A Canoe Trip

It was a nice enough day for late September in Michigan. Overcast, yet warm enough to get away with a hoodie or light jacket. My friend and I, finding ourselves with not much to do and a need for nature, headed down to

While wandering through the woods, we came upon one of the canals which run through the island park. Noticing the recently installed kayak launches on these canals, Mike had the (bright) idea to go back, grab his family’s long unused canoe and go for a jaunt around the Isle.

Before we really get started, please know this one will have some length to it. My feelings won’t be hurt any if you skim through.

Casting off at Blue Heron Lagoon (not even bothering to use the kayak launches on the canals which inspired this excursion, since they wouldn’t have helped us get on the river) on the Northeast end of the island, we headed for the Detroit River.

I haven’t canoed in about 20 years, so I took the front seat while Mike steered in the rear

Approaching the inlet(? I think that’s the right geographic term) to the river, you can see the famous marble lighthouse
And here we are IN the river

Admittedly, we barely got into the river. Nonetheless, it was very exciting to be on the river, in between two countries, not far from where giant freighters pass every day, in this little two-man fiberglass tub. The water was very calm that day, so we had few worries.

That’s the US side of the river, a power plant can be seen to the right

Then we hooked a left and headed sort of Westward, down a……you know what, I’m not sure what the word is for a narrow body of water between two islands, one of which (to the right) is basically a sandbar, so I’ll call it a canal.

Along this canal, you will find the infamous Hipster Beach where all kinds of filth goes on. I somehow didn’t grab a picture of it, so just imagine a dirt clearing on the left bank where nonsense occurs. That’s right, the beach isn’t even sand, it’s dirt.

Anyhow, here’s some cool pics of canal traversal:

In this one, you can just BARELY see a rope, to the left, used to swing into the canal

Eventually, we came upon this bridge, which leads to the intake for the city’s water treatment plant:

The golf course/driving range

Getting close to the river again, we spied a large Crane in a tree:

Popping back into the river, we took another left and went past the Detroit Yacht Club:

You can just barely see it, but there’s a muskrat just about dead center in this pic
It went back under when we got too close
You can see the Detroit city skyline through the trees here

At this point, we can upon the bridge leading to the Yacht Club, which, due to the high water level, we were unable to pass under. We had to pull the canoe out, walk around the bridge and plop it back in. This was our first, but not last, portage.

Paddling the rest of that canal, we ended up at the real beach. It wasn’t very lively, for obvious reasons.

After relaxing on the beach (you know, coconuts, sea shells, Pina Coladas, that sort of thing), we decided to hike the canoe about 100 yards inland, to explore the interior.

Over to Lake Muskoday

That shifty-looking bridge connects the two halves of the old (now overgrown beyond use) golf course. The picture doesn’t really show how high the water is in relation to the bottom of it, suffice to say it was tight enough we hesitated going under.

Onward into the interior canals!

At this point, we came to the Zoo. The Belle Isle Zoo has been closed for many years and is a tragic sight. I won’t get into the how’s and why’s, it’s a real ball of wax.

The elevated walkways, once a joy to walk along, now look like a series of Halloween props and backdrops or maybe something from Jurassic World:

The overgrown fences and concrete embankment along the canal add to the “Oh jeez, a Velociraptor is going to jump out any second” feeling:

Here you can see the roof of the long-deserted visitor center, roughly in the center of the Zoo:

Moving along, we found ourselves behind the island’s maintenance yard and face to face with more creepy abandonment:

Eventually, we ran out of canal and had to head back the way we came. One last neat surprise was waiting for us though, a rather large frog who just sat there and looked at us:

That being said, we loaded the canoe back on the Jeep and headed home!

Thanks for reading along and I hope you enjoyed the pictures of our wacky Belle Isle!

Belle Isle Snapshot

Fun Fact: That’s Canada!

Yesterday, my friend Mike and I went down to Belle Isle, an island park situated in the middle of the Detroit River, for a quick stroll.

The island, when under the care of the City of Detroit, had fallen into disrepair and neglect. Almost nobody went except hooligans and troublemakers (the author as a young man included).

The State of Michigan has subsequently taken over the park (in 2013, through a leasing deal with the City) and folded it into the State Park system. The State has, in my opinion, (and seemingly everyone else’s, as the island is now a hotbed for summer fun) turned the park into a jewel.

One of the most fun parts of the park is watching freighters go by, a Detroit pastime for as long as freighters have existed.

Another interesting tidbit I will point out is the river’s water level. It has risen noticeably over the last few years and the author cannot help but feel the rising water and rising enthusiasm in the city of Detroit are somehow connected.

To give you an idea of the difference in water levels, this tree would have been on land a decade ago. The water has eroded the soil around and its root system is exposed.

Sometime in the 1990s, the lake and river system near Detroit seemed to drain. It got so low, the freighter channels had to be dredged out constantly and there was much concern about environmental factors affecting our lakes.

These things are, of course, cyclical and the water has returned. How it all works, I’m not qualified to give an answer, but am happy to see it.

I took a few more pictures along the path on the way back:

That wraps up my little walk in the park!

As always, thanks for reading along! I will soon detail the painting of the spare bedroom, which currently houses my late, great Uncle’s train set and possibly the reconstruction of said train set.

Thanks again!

PS: As an aside, I have successfully launched my first e-commerce project, a set of vinyl decals celebrating a hilarious goose-baseball incident, please check it out!