Find Yourself in the City: New Paths in Detroit

October 02, 2014 | Detroit

West Detroit RiverWalk Grand Opening Blog pic

Alright. If you drop me in the middle of the woods, there’s a good chance I will find my way out and back to you. No Hansel-and-Gretel-pebble-or-crumb-trail needed. That’s because I grew up surrounded by nature and wilderness. (Okay. And quite possibly my parents attempted this little trick on me once or twice. My memories on that are vague. However, I don’t blame them if they did. My memories of what I was like as a child are quite vivid. I would have left me in the woods too. And I would not have simply locked the doors in case of my return. I would have moved.)

Which eventually I did.

And during both my pit-stops in Ann Arbor and the metro-Detroit suburbs and my current five years of residence in my Downtown Detroit loft, I will readily admit that (on a very regular basis) I get lost.

Yes. I know ‘there’s an App for that.’ And, believe me, I use all of them.  Unfortunately, I also still have to use that (literally) ‘handy’ trick of knowing that your left hand forefinger and thumb make an ‘L’ (for left!) and your right hand forefinger and thumb making—well, usually a wrong turn.

Now, being navigationally-challenged usually only happens to me when I’m driving and almost never while I’m walking. Which is one of the reasons why I love living in Downtown Detroit, where pretty much everything is walkable.

Which is why I am willing to reverse commute 30+ miles to-and-from work in order to be able to live where I, well, where I always know exactly where I am. (At home, wherever I am, in the city I love.)

But that doesn’t change the fact that the small-town girl in me is horrified by the knowledge that the compelling desire to assist others in need is at distinct odds with the fact that when drivers stop to ask me directions, I will not actually direct them to where they want to go. (To my great relief, WDET just aired a story about a service that helps misdirected and lost drivers turn around in order to avoid an unattended international destination sans passport via the Ambassador Bridge.)

But if you plunk me down in a nature preserve, I would know exactly the right path to follow.

And, now, that path does lead to the Ambassador Bridge.

Yep. This weekend the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy is hosting the Grand Opening of the West RiverWalk.

For years, Little Dog and I have gotten our nature-fix by meandering the RiverWalk. But we’ve always done this by taking a short walk from my loft down Woodward Avenue to Hart Plaza and taking an ‘L.’ In other words, heading east.

Yes. We have occasionally also gone ‘right’—so we could pass our friends at the Detroit Princess Riverboat or pay homage to Joe Louis Arena. (And the day Coach Babcock said hello as he was jogging back from Rivard Plaza, Little Dog was all about heading toward the rink.)

But the marshland, the grassy parks, and the lighthouse along the Eastern Detroit Riverfront always drew me on toward our final stop on Belle Isle.

Now all that has changed with the opening of a segment of the West Riverfront with its transformation of the former Detroit Free Press printing site into 20-acres of—well, nature.

Not only do I have nature to guide me as I take a ‘non-L,’ and head toward the Ambassador Bridge, but I now also have a 30-foot-wide path to clearly guide me (in case ‘nature’ fails me).

If you live Downtown, you can enjoy this walk every day before or after going about your ‘business.’ If you visit Downtown, you can check out all the beautiful nature our city offers before heading to one of our many restaurants for an incredible dinners, one of our multiple (and soon-to-be-more) excellent sports venues for a game, or cultural centers for a show.

But no matter what, you should be there this weekend, for a ‘Community Block Party’ (and there is no party like a Detroit party!), to celebrate the Grand Opening of the West Riverwalk. From 1 p.m. until 8 p.m. on Saturday, October 4th, there will be a Biergarten (Atwater Brewery), Food Trucks (Delectabowl Food Truck & Catering, Stockyard, Qais Truck, Grill Billies Food Truck, Alegria Pops Detroit, Jackson’s Five Star Catering and Mercurios), Family Activities, and Live Music, with no charge for admission. Oh. And FREE Bike Valet courtesy of Wheelhouse Detroit Bike Shop.

It’s all happening at 1801 W. Jefferson.

Or. If you run into me on your way there, straight out my front door, down Woodward a couple of blocks, and then a gorgeous walk toward your non-L. And the place where you can find yourself in nature.

Yeah. Like I said, I am horrible at directions. But a Yooper not only can always find her way ‘out of the woods,’ but can also—and will also—find her way back to nature.

So, in the same small-town sentiment ingrained in me at an early age that I have only ‘found’ since moving  to Downtown Detroit—where that same friendliness pervades the pavement, parks, and people—you might as well just come along with me.

Don’t worry. We don’t need an App for that. Little Dog knows the way.

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