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Old 08-24-2012, 10:51 AM   #16
El Explorador OP
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So the general reaction I get from people when I say I'm going to visit Detroit is as if I had said I was thinking renting a cell in Guantanamo for a holiday. Here's my take on it.

Iíve never really experienced the states. Iíve been through a few, and even went to Disneyland in Florida... but wouldnít feel comfortable claiming to know the nation with the temerity to claim an entire continentís name for itself.
Hopefully the following weeks will help inform some opinions. Beginning with Detroit, this tour is going to take me on a journey through a country so many of my fellow Canadians have opinions on but so few have actually taken the time to get to know beyond the caricatures and archetypes filtered in through the media.

This isnít actually my first time in Detroit, and this visit reinforces impressions formed last time.
Itís a city of massive contrast. The third of the population that remains rattles hollowly among the art deco grandeur of the city, avoiding those places left fallow after the eventual decline of the roaring 20ís expansion. I see it as an interesting reflection of the failure and fallacy of the American dream. I actually had the bank where the concept of credit was formed pointed out to me. Abandoned, like so much of the city, the place where Ford once extended loans to his employees. Making an unheard of (for the time) five dollars a day, they used their prospective earnings to help build homes and expand the city. So yeah, you can blame him for all this.

Against all odds there is an positive spirit that manages to resonate through the cityís underfilled streets. Every open space boasts art, graffiti, and official signage all urging people to look to the future of a new Detroit, offering hope and optimism in a city where the sidewalks are pebbled with shattered glass from break ins; where opulent towers too expensive to either sell or maintain crumble in place, still defiantly beautiful despite years of neglect.

My host Petparazzi and fellow explorer Detroit Liger echo this spirit and pride Ė both of them wearing Detroit branded *clothes, speaking of their love for the city. And itís not just in spite of the decay Ė in many ways this has opened up their city to them, allowing them an intimate perspective and sense of ownership and discovery like no other place in the world would. They can enter places that, had they been maintained, would have been exclusive domains of the elite. The infrastructure and history is laid bare, no sterilized tours or one sided info pamphlets Ė just the evidence, visceral, right there to be walked among ; sifted through; interpreted.

Personally, Iím more of a nature person Ė but I appreciate the parallels between the density and chaos of jungles and cities. Detroit is the perfect compromise Ė it is a city gone half feral, a concrete jungle in the truest sense. Out of the poverty brought about by the cityís decline a social regression has taken place, the robberies and gun violence contrasted against the vision of hope and regrowth that struggles to take root in the ruins. Itís not a distant, far removed kind of poverty. Itís putting my money on a carousel so the clerk behind bullet-proof glass can spin it around an and replace it with my change and receipt, never leaving an opening for contact. Itís Petparazzi paying more in camera insurance than home or auto. ďEvery time I go out [exploring abandoned places], I assume Iím going to get robbed,Ē he tells me. And almost in the same breath he says he would never leave, that he loves his city.

The Big D demands more respect from people than the average city; itís the ragged edge of civilization where one can easily regret letting oneís guard down. But Iíve been surprised. Iíll not soon forget the man who rolled out of his newspaper bedding to offer a friendly hello, and whose demeanour and conversation spoke more of a fellow who had simply fallen on hard times than the crackhead one would have expected. The local art scene is thriving on the unique atmosphere, and everywhere abandoned places are being reclaimed by civilization, bit by bit.

Eventually it seems this city will once again stabilize. Like all wild places, Detroit will eventually be tamed; the metropolis of majestic forgotten spaces will be replaced by a sterilized and family friendly town. It will become a city like any other, and while that may be for the best, I will always be glad to remember the jungle that was Detroit.

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Old 08-24-2012, 11:05 AM   #17
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And of course:

Can't forget the pics!



Fresh booze... gotta love a city that has it's priorities straight.




Scrambled over a wall to check out this old jag, there was a roofing nail waiting for me on the jump back down...
















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Old 08-24-2012, 12:27 PM   #18
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Nice pics...

Hope you got a tetanus shot before you left home.



