4:21AM comes at you like a stealth thief in the night. One minute, you’re in some far off dream land and the next, you’re bright-eyed and bushy-tailed listening to the echoes of Interpol’s Slow Hands on repeat in your brain for another 40 minutes.
The only thing you can at this point is get up, which you do by reading the internet in your self-contained blanket fort. Shortly after this, you say, “fuck this,” and go into your office. None of this hiding under the covers business.
But then the hours creep on by; soon it’s going on 9AM and the only thing you’ve since you’ve crawled out from your blanket cave is mindlessly scroll the internet. Weather looks to be hot (mid-high 80s) AND humid (90%), so if you’re going to do this, you do this now. You change into your workout gear, brew a pot of coffee (totally caffeinated, who the fuck are we kidding here?), put on your trainers, and get walking. You’re tired though, so you do the same route as you did on Monday, except backwards. The route, not you, just so we’re clear. At some point you look at your phone and notice you’ve broken the 14′ mile pace like it was a walk in the park.
So you decided to slow down a bit, because what is this magic of your feet? 14′ walking mile? Are now THE FLASH?
Yes, yes you are. Distance: 1.19 miles Walk time: 18:17 Pace: 15’16″/mile
Two walking days in a row where you’ve gone deep into the 15′ mile marker, and perhaps it’s time to start thinking about running. But not quite yet, how about a race? A race sounds good. Yule Run, I’ll Walk in November? Perfect.
In the same week, I’ve had two house guests snigger at “Wealthy Street” when giving them directional information. They chorused it is a very fancy sounding name for a fancy neighborhood and consequently, I live in a very fancy house.
I won’t disagree too much with their assessment. Wealthy Street was one of the original city streets (as evidence that much of it is still brick) and trolleys used to run down it towards Reeds Lake, which during the turn of the 20th century was a popular amusement park and day tripper spot. Captains of industry lived in my neighborhood and they would journey the few miles to Reeds Lake for their various entertainment, both of the day and nighttime variety.
Now Reeds Lake is ensorceled with homes owned by well to do white families and your self-importance rises by at least 30% when you cross the borders into East Grand Rapids.
This has nothing to do with my walk except that a part of it was on Wealthy Street and one of our favorite bakeries is six blocks from Throbbing Manor.
Wealthy Street Bakery and Art of the Table have snuggled next to each other for nearly a decade, beginning when this side of Wealthy Street was sketchy and a major drug dealer took up residence in the storefront across the street. In the last 3 1/2 years we’ve lived in the neighborhood, the gentrification that had started east of us has spun its magic in this area. Within a few blocks of WSB and AotT is a new brewery, a tequila bar cum taqueria, a coffee shop that roasts its own beans, and more, all that have open within the last couple of years.
What makes WSB so exciting to me is Tuesdays/Thursdays is vegan cookie day and they’ve been known to daily stock vegan chocolate cupcakes and will bring them out if you politely ask for them. TheHusband goes gaga over their danishes and I have a weakness in my loins for their chocolate babka (not vegan, but YOLO). Distance: 1.29 miles Walk time: 20:06 Pace: 15’28″/mile
I’ve been bemoaning my left calf for some time now, pain would grip it when I walked, regardless of how fast or slow. Kristin tipped me off to getting a calf sleeve, which I did, and it has made a remarkable difference in my pain, gone from I WANT TO CHOP MY LEG OFF to barely noticeable. And a 15″ walk?What kind of crazy is THIS?
The sleeve I first purchased is enclosed by velcro, to make it fit better but I have big calves! 18″ at the widest point and what fit snug at the top was definitely quite loose near the ankle. I’ve just splurged on a true sleeve and now I’m thinking I want to train for a 5K walk.
I am invincible.
I’ve long known I’ve had a fairly flat ass. It is not so flat as there is no shape, but the shape of my ass does not match the width of my hips. This became even more obvious this week as I found myself, after sitting in one place too long, walking around the cabin doing high knee bends and massaging my bottom. Today I had been inside all the day, working on my book, and around 4PM decided to do a walk around the neighborhood to get some muscle tone back.
