“Hell on Wheels” you say?

Posted in Road Trip by Jacqueline Iannacone on May 29, 2010

… Motor city, Motown, D list, Big D… Whatever you wish to call it, i went and i came and i sure would like to go again. The culture, the people, the music and the danger all mix together to create an environment like none other.

Road Trip

We have nothing to our name but the truths we tell about the experiences we’ve faced so here goes…

Detroit scared the living day light out of me; granted we did arrive at 11pm on the first night of Memorial Day weekend, so like every American, people were scattered about drinking and smoking and listening to music. But with that environment adjacent to run down buildings on every street corner, burnt up cabs and a shell-shocked foreigner next to me (Clare, my friend from Britain who is joining me on this trip) I was; to say the least, worried.

The great part about traveling cross country as Clare and I are doing is that we get to meet locals who can show us around and make us feel more comfortable in an unfamiliar, exciting and some times terrifying city. I can say with ease that this is what our host Nathan did for us. Upon our arrival we were greeted by other Couch Surfers visiting from Chicago, Maggie and her boyfriend were amazing. They helped us with out luggage and shared upcoming events. Not too long after we got settled, Nathan arrived to scoop us up and bring us to DCC (Detroit Couch Crash) party at Izzy’s Pub. There we met a ton of interesting people, all of which shared a love of adventure and the freedom you acquire while road tripping… We heard some fantastic stories and got some useful advice to remember along the way for the next 6 weeks… This was the best way to kick off our trip, in a city where the culture means more to its locals than possibly anything else… well, anything else left in Detroit.

… And not much has been left besides the remains of a city which at one point was the epicenter for music, fashion and the culture that follows. Driving around the city was possibly the most eery experience of my life; ghost town is an under statement in some parts of Detroit. What most intrigued me was the juxtaposition of the dwindling population with its larger than life reputation for being such a “hopping” city. The Detroit Museum of Contemporary Art sums up this contrast the best way possible. A museum of contemporary art, a tourist spot which is in place to represent new waves in the art world; run down, broken into and vandalized. This begs the question; How does a city transition from its glory days to its denunciation? … Or rather, How does a city transition back from its metaphoric death?

Road Trip

This brings me to downtown Detroit, where the remaining culture thrives. Here is where I saw kids running through water sculptures, tourists such as myself mesmerized by the architecture and locals heading out for their afternoon jog. Downtown is; to say the least, where it’s at. The little life left in Detroit is for the most part based in Downtown. Here is where you see the possibility of a recovered city.

Road Trip

… Today I also had the pleasure of visiting the Motown Museum, (Hitsville, U.S.A.) where the likes of Martha and the Vandellas, The Temptations, Stevie wonder and Jackson 5 derived.

Road Trip

“This is our legacy an African American legacy of what can happen when people get together without regard to race, creed and color and make it work.” -Berry Gordy, Founder of Motown Record Corporation

… next stop Chicago.

For more on the meaning behind this journey click here.
Detroit . Chicago . St.Louis . Tulsa . New Mexico . Grand Canyon . Las Vegas . Los Angeles . San Francisco . Yosemite . Memphis

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3 Responses to '“Hell on Wheels” you say?'

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  1. Dad said,

    Hey kid, Looks like your trip started out on the right note…hee hee, get it…Motown…note. I assume the Subby is handling the travel well. Chicago is a great city. I was there briefly twice to take my board certification exam. You were 5. Stayed at an old friend from high school’s house (I’m not in contact with him anymore). I also think my high school sweetheart lives there. Make sure you check out Wrigley Field, home of the Cubs. I believe it is the 2nd oldest baseball stadium in the country, next to Fenway Park in Boston. Say hello to Clare and tell her one word for me…RIGHT!!!!! Call me or text if you need anything and most of all be safe and have a great time.
    I Love You. Dad

  2. janice said,

    This whole trip is sounding like too much fun! I didn’t realize how orginized this couch surfing was! Pictures are great. I have heard that parts of Detroit are kind of rundown but that other areas are really old and quite beautiful! Spoke to Jason and Yadira last night. Said that time frame is good for me to come, so if all is stable with my Mom, I’ll fly out during that time. Keep tripping and be safe. Looking forward to your next leg of the journey.

  3. Mommy said,

    Okay, so after speaking with you I decided to break down and comment here. You sounded tired last nite and I hope today finds you renewed and enjoying Chicago…the windy city. If you have any questions, you can call Christine Carley as she lived in Chicago for many years working for Hilton?Helmsley. In St. L, be sure to go up the arches…”the gateway to the west”, oh and you know our friend, “Dr. Doug” who Russ plays golf with, his daughter lives just off Rte 66 and I will get you her contact info just in case. Well, have fun, love to Clare baby, be safe, and know I love you beyond experession!

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