23 July 2013

7/15/2013 - We're Famous

There is a wonderful local public TV program named Under the Radar (or UTR). Mike and I love to watch the show because it gives us ideas for new places to visit in Michigan and great restaurant reviews. It is amazing all that the state of Michigan has to offer. This week the show featured Kalamazoo. Turns out our loft home was on TV, as well as our little silver Prius.
See the parked car next to the low red brick building (behind the low white building) kind of to the left of middle. That is Sparky, our hybrid (gas-electric) car. Our building is the taller building to the right of the car. The one with the smaller green roof on top. We live on the third floor facing the car. In any case, it was sure fun to see our home on TV.
Our previous loft was often seen on TV and in advertising for Kalamazoo because the silver Radisson Hotel is in the background. Our old unit was upper left in the orange brick building, with the odd angled roof line.

In the 2006 movie Kalamzoo?, it was even intimated that our unit was the home of the lead male character. Stars in that movie are Mayim Bialik (of the Big Bang Theory), Claire Bloom, Chita Rivera, Dee Wallace, and others. Some locals were in the movie as well, such as Suzanne Parish (well-known aviator of WWII, co-founder of the Kalamazoo Air Zoo, and supporter of the live arts Kalamazoo Civic Theatre). Here is a photo during the making of the movie with Claire and Chita in the cool red car.

Always fun things to see and do in Kalamazoo!

21 July 2013

Summer 2013 MICHIGAN Kalamazoo 2 - Garden Tour

The small public Five Senses Garden was my favorite today. It is part of the Kalamazoo Public School system. It was designed to support programs for youth at risk or with disabilities, but is also a wonderful place for anyone to spend time. As we entered, we found a basket of blueberries. We were invited to take a few. A taste.

You proceed down a walkway to experience the other senses. Each time you change "senses," the sidewalk changes to a different media / texture. Also to help guide you is a little sculpture sign of a nose or whatever. Very clever.

The smell area included lavender; taste area had chives and oregano; hearing had water features, an "echo" spot (this alone is worth the trip) and reeds and rushes; sight area had lovely flowers; and touch area had pebbles, and prickly and other touchy things. At the end were raised beds tended by the special childrens' programs. Benches throughout let you relax and take in the diversity of this very special place.

Stop 4 was the Giving Garden. This is a volunteer project of the Master Gardeners of Kalamazoo County, sponsored by Michigan State University Extension, in collaboration with the Food Bank of South Central Michigan, through land loaned by the Kendall Electric and Humphrey companies. That is a mouthful and a mouthful is the end result of this program. Their mission is to provide fresh veggies to the under-served. Last year they grew and gave away 15 tons of produce to Loaves and Fishes and other local community food banks. None of the food grown is for-profit. They also use "compatible" growing methods, like radishes near cucumbers and potatoes near beans. I'll have to look into this a little more for next year.

Our last stop was the Trybal Revival Eastside Eco-Garden. It is an experiment in permaculture. This was a new term to me and I found its premise is 1) take care of the earth and its life systems, 2) people use only resources necessary for existence, 3) return surpluses back into the system so waste can be recycled into usefulness. This is very simplified, of course.

Anyway, the Land Bank tore down dilapidated houses here and converted the four empty lots into a greenspace. The south-sloping space is being developed into a "food forest" through the principles of permaculture. Nut trees are planted near the top, berry bushes a little lower, a veggie garden on the bottom flats, and table grapes are grown on the surrounding fence. It is all quite new and an ambitious, long-term project.

Also located here is the Community Garden Resource Shed (yellow structure in back). The new "shed" (I used " ", because it is quite nice) was built by the Land Bank to house garden tools from shovels to rototillers. These are loaned to any community gardener for a day. The loan "payment" is for five hours of garden community service during the year and you can borrow as many times as you need to for that one five hours. Great concept. At this space few hors d'oeuvres were served, mostly veggie related.

This was a very nice opportunity to discover some places and things I did not know existed in Kalamazoo. Thanks, Land Bank and Common Ground.

19 July 2013

Summer 2013 MICHIGAN Kalamazoo 1 - Tip Toe Through the Gardens

I have been part of an effort to start a community garden in downtown Kalamazoo since 2004. We are very close. Last week Downtown Kalamazoo Inc helped finalize a lease from the City of Kalamazoo for a small plot at the corner of Eleanor and North Burdick. The Kalamazoo Community Foundation presented us with a grant of $1,000 for start-up costs. Tom Shuster (of Shuster Electric) and I contributed another $500 each toward these costs. And Tom and Will Derouin of Western Michigan's Sustainability Office are heading up construction. Central City Community Garden (CCCG) finally seems a reality. More on this later. 

