Gina M. Brown
Maps By Gina M. Brown
The TART Trail* is a network of trails for wonderful walking, biking, rollerblading, etc. David Kirby, a local artist and high school physics teacher, led a project to install the planets in our solar system along a paved portion of the trail, to scale. The sun is located at the main library, while Pluto is near Bunker Hill Road, approximately six miles away. It really puts things in perspective when you walk that distance! Of course, a little ice cream never hurts.
*Traverse Area Recreation and Transportation Trail, or “TART” because Traverse City is a huge producer of cherries.
In the early 1990s, we went on an Owl Prowl at Green Point Nature Center led by Ray Clay, a volunteer for the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge. I was amazed at Mr. Clay’s owl-calling abilities, sense of humor, and activism. Mr. Clay passed away in March of 1994. In April of 1994, the Refuge planted an ornamental plum tree on its premises in his honor. Even though Owl Prowls continue to be held, I feel very privileged that Mr. Clay was our guide.
The Labor Day Bridge Walk is the most anticipated walk of the year, as you can only walk the Mackinac Bridge on that one day of the year (2020 excluded, of course). It’s not just a walk; it’s an event! Buses transport you across the bridge, then you walk back. After crossing, you get a numbered certificate, then go explore the town. Many businesses post a number in their window, and if it happens to match the number on your certificate, you win a prize! Scott and I walked it in 1994, but I took some liberties with the local destinations (some, like the Indian Museum and the Woolen Mill, were no longer operating by that date). I loved everything about Mackinaw City, particularly as a child when my sister and I were allowed to roam the streets unsupervised. I loved shopping for (and wore out many) moccasins, belts, and those fabulous “mystery bags”! Once, I even secretly purchased the jackknife I had been coveting...then sliced my finger, all of which went unnoticed. The whole town was a playground!
OK, so my dogs are getting older and cannot walk distances like they used to do. Fortunately, we don’t have to travel far to have a varied and interesting walk, because 1) we have a cross-country skiing/hiking trail located right behind our house, and 2) their Grammy lives just a couple houses away from us. No exaggeration, everything depicted - and more - lives here (the bear even visited Mom’s deck)!
I was shopping for plants and by accident stumbled upon a whole moon series of sedums: Harvest Moon, Blue Moon, Over The Moon, Moonglow, etc. Then I remembered that I have Solar Eclipse heucherella in my garden (other varieties are Solar Power and Solar Flare). I think you can see where I'm going with this! The bees love all of these plants, so when my bee landed on the Over The Moon sedum, he planted an i.d. tag in lieu of a flag so that the other bees could locate it, too. Such a helpful little bee!
Yes, there really IS a Salamony Asteroid! It was discovered in 1995 and named for my sister Sandra, who at the time was creative director for Sky Publishing. She was presented with a potato having roughly the same shape of her asteroid. The potato quickly sprouted, which made me think of the possibilities. Perhaps on her asteroid, you could ask it to sprout any vegetable, any time, to the desired degree of ripeness! Imagine fresh sweet corn, asparagus, and baby carrots ON THE SAME DAY! I further imagine this as a place where the clouds record your favorite moments and retain them as long as you want. Finally, you can swim at night and be serenaded by an orchestra formed by constellation instruments, the sound being produced when the stars twinkle. Yeah, I think I could live there!
This place is special to me because I will always remember the first time I drove through these neighborhoods and simply could not believe that such a fairytale setting existed in the real world! Earl Young was a self-taught builder and architect who built both commercial and residential structures. The majority of his creations lie within the two areas shown on this map (each mushroom on the map is the location of another Earl Young house). Pure magic! And special year-round, even in winter.
This place is special to me because I love kitsch! My hometown area of Traverse City is known for many things: wineries, restaurants, outdoor sports, etc. But ever since Mom gave me "The Guinness Book Of World Records" for Christmas when I was eleven years old, I have loved oddities of all kinds (I participated in two events vying for inclusion in the Guinness book: 1) world's largest chicken dance and 2) world's largest ice cream social). And after living in this area for over twenty years, I continue to find new and exciting oddball places to visit.
This place is special to me because two of my great-grandparents came to the United States from Poland (one as a child and one as a young adult). [Correction: Mom says I forgot one, so make that three!] I have always appreciated Polish food and culture. At a prior residence, we lived only two blocks from a Polish hall, where I would occasionally assist the volunteers making pierogi for special events. Fortunately, we settled in an area where Polish culture abounds. If you cannot visit such a place, I highly recommend that you bring the fun to your home, i.e. learn how to play the accordion. It's fun, catchy and hard to put down once you start playing! Trust me.