CLARE, MICHIGAN – As we drive around America, one thing I keep noticing is “Help Wanted” signs. I see them in every town we pass through, especially outside fast-food restaurants. More below…

imageMichigan’s open fields and clear, blue skies

Greetings from a tiny town in the countryside somewhere in central Michigan…

No Tourist Attractions

Six weeks ago, we left our coronavirus safe house in South Florida and hit the road with a car, a tent, and some sleeping bags to explore America. We’ve been heading north, mostly – through states like Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, etc. – and now we’re in Central Michigan, approaching Canada.

We’re heading for Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. 


Because it’s one of the least touristy places in America at the moment. It’s totally out of the way of the big east-west trucking and transport routes. And with the Canadian border closed, and the Michigan state park system closed, it must be empty. We’ve been told it’s beautiful, too. 

We’ll see…

Camping in a Town Park

We left Detroit this morning. We have driven all day and I’m tired, and so we’ve turned off the road. We’ve found a town park that allows overnight camping.

We just finished setting up camp. Kate and the kids are playing in the playground. And I’m sitting in our little camper writing this message to you. 

Our campsite backs onto a car wash. Every few minutes, the blow dryers turn on to dry a car. It sounds like we’re camping behind a jet plane taking off.

Here we are eating dinner just now… and above, on a country road earlier today…

imageA fast-food dinner to conclude a long day of travel

Perverse Employment Incentives

Why is it so interesting to see the “Help Wanted” signs everywhere we go?

Because it suggests that – despite over 20 million Americans claiming unemployment benefits at the moment – three times the previous high, set during the global financial crisis – the labor market is TIGHT. 

How could this be? I have no idea. Probably something to do with the perverse incentives of government unemployment benefits and COVID-19 lockdowns. But if this is true, these fast-food restaurants are going to have to raise the wages they’re offering…

Could be nothing. Or could be the first signal inflation is coming. We’ll see… 

– Tom Dyson

P.S. My friend Andrew is a bigshot real estate developer in Detroit these days. I met up with him yesterday while we’re both in Detroit, and we talked about Mark Ford, my former business partner at the Palm Beach Letter:

“Mark Ford’s books were incredibly influential to me early in my entrepreneurial journey,” he told me.

“I had just turned 22 and told my parents I wasn’t going to medical school after my undergrad studies, but rather was moving to Detroit to buy investment houses. They thought it was crazy, but Mark’s books gave me the confidence to go for it.

“I particularly loved his ‘Chicken Entrepreneur’ strategy. I still use it today. I’ve been in Detroit real estate for 14 years now. 100+ houses and 1000+ multi-family apartment units later, and I’m still making that same play I got from Mark…”

“Detroit has gone through unbelievable changes since you first came to visit. I believe Dan Gilbert will go down in U.S. history for making one of the greatest real estate investment plays in any major metropolitan city.

“Dan now has more than 100 properties, more than 17 million square feet, and a business empire filling the buildings with more than a 100 of his own companies. I mean, who would have thought – 10 years ago – we’d be building a 75+ story skyscraper in Detroit in 2020?”

Like what you’re reading? Send your thoughts to [email protected].


One reader warns Tom about his travel commentary in Monday’s postcard, “Country Roads and Cornfields.” Meanwhile, another inquires about oil tanker stocks… and one longtime reader recalls a gold storage tip…

Reader comment: Speaking of Florida, you write, “And we’re never going back there.” This leaped out at me as an attitude that might bite you later, since Kate’s family and some of your business associates live there. But then, maybe you meant “permanently.” Be careful what you wish for… You might just get it.

Tom’s response: I meant that we’re not going back to live in Delray Beach again. 

Reader comment: So enjoy your writing, family adventures, and investing insights…. Would you like to comment more on your thoughts and ideas about oil tanker stocks? Please tell us more about these stocks or your understanding of this volatile industry… Many thanks and safe travels.

Tom’s response: I think they’re going up… a lot… over the next three years. And if I’m wrong, I don’t think they’ll fall much because they’re already so cheap. Also, unlike most other businesses in America right now, they’re profitable. In fact, many oil tanker companies are about to release the best quarterly earnings reports in their histories…

Reader comment: To the reader who asked about storing gold, one possibility to consider would be a methodology that YOU recommended some years ago in the Palm Beach Letter you used to write. Basically, it involves storing one’s bullion in waterproof storage tubes that can easily be built with short lengths of 4-inch PVC pipe and end caps. The tubes can then be discreetly buried. You referred to this as doing some “midnight gardening.” I buried two of these mini treasure chests in my backyard years ago at your suggestion. All these years later, great suggestion. Thanks for the tip!

Tom’s response: Yes, I’m a big fan of burying gold and cash, or as you call it “midnight gardening,” even though it makes me feel a little crazy. Recently, I’ve actually been thinking about burying some gold on public lands and then creating a treasure map to it… If done correctly, it’s the safest way to store gold. 

Reader comment: Hello Tom, I just want to say that I really admire the lifestyle choices that you, Kate, and the kids have chosen. As one reader has already stated, your children will cherish these adventures in their later years and realize the inherent value in the life lessons. I love the postcards and sharing of all the wonderful people you have met and stayed with along the way. Safe travels and stay in touch!

Tom’s note: Your kindness helps to keep us going when the days are long and tiring. Please keep writing us at [email protected].