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Back into Canada

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Memories. I’m finding it hard to remember things and when I speak about this to the many friends I meet on my travels I get told everyone has problems as they get older, but I’m now pretty certain this is not just old age creeping up on me and besides, I’m still very much a youngster. I cannot remember where I stopped along the way from Chicago, so I’m relying on photos I’ve taken to help me along with looking at my Warmshower messages to see if I was hosted. This is rather distressing, I just cannot recall my progress and so it is becoming all the more important that I catch up with my blog. My plan then is to use Facebook to fill in the gaps – I’ll post where I am every time I get net access in future.

I know I bitch and moan, but it’s important my friends (and followers) know just how much I care about them and telling you I have serious problems will go some way to explaining my forgetfulness. It’s not just the odd occasion, recalling where I stayed (or who I met) only a week ago is really difficult for me and I’d especially like to apologise to those Warmshower hosts who waited patiently for feedback from me, if you are still waiting then please send me a reminder – thanks.

Looking over the river to Detroit

My brief sojourn into America ended as I crossed the border back into Canada at the Detroit – Windsor tunnel. The ride from Chicago should have seen the wind at my back, but once again this did not happen and I’m getting used to the weird weather that seems to be happening at the moment. People I speak to say the seasons are out of alignment due to global warming and I have to agree, everywhere I’m travelling it’s the same story, the weather is just so unpredictable.

Arriving in Detroit with time to spare, I had a look around and took in some of the sights. The city is recovering from being declared bankrupt in December 2013 and cycling through the outskirts into the centre, it was evident that here was a city with huge problems and not somewhere I’d ever consider cycling at night. The largest city on the America/Canada border, it is trying to re-invent itself as an entertainment hub in the 21st century with the opening of casinos, stadiums, and a river-front revitalization project.

Sculpture gifted by Detroit’s labour unions to celebrate it’s 300th birthday.

The Hart Plaza seemed to be the most interesting place to be, as not only did it give a good view of the city, it was also where I found a series of large sculptures. The sculpture pictured above consists of two 59-foot high stainless steel arcs encircled by split boulders supporting a bronze relief of scenes from Detroit’s labor history.

The Dodge Fountain and Renaissance Center, Detroit

The huge building (Renaissance Center) housing the offices of General Motors impressed, but even before reading the plaque detailing the history, my favourite sculpture was Ed Dwight’s The Gateway to Freedom, which I found profoundly moving.

The Gateway to Freedom sculpture

The Gateway to Freedom

If I’m really honest though, Detroit is a city I’d like to come back to (in say 10 years) and see how it’s developed as I believe it has a tremendous potential. It won’t happen, but I hope I’m right.

Hart Plaza, Detroit

I met up with Robert, my host from Windsor just outside the tunnel on the Detroit side and we had a uneventful trip through both the tunnel and customs. I was thankful to have a nice female officer on duty, who once establishing I had already visited Canada sent us on our way without any further ado, which was most unexpected according to Robert.
Windsor was a nice rest stop and I was well looked after by my hosts, who also took time out to show me around (taking me to the beach for sunset was pretty special) and then ride out with me when I left, (both riding recumbents) which was really kind of them. Thanks guys.

My kind hosts in Windsor and one of their recumbents.

I’ll never tire of seeing spectacular sunsets, and though the clouds never really cleared (and it rained most of my time here) I was still able to capture a few nice shots of the beach.

The beach at sunset, Windsor

I had really wanted to get on my way, but another friend following my blog persuaded me to stay an extra day (in another part of Windsor) and I’m glad I did. Lynn lost her husband to cancer the same time as I lost my wife Caroline, so I know the difficult journey she has come through and I think we were able to help each other. She really is an amazing woman who puts her faith first and is not afraid to speak out, something which is not easy in today’s “politically correct” society. She is also a keen blogger: Life with Lynnie

So as the sun came out I got to see much more of Windsor on Lynn’s guided tour, which I’ll share below.

The Spirit of Windsor

Lynn was as surprised as I was by my knowledge of the exhibits we visited, which I was able to describe in high detail on the day. Since I have been able to recall my childhood only recently, the memories of building Airfix models and finding out their history has strangely stayed with me and this is the first time it’s proved useful. The Spirit of Windsor locomotive, which is a 4-6-2 class steam engine was built in 1911 for the Canadian Pacific Railway and retired some 50 years later in 1961.

Supermarine Spitfire and Hawker Hurricane

The highlight of course was the aircraft and none so more than the “guardian of the skies,” a Supermarine Spitfire on display. Without Reginald J Mitchell’s design, it’s almost certain Britain would have lost control of the skies in WWII. Sadly another legendary aircraft, the Lancaster bomber was not on it’s usual display.

The Ambassador Bridge across the Detroit River

Huge bridges are a feature of North America I also enjoy, and I only wish I’d had time to organise a boat trip on the Detroit river to get up close, but sadly this was not really feasible. It’s amazing that steam ships are still making this journey, though they are more modern versions than the steam paddlers of years gone by.

Tourist boat on the Detroit river.

Another highlight of my tour around Windsor was being taken for a “fish fry” meal and meeting Lynn’s friend Ann, a lovely lady who also hails from the UK. As my time in Windsor came to and end, I was captured on camera riding out of the city – I’m just off centre cycling on the road in the picture below:

Leaving Windsor behind

Excitement in me was growing though, because very soon now I would be meeting up with relatives (and Boocock’s) I didn’t even know about until recently, and to find family on this journey would be more than I ever expected.

I’ll tell you about this in my next blog, coming soon…

1 Comment
John Hoffman
Saturday, August 2, 2014 at 9:58 pm

Derek,
Your Nikon camera is a higher end model than mine- check in the menu and see if you can’t GeoTag your pictures. I don’t know enough about it but when I bought my D5000 four or five years ago this was a feature I thought was pretty cool. It may require additional software for your computer? Or hardware on the camera?
Travel safe. Welcome Back (to Canada). Enjoy meeting your relatives!

John

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