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!

A Brief Explanation & Road Trip Wrap Up

 

 

 

I know it’s been over a week with no updates and a sudden stop to the story of my road trip up north. I apologize for this as I’m sure some of you were genuinely interested in my weird travels and writings. None of this is without reason. Last Sunday (the 24th), my two Dominique hens killed Amelia, the red and grey jungle fowl hybrid. It was simply awful and I have had a hard time looking at the photos from the trip, especially the section yet to be covered, as many of them feature her.

Adding to my frustrations is the heat wave we are currently experiencing in Southeast Michigan, with temperatures tickling 100 degrees F (depending on who and when you ask, it may well be OVER 100) and my air conditioning deciding to quit, because of course. Luckily, with the help of a friend, we were able to diagnose the problems (a faulty electric motor, which then blew a fuse) and order the needed part. It doesn’t arrive until Tuesday, but having something to look forward to and the fun (my friend who helped, Jan, is from Poland and always has something interesting to say) of screwing around with the thing has taken a lot of the sting (as I write this, it’s 88 degrees IN MY HOUSE) out of the situation.

I have also been knee-deep in my first foray into e-commerce, a sports novelty decal I am becoming increasingly unsure will ever see the light of day.

Anyhow, thanks for sticking around and (barring any further disasters!) I will resume bringing you regular, interesting content.

And now for the thrilling conclusion of the Road Trip Saga. I was planning on breaking this up into two posts but let’s just get it over with so we can all move on with our lives. THIS IS GOING TO BE A LONG ONE.

Since it’s been so long, I’ll place the recap links here instead of at the bottom:

One last note: I am STILL fiddling with formats and writing style, thanks for putting up with the nonstop assault on your eyeballs!

Saturday Afternoon

Embarking from the Knotty Pine, we drove south, toward and sort of around Escanaba, ending up in Hannahville, an Indian reservation with a rather large casino, the Island Resort and Casino.

It was raining off and on when we arrived and the pow wow, originally scheduled to be held outdoors, had been moved into the high school, deeper within the reservation. I admittedly didn’t grab the greatest pictures of all this, as I was doing my best to:

A. Be respectful (I’m not a big fan of taking shots of people’s faces without their permission and am unsure of pow wow etiquette)

B. Take in the sights myself

The pow wow mainly consisted of various categories of dance and dance competitions, accompanied by authentic singing/chanting/drumming provided by the Northern Cree Singers, a tribal group from Canada. I haven’t the foggiest clue what they sing about, but they have a great passion and talent for it. From what I understand, the drumming and singing not only go with the dancing, but, in fact, dictate it, providing the dancers with cues and instructions via the melody and rhythms of the song.

There was delicious food served in the cafeteria and I chose what is known as an Indian Taco:

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The Indian Taco: A combination of standard taco ingredients served atop a piece of frybread.

 

After some time (an hour or so, I don’t know), it was announced the weather had cleared and the pow wow would reconvene outside, at the traditional pow wow grounds/camp site.

While the pow wow was migrating, we took the opportunity to tour the Potawatomi Heritage Center, a turtle-shaped (if you were to look at it from above) museum which relates the history of both the Potawatomi peoples and Hannahville. Also housed within this turtle is a truly weird and wonderful exhibit which showcases Michigan copper and presents alternative history hypotheses, none of which I can remember, but I can assure you they range from the reasonable to “Um, okay?”

Unfortunately, I was unable to grab any pictures while inside. I did, however, partake of (read: stuffed face at) a lunch buffet, which had been kindly laid out as part of an open house by the Heritage Center staff, coinciding with the pow wow, which nobody bothered to show up for! How rude! I had to sit there and eat free cheese, crackers, cold cuts and pineapple all by myself! The horror of it all. I made such a huge sandwich I got the meat sweats and had to sit down for a half hour while my friends were……you know what, I don’t know what they were doing. I think they were being given a way beyond normal hands-on tour and meeting the director of the Center/tribe, but I was off somewhere in meat land.

After this excursion into the unknown reaches of lunch meat, I was scooped up, poured into the car and driven over to the outdoor pow wow grounds.

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Here, the same things which were going on in the school gym went on………….outside! There was a pass-in-review of sorts, a salute to the armed forces and LOTS of dancing. Some of these people (unsurprisingly, they were the same dancers who walked away with top honors) danced for an hour STRAIGHT. It was amazing to see. Also impressive was the level of detail and craftsmanship shown in the performer’s regalia (costumes or outfits).

