Monday, August 1, 2022


Well, here I am in the Motor City! 

Dave and I arrived yesterday evening around 5 p.m. local time. The flight was smooth enough, but getting out of London was crazy. Our plane was scheduled to depart just before 1 p.m. GMT, and there have been news stories recently about backed-up queues at Heathrow because of staffing issues. So we knew to give ourselves extra time. We left home at 8:30 a.m., got to the airport at about 9 a.m., and used every second of those next four hours to get through check-in and security. I have never seen lines like that.

We did dare to check our bags, even though there have also been stories about baggage being stranded at Heathrow. (I figured if worse came to worst and my bag got left behind I could just go to Target once I got to Michigan. I carried my camera and computer onboard.) Fortunately, we got lucky and our bags arrived too.

The guy who sat next to me -- a college kid named Michael who was coming back from a study-abroad experience at the Courtauld Gallery -- barely made the plane. I thought the seat next to me was going to be empty but he and several others got pulled through the queues by airport staff at the last second so they weren't left behind. He said he'd arrived at Heathrow three hours early, as Delta recommended, but that evidently wasn't enough time.

Anyway, once we were all onboard and in the air it was smooth sailing. I spent the whole flight reading most of Rick Bragg's "All Over But the Shoutin'," a memoir of his childhood in Alabama and his ascension in the newspaper industry that I've been meaning to read for decades. He worked at the St. Petersburg (now Tampa Bay) Times and The New York Times, where I've also worked, and though I didn't know him in either place it was interesting to read about his experiences with people and newsrooms I know well.

Here's what it looked like as we flew over Lake Erie. That's Canada directly below us. I also got a pretty good view of Montreal and thought about how I'd visited there so many years ago.

It's funny how we fly now, isn't it? Airplanes used to be much more social spaces before the advent of the seat-back television. People moved around and talked to each other, and the cabins were bright, with all the windows open. Now everyone is just in their own little world, plugged into their entertainment system, and the airplane's windows are all closed so we're huddled in a dark tube. If you've been reading here for any length of time you'll know I'm normally loath to converse with strangers on long flights, because it can feel a bit claustrophobic. But I wound up chatting with Michael partly because neither one of us watched the TV -- I was reading and he was mostly writing in his travel journal, which I admired, being a compulsive journal-writer myself!

Dave's parents picked us up at the airport and we headed straight for Dearborn to go to dinner at a place called Ford's Garage, which is in the heart of Ford-land.

Here's my pulled-pork sandwich, complete with a bun branded like a steer.

And this was our tower of onion rings, served atop an oil funnel. (Presumably a fresh one!) The bathroom sinks were made of car tires. Dave's parents had been telling us about how fun and quirky this restaurant was so I'm glad we finally got to see it first-hand. My sandwich was good but thank God I got the broccoli as a side dish because otherwise that place was hardly serving health food.

And now it's almost 5 a.m. and I am wide awake. Ah, jet lag!


Boud said...

I was hoping you'd find time to blog. It sounds as if you had what now passes for a reasonable travel time! Enjoy your stay.

Moving with Mitchell said...

Glad you made it! Ford’s Garage looks like a lot of fun. Though I’m surprised they even have broccoli. The onion rings look so good (and cleverly presented). As for me, I have to get back to packing. My first photo might be of Norwegian waffles!

Yorkshire Pudding said...

My son is flying to The States tomorrow. I will phone him to suggest giving himself a bigger time allowance at Heathrow. Will you be looking at any real estate in Detroit? There are neighbourhoods in which home buyers can pick up incredible bargains.

Mary said...

Glad you and Dave (and your luggage) made it safely back to the US. I guess I would have been quite at home in that restaurant considering Ford was my maiden name. Unfortunately, my branch of the family wasn't one with the money. :)

Bob said...

Glad you had a mostly uneventful trip because we all hear the horror stories.
Now I'm hungry for onion rings and it's barely 8AM.

Marty said...

Welcome to the US, Steve. So glad you actually made it onto a plane! No small achievement in today’s world.

Ms. Moon said...

Oh my Lord. Four hours to get on a plane? I'm not going anywhere by air any time soon.
I don't quite know what to say about that restaurant. It's
Anyway, glad you're there and safe.

NewRobin13 said...

That sounds like a long time to get on a plane, but we are definitely living in interesting times. Nice that you had Michael to talk with on the flight. I love that he worked at the New York Times too. That's so interesting.
And now you are in Michigan in the good ol' USA! Enjoy your time in Ford-land!

Ed said...

I have read most of Bragg's books and have enjoyed them all. I used to be able to say the say thing about another similar southern author J.D. Vance but in light of recent happenings, I'm not sure I'll ever read another of his books. I'm hoping Bragg stays out of politics and continues to write.

Pixie said...

And this is why I'm not flying anywhere, anytime soon. Thank you for reminding me.

Hope you guys have a wonderful visit.

ellen abbott said...

Glad to hear you made the uneventful flight. I wonder how the restaurant cleans those oil funnels.

Barbara Rogers said...

