Category Archives: Michigan

Parks, Recreation, and Disc Golf

Genesee County parks cover more than 11,000 acres, so there’s never an excuse not to go out and get some fresh air. Besides the usual fun of picnics, hiking, and walking the dog, there are many leisure sports that don’t require much equipment and are a ton of fun and good for meeting new friends. You don’t even need to join a league—just get some people together and play a game!

1. Ultimate (Frisbee)


When you chance to come upon a game of Ultimate in the park, at first you might think it’s a leisurely game of catch with the disc. Then, suddenly, fast action takes over as a few of the players suddenly bolt down the field. The game goes from a dead stop to a full sprint, much like soccer. And that’s why it’s awesome. If you want a great way to get in shape, get some friends together and play Ultimate. Check out the official rules here at the USA Ultimate website.

What it’s most like: soccer, or schoolyard rules football.
What you’ll need: a frisbee or official disc, and eight small cones for marking the field.
Number of players: Official is seven on a team; you really need at least four on a side to make it interesting.
Athletic level: Intermediate to advanced. You don’t have to be a college intramural hero, but it helps.
What to avoid: Heavy or restrictive clothing. You’ll want to really move when you’re playing this one.

2. Disc Golf


It’s a bit like golf, but adapted for casual play with a frisbee. There are several dedicated courses in the area, but frankly, playing in just about any park is as simple as choosing which tree to aim for and seeing who hits it in the fewest throws. Watch out for passerby, though…

What it’s most like: playing catch with a frisbee, or video game golf
What you’ll need: a frisbee, or an official set of discs if you’re serious
Number of players: Up to four in a party is customary, but they say that in regular golf, too…
Athletic level: Casual

3. Bag Toss


Since I can never bring myself to utter the word “Cornhole” in public, let’s just call this one Bag Toss, ok? If you have been here long, you’ve seen/heard/been bewildered by this game which looks easy to play, but really isn’t easy to master.

What it’s most like: horseshoes, or darts
What you’ll need: a bag toss set, instructions here. You can also purchase them in sporting goods stores
Number of players: Two teams of two
Athletic level: Except for your shoulder and/or elbow? Nil

4. WIFFLE Ball


Yes, there are people who take it much too seriously to the point of mistaking it for the real thing. But c’mon, it really isn’t complicated. Just get that little plastic bat and ball, a few friends, and act like you’re playing baseball, but without breaking a sweat. It’ll take you right back to being a kid again. Find a clear spot where you won’t run into any trees, and avoid dogs that will chase down the ball and steal it while you’re playing. Be prepared for 9 year old boys to come up to you and ask to play, too. Always remember: as a resident of the United States of America, if a child under the age of 12 ever approaches you and asks to join your WIFFLE ball game, you are obligated to allow them to play AND to bat next. Rules is rules. Speaking of which, the official rules are at the WIFFLE company website, and this league has also established some more serious gameplay rules, if you really care that much…

What it’s most like: WIFFLE ball. There is no substitute
What you’ll need: I think you can guess that by now
Number of players: Bare minimum is two per team, better with 3—5 on a side
Athletic level: Intermediate. Hand-eye coordination is a big one
What to avoid: Taking it too seriously

5. Tip HORSE


Let’s face it, unless you’re practicing for the team, playing HORSE is pretty boring. So, to speed things up, try this version where only tips and free-throws count. You can run your butt off, and the shots are wild and make great Instagram photos.
What it’s most like: a wild game of half-court basketball
What you’ll need: a basketball, and a half-court to play it on with no innocent bystanders to plow over
Number of players: Three is ok, but better with four to seven players. Eight or more people should really just get two games going
Athletic level: From casual to intense, just depends on how bad you wanna WIN