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Originally Posted by El Explorador View Post

Scrambled over a wall to check out this old jag, there was a roofing nail waiting for me on the jump back down...
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Old 08-29-2012, 09:57 PM   #19
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All kinds of shots

I did indeed!
Should probably boost the Hep shots now that I think about it though, thanks for the reminder...
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Old 08-30-2012, 10:55 AM   #20
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I am in for the ride .....

Have a safe trip and thanks for sharing your adventure. Great pictures

Subscribed
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Old 08-31-2012, 07:49 PM   #21
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Thanks man, it's a pleasure to share the journey!
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Old 08-31-2012, 08:12 PM   #22
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The first thing I do upon leaving Indianapolis is meet up with a fellow explorer whose adventures make my exploits seem tame by comparison. After a tantalizing session on incredible things to see in the States and some edifying conversation on the status of drug legislation on the states (which may or may not have included some applied theory) I set my sights on the latest and greatest of my exploration goals: Kentucky Kingdom.

So, the Kingdom. I head out real early, expecting to have plenty of time in the city to poke around before meeting up with Uliveandyouburn, BuddyKermit, and Eschaton. I’ve learned not to count on things to go according to plan, but was still surprised when racing through the beautiful hills of Kentucky my master link decided to snap and leave me stranded by the highway.

The brotherhood of riders once again comes to my aid. Thanks to Davis for offering me a lift to grab a spare master link with which I just barely made it back to the dealership on in time to get a proper replacement chain. Davis is a Harley Rider with PTSD who drives his SUV hunched over from the anxiety of having been “blowed up twice” in armoured vehicles. He’s with the army corps of engineers and is going back overseas to help with demining, driven by a sense of responsibility for the kids who need his guidance to complete the task alive. A straight up guy, I tell him I hope he wears a helmet – he replies that after all he’s been through he’s not scared of riding without one. Well my best wishes are with him, for what it’s worth.

Thanks to Davis’ help I arrive in Louisville (coincidentally in the parking lot next to my fellow explorers, convenient as I have no phone) right on time. It’s early yet, so we decide to scope out some of the city’s heights and thanks to various open doors we get some lovely views, and even a chance to sit down for a spot of tea.





The preliminaries over with, it is time to infiltrate, nay, to conquer the Kingdom. The 6 Flags park had shut down due to various factors, the most salient of which I believe was a girl losing her legs in an accident on a poorly maintained ride that cost the park $150 million. Naturally we debate whether it’s worth it or not – after all you can buy some pretty nice legs for that kind of cash, especially if the amputation is below the knee. I think being a cyborg and having super legs would be damn cool, but no thanks, there’s nothing like old-school biological legs for me.

Entry is ridiculously easy. We keep pushing the limits, climbing higher in broad daylight, watching the cars along the highway speed by, oblivious. I try to ride a water filled gas can down a waterslide... well, I’ve had worse ideas; the ensuing crash decommissions my shades and rips my shorts. More hobo cred, I say.



Speaking of hobo cred, I get to borrow Uliveandyouburn's infamous belarussian fisheye to catch some shots of me imitating a rollercoaster. I’ve never seen a lens cap fashioned out of Velcro, a sock, and a tin can before but it’s quite an effective contrivance, big thanks to him for helping me capture the experience.





(photo courtesy Uliveandyouburn)

I knew it would be fun monkeying around in an amusement park even without the power, but I had no idea how fun. Reinterpreting amusement rides is going to seriously dampen the thrill of regular park visits. I hope my kids are good climbers.

\

(Photo Uliveandyouburn)



Eventually the sun sets on a kingdom conquered; the hedonistic glee of claiming the abandoned Kentucky Kingdom for our own is finally overcome by our need for food. Basking in our success, we stroll boldly to our rides right past parked security. Acting like you belong is worth hours of sneaking around... being a fast runner is a good backup plan though. Shortly thereafter, energized by a year’s worth of calories and grease at Rally’s, we set out to say goodnight to the city in style – we make it to another rooftop and perch on some particularly precarious looking concrete ledges. If it can support the winter’s snow, it can support my weight... but for some reason I find myself needing to repeat this like a mantra as I swing my legs over the tapered ledge.


