Day 6: September 3, 2013
A Little Dixie

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When I left Lake Horse Inn, I headed west with the lake on my left. Houses block much of the view but there were occasional openings where I could snap drive-by pictures. This is one of the least blurry.

My first destination was Cadillac Square in down town Detroit so the GPS routed me through the Detroit-Windsor tunnel. Even though I knew there was no chance of a decent picture, I picked up the Panasonic and snapped a couple shots out of the bug splattered windshield as I sped through the dark tunnel. The results were pretty much what you would expect. I must have been fiddling with the camera as I waited in line because the screen was on when I reached the customs booth.

"Is your camera on?" the agent asked.

"Yes", I said, confirming his observation.

"Take any pictures coming up here?"

There was a short conversation as I tried to figure out what he meant. It ended with me saying I had taken pictures in the tunnel.

"Let me see them."

As I switched the camera to display mode, I asked why it mattered.

"National security", he answered. "Take any up here?"

I took him to mean of the booths or the waiting cars and told him no. I turned the camera screen his way and he might have glanced at it as he returned my passport and waved me on. I suppose I might have resisted showing the crappy picture or gotten into a discussion about how many photos or photographers have been involved in actual terrorist activities (zero) but there was no reason. I've long believed that the sometimes silly seeming questions asked at US border crossings are not intended to get information but to get reactions. I'm pretty sure that was the intent here but it still bothered me a little because it indicated that, at some level, this guy believed that taking a picture was suspicious and possibly dangerous. It's driving around with your vision obscured by all those bug guts that's dangerous.

The reason for reaching Cadillac Square was to pick up the southern end of a Dixie Highway loop. The Dixie Highway consisted of two mainlines that led from Chicago, Illinois, and Sault Saint Marie, Michigan, to Miami Beach, Florida; several connectors that ran between the mainlines, and some loops that departed from the mainlines to pass through popular towns. There was also one bypass which I'll see tomorrow. The Port Huron Loop left the eastern mainline at Bay City to pass through Harbor Beach and Port Huron to reconnect in downtown Detroit. I planned to drive the loop starting in Detroit.

The loop leaves Cadillac Square on Gratiot Avenue. The area around the square looks solid and alive but it gets ugly quick. Empty lots and empty graffiti covered buildings, a few even burned out, begin to dominate the street side within blocks of downtown. I don't know where it bottomed out but I eventually sensed that things were getting better. My recollection is that, by the time I passed over the Edsel Ford Freeway, things looked no worse than many other US cities. My recollection may not be all that accurate and it is certainly not precise but I did see some real desolation at the edge of downtown but once thing started getting better they continued to get better.

I didn't feel like taking pictures of graffiti so was getting kind of anxious to find something to point my camera at when I saw a "SCENIC TURNOUT" sign. It was at the southern edge of Port Huron and led to the view at right. The clouds are kind of pretty but I don't believe they were the reason for the sign. Scenic is in the eye of the beholder.

I made this stop because the GPS told me there was a maritime museum here. No museum but there were some nice looking flags, a good sized and good looking farmer's market, and free wi-fi.

Supporting local breweries is something I like to do when possible. At Quay Street Brewing I did it by trying the Nutbrown Ale. My phone camera did not handle the tricky brew board lighting very well.

While at the brewery, I got a call from Gary. Gary is an e-friend who lives in the area and who I thought I might meet up with on this trip. As we talked, he learned that his offer on a house had been accepted and his day got even busier. No meeting but he did steer me to this tasty bit of history. Gary has steered me before. He's pretty good at it.

Chicken in the Rough, the original fried chicken franchise, is only mostly dead. According their website, three franchises still exist with the Palms being the only one in the US. The others are nearby, however. Both are just across the river in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada. The sign is beautiful and so is the chicken although you can hardly see it under the shoestring fries. It is also very very good. Possibly the best I've had. Crisp on the outside, moist on the inside, with a mild spiciness. A bonus is that this place is right on the Port Huron Loop of the Dixie Highway. There's a fuzzy acquired-by-phone view of the place mat here.

Maybe vehicles in reverse tend to bump the building or maybe rumbling exhausts are the problem but you need to face the building in this lot.

I grabbed a couple of pictures at Harbor Beach before turning away from the lake and ending the day in Bad Axe.

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