The gameplay
1. Scoring is reverse of standard HORSE. Letters are awarded for made shots, first player to get all letters wins.
2.Choose an order of play. This must be followed strictly during the game. Choose what is considered out of bounds and other ground rules (for play off of fences, obstacles, etc.)
3.First player shoots from predetermined spot (usually free-throw line) and intentionally “bricks” the ball. It must hit backboard and/or rim.
4.The next player in line has only two bounces to “tip” the ball and attempt to make the shot. IMPORTANT: A “tip” is when the ball is caught and shot again while the player is in the air. (This is where the hustle comes in.)
4a. If the shot goes in, a letter is awarded to the player and he is allowed to attempt free-throws (set shots). Each made up to three in a row each receives another letter. Missed shot that catches backboard and/or rim resumes tip play as in #4. Airball removes a letter.
4b. If shot misses and catches backboard and/or rim, play continues to next player who attempts a tip.
4c. If tipping player cannot attempt a tip within two bounces from previous rebound, or if player airballs his tip, it removes a letter and player must brick from free-throw line to set up play for next player in line.
5. First player to spell HORSE wins.
6. There are no negative letters. A player who has no letters and airballs, etc. stays at no letters.
7. Since hitting the backboard and/or rim is built into the rules, a bona fide shot attempt can include intentionally slamming the ball off the goal to make it really tough for the next player.

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GO! Hit the Trails this Summer

The DNR estimates that our 12,500 miles of Michigan state-designated trails leads the nation, so there’s probably a trail close to you. Tune up your bikes, bring sunscreen, your reusable water bottle and some snacks, and hit the trails!

Flint River Trail

Downtown Flint to Genesee Recreation Area: 24 miles

VIEW TRAIL MAP

Development of this trail network gained momentum in the early 1990s when the Friends of the Flint River Trail formed to host Sunday afternoon bike rides, organize trail cleanups, and advocate for its expansion.

Really a network of 24 miles of paved paths, the main terminus is located at UM Flint. Passing along the north and south edges of the Flint River, the trail has two spurs that connect with Mott Community College and Kettering University.

The original trail from downtown to Carpenter Road was established in the 1980s, so watch out for potholes: some of the surfaces are a bit patchy as you travel along the downtown stretch. The current path winds north along the river through several parks and natural areas to the village of Genesee at the north side of Mott Lake where you’ll spot Stepping Stone Falls. From here, the newest section of the trail (completed in 2015) continues through Genesee Recreation Area. Along with the planned Grand Traverse Greenway Trail, Flint River Trail will connect downtown Flint via the Iron Belle Trail from Detroit to the Upper Peninsula.

Genesee Valley Trail

The Mall to Chevy Commons: 4.5 miles

Built over the defunct railway that once served automobile factories, the 4.5-mile Genesee Valley Trail runs from Genesee Valley Center on Linden Road to Chevy Commons near downtown. Five years in construction, it was completed August 2015, in collaboration with the city of Flint, the Charter Township of Flint, and the Michigan Department of Transportation. It was thoughtfully designed with new paving and HAWK (high-intensity activated crosswalk) signals to provide safe passage across busy streets. Now connected to the Flint River Trail network, it’s a great way to travel between the mall and downtown, with restaurants and other amenities along the route. Make a day of it: a full tour from Genesee Valley Center north to the village of Genesee and back will rack up 32-miles for your round trip.

Buell Lake County Park

14098 Genesee Rd. in Clio: 1 mile

Just a few steps away from the Buell Lake Boat Ramp, the trail takes about 25 minutes to complete and ends close to restrooms and children’s play area.

For-Mar Nature Preserve & Arboretum

2142 N. Genesee Rd. in Burton

For-Mar includes several trails, including a planned 5k route, which can be accessed at both the north and main entrances. Hike along the bend of Kearsley Creek and explore the trails that twist through the stream’s heavily wooded flats. Trails are well maintained and path directions are marked for ease of use for families.

Flushing County Park

4417 N. McKinley Rd. in Flushing: 1 mile

Flushing Park’s trail runs along Carpenter Road with a bend close to the Flint River. The terrain is good for leisurely excursions on bike or on foot, verdant landscape of trees and lawns. Bring your dog and a pair of running shoes and enjoy one of the most beautiful park trails in the county.

