“Sail on, sail on, sailor”

View from alongside the hull with Lake Michigan reflecting in her gloss

View from alongside the Starlight’s hull with Lake Michigan reflecting in her shiny gloss.

Here are a few photos from our four-hour sailing trip on the East Arm of Grand Traverse Bay, Michigan this past Tuesday afternoon. Sailing is easily one the most beautiful recreational/sporting activities on Earth and our trip aboard the 31′ Starlight only reinforced that belief. Ahoy and enjoy the photos and the lyrics to the Beach Boys song Sail On Sailor provided below.


The “Starlight”

“Sail On Sailor”  <- link to video of the Beach Boys performing their classic song in 2012 

I sailed an ocean, unsettled ocean
Through restful waters and deep commotion
Often frightened, unenlightened
Sail on, sail on sailor

I wrest the waters, fight Neptune’s waters
Sail through the sorrows of life’s marauders
Unrepenting, often empty
Sail on, sail on sailor

Caught like a sewer rat alone but I sail
Bought like a crust of bread, but oh do I wail

Seldom stumble, never crumble
Try to tumble, life’s a rumble
Feel the stinging I’ve been given
Never ending, unrelenting
Heartbreak searing, always fearing
Never caring, persevering
Sail on, sail on, sailor

I work the seaways, the gale-swept seaways
Past shipwrecked daughters of wicked waters
Uninspired, drenched and tired
Wail on, wail on, sailor

Always needing, even bleeding
Never feeding all my feelings
Damn the thunder, must I blunder
There’s no wonder all I’m under
Stop the crying and the lying
And the sighing and my dying

Sail on, sail on sailor
Sail on, sail on sailor
Sail on, sail on sailor
Sail on, sail on sailor
Sail on, sail on sailor
Sail on, sail on sailor
Sail on, sail on sailor.

Old Mission Peninsula ahead

Old Mission Peninsula ahead


Posted in Active transportation, art, civility, culture, environment, fun, geography, nature, North America, peace, pictures, recreation, sailing, sports, tourism, transportation, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Transforming an eyesore into eye-candy


Source: globalsiteplans.com

Similar to the image above, the vast majority of highway and railroad underpasses across the country are the epitome of sterile concrete and overgrown weeds.  Left as underutilized vacant space, they hardly engender any sort of warmth or welcome, particularly for pedestrians and cyclists. Essentially, left unto themselves, they are dreary eyesores.

Greater Mt. Pleasant, Michigan, including the City of Mt. Pleasant, the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe, and Union Charter Township on the other hand, have worked in unison to transform both sides the M-20 underpass beneath U.S. 127 (future Interstate 73) into a non-motorized visual oasis of colorful flowers and handsome streetscaping. Simple placemaking steps such as this go a long way towards enhancing community pride while reducing visual pollution.

Complimenting this endeavor, Greater Mt. Pleasant has adopted one of the best non-motorized master plans I have ever seen. This impressive and informative plan from 2011 should go a long way towards bringing similar healthy placemaking efforts throughout the micropolitan area.

Other options to consider for turning a drab underpass into something exceptional could include murals, lighting accents, engraved designs within the concrete, or sculptures. Kudos to Greater Mt. Pleasant for showing the rest of us a great example of how to create eye-candy from a sterile highway underpass. Well done!

Posted in cities, planning, transportation, land use, bicycling, art, architecture, economic development, economic gardening, history, revitalization, fun, spatial design, walking, trails, tourism, placemaking, urban planning, civics, geography, infrastructure, fitness, adaptive reuse, Active transportation, Biking, Cars, civility, pictures, Travel, landscape architecture, visual pollution, hiking, traffic, topography | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

I scream for Sadie’s Ice Cream Parlor

Source: tripadvisor.com

Source: tripadvisor.com

“I scream…you scream…we all scream…for ice cream!”

One of the newest and sweetest delights of visiting Mackinac Island is Sadie’s Ice Cream Parlor at the base of The Grand Hotel. True to the island’s quaint Victorian-era heritage, this wonderfully decorated and out-fitted ice cream shop exudes history and fun.

DSC01858Open to everyone and anyone on the island since it debuted in 2013 (not just those staying at the hotel), Sadie’s scoops out Hudsonville Ice Cream products. The prices are very reasonable… especially considering you are at The Grand Hotel…$4.00 for a very hearty single-cup serving (easily two hearty scoops). The classic décor is pure 1890s and will charm your socks off, as will the images of Sadie herself – a cute Scottish Terrier owned by the hotel proprietors, who won Best in Show at the 2010 Westminster Dog Show.