I'll be looking for a Bragg book! I like the Ford Restaurant nostalgic entrance! Though I dare say in Deerborn there are millions of Ford-affected places! Yee-gads that was long time standing in lines! Glad the flight was uneventful! We need to celebrate the good things as much as publicize the awful ones.

Linda Sue said...

Flying these days is something to tuck in and endure.I would not say flying is pleasant especially long flights. Well done you.

The Bug said...

Mmm - bbq! Although a little of that goes a long way. Also? Broccoli? Ha!

Sharon said...

Four hours in airport lines!!! I had been thinking about a trip to London in the fall when I started hearing about the Heathrow problems. I think I might have to make other plans if I travel that far at all. We'll see. I love the photos from the quirky restaurant and those onion rings look great. I love big, fat onion rings.

Kelly said...

I'm glad it was an uneventful (though lengthy) experience getting there! I can't imagine taking four hours to get through security!

It's good that you finally read the Bragg book. I really enjoyed it, though several in my book club found it to be depressing.

Edna B said...

So good to hear that you had a good trip. I just want to say that I've never seen orange calla lilies before. Yours is BEAUTIFUL! Enjoy your day, hugs, Edna B.

Margaret said...

Those onion rings make my mouth water! Hope the jet lag doesn't last long-melatonin can be your friend. :)

Jim Davis said...

Always a good thing when you and your luggage arrive at the same place and time. Glad the trip over was uneventful!

Allison said...

Congratulations on getting on the flight, and that your luggage arrived as well. I read recently that an Irish airline had loaded a plane with people, and then did not load any luggage at all due to staffing problems. Who does that?

jenny_o said...

What a neat restaurant! I waved at you when you were flying over but that must have been when you were talking to your seat mate - lol. Four hours is godawful; doesn't seem like a very relaxing way to travel but what's the alternative? a slow boat to eastern North America and then overland??

Ellen D. said...

Glad you and Dave arrived safely. Hope you enjoy your visit! I am waving welcome from across Lake Michigan over here in a Chicago suburb!

The Padre said...

Welcome Back To The States You Two - Keep Them Photos Coming


Red said...

Lots of stress flying these days, I'm glad that you had a good trip.

Janie Junebug said...

Welcome to the U.S. of A., where the A stands for Assholes (Republican Assholes). I'm glad you and your luggage made it.


River said...

Four hours to get through security etc?? My feet would have been dead after that much standing.
Thank you for the picture with the old Fords, my brother would love that so I'll save and print, then I'll frame it for him as a Christmas gift.

Steve Reed said...

Boud: It could have been worse, that's for sure!

Mitchell: Thank God for that broccoli. I can tell I'm going to be vegetable-deprived.

YP: Yes, good thinking re. Ian and his travel time. I think the real estate bargains in Detroit aren't as good as they once were!

Mary: You should do some genealogy until you find a way to establish a link to that wealthy family branch!

Bob: It seemed pretty agonizing at the time but I realize it could have been much worse.

Marty: Travel these days is definitely all about giving yourself lots of time.

Ms Moon: It's very auto-centric. I bet Mr. Moon would love it!

Robin: It was good to have someone reasonable to talk to. But Michael didn't work at the Times; Rick Bragg, the guy who wrote the book I was reading, did.

Ed: Boy, I am with you there. I liked "Hillbilly Elegy" but Vance has since lost all my respect.

Pixie: Yeah, I can definitely see why! Although I think for a variety of reasons involving Brexit and staffing, Heathrow is especially bad.

Ellen: Yeah, I don't want to think about that too much. LOL

Barbara: Absolutely! And I didn't even get a G&T as I usually do on transatlantic flights. (I did have wine, though.) I can't vouch for Bragg's other books but I did like this one a lot. He's a good writer.

Linda Sue: It's mostly just boring. Sitting still for so long. Thank God for books.

Bug: I tell you what, I was SO HAPPY to have that brocolli!

Sharon: It wasn't SO terrible that I'd advise you to stay away. It all just takes more time. I hear Gatwick is pretty much the same, though when I flew from there in April I didn't have any trouble that I can recall.

Kelly: I think he's pretty positive about the hardships he and his family faced, but I can see how his mother's hard life would leave some with a depressed feeling.

Edna: Glad you like them! I've seen red ones here in Michigan. Maybe that's what you're more used to?

Margaret: OK, good to know! I'm getting back into some kind of routine.

Jim: Yeah, thank God the bags got here.

Allison: Good grief! I didn't hear about that situation. That sounds particularly extreme.

Jenny-O: I saw you! I waved back! Didn't you see me?!

Ellen D: Hellllooooooo over there in Illinois!

Padre: Always! The photos will not stop!

Red: Yeah, it could have been worse, for sure.

Janie: Well, in England we have arseholes, and they're pretty much the same. :)

Jeanie said...

It doesn't look like health food but it does look delicious. That might be a fun place for us to take the kids sometime! They might appreciate all the car stuff. I'm glad you went early to Heathrow, though that still sounds pretty darned stressful! Enjoy!