There are about 30 community gardens in Kalamazoo County. They are of every size and variety. To learn more about how community gardens operate and succeed, I participated in a community garden tour today which was sponsored by Common Ground (www.CommonGroundKalamazoo.com) and the Kalamazoo County Land Bank. The Land Bank acquires land through tax abandonment and changes these blighted properties into affordable housing opportunities to help stabilize property values.

We met at Riverview Launch, a new Kalamazoo Land Bank project to revive a greenhouse, barn, and lands along the Kalamazoo River. There was a choice of an inner city bike tour or an "outer" city bus tour. I chose the bus tour (as I don't own a bike). The bus tour included five different garden venture. Here we go...

DeLano Farms at The Kalamazoo Nature Center is an educational sustainable working farm. It offers a Community Support Agriculture (CSA) program, where shareholders pay up front for their share of the harvest. Shareholders may also volunteer their time to work on the farm. I understand, as a shareholder, one used to just pick up their box of veggies. Now each week shareholders choose what foods they prefer in a market style atmosphere. It also has a cool labyrinth with fennel at its heart.

Also, so my first Daddy Long Legs spider in decades. One was climbing on my foot (minor freak out at first glance) and then saw one scampering down the roadside. I tried to get a photo, but no luck. I am a spider-a-phobe, but for some reason these guys seem kinda OK. Last time I saw one was when I was a teen maybe, but then I'm a pavement person. These are good guy spiders, so glad to see they are still around.

Willard Street Rain Garden was built as part of a transformative block project. Two blighted houses were torn down and new houses were built in the style of the old time neighborhood. The block is on a little hill and curb cuts were made so that rainwater does not go into the sewer, but diverts into wild flower gardens planted between the street and sidewalk. Downspout runoffs were also added to the new houses which also diverts water into two other sunken garden areas. Pretty slick! This project inspired neighbors to build nearby raised veggie beds on a vacant lot, and more beautiful flower gardens between sidewalks and curbs.

Continued tomorrow.

14 July 2013

Fireworks and Ice

Mike and I have been talking about some other memorable fireworks displays we've seen in our past. Here are a few that stand out:

- When we were first married, we lived in Dearborn, Michigan. Each year in August, Dearborn celebrates with a Homecoming event. This is for all those that lived there, past and present. Past-timers return for the weekend, see the City displays, shop their old fave stores, picnic with friends, play old-fashioned kid games like three-legged sack races and such.

Among the many festivities is always a fabulous fireworks display at Ford Field Park. I remember one particular year when Tchaikovsky's The 1812 Overture was synchronized with the fireworks. That was the first time we experienced this coordinated production and it was spot on. It made you stand up on your feet and cheer for Dearborn and the USA.

- Another summer, we attended a Detroit Express (last played in 1980-81 for Detroit, became the Washington Diplomats, and then folded after one seasonsoccer game. This event was at the Pontiac Silverdome (http://silverdome-architect.blogspot.com). Anyway, after the game people were shooting fireworks off in the parking lot.

Our friend, Bruce, happened to have a Roman candle. He set it up in a pop bottle, lit it, and oh, boy. The bottle fell over and the rocket shot horizontally a few inches off the concrete in a hot and speedy direction. We all hopped in the car and scrambled out of there as fast as that rocket. The next day we were all checking the newspaper to see if anyone was reported hurt. No such article. I guess everything was ok, but to this day I wonder and still feel a bit guilty.

- Frankfort, Michigan, is where Mike's grandparents owned cherry orchards and he spent many a youthful summer vacation working the orchards with his cousins. So we often drifted there on adult getaways to enjoy the sleepy little town on Lake Michigan. One thing we tried not to miss was the July 4th fireworks off the long breakwater that goes out into the lake. There is also a lighthouse at the end of that pier and it is silhouetted by the fiery display. Fireworks can be seen in the sky as well as in the reflection of the water. People line up all along the sandy shore to see the wonderful display. Pretty romantic, too, huddled and cuddled on the beach.

- On our first 4th in Half Moon Bay, California, the fireworks were close-up and personal. The official show is shot into the sky from a raft out in the Pacific Ocean near Princeton Harbor. Highway 1 runs along the shore there, with beach on one side. On the other side is an up-sloped, weedy field. People from the five nearby towns park and gather on this slope to watch the display over the ocean.

