Friday, July 10, 2009

More summer of Detroit

We’d talked about going out of town for the 4th of July, but it just didn’t seem realistic after I’d been gone three out of four weekends in June, and we’d both been gone the weekend before, boarding the dog at the vet to head out to Minnesota for my aunt’s wedding. I was drained from all of the traveling, and we felt like it was unfair to leave the dog with the vet again, even though he seems to have a great time and is never sad to head back. In light of all of this, instead of heading out of town we headed into town.

We actually started our day in St. Clair Shores, which is distinctly not Detroit. It is a distant suburb on the eastern edge of the state that has a lovely shoreline. We brought out our bikes, and followed our guidebook on a bike ride through “the Pointes” – the 5 Grosse Pointe suburbs of Detroit – to the edge of Detroit and back again. It was eye opening. We worked our way through the neighborhoods, admiring the beautiful homes and wondering at the landscaping. When we hit Detroit, the contrast was stark. We went from ritzy shopping and restaurants to slightly more artsy and eclectic shopping and restaurants, still with lots of traffic, both on foot, bicycle, and in car, to abandoned buildings, industrial looking complexes, and silence. I’m still not sure I understand how that happens – clearly the people who patronize those businesses on the edge of Grosse Pointe could also support businesses on the edge of Detroit that is less than 50 yards away. And yet it clearly isn’t happening? Is it zoning? Is it habit?

After that puzzling loop, we headed back up through Grosse Pointe, this time along the waterfront, which was beautiful. (And again, no less beautiful than the waterfront on the Detroit part, but apparently somehow different.) The roads were beautifully maintained and apart from the somewhat frequent stoplights, we thoroughly enjoyed our ride. Returning to St. Clair Shores, we were hungry! The bike book recommended Steve’s Back Room for Middle Eastern food, and it did not disappoint. Two delicious sandwiches later we were ready to keep going.

From there we headed to the New Center area near the Fisher Building for Cityfest. There was live music, tons of food, and vendors set up along the streets. We enjoyed the people watching and also browsed at the various booths. I also found CityKnits, the knit shop located inside the Fisher Building, which is a beautiful shop. I knew it existed (having received gifts that had been purchased there), but hadn’t been in. They were friendly and had a great selection. Had I not been budgeting as well, I definitely would have picked up a souvenir. (There was also a yarn shop near the Detroit edge of Grosse Pointe that I’d like to go back to on a day that isn’t a national holiday…) We walked around a bit more, and then sat down to watch a team performing their amazing bike/in-line skate/skateboard tricks.

With high hopes that Detroit will become a hotbed of cycling activity, we headed home for the day. We had a great ride, and are determined to find more ride routes that are actually in Detroit!

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