Day 7: Highs and Lows in Detroit-ish

I don’t know where to begin.  Already a day behind with this blog because of my “date” last night.  And I’ve got tons of photos for you — despite crappy weather and MORE mechanical problems.  This trip is really off to a complicated, frustrating, expensive start!  Four more weeks to go and things have just GOT to get better.  I’ll keep the report short since I could really use some sleep. Went to the dealership in Ann Arbor this morning re: the 2nd appearance of the “Service Engine Soon” light.  They said they could check it but wouldn’t be able to start working on anything til Tuesday.  Uh, no thanks.  So I called a bunch of other dealers and it seems they all order their parts from Cincinnati rather than getting them from a local parts dealer.  Since, it’s Friday, and they would all be closed for the weekend or super short hours on Saturday, I’d be stranded til Monday anyway waiting most likely for a part.  No thanks.

So I found a local, normal auto repair place.  The guy there dropped what he was doing to do the computer thing.  Sure enough, the same transmission code.  And he had the same opinion that the guys in Grass Lake had:  since there were no physical symptoms, it would be guessing which part needed replacing.  He also noted that any transmission job might be a 7 hours even for a tiny part.  Great. So, back on the road — listening and feeling for any changes in shifting, etc.  But everything normal.  Headed over to Canada for some stuff there that have been on my list for a long time.  Back to Detroit around 4pm and finally the sun came out.  Hooray!  Starting to really enjoy shooting again — and then at 5:30, power just went.  I coasted to stop.  Called AAA and waited two hours for a tow.  While waiting, managed to research via iPhone to find a nearby Firestone that’s open Saturday AND Sunday.  So, hopefully, I’ve set myself up for success.  They promised to look at Sparkle at 7am.  Fingers, toes, eyes crossed that I can get back on the road tomorrow.

On with the show.  Here’s a nice hand-painted wooden sign from Hydro Power Pressure Cleaning in Lincoln Park:

Also in Lincoln Park — much prettier on a sunny day — but this is what I had to work with.  For folks unfamiliar, a “party store” doesn’t sell party supplies but rather booze (I guess since you consume alcohol at parties):

This Italian restaurant is in Trenton:

From Wyandotte — Chelsea Menswear & Tuxedos — a fun 1970s looking facade that I’m sure it much despised by many townsfolk:

Back in Detroit again — this car on a pole is at Rim City — though there must have been a car limo place there before.  Crappy weather, huh?:

The former Cunningham’s Drug Store:

A former theatre or fancy store?  I know nothing about this one:

Boarded up store:

Neon & painted ghost signs — plus modern crappy embellishments:

Skeleton window sign at The Dutch Girl Donut Company.  Yes, I tried a couple.  I recommend the raisin donut — major sugar rush:

A couple wonderful camera signs —  both businesses gone.   If you’re into the camera theme, I’ve got a page of signs here:

Wish I had had some sun for this one:

Not much left of this “Norge Ball” unfortunately.  More examples & info about these signs here:

At the Schoenherr Poultry & Fish Market :

The coolest discovery all day.  A mid-century oil change place which I assumed was probably a bank or church originally.  But no, I’m told it was built as a muffler shop.  There are 12 bays set around a turntable in the middle.  The cars would be driven to the center and then spun by the turntable to point at and be driven into the desired bay.  Does that make sense?


More signs, still in Detroit:

A tacker-on-er sign to the Flamingo Motel in Fraser.  The era of hot tubs and wife-swapping:

Last one for the night.  Another tacker-on-er plastic sign to the Hunter House sign in Birmingham:

So, at this point, the entire state of Minnesota is a big question mark.  I’m determined to get Michigan done despite the hurdles.  Please pray to the gods of auto repair for me.

8 thoughts on “Day 7: Highs and Lows in Detroit-ish

  1. The broken Norge ball makes me sad.

    Is it time to consider replacing poor Sparkle? Every trip seems to be marred by expensive repairs.

    • Yes, I was filled with joy and sadness when I saw that Norge Ball. Why do people get a thrill from breaking stuff — picking on a poor, defenseless piece of plastic?

      I don’t think you can blame Sparkle for my woes. I drive about 15,000 miles on these trips, barely turning the engine off from sun-up to sundown. The big problem is the lousy mechanics and fanciness of cars these days which I can’t do anything about! Last summer, I had to replace two sensors because that’s what the computer told them to do. Took three mechanics to get it right. Turned out to be a spark plug wire. That cost me tons of money that I didn’t need to spend and, maybe worse, lots of shooting time. It’s the same on this trip: various places can’t figure out what the problem is. These Astro Vans are as sturdy as can be. I’ve heard reports of 300,000-500,000 miles on the original engine. So, I think we still have a long way to go.

  2. Sorry for your misfortunes. Once again, i LOVE the blog and I am always excited when I see you are on another trip! I hope everything works out quickly and cheaply!

  3. I know your pain. Having spent alot of time on the road with a motor home, problems like you are having kind of take the excitement off the trip and add some aprehension of “What’s going to happen next?”. I’m sure you’ll get things fixed and be on your way for a trouble free remainder of your trip.

    • Yeah, it seems no matter how much you have things maintained constantly, have things looked over before you leave, there always seem to be surprises on the road. The worst is when they can’t figure it out! Strangely enough, and much to my delight, with no repairs, Sparkle ran perfectly today. Did she have a 24-hour virus or what? Crossing fingers for the rest of the trip.

  4. That Penzoil place was so cool. I just discovered you’re on the road again so I’m trying to play catch up. Started following you on Twitter so I can keep track better. I hope circumstances improve for you. Give Sparkle a big kiss, maybe that will do the trick. Happy travels to you.

    • I was giddy to stumble upon the oil change / muffler shop place. You’re only a week behind — so not too late for the “virtual roadtrip”. Don’t forget about the simultaneous photos over at the agilitynut account. I always post upcoming trips to both the “What’s New” page at my site the “Upcoming Trips” page at my blog. Then there’s a Flickr map posted (both at the agilitynut and roadsidenut accounts) about two weeks before the trip. Usually, there’s a spring trip (end of March) and a summer trip (end of July) — then little mini trips here and there.

      Sparkle’s feeling much better today — it’s a miracle! Blog later tonight.

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