This first year, however, there were no limits on personal fireworks, so everyone and their brother/sister/father/aunt/dog had the biggest and best fireworks money could buy. Up and down the coast in this field, they were shooting off in every direction, firing horizontally a few feet off the ground, exploding on the ground, lifting high or low, and dive bombing back into the crowd. It was so insane that I felt like I was in a war zone. I can't imagine what Viet Nam might  have looked liked, but this certainly was a glimpse. As far as we know, thankfully no one was hurt. And the dry weeds "only" had a "few little fires." By the next year there were some strict laws put in place and a lot more police presence, so no instant replay.

- Most years in Half Moon Bay in the summer the air is filled with a low fog. More than a few years of our 20 years there, we watched the fireworks through the clouds. You couldn't see any details, but more a puff of color. Not your ideal fireworks show, but beautiful in its own way. 

- This isn't about fireworks, but about fog. My friend Lisa and I would go to Fog Fest every year in September in Pacifica (a town about 20 miles north of HMB). They called it Fog Fest for a reason, because it was usually fogged in. Each year they would have an air show with jets doing acrobatics, but (big BUT) we maybe saw it only two times in 15 years because it was all happening above the fog!! One thing we didn't miss was their special cocktail call the Fog Cutter. Um, good.

- Fireworks in Kalamazoo is a treat. They happen twice a year--on the 4th of July and New Years at midnight. As I said, up until last year for the 4th, they had displayed a show from the minor league stadium here, but not currently. I'm sure glad we still have that wonderful view along the horizon I told you about in our last blog entry.

For New Years, there is also a fiery display along the whole horizon. In addition, the City has a family celebration and a huge fireworks display that is shot off from the Radisson Hotel parking lot right behind our building. We usually have a few family and friends over, we all get a glass of champagne or cider, bundle up, and go round the building outside to watch the up-close (but safe) display. They are so close that you are almost looking straight up to seem them.

One year it was just Mike and I. Snowflakes drifted slowly down. We plopped on a parked bench, wrapped in each others arms, and watched the display. One of our most romantic moments ever, in my opinion.

Usually there is snow on the ground, but none falling. Three years ago was a fantastic exception. It was snowing VERY hard. So cool to watch the fireworks through the snowflakes. They lit up in different colors and it was like being in fairyland. The flakes felt so refreshing on our faces. The cold flakes against the fiery sky was a unique experience.

The last couple of years, the New Years fireworks have been launched off the public parking ramp, about three blocks away, BUT on our side of the building. We could actually go out on our balcony and stretch our necks slightly over the side for a great view. Not quite as good a view as from the Radisson, but on the other hand, quite convenient.

Can't think of anymore of "the best" fireworks ever, but sure a lot of good memories came to mind once we started talking about it. Hope your 4th fireworks show was safe and spectacular. Photos are from various events taken from our Kalamazoo balcony.

10 July 2013

7/4/2013 - Blow Out the Candles

Upon looking up what birthday year this is for the USA, apparently it depends upon how you look at it--from the signing of the Declaration of Independence (1776) or the signing of the Constitution (1789) or when England officially recognized the USA as the USA (1783). We'll go with the Declaration of Independence, which means this is the 234th birthday of the USA.

We see by our blog stats that people from USA, Canada, Russia, Germany, Netherlands, Brazil, China, United Kingdom, and Indonesia are reading this blog. Some may not understand the custom to "blow out the candles." Here, on your birthday you get a birthday cake with the number of candles on it matching your number of birthday years. You make a wish and blow out the candles.

If you can blow them all out in one breath, your wish will come true (or so goes the story). You are not supposed to say your wish out loud because then it won't come true. We still wish for "equality and tolerance worldwide, and clean water and healthy food on every table," as our wish this day and EVERY day.

Fireworks are a big tradition on the Fourth of July in the USA. In previous years there would be a huge fireworks display sponsored by Kalamazoo and the local minor league baseball team. They were launched from the ballpark just to our southeast. But the team shut down, so no official Kalamazoo fireworks this year. We hear another team will probably start up next summer, so we hope they will re-institute the fireworks tradition.

Another great option we have had in the past is going to my brother's near Lansing. He lives on a lake and sets up a huge display down by the dock. But, as we've been out of town the last few days, we decided to stay home this holiday. 

