Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


What the heck is a Dequindre Cut? The answer will make you smile.

The Dequindre Cut is a beautiful paved bike path and walkway.

If you’re not from around here Dequindre probably isn’t even a word. Heck, even if you are from around here you probably don’t know that the street in metro Detroit was named after a hero in the war of 1812.

And even if you know all that, well, it’s possible that you have never heard of the Dequindre Cut.

Graffiti art adorns all the bridgework along the mile and a half walk.

I hadn’t either, until someone who worked in my department talked about it a few years ago. It sounded intriguing, and for several years it’s been on my list of things to investigate “when I had the time.”

Well, it turns out I needed to make the time.

Some of the paintings have some sort of message to give.

This past January, instead of making a resolution I put together a list of “Interesting, Stupendous and Fun Things” to do. It sounded more fun than resolutions, and so far it has been!

Others are more traditional graffiti.

In late January I was able to check the first item, making a winter visit to a lighthouse in northern Michigan, off the list.

There were lots of people out walking and biking.

And I’m definitely training (slowly) to do the 10 mile Crim race in August.

“A star is born through immense pressure and we have had our fair share. That beacon of light you see in the dark is our fair city rising from the night sky.”

Plus I’m keeping pace to read 50 books by the end of the year.

I waited for a person on a bike to ride by this, thought it would make a great picture, but wouldn’t you know, no one did. I think someone on a red bike would have been perfect!

And you know I’m working on my photography skills with the new Nikon.

But I want to tell you about this past weekend when I had a really really fun time walking and photographing the Dequindre Cut in downtown Detroit. It’s an old railroad bed that has been turned into a bike and walking path.

And the best part?

There was great music playing near this mural.

The best part is that the developers left much of the original graffiti on the bridge walls!

A friend and I went down to explore it and were very impressed by how wonderful it was. The walk goes from the Detroit River Walk all the way north about a mile and a half to the Eastern Farmers Market.

Layers and layers of art was everywhere.

And wouldn’t you know, we walked it, unknowingly, on Flower Day weekend, when the Eastern Market is flooded with vendors and people all focused on getting their flowers and plants for spring planting!

A building up at street level had this great red shark looming over the walk.

We started down by the river, and when we came out at the other end I started to recognize that we were near the market. And then we saw people hauling flats of annuals, and wagons full of larger plants and I knew we just had to walk over there and see it.

Up at street level, on the way to the farmers’ market.

It was only a couple more blocks, and it was so much fun to watch all the activity. Plus there are lots of painted buildings there too!

People everywhere buying flowers, enjoying the music amidst the brilliant painted buildings.

We didn’t buy any plants because we were parked a mile and a half away! But we did buy some raspberries and bananas from a vendor because by then we were starving!

This city has so much talent!

We scarfed those down on our walk back to the car.

The Detroit Lions (football) are going to be great this year. Really. We’re not kidding.

All in all it was a very good day. We saw some really cool art, and some beautiful flowers. And you can’t beat Flower Day at the Eastern Market for people watching.

The music was pretty good too.

I’d go again and probably will, maybe combine it with a trip out to Belle Isle in the Detroit River.

Detroit. There’s a lot more here than what you’ve heard.

If you like, you can come along! It’s guaranteed to make you smile!

This phoenix is rising.


The canals of Detroit

Kayaks waiting for us to begin our adventure.

Did you even know that Detroit has canals? Me either, and I live only an hour north of the city. But I saw an advertisement months ago on Facebook for kayak tours of the canals and I thought it looked interesting.

I know, I know. An advertisement on Facebook? But a friend of mine, someone I haven’t seen in a lot of years, agreed in a comment that it looked fun, and she made all the calls to get us a reservation.

Safer to do this while still on land than once we were on the water.

So Sunday was the day and of course there were thunderstorms predicted. Our early morning 3 hour tour was delayed until afternoon, and in the end that worked out just fine.

We arrived at the marina located just off the Detroit River slightly before scheduled takeoff. We got our life vests fitted and our safety lecture, and then we were in the water.

A quick meeting with one of our guides…

We started the tour by paddling around an island, originally built out of swamp land in the 1920s for wealthy people to live in big houses away from the city. Now it’s mostly filled with homes built in the 1990s.

…and we’re off!

But there are still a few of the original homes left. Like this 30,000 sq foot 2 bedroom mansion built for the Fishers, part of the General Motors team way back when…

The Fisher mansion is in disrepair but seems to be under renovation.

…and some smaller homes, also built in the 20s. Most of the homes built during that period burned in a big fire in the early 70s because the bridge to the island hadn’t been built large enough to carry Detroit city fire engines.

A couple of the smaller original homes.

After we circled the island we headed out to the Detroit River.

Headed into some serious paddling now.

The river is a busy shipping channel, connecting the Great Lakes and lets ships get, eventually, to the Atlantic Ocean. We were told to stick together, not go too far out into the river, but stay away from the wall along the shore, where waves would be slapping and bouncing back at us.

Almost immediately we saw a huge freighter coming our way. We were in no danger, but the size differential between it and us was hard to ignore.

That’s one mighty big ship.

And right behind that ship was another, bigger, deeper more foreboding ship. I knew they’d both be kicking up some serious wake and I was eager to turn off the river back into the safety of a canal.

Another huge ship coming our way.

There was already some serious chop going on and I didn’t really want to ride out any huge waves in my little orange kayak. Soon enough we turned away from the big water and into the relative calm of another canal.

This is much more relaxing!

Turning the next corner we found ourselves in a small community of river homes complete with boat houses. Most of them looked like they’d been around a long time.

Those boathouses might need a little work.

But other boat houses seemed in better repair. And some even held beautiful vintage wooden boats.

High tech garages for beautiful old boats.

We paddled through more older waterfront homes…

Pretending we’re gliding through Venice.

…and then had something of a traffic jam under a bridge.

Some confusion about who has the right of way.

Out the other side of the bridge, around another corner and past more boat houses we headed back toward the big river.

The locals tell us the water is very high this spring.

The sun was beginning to break through the clouds as we entered the Detroit River again. To the east of us the skies were still dark…

Let’s not go toward the storm.

…but to the west of us the sun was shining and the water sparkling.

Even the water got more vibrant when the sun came out.

But the wind had picked up and the water was even more choppy than before. There was little time for taking pictures. I had to try, though, because the Detroit skyline was right there and just stunning with big puffy white clouds overhead.

It turned into a beautiful day!

And then, just as everyone was getting tired paddling into the wind we turned one last time into the safety of the canals.

Back where we started, all too soon.

We had a wonderful time. We saw some really interesting houses and boats. We were challenged on the river. And the sun came out at the last minute to make it all look brilliant.

A pop of color on the beautiful water.

I’d do it all again in a heartbeat. I guess you can’t always dismiss those ads on Facebook. Sometimes they turn out to be pretty darn cool.

This one sure did.

Fun stuff.