Our weekend plans took a turn. Earlier in the week I suggested to my husband that we should go to the Michigan Challenge Balloonfest in Howell, Michigan on the weekend. I had never been before but when I lived in Wixom, nearly every year one of the balloons would fly over our neighborhood. Perhaps it was the balloonist from Commerce Township? Last year he landed in a nearby parking lot, but in 2003, he landed right on our street! Talk about precision flying! Here’s a picture I took from my front porch as the balloon was flying away:
As the weekend wore on, the thought of going to the Balloonfest was less and less appealing. Sure, I wanted to see the balloon launch, but the thought of battling crowds and traffic on such a lovely summer day sealed my decision to make other plans. So, Sunday morning I suggested that instead of going to the Balloonfest that evening, we go on a bike ride instead. My husband was agreeable.
Now the decision of where to? I had been wanting to ride into Downtown Okemos for some time now. I wanted to see the new artwork that was installed there this year. I decided to take my camera, just in case I felt inspired for a travelogue entry.
“Don’t blink, or you’ll miss it.” That describes Downtown Okemos. In fact, until I moved here and started keeping up with the goings on in Okemos, I didn’t realize that this little (roughly) two block area was the downtown.
First, why is Okemos called Okemos? You’ll have to read the historical marker:
The Red Cedar River, by the way, is about a block and a half from this historical marker, looking straight ahead as you read this:
If you imagine yourself standing on this street corner reading this, Hamilton Road is directly behind you. Okemos Road is directly to your right.
Later that afternoon we rode up to my in-laws’ condo and my husband mentioned that I had been taking pictures of some of the artwork in Downtown Okemos. My father-in-law laughed and said “The fish?” My husband said “yes, and the new artwork that was installed this year (which my father-in-law apparently did not know about).
These fish have been around a while, a staple of the downtown area. They’re quite pretty when you get up close. They are covered in mosaic tiles. The fish closest to you is covered in mirrored tiles and is shiny in the sunlight.
Here’s a picture of another staple of the Downtown: The Travelers Club International Restaurant and Tuba Museum. It’s quite a unique place. Their website is here, if you’d like more information. (I highly recommend checking out the website.) Each month their special of the house is from a different country in the world. And, for you beer lovers out there, this restaurant offers a selection of 202 beers, including microbrews from Michigan. I don’t drink, but the Michigan draft beer called “Final Absolution” is intriguing to me for some reason. 🙂
Across the street (to the left in the picture) is where my favorite new art installation resides. It’s called “Little Joyful Dancer.” It’s in front of the dancewear and lingerie shop. They were having a sidewalk sale, so I didn’t take a picture of it, but you can check it out here on Facebook. This was when it wasn’t yet installed.
Across the street to the right in the picture, is Zea’s Okemos Barber and Style Shop. Its recent claim to fame is that the owner, Vincent Zea, won the 2011 People’s Choice Award for Best Barber in the East Lansing/Okemos/Haslett area. The shop was started in 1962 by his father and is still family-owned and operated.
Turning the corner to the right, as we go down Hamilton Road a block we come upon this new sculpture. It’s called “@Com,” but every time I see it I think of Scotch Tape (with apologies to the artist).
And, this is looking East to the edge of Downtown. There’s another new art installation in the traffic circle. Quite impressive and modern. It’s called “Divine Wind Gate.” A picture can be found here.
If you look to your left in the picture, you can see the edge of Wood’s Marathon gas station (my preferred gas station). When you pull up to pump gas, an employee comes out to wash your windows for you. Can’t get service like that anywhere else around here! As a plus, one of their mechanics, Mike O’Connor, won the 2011 People’s Choice Award for Best Mechanic in the East Lansing/Okemos/Haslett Area.
Now back to the corner of Okemos and Hamilton Roads. Tired out from walking? How about relaxing and sitting a while here. Um, maybe. These aren’t the most practical benches to sit on. Especially after the sun has been beating down on them all day. Actually, since they are part of the art installation, are we allowed to sit on them?
To keep up with the goings-on in Downtown Okemos, visit the Facebook page here.