GAS GUY 2021 - (Rushing to Freeze Time)

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by GAS GUY, Apr 7, 2021.

  1. GAS GUY

    GAS GUY MILE EATER

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2007
    Oddometer:
    7,455
    Location:
    Garden City, Michigan
    Rendezvous with the Rain
    Saturday 24 April 2021

    My nemesis! Dark and dreary days. Pissing rain incessantly. Gloomy days generally defeat me. They too often break my spirit. I'm sick of it. Tried to get an early start. Almost said screw it. Finally I mustered enough motivation to load up a few things into the panniers and take the GSA out for a shakedown ride. The ride is always worthwhile once underway (and sometimes even better) ... I know this ... but it's so hard for me to get started when I know that magical fireball in the sky will not be making an appearance.

    No music today. It's been a tough winter on me; they all are. Need to clear my head and find my center. Smell the fresh, cool, humid air. Take deep breaths. Watch the raindrops ball up and dance across my visor.

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    Barton Park (just past Barton Pond): Stopped into the park because I spotted a plastic portable john. As I was getting back on my bike, the river caught my eye. Better go explore this nook before departing. Cool view. But then a trail showed itself. I'd follow it under a couple of bridges to Barton Pond Dam. Wow! Never even knew all this was here. Flew by it a hundred times. Change the pace and new rewards are bestowed upon thee.

    This dam is responsible for creating Barton Pond which in turn is responsible for providing most of the cities (Ann Arbor) drinking water.

    This photogenic, green-energy producing landmark was completed in 1913. The roof is composed of bright, green, ceramic tiles.

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    Standing on the damn while looking down river and towards Huron River Drive and away from Barton Pond:

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    Detail of intricate brick and glass work:

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    Mud Lake Picnic Area has been blocked off. I'm pissed about that. We keep loosing special places that we need to unwind. Brewed up a cup of coffee in the new "Go" and ate my lunch in the approach. Guess that will be my break spot now; the big rock with the somewhat flat top does make a nice seat. Did ride around the rocks to have some fun with the GSA but don't want to get caught hanging out in there by the authorities as I've received a ticket in this general area years ago.

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    This day would present an opportunity for the first usage of the new Aeropress “GO” after recently incorporating it into my kit. What's not to like: Same great performance in a more compact kit. You can nest some filters along with the scooper inside the hollow body of the plunger and the whole press nests inside the included cup! Won’t have to necessarily haul my old stainless steel hobo cup around anymore. Although, being a sentimental guy … it will be missed. That damn cup has been all over the country with me.

    Followed a finger of land down to a marshy area and into a stand of cedars (arbor vitae's, I believe) to utilize natures lavatory. Nearby was a dead raccoon. He was wedged into the crook of a cedar tree at my eye level. Odd. His stench covered up mine.

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    Didn't see another bike on the road today. Other than a gaggle of adventure bikes riding past me on a gravel road as I was brewing a coffee.

    First time I've run a TKC80 on a GSA. Just the front for now. It's an exceptionally low mileage take-off from Kenny's bike, as he went to a smooth road-oriented Dunlop. Now that he has a KTM 790 and 250 he has relegated his GSA primarily to road service. I'm really liking the front TKC80. It seems to feel smoother at Interstate speeds as compared to the Shinko 804. Better grip in the dirt and gravel as well.
    I'm still running the Mita's E07 on the rear; it won't wear out.

    Over the winter I had to sort out my front steering stabilizer. The clamp on the fork leg had not enough tension and would slightly rock and shift in position on the higher resistance settings. I'd realized this last fall in Manistee National Forest when it was emitting a creaking sound while steering hard after I'd cranked up the adjustable dial in an effort to mitigate some of the front wheel oscillations in the dreaded sand. A bit of deft file work on the ears of one side of the aluminum clamp and reassembly had the apparatus locked down tight.

    Also had to raise the toolbox and tighten up my rear spring preload and compression. Was using all of the 8.7" of rear travel (as at times this GSA gets worked hard while fully loaded) and the bleeder valve on the rear caliper surprisingly kissed the bottom of the toolbox at some point last fall. The bleeder nipple dented the bottom of the aluminum tool box before breaking off; it didn't loosen or leak though. Eventually I will replace it, but I don't anticipate having to bleed the rear brakes any time soon.

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    Contrasts
    Split between a lush, green, hilly meadow and the yellow, harvested, stubble of a corn field - a cluster of trees forms an arbor over a wet, dirt road. Pay attention to the details. Don't ride past life in oblivion. In pursuit of the art of vision.

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    Gazing out across the vast bird sanctuary while standing at the observation point, the guy in the truck who walked out just before me with binoculars in hand came up to me and inquired about the bike. I'm not great with names upon initial greetings, but am almost certain his was Nathan.

