6428March in Paris
- Mar 16, 2013I had the day off from work yesterday and decided to go with Bob on a road trip to pick up a junk Honda 70 he found on ebay and wanted to take a look at. The junker was located in was Hersey, MI, just north of Big Rapids, home of Ferris State University. We left early in order to sight see (one word or two?) and browse any thrift stores we saw along the way. We found a place in Big Rapids where the building was at least a hundred years old, at least by the looks of the field stone foundation. (There are many field stone structures around in Big Rapids.) We bee-lined it for the basement first. What I found was eight or so large boxes filled with vinyl and a record player to test them out on. To Bob this was no big deal as he isn't into vinyl. (I'm just getting back into it and have an old record player that needs a needle to make it official.) He looked around a bit then went back upstairs. I could have spent an hour or two or more testing out potential purchases (all, even two-record sets, were $2 each) but only made it through two boxes very quickly. I settled on Humble Pie's 2-record Rockin the Fillmore and The Moody Blues' Every Good Boy Deserves Favor. I almost bought one of Burt Bacharach's best songs, instrumental style but deferred. I'm thinking another cruise up there is in order.
We left this mostly run-down city -- so many Michigan cities are run-down these days -- and headed north a few more miles.
Next stop: Paris. Yes, Paris, Michigan. The memory banks started firing as we saw the sign. I remembered my dad bringing us kids up there a few times to see the fish hatchery. My eagle eye was out. Paris is a real small town, not much there but a couple of gas stations, a cafe, an antique store shut down for the winter, and a beauty shop. Oh, and what looked like what might be the fish hatchery from my childhood, across the street from the antique and beauty shops. We pulled up and parked and walked across. The place did not look very well maintained, as such state and federally funded operations usually do. The field stone wall along the pond was crumbling but newer concrete walkways replaced them. We ended up walking along the water of the concrete pond. We looked in the water but all we saw was large quantities of a bottom growing water plant. I scanned the surface of the water for signs of life and Bob said look there are fish. Looking to the far end, near a small machine with fish food in it, was a massive turbulence in the water. The fish were trying to tell us come over here. We walked the circuit, probably 30 feet away and saw hundreds of what looked like rainbow and brown trout, each 6 to 8 inches long. We put our quarters into the machine and got a small handful of round brown pellets that could feed only a few of the hundreds. I threw mine out a few at a time and Bob threw his in all at once; this caused a bunch of jumping out of the water and gave us a better look at the beauty of these very hungry critters. We put a few more quarters in fed them again then started looking around. There was a large, heavy sign with historical information on it.
Here is a video of the "front pond" that we saw and a short blurb on the place as it is today:
The back part of the park and the other ponds were not accessible so we didn't get a chance to see the tower. I found a short blurb on the tower that's interesting:
We walked up a small incline to a bike trail and saw the rest of the park was closed down and padlocked. We looked down at the front pond again and Bob said look at that weird tree. We walked back to it. The bottom, major portion of the trunk, looked normal but about 6 feet up, the trunk diameter shrunk significantly, like someone had peeled away some inches from it. There was a plaque on the tree that said a Japanese elm had been grafted upon the bottom of an American elm tree in 1911. We looked over and saw several other American elm trees in a row, but this was the only one with a Japanese elm graft.
Needless to say the journey to Paris in March was a memorable one.
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