Thursday, January 22, 2009

Detroit....just like I thought it would be

Detroit is rarely portrayed as a nice place to visit. Most times it's portrayed as a dirty city full of potholes, crime, vacant burned out buildings and general poo. After just a few hours here I would have to say that the media has done a good job.

My first impression started with the airport. This is the pinnacle of Detroit. The terminal is brand new opening just last year. Everything is modern and nice.

I rented a SUV from Alamo. I have had a rash of smoked out rental was no exception. The ONLY SUV on the SUV row was a 2008 Toyota 4 Runner with 28K miles on it...and smoked out. I should have gone back inside and asked for something else....but it was cold....and I was feeling I took it.

Once I hit the highway I started driving toward the city and taking a good view of it....old...dirty...and not so nice. I hit and avoided the pot holes the best I could. Thankfully the 4 Runner can absorb them decently.

I ignored the flashing sign giving directions to the autoshow and followed my GPS. Good thing as I ended up right where I wanted to be....the parking garage under the autoshow building. Perfect.

After buying my ticket I stepped inside. Awesome. The show was big....not as big as I thought it would be but big all the same. All my photos can be seen here I walked around like a kid in a candy store. The vehicles that impressed me most were the 2010 Ford Taurus (this car is a amazing...finally Ford did it right!), 2010 Honda Insight (Prius fighter...but much cheaper), 2010 Toyota Prius, 2010 Chevrolet Camaro and the entire line from BYD Automotive.

BYD Automotive is a Chinese automaker who sells cars in Europe and China. They have an entire line of full electric and hybrid cars. The only fault was the cars had an odd smell to them. Hyundai used to have a similar problem. For a long time (even the 2010 Hyundai Tiburon) Hyundais smelled odd inside. I believe it was to do with the chemicals used in the plastics. A very strong odor....not pleasing to me. The BYD cars had a similar odor. They have plans to sell in the United States....could be interesting.


I had planned on staying for 6 hours. After 2 hours I was about done. There was a problem though...I couldn't find the Nissan/Infiniti section. I walked around the show twice before asking an employee. Apparently Nissan decided not to come! I was shocked. I later read that they backed out for fiscally responsible reasons. In this economic climate they didn't feel it responsible to spend millions of dollars on an autoshow when they could be saving the money and thus jobs. They will be in Chicago for that autoshow. The North American Nissan dealers were upset at the lack of participation and rallied for a presence. The Chicago Autoshow will be staffed mostly with local dealer personnel on a toned down stage presence. Nissan has a new 370Z and a new small SUV coming out this year.

After the show I headed back to the airport (I re-booked myself on an earlier flight back). I was still 3 hours from departure. On the way to the show I passed the Motor City Casino. MMmmm Casino. I only had $10 cash on me. I took a drive down Grand River Avenue and decided I would visit the casino if I passed a Bank of America.

Grand River Avenue started in the ghetto. I thought for sure if I drove far enough I would enter a "good part". I passed bad part...and then worse part....then bad part. I saw what looked like a revitalized section with a newish retail strip center. Once I passed it I saw it was full of pawn shops, liquor stores and burglar bars. The good part never came! I finally got to the highway and headed to the airport.


The rental needed a little gas. I pulled in and looked for the fuel filler release handle. I didn't see one. This means it doesn't have one right? I walked out...nope the cover was locked. I then scoured the interior. I looked next to the seat (where most Japanese automakers put it), glove box, center console...nothing. I then looked for an owners manual...missing. I went back out and pushed on the cover. Nothing. I am starting to feel stupid. I am a car guy dammit!! Finally l looked down by the hood release. There is a little black non-descript handle. I pull it. The cover opens. WTF Toyota?!?!?!


Back in the airport, the only thing that irks me is the Boingo Internet service. Many airports are now having just one provider leaving many travelers having to pony up cash to use the Internet. I have noticed the bigger airports charge while the smaller ones give it away for free. Boingo allows roaming for T-Mobile customers...for $4.99 a day. I am only going to be in the airport for two hours thus not worth it. Instead I am using my OLD T-Mobile Dash phone to tether to the net at 2X dial up speed. My new fancy G1 phone that has blazing fast internet does not allow flight to Detroit I sat in First Class and had a nice breakfast. The flight back I had to sit in the coach! At least I had the row to myself.

The weather in the United States right now is odd. There is normally a winter jet-stream that flows from west to east at high speed. This causes eastbound flights to be shorter (due to a tailwind) than westbound flights. Right now the wind is light and flowing north to south. When I flew to Pittsburgh and back the flights were about the same length. Normally the flight to Pittsburgh is 2 1/2 hours while the return is 3 hours 15 minutes. My flight back from Detroit was 45 minutes early last night due to the lack of a headwind. Odd. Saves airlines money on fuel though.

I am off today and tomorrow. My father in law is coming in town to go to an AC/DC concert with Kelli tonight. I bought them each a set of high quality ear plugs.....hope they use them.

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