    He seemed different (in a good-natured way) and asked about the bike initially … but then inquired as to what I'm about; what I'm doing, where I'm from. It happened to be one of those days where the chemistry was right and by this point of the ride I was at peace and clear-minded. We were standing at the edge of a vast, grassy bird sanctuary - in a light drizzle - while the cacophony of ancient sandhill cranes echoed behind our position. This brought about a magical flow of conversation.

    He’d recently been living out in Montana, then moved back to Michigan (Farmington Hills or Birmingham) and mentioned something about architecture school. Then he sorrowfully informed me that he’d recently gone through a divorce. They have a young daughter and his ex-wife is doing her best to make things difficult for him and deviously trying to limit the time he gets to spend with his daughter.

    He mentioned recently getting into riding and that he had a pair of Honda XR600's. He expressed a desire to get deeper into travel and adventure and was wanting to know more about this lone, older, guy in the faded suit - riding a GSA with panniers plastered with stickers - who was out riding dirt roads on a gloomy, rainy Saturday afternoon.

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    So, I opened up and started sharing all kinds of information about what makes me tick. My background, who I am, what I do, the path that led to me doing what I do, various experiences, juggling family, work, and moto-travel, long-distance riding, my psychology, and so on. Essentially, I rattled off an overview or quick summary of the life and times of Gas Guy.

    He was fascinated with my story and assured me that he was also inspired. Now, I reassure you that I don't preach or try to persuade or feel the need to be right about anything. For me, it's simply expressing and sharing who I am and some of my experiences. To each his own. I'm open-minded and understand that my ways are subjective. They are mine. I know I’m different … I hear it most everyday. I've no affiliations and simply go to work everyday providing a skilled service for an hourly wage. Nothing changes for me in that regard. That allows me to be myself as much as humanly possible in today's world. I sleep well. Nathan recognized and appreciated that fact. I'm of the mind that there is no answer. Mankind has always been - and always will be - in chaos. Finally ... I accept that. Not that I condone it, or celebrate it - but it's beyond my control. I'm accountable for me.

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    He seemed incredulous that I'd just take off on a bike and explore the country in various capacities over the last couple of decades and was trying to grasp or formulate what that would entail; the wheels were turning! I made it clear that the only way I'd experienced the majority of my adventures was by neglecting other aspects of life. Everything comes at a cost. Everything is a trade-off. You have to choose. You have to find the right balance that works for who you are and your circumstances. And your choices are not necessarily right. They are just yours. You live with them. You have to live with yourself.

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    This led into a quick summary of my younger years: Solid family life early on in rural Ohio in which I'd be showered with love from an incredibly special mother and grandmother. A unique father who was wild but sober until 30-years-old. Then drugs, alcohol, and violence ensued - breaking up the family. My father and I ended up on the road between Toledo, Detroit Metro, Western Michigan, and Greater Los Angeles. Lots of hard times, hunger, and homelessness. Staying here and there; other peoples houses, cheap cockroach motels, running cars, abandoned cars, parks. I'd only go to 9th-grade. Prior to this I’d known my mom’s side of the family had been blessed with artistic talent. But now it was becoming increasingly clear that my father was also an artist - a con artist!

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    Then on my 17th birthday I’d join the Army Infantry. Mind you - I chose the infantry, even though I had the aptitude (as proven by my ASVAB scores) to pursue anything available; oh my … the look of horror and disbelief when I made the non-negotiable statement to the recruiter that I’d be a combat soldier or nothing. He was incredulous! Did two hardship tours on the DMZ in Korea during the Cold War and the remainder of my active duty in the States. Out after 3-years and just turned twenty. Back bumming around with my father. Years of cement work followed. The old fashioned way - with a sledge hammer, pry-bar, shovels, and wheel barrows. Only equipment we had was a dump truck. Everything was done by hand. We even hand finished every inch of flat work on knee-boards. How I became tired of starving in the winter and then pursued wrenching on automobiles so I'd have consistent work year round. How I believe in technology and progress - but only to a point. It's my belief that we've exceeded that point ... to our own future detriment.

    We touched on Carl Jung, the shadow, introspection, repressed emotions and how I've a bottomless pit of them due to experiencing so much instability, violence and loss while not yet sophisticated enough to deal with it and the horrific insecurities it had imparted in my psyche that I struggle with to this day. Then the Anima and Animus, ego, and associated deep psychology stuff. He was familiar and interested. How my mind never stops spinning. How I'm restless and have a weird relationship with time; how it feels as if it's slipping away at an accelerated pace; I've felt this most of my life.

