About 7 years ago we decided trekking across Michigan every week to visit one of the kids, attend our grandkid’s sporting/school￼/dance events or babysitting was just too much driving. We hadn’t outgrown our neat lake home but it had outgrown us. The rest of the family were clustered in an area about 175 miles east while we were stuck on the western shoreline by ourselves. Traipsing up and down stairs, no longer utilizing or enjoying the dock or lake. So we listed the house-and waited. And waited. Won’t go into the long drawn out saga trying to rid ourselves of said nice lake home. Suffice it to say we finally moved 5 years ago.
We were not set where we’d hang our hats next, just somewhere much closer to the bulk of the family. We stored our belongings, moved in with Shannon and her family (I felt sorry for them during our stay-we were a huge nuisance) and started house hunting. We wanted something smaller, on one level and didn’t think we were very fussy with our list of needs.
We were familiar with Jackson where our eldest lived. When we moved to Michigan in 1987, Jackson was our home for 7 years before we moved to North Muskegon for 21 years, so that’s where we started looking. But not the same side of town. Our 2 boys were still 45 to 70 miles farther east, so we concentrated on the east side of Jackson, towards them a bit, in an area we were not very familiar with.
We found a large, quiet subdivision with modest sized homes about 12 miles east of the rambling ranch we bought the first time around. Needed some work (actually a lot more than some) but fulfilled our needs. Our offer was accepted, we closed but moving in would require some work first. New floors, paint, appliances, (can’t even talk about the bathroom yet) some elbow grease and we were ready to have our things delivered six weeks later.
Hubs and I worked on the joint everyday during those 6 weeks. Learning where the big box stores/lumberyards were on the other side of Jackson. In our previous 7 years in Jackson, I’d only frequented the east side a few times, mostly for Sunday breakfasts with friends. Basically there are a couple main drags through town and one of them comes within a few blocks of our new abode so I wasn’t worried about getting lost. Besides we were now within an easy access to I 94, but it was like moving to a city I’d never been to before.
We tried new ways of getting from here to there when running errands and buying gadgets for the house. I had in my head if I stayed on 94, I would be able to see the exit for the east side Meijer, but I’d always ended up at the exit for our new neighborhood which was 3 miles too far. Yet had not caught a glimpse of my favorite shopping Mecca. Finally had to break down and ask the Hubs (he worked on the east side for a couple years). Turned out I had to get off 94 one exit before our house and my beloved Meijer was within spitting distance.
Wasn’t long before we noticed Consumers Power was working on Ann Arbor Road, which runs along a stones throw of I 94. They were adding huge street lights at regular intervals on either side for a stretch of 4 or 5 miles. Once in a while something would niggle my brain as for the purpose of these lights but most of me was consumed with whipping the house into shape before winter. A large section of Ann Arbor Road runs alongside I 94, so many working folks simply stay on AA Road until they merge on 94. Speed limit is 50 which is slower than 94 but there’s less accidents, less semi’s, less construction woes.
I believe all the street lights on Ann Arbor Road were for a new walking path constructed 4 years ago. Runs along the south side of Ann Arbor Road, sometimes within just a few feet of the road. A narrow shoulder puts me precariously close to traffic at times as I walk. I watch semi drivers and worry about their retreads, thinking one flying through the air at 50 mph could be a death sentence, but it’s the texters who concern most.
During my walks in North Muskegon there was only one main drag, so it was used by everyone in the mornings. Gals applying makeup, a guy eating a humongous bowl of cereal propped right beneath his chin, book/work/newspaper readers while the rest diddled with their phone. On the plus side the speed limit was 25 and pretty much enforced. Ann Arbor Road’s speed is twice that with 10 times as many semi’s as North Muskegon.
I get it. Ann Arbor Road is basically a highway with several fast food stops, and a lot of people feel no remorse for tossing garbage out the window. So I’m not surprised when I see half filled, melted slurpee cups, limp cheeseburger/French fry wrappers, plastic water containers and masks of every size, shape, color and material. A worn out tire here, a dead couch there, a broken basketball hoop propped against a stop sign.
For a couple months this spring a section of my walking path added another harrowing feature. An obstacle course, as if walking a straight line isn’t hard enough for this off kilter/balance deficient grandma. Remember those adorable 4 baby Canadian geese, along with their monogamous parents had claimed ownership of my walking path in front of the pond as their permanent summer residence. As long as I was quick with the compliments about their brood, all was well. But when I started complaining to mom and dad that they needed to train their kids not to poop all over the path 463 times a day, I became enemy number one. Snotty enablers chased and tried to goose me every morning. I used my walking stick for protection daily. Yikes.
One of the geese tweens got hit in July. (I’d been harping to them the pond across the road was safer, less hectic, but they covered where their ears should be and screamed, “la la la la.”) The family mourned for a couple days, then disappeared. Poof. Just like that. About a week later I drove to the pond, parked my Jeep and spent an hour sweeping up a ton of poop, broken glass, stones thrown in my direct path from the shoulder.
Since I’ve only utilized the path since the end of 2019, the first time I spotted something beyond ‘strange’ in my walking path I was perplexed. However, this same issue crops up every couple weeks since so I can no longer think of it as an unusual occurrence. What, pray tell-you ask?
Tis vomit. Multiple splotches of vomit. Every couple weeks. Usually I see a small splotch first. Just a teaser. Several yards away there’s another clump, with a final curtain call within a quarter mile. I just don’t understand. If you’re on the path and feeling sick, why wouldn’t you just stop, lean over in the grass/weeds/wild flowers and upchuck? There are several lovely resting spots along the path. Two expensive benches sit primly on a large section of cement. Next to the benches are black wrought iron trash receptacles with a garbage liner. At least a half dozen times this year someone’s sat on the bench, within 15 inches of the trash barrel and vomited all over the sidewalk in front of the bench. So sick they can’t turn their head? Honestly I have no sympathy for them.
One day a few weeks ago, it was pouring down rain when I got up, so I didn’t walk. I used to love walking in the rain, but now I lose my grip on my walking stick and the rubber base slides on the wet blacktop. Finally cleared up around supper time, so I went for a short walk to get some steps in before dark. Not my best walk, it was humid, no breeze and the sun was in the wrong place since I always walk in the morning. Monday morning dawned perfect and I went for my usual walk around 7. A mile from home turns up several new ‘splotches’ since the night before. I wonder if they were high, got bad fast food or just drunk? You know how many times it has to rain (hard) to wash that crap away? And the stains stay linger for months. It’s just so disgusting.
Years ago there was a gal in North Muskegon who was the most dedicated jogger I’ve ever seen. A no nonsense runner. Many days when the weather was inclement, ice and snow covered sidewalks with accompanying 30 mph hour winds, she’d be jogging along Ruddiman. Alone. She was painfully thin and well over 6 feet tall. She never waved or acknowledged my existence. Not even when we ran into each other in Meijer as she was buying her weekly ration of one celery stalk. There were several times over the years I’d see her stop suddenly, run into the grass/bushes and get sick. But I never saw her or anyone else vomit all over the sidewalk that we all used and shared. I don’t know what exactly this says about my fabulous new walking path but it troubles me for some reason…