Sunday, July 27, 2008

Made it to Detroit safe and sound, with an uneventful drive.

In short, Detroit is a crumbling city. I have visions of mountain bike trails that dart and weave through the rooms of the old mansions along certain streets, with ladders up and down, in and out of windows and doors and through decaying verandas and overgrown swimming pools. The trail would wind through the stands of trees that are taking over the lots and we wouldn't have log overs - the fallen pillars would suffice. I will have to recruit someone with a chain saw to go and do this with me.

I have been staying at Molly's house. Molly is an urban farmer here, and she works keeping bees and watering things. She is also an excellent and creative cook.

Molly is subleasing from someone and we are moving into our own place tomorrow. Which is good. One of her roommates is so sketchy that I am keeping my narcotics and bikes locked up. She locks her laptop to her desk when she leaves. I wonder if I should do the same. Wham bam! We are gone ASAP! We have a three bedroom second story (which means I have to haul my bikes up and down, but it is safer.)

My impressions of Detroit are not finalized yet - I'm still getting used to being the the middle of a large city that has the population of a small town. I'm getting used to the trash and the burnt out, crumbled down houses. I'm thankful that there are no real shops here so I am not constantly assaulted by advertising. I will probably never get used to how dark the streets are at night because the city doesn't have money to light some of them. (and believe it or not I'm in a nice neighborhood, too!)

I'm also trying really hard to put faith in the city. I am realizing that you have to trust the city in order to feel comfortable with it and I'm not sure if I'm there yet. In Milwaukee I never locked my doors on my car, a joking protest to having my window smashed. In the same breath we'd leave the doors unlocked in the summer to let the breeze in and run in and out up and down the street. (not here! We don't even open the first story windows). I'm not sure if it's the culture that has been here since the sixties and everyone was fleeing the city or if it's necessary but everyone here is neurotic about locking things up. Cars all have "the club". I have to go through three locked doors to even get to the bedroom I'm staying in.

The city is not nearly as alive as Milwaukee was and I'm going to tell that it is one of the biggest things I'm going to miss. You can't just sit on your porch and watch people walk by. Also, since the majority of the population lives in suburban sprawl there are no little bright communities, like Brady street, or downer ave, where all the shops and houses are tucked neatly into one central place and people buzz like bees around it. We have beehives here, the real thing, though, to replace it and it has it's own lovely social life of its own.

I rode the stonybrook metro park trails today, doing the time trial race course they had set up, until lost it because they had taken the flags down. It was like the "Best of stonybrook's trails edition", encompassing single and double track, skiing roads, three creek crossings, and a little pavement here and there. People have put some NEAT features in, like a U shaped bridge with a very narrow plank connecting it that you can ride over, or if you don't want to do that you can drop into this mud pit and ride a bit and head back up onto the ladder, could just ride the ladder. Also, there was a funky rock garden to ride over. There were also some interesting switchbacks like the ones that freaked me out at Levis, except not as intense. I didn't walk much, until my knees starting bothering me on some of the climbs. The trails, for the most part are fast and packed and I was able to get a good rhythm going. I like that I'm able to ride things blind and stay sort of speedy. I am a lot more comfortable with foreign obstacles and don't hit the panic brakes, I just sit up or sit back and let the wheels roll. Not a single log over stopped me today. Victory!

PS: This is the U thingie with the rideable cross beam. Narrow but I've seen it done! You can't see the little ramp out of the mud pit. This and other pictures of Stonybrook found at