On the QEW in 1979

This is one of my favorite pictures of my dad. He didn’t particularly like to be photographed, so he very often made some kind of goofy grin or hid his face. But this one actually looks like him, which is kind of nice.

I also like it, though, because he’s driving and it makes me think of all the road trips we took when I was a kid (he didn’t like to fly any more than he liked to be photographed) and because in this shot, we just happen to be on the way to Toronto.

It’s weird, though, for me to realize that my dad was about a year younger than I am now when this photo was taken.

I’ve always thought I was more line my mom than my dad in general. We have more of a family resemblance and we maybe shared a few more interests overall. But as I get older, I see more of my dad in me too, or at least the things I romanticize about him, like his love of driving and exploring and the way he always had some little diner tucked away in whichever town we were in.

And his sense of humor.

And the fact that we both ended up a little, uh, endearingly impatient. Yeah. That’s a diplomatic way to put it…

Anyway, I miss him.

Happy Father’s Day.

Polyurbanism

(noun) The fact or practice of openly having intimate relationships with more than one city at once.

“After his relationship with San Francisco failed, David began exploring polyurbanism and was exhilarated by the freedom of not having to choose a single city to love.”

Surprisingly…

I really liked Fort Wayne as well. From my last drive-through in 1997, I remembered it as being sort of dowdy and unpleasant, but after spending a day or two exploring, my opinion has changed. There are some really dumply and abandoned areas, but Fort Wayne has largely been spared that whole Rust Belt depopulation thing as well, and the city is a treasure trove of older commercial architecture (despite the destruction of much of the older part of its downtown core).

There were just great little surprises every time I turned a corner. I could take pictures there for days.

Because of the amazing public library city directory collection I mentioned before, I’ll probably be back, and it’s nice to know there’s an interesting town to explore. And shawarma.

Furniture City/Beer City

Grand Rapids is known as “Furniture City.” So is High Point, North Carolina.

Grand Rapids is known as “Beer City.” So is Asheville, North Carolina.

Grand Rapids is very different from either place. It sort of fascinates me, because it’s never really seen the depopulation that most other cities in the Upper Midwest have. There have been decades where the population declined a bit, but current estimates show that the city is currently at its highest population ever. And it reads like a much bigger city than it is, in some ways. The downtown area is aided by the presence of a major medical facility and several universities and colleges.

There are a ton of craft breweries and some interesting neighborhoods. The main public library rocks.

This is the first time in quite a while that I’ve spent a significant amount of time in a city I’d never visited before. And best of all, I got to hang out with a friend I hadn’t seen in almost 13 years. Bonus all the way around.

Another crush…

Never said I wasn’t fickle. I now have a tremendous crush on Milwaukee.

But April can be harsh:

Other random things to talk about at some point:

 

Milwaukee or bust

Big road trip a-comin’

Since I’m doing a conference presentation in Cleveland the second week in April, I decided it would be a good jumping off point for a midwestern road trip where I’ll visit some old friends, do a big chunk of research, spend time in a city I’ve been wanting to explore more extensively for twenty years, and cover some new territory.

The intinerary:

  • Cleveland: Conference presentation and sadly not much else, but Cleveland is (relatively) close by and I get there somewhat regularly anyway.
  • Milwaukee: First visit since 1998. I’ve been threatening to spend some time there ever since and this is my chance. I’ll also be visiting a friend who recently relocated about forty miles away. I’ll also put in some time at the library for Groceteria.
  • Grand Rapids: I’ve never been there despite the fact that there was one point where we almost moved there when I was a youngster. I’ll be visiting an old friend from san Francisco I haven’t seen since 2006 or so.
  • Fort Wayne: This will be the hardcore research portion of the trip. There is a wonderful place there called the Genealogy Center. I don’t do genealogy, but I use many of the same tools for Groceteria. This place has a massive collection of print city directories (my primary tool) that fills in many of the (very numerous) holes in Ancestry’s collection. I’ve planned two days. I am a big geek. Plus I haven’t been there since 1997 either.

I’d also planned to spend a few days in Detroit/Windsor, but I’m backing off on that for now because I have too much going on here to be gone for that long and because I’d like to spend more time there. Thus I may merge this with the annual Thanksgiving road trip to Canada this year.

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