800 miles, 20 years – 4

2016-09-17_194140987_7a6fe_iosRead the previous posts if you haven’t. It was mid-afternoon  as I drove out of Cascade park. My next stop on the journey was my old work place. Driving to the warehouse on 76th street, MI-6 was practically empty. I love the broad expressways of Michigan – no better place to showcase good roads than the birthplace of the automobile. 76th street was kind of the deal-killer in our decision to move away from Michigan. I remember during the winter of 1996-97, as I was driving back from work I ran into a blizzard. With near zero visibility and the snow on the road having turned into small balls of ice due to the freezing conditions, I had a tough time controlling the car. It just wouldn’t go the way I wanted to. Fortunately I didn’t hit the brakes hard but really slowed down and pulled over for a bit. It was scary to say the least. At the same time, she had a similar experience with a toddler in the back seat and that nailed it for us. We didn’t want to handle the harsh weather anymore. Take away winter and the area is just gorgeous with less stress on the public infrastructure, nature too beautiful to be described in words and a much less stressed life than in a pure urban setting.

2016-09-17_201046756_1fcae_iosAnyway, as I drove into the parking lot, lots of memories came back. Here it was that I worked with one of the three most inspiring people in my life outside of my family. I parked the car at the end of the lot and was tempted to walk into the office and ask for people. But given it was a Saturday, I knew the chances of meeting anyone was very low and twenty years after? Not a chance really. A person walked out of the adjacent warehouse to his car nearby. He might have wondered who is this guy standing and watching the building on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. He just had to get into my head to see all the memories whizzing by of time. It was like the Harry Potter movie – I was standing and watching events unfold. The day I started working there, the afternoon lunches and chats and walks, the feeling of community among the new immigrants, the days I stayed late – once it was that I finished writing and running the Cobol program only to be told that it wasn’t required anymore. Then there were days of celebrations, the trip to Farmington Hills where we celebrated the 10th anniversary of the company I worked for. It wasn’t all fun. There was the machinations of the business leaders trying to sell bodies that could do anything for a bunch of dollars, the favoritism. Fortunately I was way down the ladder to be affected. For someone just about a few years into the country and starting a family, having a stable job was more important.

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Meijer Store on 28th Street. Meijer is head quartered in Grand Rapids

My plan was to visit Grand Haven and head back to the room. The city is famous for its musical fountain. We had visited the fountain a few times and still recall fondly the memories of see the children play on the lawn in front of the water. I found out that the fountain starts at 8:30 PM.

City Hall, Grand Haven, MI

City Hall, Grand Haven, MI

That meant that I could start driving only at 9:15 PM without stopping for food. Four hours of driving in the night didn’t seem like a good idea after a long day and several hundred miles already on the road. I decided to find a hotel close the Grand Haven and stay over for the night. Norton Shores had a Fairfield Inn welcoming me and I checked in around 6 PM. Thanks to my work related travels and rewards, I didn’t have to pay for the room. It was a fairly new hotel and the room was sharp and bright. I stretched for a while exploring what else I could do the next day as I would have a lot of time.

 

 

Court House, Grand Haven, MI

Court House, Grand Haven, MI

Around 7:30 PM, I drove to Grand Haven. The street by the water was crowded already with dinner seekers and those who had finished dinner strolling along the pathway. It was hard to find parking. I drove a bit and found some open spots on the street parallel. It was just a block away. Thinking I will get dinner I Googled and found a vegan place. It was about 0.7 miles and 15 minutes of walk. I started walking and noticed the beautiful storefronts. I passed by the City Hall and then the Court House. The roads were less populated.

The Stadium at the Marina, Grand Haven. The musical fountain is all the way across from the water.

I saw someone who was at least 75 years old, jogging up the road. Incredible I thought as I wondered how to keep up my long walks up with my knees starting to tell. Within five minutes I had crossed a couple of blocks and he was more than a quarter mile ahead of me. Some stamina at that age really. The place I was looking for food turned out to be a health food store and I couldn’t really find anything fresh to eat. I started back towards the fountain. I had covered about 10,000 steps already and that was the satisfaction for the day – at least I was active on a weekend day.

 

The Marina was filling up with people and the sun was getting done for the day. People were getting into their boats and yachts to get to the middle of the water for a better view. There was an open pavilion with seating for about 200 people. Many children were playing. I wondered how these one or two years old who don’t really speak well communicate with each other. That’s how my son had spent on these grounds long back. He had partnered with another 18 month old and I clearly remember them spending the hour before the show started with hardly any supervision. They just found something to do and didn’t fuss about anything.

2016-09-18_001605730_98ffb_iosGrand Haven Musical Fountain When the show was over, I searched and found many Subways on the way back  so I was relieved. There was one very close to the hotel. Once I got there I saw it was in a huge mall. The mall itself was surrounding a large body of water and hence its name – The Lakes Mall. There was an Olive Garden. It is always better for me to eat hot/warm food than a cold sub or a cold sandwich. I ordered some minestrone soup and eggplant parmigiana to go. The girl at the take-out counter was still smiling at the end of the day – it was around 10 PM – and she handed me my bag within 10 minutes. With the bread, it was way too much food for me, but I was happy to have had a good meal at the end of a long, memorable day.

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