    How I'd narrowly escaped death a couple of times in Korea; once when I punched out a double-pained glass window in the barracks, cutting an artery and leaving the room looking like a mass murder took place. After a pressure dressing was applied, a helicopter ride from the DMZ to Seoul was the next order-of-business - in the middle of the night. As I sat defiantly while the doctor cleaned the gaping wound of glass after sewing up the artery, he was in disbelief that I'd never lost consciousness after loosing so much blood. He said I was lucky to be alive.

    Then the night I overdosed in a primitive, third-world-like, mountain village at the tail end of a binge involving ample amounts of drugs and alcohol and not a lick of sleep or food for days-on-end. Felt everything going wrong (the world closing in ... fast) and managed to just get into a room and lock the door behind me before a 12-hour fight for my life ensued.

    Just to be clear, when on duty, I over performed and my leaders loved me, but when off-duty - I couldn't flip the switch into "chill-mode" and was often a maniac. During my first tour in country I'd quickly climb in rank from E-1 to E-4 and was ready to go in front of the board for E5 before plummeting back to an E1 due to my off-duty antics. Regardless of the demotion - I'd still lead the live, night, recon patrols into the DMZ over our E-6 squad leader due to my extensive knowledge of the terrain and the locations of the scattered land mine fields remaining from the Korean War. Despite my personal issues, they had the utmost faith in me when out in the field.

    How I was raised close to nature and animals … with a natural mindset. How nature comes first in seeking answers and understanding - while intellectualism and science are secondary. Nature doesn't lie.

    How I don't think humans are supposed to be inundated with the treachery of the whole world via the television, radio, and newspapers; it causes us to become neurotic at some level. We were designed to concern ourselves with our small circle; our family, friends, and neighbors.

    How science cannot begin to explain our feelings and motivations or humanity. The most important things that move a man cannot begin to be explained by science. How everything of the man's mind is paradoxical, hypocritical, or contradicting ... to some extent or another.

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    How I'm spiritual rather than religious. Although I'm not opposed to religion; I believe it holds an important place for a particular portion of society and that they are better for it. But it's too traditional for me. I believe in God, but believe all of nature and the universe combined are God; the dark and the light. I don't think man has any kind of absolute grasp on religion. We don't know whether to take it literally or metaphorically. Or when one or the other is applicable. Hell ... we don't even (really) know ourselves; we’ve barely scratched the surface. I don't trust man's interpretations or traditions. The trust of my soul will be placed with how the universe moves me intuitionally (in spiritual matters) as an individual and not what man has dictated over time to the masses.

    How I often lose faith in humanity, but then I meet someone special and it's restored ... temporarily.

    How everyday is a struggle. Life has always been easy for me physically and mentally, but challenging emotionally. We all have some form of struggle. We are all trying to navigate this broken world. How I never stop battling to glean lessons and build strength from unfortunate events. Life is supposed to be hard.

    How (I think) we think we choose all of our actions and are in control all the time, but how I believe this is limited. We often have it backwards. For the most part we are who we are, we do what we do. Then we rationalize it ... after the fact, or perhaps simultaneously; on the fly. We justify it and don't even realize it. We spin it to fit. We think we are in control and only make our choices after careful consideration; this pleases our ego.

    How my mother died at 39-years-old (and is the last person you'd expect to die that young) when I was 21-years-old. Yet my father is now 73, when I didn't think he'd make it out of his 40's. There is no figuring out the nature of these things out. If you're born to hang … you will never drown.

    How my social skills were compromised (lately I'm thinking that may be an attribute) from such an unconventional (teenage) life and that for a long time I'd hardened myself (out of necessity) and held things inside until they exploded in moments of anger. Silence or rage was the rule for a long period of time.

    More was touched on that doesn't come to mind at the moment. Generally, I write much better than I speak, but today the words flowed seamlessly.

    Some kind of introduction!

    We walked the short trail back to our vehicles and as we were exchanging farewells, Nathan reinforced how inspiring our conversation was and that he never thought he would meet someone like me. I was blown away. Hopefully our discussion helps him with his current domestic struggles.

    No sooner had I finished this report and checked on-line to watch the highlight reel of Kamaru Usman starching Jorge Masvidal with a vicious right hand in the main event, then my wife walked into the living room and informed me that she thinks our eldest Australian Shepherd had just taken his last breath - at one o' clock in-the-morning. After confirmation and some sorrowful conversation, it was out to dig a hole in the backyard in the middle-of-the-night with a camp light strapped to my forehead. Hope the neighbors were not up ... and if they were, hope they didn't hear the wife and I fighting recently. It was foggy, damp, and quiet after the day of rain. Almost a full moon. Weird ... it was deja vu from when I'd buried Chevy Smith (German Shepherd) also in the rain, many years ago, back in that same area of the yard. Always reminds me of when I was a kid burying one of our dogs, with my mom, in rural Ohio. They always got hit by cars and we'd go through the solemn act of burial in the yard. She loved animals more than anyone I've ever known. She loved them so much that she wouldn't tie them up or cage them ... even for their own safety. She knew they needed to run the fields and forest. They needed to be free.

