Just (2000 Miles) Down the Road

The interstate in my backyard, if followed long enough, will eventually lead to the small town of Holbrook Arizona.
It’s a little town that the old route 66 used to run right through until it got bypassed in recent years by the construction of big interstate 40. Holbrook also inspired the little desert town in the movie Cars.
The people behind the scenes of the movie Cars apparently spent some time in this cafe, planning out the movie.
(For some reason we didn’t eat there?!!)
We rolled into the town of Holbrook on a chilly late February afternoon, after spending the day wandering through the Petrified Forest. Old neon signs lined the streets, and big dinosaur statues guarded the many little gift shops scattered around.  I wanted to walk around and explore the shops, but it seemed everything was closed. There was nobody around, except for a random car passing by here and there. With the cold wind blowing through, Holbrook felt like a bit of a ghost town. Or at least on its way to becoming a ghost town.
I dreamed of what it might be like, in the hot summer weather, and what it had been like many many years ago.
I still find it amusing, when I listen to the cars on the interstate behind my house, that this little town lies way down the road. And then I dream of racing off, back to the desert.  It’s just 2000 miles down the road!

 

 

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The Lost Beach



Cape Lookout Island.  Only accessible by Ferry, and with no paved roads.  It was once a home to a small fishing community but is now owned by the National Park system.


A short walk away from the tourist area, down the lonely shoreline, and remnants of the island’s past begin to appear. 

Barnacle laden debris from the houses burned down by owners who refused to let them become acquired by the government. 

And maybe parts from an old car that became engulfed in a sandstorm, only to appear again some time later. 
Conch shells, still inhabited by their original owner can easily be found in the shallow waters. 

This beach is different than others. A beach forgotten.





A Walk Down Heidelberg Street



Heidelburg street, in East Detroit. 

I had seen many pictures of this house and when I found out it was in Detroit, my homeland, I had to go.


I didn’t realize how big the Heidelberg project really was. It consumed the entire street. 


The abandoned houses in the surrounding neighborhood stood intimidating against the cold grey winter sky.  I’d seen rows of abandoned houses plenty of times before, but this was much larger than that.  Many of the seemingly abandoned houses were not quite abandoned though. There were signs of life inside, even if the roof had fallen in.  

It was one of many neighborhoods that got left behind. Forgotten as the rich parts of the city grew.





Tyree Guton started this project in 1986 when he returned from the army and found the neighborhood he grew up in, in shambles.

The goal of The Heidelberg Project is to bring communities together, and improve lives through art.

It was easy to see that this project brought a whole mix of different people to this neighborhood, who might have otherwise stayed far away.











It was a cold day, but as we walked around the sun began to come out and warm the street where people were working to rake up leaves, and as the artist continued to work on his never ending art project. 

We Found a Lighthouse on Belle Isle


On our Belle Isle Adventures, we passed by what appeared to be an old lighthouse, so we turned the car around to go check it out.

Only to find out the roads were one way around the whole island. 

 We tried driving the wrong way for a few minutes, but a few other random people who also came to explore this place on a cold Thanksgiving day freaked out honking at us.

So we took the long way around.



Finally we were parked and set off down the long muddy trail. 

Towards  the eerie lighthouse, sitting in the desolate field. 







But the lighthouse was was farther away than it looked, and the ground was getting muddier and mudder. Plus we didn’t want to be late for the Thanksgiving feast. So we ran all the way back to the car and raced to dinner.

What We Discovered on Our Belle Isle Adventures


During the adventures on Belle Isle, we discovered a beautiful green house and conservatory.

Since it was the morning of Thanksgiving, there wasn’t anyone else in sight. 

The whole island appeared abandoned. Although I’m sure in the warmer months, it can be quite the popular place to visit. 









The green houses seemed so eerie on this bitter cold day.




We also discovered what is apparently the oldest aquarium in the country.  Now I really want to go back and visit when it’s open!


Abandoned on Thanksgiving


It was Thanksgiving morning.
 On our own in our Detroit Hotel room, we didn’t have anywhere to be until early afternoon. 

It felt a bit odd, not rushing off to a family members house, to begin the day of eating. I felt a bit lost. What was there to do?

Explore Belle Isle of Course!


Down the interstate, we made our way through downtown, navigating around the parade,  then across the bridge to a small Island in the Detroit river between Michigan and Canada by the name of Belle Isle.

Belle Isle was originally referred to as “Hog Island”  due to the wild livestock that ran free on the island. However in 1845 the island was turned into an elegant and sprawling park. Many people worked on designing the park, including  Frederick Law Olmsted, who designed Central Park in NYC. Some of my distant ancestors, the Campaus, also helped to design and build the park!

The little island holds walking trails, a greenhouse, an aquarium, an old lighthouse, and a lot of seemingly abandoned buildings. 


But on this frigid Thanksgiving morning, the entire island seemed abandoned.

 Forgotten by time.





These old run down buildings were part of a zoo that closed down many years ago,

















Belle Isle held so many interesting places to explore. We ended up spending a few hours there wandering around, when I only expected to drive in a short loop and then leave. 

I think Belle Isle is not actually as desolate as it appeared on this day.  I hope to go back and visit in the summertime to see how it comes to life. 

Abandoned Mill Village: Behind the Walls


When my friends and I visited the Abandoned Mill Village, we couldn’t resist taking a look inside the little houses that had been abandoned for forty years or more.


Many of them were painted bright colors inside, perhaps they had once been cheerful little homes. But now the paint was peeling from the walls, parts of the floors were caved in, and plants had begun to creep in through the broken windows and cracks in the walls.


















It’s a spooky feeling walking through a place now dilapidated, that was once somebody’s home. I wish I could see what these houses looked like when families were still living in this village.