Source: csmonitor.com

Source: csmonitor.com

Sadie’s tremendous location near the hotel’s east entrance is perfect for relaxing and people watching, as the carriages arrive and depart, and as visitors and island staff alike pedal up and coast down the steep Cadotte Avenue towards downtown. The next time you are on Mackinac Island, be sure to follow the horse-drawn carriages and make tracks to Sadie’s, as it will surely bring a smile to your face, warmth to your heart, and sweet, yummy tastes to your mouth. Enjoy!

Source: tripadvisor.com

Source: tripadvisor.com


Posted in adaptive reuse, Animals, architecture, bicycling, Biking, branding, business, cities, commerce, Cuisine, culture, economic development, entertainment, family, Food, fun, historic preservation, history, land use, Pets, pictures, placemaking, planning, product design, recreation, signs, third places, tourism, Travel, walking | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Little (and big) towns on the prairie

Source: fws.com

Source: fws.com

North America’s magnificent Great Plains and prairie region generally extends westward from Central Ohio to the Rocky Mountains and southward from boreal Canada through Texas to the Rio Grande Valley.  This is one of my favorite natural ecosystems due to the vast array of wildflowers, birds, and butterflies that can be seen/found in prairie habitat. The vast and rolling vistas, particularly west of the Mississippi River, are awe-inspiring as well. One can still imagine Prairie Schooners crossing this massive ocean of grass.

Source: frontporchpublic.com

Source: frontporchpublic.com

Here’s a list of communities that incorporate plain, prairie (French for “meadow”), meadow, or a similar terms in their name and which personifies this enormous geographic and topographic region.  My personal favorites are italicized.  Any additions or corrections are welcome. Enjoy!

  • Bald Prairie, TX
  • Belle Plaine, IA, MN, and SK
  • Belle Prairie, MN
  • Belle Prairie City, IL
  • Big Foot Prairie, IL
  • Big Plain, OH
  • Big Prairie, OH
  • Blooming Prairie, MN
  • Blue Grass, IA
  • Brushy Prairie, IN
  • Buffalo Prairie, IL
  • Burnt Prairie, IL
  • Clay’s Prairie, IL
  • Cranberry Prairie, OH
  • Dardenne Prairie, MO
  • Des Plaines, IL
  • Duplain, MI
  • East Prairie, MO
  • Eden Prairie, MN
  • Ellis Prairie, MO
  • Fancy Prairie, IL
  • Flatville, IL
  • Garden Plain, IL and KS
  • Garden Prairie, IL
  • Gilbert Plains, MB
  • Golden Prairie, SK
  • Grand Meadow, MN
  • Grand Plain, MN
  • Grande Prairie, AB
  • Grand Prairie, TX
  • Grassland, TX
  • Grass Range, MT
  • Gray’s Prairie, TX
  • Gulf Prairie, TX
  • Ham’s Prairie, MO
  • High Prairie, AB
  • Hill’s Prairie, TX
  • Lanes Prairie, MO
  • La Prairie, IL and WI
  • Lester Prairie, MN
  • Levelland, TX
  • Llano, TX (Spanish for “plain”)
  • Lodge Grass, MT
  • Lone Tree, CO and IA
  • Long Prairie, MN
  • Longview, TX and AB
  • Maple Plain, MN
  • Meadow, TX
  • Meadowbrook, IL and WI
  • Meadow Grove, NE
  • Meadow Lake, SK
  • Mullins Prairie, TX
  • Nogalus Prairie, TX
  • North Prairie, WI
  • Orange Prairie, IL
  • Plain, WI
  • Plain City, OH
  • Plainfield, IL, IN, MI, OH, and WI
  • Plains, KS and MT
  • Plainview, IL, MN, MO, NE, SD, and TX
  • Plainville, IL, IN, KS, and WI
  • Plainwell, MI
  • Plano, IA, IL, IN, MO, SD, and TX (Spanish for “level” or “flat”)
  • Pleasant Plain, IA, IN, and OH
  • Pleasant Plains, IL
  • Pleasant Prairie, WI
  • Portage la Prairie, MB
  • Prado Verde, TX (Spanish for “green meadow”)
  • Prairie, IL
  • Prairieburg, IA
  • Prairie Center, NE
  • Prairie City, IA, IL, IN, MO, and SD
  • Prairie Creek, IN
  • Prairie Dell, TX
  • Prairie du Chien, WI
  • Prairie du Rocher, IL
  • Prairie du Sac, WI
  • Prairie Farm, WI
  • Prairie Grove, AR and IL
  • Prairie Hill, MO, and TX
  • Prairie Home, MO and NE
  • Prairie Lea, TX
  • Prairie Mountain, TX
  • Prairie River, SK
  • Prairie Ronde, MI
  • Prairieton, IN
  • Prairietown, IL
  • Prairie View, TX and IL
  • Prairie Village, KS
  • Prairieville, MI and TX
  • Pretty Prairie, KS
  • Rabbs Prairie, TX
  • Roans Prairie, TX
  • Rolling Meadows, IL
  • Rolling Prairie, IN
  • Round Prairie, MN
  • Savanna, IL
  • Savannah, MO
  • Spring Prairie, WI
  • Star Prairie, WI
  • Stony Plain, AB
  • String Prairie, TX
  • Strong’s Prairie, WI
  • Sun Prairie, WI and MT
  • The Plains, OH
  • Tupper’s Plains, OH
  • West Plains, MO
  • Yellowgrass, SK
Source: fao.org