    Sometimes when it rains ... it pours.

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    #21
  2. luftkoph

    luftkoph Long timer Super Supporter

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    I was enjoying your tale until the part about your dog, it just isn’t fair their lives are so short.
    #22
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  3. B10Dave

    B10Dave Long timer

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    Thanks Jeff.
    #23
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  4. mikehi

    mikehi Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2009
    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    Bristol, UK
    Thanks from me too Jeff. I am a long time follower of your threads. Was originally pulled in by your bikes- I ride an ST, have owned and enjoyed a GSA, and have always fancied a Road King (one day maybe ). I have kept following your threads because of your excellent photography and eloquent words and insights.

    I hope your year improves and will continue to look forward to your updates.
    #24
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  5. RoverGS

    RoverGS Been here awhile Supporter

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2008
    Oddometer:
    373
    Location:
    Phoenix AZ
    Your words this evening reminded me about how I always felt this time of year when I lived in MI. As much as I sometimes miss the beauty of Michigan in the summer and fall, I am grateful everyday for an unexpected job transfer to AZ. I absolutely dreaded February through May in MI for years. As always, your thread, pictures and words are one of my favorites on this site. Please keep it up. But, try to get some time away and come out here and ride in the sun for a while. It amazes me nearly everyday.
    #25
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  6. GAS GUY

    GAS GUY MILE EATER

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2007
    Oddometer:
    7,455
    Location:
    Garden City, Michigan
    Thanks (@ B10Dave, mikehi, and RoverGS) for the feedback fellas! It has been a tough year. Besides multiple deaths ... inflation and no overtime at work has me putting the brakes on any serious long distance traveling. Can't in good conscience just torch tanks of gas and grab motel rooms right now. But that is not necessarily a bad thing. There is a positive aspect to every situation, even if the rewards are not instantaneous. Now I'm forced to slow down and savor the moments to even a greater extent; delving deeper into the details; to do more with less, to be less complacent and more disciplined. Getting caught up on some work around the house due to a decade of procrastination as I was always out riding; that has been keeping me busy as well. There is satisfaction in that - as I've rode with the guilt for a long time. Oscar Wilde said, "A man with a clear conscious probably has a poor memory." My memory is pretty good.

    The Welder - (Blue Collar Mural)
    Fortunately, my timing (lucky) was ideal as the late afternoon sun was of an angle that illuminated the radical rendering on the wall - amplifying the glow of the high-temperature arc.

    This is on John R. in Hazel Park (Michigan) between 8 and 9-mile roads, just north of I-75.

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    Into the indefinite future I'll be continuing to mostly focus on photographing and documenting interesting aspects of Detroit, the Great Lakes and National Forests of Michigan, as well as Ohio. The Southern Ohio Adventure Loop (S.O.A.L.) is at the top of the list ... and more of the Trans Ohio Trail (TOT).

    I'll do my best to keep the photographs and words evocative. After all, it's a departure from the mundane that we're all after. But go easy on me - as I'm just a greasy mechanic with a 9th-grade education. A work in progress with a growth-mindset. As long as we're here we may as well make it a hell of a ride!

    Finally, I think I've found my niche with this old Go Pro 4 that has been mostly collecting dust. I'm not much on video unless it's for instructional purposes or done by a rare few who pour time and money into an artsy production. Still photographs and deep narrative are what moves me. So I've found that sorting through and trimming hours of boring helmet cam footage is definitely not for me - which is why the diminutive action camera sat neglected. But something kept nagging at me. Finally, it dawned on me: I'd buy a cheap, compact tripod and use the GoPro for select situations ... grabbing a few minutes of video at prime locations. Later I could simply pull still photographs from those clips to post. Photographs that wouldn't be realized otherwise. Especially since I'm more often than not running in solivagant mode.

    Extracted from the Action Cam
    Everybody loves a water-crossing!
    I've some crisper shots in an upcoming report.
    But I like this composition.