Once again, I didn’t get the greatest shots here, looking to protect people’s privacy and not be a jackass.

I also sampled more frybread. Frybread is interesting in and of itself, given it’s history, so I’ll cover it briefly. Frybread is a traditional food at pow wows, festivals and even in native people’s homes. Frybread originated in the mid-19th century, when the Navajo and other peoples were moved onto reservations. The tribes were given flour, sugar, salt and lard as rations and frybread was what they could come up with to nourish themselves, both on the journey to, and upon arrival at, the reservations. I will delve no further into the sociopolitical implications of frybread.

After the pow wow wound down, we set up camp for the night. I did not take any pictures of our tent or campsite, as I didn’t even think of it because we were having too much fun entertaining our neighbors with our weird jungle fowl and listening to an elder’s tales and opinions on a wide array of topics.

Sunday

Continue reading “A Brief Explanation & Road Trip Wrap Up”

Saturday Morning

The interior of the cabin in daylight

I was honestly surprised to be awake at 8:00 AM and yet, there I was, staring at the ceiling of the cabin. I laid there for what seemed like an eternity (it was really about two hours), processing everything that had gone on the day before.

Another view of the interior of the cabin. I slept in (on?) the top bunk

The top bunk and yes, it was exactly as comfy as it appears!

Slowly, my companions awoke, grumbling. They had elected to stay up much later than I, as they had not been up and driving all over the state since 4:30 the previous morning. We lay in our respective beds, saying things (mostly unintelligible nonsense), for a spell.

It was a rainy morning

Eventually, the hunger came for us. The need for coffee grabbed a hold of me something fierce, as well. I require it, you see.

Raiding the kitchen pantry, we came up with the requisite materials: rolled oats, mixed fruit (you know, the snack pack sort in the little plastic tub) and COFFEE. The oats with fruit went well enough on the gas stove but the coffee was a little tricky, as none of us had used a stove top percolator before. Unafraid of making a fool of myself, I ventured to use the strange device to make the needed beverage. Other than making the mistake of attempting to boil the water in a tea kettle rather than the percolator, I’d say I made a fine pot.

Now fed and energized, we only had to await the waking of our host to continue our adventure. Around noon, he ambled over to invite us to his cabin (it has ELECTRICITY!) for conversation and more COFFEE. Eventually, it was time to hit the road once again.

Inside the Jeep, moments before departure

Once again, we piled into the Jeep and traversed the dirt (mud) road. Rob wasn’t kidding at all when he told us the sedans wouldn’t have made the trip. In the night, we could FEEL some bumps here and there, but to SEE the craters, potholes and lakes with water up to and over the Jeep’s axles was something else entirely. Four wheel drive and ground clearance were absolutely necessary.

I did my best to document these road hazards and the relaxing forest scenery:

You can KIND OF see a road lake here, center-left of the windshield, it looks like a white spot

Another road lake

Yeah, those didn’t turn out the way I thought they would at all. Hopefully they’re enjoyable anyway!

The Bridge:

Along the trail, you must cross this neat little gated bridge. I didn’t get a very good look at it the night before, in the dark and all, but had an inkling it was interesting. I especially enjoyed how the only railing or safety device is some posts laid down and nailed to the top.

Completing another entertaining trounce through the woods, we returned to the Knotty Pine, found our birds in good condition, loaded up and headed to the pow wow. I will tell tales of the pow wow experience in a subsequent post or posts!

Thanks again for reading along and don’t forget to check out the other entries in the (seemingly never-ending) saga of my wacky road trip (in order from first to latest):

Note: I didn’t realize how many posts I’d made about the trip and how much actual content there is, it must have been this big thing and I haven’t realized it yet! Wow!

Onward & Upward!

A nice view of Lake Superior from the car

After stuffing face at Clyde’s, we jumped in the car for ANOTHER lengthy drive (this is still Friday afternoon, mind you!), this time to Marquette, which is on the northern coast of the Upper Peninsula. Once again, the photos aren’t fabulous, but like whatever, man, I was in the car all day. I need to get a photo editor.

ANYHOW. Here are some scenes from the drive:

I THINK this is Hiawatha National Forest

I’m not sure the year, make, or model, I just thought she looked great

You can just see the lake wayyyyy down the road in the center

We stopped along the way to have a look at Lake Superior and do some beach combing, turning up a few nice items. I THINK this was Au Train Beach.