Throbbing Cabin is situated in the old chalets that were used to support Sugar Loaf, a ski resort that was one of the best skiing areas in Michigan but has since been shuttered since 2000 due to bad property management and unpaid taxes. About 65-70% of the homes in my neck of the woods are seasonal, mainly trunk slammers, who come in the summer months for the views, wines, and beaches. With the area being named one of the most beautiful in the country, and Traverse City within spitting distance, we know how fortunate we are to have landed this place at the time that we did. Even more poignantly without the ski resort for support, many of the chalets have gone vacant and were falling into disrepair.
So while we’re in a tiny, sparsely populated subdivision, it’s insanely quiet here. The sub is surrounded on two sides by cherry orchards and forests, the third side is the old ski resort, the fourth is wide open field that is used for crops.
It’s a strange juxtaposition of seasonal and yearly homes that make this place unique. You’ll have places like ours, A-frame or similar cabins built to mimic Alpine styling, then WHAM! A more modern home shows up in your view complete with paved driveway, satellite dish, and siding.
Distance: 1.07 miles Walk time: Roughly 22 minutes Pace: 17:14/mile
What is most remarkable to me is the stillness. I can count on one hand the number of cars I hear drive by every day and at night, the stillness is broken by the creatures of the forest. So I admired the tree tops, and the odd mailbox, and thought how can you capture silence in a picture? Can you capture silence at all?
(I will not tell a lie, I close the windows at night not because I think there may be a Jason Voorhees hanging around, but that a curious bear will rip off the extended panes, rip through the screens, and somehow squeeze their body through an area 3 feet high and 1 foot wide.
Yes, I do have an overactive imagination, thank you for noticing!)
The sub’s diameter is exactly one mile, which makes it perfect for my walk. I came across some people doing yard work but most of the homes sit closed up, as evident by the piling of old newspapers and weeds in their drives. I saw whom I assume to be a young father taking his dog, a toddler, and a baby out for a stroll. He seemed more startled to see me power walking with my earbuds in and determined face than I was of him — but I had seen him yesterday around the same time doing the same walk.
Slowly, as I continue to observe, I get the feel and the rhythm of the place.
Last night I was utterly exhausted when I crawled into bed around midnight with the hope that by reading, I’d be able to nod off and get to sleep. My brain had other things on its mind because I finished the book around 1:30A, and still wide awake at 5:11AM watching Bob’s Burgers.
I took half a Klonopin around 4ish, which I think finally drove me the edge into wonderland of sleep. However, I bolted upright in bed at around 9:30AM as if I had slept for days.
TheHusband, who was appreciative of me being quiet as a mouse while I watched terrible television last night, tried to cajole to go back to sleep but I was BRIGHT EYED AND BUSHY TAILED. LIke a squirrel on speed.
I decided to harness this extra energy by walking to the Downtown Market for their Saturday Farmer’s Market since we needed an assortment of veg. The round trip is about a mile and would also count as part of my daily walk series, PLUS getting some kind of exercise should help with the mania.
Win-win all the way around.
As we walked to the market, I had forgotten the house with the floating heads was on our way, which marked the perfect beginning of the journey.
Because of some dilly-dallying on my end at home, we didn’t get to the market until after 12PM, so most of the fruit/veg were picked over but we still ended up scoring us some great finds. We were hoping to have lunch at Grampas’s Pasty Co., because goddamn their Conrish influenced pasties are delicious, but they were down to two flavors we weren’t rather fond of so we skipped them this week.
After loading up our messenger bags with our finds, we walked the Market’s inside hall to see if we were missing any else and to get lunch ideas. We ended up with a few treats from Sweetie-licious Bakery Cafe for later, but still no lunch options were tempting us. Since we’re right downtown, we decided to see what was open.
Stella’s is one of our favorite spots to eat in the downtown core. They have awesome burgers, great fries, and metric fuckton of old video games to play. But we weren’t in the mood for Stella’s so we kept walking and ended up at Meena’s Joint, which serves stoner food with a Rasta vibe.
TheHusband might looks like he partakes but we are aging alternative hipsters and coupled with the Coheed and Cambria on the stereo, we were definitely not the clientele they are catering to. The food is basically anything that could constitute a sandwich filling packed into a grilled tortilla and the taste was merely, “meh.”
With our bellies full, I was ready to keep on walking around downtown, maybe do a stroll through GRAM or a saunter down Monroe Center, but the threatening rain finally decided to open up the skies.
We decided to just walk home in rainy, companionable silence. Distance: 3 miles Walk time: 1:00:54 (This is total walk time, does not include time we shopped at the market or lunch) Pace: 20:17/mile
Our story begins last night when TheHusband and I decided to head up to Northport, a village 20 miles north of Throbbing Cabin in the tip of the peninsula accessible by the lovely twisty turny M22, where we went for dinner and to catch the Fourth of July fireworks.
Last year we showed up when the fireworks were beginning and parking was near impossible, so this year we thought we would be slick and go super early, get a good spot, have dinner, and wander around town before the show began at dusk.
Aren’t we a clever lot?
We arrived sometime after 6PM and found parking easily in the downtown area, which was a few blocks from the marina where the fireworks are held. People were already picnicking and saving spots four plus hours before the show was to begin, so you know this event is legit.
Dinner was pulled pork sammiches with sweet potato chips at the Garage Grill & Fuel Lot, which had all the makings of becoming a favorite of ours. I thought the pulled pork was heavy on the grease and less on the BBQ, while TheHusband raved about how great the pork was smoked. The sweet potato chips and coleslaw were divine, so I didn’t trouble myself much over the greasy BBQ.
All of this washed down with the nectar of the gods, Labatt Blue.
We walked around town for a bit after dinner, having a drink at Northport Brewing, before heading over camp our spots at the park for the night.
Sometime after we finished dinner, and around the time we got drinks, I started feeling not so hot. My period started that afternoon before we left, so I put the blame on it even though I kept feeling like I needed to throw up which was NOT a typical period accoutrement.
The rest of the night alternately crawled and sped on by while I struggled with brain issues, stomach issues, and period issues. Plus, the weather had turned decidedly cooler, dipping into the 50s before the evening was over.
Last night would be the second night in a row I would need to use a heating blanket. Pure Michigan, my arse.
TheHusband and I played Words with Friends during the wait for the boom show, but the battery life on my phone was draining insanely fast and when it hit 23%, immediately depleted itself to 0%. I managed to catch a vague sharp picture of floating lanterns being released into the sky but not a single image of the fireworks show.
The crowd was pulsing as the night wore on. Drunk soccer moms and their families camped in front of us and became surly when we declined the cupcake topper American flags they offered us in their half-hearted attempt of friendly patriotism.
Every once in a while a drunk voice would yell, “‘MURICA!” and the crowd would laugh. Everyone around us seemed to be having a good time while my mood became darker, my stomach was in agony, and the temperature continued to drop.
We could see the fireworks show from down the bay in Traverse City and across the bay over in the Eastport area, both of which began at around 10PM. Northport advertise “at dusk,” but actually start their show at 10:30PM and at 10:30PM on the dot, the show began. After 20 minutes of their half-hearted fireworks show, TheHusband gave in to my agony and suggested we leave to beat the crowd.
On the drive back, I kept muttering, “I feel like I’m going to throw up” and “I don’t feel good” and YET, nothing was forthcoming. I drowned some Pepto when we got home, took a Klonopin for my mood, and went to bed.
Three hours later, I up in bed out of a dead sleep. “I don’t feel good,” I said to myself as I made my way down to the bathroom.
Literally the moment I flipped on the bathroom light, the heaving started. I knelt and clutched the toilet as dinner, beer, and Pepto all came back up. The force of the constant heaving turned my throat raw and my stomach into pin cushion.
