Tag Archives: Hawk Island

Doing 25

csIMG_5089Out of the last four days I have walked three of those days and traveled over 25 walking miles. I also have clocked some biking miles since I am using my bike to help me move around quicker after walking the streets I need to walk (it’s not cheating, I checked). These twenty five miles took me to the south eastern corner of Lansing. This very large area was south of Holmes, north of Jolly between Pennsylvania and Cedar. Then I used my bike to get to some straggler streets out on Miller and Aurelius. I rode my bike 7 more miles on top of the 9-11 mile walks. I am starting to get tired. Sometimes I feel bad about pushing through this quickly. I think it wouldn’t be my preferred method. However, I am still walking with the same interest to my surroundings that I’ve always had, I am just walking farther. When I first started in 2010 I was only able to walk about a mile (20 minutes) before I became winded and was ready to stop. Now I can easily walk 6-8 miles before I start having any aches or fatigue. In fact, today I only walked 3.66 miles and was frustrated that I wasn’t able to walk farther (it started raining). It has been about three weeks now since I decided I needed to step it up (pun intended). My goal was to walk 10 miles every day until I felt I had a really good shot at completing this walk about by October 4. Even though I haven’t met that goal I do feel I am making progress. The south side is very daunting with super long dead ends, high volume traffic streets and urban sprawl. If anyone is interested in some long walks, let me know! I would love to have an exercise partner.

These are some of my finds over these 25 miles of south eastern Lansing:

Two Little LibrariescsIMG_4697 csIMG_4699

A house totally decked out for U of M (I noticed their trash can was green and at first thought they must hate that they have any green on their property. But then I thought, it’s a trash can, they probably asked for that color; haha).csIMG_4704 csIMG_4705 csIMG_4706

Kendon School and Park; totally adorable!csIMG_4708

Marscott ParkcsIMG_5035

This house:csIMG_5037

The River Trail with a path to get on at Willard (off Aurelius just south of Forest)csIMG_5041 csIMG_5051 csIMG_5056

The most south eastern neighborhood in LansingcsIMG_5097


Recently a tweet came through from an assistant publisher from a local digital magazine. The thing that caught my attention (as well as the attention of a few other #LoveLansing folks) was that it was used to promote a very negative news story. Lansing tends to suffer from an obvious Jekyll and Hyde syndrome. From the perspective of many #LoveLansing ers it’s all sunshine, flower pots and happy, healthy well to do citizens. Then the sun goes down and it turns into a crime riddled, gun totting, prostitution ring, wild, wild, west. I’ve been told that for every bad story that makes it into the media there should be 10 good ones. So today, on this Friday the 13 of July, I will present my 13 reasons why I think Lansing (greater Lansing Area) is a great place to be!

13. The water. I’m not talking just the rivers, which I will get to in a minute but we also have a system of smaller creeks that surround the area. Then there is Hawk Island that has a perfect little lake front oasis set up with swimming, boating and fishing. Also within this park is a wonderfully refreshing Splash Pad.
Many times I have taken my twins there to cool off and play in the shooting jets, and dumping buckets. To the north is the handmade Jones Lake. It’s not nearly as popular as Hawk Island but it’s a cute little lake to check out. If fresh water sources aren’t your thing there are also a couple of public pools in the area including Hunter Park Pool & Splash Pad and Moores Park Pool. If you venture outside of Lansing’s city limits there is Lake Lansing South which is a very popular swimming and beach area. Just north of that is Park Lake which is a no wake boating and fishing lake. Both make wonderful destinations to have a picnic, play on the playgrounds or people watch.

12. Museums. Lansing’s root as explorers, scientists, travelers and inventors is quite evident when you look at the museums in the area. One of my all time favorites is Impression 5 (I5 as us locals like to call it). Inside is a wonderful warehouse filled with fun scientific activities, experiments, play areas and demonstrations. They continue to expand and redesign the contents of this museum to match the needs and desires of the families that visit. They are truly a staple of downtown Lansing. Turner–Dodge House is also an exciting opportunity to step back into time. As a child that lived on the north side I often would ride my bike there and go through the tour of turn of the century artifacts. Outside, we would play on the property for hours; roaming the gardens and climbing on the circular bench surrounding an ancient tree in the front. Another great place to spend the day is the Michigan Historical Museum. A couple of smaller museums that we’ve travelled through during Be A Tourist in Your Own Town are The Michigan Society of Professional Surveyors Institute and the R.E. Olds Transportation Museum. Both are worth a visit.

11. Parks & Nature. Lansing maintains 2000 acres of park land. This really could go much higher up my list as I think our park system is extraordinary! Some of my favorites are Fenner Nature Center, Cooley Gardens (it was this City Saunter that had me visit there for the first time. Read my blog here), Hunter Garden House, Potter Park Zoo, Frances Park, Hawk Island and Scott’s Woods, Louis F. Adado Riverfront Park, Washington Park and Shigematsu Memorial Garden. Check here for the entire listing presented by The Greater Lansing Visitor’s Bureau.

