Thursday, September 10, 2009

Day 3: St. Ann's Pig Roast

Grand Rapids to Jenison. 10.1 miles/30.2 total

Got out of bed this morning, and I could walk! My feet had healed, somewhat. I slapped some kind of analgesic foot pads on the tender spots and I was good to go. Somewhat persistent pain on the outside of my left foot all day, which is ironic, considering that the pain in my right ankle that panicked me before the walk even began is gone. Well, I think the good news is that the pain is travelling around from place to place, so that probably means no one spot is too bad off. Just have to walk it all off.

Very pleasant walking through the shady and affluent west end of Grand Rapids, an area I wasn't familiar with, since my grandfather, a Dutchman, lived on the east side, where most of the Dutch settled, and had little or no use for the west side. In fact, I don't think I ever even went there as a kid, except to go to the zoo once. Who knew (well, some of you, I'm sure) that there were so many beautiful houses and mansions up in the hills of Leonard Street?

I pass a number of beautiful old trees, too, one of which in particular catches my attention. It's probably forty or fifty feet high, and has these huge beans hanging from the branches. Like gigantic green beans. (I look it up later, and discover that it is a northern catalpa, or catawba, tree.) Anyway, it makes me think of that Captain Beefheart song from his Clear Spot album, "Big Eyed Beans From Venus."

A little later I pass a Catholic church with a sign out front that said, "St. Ann's Pig Roast." Maybe I'm still in a Captain Beefheart mood, but it puts me in mind of that old blues standard, "St. James Infirmary," which goes way back, done by Louis Armstrong in the 20s and many others, but which I first heard on a Dave Van Ronk album under the name, "Gambler's Blues." So I juxtapose the first line with the sign in front of the church, in a way that I think gives it a new and exciting meaning:

Well I went down to that St. Ann's Pig Roast
And saw my baby there,
Stretched out on a long white table,
So sweet, so cold, so fair.

With cole slaw and baked beans on the side.

The walk takes me out of Grand Rapids, and through some really nice rural areas of Walker, down through a nature preserve and along the Grand River, wide and brown, running slowly west by northwest toward the big lake. Walker, by the way, says on its signs that it is the sister city of Colac, Australia. I'm picturing Colac as a flea-bitten, dusty little outback sheep station, with about six houses and a bar. Then again, I wonder what the folks of Colac think Walker, Michigan might be like? Maybe like Springfield, Homer Simpson's home town, or filled with killer cops and gangbangers, or women who look like they should be on Sex and the City or Desperate Housewives. Who knows?

Then it's back into the city, or at least the suburbs, as I walk through a little of Grandville and onto Chicago Drive, which I guess used to be the way to get to Chicago, before they built I-196. More on Chicago Drive tomorrow, since I'll be on it for a couple more days.

I end up at another McDonald's. Started at one in GR and ended at one just inside the Jenison city limits. They seem like pretty safe places to leave a car, and a bicycle. People don't hang around in the parking lots looking for things to steal. They're either in line at the drive through, or inside, fully focused on the fries.


Billie Bob said...

When the walk comes to an end next year, aside from the Book, you should be thinking about all the side projects that will bring in a nice income: Calendars, coffee table books, maybe a post card series...I can see it now: The Road Kill Calendar 2011 (and 2012, 2013...) etc. etc.

Peter Teeuwissen said...

Great idea. I have been photographing some of the more interesting/gruesome ones so far. The marketing might be different, depending on the demographic. Road kill as haute cuisine, maybe?

Anonymous said...

One of the attractions for those of us travelling to Grand Rapids from afar was to be driven around the affluent neighbourhood and choose our favourite house, the one we would like to live in if all our dreams came true! Grandpa (as a physical therapist) and Grandma (as a maid) actually worked in that neighborhood at the time when they met. The Bissell family had a mansion in the area. There is a Frank Lloyd Wright House (Meyer May House) and the Voigt House that I visited later in a different area. To me those old houses are the essence of Grand Rapids.

Billie Bob said...

As far as the Road Kill Calendar, believe me, there is a market. There is a market for everything. And that is just one, albeit gruesome, spin-off from your trip. There is probably something for every market niche.

Peter Teeuwissen said...

To Anonymous: Thanks for that info about the houses. We used to do the same thing when driving down Plymouth in East GR.