confines where the ghost of Mickey Cochrane and the athletic Al Kaline and Kirk Gibson restlessly roam.

Regrettably, there was no break in the fence. My thoughts of climbing the eight foot tall barrier were stymied by a security guard’s car idling inside. (Left: My taxi driver points to where Alan Trammel went to work every day on his way to a Hall of Fame career. This taxi driver is a hero, an ambassador for his town while doing what he has to do to provide for his family. I love these great everyday Americans.)

He drove me around the old abandoned train station with its thousand broken windows. It stood tall, hulking and deserted, another symbol signifying that Detroit’s industrial dominance had passed. (Right: Once this structure held sway worldwide. Chevys were shipped from here.)

I gave him $20 for the twenty-minute tour and hoped it was enough for him losing his place in the hotel taxi line. He just smiled inscrutably and warmly wished me well.

Meanwhile, I was trying to get ready for leg two of the DeCelle Memorial Lake Tahoe Relay in Nevada. Have you ever run a seriously hilly four-mile race at high altitude that leads you directly into a monster four-mile hill climb? I never had either, until Saturday.


jeanne said...

great story peter! you meet the most interesting people. that elevation chart looks positively evil.

Just_because_today said...

Loved this post.Sad about the taxi driver but what courage he shows by doing what he needs to do to make a living - six kids!
A 4 mile, I don't think so.

Anonymous said...

you owned that hill. for the rest of your life. love it.

ShirleyPerly said...

Very nice story about the taxi driver. He most certainly earned that generous tip in my book.

Good luck with that hellacious climb this weekend!

Sunshine said...

What a race!!

PS Thanks, Peter.

slowrunner77 said...

i love the shirts this can actually show people what the hell you're talking about...but it's still only an 8-inch hill on the shirt, and those who never ran at 6-7,000 feet don't understand. Glad you had a good time out there, and enjoy your travels!!

Just_because_today said...

Happy Father's Day Peter.

Irene said...

I thought we had some killer hills here, but that one looks like it wins the prize!