… *well, new for me – it has been in existence for 25 years!
The experience of discovering a new nearby park reminded me of my first trip to my favorite nature nook, Council Point Park. In May 2013, my radio station had been touting the week-long festivities commemorating the 250th anniversary of Chief Pontiac’s council, a big event in this neck of the woods way back on April 27, 1763. I was curious, but first, I had to Google exactly where this place was. Our City has 19 parks, some bigger than others. Imagine my surprise that it was just a mile away, with a residential district on one side, and the Ecorse Creek, with its treasure trove of waterfowl, turtles, frogs and fish on the other side. It had been in existence since 1994! I always said it was serendipity which led me to this little gem.
Now, as to my latest discovery, I’d say that I need stronger eyeglasses, but truthfully, I’ve passed by the AREA many times and just thought it was a golf course. I didn’t realize the golf course, known as Wyandotte Shores, was actually part of 85 acres of land that was donated by BASF Corporation, (a local chemical company), and this entire recreational area was built on recovered land that was once chemically toxic. Before I visited BASF Waterfront Park, I learned that in its heyday, this site was once used for shipbuilding, steelmaking and other heavy industrial uses. The process of decontaminating the highly toxic soil was coordinated by the City of Wyandotte, BASF and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
This discovery of BASF Waterfront Park, was quite by accident. Last week I was Googling around to see how long the boardwalk was at Bishop Park for an upcoming post, and, while I could not find that information, there was mention made of BASF Waterfront Park. (Hmm – where was that park I wondered?)
Just a few mouse clicks later and I had my information. This park is just 0.8 of a mile away from Bishop Park where I go all the time. “No way!” was my first, rather defiant, response. “I’ve passed that way lots of times and never saw a park!” So I mapped it out, to travel by foot, finding it really was a stone’s throw away from Bishop Park.
Must. See. This. Place.
So, my Saturday morning agenda was complete and I hoped I would gain five miles toward my steps tally before returning home.
I bopped over to Council Point Park to feed the critters and walked a mile there, then down to Dingell Park to look for eagles. I was a woman on the move!
Next, I drove 2½ miles to Bishop Park. It was still chilly, but an absolutely gorgeous and sunny morning. The sun beamed down on the water making it sparkle and people were strolling on the boardwalk, drinking coffee and gazing at the boaters who were whizzing by. Seagulls, caught up in the increased human activity along the boardwalk, alternately screeched and swooped precariously close to strollers’ heads and perched on the railings, hoping to garner a bite of breakfast, as if to say “how ‘bout a hunk of donut for this hungry shore bird?” Nobody obliged them unfortunately, so the incessant screeching and swooping continued.
I took some pictures, then wended my way along the business district on Biddle Avenue.
Unbelievably, I was there in about 10 minutes …
I didn’t know how to gain access to the riverfront right away, and was in no hurry anyway, so I just meandered down the first concrete pathway I saw. This pathway took me into a memorial garden. Unlike most parks where people honor their loved ones by purchasing a tree and accompanying memorial plaque, these memorials were identical black vertical poles with a small black square with the deceased’s name and birth/death dates or a heartfelt message.
Some markers were near trees which had been festooned with items such as rustic-looking metal angels, wooden hearts, recent holiday décor and some had left a rosary or memento, even their loved one’s picture.
It was a memorable walk through this little garden area.
There are sculptures in the park – this bronze artwork is one of them and is entitled “Looking Forward” by artist John Pappas and was donated as a sesquicentennial gift to the City in 2000. I decided to take a photo of just a portion of the statue in the foreground in order to highlight the golden, as-yet-unfurled leaves of the willow tree in the background.
Next, I continued walking toward the riverfront. There are walkways that run parallel to the Detroit River, but it is not a river walk per se. There is a rocky shoreline and there are multiple overlooks which jut out over the Detroit River. You can stand there and view the entire shoreline all the way to downtown Detroit – that was easy to do since it was such a clear day.
Despite the sun, some snow remained …
… but a little snow along the shoreline did not deter the fisherman out for their catch of the day.
Geese and seagulls filled the skies … along with a contrail.
I meandered a little longer and saw the golf course …
… as well as checking out the Wyandotte Boat Club, closed down for the season, but where I have since learned that the regattas for the local rowing clubs take place in late April and May.
The riverfront looked a little more exciting than the parks which are drab and not that scenic these days. With the exception of the beautiful old willows in Elizabeth Park, and here at BASF Waterfront Park, the ochre-colored grass and lack of colorful wildflowers or berries make for a blah background. I’ll return to all the large parks in another month or so when everything has awakened.
I started making my way back to the car, but the brilliant sun and blue sky just made it difficult to think of returning home. So, I figured I’d wander around downtown Wyandotte and enjoy the bustling business district a bit.
With the camera in tow, I felt a little touristy …
Downtown Wyandotte has always been a hopping place. Some restaurants, clothing stores and art galleries have been mainstays for years, while many bistros, coffee shops, eateries and boutique businesses have come and gone. One of my favorite events is the annual Street Art Fair and Sidewalk Sale every July, though it has been over a decade since I’ve attended it.
There is a fun and artsy-fartsy flair to Wyandotte, like the 36-foot cedar, hand-carved totem pole donated to the City by Wyandotte Savings Bank when that bank celebrated its 100th anniversary; in the second photo you can see the original bank.
Then there’s the huge Merrill Lynch trademark logo bull. This 650-pound statue was created by artist, Keith Coleman in 2005. It sits on the corner of Biddle Avenue and Oak Streets. Its weathered rust finish has been created by salvaged water heater cores.
I took a few more street shots (all the while feeling like fellow blogger Yvette who fills her posts with street photography).
What stopped me in my tracks was looking across bustling Biddle Avenue and seeing what looked like igloos (or miniaturized Expo ‘67 spheres). I took a long-distance shot …
… then, because I was curious, (just like the proverbial cat), I crossed the street to Bobcat Bonnie’s restaurant to investigate. Well, this was my first time to see what I learned was “igloo dining” which is an experience where up to 10 guests can dine in a heated, decorated dome. There were comfy wool blankets and knitted afghans on the seats and with the sun beaming down, I am guessing the experience would be almost like a hothouse in Wintertime – how fun!
Wyandotte is kinda kitschy too.
A few shop windows along the way made me stop for some shots …
Even McDonald’s has some sculpture …
And what about this door handle, or the Flowering Kale still thriving in the planter’s box?
Just before I turned off Biddle Avenue, I passed a bar known as Whiskeys on the River – this old-time car has been parked alongside the bar for years (not sure if it’s been since 1929 though).
Many hours had passed while I was walking and enjoying four parks and the heart of Wyandotte. By the time I got home, I’d put almost six miles on my feet and collected about 300 photo images in the camera.