Vacation is over

On “bucket Monday” I left for the east with a friend and my dog. Much like my trip to Seattle and Portland in June, and my drive through the heartland to Texas in July, I saw a lot of good things economically. In Ohio, I visited Cleveland for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and a Brewers vs Indians game. The downtown area has come a long way since I started going there roughly every other year about a decade ago. With a casino, all three sports venues, Rock Hall, theaters, bars and restaurants Cleveland’s downtown is one of the better ones in the nation. I’m not going to gush too much about Cleveland, it still has some issues with vagrancy and a lack of people actually living downtown, but I can see it has made huge strides in the past decade. In general, economic activity, on a Tuesday, was impressive and clearly stronger than five years ago.

Here’s a bit more on Cleveland:

I went onto Buffalo and Niagara Falls. I hadn’t been there in four years and was impressed with the headway Buffalo has made. There has been quite a bit of redevelopment towards the lake in areas that had fallen into disrepair. Again, there’s still more to do, but again, a positive image.

After leaving Cooperstown and a visit to the Baseball Hall of Fame – you have to see the Babe Ruth exhibit – we stopped in Albany for a day to get my windshield fixed. In a few hours exploring, we did find a great deli, and I know that’s cliche out east, but we went to several and this was the best. The owner came out and talked to us for a few minutes, but really didn’t need to, the sandwiches did the talking already. If you’re in the Albany area, The Dimaond Deli Mill in Colonie is a place to eat. In general, the whole area seemed to be doing well and was clearly livelier than two and four years ago. 

Along the way to the Lake Winnipesaukee camp ground which was our ultimate destination, we took NY State highways 7 and 9. Traffic was steady and towns were busy with end of summer vacationers. Here, I have to mention the Bennington Battle Monument and the town itself. The amazing monument draws you off of the highway as you see it through the trees and over hills. Once in town you can visit a very nice little downtown area, a scenic river walk, find farmer’s stands and Robert Frost’s burial site. The town which I first visited with my children is a legitimately nice place that had quite a bit of local and visiting traffic. 

While in Vermont we also stopped for homemade ice cream. I remembered driving by a little place and this time stopped. The Chelsea Royal Diner is worth going out of the way for, but if your leaving Albany to go to New Hampshire it’s on the way. Great food and to die for ice cream. While we were there, two gentleman at different times went up to the outdoor window, ordered ice cream and when it came they both had little kid happy faces. We did too I’m sure.

In New Hampshire, end of summer was happening around Lake Winnipesaukee and there were lines of cars to navigate at some of the intersections. The lakeside restaurants and the shopping areas in the townships were closing out with plenty of folks buying. We stay at a place called Camp Quinnebarge the week after the camps end, which my friend got married at 6 years ago. Great place.

The last day of the pre-return trip was in New York City. If you haven’t been to the 9/11 Memorial you have to go. It is one of the must visit places in America if you truly deeply care about being American. Times Square is something to experience and Battery Park is a must visit, but the rest of Manhattan is on my list for exploration in coming years. While it gets the hippster rap, Brooklyn might be one of the truest melting pots in America. Both Manhattan and Brooklyn were, as to be expected, rocking on a summer Sunday. 

One our way back we needed to stop to sleep and found what we thought was a little town called Lima. As we drove around in the dark, we actually found what was a pretty nifty small city. We didn’t expect it and neither of us had heard of it. Ultimately we stopped at an Applebees just because on Monday night little else was open at 11pm. We were lucky to find a great waitress to talk to who told us about the area. Like many industrial cities, the area has a down period that lasted a long time. Recently however, there has been improvement. One thing I saw, which is something I keep my out for as I drive across country, is a struggling mall. Their’s seemed to be on the upswing now though, including a Macy’s. Lima has an interesting history dating back to the 1800s including a role in the 1890’s oil boom. There are a lot of Lima’s out there. I think folks are going to be surprised at how well towns like that do going forward. 

One thing that I’ve noticed around the country, and at home here in Milwaukee, is the redevelopment of areas that were bustling 30, 40 and 50 years ago. That makes a lot of sense. The Millennials have some roots in those areas and aren’t as suburban driven as their parents. There’s a lot more to say on this topic, but in short, keep an eye on how cities redevelop, it’s going to be the major trend for a decade or two. You might want to get involved as there are great opportunities. I am considering moving my office back into Milwaukee County, into the city of Waukesha near me which is experiencing a renaissance or one of the downtown’s of a township I may move near to. There really seems to be great and affordable options right now, although big city downtown areas are pretty pricey already.

I returned back a few days ago to move back into my home which had a kitchen fire and massive smoke damage in May. There’s a lot of arranging to do, but I’m happy to be home again. My plan is to live leaner and more focused. I think it’s a good thing to do. Less clutter, more direction. Seems like a good investment approach.

I mentioned “bucket Monday” in the opening paragraph. That was the 1000 point down day on the market. Folks who weren’t frozen with fear bought in the first half an hour that day. As subscribers know, I sent out a missive with 10 stocks to buy off of our “very short list” of favorite companies. In coming weeks, I expect more volatility, and more chances to accumulate some of the best stocks in the world. Make no doubt about it, this is not an “end of the financial world event” that happened in 2008, we are looking at opportunities to invest in the rebuilding of America in an era where we will be the energy exporters.

Look for my articles on MarketWatch in coming months as I describe what I see coming. If you have time, take a look back at my articles, you’ll see I’ve been pretty good on the macro. I don’t expect to suddenly be wrong.

One last thing. I travel by roadway, often U.S. Highways, first of all because I like it, but also because it gives me a great view of America and our economics. If you really want a great view of what’s going on in America, a view that is much better than the horrible headlines made for ratings, take a long drive. What you’ll find is a re-emerging America. 

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