Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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Walktober- city style

One of my favorite things about October is Robin’s Walktober post where she invites all of us to get out and take a walk and then shares them all with the blogosphere. And here it is the middle of October already and I haven’t posted about my October walk yet.

Let’s go see what’s just past those planters!

Sure, I tried last week, drove an hour north only to find the trail I wanted to explore closed. And sure I could have taken you to any number of local parks, but I’ve dragged you out to those parks numerous times over the years.

I wanted to do something different. And since the color around here is only beginning I decided not to wander into the woods, rather I’d go in the opposite direction – literally – and travel about an hour south to the city of Detroit.

Detroit’s skyline, as seen from Belle Isle state park, in the middle of the Detroit River.

Sunday morning I drove down, avoiding the freeway as everything is under construction. That worked fine as I got to see many beautiful churches, all filled with people coming and going. Someday I’d like to do a post about the churches on Woodward Avenue.

This church is down near the river.

The Riverwalk has lots of fun stuff, including a nature themed carousel…

I want to sit on the heron!

…small waterfalls…

It was a little chilly to play in the water on Sunday.

…places to meet your friends and enjoy a drink…

This place would be hopping on a warm summer evening.

…and plenty of comfy chairs to sit and watch the river traffic go by.

A good spot to sit and watch for a freighter.

Down at one end is General Motors’ headquarters, a combination of tall glass circular towers. It’s one of Detroit’s skyline landmarks.

It used to be called the Renaissance Center…the Ren Cen for short and some of us still call it that.

They’ve added a glass enclosed ballroom to the back of it with a stunning view of the river and Windsor, Canada sitting on the other side.

Built years apart, the two meld together into a beautiful facade.

The General Motors building sits next to Hart Plaza, a central park that hosts lots of music and art festivals during the summer. There’s several permanent pieces of ‘art’ located at the plaza.

Not sure what this is supposed to represent.

Most of them I’ve never understood. OK. I’ve never understood any of them.

Maybe this is the circle of life?

But down by the river there is a piece of sculpture here in the plaza that makes more sense.

Looking toward freedom.

It’s a sculpture honoring the Underground Railroad. The people are looking and pointing toward Canada across the river. It was dedicated in October of 2001.

Come this way!

Turning my back on the river I looked at the city. It beckoned me, so I decided to walk a few blocks and see what there was to see.

The city’s skyline includes more than just the Ren Cen.

Turns out there are a lot of shapes and colors just steps away from the Plaza…

All angles and straight lines.

…and not all of them were modern.

The Wayne County Building is from another era.

There’s an elevated train that circles the city. I liked the way it curved against the square shapes of some of the architecture.

And look! A bit of fall color too!

Historic buildings were reflected in the glass of those more modern.

Reflecting on history.

Just about everywhere I looked there was something interesting. And I was only a block from the river.

All these angles caught my eye.

I headed back toward the river, and watched the People Mover above against another iconic building.

Moving on up.

Then I was back at General Motors headquarters. The sun was glinting off the glass, flags blowing in the stiff wind.

What’s inside?

Don’t you wonder what’s inside all this curving glass? Nothing about a Walktober says it has to be outside, right? Let’s go in!

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Back outside, I headed east again toward my car. Not everything is all shiny and modern. But things are getting better in the city of Detroit, and getting better doesn’t mean forgetting where we came from.

Different shapes, different eras.

No, there’s still lots of work to be done in the city. New neighborhoods are sitting next to the relics from another age.

The renaissance is not complete.

But it’s not scary anymore to be down on the riverfront. And that’s promising. I hope you enjoyed our walk and that you’ll come visit Detroit someday. We have more to show you!

Smiled at this bar door.


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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.


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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…

Nikki  fixed

…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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