Linden County Park

15349 S. Linden Rd. in Linden: 1.5 miles
Linden County Park’s trails are open year round. The main trail is a 1.5-mile loop through beautiful terrain studded with maple, oak and beech trees. It can be completed on foot in a little over 1/2 hour. The other runs through the center of the park and is perfect for biking.

Future Connections

There are more plans in the works for the Iron Belle Trail, which will run from Detroit’s Belle Isle Park to Ironwood in the western Upper Peninsula. Now more than 60 percent complete, the Iron Belle Trail will boast 791 miles of bicycle routes, utilizing existing multi-use trails along U.S. Highway 2. A coalition including the Michigan Fitness Foundation, DNR, MDOT, the Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance and local community groups is campaigning to raise $168 million in private funding to complete the project. Once completed, it will be the longest continuous trail in the state.

Trail Etiquette: Rules is Rules

If people are falling in love with nature for the first time this season, there are some simple rules they need to know first: Don’t feed the wildlife; don’t litter (pack it in, pack it out); weed is still illegal in Michigan; and—DO NOT PLAY YOUR F***ING MUSIC ON THE TRAIL.

It’s okay for hikers and cyclists to share the trail and enjoy the outdoors, but please leave the Bluetooth speakers at home. These resources belong to the public, not just people that like Justin Bieber. If y’all are going to spend your time on the trails instead of at the mall, great, but have some respect for everyone else. The same goes for drones, too—they sound like giant wasps and make you look like a jerk. They are also illegal.

Resources:
Friends of the Flint River Trail
PDF Trail Maps from Genesee County Parks
Trail overviews with maps

Special thanks to Katie Herzog for the trail rules inspiration.

Ranked! Local 1668 vs. Some Goats

Local 1668 of Kalamazoo has filed a grievance against Western Michigan University, apparently for providing fulfilling employment to goats. In the spirit of solidarity with our behooved brethren, we are not gonna take it, Local 1668!

WMU Horticulturist Nicholas Gooch has contracted 20 goats with Munchers on Hooves, LLC to clear 15 acres of woodland over the summer. They are cleaner and consume less fossil fuel than lawnmowers and wood chippers, and even leave behind natural fertilizer. Sounds good, right? Not to Kathi Babbit, author of the grievance, who apparently thinks union workers should be eating the poison ivy instead of the goats.

Granted, the idea of using goats for lawn care is pretty novel, which is why it’s drawn so much local media attention. And judging from their website, the union doesn’t care much for them new-fangled ideas.

The first paragraph at afscme1668.org says “This is our Web-site…to the left you will find links that will help you navigate through…” The buttons make beeps and boops like an Atari game when clicked. It has a landing page with an option for dial-up users. It’s a Flash template time capsule from the Fresh Prince era.

We weren’t able to get a copy of the grievance, but if this excerpt from a recent local 1668 newsletter, also written by Babbit, is any indication, it must have been hilarious reading:

We all need to come together as we head into these upcoming negotiations. All the back stabbing, gossiping [sic] mongering, and hurtful mean spirited comments I have been hearing are not helping our Bargaining unit succeed. We need to be united! How united are we, if we are gossiping and back stabbing one another. [sic] WE are supposed to standing [sic] together as Sisters and Brothers. Let’s start be [sic] a little more respectful of each other’s personal situations. If it’s not about you, then you should not be talking about it! I challenge anyone of you who hears someone else doing these terrible things, to call them on it! We are grown @$$ adults, yet we act like middle school children! Please just stop! I’m not innocent either I’m sure of that. I know I can and will do better! I will not let stupid crap get in the way of doing my job and representing the greater good. Will you? Have a great Spring Break! I’m ready for some flowers!