We end the night with a good session of freaking the hell out of the locals. Turns out Uliveandyouburn owns drywalling stilts. Of course I have to try them on, and even manage to get pretty good at meandering without falling once – much to the chagrin of my compatriots and the local carousing drunks. Being almost ten feet tall is fun as hell, even if security won’t let me into the bar district.


How many days can I say I was my own rollercoaster, watched the city lights from atop a ferris wheel, and learned a new method of perambulation? Not many. I think this is going to be a hard one to top, but then again I am riding to the end of the world; it would be awfully presumptuous of me to claim I’ve reached the peak of my explorations so soon.

El Explorador screwed with this post 08-31-2012 at 08:12 PM Reason: Not relevant to audience
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Old 09-04-2012, 09:21 AM   #23
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I'll give a little update for Blake. He left my house here in Rhome yesterday afternoon headed to Santa Fe NM.
He was looking for a place to pull some preventative maintenance on his KLR, and since I work on KLR's a lot, I offered him my shop, and my Guest House above the Garage.

We had a wonderful time talking about our different pasts and what forces brought us to the stages of life we currently enjoy.

Since I live in the Country in Texas a few miles North of Fort Worth he had some cultural shock to get used to. Maybe out of the Main Stream, but definitely not Hick Country. But we like it.
I think his education about firearms has just been ignited. We spent several hours discussing the reason why Texans are so obsessed with handguns and firearms in general. I think he was shock to find I carry in the shop because of the Coyote problem we have with our livestock.

I found our conversations intriguing and very interesting. I found myself wishing for two possibilities.

One I could find a way to join him for his ride, even if for just a few weeks, or find a way to get him to prolong his visit so we could share backgrounds some more. Did he mention he is Tri Lingual already? My wife loved his accent!
World Travel is nothing new to this young Canadian!

Blake, if you head back this way on your way home, you are more than welcome to swing be here and hang out the Misses and I again. We'll go get some BBQ!

Hade a great time and found myself wishing I was younger! I'd have packed up and taken off too.

But my youngest son (31), who is the last to get married, is getting married in a week and I'm expected to be there. So I'm committed to staying put. This is the second chance to Ride that I've had to pass up for him. I hope he appreciates it. I was on a ride when my Grandson , and best little buddy, was born 2 years ago.

Have a safe ride and let us know if we can assist you later.

Enjoyed every minute of your visit.
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Old 09-04-2012, 10:19 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by El Explorador View Post
I did indeed!
Should probably boost the Hep shots now that I think about it though, thanks for the reminder...
Yeah it would suck to leave on trip for the End of the World and die from an incident in Detroit.

Stay safe out there.
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Old 09-05-2012, 03:08 PM   #25
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Whats up, Blake. Nice to meet you at the Roaming Rally this summer. Look forward to following you adventures in South America. To say, I'm envious is putting it mildly. Have a great trip.
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Old 09-11-2012, 06:55 PM   #26
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It has been wild!

Thanks Curtis! It was a real pleasure, I've got another post ready so I'm making my way to the Texas part slowly but surely. In Moab right now - WOW. Turns out I have NO idea how to ride sand, but it's a hell of a fun time. The fore storage on Lost is coming in handy, as are the many other mods... thanks a ton again! I will probably toss my scrap of alumium, that tiny sink no bob is actually doing a bang up job.

Hey Tahn, it was good to meet you also, good to see you joining the adventure. No need to be jealous, just get on the bike and ride on down :)

And thanks Fredster... though I can't promise to stay safe, at least I can promise to have fun!
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Old 09-11-2012, 07:08 PM   #27
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Great read, great pics.

