Movement Detroit 2019

Last weekend Megan and I headed up to Detroit and we had one of the best weekends we probably ever have had. Detroit was hosting the Movement music festival, an electronic music fest in the heart of the birthplace of Techno. This year, my favorite band, Orbital, was performing. They almost never come to the US and the opportunity to see them in the midwest was something I couldn't pass up. 

Let me first start off this blog post to say that Detroit was amazing. We have all seen in the news how Detroit has has really gone through some rough times the past decade or two. I obviously didn't see all of the city, but it does seem like the city is starting to bounce back. There is a rejuvenation of the restaurant and shopping scene, at least in the Corktown neighborhood and it seems that much of the blight from abandoned buildings has been cleaned up. Several of the older factories and other industrial buildings appeared as if they were going through a renovation into residential and commercial. 

Megan and I had a discussion with one of the shop owners on Saturday and she was describing to us how Ford has been investing heavily in the tech sector, trying to brand itself not as a car company, but as a transportation technology company, and that they were bringing in a lot of young software developers and engineers. It really made the city feel vibrant and it seems like the city is trying to position itself with a music and arts refocus. 

We left Chicago Friday afternoon, around 1:30 PM. Traffic was pretty horrendous and it took us about two hours to make it through Indiana on I-80. We were hoping to swing by Grand Rapids on the way to Detroit to visit Hollander's. It is a store specializing in paper and book making. We didn't make it there on Friday and unfortunately we didn't get into Detroit until almost 8:30. Our hotel was the very artsy Trumball & Porter Hotel. Very hip and they have murals all over the outside, and a great courtyard with bags, a fire pit and a stage. They also had a really excellent bar and restaurant called the Red Dunn Kitchen (more on that later). We ordered a few drinks before heading to dinner. 

Thankfully we did plan ahead for our late arrival and we made dinner reservations for 9:15 at Lady of the House. It was only two blocks from our hotel and was a very hipster place to eat. The interior was decorated with an almost french farmhouse style. The food was fantastic. Unfortunately it was incredibly dark inside. We almost couldn't even read the menus. 


Saturday was the day. The music fest was kicking off around 4:00 PM that afternoon. We had some time to kill during the day, but we didn't want to burn ourselves out. We knew it was going to be a long night.  First up was breakfast at the aforementioned Red Dunn Kitchen. Wow, it surprised us. 

The Corktown neighborhood nearby had a couple of cool shops that we wanted to check out. We hit up the Eldorado General Store, George Gregory and Brightly Twisted. We also spent a good hour in Hello Records and bought have a dozen records there. 

We headed out to the show around 4:00 and walked. It was about a mile. About three blocks from the festival though a major thunderstorm hit that had us scrambled for cover in an office building. It was so bad that they actually evacuated the festival. As a bit of bonus karma, we did discover a very cool building called the Union Trust Building.

Once we got to the festival, the show was fantastic. I'll just let the videos and photos speak for themselves.


Some great acts at the show. Big surprises for us were Josh Wink and Amelie Lens. They made fans out of both of us and of course Orbital was amazing. We didn't get back to the hotel until about 2:00 am at which point we ordered a pizza from Dominos, as it was the only thing still open and we proceeded to wait almost an hour and a half for the pizza to arrive. We got out pizza though around 3:00 am and then finally crashed. The drive back to Chicago on Sunday was uneventful. 

Detroit, we had a great time and I would love to go back to Movement next year. 

My Favorite GPS Apps for Motorcycling

Riding season is here (if it will stop raining) and I will be heading on my first weekend trip coming up here in April. It has only been about two years since I have embraced using GPS for my motorcycle rides. I was initially very resistant to the idea, wanting to just enjoy the wandering of the ride, but I have come to appreciate the GPS not only for planning rides, but also for tracking where I have been, 

So let's talk about what I have used over the past couple of years. 


BMW Navigator Street (aka. Garmin Zumo 390)

The BMW Navigator Street is my go to device right now. It is a dedicated GPS device rebranded to BMW. I am a big fan of dedicated devices, espcially when it comes to rugged gear. A couple of years ago I planned a trip to Canada and I wanted to make sure I had a device that could reliably provide GPS maps in an area where I might not have a cell signal. 

The Navigator Street is basically a Garmin Zumo 390, with two basic tweaks. First, it does have a database built in for BMW Motorrad dealerships. Second, it has a dedicated cradle that connects to an accessory plug on BMW motorcycles. 

Overall I have had some good luck with the device. It gets the job done and does an excellent job of tracking my GPS routes as well. My only major qualm with it is that "curvy roads" setting does stay to highways a bit more than I would normally want it to. I really have to force to to reroute to get me to some real of the path places. 


Garmin Basecamp

So one of the great and sometimes awful things about the Garmin is a companion desktop application called Basecamp. Basecamp is meant to be a trip planning software. It is a really finicky piece of software and sometimes it is really confusing on how it wants to operate. 

Once you get your head around it though, the trip routing component is pretty nice. You can set waypoints, including gas stops right from the app. You can even distinguish what type of road you would like to ride on in between waypoints, such as a "curvy road" or just a highway. 

Bringing your trip routes back into the app after your trip is also very handy. 


Roadtrippers.com

While I do the trip routing in Basecamp, I do most of the actual trip planning in RoadTrippers. This site has become one of my favorite for any sort of road trip planning. Not only cane you plan your actual route in it, but it has an amazing database to find all of those quirky roadside attractions and oddities that you would expect for a road trip. I used this to plan a couple of road trips now and it is great for finding odd restaurants, road side stops and even the occasional inn or camping site. 

The recently changed the website and they now charge $30 if you want more than 7 waypoints in your trip. For road trip planning I think it would be worth it. 

They also have excellent guides for a lot of famous places around the US, which are a great place to start for a Roadtrippers as well. They also have an excellent iPhone app. 


Rever.com

Finally on my list is a website call Rever.co. I honestly haven't used this one very much since it is very app focused.Great if you want to use your phone for trip planning and GPS routing. Both the app and website have a very slick interface. The one really nice thing that they have going on for them though is the social features. In a lot of ways, this app is the motorcycle equivalent to Strava from the bicycling world. 

The social features allow you to setup groups where you can manage group rides, share data with friends, etc. I first got into this app because they seemed to have a partnership going with BMW Motorrad a year or two back. The web interface for planning routes is also very well done and I used it a little but a few years ago when planning some twist roads through the Adirondacks. 

Book Review: The Largesse of the Sea Maiden

The Largesse of the Sea Maiden by Denis Johnson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am not quite sure how to review the book, because I am not entirely sure what I read. I enjoyed, immensely the five stories that were written by Denis Johnson, but having now finished the book, I have trouble recalling exactly what those stories were.

The five stories featured in this book all focus on the fairly mundane lives of the different protagonists. The topics covered cover drugs, lives, obsessions and other such topics. That being said none of the stories come across as dark as you might initially think. Instead they seem banal and the events that occur are told in a sort of matter of fact, "this is the way life is", sort of delivery. In a lot of ways, nothing happens in any of these stories. The characters tell us of these interludes in their lives, almost in a confessional way, and then that is it, the story is over.

For some reason though I was completely drawn into the stories. It was like a look behind the curtain in these people's lives, and the writing was so well done, that I felt like all of the stories were truly believable.

View all my reviews