Clearly the Sisters and Brothers need to man up and pick on somebody their own size. We’ve put together a collection of other historical feats of man on mammal action, in descending order of danger:

Carl Akeley vs. “Contessa” the Leopard

Ethiopia, 1896.
Badass level: Charles Bronson

Akeley, famed naturalist and taxidermist and major contributor to museums in Chicago and New York, had plenty of encounters with crazy dangerous wildlife. A bull elephant charged at him on Mount Kenya, nearly crushing him; he was caught unarmed and run down and nearly trampled by three rhinos; and was hit and nearly knocked off a cliff by the tumbling body of a 500 lb. silverback gorilla he’d just shot.

The fight: just before dusk while hunting in the brush, Akeley mistakenly fired on and royally pissed off an 80-lb leopard. She pursued Akely and pounced on him, knocking the gun from his hands. According to Akeley, “Her intention was to sink her teeth into my throat and with this grip and her forepaws hang to me while with her hind claws she dug out my stomach, for this pleasant practice is the way of leopards.” Akely caught the leopard’s teeth on his forearm, twisting her rear claws away from his belly, but the fight was just beginning:

““When I got grip enough on her throat to loosen her hold just a little she would catch my arm again an inch or two lower down. In this way I drew the full length of the arm through her mouth inch by inch,” tearing it to ribbons.

The result: Nearly succumbing to exhaustion but avoiding the animal’s claws, Akeley was able to pin and strangle the animal, essentially killing it with his bare hands. You can read the full story here: http://mentalfloss.com/article/80239/time-carl-akeley-killed-leopard-his-bare-hands

Tom Wanyandie vs. “Ursula” the Mama Grizzly Bear

Alberta, Canada, 2009.
Badass level: Paul Bunyan

When Tom Wanyandie and his son, James, were in the backcountry looking for shed antlers, they chanced upon a Grizzly cub. Shortly thereafter, the mother Grizzly appeared and charged James, who fired with his .270 caliber rifle.

“I don’t know if I missed or hit it. But it just kept on coming…swung me around and wrestled me,” breaking James’ arm. James, who has a heart condition and wears a pacemaker, was in serious trouble.

That was when his 77 year old father intervened. And by intervened, I mean beat the living shit out of the bear.

Tom, a Cree Indian who spent his entire life venturing through the woods as a hunter, trapper, and wilderness guide, wasn’t about to let his son be tossed around like that.

Charging toward the bear, swearing in his native tongue at the top of his lungs, he took the tree branch he’d been using as a walking stick and beat the bear on the face and neck, then rammed the stick down the bear’s throat, then continuing to punch it in the face.

The result: In the course of the fight the bear broke Tom’s hand, but the bear eventually gave up and retreated, allowing the men to escape. Read the full story here: http://badassoftheweek.com/wanyandie.html

Greig Tonkins vs. “Rory” the Alpha Male Red Kangaroo

Badass level: Mike Tyson (post-Douglas)

They may look a little funny, but kangaroos are no joke. The males can stand over 6 feet tall; they compete with other males for mates by trying to scratch eyes out with their front claws or disembowel with their back claws.

During a boar hunting trip with friends, Greg Tonkins attempted to rescue a dog who ran into a kangaroo while chasing a scent. Tonkins quickly ran to the dog’s aid and intervened, first distracting the kangaroo and causing it to release the dog from a headlock.

Tonkins, who is a zookeeper, then squared up with the animal and delivered a punch on the muzzle of the kangaroo. You can see in the clip below how the kangaroo, stunned, looks quizzically at Greg for a few seconds, then turns tail and ran off.

“It was funny because the guy who [punched the kangaroo] is the most placid bloke. We laughed at him for chucking such a shit punch,” friend Matthew Amor said.

Barwick, who died of Ewing Sarcoma mere days before the video became a viral hit, would have been happy to see all of the attention the clip has gotten. “Kailem would be looking down from [heaven] and laughing because it was the highlight of the trip,” Amor said.

