Abandoned Irish Hills

Abandoned Irish Hills: Go Karts

Used to be that the Irish Hills, a section of US-12 between Detroit and Chicago, was quite the tourist attraction.

As a kid, my family often went to Stagecoach Stop and Prehistoric Forest, and played putt-putt and drove go karts at the little amusement parks. Even back then there was a level of hokeyness – but it didn’t matter. Those places were tons of fun.

Abandoned Irish Hills: Arcade

But now, it’s all shutting down. There are a few attractions that are still humming along. The majority, though, lie in disrepair (or worse).

In high school, my dad and step mom were married at Stagecoach Stop’s little chapel, and their reception was held in the old timey tavern.

Abandoned Irish Hills: Lonestar

Stagecoach was a bustling place back in the day. You could watch a gun fight in the town square, grab some ice cream, pet a goat in the petting zoo, and even stay overnight in the motel. There was a working lumber mill, and horse rides, and a drive-through haunted Halloween tour.

Now those places are overgrown and fading away.

Driving down US-12 now, and passing through the Irish Hills, it feels like a ghost town. It’s almost like a run-down part of town, with all the windows broken out and no one left to protect it. Eventually, I’m sure, these roadside attractions will be mowed down completely.

Abandoned Irish Hills: Bridge Over Track

Maybe the dinosaurs at Prehistoric Forest will survive. But more and more each year that place gets eaten by vegetation.

So last fall I took a drive out there, seemingly back in time, to capture some of those attractions I remembered from childhood. Before they disappeared.

Abandoned Irish Hills: Stagecoach Courtyard

At Stagecoach, I ran into a couple that was hosting a garage sale of sorts on the property. Most of the area was closed off, but I asked if I could walk around to grab some photos, and they said “yes.”

Abandoned Irish Hills: Fun Center

The Irish Hills Fun Center, a general amusement park with putt-putt and go karts, was completely abandoned. The kart track was still in decent shape, but the rest of the property was fading fast.

Prehistoric Forest, the true goal of my trip last fall, has been known as a target for vandalism. With motion sensors and cameras guarding the place, it was risky to try to grab photos of the place. When I drove past, there was a utility truck and a man taking measurements, so I played it safe and drove on.

Word is that the place has been sold. Who knows what will happen to it.

Abandoned Irish Hills: Twin Towers

It was weird to see a place that was so bustling turn into such a dead spot. I may take another drive out there this fall to see what’s changed – if anything.

(See the rest of the set on Flickr)


About every year, I need a mountain fix. To fly away from our flat-ish peninsula state and land somewhere above sea level.

Luckily, I’ve kept to that pretty consistently. I’ve used mountain states to escape, to reflect – and to drive.

Rocky Mountain National Park 565

The driving is therapeutic, too. I take in the countryside by mostly driving through it – with little stops along the way to get out and explore.

Rocky Mountain National Park 550

It’s not my style to stay in any one place for very long while traveling. I hit the highlights and move on to the next thing in fairly rapid succession.

Hiking Colorado: Dense Pathway

But it’s important to absorb the highlights. Especially with mountain scenery. Soak it all up.

Michigan is a fantastic state. I love living here and traveling here. Seeing the lakes and the woods and the wilderness. Michigan, though, doesn’t have mountains.

Rocky Mountain National Park 552

Colorado has mountains. Virtually a whole state full of them.

And every once in a while, I get the itch to see them.

(Photos edited with VSCO Film 04.)


KEEP SHELLY IN ATHENS “RECOLLECTION” [DIR. LAMAR+NIK] (by LAMAR+NIK)

Can’t say enough about this song, and this album, by Keep Shelly in Athens. 

Got “Recollection” as a freebie on Amazon MP3 a while back, and put September 16 – the day At Home came out – on my calendar as a must-buy. Now I’m gobbling up everything Keep Shelly in Athens does.

For the video, I had always pictured something a little sunnier in my head: clouds and lens flares and Polaroid color schemes. I guess for that you can check out the promo video.

Anyway. This song has been on repeat since August. Glad to see they made a proper video for it. 


Follow-Up on VSCO vs. Film Manufacturers

Fuji responded to my call for film makers (like themselves and Kodak) to run, not walk, into the digital film emulation and mobile photography business.

They’re right – and I said as much: Fuji is jumping into digital photography with both feet, and they should be commended. They’re making great stuff.

But in film emulation? Mobile apps? Not so much.

And Kodak? For crying out loud, they’re not even in the photography business any more.

So my point still stands: who better to do film emulations than the original film manufacturers?

And now with Totally Rad jumping into the game, the original film stock companies are getting further and further behind in the mobile/software arena.

Again, for Fuji, that’s fine. They’re doing a great business with the X-series of cameras.

For everyone else? Lots of luck.

UPDATE 9-13-13: Kodak responded on Twitter as well, suggesting that they’re still in the film business. However, my digging online found that while film stocks may have the Kodak name, they may not come from the original source. So what: film is film and it has Kodak on the box. For most people, that’s all that matters.

But again – whoever makes the film should be making the digital equivalent.

Also, kudos to Fuji for having some fun in this conversation.


Nothing Stops Detroit

Nothing Stops Detroit

I get lots of stuff from Chicago. In fact, walking around downtown Detroit this summer, I felt like I knew the Windy City better than I know my local big city.

So in early August I had the chance to explore a bit while at a training seminar for work.

Nothing Stops Detroit: Window

Sticking to mainly Woodward Ave., it was a fun stroll through the heart of the Motor City: starting at Hart Plaza (above), passed Campus Martius, and on down to the filming set for ‘Transformers 4.’

Nothing Stops Detroit: Beam

I’ve had Detroit on my photo list for a long time – to take a day or an afternoon and just explore. And shoot.

So it was nice to finally do that.

Nothing Stops Detroit: Sundown

And it’s not like I saw a whole lot. Detroit is a giant city, geographically, and there’s no way a visiting tourist like me could do it justice.

What I did see, though, was a quiet city at sundown, with lots of graffiti.

Nothing Stops Detroit: Walkway

There’s that whole Abandoned Detroit thing, and as much as I love the abandoned stuff I didn’t want to go there just yet. That’s like making out with someone on the first date.

(what?)

Nothing Stops Detroit: Park Avenue Building

Instead, Detroit and I shook hands on a warm summer evening.

Nothing Stops Detroit: Renaissance

(Photos processed with VSCO Film Fuji FP-100c Negative +++. See the rest of the set on Flickr.)