Towards The Motor City

There’s no straightforward all-highway route from Indianapolis to Detroit that I can see (not without a lot of map reading, which is not a good idea whilst driving, plus it’s a long drive of nearly 300 miles, so I decide it’s Interstate most of the way today – and it turns out to be as boring as hell. Even the section of Highway 24 (or is it I-469?) I have to travel on seems Interstate-like.

Leaving the I-465 Beltway I join I-69 heading in a north-easterly direction. The day starts out fine weather-wise but soon starts to cloud over. It looks like rain is in the air further north. I’m still seeing the flat landscape on either side of the road that I saw from St Louis to Indianapolis but because I’m not driving through any towns, what with being on the Interstate and all, there’s nothing to break up the journey along the way. It’s just farming country for mile after mile but I can’t see it close up as when on a highway, and there’s little else of interest to see. I’ve driven on Interstates before in the US so it’s not a surprise, which is why I’ve avoided them if at all possible on the trip so far.

I switch onto Hwy 24 just south of Fort Wayne, entering the state of Ohio soon after, and head on this road towards Toledo. I came off the road somewhere along the way to grab a sandwich for lunch, finding a petrol station near the exit, but even that was so boring I can’t remember where it was. By this time the skies have taken on a dark and overcast gloominess all over, the temperature is dropping as well, and so the miserable weather doesn’t help the monotonous drive. South of Toledo I’m briefly directed on I-475 before swinging north around the city onto I-75. By this time it’s started to rain, which makes the journey even worse. Just north of Toledo I enter the state of Michigan.

“Let it rain, let it rain” *

My view of Detroit when planning my stay there was highly influenced by the city’s notoriety as somewhere that does not have the best of reputations and is somewhat down on its luck. This was one place I was not going to stay downtown and venture out for some evening entertainment, so I decided to stay in a hotel at the airport which I figured would be safer. So another evening in the bar reading a book was on the cards.

A few miles south of the city it’s onto I-275 then right on I-94, soon after which I arrive at the Sheraton Detroit Metro Airport Hotel at just gone 4 pm. By now it’s absolutely bucketing down, torrents of rain bouncing off the road, making driving really tricky as the visibility is greatly reduced – and I wish it wouldn’t rain anymore!

I don’t mind being a little earlier here than when I normally arrive in places as I need to re-pack my suitcase tonight because tomorrow evening I get rid of the car when I arrive in Chicago. There’s no need for a car in Chicago, mainly because of the L, in fact the advice I read was to positively avoid having one in downtown. Over the past weeks I’ve been leaving things on the back seat of the car and in bags in the boot so that I could have easy access to clean clothes and other stuff in my suitcase on my one-night hotel stays, and not get cluttered up with dirty laundry. For the final three nights in Chicago, after tonight, all the dirty clothes will have to be re-packed at the bottom and I’ll need to work around that.

After my re-pack I have a quiet night in the bar, with some reasonable bar food and a couple of beers. The Giants and Vikings are on Monday Night Football, which is on the TV in the bar, so I watch a bit of that but the air conditioning in the bar area is turned way too cold and everyone, not just me, is freezing their butts off. Within a few minutes of sitting at the bar I’d made a request to the bar staff to make it warmer, and someone went off to fix it. To no avail. About 30 minutes after this I end up going back to my room to get a sweater and ask the bar staff to get management involved to fix the problem. Guests are turning up at the bar and leaving pretty damn quick because it’s so cold – the hotel’s losing business here! Some suited management dude turns up, agrees it’s freezing, goes away, but then comes back a few minutes later to say no-one seems to know how to make it warmer. Unbelievable.

I bear it for another 30 minutes or so, but even with my sweater on it’s just too cold so I decide I’ve had enough, complain loudly to the bar staff and go back to my room. Warmth. Wonderful. The hotel is quite modern, sleek and clean but in this day and age how the hell can they not have control of the air conditioning temperature? After a few more pages of my book, it’s lights out…

* I Wish It Would Rain by the Detroit-based vocal group, The Temptations

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