Visiting Lucia’s Cousin in Novi, Michigan

Forty-something years ago, Lucia was the flower girl in her daddy’s sister’s daughter’s wedding. Lucia’s sister is Pam Straub. She married Richard O. Straub, who is a PhD. in Psychology for the University of Michigan in Dearborn.

Lucia has not seen Pam since the wedding. Life can go that way, which is why we wanted to stop by for a visit. They were super-gracious to let these “relative-strangers” barge into their home for a night and a day. It was even more gracious of them since their septic tank started having problems a few days prior. We used the bathroom at Starbucks. (Praising God for public facilities.) The kids could not take showers, which ruined their entire summer travels.


We came in late from Cincinnati on Friday evening. We chatted briefly and then hit the hay. We were exhausted. We were up Saturday morning for breakfast and more talking before heading out to Detroit.

Richard is older than I am but way more energetic. He runs nearly every day, and also works out at the gym. A good portion of his income comes from writing books. (Rick’s got an idea.) He’s written a textbook on psychology, which quite a few universities use. He’s on his umpteenth edition; once he finishes one version, he immediately begins the next one. Theoretically, this could go on forever. (Rick likes his idea.)

Our visit was brief by design because we did not want to over-tax their plumbing, plus it was all spur of the moment. It was great to be there, to see distant family, and connect some “relative dots” that would not have connected if we had not visited.

Downtown Detroit, Sunday

We arrived midday in Detroit. It was the most “un-busy large town” I’ve ever visited. There were massive empty parking lots and several businesses that were not open on Sunday. We were at the towering GM building at the Detroit River, which separates the US from Canada. We could see Canada across the river.

I longed to go to Canada, and we could have since we did bring our passports, but we decided to wait until our October conference in Alberta. I was craving maple syrup and poutine.

We decided to spend the day walking downtown, which was nice because it was clean, and not busy or hot. They’ve done a great job cleaning up that part of Detroit. It was tourist friendly. There was not a lot to do because the shops were not open, so we walked around, took pictures, and enjoyed each other.

I did not realize that it was “pride month,” so seeing so many gay folks walking around sporting their colors was a bit surreal. There seemed to be more gay people than not. Let’s just say it was instructive and interesting.

I asked one dude what I needed to eat in Detroit, and he said that Layfette or Americana hotdogs were a must. They are two holes-in-the-wall, side-by-side, about five minutes from the river, so we went. The conies were good. It was everything you would want in such a place.

The two restaurants connected to each other; I decided to do Layfette for no particular reason. It was a hole-in-the-wall. Perfect, I’d say. We do not do chain restaurants on the road. We want local food if we eat out at all, which we don’t do much of because it’s cheaper to buy groceries as we do at home.

But I could not resist a Detroit hotdog stacked with chili and onions.

We finished our day driving around Comerica Park and Ford Field, where the Detroit Tigers (baseball) and Detroit Lions (football) play. A street separates their parks, which seemed odd, but a great idea to put your parks contiguous to each other. They configured their roads and parking to service both parks, which has to save money while creating year-round tourism for the same part of the city. The basketball arena was around the corner. (I think it was for basketball, though it was not clear to me.)

Off to The Henry Ford and Greenfield Village.

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About RickThomasNet

Rick Thomas leads a training network for Christians to assist them in becoming more effective soul care providers. RickThomas.Net reaches people around the world through consulting, training, podcasting, writing, counseling, and speaking. In 1990 he earned a BA in Theology, and 1991 he received a BS in Education. In 1993 he was ordained into Christian ministry, and in 2000 he graduated with an MA in Counseling from The Master’s College in Santa Clarita, CA. In 2006 he was recognized as a Fellow of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC).