Day 11: Halfway Up the Mitten (Michigan, that is)

Crappy weather today:  grey and some rain.  Maybe half an hour of sun if you strung all the brief moments together.  Sparkle running fine despite the little warning light.  In fact, for about four hours the light went away, but then came back.  One big calamity (later in this post) but otherwise plugging away here.  Estimating that we might finish up Michigan, finally, in about four days.

I’ve got tons of photos today.  First off, let’s go back in time to my night off (last Thursday).  My friend Mark sent me these photos of us and I keep meaning to include them here to take care of the photo-of-me obligation on every major roadtrip.  I’m not thrilled with either photo of myself but they are what they are.  I think I’m hiding treats & toys behind my back to make the photo prettier?  Too many woods around and I had Grem (far right) on leash except when interacting specifically with her (retrieving & tricks for food).  Grip (2nd dog here) always seems to know where the camera is — even more mysterious now that she’s blind!

I think I’m trying to look taller here — realizing I was posing next to a 6 foot plus giant.  I’m only 5 foot.


Started the day in Grand Rapids.  This sign is an adapted Buick dealership sign.

Here’s the original look from a much nicer day in Pottsville, PA:


Another adapted sign — note the “R” on the left hiding behind “Middeletons”.  I don’t know the original name.


According to Fat Man’s Fish Fry website, the restaurant opened in 1953 and moved here in 1960:

The blue and yellow color scheme continues inside.  Those lights are extraordinary:


I’d love to know what this was originally.  Right now, it’s “Sweet Retreat”, an ice cream place.  It reminds me of a Woody’s Smorgasburger — but not big enough and doesn’t have the big chunk at middle side:
Most likely a tiki-style restaurant — but could have been anything really.


Still more in Grand Rapids:


A crudely adapted bakery sign.  Looks like it became a “beer” place from the bottom — maybe a bar or liquor store.  Probably “wine” at the very bottom of the sign.  And the top lettering was changed as well — though not enough to decipher the name:


Van’s Pastry Shoppe — wish they hadn’t added that plastic sign to the front.

Inside, a substantial cookie jar collection:

And, yes, I got a little snack:  peanut butter cookie & cream cheese kolacky.  I keep forgetting how sensitive Dee (my camera) is about closeups.  Must move further back but it’s hard to do when I’m behind the wheel and shooting at the dash:


Fantastic terra cotta details on this building —


Enough Grand Rapids.  Let’s move on to today’s big event.  I’ve always been too cheap to splurge the $10 to shoot the carousel & stork statue at this place — the Dutch Village in Holland.  Today was the day.   I realized the stork would make a great photo-op for the dogs & remembered that the desk person had said dogs were welcome.  So… bad move.  Maybe one of the 10 stupidest things I’ve done in my life.  I did notice there were ducks and geese around but figured I could just make things quick — take a few shots and get the hell out of there.  My dogs have a solid “stay”.  I got two photos and then… well, pandemonium.   This idyllic little fantasy of a family theme park turned ugly.  Luckily, just about everybody was in the center of the place learning to clog dance or something.

Nik got impatient saw some ducks by a fence about 40 feet away and broke from his storkie bundle of joy statue.  Grem joined him.  Fixie milled about.  Grip stayed with storkie since she’s blind and didn’t know how to get down.  For about 10 minutes, felt like 30, I chased Nik chasing ducks.  I think these ducks had clipped wings.  Instead of flying away, they headed for this pond which was only about 15 feet wide and maybe two or three feet deep.  I jumped in the pond to tackle Nik but it was no easy task.  The cement pond was slippery as hell and I fell about three or four times before catching the bastard.  I think he might have bitten one of the ducks but I couldn’t be sure.   Luckily, a bystander helped me tackle Grem before I finally caught Nik.  It was complete chaos and would have made a great video.  Hilarious if not for my injuries and possibly injuring a duck or two.  Though he never did actually catch & kill one, thank god.