Even though we don't have the ballpark display these days, our balcony is still an excellent spot for fireworks viewing. All the little towns around Kalamazoo have their own displays and we can see many of them along the horizon to the north, east and south. The shows started about 9:30pm and some places continued until after midnight. It was fantastic. Everywhere you look, they were popping in a constant stream of color and variety. So Mikie and I had a gin and tonic with lime, some nibbles, and enjoyed a romantic evening on the balcony. Just the two of us.

Bless you to the USA and congratulations on your 234th birthday!

08 July 2013

June 2013 MICHIGAN Sault Ste. Marie 6 - Bella, We're on Our Way Home

Headed home today. Really missing Bella. Many understand this concept, especially those without kids. This kit is our kid.

Skipped the freebie hotel breakfast (anticipating it had not improved since yesterday or the day before) and headed down the road with Mike at the wheel.

We like to try new places to eat, so this time stopped in St. Ignace at The Galley. Mike had his fave pancakes and I had a breakfast burrito. Both good. Coffee strong, but tasty. And a nice view overlooking the harbor area.

St. "I" also had its Old Car Show this weekend, so we saw a lot of vintage hot rods, jalopies and, what I call, "teen idol" cars of the 50's and 60's. From their advertising, they say there could be up to 3,000 cars attending. Good timing by us to miss the peak point of these cars squeezing into little St. "I." We really liked the oldie race above. It had the original Mobile Oil flying horse symbol on the trunk. It was rusted and had been run hard, but had its appeal.

Continuing on we saw lots of folks up on Castle Rock, as it was a beautiful day for long distance viewing. Reminded us that we had not checked it out in probably 30 years.

Back south over the Mackinac Bridge. Still a thrill, especially on such a clear day.

The rest of the trip home was uneventful. The only stop was a muscle-stretching walk around Evart. It is a small town and the downtown was empty. We were the only car parked for two blocks on either side of Main Street. We ran across an open ice cream shoppe though, and treated ourselves. Not sure how much this contributed to the economy, but we tried.

About 10 miles before reaching home we hit a big rain squall with lightning. Once home, we waited in our car a few minutes, hoping it would subside, but no. We and all our stuff, including our bed pillows, got soaked between the car and the front door. The cool rain felt refreshing on my face.

At our loft door, we expected to find Bella waiting for us. Sometimes she is and sometimes she isn't. But, no, she was sleeping on her cat condo in the bedroom. It took a day for her to cozy back up to us. I think she was mad that we left her alone for 3-1/2 days. Oh, well, such is the world of cats. No way to second guess them.

Drove 762 over the weekend for a total drive time of 12 hours 37 minutes. Most of this was home to The Soo and back. Cousins Don and Chris did most of the touring in SSM itself. Thanks, Cousins!

Interesting note: Mike has a Scan Meter on the car that hooks up to the engine computer. It displays a lot of statistics like how much you spend on gas for the day. But as we were leaving home to go Up North, he noticed it took 4 cents just to start the engine before putting it in gear.

Things we still need to do in SSM the UP:  the River Museum; see the Tugboat Parade, Tugboat Races, and the Coast Guard Station and CG ships display on another Engineer's day; tour the Museum Ship Valley Camp; spend a night in SSM, Canada; go to the Bushplane Museum there; climb Castle Rock again; take a Pictured Rocks boat tour; spend the night in a lighthouse (maybe Sand Hills Lighthouse Inn); and see more of west Michigan, especially Marquette.

Little known facts: SSM is the oldest city in Michigan, founded in 1668 by father Jacques Marquette. Population in 2010 was 14,440. Sault Sainte-Marie translates from French into "the rapids of Saint Mary." The largest ships passing through the locks are 1,000-feet long by 105-feet wide. This is roughly 3.3 football fields in length! SSM is also the home of the International 500 Snowmobile Race. It started in 1969 and was inspired by the Indy 500 race.

Here's Bella on her scratcher/lounger. She loves sitting here and often takes a nap here.

06 July 2013

June 2013 MICHIGAN Sault Ste. Marie 5 - One More View of The Soo

First, lunch. Mike's cousins had recommended the Palace Restaurant, serving Mexican and American food. Outside it looked a little run down, but inside was quite classy. A good bar and good food. I had a raspberry margarita with my veggie burrito. Mike had a Corona with his chili rellenos (a little different style than what he is used to, but good.) Only weird thing was that we had to ask for tortilla chips. 

