A great visit with friends from Maui

Trip Start Apr 29, 2010
Trip End Nov 30, 2010

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Where I stayed
Al and Lori's house

Flag of United States  , Michigan
Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Then on Tuesday, the 27th, we drove about 75 miles (about 1 hr 20 min.) into the center of Detroit to visit with our Maui friends Al and Lori, in the village of Hamtramck. It used to be completely Polish but now it's more diverse and becoming heavily Arab. Our friends Al and Lori pretty much grew up there and three years ago they celebrated their 25th Anniversary with a vow renewal with just about everything exactly as it was 25 years before, same church, same Father (Al's brother), same wedding dress, same reception hall and lots of the same people. Terry was there for the festivities, but I had flown to SoCal for another party, a combo family reunion and baby shower.

This time, we had a fun catch-up of things on Maui, where they live most of the time but also still have a house in Hamtramck. Lori is a music teacher at a Catholic church school in Lahaina and Al is a great and funny magician, who performs in many venues both on Maui and in Michigan. They were in MI for several reasons, including a couple of funerals, a wedding and to attend an annual Magic Convention the next week in Colin, MI.

Of Course, we had to go for a huge lunch at the neighborhood Polish restaurant, where we had gone during our last visit. Then later that afternoon, we went sightseeing.   

They took us for a drive over to, and around, Belle Isle, an island in the middle of the Detroit River (which is also the border between the US and Windsor, Canada, which you can easily see across the water).    Belle Isle used to be a really nice and fancy place, but now parts of it have pretty well fallen to ruins, although the city is trying to bring it back. 

There's still a golf course, a conservatory, and a couple of other newer things, and lots of grassy areas for picnics, paths for running, biking or skating, etc.  However. the aquarium (which operated for 101 years), the zoo, the riding stables and a lot more, unfortunately, were all closed down and fenced off, etc. Even the Detroit Grand Prix race which used to be run in Detroit, was supposed to move to the island in 1989 but didn't, however, they do use a course on the island for CART races.  

From there, we drove around a bit more, seeing a lot more of some depressed areas of Detroit, with lots of falling apart homes and buildings. It was really sad to see.   

Finally we went into downtown Detroit. There's been a lot of new construction in downtown, including a new stadium, theaters, hotels, a monorail and office buildings, all interspersed between boarded up and graffiti-ed old buildings.   In spite of having a Casino right downtown, there's not a lot of people in downtown in the evening. Most people who work there, go home to the suburbs right after work.

Another popular landmark that still survives is the Lafayette Coney Island Restaurant where we stopped for dinner. They only serve chilli hotdogs and 'loose' hamburgers (more like manwich style) and the waiter shouts your order to the cooks, then brings your food stacked along his arm...quite the show.  

Central Detroit, was quite the contrast of new and modern, against a lot of old and decayed, which was pretty depressing and all the financial problems with the Auto Industry, I guess, haven't made anything easier.

We stayed overnight at Al and Lori's... she and I stayed up late chatting, mostly about Maui. Then in the morning Terry fixed a big breakfast for us all and more 'fa fa' (Hawaiian for chatting). I always hate saying Aloha to any of our Maui friends, but we finally had to drive away.


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Al The Only on

Dear Chica,
It was a lot of fun seeing you two. Lori and I loved the visit. I was sorry I couldn't break away and play golf with my ol Maui golfing buddy, Terry. Looking forward until the next time we see each other down the road.
Love, your friend,
Al "Loha"

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