Source: fao.org

In terms of the number of such communities names found per state or province, here are the leaders. Not a big surprise that Illinois would be the leader given one of its nicknames is “The Prairie State.”

  1. Illinois = 26
  2. Texas = 24
  3. Wisconsin = 13
  4. Missouri = 12
  5. Minnesota = 11
  6. Indiana = 9
  7. Iowa = 8
  8. Ohio = 8


  • 2016 Rand McNally Road Atlas
  • Indiana Place Names
  • Ohio Place Names
  • Places Names of Illinois
  • The Pocket Guide to Minnesota Place Names
  • The Romance of Wisconsin Place Names
  • citytown.info.com
  • en.wikipedia.org
  • iowaleague.org
  • hometownlocator.com
  • texascapes.com
  • http://www.mo.gov
  • http://www.prairie-towns.com
Posted in branding, Canada, cities, civics, environment, geography, Geology, historic preservation, history, land use, Maps, nature, North America, planning, States, topography, weather, Wildlife | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

America’s original bicycling paradise

Source: City of Mackinac Island

Source: City of Mackinac Island (cityofmi.org)

Numerous reports, stories, and studies tout Portland, Oregon; Boulder, Colorado; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Davis, California; and other communities in the United States as the most bikeable or bike-friendly. What they often overlook is the one and only community in the country that since 1898 has prohibited all motor vehicles (except emergency vehicles, construction equipment, and snowmobiles in winter) and where everyone, yes everyone, gets around by bicycle, on foot, or by horse. I am referring to gorgeous Mackinac Island, Michigan.

Source: City of Mackinac Island

Source: City of Mackinac Island (cityofmi.org)

Source: perennialpassion.blogspot.com

Downtown Mackinac Island – Source: perennialpassion.blogspot.com

The City of Mackinac Island is home to 492 year-round residents and as many as 15,000 thousand tourists per day during the peak travel and tourism season, Mackinac Island is a non-motorized transportation advocate’s ultimate paradise. So many people are riding on bicycles that your many concern is not running into one another or pedaling through one of the aromatic leftovers from passing horse-drawn carriages. Even the city’s manure collectors ride specially designed bicycles with turd dumpsters on the back of the bike.


Baggage delivery by bike

It is also quite interesting and fun to see the hotel and ferry service personnel pedaling around the island with loads of luggage stacked on or behind their bicycles (see above). Given the steep grades (more than 300′ of elevation change) on the island just beyond Main Street, I don’t envy them one bit.

Source: mappery.com

Source: mappery.com

Mackinac Island is also home to America’s one and only state highway for non-motorized traffic; M-185 which circles the entire 3.8 square mile island along the coastline providing breathtaking views of the crystal-clear blue waters of Lake Huron and the nearby Mackinac Straits. It is the only state highway in the country where motor vehicles are prohibited. The closest comparison I have found to this marvelous 8.2 mile ride around Mackinac Island is Vancouver’s Stanley Park Seawall Trail in British Columbia.


Riding beautiful M-185

So, the next time somebody claims their city is the most bikeable or walkable in the United States, please remind them that there are none even remotely close to Mackinac Island, Michigan – America’s original bicycling/non-motorized transportation paradise since 1898.  Cheers!


Lake Huron coastal scenery along M-185


Posted in Active transportation, Advocacy, architecture, bicycling, bike sharing, Biking, cities, civics, commerce, culture, economic development, environment, fitness, fun, geography, health, hiking, historic preservation, history, infrastructure, land use, North America, pictures, placemaking, planning, sailing, spatial design, States, Statistics, sustainability, third places, topography, tourism, traffic, trails, transit, transportation, Travel, urban planning, walking, zoning | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Suburban food truck rodeo round-ups

Source: safta.net

Culinaria 2014 in downtown San Antonio – Source: safta.net

While visiting San Antonio this past spring, several food trucks were lined up around portions of the main government square in the city’s central business district waiting for hungry diners to come bounding out of their office chutes at noon. This allowed one-stop dining, so to speak, for those interested in eating from one of the vendors. For a dense location like a downtown, this format works well, as a central square is generally accessible from throughout the heart of the city by foot, bike or transit during a lunch hour.