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    #26
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  7. B10Dave

    B10Dave Long timer

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    Really like that thinking. Will be looking for more stills from the video footage. That water crossing pic is excellent.
    #27
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  8. GAS GUY

    GAS GUY MILE EATER

    Joined:
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    Mexican Painters

    Passed through Mexican Town (Southwest Detroit) and found a few vivid murals. Spotted a sharp one that wasn't accessible due to people and cars lingering in front of the art while they waited to enter a busy restaurant. Will have to return for it another day.
    Frida Kahlo caught my eye in this mural. She was evocative and intriguing. She is a painter that always grabs my attention; not necessarily her brush work, but her poetic abilities. While I love paintings, the poetic side of art moves me more ... when someone writes from their heart and doesn't hold back; that takes immense courage. But I like it straight forward and authentic ... I've no time for riddles. Frida doesn't mince words.

    Her husband, Diego Rivera, is the centerpiece of this mural. He was also a luminary painter and muralist. Especially famous for his Detroit Industry Murals which depict labor activities at the Ford Motor Company and River Rouge plants; those murals reside in the Detroit Institute of Arts.

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    #28
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  9. GAS GUY

    GAS GUY MILE EATER

    Joined:
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    7,455
    Location:
    Garden City, Michigan
    Detroit
    Spring 2021

    Fisher Body Plant 21

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    Max's Jewelry Store on Chene Street
    While passing through Poletown (of Detroit) on Cheney - the 1927 marquee jutting proudly into the sky greeted me and piqued my curiosity. The faded and tattered sign has seen better days; even the round clocks that faced out in opposite directions are long gone, leaving only empty holes. Perhaps that's fitting - considering time has stopped for much of this area; the good times, anyway.

    Max's opened shop at 5553 Chene Street in 1927.

    In those days all of the jewelry would have to be transferred between the safe at the back of the building and the display cases every day.

    Max Rosenbaum was part of a Jewish family from Poland who fled their home country to escape persecution by the Germans.

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    Faux Ghost Murals
    The faux vintage dry cleaner and automotive advertisements were applied in 2016 when the location was used in filming the movie Transformers: The Last Knight.

    Years ago that vacant, grassy lot next to Max's Jewelry Store wasn't empty, nor that wall exposed, as the Van Dyke Pastry Shop used to reside there.

    Speaking of Chene Street: Back in Detroit's early French history, when it was a small farming community, this street was named after the Cheney family who were settlers and farmers on land that had been granted to the family by Louis XIV of France.

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    Max's Front Entrance
    Such a nice storefront at one time; curved glass display cases and an inlaid marble sidewalk leading into the jewelry shop.

    Max handed the business off to his brother, Sam - who left it to his son, Charlie.

    Charlie was robbed - of all the jewelry and his coin collection - at gunpoint in the 1967 rebellion.

    The robbery and a culmination of many other negative factors had swayed Charlie into closing shop in 1974.

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    Gordon Park
    Down the road a piece and I came across this historic sign in Gordon Park that coincides nicely with Max's getting robbed. Gordon Park is on Rosa Parks Boulevard, next to The Congregation; an old church converted into an exceptionally distinct coffee shop. Innovative thinking.

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    Continuation from opposite side:

    The civil unrest in Detroit continued for four days, until July 27, 1967. More than 1,600 buildings were damaged after fires spread from the business district to nearby residences. Property damage was estimated to be $132 million. About 7,200 people were arrested, and hundreds were injured. Forty-three people died. They included bystanders, looters, a policeman, two firemen and a National Guardsman. In response to the conflicts in Detroit and through the United States, President Lyndon B. Johnson created the Kerner Commission to investigate the causes of the violence. It concluded that although the specific episodes of violence were spontaneous, they were in response to poverty, segregation, racism, unemployment, "frustrations of powerlessness" and police actions that enforced a double standard for how people of different races were treated.

    Stopped into "The Congregation" for a cup of coffee, to bump elbows with the young artsy Detroiters that frequent this establishment, and to view the preserved 150-year-old organ! Pictures of which will eventually follow. Teaser picture below.


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    #29
  10. paladin

    paladin n00b

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2007
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    6
    Jeff thank you it has been a long time that I have been this entertained on the internet. I am really looking forward to more of your stories and photography.
    #30
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  11. GAS GUY

    GAS GUY MILE EATER

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2007
    Oddometer:
    7,455
    Location:
    Garden City, Michigan
    A Ride Around the City
    Detroit 2021

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    The Congregation
    I'd promised more pictures from the one-of-a-kind coffee shop.

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    A coffee shop experience like never before. This church (built in 1924) on Rosa Parks Boulevard has been converted into an upscale coffee house.

    While the church is located only a block north of Gordon Park (the origination of the 1967 rebellion) it remained undisturbed.


    Great care was taken to restore the original stained glass, maple flooring, and the 150-year-old organ which was originally built in 1870 and brought to this Detroit building sometime in the 1940's or 1950's.