Local 1668 vs. “Bruiser” the Goat

Badass level: Teddy Ruxpin

Far down the man vs. beast totem pole, we’ll place this “fight”. Just look at the monsters those poor union guys and gals are up against:

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Terrifying, right? It’s enough to make me tremble (with laughter) just to look at them. In the annals of wild fights, this one would be a total snooze. Local 1668, leave them poor goats alone!

Food Trucks!

Mobile food vendors constitute a creative force that is changing how Michiganders eat out. We caught up with a few movers and shakers that are on the road this season, bringing a fresh take to their favorite dishes. We see some trends driving the movement, including small, focused menus, fresh, made-to-order dishes, and specialized ingredients and preparation methods.

West-coast Mexican tamales? True wood-smoke BBQ? Peanut butter on a burger? You aren’t going to find these just anywhere, my friend. Food trucks are seeing the benefits of doing it differently.

We wanted to hear it from the source, so we asked some food truck owners one big question:

What makes your food one-of-a-kind?

The Cheese Trap

Frankenmuth Cheese Haus vendor with signature grilled cheese, fried cheese curds, tomato bisque soup, and potato tots.

CT: “Our sandwiches are one of a kind for two different reasons… we are using bread baked fresh by the Bavarian Inn restaurant, and we use cheese spreads that are handmade from the Frankenmuth Cheese Haus.”

Hero or Villain

Detroit deli sandwiches with local ingredients. Offers vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free.

HoV: “Our sandwiches are inspired by comic book characters and we rotate our menu often, so expect to see different options frequently. We use fresh ingredients we make every sandwich to order.”

FP: “What is your favorite right now?”

HoV: “Interestingly enough, it’s a fan creation: the Dark Phoenix. Maple-glazed deli turkey, mozzarella cheese with our house made kale slaw, mayo and oregano on grilled rye. It has become a solid selling mainstay.”

The Rolling Stoves

Detroit burgers, garlic fries, fried pickles, onion rings.
RS: “We cook all of our food to order – nothing is held in warmers…there are not many trucks doing that.”

FP: “What should I order right now?”

RS: “Oh man, it depends if you appreciate a classic done right or you want to be adventurous…”

FP: “Let’s go crazy!”

RS: “Peanut butter burger and garlic fries with a side of ranch for the fries! But, if you want the classic do the smash burger add bacon!”

The Nosh Pit

Detroit vegetarian dishes with locally sourced ingredients. Lentil sloppy joe, hummus and roasted beet bowl, mushroom and banana grilled cheese…!

NP: “We’re a friendly vegetarian truck with truly unique delicious homemade recipes – we make it delicious to eat vegetables! We also source conscientiously to help the environment, we compost, we recycle.”

Tamale Rose

Owosso vendor features tacos, burritos, and tamales with carnitas, chorizo, or shredded pork.

TR: “My Grandmothers recipe. All our food is homemade right down to the chips and salsa; our food is West-coast style.”

FP: “Tell me more about West coast style.”

TR: “It has less spice and lots of fresh flavor. I’m from the West coast, and when I moved here, I found most of the Mexican food in Michigan is Tex-Mex. My grandmother had a love for making great food and she inspired me to make people happy with food.”

Smoke Ring BBQ

Farmington Hills barbecue, Kansas City-style pulled pork, brisket, chicken. Smoke mac ’n’ cheese, “pit” beans.

SR: “I’m one of the few who still uses wood only, no electric smoker here.”

The Philzone

Grand Blanc deli sandwiches, Chicago style. Italian beef, sausages, specialty coneys.

PZ: “I have authentic Chicago Italian beef. I get it from Chicago through a supplier. I also have the Philzone originals: the Mexican coney, and the hot dog Italiano. Plus who don’t like being served by a fat Italian?”

Wildroot Coffee at Woodside Church

Flint pour-over coffee bar, rotating list of single-origin current crop coffees.

“The slow food / tasting experience of our pour-over coffee features a large list of the best coffees we can source. It’s also the unique ‘sacred irreverence’ in the space – a casual coffee bar in a church.”