Just Pretend it’s the Zombie Apocalypse

I’m going to do something uncharacteristic and tell you a little of my personal background.  I’m from Flint, Michigan.  I lived right in the heart of the city for two years, and spent the vast majority of my life in various suburbs of it.  Both of my parents worked there, my grandparents go to church there, I went to college there.  You may have heard of Flint.  Built & then abandoned by car manufacturing, crime & unemployment run high.  It’s been in the top 3 on the U.S. murder rate lists every year for at least a decade.  Lately, Flint has been in the news for having an undrinkable water supply.
Some people seem to think that the people of Flint voted to switch their water supply from Detroit to the Flint River because it was cheaper.  These people don’t know anything about Flint because anyone who lives anywhere near Flint knows that you don’t mess around with the Flint River.  Eighty years of industrial waste, they find bodies in there all the time, you certainly don’t DRINK that.  But our lovely governor Snyder appointed someone who knew jack-all about Flint, the residents, or the river, who had absolute power over the mayor, the city council, and everyone else who had actually been ELECTED to their positions, and HE was the one who made the call to run that filth into people’s homes.  It was every color except clear, little kids started getting rashes, people’s hair was falling out, but no, they said, it’s fine, boil it a little, everything’s alright.  Then they admitted maybe it wasn’t perfect and started giving out filters, but the problems persisted.  FINALLY, after A YEAR AND A HALF of the lucky people filling bathtubs bit by bit with bottled water, filling jugs at friends’ houses outside the city, and the unlucky ones just drinking it because they didn’t have the means to find another source, the powers that be said oops, there might actually be a problem here.
As it turns out, they had to put an awful lot of chemicals in the river water to make it safe to drink, and since nobody bothered to add an anti-corrosive to the mix (like we really need to be drinking that too), it was eating the lead pipes as it made its way into people’s homes.  The filters they gave out don’t remove the lead, and boiling the water only makes the concentrations higher. It’s actually so noxious that the few  factories that remain can’t use it because it destroys their machinery.  Oops indeed.
All that lead is now settled in the systems of thousands of little kids, and there’s no telling what the future holds for them.  They could have developmental and behavioral problems for the rest of their lives because the state wanted to save a little money.  Years from now we’ll be seeing them in mental health clinics, special education programs, and prisons.  They’ve switched the water back to the Detroit source, but the damage is done, the destroyed pipes are still leaching toxins and will have to be entirely replaced.  Who knows how long that will take, or how much it will cost.  The people of Flint can’t afford to fill bathtubs with bottled water, on top of the bills that the city is still charging them for unusable water.
Forget the question of how he still has a job, why isn’t Governor Snyder in JAIL?  If anybody else poisoned an entire city’s water system they’d be labeled a terrorist.  Meanwhile Nestle siphons millions of gallons out of Lake Huron and sells it back to us at obnoxious prices.  It looks like people who can actually fix the problem are finally starting to pay attention, now that Flint is in the media everywhere.  They’ve declared an emergency & sent the National Guard in to hand out bottles of water and filters that actually do work on lead.  U.S. Marshalls have been told to bring the emergency manager to a hearing after he declined Congress’s invitation.  I imagine Snyder will be next.  It only took two years.

These Last Couple of Weeks in Awkwardness

I’m pretty much ready to register for classes next week, right down to which sections I want, which of course means panicking about other people snapping them up before I can get them.  One is already gone, I’ve got enough options to cover for it but if my whole system breaks down I might completely lose it.

For any of my fellow/future college students who might be reading this, I’ve included some links below.  Anyone who signs up with my links gets themselves and me entries for prize money.

Scholarships.com – $1000

Noet – $500

Fastweb – $500

PowerWallet – $2500 sweepstakes that doesn’t really have anything to do with college.

Since I haven’t written anything interesting lately, I’ll leave you with these two photos from when the American Spirit got stuck on a sandbar in the channel between Mackinac & Round Islands while there was a storm going on off to the south.

2014.09.04.021

2014.09.04.029


Added to the Travel Map:

Splendid China, Kissimmee, Florida – abandoned theme park.

Bok Tower Gardens, Lake Wales, Florida – a botanical garden with a carillon, which is apparently a musical instrument using huge brass bells.

Great Blasket Island, Kerry, Ireland – abandoned settlement.

Bunker 42, Moscow, Russia – top-secret hideout built for Stalin himself.  Now you can play laser tag there.

HM-69, Everglades National Park, Florida – A decommissioned Nike missile base.

North Rona Island, Scotland – ruins & whatnot.

Dunnottar Castle, Stonehaven, Scotland – ruin on a cliff.