We met again with the cousins and their grand-daughters for yet another perspective of the canals and locks. In past years, Mike and I had seen them from outside the security fence and from the high viewing stand. On this trip so far, we had seen them from inside the fence, actually walked across two locks, and Deb surveyed them from the International Bridge looking down. This afternoon we are seeing things from within--actually going on a boat trip through the locks.

We got to the tour boat office about 2:15pm and a boat had just left at 2pm. Next one at 4:30pm, so too long to wait around. To fill the time gap, we went to the "Tower of History." Mike and I had delayed seeing this spot in the past, thinking it was another old artifact museum (we'd seen lots of these) and the first floor was just that. 

BUT the major attraction was a 210-foot tower with three observation decks, glassed-in and open-air. It was a very clear day, so we scoped 360 degree views of the area for about 20 miles out. There were panels describing details to help spot highlights of what you were seeing.

The best part was that three long freighters were traversing the locks and we had an excellent view of the process and the big ships. I got a lot of good photos from here.

Come 4:15, we were back at the boat dock ready to board. The ride was about two-hours long and packed with so much to see. First we saw the hydro-electric plant from the river side. Very impressive. Then we floated past a huge freighter and tiny (in comparison) tugboat. The tugs drop off supplies and mail to the freighters as they pass through the locks.

Next we entered the locks. We pulled in at the Lower St. Mary's River end and were secured with thick ropes. The heavy gates closed behind us and the lock slowly filled with water. It took about 10 minutes to raise the water level to the height of the Upper St. Mary's River. The lock gates on the west side opened and we motored into the river again, except we were 21 feet higher in elevation. Can you imagine a 1,000-foot freighter going through this process! Way cool.

Then we motored under the International vehicle bridge and through the railway bridge area. We made a long U-turn and came into view of much heavy machinery and factories on the Canadian side, still producing steel products. We ventured into inlets to get a closer look of these manufacturing areas.

Very interesting view of the massiveness of the steel industry at one time. Big business. We heard that at one time there were 30,000 employees here at peak production, but now less than 6,000.

We continued past the rapids and nature areas I saw earlier in the day from the bridge above, and then entered the smaller Canadian lock. No passport needed for the boat ride.

This time we started on the higher water end and in the lock were transferred to the lower end, 21-feet down. This lock has park area on both sides and visitors are allowed to walk across the lock gates at any time that a boat is not in transit. 

Here you can see a building by the side of the lock. When we started our journey, it was at eye level, but at the end of the process, we found ourselves 21-feet lower and looking up at that same building. This is all pretty fascinating. I've been to The Soo many times, but did not really get the gist of how the locks work until I actually passed through them.

It is also good to know that there is an emergency system set up on all the locks, in case one should be damaged or need maintenance. This system keeps the upper river area from quickly flooding down into the lower river area. 

As we leisurely continued down the St. Mary's back to port, we passed by downtown SSM in Canada and the Canadian Bushplane Museum, and again past the hydro-electric plant. It was a fascinating boat ride and we would definitely  do it again.

At that point, Emily and Madison were picked up by friends and us four big folks continued on our merry way to do some more land-side sightseeing and dinner. We saw the home Mike had lived in a short while as a kid, the lot where his cousin Don's childhood home had been, the really cool location of a new brewery, and more. Finally, dropped into the Kewadin Casino for dinner. After that we looked at some American Indian art and took a peek into the casino (but did not gamble).

Our last stop was the parking lot of LSSU where we had a great view of the International Bridge at night. It was lit up for the weekend with red, white, and blue lights on the U.S. "hump" and red on the Canadian "hump." Very cool. Here's the U.S. side.
We got dropped off at the hotel and cousin Chris had a cute good-bye surprise for us--some knitted potholders and a very cleverly made tote bag. The material was cat food bags. I know this sounds crazy, but it is REEEEALY cool and I've used it a few times already at home.

Thanks guys for an educational and fun two tour days in The Soo.

June 2013 MICHIGAN Sault Ste. Marie 4 - Walk It Off

Today I'm a lone cat for the morning. I rolled out of bed at 7:30am to prep for the 27th Annual International Bridge Walk. Showered and caught a quick buffet breakfast at the hotel restaurant. Even though it was free, it did not please. Then drove over to Lake Superior State University (LSSU) Norris Physical Education Center parking lot, the gathering spot for the Bridge Walk.

