Observations On A Long Drive

Eleven hours, and five hundred and eighty miles later, I have arrived in Marquette, Michigan. It seems a nice place, though I’m too weary to appreciate it tonight. At least it’s relatively cool. I will stay till Friday.

On the journey up from Illinois I was ruminating on the strange obsession many Americans have with the scrap metal business. Although, it’s hardly that they make a business of it; more a lawn decoration really. The drive took me past some beautiful houses, immaculately maintained. Frequently, the property next door, or across the road, looked like a local waste tip. Old abandoned pick-up trucks rusting away alongside dilapidated washing machines and cookers with the grass growing up through them.

This is not restricted to any one area. My wife and I have spent many hours in New England seeking out potential properties, with the idea we may one day wish to retire. Almost without exception, those that appeared initially suitable were abandoned when we inspected the neighborhood. The local scrapyard was inevitably next door, or across the road, or just around the corner.

And finding a property that doesn’t have a bunch of red-neck tinkers in tow doesn’t mean they won’t one day appear. One year, five years, ten years after purchasing it’s possible the rusty pick-up trucks may suddenly arrive at the newly sold property just nearby. Immediately, the family dowry, ready to be passed down to the eagerly-awaiting offspring, takes a serious dive in value.

And don’t mention zoning laws – whatever they may be – because it’s quite obvious they simply don’t work. Or, if they do, it’s only when Mister and Missus Stinking Filthy Rich have a problem with someone ‘undesirable’ in their neighborhood.

Europe has working environmental protection laws and citizens can be dealt with severely if they create such eyesores. It’s time America stopped concerning itself with the freedoms and rights of an individual to make such a mess, and began doing something to stop it.

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5 Replies to “Observations On A Long Drive”

  1. I guess I’d rather see the crap than have cops come and arrest you like they did the 70 year old woman in the last post. My old town had a couple days a year where they would pick up big stuff at the curb and people who couldn’t (or wouldn’t) make the trip to the dump could get it hauled off – though I don’t think it included old cars. Texas was the dirtiest state I have ever been in. People just hauled crap into the woods – no wonder Lady Bird had the Beautify America campaign.

  2. PM – that would be no challenge! I am determined to find somewhere in America that I truly like, where there are no scrapyard gardens, the weather is clement, and “Jesus” posters aren’t plastered everywhere.

    Flimsy – in Europe, at least the part I’m aware of, the police are only involved as a last resort, to prevent a breach of the peace. Environmental Health Inspectors, from the local authority’s health department, call on the occupants of a house with a problem and advise them to clean it up. If they don’t within a certain time, they can be served with a court order to do so. If they still refuse, the health dept can summons them to court before a judge. If they still refuse to comply, they can be fined so much per day. If they don’t pay, then the police get involved and arrest them and they can be jailed. Rarely does it go that far. The only other time police may be involved is if the inspectors feel they may be in physical danger. As virtually no-one owns a gun in Europe, that is also infrequent. Why should decent, law-abiding people have to put up with eyesores next door to them, often with the accompanying threat of rats and other vermin? It’s possible to have “freedom” and a decent environment.

  3. Caught your blog entry on Google Alerts for Marquette (my hometown) and thought I’d say, welcome 🙂
    I’m not familiar with your trip or its reasons, but I hope you enjoy it nonetheless.

  4. Kim – thank you so much for your kind words. My trip is part recreation, part business, but perhaps mainly to get away from the intense Illinois heat and humidity for a few days. I have to say it’s working. This is a beautiful part of the world and I am enjoying my stay. Marquette is a nice, clean, friendly town. I love the harbor and its surroundings. Although this time my stay is short, I will certainly be coming back.

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