    The Congregation is located in the more affluent Boston-Edison Historic District which happens to be in the geographic center of Detroit.

    The Boston-Edison Historic District is something new to me (this year) and by happenstance I'd stumbled upon Boston Boulevard a few weeks later on another journey into the city. Boston Boulevard is full of old magnificent houses (mansions), many of which belonged to prominent movers-and-shakers of the city from years-gone-by. More on that later.

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    Due to Covid - it was grab your coffee and sit outside. No indoor seating at the moment. That made for some clean photographs of the interior. There is always some kind of positive aspect lurking around under the typical surface cynicism of abnormal situations.

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    A diverse and eclectic group scattered about the grounds. Old, young, hip, artsy, Black, White, Latino, male, female, and even things bordering in-between.

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    Southwest Detroit & The Alley Project (TAP)
    Took a cruise through the Springwells Village area of Southwest Detroit to look for some fresh paint. This is next to Woodmere Cemetery, which happens to be where my Great-Grandmother Lena is buried. Latino or native inspired murals and art may be my favorite style. They are generally bold, colorful, intricate, and often earthy.

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    Shades of Glass

    This building, on Hastings Street, just south of Milwaukee Avenue, in an industrial section of the Milwaukee Junction area started life in 1919 as Fisher Body Plant 37. They are currently functional and supply parts to the automotive companies.

    Speaking of this Milwaukee Junction Area - I've pictures of the Ford Piquette Avenue Plant (now a museum), more on the defunct and rotting Fisher Body 21 Plant, and some serious blight along Beaubien Boulevard to share soon.

    It's wild how so many of these old industrial buildings (this particular one belongs to New Center Stamping) have such a wide array or hodgepodge of colors scattered randomly throughout the hundreds of glass panes. Probably because over the years they just replace broken panels with whatever is readily available and could care less about matching them up. The contrast is kind of cool.

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    #31
  12. popscycle

    popscycle Fahren Away Super Supporter

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    As always, great stuff, Jeff! Thanks!
    #32
    GAS GUY likes this.
  13. GAS GUY

    GAS GUY MILE EATER

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Garden City, Michigan
    Sorry for the slow feed this year. I'm still riding, exploring as often as possible, writing stuff down, and stacking up colorful pictures (an obsession), but am having a tough time staying focused, structured, and fitting everything into each day. This is a heavier than normal year of existential issues for me as well. Some days it feels like a hammer has come down. Guess it's mostly a matter of coming to terms with the end of an era ... of sorts. Life as I've known it. Or how I've viewed it. An adjustment period. But I'm still here and moving forward. Cautiously. Was planning on stringing together a series of exciting pictures along with some corresponding prose tonight - but the clock out paced me once again. Keep the spirit alive!

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    #33
  14. GAS GUY

    GAS GUY MILE EATER

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    The Smith Gang Rides Again
    Two-Days-Ago

    Left the house at 6 a.m. and returned just after 8 p.m. for 14-hours on-the-road.
    Rode 450-miles. These days I like to keep the miles down and hours on-the-road up.
    It was 70° in the morning. A scorcher all day. Saw 93° in Bay City in the late afternoon. It was still in the upper 80's after 8 p.m. while arriving back home.

    Cruising at a sedate pace along the water - the Ultra Classic returned almost 45-MPG. Running hard on I-96 on the last stretch home - I was surprised to get 41-MPG. But ... if I run hard into the wind, the mileage plummets to mid-30's. There is simply a lot of fairing to push through the air.

    Mavis lives in Lathrup Village of Southfield near I-696 - so we'd meet and depart from his house. This ride would consist of hugging the water around the "Thumb" of Michigan during the scorcher of a day that was forecasted. We'd bang out to Anchor Bay via the expressway before settling down to a poky pace along the shores of Lake St. Clair, the St. Clair River, and finally, the beautiful, blue Lake Huron. Most of the day we would be riding M-29 and M-25, respectively.

    This would be the first time Mavis Smith would join us on a ride. He has been working at our shop for a year now. Mavis rides a 2002 BMW K1200LT.

    Mavis Smith


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    Before we left, his wife, Patricia, said, "Mavis is just a 'Baby Rider' - he has only ever ridden a couple of hours at a time."

    Will Smith would also accompany us - aboard his 2006 ST1300 - as he nurses his nagging foot and builds stamina.

    Dr. Buzzard (Will Smith)

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    GAS GUY (Jeff Smith) would be wielding the "Project Rushmore" Ultra Classic (versus the old King) to keep up with these modern machines on the fast interstate stretches.