The Bridge Walk is also a once a year event. It is a picturesque 2.8 mile walk across the International Bridge between Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan, USA, and Sault Sainte Marie, Ontario, Canada. You get a fantastic view of all the canals and locks as you look east down the St. Mary's River. This bridge was open to vehicle traffic starting in 1962. Prior to that time you had to cross the St. Mary's River by ferry to get to or from Canada.

The day started at 8:30am with bicyclers leaving first. At 9am, we heard a few speeches from the mayor and other officials. Then the local Sweet Adelines sang the anthems of both countries. At 9:30am the walkers started their journey. Even though the walk is from the USA side to the Canadian side, many people come cross the bridge from Canada to join in the walk. You can kinda tell who they are. 

Here's a photo of the people in back of me as we started down the hill from the parking lot toward the bridge entrance. And there were maybe half again as many in front of me. My guess, maybe 700 walkers total. Some with dogs, some in wheelchairs or with walkers or baby strollers. Some in funny outfits. Some carrying flags of varying persuasions. There was a large Japanese contingent all in red t-shirts. Even the Wacky Wings chicken guy and his girlfriend joined the walk.

Over the last year, in our extensive road travels through 34 states, Mike and I have seen signs that advised major interstate highways either "begin" or "end here." I-40 comes to mind. Today I saw the end of I-75. Mike and I have taken every portion of that highway many times--from somewhere in Michigan all the way down to Florida. So fun to see the northern end of that one, too. It ends at the south end of the International bridge. You can also see the toll rates, but today it was free for walkers to cross.

Soon after you get on the bridge you see this huge rusted structure to your left. I learned later that this and other nearby structures and rail beds are part of the historic International Railroad Bridge. Its initial construction date is 1887 and it is made of up several sections.

What is particular interesting is that each of the three most common movable bridge types is represented here to make the whole. It was built in various parts to allow it to be temporarily divided to let ships pass through, if they are too high to fit under this bridge. One website I found, said it is still open to rail traffic, but it sure looked abandoned to me. More info at:  www.historicbridges.org/truss/ibrailswing/

To your right you see the American locks and canals and the beautiful greenways between. Unfortunately during the entire event there was not one boat or ship that passed through the locks. Bummer, but still a thrill!

This bridge is a two lane, double "humper" and in the next shot we are approaching the middle between the humps. You can see the border between Canada and the U.S. by the country flags just ahead. Look hard. They are where the green meets the gray area in the background.

After the American locks you come to a rapids area of the river on the right. It must not be too deep as you can see about 4 or 5 tiny fisherman in waders enjoying the day while they are trying to catch their dinner.

The next shot is of a huge bird flying along and carrying a branch. This was a fantastic shot for me. I belong to a photo club and our assignment this month was to photograph something that flies. It did not actually have to be flying, but my personal goal was to get the shot of something in flight. This was Saturday and our meeting was Tuesday. I was a very happy photographer at that moment. I just wish I could have identified the bird, but it was quite a way off (took this with the telephoto lens) and flying away from me. I still love the shot and I was the only one in our club lucky enough to get a photo of a bird in-flight.

This next shot is taken near the peak of the second "hump". Here we overlook wetlands and board walks allowing one to get an up-close look at the nature in the area. After that we come to the Canadian lock. It was completed in 1895 and is smaller than its American sisters. There is a lovely park that runs along both sides the canal. The last shot is of the whole bridge from the Canadian side.

At the end of the bridge you are welcomed by a sign in English and in French. And, of course, you encounter Canadian customs. We all had to bring our passports to "get into" Canada. You could have them place a Sault Sainte Marie, Ontario, Canada, stamp in your passport, too, if you wanted. I wanted.

I'm not going to display pictures of the next hour and a half. We had to wait for a bus to carry us back over the bridge to our starting point. This took about a 1/2 hour longer than our casual walk across the whole bridge. The main attraction here was people watching and, if I'd known we had this much time, I would have run over to the casino for a little Poker Slots. It was just across the parking lot. 

On the bus I chatted with three LSSU students about their courses in water ecology, bird conservation, and robotics. We also talked about 3-D printing and they told me about a duck that, due to a birth defect, was outfitted with a 3-D produced artificial foot. An aside: On my fave Sunday Morning program this week, there was a piece about this duck and its foot. Very cool!!

There was a quick off/on the bus stop at U.S. Customs (again showing our passport). The customs building had a state-of-the-art green (and yellow) roof. Not sure what was growing on it, but it was lovely. When I finally got back to the hotel about 1:30pm, I was definitely ready for lunch.