Monday, August 14, 2017

Belle Isle Park, Detroit, Michigan

They aren't kidding when they say that Belle Isle is a shining green gem. Connected to Detroit via a picturesque bridge, Belle Isle is located in the Detroit River between Michigan, U.S. and Ontario, Canada (your phone may send you a "Welcome to Canada!" text) and is now a Michigan state park, which means that if you have the recreation pass on your license plate, you can get in for free (but if you don't, you pay at the entrance gate). And that isn't all that's free! I recently spent a day on Belle Isle with my husband, and probably the most expensive part of the day was spending the gas to drive out there. 


Dossin Great Lakes Museum
First, we headed to the Dossin Great Lakes Musem where admission is free. It's a quick museum with a number of interactive exhibits for kids (ever wanted to race a virtual speed boat?) and a focused history of Detroit and the immediate surrounding area. The lobby is the restored Gothic Room (life goals), the former smoking lounge of the cruise ship S.S. City of Detroit III. You will also find the bow anchor of the famous Edmund Fitzgerald. ("The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down of the big lake they call Gitche Gumee...")


Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory
Next, we walked over to the Conservatory. A small river runs between the Dossin and the Conservatory, and the water was filled with merry kayakers. More groups of day-trippers were enjoying the myriad of plants in the Conservatory's six distinctly themed rooms and the koi pond outside. There is also a large lawn/garden with a fountain that attracted many amateur photographers and selfie-takers. There was also an ice cream truck parked out front, so we got ice cream, the first bite of chocolate I've had in weeks (it was wonderful). Ok, I'm going to level with you. While the inside of the Conservatory was lovely and delightful, the outside lawn/garden smelled like cat pee. Not because there was actual cat pee, but because perennial salvia was in bloom, and perennial salvia smells like cat pee. (So do paperwhites.) Lots of great photo ops, though, as evidenced by the number of wedding goers posing all over the place.


Belle Isle Aquarium
The 113 year old Aquarium is right next to the Conservatory, on the way back to our car, so we hit up this next. It was by far the most crowded building of the day, probably because it is basically a long and skinny tunnel. This is definitely a kids' favorite spot! Having gone through once before, we went through pretty quickly rather than fight with children for better views.


Belle Isle Nature Center
A trip to the Nature Center on Belle Isle takes as long as you want it to. There are tanks with animals, a couple of chairs next to a window overlooking bird feeders where a hundred or more birds gather (plus bees for the nearby transparent hive), a kids playground (plus a larger one across the parking lot), and the outdoor deer encounter that happens three times daily. We ended up leaving before the deer feeding time in favor of the beach.


Public Beach
On the north side of Belle Isle is a strip of sand and a bath house, also known as a beach. The river water is calm here, and the views of Detroit are spectacular! Another ice cream truck was parked nearby along with a hot dog stand. If we weren't planning on dinner with friends later, I probably would have taken advantage of the hot dogs because they smelled delicious! No grilling is allowed on the beach, but people had set up little travel grills in the grass next to the sand, and picnics abounded.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Ohisashiburi! (It's been a while.)

I had started off this year ready to throw myself into my writing, then January 20th happened, and my focus shifted dramatically. Countless times I have sat down at my computer wanting to update this blog, and I just didn't know what to say. There are so many hashtags... Here's a summation: #resist

January 1st also marked my ascension to Book Inventory Manager, which has turned out to be a lot less fun than it had sounded when I accepted the position last fall, and that is a little weird because it didn't involve doing much more than I was already doing, I just got pulled into a lot of unnecessary drama that has taken a toll on my soul. I have spent many days this year in some very dark places... #bummer #dramallama

July of 2016 found me and my now-husband, then-fiance, Greg headed to Motor City Steam Con (you may have read about this on my bio page) as guest authors and panelists. We went again this year and fully intend to be involved next year! For me, it's a fantastic weekend of geeking out with fellow writers, making connections, and reinvigorating those writing juices. #alwaysbewriting

At the first MCSC, Greg and I made a fantastic friend with fellow steampunk writer P. R. Chase, who has a story in Valves & Vixens III. It turned out that he read my story "The Waiting Future" in V&V I, and was so inspired that he submitted to V&V III! Pretty cool, eh? And now he's a great friend and inspiration to me, so yeah, it's pretty fantastic really. #writingbuds

Since taking on editing responsibilities in addition to writing for the Crazy Wisdom Community Journal, and now with the added inspiration of this year's MCSC, I've decided to begin self-publishing. I have some great writers working on stories for an anthology I'd like to put together, and in order to get in practice with the whole self-publishing thing, I'm going to try with a collection of my own poetry. You might be thinking, "Isn't that expensive?" And the answer is, I really don't know the cost yet in terms of dollars and cents, but I already have a pretty good sense of the cost to my spirit by not doing it, and it's not a price I'm willing to continue paying. #dontdreamitbeit

So that's where we are. Some great ways to keep up with me are Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Links to all are found on the About Me tab up above. If you'd like to buy the complete collection of Valves & Vixens, here they all are. Aren't they lovely? #buymybooks


Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Plymouth Ice Festival 2017 (Ringing in the New Year)

Click the pictures to enlarge them.
This past weekend, January 6th through the 8th, was the Plymouth Ice Festival, which, since moving to southeast Michigan, I have frequented with my husband Greg. It seems a fitting way to ring in the new year, a time when winter has pretty firmly taken hold here in Michigan. 

We arrived a little late, so a lot of the shops were closed or closing, but my schedule has been busy, often working six days a week, over the few months, so I'm glad I was able to participate this year at all! Squeeze it in, as it were. 


I've always found ice (that isn't on the road or sidewalk) beautiful, and I love the creativity and skill put on display at the Ice Festival. And the festive atmosphere! There's music, toasted almonds, hot chocolate, activities for kids, a tower made of ice and filled with burning pallets... 

Plymouth is a cute, if Conservative, town with a downtown full of shops, restaurants, and a surprising number of candy shops. My favorite store is Earth Lore, on Wing St near the corner of Forest. Greg loves Espresso Elevado, a coffee shop right by Earth Lore. Sadly, we missed both this year. 

The next winter event for us is Zehnder's Snowfest in Frankenmuth, MI lasting from January 25th to the 30th. If you have not been to Frankenmuth, it's a trip. (Read about my first visit here.) And the sculptures carved out of snow at the festival are truly impressive! (Read about when we went in 2015 here.) 

I'm hoping to go this year with friends who have not been, which is always fun. I love sharing quirky things with people. I do hope there will be more snow than there is now. It would be sad to have a Snowfest with no snow, and if it's so warm that the snow melts as it is being carved, that is even more disappointing. So here's to colder weather! Which is not something I say often.