Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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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.


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Busy busy busy but in a fun way.

Proud to be an American.


Oh the benefits of retirement! For the past week we’ve had two of my siblings visit and instead of me heading off to work while they go exploring I’ve been able to enjoy the beautiful weather and fun sights right along with them. Each day we did something different, and if I weren’t headed out again today I’d try to show you all of it. But, given limited time, and your limited patience, I’ll just share with you the day we spent in Detroit. As you’ll see, it was a long and varied day.

Our first stop was Belle Isle, a park on an island in the middle of the Detroit River. There’s a giant fountain on the eastern edge of the island and it’s very beautiful, but when I looked at my images once we were home I was fascinated by this shot – the spikes of water shooting up into the blue sky.

Look closely at the ribbons of water.

The shot doesn’t show the whole fountain, but you can see that anywhere.

There’s a beautiful glass arboretum on the island. We stopped to visit, but it was only open Thursday through Sunday. We were there on a Tuesday.

Historic building glowed when the sun came out from behind clouds.

Still, it was beautiful and the grounds around it are gorgeous.

Then we drove over to the far east end of the island and wandered through a beautiful grassy meadow…

Such a beautiful day.

…where we found a functioning lighthouse. Another historic building, just beautiful in the sun, standing majestic under the shifting clouds.

Been standing there for years warning ships that an island lives in the middle of the river.

After spending several hours on the island we went back to the city and parked along the waterfront. It’s been developed into a beautiful walkway, part of which travels behind General Motors’ headquarters.

People working here have a pretty cool view from their offices.

From the Riverwalk we watched ships travel the river between Great Lakes.

Afternoon light made this ship glow.

Across the river is Windsor, Canada. We waved, and her flag waved back.

Up in town, Joe Lewis’ fist waited to great us.

Showing the strength of Detroit.

It was a beautiful day, the day after hundreds of thousands of people had been at Hart Plaza, right where we were standing, enjoying the fireworks. Already the plaza had been cleaned up.

Such pretty colors, the sky and the flags.

Then we took the People Mover, an elevated train, over to Greektown for dinner.

All aboard!

Along the way we saw a lot of the city, and watched progress being made on another new building.

Getting it done.

We had a great dinner at Greektown and then headed back to the river and the car.

Waiting for the train and enjoying the view, all the way across the river to Windsor.

Detroit is on the move…we enjoyed our visit, but we had to move on too. My Fitbit recorded 19,000+ steps. Our feet were tired, our bellies were full, time to head for home. Another great day of retirement was in the book.

I’m looking forward to the next adventure!

Skyline from the train.


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WordPress photo challenge: Split-second story

 

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We were on Belle Isle, in the Detroit River, enjoying the day and standing out on a fishing pier.  I was talking about the years I used to live on the Houghton Canal way up in the Upper Peninsula where I could watch freighters pass from my apartment window.

We turned to go back to the car and there it was, almost silently gliding through the cool blue waters.

Magical.

 

Check out these split-second day photos here, here, here, and here.  Or go to this link and browse among the 300+ photos for yourself.  Don’t miss this one!


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Weekly Photo Challenge: Street Life

This week’s WordPress photo challenge is “Street Life.”  I went down to Detroit this morning and parked near Greektown, hoping for something.  But the light wasn’t great in Greektown itself, so I was wandering back to my car when I saw the towers of General Motors combined with the People Mover track overhead, the red brick factories converted to shops and lofts, and the tourists walking below.

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I liked it, so I stood in the middle of the empty street and shot it.

Also on the way back to the car I saw a man, maybe Niki himself, standing outside a Greek pizza parlor…

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…and unfortunately, a couple of homeless people sleeping near a grate.

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Combined, these images show a version of the streets in the city of Detroit.  There’s much more, of course, to this city – – much that is less photogenic.  I saw some of that too but was not comfortable enough to stop.  It reminded me that those of us out in the suburbs, in the country, driving our big SUVs, mowing our lawns, shopping in our trendy stores, have no idea what life is really like just a few miles down the road.

So that’s my street life submission.  You can see a few of my favorites here, here and here.  What does the street life in your part of the world look like?  I’d be interested, and there’s plenty of time.  You can post your images till next Friday at the WordPress site here.

I love how these challenges take us all over the world.

Enjoy!

 

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