This Month in Awkwardness

A friend of mine took me out geocaching and I’m completely hooked on it.  I’m kind of obsessive and I love collecting things so it’s a pretty perfect hobby.  Lately on my days off I keep thinking that I should go outside but then I think where would I go?  There’s not a lot to this island that I haven’t seen.  Hunting for these little boxes has gone a long way toward getting me back outside, even to places I’ve already been.  There’s a new page listed in the main menu for photos of the geocaches in their natural environments, complete with a map.

Otherwise I’m really just looking forward to Labor Day.  It’s so hot and so crowded right now that it really hinders my ability to do anything remotely fun unless it’s super early in the morning or super late at night.


Geocaching:


Crossed Off the Travel Map:

Alanson, MI
Alanson, MI
Inland Waterway Nature Preserve, Alanson, MI.
Inland Waterway Nature Preserve, Alanson, MI.
Sanctuary Island Park, Alanson, MI.
Sanctuary Island Park, Alanson, MI.

Added to the Travel Map:

Obersalzberg, Berchtesgaden, Germany – ruins of Nazi mansions & underground bunkers.

Penn Hills Resort, Analomink, Pennsylvania – abandoned resort.

Château Edmond de Rothschild, Boulogne-Billancourt, France – abandoned mansion.

Destination: Round Island Lighthouse

Round Island is part of Hiawatha National Forest, is entirely uninhabited, and really doesn’t have any tourism to speak of.  Occasionally someone will take a kayak across the channel, or we’ll see a bonfire on the beach, but for the most part it’s pretty forlorn, the lighthouse locked up tight, nobody around.  One day a year the Round Island Lighthouse Preservation Society, together with Boy Scout Troop 323 of Freeland, Michigan, open it up for tours.  The tour itself is free, but if you don’t have your own way across transportation from Mackinac costs $15.  First they put seven people into a smallish fishing boat, then they transferred us into two inflatable Zodiac rafts.  I wish I’d been wearing lighter pants, I was siting right in the bow and my jeans didn’t get dry the whole time I was there.

Nobody really took care of it from the time it was decommissioned in 1958 until a storm swept away a whole corner of the building in 1972, and people started to realize they might lose it forever.  They kept it from collapsing then but the interior is still in desperate need of reconstruction.  Holes in the walls, holes in the floors, but it’s a beautiful building.  Boy Scouts throughout the building talked about the history all the way up.  The first floor housed the two massive compressors that created steam to run the foghorn, the second and third floors were living quarters for the keeper, his assistant, and their families.  Some of the bedrooms had the foghorn right outside the windows – I’m sure that was fun to sleep through.  On the fourth floor there’s just a ladder up into the lantern room, and from there a tiny hatch opening out onto the deck.

While I was there a woman named Gertie came to the island.  She’s 90 years old, and her father was once the lighthouse keeper.  She spent a handful of summers living here as a girl, and sat for a long time telling us about carrying water up from the lake, the things her sisters found walking the beach, and making whatever fun you could in such a lonely place.  We moved into what had once been her bedroom, and while she spoke a floorboard broke out from under her daughter’s foot.

Going inside Round Island Light is a rare opportunity, and one that I passed up too many times.  I probably spend three hours wandering through it and listening to Gertie’s stories.  It would be nice to see it restored someday, but the money and effort involved with such an undertaking may be too much.  In the meantime we’ll just have to love it as a beautiful ruin.

Destination: Drummond Island

IMG_7637

Drive an hour from St. Ignace, to the very eastern corner of the Upper Peninsula, onto the Drummond Islander IV in De Tour Village, and land in paradise.

Paradise with nobody in it.

Paradise with cool abandoned stuff.

Paradise with lots of trees & wildflowers.

Seriously.

2015.06.30.042

Ferry passage for a car and the driver is only $14.  It was shocking how much stuff they put on that boat – cars towing boats, fifth-wheel campers, I even saw a semi towing a huge excavator waiting to board.  I spent two nights at the semi-rustic Township Park campground, a spot with electricity is $16/night.  The first night I couldn’t sleep, so I laid awake listening to loons call.  Bring a canoe or kayak if you’ve got one, there’s all sorts of little outlying islands, including Harbor Island National Wildlife Refuge.  There’s also plenty of hiking and four-wheeling trails.  A lot of roads on the map unfortunately are signed as private roads, so I couldn’t explore as much as I wanted to :(.  There’s no shortage of services here, the main intersection in town has a grocery store, hardware store, and dry goods shop that all seem to be owned by the same family, and there’s plenty of restaurants, hotels, and campgrounds.  I think the gas station had as wide a variety as our grocery store here on Mackinac.