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    This was supposed to be an exclusive "Smith" only ride but Scott caught wind of what was going down, so I couldn't deny his participation. We've been riding together so long that he will always possess honorary status. Not to mention, he was the inspiring force that sparked my long distance escapades on a motorcycle two-decades-ago. He'd be on his 2013 BMW RT.


    Scott Auer (The Finn)

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    A few shots "on-the-fly" with the indestructible Olympus Tough during the morning interstate blast.

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    And a few more from the trusty point-and-shoot - just after exiting the interstate.

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    This is an old Olympus Tough, when they were gorgeous - before they became all plasticky.

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    One thing I'll say right out of the gate is that I'm going to have to run this ride back a few more times, hopefully in the near future. There are so many interesting points-of-interest and such stunning old architecture along this route that I couldn't possibly stop enough to soak it all in or freeze it with photographs. The more my mind becomes trained to see, the more I want to sort through the details of these locations.

    This would be the first time I'd stopped in the historic part of Marine City - along the water - where the lighthouse resides. Being early Saturday morning we had the sleepy town to ourselves - short of a few joggers and walkers.

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    Moto-photographers take over Marine City.

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    Upon entering old Port Huron, our progress was impeded by the drawbridge spanning the Black River. Capitalizing on every situation - we promptly came off the bikes and out with the cameras.

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    Our stomachs were grumbling so we stopped for breakfast at Maria's in the old section of Port Huron. That familiar feeling of humanity was returning as we never needed to don a white, oppressive mask during this whole ride! Walked right into the restaurant, had normal conversation, with each other as well as the young, personable waitress, and it was as if we were back in 2019. Nobody was scared or mad. Part of the situation was probably due to being out of the Detroit area. City life has a neurotic way of exacerbating every situation.

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    Mavis was enjoying the ride and mentioned riding more often with us.

    Mavis fits right in with our group so I supported the idea and proposed, "We could do a multi-day ride in the future. Maybe to the west side of the state. We'd have to get a motel room though, because black guys don't camp."

    "Camping is no problem, done lots of camping ... I swim and everything!" Mavis shot back.

    I quickly pointed at Will and said, "Then he has been lying to me."

    Plenty of roadside parks along M-25.
    Couldn't resist the photo-opportunity when this wood-fenced, grassy bluff above the lake presented itself.

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    Having worked up a sweat by the time we reached White Rock, we immediately searched for a traversable path down to the Great Lake Huron from the bluff in which we parked.

    Will and Mavis wasn't about the steep and precarious descent to the isolated beach. They hung back until we returned.

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    Scott scrambling down the bluff.

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    Having anticipated just such an opportunity to swim in the cold waters of Lake Huron on this scorching hot day - Scott brought swim trunks to change into, near the woodline.

    He said, "Don't look!"

    "Okay," I quickly replied.

    SNAP!

    Now I had a picture that would allow me to blackmail him; maybe a tank of gas or something.

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    Damn ... Scott made it half way out to White Rock. If you zoom in you can see it behind him. The water couldn't have been much more than 50-degrees. That Finnish and Russian DNA has him embracing the stimulation he experiences from natural bodies of cold water. He said, "I feel completely cleansed afterwards. It's as if my soul has been renewed."

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    Upon our return they (Will and Mavis) made sure to point out to us (after reading all of the historic placards) that according to the treaty signed in 1807, this White Rock, in the waters just off shore of Lake Huron was to designate the point at which no "white man" could settle north of, and that we would have to return south from whence we'd just come. I'd use that against them later ...

    After arriving in Port Austin - we parked at Pak's, but they had no coffee.

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    So we made our way directly across the street to the Green Clean Bean for a cup and a muffin.

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    This is a first; a coffee shop with a laundromat combined. The owner was a character as well. After a few customers left - he plopped down on a couch with his dog and chatted with us. He is a Canadian - originally from Toronto - who spent time all over the world under the auspices of the United Nations. Didn't catch in what capacity he was with the United Nations, but he did mention getting shot at and not having the authority to shoot back in the name of peace-keeping.

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    He was a talker and told us of an aggressive female customer who had called him a racist which he thought was preposterous and then asked her to cite an example or give proof. That was my chance!

    That is when I interrupted, "These two right here (pointing to Will and Mavis) are racists, and I do, in fact, have proof - as back at White Rock they made sure to let Scott and I know that according to the signed treaty - we were not welcome in these parts."

    We all had a hearty laugh!

    On the wall above the couch was a striking painting of a modern angel looking down. Suspecting my daughters would dig it, I snapped this shot and sent it off via text. My oldest said it's the most beautiful she has seen. That promoted me to inquire about the art with the shop owner:

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    "A young, local, artist named David painted it for a customer who hung it in the coffee shop with the intention of the angel looking down and over whomever was sitting on the couch. The artist is from Detroit, lost his mother at a young age, fell on hard times, came up to Port Austin with a group, fell in love with the port village, relocated, and eventually opened up an art shop while also teaching."