An assortment of neat shells and a vertebrae!

Moving on from the beach, we landed in Marquette, which, unfortunately, I do not have any good pictures of. It is, however, a neat town which reminds me of Grand Rapids. We did not spend much time in town, other than to collect our friend, Ethan, gas up and grab a bite to eat.

I did manage to grab ONE blurry picture of an incredible sunset:

Next stop was the Knotty Pine, which is located either in Arnold or Felch Michigan, depending on who you ask.

This photo of the Knotty Pine was, admittedly, taken the next day, as it was dark out when we arrived Friday night

There, we met up with another friend, Rob, who was kind enough to let three madmen crash in his cabin for the night. After climbing in his Jeep (he assured us the sedans we showed up in would NOT be capable of making the drive and was absolutely correct), making sure our birds were safe and secure at the Knotty Pine and about a half hour journey up a treacherous road, we arrived. I went to bed as soon as possible. After 15 or 16 hours on the road, touring museums and sightseeing, I had HAD IT.

Around midnight: FINALLY to bed!

Thus ended Friday.

As always, thanks for reading along, stay tuned for more entries in the road trip saga and be sure to have a look at the other posts in this series:

St Ignace: Just Over the Bridge!

A typical UP souvenir shop in St. Ignace.

Note: I am writing this on Monday after I returned home, due to lack of Internet and wireless service during my time in the Upper Peninsula. Also, I have received reports of funny things going on with the previous posts, due to the same issues, and will fix these as I spot them and am able! More posts chronicling the trip will be up during the week as I write them!

Another note: I am experimenting with different formats to make the blog as pleasant to read as possible, please bear with me as they may not always be consistent!

After crossing the Mackinac Bridge into the UP, we stopped in St. Ignace, the first town you land in at the northern foot of the bridge.

The mission at St. Ignace was founded in 1671 by Father Marquette, the famous Jesuit missionary and named after St. Ignatius of Loyola. It is a small, charming town situated on a funny peninsula which places Lake Michigan on it’s west bank and Lake Huron on the east.

I will share with you (not great in my opinion, but cut me some slack, I was driving all day!) photos and details of St. Ignace, including the Museum of Ojibwa Culture and one of the best burgers I’ve ever had!

Assorted Pictures

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I thought this sandy tree growth thing looked cool, it’s near the foot of the Mackinac Bridge.

A nice view of what I presume is Lake Huron

A random shot in town which clips off half of an interesting, vintage souvenir shop sign

Museum of Ojibwa Culture and Grave of Father Marquette

Our first stop in town was the Museum of Ojibwa Culture (link to their official website). This museum, housed in the former St. Ignace Mission, chronicles the history of the Ojibwa native culture in the Midwest and Canada. I did not take any pictures inside.

Exterior of the Ojibwa museum

On the site is a traditional birch bark hut:

Exterior of the hut, showing the entrance, which faces East per local custom

Close up of the main entrance

An interior shot, showing the traditional framing and log seating

Honestly, I just thought the roof looked cool

Also on the site is the grave of Father Marquette, the renowned Jesuit missionary previously mentioned. For further reading on Father Marquette, please visit this link to a Wikipedia article. The following photos of the site are presented without captions, as they are self-explanatory.

Fort de Buade Museum

Next stop was the Fort de Buade Museum (link to tripadvisor), in which I was able to grab a few photos inside.

This was a neat game

French and Native words for each animal

I was unable to guess any of the furs

I thought the trading post, in particular that red and black blanket coat, was neat

I thought this US Navy beadwork sash (maybe it’s a belt?) was interesting

Lunch @ Clyde’s

After the museum tours, it was time for lunch. John insisted we stop at Clyde’s (link is to tripadvisor, Clyde’s doesn’t seem to have an official website), an old-fashioned, cash-only diner and drive in (!) on the outskirts of town. I was not disappointed in any way and in fact should have ordered MORE food if anything.

The excellent and diverse menu, which might be hard to read

A giant, delicious cup of coffee

The jalapeño burger, which, yes, is served on that piece of paper

There are no plates at Clyde’s and frankly, you don’t need them

After lunch, we jumped in the car and headed to Marquette to meet up with another friend. I will most likely write of this drive (yes, there was MORE driving this day!) tomorrow.

Thanks again for reading along and be sure to check out the other posts in this series: