A circle of Detroitly delights

You just never know what you’re going to ride by on the Tour De Hood. Case in point, the ride the Legal and Eagle and I did the other day.

Here’s a link to our ride: (Thanks to Legal Eagle) LINK TO ROUTE

Mack Avenue is looking both up and down. While there’s some new signage, other buildings are still decomposing at various rates.

Alley Scratchers looks pretty new-ish, if you’re on the look for a new tat or some piercings. (Note: They don’t appear to be open in the morning)

$20 seems like a deal to me

Mountain Tire, on the other hand, appears to be permanently shut. (I’m not certain, but I think I can state that with some authority based on the price for that tire).

I’d say 90% of the tire stores in Detroit are painted yellow (or yellowish)

The Peace Lutheran School is, I think, similarly shut down.  Nevertheless, it’s a pretty good Cliff Notes version of building conctruction, as you can easily see the layers that make up its facade and structure.

Not too many Lutherans left on this part of Mack, I guess

Here’s an interesting retail “outlet”. You are offered the possibility to buy “Bank Foreclosures”.  Given the arcane means banks have been devising to artificially inflate their bottom lines (See: Barclays Libor Scandal), I doubt this is an opportunity to buy a foreclosed bank at a bargain price.

Get ’em while they’re hot

I’m reasonably positive this is NOT a retail establishment. And I’m not sure if it’s dissing or supporting our local Crip Club.

Yep,that about sums it up

If I had the time, I’d do a post that only had photos of barber shop/hair stylist establishments I’ve ridden by. Here’s one with a spiritual dimension

Better a Fade of God than the alternative

There’s a curious sign in the nail shop next door.  It probably violates a number of federal statutes (ask the Legal Eagle for details, if you must), but I can see the validity of its message.

Sorry boys, gotta stay outta here

Things were looking a little more upbeat a bit further towards downtown. An ice cream shop looked pretty spruced up. (With a nod to Albus Dumbledore?)

I confess: I’ve never actually purchased snow before

The Legal Eagle wanted to try and check out a former interurban train station (or it may be a bus station; I can’t remember which), so we turned onto Gratiot.  The building is still there (more or less), but we couldn’t figure a way in through the fencing. However, we did spot another interesting shop.  It makes a rather grandiose claim about itself on one of its signs:

Here, it claims to be “Michigan’s Best Kept Secret”

The next version of the claim is a little more toned down, perhaps on advice of counsel:

O.K., maybe we’re only “Gratiot’s Best Kept Secret!” 

There wasn’t much worth noting on Conner over by the Detroit City Airport, but new delights awaited us a bit further on:  To wit: A motorcycle club headquarters.

Any guesses what The “FW” stands for? I know MC = Motorcycle Club

 

There’s a semi-open (I honestly couldn’t tell) Chrysler axle plant over on Lynch Road. At one point, the parking lot must’ve been pretty crowded.  Here’s a photo of one of the turnstiles to enter the lot.

We also passed turnstiles 5, 6, and 7

Our ride came to an unplanned halt, as a very very long train had stopped (literally) in its tracks.  It sat there for a while, which gave us the opportunity to examine some of the mysterious signage on the car carrier cars: Here’s another quiz for you all

What the heck does this mean?

As I said, the train stopped for a very long time, which gave me the opportunity to snap a somewhat oxymoronic photo:

 Please note: While Union Pacific is building America, it’s falling apart at the same time. (See power line/phone pole in rear)

Once the train finally got moving, (It did make a really cool sound as the cars started dragging each other forward) we trundled onto Caniff. (Hi Tim Suliman!) We passed a video store with all your international needs covered.

Shouldn’t that read Bosnian?
Here’s something you probably didn’t know about Detroit. Just across I-75 is what is claimed to be something way better than “Michigan’s best kept secret”.  I present to you “The Nation’s 1st ISO 9002 Registered Boiler Rental Company”. Ta da!
Don’t go renting a boiler from anywhere else. Or else
We decided we’d gone far enough down Caniff, so we took 14th Street towards the center of the city.  (As it were). Along the way, I have to report that it’s probably not a good idea to have your out-of-town guests try an book a room at the Pink Inn. Once again, I’m guessing, but I don’t think they’re taking reservations any more.
The light is on (look carefully), but I don’t think anyone’s home
There is some glorious street art on Michigan Avenue and Vermont (I’m saving that for another post), but here’s some words to the wise in the meantime:
Neither a gossiper or a gossipee be
And a hint of what’s to come in a future post
Thank you, Lush, whoever you are
I need some help here, friends.  There’s a headquarters (I think) of a club (I think) that may have something to do with motorcycles (maybe) or ice making (could be).  The whole thing is so complicated, I can’t even invent a poll to help you help me decide. (Please feel free to throw in your suggestions via a comment).
Here’s the building:
Manse of Mystery
Perhaps you can help me decipher this.  Reading from left to right, we have: 1) “Headquarters President Nephew” 2) “Grand National President Mista Sonny Day Founder est 1969” and 3) (Least comprehensible) “Icicles”.
If it helps you, there are also a couple of images of very fierce looking dogs.
Example one:
Mean dog
Example two (as if a stop sign isn’t enough):
Maybe even meaner dog
Oddly enough, we didn’t hear (or see any actual dogs). Maybe they were licking some icicles in the shade.
We also decided to check out Detroit’s now-year-old hostel, which has some newly decorated features painted on its outside.  On the way there, we passed a house that looked as though it had been plucked from the Heidelberg Project.
Very inviting!
We also rode up and down a street that has its original brick pavers.  It’s only for a couple of blocks, but a nice reminder of Detroit’s past.
I’m a sucker for brick roads, even though they don’t make for smooth bike riding
We also spotted a nifty welding shop.  Check out the steel work here. Nice!
I don’t know if “Joe’s” is the real name. But it’s cool.
Before we made our way back home, we stopped at the Astro Coffee shop.  (It’s on the same block as Slow’s.)  I had the best egg sandwich I have ever eaten in my life. (Honest!) And a scrumptious cappuccino.  Definitely give it a try some time.
Here’s the nicely finished-off cappuccino:
Made by hand by someone who cares about what they’re doing
Finallly, someone had added a nice thought to the typical “Employees must wash hands” signs you see in every restroom these days.
Pretty good advice for everyone, I think
That was it for the day. As I remember, we had a nice tailwind back home, so all ended well.
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The Big Rectangle 6/12/2011

The Legal Eagle and I are running out of long streets we haven’t ridden on – so we decided to cover some turf we’ve already seen, with the aim of seeing some sights we haven’t. Given that the Legal Eagle is a train nut (of the best kind, of course), we plotted a route to take us to the massive marshalling yards over by Kronk St. and Livernois. Here’s a map of our trail, if you’d like to follow along. It does, indeed, resemble a rectangle. Or Tennessee. Your pick.

Someone once said “Getting there is half the fun”.  I tried to locate the source, but Google® returned over 10 million hits, and none leaped to the first page, so we’ll just accept is as an unattributed adage, ok? Good.

That turned out to be true for us, too.

We passed a number of interesting retail establishments – some of which are going concerns.

There’s a nice car wash/snack shop on Whittier, dig?

Open 7 days, but perhaps not on Sunday mornings

Aside from the grammatical irregularities,  close by is this nicely named barber shop:

I don’t know the location of Clipper City #1

Another car wash was just down the road. It was open, and while it doesn’t have a snack shop associated with it, it does appear to be operating in the face of possible copyright infringement issues.

No name. None needed. We all know what this car wash is called

I didn’t know there was a Duke Ellington Conservatory in Detroit until the 12th of June. Now I do. My mighty photographic skillz chopped off the title of the school on the right hand side. It’s officially the Edward “Duke” Ellington Conservatory of Music and Art. (The word I chopped off). I snooped around a bit online, and note that it appears to have a number of fine reviews.

“Baby, shall we go out skippin?
Careful, amigo, you’re flippin’,
Speaks Latin, that satin doll.”

Back on Gratiot, the Legal Eagle spotted a building that used to be the terminus of  an Interurban Rail company that ran trains from Port Huron to Detroit. It has stopped doing so, of course, run out of business by bus companies.

Yes, there used to be a train station on Gratiot

Over on the other side of the street are some rather more recognizably  Gratiot-ish. The slightly non-executive Executive Car Sales, for example.

Hurry in. Selection is extremely limited

If you have a dirty dirigible, you may want to take it here for a little freshening. And they even promise same day service!

Yes, I know Zeppelins are rigid framed, and blimps aren’t. But I can spell. And Zeppelin has another “p” and an “e”

We have a dog. I like my dog.  Dog Food Heaven sounds like a good place to get him his chow. But the animal under the store’s name doesn’t look much like any breed I’ve ever seen:

This pup barks with forked tongue

His kennel mates are a little more recognizable: Meet Fang:

Rawr!

And to his left, Butch (such an angel) and Pomegranate:

Good Doggies

Better Made® is Motown’s own snack food.  They make really good chips, if you’ve never visited our fair burg.  I hadn’t known that there was a factory discount store for the little beauties:

Factory Outlet for your gullet’s inlet

Right before we left Gratiot for other sights, we cruised by this wonderfully-named restaurant:

Now I’ll try to find Tim’s Thorax

Ron’s Rib Cage has a sparse presence on the interwebs. I did find a site with two diametrically-opposed viewpoints. One full thumbs up. One thumbs down. Ever been there? Weigh in with your opinions, if you have.

After a soft right turn, we found ourselves on Harper, and we ran across another excellent second ghost sign.  The Henkel’s Flour mill complex was on Atwater, and was also known as The Commercial Milling Company.

Two kinds of flour? Who knew?

We eventually arrived at our stated destination, the Livernois Yard, where freight cars are assembled together into a “consist”. Meanwhile, they’re kept in marshalling yards like this.

Squint, and you can see Detroit in the background

The Legal Eagle was in his element. (He’s a train buff).

I hear the train a rollin’, it’s comin’ ’round the bend – J. Cash

If you’ve got a hankering for a railroad spike, this is your Walmart. There are tons of them lying around, along with less-recognizable railroading detritus. The Legal Eagle scoffed at the goods on offer. He’s holding out for the golden spike.

On the way back, we cycled through “Mexican Town”.  There actually seems to be some real, positive economic activity here.  After sticking our heads in at a local outdoor bazaar on Vernor (there were a lot of used backpack leaf blowers for sale), we passed this fab mural closer to the commercial section of the area.

Fantastic Mural on the Side of the Hacienda Foods Building

One more  stop before we routed ourselves homewards.  We decided to pay a visit to the Corktown Youth Hostel, which I mentioned in last week’s post.  If you haven’t seen a photo of it yet, here it is:

Now open for your lodging pleasure

Oh, and one other thing. There’ve been noises made that Matty Moroun is going to re-window his iconic Detroit building, the Michigan Central Station.  Judging by the lack of windows and activity, I’m not holding my breath.

No activity noted.

That was it from a photo op perspective. We stopped for a delicious lunch at the Lafayette Coney Island, which, I have learned is six years shy of celebrating its 100th anniversary. It’s a splinter operation of the American Coney next door, and was opened after the Keros brothers got into an argument and split the original restaurant into two. (I had one with everything, a bowl of chili, and an order of fries). Seemed ok, as we’d ridden 30 miles at that point.