10. Community. Lansing is the best “Little, Big Town”. I hear this phrase all the time. It’s true. It’s big enough to have amazing resources and amenities. Yet it is small enough to bike across, run into someone you know while out, get to have a conversation with the Mayor (city council or president of a large corporation), and know the owner of a local restaurant. A day ago I was with a friend and we were talking about the Lansing skyline. She laughed and said, I still look at the Boji Tower and am astonished that I walked down that. And I was there that day taking photos of her. I’m not sure how likely that would be in Chicago or New York. Also here in our little big town we promote each other’s ventures, ideas and businesses. We cheer on the underdogs and buy local as much as we can. We have incubators, networking meet-ups, small business assistance and non profits like I have never seen or read about in other cities. I’ve often heard that it’s our friendliness, as a community, that really makes people want to be here.

9. Sports. We like to play in Lansing. We also like to watch other people playing. Not only are many Lansing people strong supporters of our Michigan and university based teams, but we also enjoy rooting for our kids on their sports teams, especially when one of them makes it to the 2012 Summer Olympics! (Congratulations to Jordyn Wieber of Dewitt). Lansing also hosts their very own minor league baseball team that draws hundreds into town during the summer months. Last year Lansing had its first full marathon. We also host a multitude of charity races each month and have an annual adventure race called Dirty Feat.

8. Artistic Haven. Rising up out of the rusty Oldsmobiles and Chevys is a strong creative group of entrepreneurs. Sometimes this group even uses those rusty parts to create art in the Old Town Scrap Festival. Old Town also has a multitude of design studios and galleries. Sometimes this artistic nature comes to fruition in theatric form like at River Walk Theatre or Peppermint Creek Theatre, and sometimes is can be in created art found at Art Alley, REACH, or Craig Mitchell Smith Glass Gallery. (Click here for a more complete list of galleries and theaters)

7. The Rivers. I love the rivers in the Lansing area. I also enjoy supporting groups and events that are helping make the river something all the residents can enjoy, like Mid-MEAC and the Capital City Dragon Boat Race held this September 1 & 2.

6. State Government. I like that the Capitol is here. I enjoy the ebb and flow of political conversations. The state government provides stability to this city and helps it stay viable during rough financial situations and collapsing of entire industries. I appreciate that.

5. Education. There is no denying that Lansing has within its borders an immediate access to a plethora of educational institutions. Many of the outer colleges have some sort of agreement with LCC and MSU to provide their programs here. Or you can just attend LCC, Davenport, Cooley Law School or MSU, each with their own set of personalized programs.

4. Non Profits/Volunteer/Community Gardens. I once read that Michigan was able to ride out the recession much better than other states because of our nonprofit programs. Working with Lunch with a Purpose for two years has allowed me to witness all the great things these groups are providing almost always on a volunteer basis. Here is a list from LWP website of local non profits.

3. The Music Scene. At the exact moment of me writing this friends of mine are preparing for the 5th day of Common Ground. Every year for a week in July national musical talents are brought in to perform at this fantastic outdoor concert series. The Capital City Film Festival also coordinates fantastic music performances at the end of each day of that event. These were often held at The Loft which has become the perfect venue for smaller (400 capacity) concerts. Lansing has also been known for its original artists including but not limited to; 19 Wheels, Jen Sygit, Root Doctor, Global Village, Starform, Summer of Sol, John Beltran, Organissimo and Lansing Unionized Vaudeville Spectacle.

2. The Festivals! Old Town on its own hosts about 12 festivals each year!! Add to that Common Ground, Silver Bells, Taste of Downtown, Frost Fest, Christo Rey Fiesta, Ignite, BWL Chili Cook Off, Mosaic Festival, Dragon Boat Race, Apple Butter Festival, Maple Syrup Festival, Capital City Film Festival, TEDxLansing, and my favorite Be a Tourist in Your Own Town. WOW!
And finally my number one favorite thing about Lansing;

1. The Lansing River Trail. A few years back the trail was expanded south from Aurelius across Mt. Hope and into Hawk Island. From there you can continue south all the way to Jolly Rd which is the edge of Lansing’s southern border at that spot. I’ve heard they are planning a route into Holt there. To the east the trail connects to MSU campus which is already extremely bike and walking friendly. To the north (from Aurelius again) you travel passed Potter Park, Impression 5, the Lansing Center, The Lansing City Market, Old Town and up to the Turner Dodge Mansion. (See why I like it so much? You can take it to many of the things on this list!). Now go back south and the right turn you passed before will take you on the west route which takes you right to Moores River Park and really you can continue all the way to Frances Park since the roadway is very biker friendly here.

Even as I finish this up I realize I didn’t get to mention The Lansing City Market, or the Turner Street Outdoor Theatre, or the local publications that keep us up to date on information, or the media “celebrities” that participate in event after event and are a true part of what makes Lansing a great place to be. Maybe there isn’t a way to write out all the amazing things we do have going right here. I hope this might help Mid-Michiganders appreciate it maybe a little bit more. I also hope that this might let those not living here realize what they might be missing.