Thanks,

JM.
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Old 09-11-2012, 09:16 PM   #28
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So my stay in Kentucky is brief but eventful. The night of the 6 flags caper, Buddykermit invites me to crash at his pad. The place is pretty sketchy - enough so that I decide to bring in my saddlebags off the bike. Then it turns out my host is a gun nut - but hey, I've always wanted to meet one, and at least this one is on my side.
He shows me his AK47 from Russia, and his newer model that's the trophy - "This one shot up a cop car". And enough ammo (hollowpoint, of course...) to take over a city block.
I can't blame him for wanting to protect himself though, someone comes knocking on the door around midnight asking for a screwdriver so they can get into the apartment downstairs, apparently someone owes someone something...

Anyway, my bike is still locked in place where I left it the next morning so I begin my journey to meet my friend Sam in Ohio. Stay a day, I figure, relax and catch up on the my photos etc.
Well, long story short lets just say I'm getting the feeling whoever programmed my GPS had a very unique sense of humour. The damn thing takes me all over the place, it seems to think the quickest way from A to B involves a stopover at Z. So it's pretty damn late by the time I get to Portsmouth; the ride is beautiful though. It doesn't help that the street his house is supposed to be on ends before reaching his number.

Anyway we get it all sorted out, and my baby turns 20K!

We have a moment together in the dark.

The next morning I really get the feel for this place - I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Mist drifts gracefully over the riverside property, all the leftover hooch from his temporarily closed bar resting temptingly by the pool table, Shagnn wagon, 1200cc seadoo, pontoon party boat...



This guy is set up for a hell of a good time. And so it is - another friend in town owns a brewery and steak house, so my one day stopover turns into a multiple day hiatus from travelling while I indulge in the finest living my self-professed hick friends have to offer. We tread lightly around our radically different political perspectives (until a few beers in, that is). We party in the middle of the river, drink some of the best pilsner I've ever had (If you stop by Portsmouth, get yourself a Portsmouth Pilsner from the Portsmouth microbrewery), and I'm treated to more delicious food than I've eaten since starting this journey.



I never do get to try the squirrel brains; I don't doubt Sam for a second about when he tells me they're a delicacy in the Appalachians. Once again I find myself comfortable, living it up instead of getting out there and tasting life - so I say goodbye to the luxury and comfort and head out on a rainy Sunday morning.

Well I'm all dolled up in my duck suit against the clouds, I stop at an old graveyard that has been almost reclaimed by the forest and meet a fellow who goes by Hound Dog Harrisson, he scrawls his name on a piece of paper for me and tells me he's a musician - "We're not all hicks down here!". Hey, I've been partying with hicks for a week, it's a good time.I continue South and West for a few hundred miles through some gorgeous roads the GPS accidentally sends me through.


It gets dark, and I'm tired, but I've been told there is a really cool abandoned structure nearby so I park my bike behind some old warehouses. I've also been warned about a tick infestation in the area, so I avoid setting up the hammock in the woods and camp Vietnamese style instead - just lay back on the seat and kick up your feet on the handlebars, thin cloth over my face keeps the mosquitoes at bay. Not quite as comfortable as the plush bed and bath setup I've had for the past few days, but there's something about sleeping outdoors, stealth camping and listening to the sounds of the nearby wetlands. Okay, last that part actually sucks... at some point an animal gets dragged down in the middle of the night and I listen to it's cries of agony with wide open eyes. I wake up stiff, tired, but somehow more fulfilled in a way I hadn't really noticed I craved - finally reliant only on my self again, exploring every corner of this strange and beautiful world.

Now the adventure is back in full swing.
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Old 09-11-2012, 09:17 PM   #29
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Much appreciated JM

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Originally Posted by jmcg View Post
Great read, great pics.

Thanks,

JM.
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Old 09-23-2012, 10:00 PM   #30
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Its been a while since Blake posted but he just left Flagstaff today to continue on his journey. I'll let him fill the days past and the 'upgrades' we did to his bike these last couple days. Needless to say he cooks a mean asian dinner and I supplied a fairly good margarita as a complement. Great conversations about travelling. I think I surprised him with my own wonderings around the globe. While he's a bit green with 2wheel adventures he's undoubtedly experienced more than most folks even twice his age.

While Blake mentioned the 'sink no bob' Curtis in Texas installed I think a picture is required. Just classic!


I'm officially subscribed...

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