Source: gandoza.com

Source: gandoza.com

In terms of suburbia, food trucks (or trailers) tend to stake their claim wherever they can get permission from the landowner – sometimes to the dismay of neighbors and the community. So, instead of trying to lasso a bunch of roaming food trucks, how about taking the bull by the horns and finding a specific place for them all to assemble? A festive, one-stop food truck rodeo, with all the vendors easily accessible in a single place. Economies of agglomeration works for farmers markets, craft markets, fast food, retailers, and artisan markets; why not for food trucks and trailers?

Source: capitalgainsmedia.com

Source: capitalgainsmedia.com

Finding the suitable and most appropriate location to corral untamed food trucks into a rodeo may be the toughest challenge of all. Options could include community-owned parks and properties where each vendor pays a nominal fee; an on-street location, but only if on-street parking is permitted; an empty parcel with the owner’s permission; or a largely vacant shopping complex – loads of leftover parking to steer the grazing customer’s vehicles. The location chosen should have as many of the following attributes as possible:

  • Pedestrian, bicycle, and transit access
  • Parking for those who must drive
  • Centralized location
  • Proximity to significant employment and/or retail centers – to create the foot traffic necessary for the rodeo to succeed.
  • Amenities such as seating, shade, and entertainment
  • A regular and regulated schedule

It can be like the Wild West out there sometimes for planners, but with some forethought and implementation, unbridled food trucks can been tamed to meet your community standards, while also serving up great grub for hungry cowpokes and sodbusters, alike. Yee-haw!

Posted in bicycling, Biking, branding, business, cities, civics, civility, coffee shops/cafes, commerce, Cuisine, economic development, economic gardening, entrepreneurship, Food, food systems, fun, infrastructure, land use, logistics, marketing, placemaking, planning, politics, Small business, third places, tourism, traffic, transportation, Travel, urban planning, walking, zoning | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Magnificent Baha’i Faith continental Houses of Worship


Santiago, Chile - Source: www.southwarwickshirebahais.org.uk

Santiago, Chile (under development)- Source: http://www.southwarwickshirebahais.org.uk

Just seven of these magnificent structures currently exist around the globe to serve the seven plus million members of the Baha’i Faith. An eighth for South America is under development near Santiago, Chile (see image above). Their awe-inspiring architectural design is simply jaw-dropping. Baha’i Houses of Worship have three architectural design prerequisites:

“It is to be circular shape, to have nine sides, and to be surrounded by nine gardens with walkways. The emphasis on the number nine comes from the understanding that this number, the largest single digit, symbolizes perfection, comprehensiveness, and unity. Nine is also the numerical value of the Arabic word bahá (light, glory) according to the ancient abjad system, in which each letter of the alphabet is accorded numerical significance.”

Enjoy the photos!



Sydney, Australia - Source: www.southwarwickshirebahais.org.uk

Sydney, Australia (1961) – Source: http://www.southwarwickshirebahais.org.uk


Kampala, Uganda - Source: en.wikipedia.org

Kampala, Uganda (1961) – Source: en.wikipedia.org


Langenhein-Frankfurt, Germany - Source: bahaimauritius.org/the-bahai-faith/holy-place/

Langenhein-Frankfurt, Germany (1964) – Source: bahaimauritius.org/the-bahai-faith/holy-place/


Panama City, Panama (1972) - Source: bahaimauritius.org/the-bahai-faith/holy-place/

Panama City, Panama (1972) – Source: bahaimauritius.org/the-bahai-faith/holy-place/


Samoa (1984) - Source: marianas.bahai.org

Apia, Samoa (1984) – Source: marianas.bahai.org


Houses of Worship statistics:

  • Wilmette (Chicago), IL, USA (1953) = 138 feet in height (42 meters) – seating for 1,192
  • Delhi, India (1986) = 131 feet in height (40 meters) – seating for 2,500
  • Kampala, Uganda (1961) = 130 feet in height (39 meters)
  • Sydney, Australia (1961) = 125 feet in height (38 meters)
  • Santiago, Chile (uc) = 100 feet in height (30 meters) – seating for 600
  • Apia, Samoa (1984) = 98 feet in height (30 meters) – seating for 500
  • Frankfurt, Germany (1964) = 92 feet in height (28 meters)
  • Panama City, Panama (1972) = 92 feet in height (28 meters) – seating for 550



Posted in Africa, architecture, art, Asia, cities, culture, diversity, education, Europe, geography, historic preservation, history, inclusiveness, India, land use, North America, Oceania, pictures, placemaking, Religion, South America, Statistics, third places, tourism, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment