Detroit to Canada

I woke Tuesday morning, worked out at the gym in my hotel and hit the road. As far as I could tell from all the research I had done and all the bicycle people I reached out to there were no ghost bikes in Detroit. There was a small chance for one On the very north side of Detroit, but I wasn’t counting on it.

For years people have been telling me that Detroit is terrible, that there is no need to ever go there. Of course this has made me ALWAYS want to go there. I figured I would definitely be able to find some dilapidated buildings and things to shoot. I would give myself the morning, because I still had to get to Orion township and toronto by the end of the day.

I started just south of 8 mile road. Which as near as I can tell is the dividing road that delineates the area. I found so many abandon houses and many burned out ones. I stayed shooting many crumbled houses until it felt the the people in the neighborhood were tired of this white girl crawling around their neighborhood taking pictures.

Next I headed toward the old downtown area. This part of downtown is filled with abandon buildings. I was able to get into the farewell building to take a few shots.

Next I headed to the old train station Michigan central depot. I was hoping to be able to jump the fence, but there were people working on it and they wouldn’t let me in to take photos. Boo!

Along the way I stopped to shoot this burnt out house. As I scurried into to house some girls at the bus stop said “girl, you are brave!” now, I’m not sure if they thought I was brave to walk into a burnt out house, or to be running around that neighborhood (white as I am) with a camera. My guess, the latter. I hadn’t seen a white person pretty much since I left the hotel. Again you all will have to wait to see any of these pictures.

I headed north to not find the ghost bike I had little hope of finding. So I continued to Orion township to shoot the bike for Ralph Finneren, by th GM plant.

ghost bike for Ralph Finneren, on Giddings Road outside the GM plant, Orion Township

Later I found out that there should have been two bikes for him along that stretch of road, but I only saw the one.

It is possible that I didn’t see the other one, I have been running myself ragged on this trip, but I think it would be hard to miss another ghost bike on that stretch of road, an I drove the stretch of it (I think). Obviously Ralph was loved, because there were a number of questions about the other ghost bike once I posted a picture of the one I found.

To Canada…

I arrived at the border. They asked me a slew of questions: what is the purpose of your visit? “shooting a photo project on ghost bikes.” what do you do for a living? “bartender, photographer” how much cash do you have on you? “$7” do you have credit cards? “yes” have you ever been arrested? “no” (yes that’s right people I am a sweet and innocent-I’ve been trying to tell you for years!)…please go over there and talk to immigration.

They almost did not let me in. Their reasoning: I can do my jobs anywhere, so I have no incentive to return to the states, I do not have reservations at a hotel, my car was a rental, I only had $7 in my pocket so as far as they are concerned, I can not support myself for the two days I am there. If I had a copy of my bank statement, she would have been more willing. In a nut shell she felt I had no reason to return to the states.

Eventually, she gave in. Welcome to Canada, NOT! I arrived in Toronto and found hotels to be way too expensive, but I was stuck. So I had to pay over $100 to sleep. I did however see a ghost bike on the airport strip I stayed on that was not on my list of bikes to look for.

I later checked my email and found out that my Toronto contact had emailed me letting me know that the bike was placed earlier that day!

ghost bike for unknown cyclist, Airport at Northwest, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

In the morning I did the research to fine out about motels in Ottawa, but it was the same thing, way too expensive! I decided that I would shoot the bikes in Toronto, make the drive to Ottawa, shoot the bikes there, and then get stateside to spend the night. This would be a race for time, as there are only so many hours of daylight in a day.

I shot the bike near the airport, then went to Sir Czowiski Park to shoot the tree that was planted for fallen cyclists in Toronto and Canada.

Plaque for tree planted for fallen cyclist in Toronto and Canada in Sir Casimir Gzowiski Park

Tree planted for fallen cyclist in Toronto and Canada in Sir Casimir Gzowiski Park

Toronto is a beautiful city, I could even tell in the rain!

ghost bike for Peter Cram, Queen St W near Dufferin, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

When I shot this one the rain was crazy!

ghost bike for Joe Mavec, Wychwood Ave at St Claire W, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

The fourth bike I was to find was no longer there. The neighborhood looked a little like it was sort of bad, so I was not surprised. It does make me sad that when I drive into a “bad” neighborhood to find a ghost bike, I am never surprised to see it gone.

As I got closer to Ottawa, I was hopeful that I would have enough light to shoot the bikes there if I could find them easily and not get too lost. Once the rain finally stopped the drive was very pretty, the sky was doing incredible things.

driving to Ottawa

I found the first bike without a hitch, and boy was it spectacular!

ghost bike for Danielle Naçu, 131 Queen St, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

The next one I looked for was supposed to be at 125 Sussex. It was not there. That section of town is bustling with tourism, so I assume it was taken down because of it possibly being in the way. Here are a couple of pics I took with my phone as I was driving around that area. Incredibly beautiful!!

taken while driving in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada


taken while driving in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada


taken while driving in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

I did however find the third bike!

ghost bike for David Tyler Brown, Innes Rd at Bantree, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Photos taken with just enough light! Now to get stateside and try and find a “cheap” motel!

I get to the border, and they give me trouble. I swear I was there for 10, 15 minutes while he asked me so many questions. Come on!! Everyone before me was there maybe a minute or two. Canada doesn’t want me, and now own stupid country doesn’t want me either. And, if this was the guards way of flirting, he gets a big fail. Finally, they check my trunk and let me through.
I pull over to use the internet on my phone and try to figure out where to go spend the night. There were no big towns close by, so I checked further away. I finally settled on spending a little too much (not like Canada!) and end up it Plattsburgh, New York, another hour and a half drive.
I pull up to my motel, and almost sh*t my pants! REALLY?? Was that really a ghost bike locked to the fence next to my motel by the freeway on ramp???? Yes it was! I took pictures of it this morning and found out it was for a boy that had come here to go to Plattsburgh State University, Yee Hao “Bryan” Chiel, and the truck driver that hit him had not known that he hit him and dragged him half way up the onramp. So sad.
Every now and then on this trip, I have wondered if this is what I am supposed to be doing right now, and then something like this happens. I had no idea about this bike, even with all the research I have done, and I probably would never have come to Plattsburgh, but here I am, and now I get to immortalize another ghost bike that represents the ill-est fate of people not being cognisant of there spatial surroundings.

ghost bike for Yee Hao “Bryan” Chiel, Cornelia St at Interstate 87 onramp, Plattsburgh, New York

Today I drive to Maine, tomorrow, Boston, Rhode Island and Gardner, MA.


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