Once everything was out of my system, I brushed my teeth, washed my face, and crawled back upstairs into bed. TheHusband rubbed my back while I fell back asleep, finally having relief in getting rid of the alien out of my stomach.
This morning was slow going.
I didn’t wake up until later, snuggling under TheHusband’s arms while he read Grantland or some other ESPN derivative on his tablet. Today we were going to go on a hike, then head to Traverse City for Cherry Festival and see Emili. None of those things happened. Instead, after a brunch of toast and OJ, we got dressed to run errands – like picking up a ladder and buying tampons. (The bloodwolves are devourous creatures.)
We crisscrossed Home Depot so many times, we actually got a mile in which means — hurray! Walk for the day completed.
Dinner was depending on if my stomach felt better (pizza) or not (burgers on the grill). I figured since my stomach was already all fucked up from whatever the fuck it is I ate the day before, eating cheese was going to be fair less painful.
I had been bragging to TheHusband for the last few years that when I used to come up to this area with TheEx, we would get pizza from Bear Paw and it was the best pizza I ever had. Distance: A mile round trip through Home Depot Walk time: N/A Pace: N/A
Apparently my memories of the pizza are rose colored memories because once that first slice hit my mouth, I had to concede it wasn’t that great. I tentatively ate a few slices while we discussed the merits of good vs bad pizza. After dinner, we declared to the other now that dinner was complete, we would relax for a bit before doing some long overdue DIY around the cabin and putting our telescope together to take to the beach later in the evening.
Five hours later, I’m still on the chaise writing. TheHusband is still in his chair reading and we’ve been listening to a mix of Calypso, Mambo, and ’60s protest music while we did our individual things.
Fuck it. It’s vacation time. The gutters can wait another day to be cleaned; the hammock will get hung at some point. The stars will still be there tomorrow for our gaze.
Today’s walk was actually a hike through one of our favorite areas: Pyramid Point. Last year when we did this hike, we meandered off the main trail and ended up more than 2 miles further from the trailhead than we were supposed to be and the 2.7 mile hike turned into 5 miles.
Then, after we figured out our location and were walking towards our car, I managed to have a massive anxiety attack and shut myself down. TheHusband jogged back to the car on his lonesome to come back and pick me up since it was clear I was refusing to not move an inch. After he had been gone for what felt like years, I somehow got myself pulled together and trudged forward, meeting him 1/10th of a mile from our where our car was parked.
Now that I know the area better, and I’ve been steadily walking around the neighborhood these last few weeks, I felt much more confident going into the hike.
Plus it’s hard to not feel awesome when wearing a pair of sassy orthopedic socks.
Beginning of the trailhead.
After walking about about a half a mile to the split, you could either continue climbing up and to the lookout to view Lake Michigan or continue on the trail into the woods. The lookout is densely packed and with the large number of people hanging out today, we decided to go right into the woods.
If you did choose to up to the lookout, you can hike around the bluffs and come back down via this sand slide to the trail as an alternate route. TheHusband wants to get in shape enough to come up this route instead of the trail in the beginning since it will be less populated. I laughed in his general direction.
TheHusband is contemplating a tree that had half of its trunk neatly cut off by lightning.
There are loads of fallen trees over the trails and I love them. I feel like I’m hanging out in Middle Earth and these are seating for giants.
There is a side loop you can take through meadows, where last year I kept saying, “The Orcs are chasing us — run!” as we hiked. Why? Because Old Age Pensioners (or Orcs as I like to call them) were catching up with us and having the elderly more fit than you is embarrassing.
Anywho, that loop brings you back to this point, and this is where we fucked up. We started out taking the meadows and took a wrong turn somewhere and this is how we ended up 2 miles further than we were supposed to be. This year, we said fuck the meadows and just continued on the trail in the woods. Much safer that way. Plus — no Orcs! Distance: 2ish miles (round trip) Walk time: 40ish minutes Pace: 26:32/mile
I forgot to turn the Fitbit on until after we had started the hike and there were also some hiccups, so the times is sorta of close? During bits of the hike itself, Fitbit kept crashing as evidence by the lack of red line connecting the beginning and the rest of the hike and I realised you could also “lock” the timer into place so if you navigated away from the screen, it wouldn’t put itself on pause.