No harm came to my glasses or my camera as I had the presence of mind to set them down the second that Nik bolted.  Once I had everybody back on leash, I walked out of there calmly, dripping wet from head to toe, like nothing had happened.  It was so completely embarrassing.  Back in the van, I assessed my injuries.  Not good.  I had hit the back of my head on the cement at least three times and there was blood pouring everywhere.  Here’s the towel from blotting — as Nik looks back in the direction of The Ducks, wanting more!

I worried for awhile about the possibility of a concussion.  Brain swelling and all that.  The bleeding seemed to last a long time — even six hours later, I think it’s still dribbling.  But I never got a headache, never got dizzy.  My neck is pretty messed up — can’t turn my head to the right very well.  My hands feel completely bruised all over — but I can still type and that’s the important thing!  I’ll be okay but I’m sure tomorrow there will be new surprise aches and pains.  This trip has been one adventure after another.

Still managing to get photos in despite it all…. Here we are in Norton Shores:


Moving on to Muskegon:


I don’t know if this sign will be with us much longer…

Here’s what’s left of the City Rescue Mission itself:


Let’s wrap up this post with some doggie pix from the river between Montague & Whitehall.  A perfect combination of grass and water — and nobody else around:

The girls in the foreground munching on some kibble I dropped while Nik bringing a toy to shore at far left.  That’s also the Montague Dog n Suds in the far background (yellow canopy):

The maniac:

Grem on a kibble quest:

Fixie, on the left, only swims lately if it’s really, really hot — or the treats I’m hurling are really, really good:

Grip may be blind now, despite two operations this year costing about $10,000, but her nose sure works good!  I keep a close eye over her at all times so she can’t wander off.


Tomorrow, hoping to get to Saginaw, maybe start on “the Thumb” if there are no set-backs.  Late, very late here — must do shorter post / fewer photos tomorrow night to recoup some sleep.

26 thoughts on “Day 11: Halfway Up the Mitten (Michigan, that is)

  1. oh. my. god. the bloody cloth drying out on your passenger seat is more than a little horrifying. dang that Nik!

    glad you seem to be okay but that slippery pond could be full of god knows what so i hope you have your shots and stuff. head wounds are not a good thing.

    this trip is just nutso!

    thanks for the pics of yourself, the doggies (bad bad doggies), and the food. sort of the ultimate roadside nut posting of the ages here.



    • Yes, what a ridiculous trip it’s been. The extra challenges I could really do without. I’m still alive this morning so I don’t think there was any brain damage. I don’t think I swallowed any water. I’m shot-shy so no protection there. But I think it’s just bumps and bruises now. Hoping for a calmer, even sunnier day today. But so far — all heavy clouds out there.

  2. Thank God that Dee is alright!

    Seriously, DJ,what a story. Now we have to worry about your physical well-being too. I know you are the boss of yourself but smacking your noggin like that is cause for being checked out if you ask me.

    Wow, this is turned out to be the trip from hell alright. I award you the Purple Heart & you can wear it on the crash helmet you should pickup next.

    Hmmmm, peanut butter cookie & kolacky too. Hope they were better than those donuts.

    Nice job on the BEAST shots.

    The Willard Building details are gorgeous.
    Hey, we went to Robert Hall in Chicago when I was little.
    Some excellent neon, Carousel, & St. Francis de Sales Church shots. Well done ,missus.

    Give yourself a little more rest, please.
    That’s an order, Soldier.
    Over & out.

    • More rest, tonight maybe. Head feels almost normal today — but my fingers feel like they’ve been thru the blender. The desserts were really nothing special. Soon, I’ll be in cherry pie country though — bound to improve. Maybe I’ll get food poisoning yet – still time for that.

  3. Wow, what a day with the dogs! Glad you are OK after that fall. I didn’t know about Grip and her blindness…Some great photos thought, despite the grey skies. Hope today sunny and incident free.

