Friday, July 1, 2011

Belle Isle Is a Beautiful Island

Yesterday we went on our annual trek to Belle Isle. If you're not from around here, you should know that Belle Isle is an island, rather unkempt and sort of gritty - but not without its charms! - near downtown Detroit in the Detroit River. I've been going there since I was a wee little lassie and it's one of my favorite spots in the city.
If you've heard unsavory stories about Belle Isle and you're nervous about going, let me take a moment to convince you. It's hopping with families during the day (perhaps more of a teen hang out at night...hence the unsavory stories). Families are biking, having picnics, playing on the various playgrounds, hanging out on the beach, and so on and so forth. I've never ever felt scared or threatened in any way. Almost everyone has kids with them. I will say it can be kind of confusing to find stuff (can we have more signs please?!?), but the main road goes all the way around the island, so just keep driving in a circle and you'll eventually find what you're looking for.

We got kind of a late start. This is pretty much the story of my life. So anyway, I picked up Bethany's friend and headed to Belle Isle with 5 kids. We went straight to the biggest, nicest play ground on the island, where we were meeting several friends. Michigan has finally decided to turn on the summer, so it was a beautiful day. The kids played and played and played. Just a note, there are restrooms near the playground (no soap) and a concession stand, but we couldn't find any working drinking fountains. So bring lots of water. There are tennis courts just across the street, and Bethany brought her tennis stuff, so some of the kids went off to play tennis for awhile (with adult supervision, don't worry!). 

After the kids pretty much wore themselves ragged, we packed it up to head to the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory. But on the way there we got sidetracked and decided to stop at the Scott Memorial Fountain first. I remember seeing the fountain as a kid, and then it was closed for repairs...for years. Now it's up and running and we wanted to get some pictures. The kids tossed in pennies and made wishes and then the rest of our party realized it was getting to be too late to go to the conservatory. Everyone got in their cars to leave, but Connor and I really wanted to see the conservatory, so even though the girls were all whining that they were tired and hot and blah blah blah,  we drove over there and enjoyed it for about 15 minutes until it closed for the day. That was kind of a bummer, but really the kids were so exhausted by this point that it was just as well.

We're hoping for another trip this summer so we can go to the conservatory (and nature center) first, before the kids are totally worn out and everyone has to leave for Little League games and whatnot. Belle Isle may not be shiny and new like some other parks (and shiny and new is great), but I love old things and I love history and I love that I used to go there with my grandparents. As long as it's open I'll be enjoying Belle Isle. (I also love that I'm ticking things off my summer to-do list! Yes, I'm a dork!)

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