Tomorrow TheHusband has found us another hike. Good times will be had whether we like them or not.
When TheHusband and I were bouncing around dinner ideas yesterday, he suggested making Thai food which I immediately grabbed on to as I love peanut curry with chicken like no one’s business. TheHusband, however, seemed convinced that the only way we could make it was with crunchy peanut butter and we only had creamy. So obviously we had to go out to our favorite local Thai place to have dinner.
Like I’m going to turn that down?
One of the best things about our location is we’re about a mile from the downtown core where Bangkok Taste is located, so it’s easily within walking distance from the house. As I knew today I was not going to get my walk in, I felt more motivated to do a second walk last night to alleviate the guilt of not walking today AND plus there is food at the end of the rainbow. DOUBLE WIN.
(Well, triple win. I have leftovers!) Distance: 2.34 miles (round trip) Walk time: 46:40 minutes Pace: 19:56/mile
Even with TheHusband’s sauntering ways, I made it under a 20 minute mile.
Even though I fixed the problem I was having with Walkmeter, I decided to use the Fitbit walk tracker on the way home to see how that compared — and wow is it easy and awesome. No overly complicated controls, is easy to navigate and understand, and WORKS. I’m sold.
Consider the pineapple.
In Michigan, where pineapple is definitely not a native fruit, you may think seeing pineapples on plinths at the end of driveways and walkways would seem weird and out of place. So why on earth would those in ye olden days use pineapples decoratively? Why the pineapple and not say a banana, or an apple, or grapes?
Glad you asked!
While the past is a bit murky and conflicting of when pineapples were introduced into the western world, what is clear is that the social history of the pineapple exploded during the Georgian era, as due to their rarity, pineapples were considered luxurious and heavily desired goods. Having access to a pineapple, either by renting it or owning it, cemented the pineapple’s owner of their high status in society. The same pineapple would often appear at numerous dinners, to be admired and never eaten, until the fruit itself went to rot and then the process would start all over again.
England is not the warmest of countries so special techniques were formulated to successfully grow pineapples in English soil in special greenhouses called pinerys. This of course raised their value even more as only the wealthiest could afford the time and the money to build and maintain what the pinery required.
So how does this connect with pineapple on plinths at the end of a walkway in good old Grand Rapids? Distance: 1.12 miles Walk time: 23:20 minutes Pace: 20:71/mile
Well, it could be a couple of things.
The first is as most of the houses in my neighborhood date back to the mid 1800s, it’s not a leap to imagine a local captain of industry and his family made various Grand Tours to the continent. The wife (or hell, even the husband) saw pineapples used decoratively as they travelled – pineapple as a motif was seen in paintings, china, wallpaper, building design and more. What up and coming Grand Rapids socialite wouldn’t want to be considered the height of European fashion by having her own pineapple plinths?
The second, and probably the most probable, is several social historians suggest that Carib peoples, native to Guadalupe, would put pineapples at the entrance of their village to let visitors know they were welcome at anytime. When Columbus and his dudes took the fruit back to the continent, this same practice started appearing at the entrance European homes. It was also apparently a huge todo here in the colonies to have replica of pineapples built at the entrance of your home to indicate to all that entered would be given the utmost in friendliness and hospitality.
We’ll never really know the story of the pineapple on plinths for this particular sliver of land in my neighborhood. As the historic register requires all modifications and rebuilds to be period specific to the origin of the house, when a home has been destroyed and cannot be rebuilt for whatever reason, the land becomes small parks.
And this particular place, all that is left of that once stately home, and the history that once surrounded it, is a pair of pineapples on plinths.
I am a dilly-dallier.
When my alarm goes off in the morning, there is usually a minimum of two snoozes (18 minutes), then I check the weather to suss out the days outfit. At that point, I should get out of bed, do the walk, and then start the rest of my day. But then I need to figure out my route because I change it up everyday. Then I need to do a hundred different things and instead of getting in a walk at 730AM, it is now 9AM.