    • Still breathing here on the morning after. But it feels like I’ve been in a fight. Grip’s blindness is very recent. She had one-eyed sight for close to a year; now this. Totally sucks for both of us. But she’s happy, regardless. Still learning her way around the van by smell — and bumping her head. Yes, it would be nice to have a normal, sunny, productive day. The odds seem stacked against me on this trip.

  4. Yikes! Yes, please be careful, we need you to continue documenting all these great roadside attractions for years to come!

    • Enough drama and stress already, right? I seem to have one big splat on every trip — usually tripping and thrashing a knee or elbow with the camera held safely aloft. So maybe it’s good to have that part over with.

  5. I don’t even know what to comment about the duck debacle, except that I’m happy you/the ducks/Nik are (mostly) alright! I have got to say though, the stork picture is quite charming.

    Does Dee have a macro setting (it looks like a little flower usually)? That may help with those closeups…. as a sugary treat lover myself, the closer the better!

    Hope you’re feeling better, see you soon for Day 12 =)

    • Right — the macro setting forgot about that. I tend not to mess with the dial but I’ll give that a try next time.
      Glad you like the stork photo. At least I got two photos in before the mayhem. Pretty hilarious in retrospect. Really Keystone Kops.

    • Thanks for your good wishes! I still have a few brain cells left but my hands are a little mangled. Never noticed how badly til this morning’s surprise swelling. Terriers, ducks and concrete — not a good combo. YES, hoping things are on the up and up mechanically and weatherwise. This trip has been a doozie. Glad you’re enjoying tagging along — this might be one better enjoyed from afar!

  6. Wow, you’re like the Energizer Bunny. I can’t believe how many turns this trip has taken for you and yet your photos and commentary are still stellar. Sending you good thoughts.

    • This has certainly been the roughest one I’ve taken. Last big trip, I had some mechanical issues — but finally got resolved. And I had food poisoning but kept on shooting. I do the best I can whatever the circumstances since I know I won’t be back for years and a lot of this stuff will be gone by then. Keep in mind my blog posts are written after 12+ hours of driving like a maniac and after messing with photos & other emails. Not my best writing at all and no time to tweak or proof it really.

  7. my god girl – just read your post about your encounter with the concrete pond …. you’re lucky not to have stitches. Travel safe – talk to you later!-G

    • Yeah — the whole thing was ridiculous and I’m lucky I don’t have any broken bones. Trip could’ve stopped right there. But I’m fine now. Keep-a-goin…. Glad you’re enjoying the blog! Don’t forget there’s a whole mess of other photos at the agilitynut Flickr account.

  8. Coincidentally, I was in Grand Rapids on Friday and we passed the Sweet Retreat right at dusk. They had some neat neon accent lighting on the front eaves. I’m glad you got that one – I wasn’t in a position to take pictures, but I thought you would like that one.

  9. Did you have that head injury looked at? I sure hope you don’t need stitches, but make sure!
    On a more pleasant note, nice shot of a Robert Hall sign; I’m surprised any are still left.

    • Thanks for your concern. Never did have the head checked. I’m not big on doctors to begin with and didn’t want to waste any more time. I just waited for the slightest symptom — which never came — and carried on. Also, too hot to leave the dogs in the van while I sat in some waiting room for hours.
      I wasn’t aware of other Robert Hall stores before I shot that one. Glad I did!

      • Robert Hall was a budget men’s clothing chain. I haven’t seen one of their signs in many, many years. Reminds me of an old joke where a guy got amnesia and they thought his name was “Robert Hall” from the tag on his clothing… yeah, lame… I know.

      • Poking around at Flickr, this seems to be possibly the only Robert Hall sign left. I sent an email to Tod (American Sign Museum) to see if he’s interested in it. It’s pretty big and not that graphic-y but it would be good to save it somehow.

    • You’re welcome! Glad my site is bringing back fond memories. I’ll mention the Robert Hall sign to Tod (American Sign Museum) in case he wants it. For all I know, might be the only one left.

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