City Saunter Fail

The plan was this. I would drive the almost 12 miles into town and park somewhere near the intersection of Forrest and Aurelius; one of my non-traversed sections of Lansing. I would connect back to the section of Aurelius I hadn’t walked and then continue south on Aurelius until I made it to Cavanaugh. From there I would walk west on Cavanaugh to Hawk Island Park; not to avoid the $5 parking fee (they weren’t collecting anyway) but rather to walk the section of Cavanaugh I hadn’t walked yet. The title of today’s post was going to be, “In Lansing, if it doesn’t snow, we make our own”; or something like that. I was planning to walk through Hawk Island to the new outdoor adventure hill and take photos (perfect photos) of snow machines blanketing the man-made hill in complete and perfect uniformity. Then I would continue through the dog park path and end up on one of the back roads between Aurelius and the park. As time allowed, I would walk as many of those as I could before returning to my parked car. My first hitch was not being able to find a place to park at my desired spot. I often take into consideration where I leave my car for the time I am away. I like to make sure it remains safe, un-ticketed, un-towed and un-vandalized. I also don’t want to leave it in a place that might be cumbersome to a business or home owner. All the streets that butt into the dog park have street parking prohibited. There is also no parking along Aurelius on any side. I continued my way down Aurelius and only found businesses and homes. Turning onto Cavanaugh, I found much of the same. Finally I pulled into the Dollar Store parking spot and made my way to the park; same walking plan as mentioned, just rotated around the block a bit. This park is still one of my favorite parks, even in the winter. I continued along the trail, passing a few winter exercisers. As I came closer to the new hill jutting into the sky, I noticed a lot of grass on it. Funny, I thought I just saw a news clip with snow machines gunning and lift chairs moving folks up and down the hill. The closer I got the more I realized that this hill wasn’t offering any fun times. Well, shoot. There goes the perfect photo. Still optimistic that I could at least get a few streets walked, I continued around the base of the hill to the Soldan Dog park entrance. This is where I watched in frustration as a man with a dog slid his entry card through a reader on a large wrought iron fence. He and his dog walked through the gate and continued their walk along the path while I stood trapped on the wrong side of the fence. At this point my choices were walk around to the Scott Wood’s side and see if I can get around to my desired road; knowing full well it will be pass-coded on the other end as well, or walk back to my car, defeated. This time, despite checking the fence line all the way back to my car, hoping to find a hole; I chose defeat. Next time will be better, I know it!

Year in Review: A Photo Montage

Here is a year in pictures for 2011! I hope you enjoy.

Cool it, Lansing

Once inside the towering tunnel of trees the loud city noises become muffled background sounds. The most audible sound comes from the birds twittering around and the wind blowing the tree tops far above our head. After walking the six blocks down Clifton Ave. from Pat’s childhood home we were at the entrance to Scott Woods. This park had back handedly gotten in on the Hawk Island renewal a few years ago. At the very end of Clifton Ave. sits this sentry cove; a beckoning preview of what sits within its treescape. Instead of the old dirt paths and rustic signs it once had the city has paved a walking path wide enough for two way pedestrian traffic. Well built bridges cover the slow flowing streams or even dried up riverbeds. There have been recent additions of directional signs leading walkers to their proper destination; whether it’s to Potter Park, MSU River trail, McGuire Park, the Soldan Dog Park or Hawk Island. Only in location does this new Scott Woods resemble the single file trails leading to a small gravel pit that Pat took me to while we dated twenty two years ago. The old air plane hangar is no longer there. In fact the gravel pit is no longer there. It’s really hard to explain what happened in this area; a landscaping on steroids. Bulldozers brought in piles of dirt, redirected hills and islands and developed a recreational masterpiece. The gravel pit became a gorgeous lake with a picturesque island in the center. Pavilions and picnic tables are scattered in perfect symmetry throughout the park. The community meticulously constructed a playground that can entertain children for hours. (I know this for a fact). The cemented trail all around the park lends for roller blading, walking, biking and in the winter skiing. Fishing is a common sport in designated areas around the lake. There is also a boating area for enjoying the water without getting wet. However, if getting wet is your intention, as it was ours on this overly hot day, then the greatest adventure at Hawk Island is the splash pad.

We knew we were getting close to the watery play area as we continued our walk. We could see the lake through the trees. The increase in frequency of passing pedestrians also gave us a clue.
Then we heard the screaming. It was the constant squealing, giggling, yelling and laughing of hundreds of Lansing residents refreshing themselves in the lake and at the splash pad. It called to us from around the trail. With sweat dripping down our backs we could only hope that we would reach that refreshing water soon. We made the turn onto the trail that took us directly to flowing, crystal clear fountains. We walked past the boat area; we passed the trail to the playground and beach and walked right through the gate to the Hawk Island splash pad. We waded through the clouds of chlorine and suntan lotion and joined the throngs of people that we had just heard screaming in the distance. For the next hour we stood under buckets filling with water, slowly spilling onto our heads. We ran through tunnels of shooting water and stood on holes in the ground gushing water straight into the sky. We used guns to shoot the water and cones to redirect it. It was the hottest day of the year and many were out seeking anything to refresh them and to wash the sweat from their bodies. With these incredibly warm summer days many would have no other way to cool down and definitely not have anything this cool!