Distance: 1.54 miles Walk time: 31:19 minutes Pace: 20:25/mile Pleasant Park is located down the block from Throbbing Manor. It is a city initiative to turn an old parking lot into a 2 acre green space. The project has been plagued with financial problems from the start, since this started before we moved here in January 2011.
Last year we took to the polls to approve a $500 per property owner tax in the adjacent neighborhood, levied over 10 years, to pick up the financial slack. Because of all the setbacks, the park that was to open last year is finally opening this month. We hope. But right now, it doesn’t look like much.
Because of the problems I had yesterday with everything crashing and my phone had been sluggish as hell as of late, I did a restore last night which seemed to have cleared whatever problem was ailing it. I also figured out the sequence of which apps to run when so everything works harmoniously.
Until I got home and saw the Walkmeter recorded my time, but definitely did not record pace or milage. There was a lot of, “Are you fucking kidding me?” as I stood in frame of the front door.
At least I know how to use a calculator.
When I had my arthritis surgery a few years ago, they cut the fascia of my right tendon in my calf (warning: not for the squeamish) to lengthen it because I was having problems with cramps and locking up when I was doing couch to 5K plans. So now my right calf is like, “I CAN WALK FOREVER,” while my left calf is, “BITCH, PLEASE.”
Thus, when I sorted out two walks this morning figuring I would choose the one at the split on how I was feeling with my left calf. I thought the shorter walk was barely a mile, while the extra few blocks would push me more towards the 1.25 mile. Nope, I was wrong — the first walk was 1.25 while the additional blocks pushed me closer to 1.5 miles. About half way in, the tightness of my left calk was getting pretty unbearable, there was a few times I almost cut the walk short, but after a few more blocks, the pain started to lessen so when I came to the split, I opted for the long way. Imagine my pleasant surprise when I saw how far I had walked today – – profanity in front of my house of a piece of shit app notwithstanding.
Hey! Looks like the latest Fitbit app update now does the same thing. Sorry, Walkmeter. I am going to have to quit you.
The recent spat of sporadic rains have not helped with the 93% humidity and high 80s temps. TheHusband and I cracked and turned the central air on Friday, which has been fabulous, but the minute we head out, we melt. Yesterday TheHusband went out to stake our poor tomato plants and I was hauling recyclables out to their respective cannister when I got tagged by some sun. That burned. It was painful. I quickly tossed the recyclables into their cannister and booked it back inside, vowing to never let the Daystar graze upon my body again.
TheHusband, who had the beginnings of heat stroke on Saturday night, was outside for roughly 20 -30 minutes and was nauseous when he got back indoors. Sleeping last night was painful for both of us: His back, including his shoulders and his upper arms, are burnt while the top of my thighs, chest, and arms were burnt. I could sleep on my back, but couldn’t sleep on my side or stomach. He could sleep on his stomach, but not on his back or sides.
We’ve been drinking lots of water, rubbing ourselves down with aloe, and eating ibuprofen to help with the pain. And this is why we never leave the house! Too traumatic!
Distance: 1.17 miles Walk time: 20:38 minutes Pace: 16:70/mile
This morning’s walk took me past Meyer May House, which is spitting distance from our house. It has a cousin a few blocks in the opposite direction that was completed by some of Wright’s acolytes.
In the 3.5 years we’ve lived in this neighborhood, we’ve never done a tour of the house.
The rest of my walk was kind of a clusterfuck. The Walkmeter app froze and only recorded half of my walk, so my times above are estimates based on previous walks. My podcast app also froze, as well as the Spotify app, so the last half of my walk was music less. I was getting overly distracted by all of the world around me, I need the music to keep me focused. Music keeps my brain from overheating from the ping ponging of thoughts and ideas, which is super important when I am exercising or doing an activity that requires physicality or else OOOHHH SHINY.
And of course when I got home, everything started working again perfectly. Of course.