My First Day as a Detroiter

Biking on the Detroit River Walk.

Biking on the Detroit River Walk.

Well it's happened. I have officially-slash-unofficially become a resident, at least temporarily, of America's very own Motown. The neighborhood — Jefferson-Chalmers, on Detroit's East Side — is a(n)... okay-ish, fairly old community very near the Grosse Pointe(s), where, I am told, all those ritzy folks take up residence of their own. The house I'm staying in? It was built in 1919, a fixer-upper that's maintained a pinch of its original charm but is not shy about its age. Amazingly, the owners claim it was the first house on the block, a hunting lodge back in the day when this area was covered with marshlands. I guess I'll take their word for it.

The first day of my internship with MLive's Detroit outfit turned out to be a long one. Rising at the wee hour of 7 A.M. — that's early for me, guys (I never scheduled a college class earlier than 9 A.M. — and even then, I probably made it to that chemistry class less than half the time (*hashtag* only a morning person when I want to be)) — I showered, dressed, and gobbled down a banana (minds out of the gutter, please), before heading to Farmington Hills to meet my new boss, whereupon we took care of some introductory matters. The day continued with lunch at Qdoba, followed by some other boring-ish work stuff that we won't delve into here for everyone's sake. Because let's just get to the interesting bits, right?

Interesting bit number one: my boss loaned me a bike so I could participate in Monday evening's Slow Roll, a massive coming-together of bicycling enthusiasts who take a group ride in and around Detroit's neighborhoods, major and minor, on a weekly basis (during Michigan's warmer months). Hundreds of people of all ages participate in this weekly rendezvous, some with pimped-out rides and others with blow-your-face-off speakers playing the latest jams. There were literally so many that came out on Monday evening that our small troupe eventually split off, opting to traverse the Dequindre Cut, a bike trail on the East Side carved out of a former Grand Trunk Western Railroad line.

More about the Dequindre Cut: you can ride it (or run/jog/fast-walk it) from wherever the heck we got onto it (somewhere near East Market) and take it all the way to the Detroit River Walk if your little heart so desires. Our little hearts took us nearly the length of the river walk, past the Renaissance Center, Joe Louis Arena, and a riverboat called the Detroit Princess (a whopping, four-story piece of craftsmanship), while approaching the Ambassador Bridge, which, if you were so inclined, can take you to Windsor, Ontario. We turned 'round before that however and rode back through downtown so that we could eventually reach interesting bit number two.

Enter interesting bit number two: a visit to Z's Villa on Piquette Avenue for a bite to eat and some liquid nourishment. The three-story building is over 100 years old and proclaims itself one of Detroit's favorite family owned restaurants — and it'd almost be criminal not to believe them. We sat outside under a gargantuan umbrella — like Alice-shrunk-in-Wonderland gargantuan — and imbibed ever so slightly as other guests engaged in a fierce battle of bump-set-spiking on the villa's sand volleyball court tucked in the back of the property. Other recreational options included semi-giant Jenga and the tailgater's go-to, corn hole. 

If none of that interests you, though, you can always just enjoy the food. I had a Slim Jimmy, ham and swiss on a ciabatta roll, with fries, priced reasonably at about $9. Not bad if I do so say myself. Having good company with you can never hurt either.

All told, from the time I got up in the morning to the moment I stepped back into my 97-year-old residence after dark, my first day as a Detroiter lasted approximately 15 hours. It was a good one, but I think I'll aim for a few hours less going forward.