    Noticed a couple of inviting coffee shops in Caseville for the next time through. Had to stop and get a picture of the Brew Moon - as it was so striking.

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    From Bay City, we stayed on US-10 to Sanford Lake. Pulled over onto the shoulder of the bridge to view the empty lake. You may have heard that last year the dam broke and flooded Midland. The place is still devastated. In the distance I could see some poor sap sitting out in a chair at what used to be his lake front. Now just a big mud-hole full of weeds and a little stream.

    I'm not going to lie, after 14-hours in that sun, the heat was getting to me - and the hot bottles of water in my saddlebags weren't cutting it; felt like I was drinking tasteless tea. Next gas stop I'd guzzle a cold sports drink and devour an egg sandwich. Both were half gone (as I stood in line) before I even got to the register to pay. Couldn't wait. The clerk chuckled.

    After Sanford Lake (northwest of Midland), we wandered a plethora of two-lane backroads until M-46 ran us into M-52 at it's northern terminus. We then followed it south to I-96. Scott continued south towards Monroe while the Smith's powered back to the Motor City via the interstate.
    #34
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  15. Bigbob1

    Bigbob1 Rain Rider Supporter

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2009
    Oddometer:
    1,180
    Location:
    Juneau Alaska
    Sounds like the Smiths + one had a nice ride!
    #35
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  16. drbuzzard

    drbuzzard Long timer Supporter

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2013
    Oddometer:
    1,878
    Location:
    42.4n lon 83.02w 625ft
    it was a great day for a Smith brother's ride, we even made Scott an Honorary Smith so he could ride with us. it did get a little breezy the farther north we traveled but the heat which usually subsides some didn't let up. i led the group to Dollar General in Port Huron and bought an insole for my boots, my foot was already starting to bother me but i toughed it out and did the entire ride even though i probably shouldn't have, my foot is still tender today. as for White Rock i didn't want Jeff or Scott to wind up bald or worse :)
    #36
  17. Samspade

    Samspade Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2015
    Oddometer:
    331
    Location:
    East Tennessee
    My wife and I really enjoyed that part of your state on our Lake Michigan/Superior/Huron ride a couple of years ago. We were surprised to see all of the sugar beet farming and processing in the area.
    #37
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  18. luftkoph

    luftkoph Long timer Super Supporter

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2008
    Oddometer:
    1,216
    Location:
    U.P. mich
    Excellent as always.
    #38
    GAS GUY likes this.
  19. GAS GUY

    GAS GUY MILE EATER

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2007
    Oddometer:
    7,455
    Location:
    Garden City, Michigan
    Nine-Years-Ago-Today
    Cross Fork, Pennsylvania

    Potter County; the county with the largest bears in the state - in a state that has large bears to start with.

    After a day of riding forest roads we tucked away down a grassy two-track and set up our stealthy camp, on top of a lush, green mountain, shortly before dusk.

    We then descended to the steak house and saloon in the tiny town of Cross Fork - which resembled something from the frontier days.

    We sat on the front porch and watched the local black bears rummaging through the dumpster, only 30-feet away, in amazement.

    Then a big boy came sauntering down the gravel road from which we came. And from the direction of our stealth camp! He was a monster and indifferent to anybody around him. He walked right through someone's yard - as they were sitting out next to a fire. He ran off the smaller bears and had his way in the dumpster.

    It was a bit disconcerting to ride back up that gravel switchback in the pitch black and crawl into that paper-thin tent. Not only was I vulnerable ... but blind. And the noises. The shuffling of feet on the forest floor. They sounded amplified in the silence of night.

    "Scott? - Do you hear that?"

    "Yeah ... what do you want to do? You want to move camp?"

    "No."

    "Then go to sleep."

    Scott had a can of bear spray. I had a can of bear spray and a Glock .40 locked-and-loaded.

    Scott said, "If you start shooting in the middle-of-the-night, remember that my tent is right next to yours!"

    My neurotic mind kept running over horrific scenarios that were sure to play out.

    Anticipation can be an ugly ally.

    Eventually, my emotion turned to fatigue - and my snoring probably scared away the bears.


    Scott "The Finn" Auer

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    #39
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  20. GAS GUY

    GAS GUY MILE EATER

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2007
    Oddometer:
    7,455
    Location:
    Garden City, Michigan
    "It was raining anyways."
    Ortonville Recreation Area.
    Fox Lake Road.
    Michigan.
    Today.


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    #40