Electronically Serving Monterey Park, Alhambra, San Gabriel, & Rosemead



This is the fifth in a series of articles about seeing tulips and touring the state of Michigan


By Charles N. Stevens

Photos by Dolores Seidman

During the night, rain pattered on our windows and thunder rolled in the distance, but the morning is cloudy and cool with the sun trying to break through. We leave at half past eight, then head north on Interstate 196 towards Grand Rapids. We pass through rolling farmland before we reach our destination, once called the Furniture City. The City remains a leader in the production of office furniture. With over a million people, it is the second largest city in Michigan. The majestic Grand River, the longest river in Michigan, flows through the city. It is on the bank of the river that we make our first stop at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum.

We walk through gardens and past an attractive fountain before entering the white stone and glass beauty of the museum. The exhibits portraying important events in Ford’s presidency are first class, but the arrangement of them is a confusing maze. This is his  museum, the library with his papers being located on the campus of Michigan State University at Ann Arbor. Most striking to me is the museum’s location at the edge of the wide, swift-flowing Grand River. We walk along it on a promenade listening to it murmur and breathing fresh air.

On the road again, we’re bound for the Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park on the outskirts of Grand Rapids. As soon as we arrive we wander through gardens that are kept inside with special temperature and humidity controls. Some contained tropical plants, while another held varieties of cactus and other desert plants. My favorite was a display of carnivorous plants that actually feed on insects. On our way out of the building and into the sculpture gardens, we pass through a netted enclosure where many types of butterflies flit around freely among trees and shrubs.

The thirty acre sculpture gardens are quite daunting, but well worth the long walk. The air is crisp today and the skies are overcast, but we enjoy what we see. There are 170 sculptures in the beautifully landscaped park, seeing all of them being quite a task. By far the most interesting to me is the bronze sculpture of a giant horse, a tribute to Leonardo da Vinci’s original statue commissioned by the Duke of Milan. The horse looms over the landscape, and is so large that an average person standing  comes only up to his knees. With two hooves off the ground, he appears to be trotting away.

On our way again, we roar down the wet freeway, the cars and trucks churning up mist into man-made fog. One problem about driving on freeways is that they go around towns rather than in them, good for the travelers but not so nice for the tourists. All the off ramps for the towns have their cluster of restaurants and gas stations with their towering signs protruding into the gray skies. All of them appear almost exactly alike. We drive a long way without much variance in scenery.

We stop at a Wal-Mart in Cadillac, Michigan for a break. While inside, a thunderstorm unleashes its energy with  rolling thunder and heavy rain roaring on the roof. With the rain still slanting down, we dash for the bus, feeling very damp when we reach it.

Rain continues all the way to Traverse City and East Bay, where we have a hotel on the beach. Once in our room, I walk out on our balcony to see the view. The water of Lake Michigan is gray under overcast skies, the land jutting out into it lead-dark. Gentle waves ripple along the sandy shore. Foot prints and tire treads mark the yellowish sand. Three people stroll on the beach with coffee mugs held close to their faces. Two seagulls rest on the beach, their whiteness contrasting to the darker sand.

Before sunset, the sky begins to clear. At half past eight the copper-red sun is almost set, its rays angling over the beach. Shortly lights begin to glow from across the bay and our day is done.

At Traverse City we had a nice hotel on the beach.

At Traverse City we had a nice hotel on the beach.

The author on the balcony.

The author on the balcony.

The end of the day from our balcony.

The end of the day from our balcony.

MONTEREY PARK AUTHOR PUBLISHES 4th BOOK – Seeking More of the Sky: Growing Up in the 1930’s:

Charles “Norm” Stevens, a 43 year resident of Monterey Park has recently published his 4th book: Seeking More of the Sky: Growing Up in the 1930’s. This is the story of a young boy growing up in Inglewood, California in the l930’s. This was a time during the depression when unemployment was affecting many and the banks were closed, while the clouds of war were gathering in Europe. But he was lucky enough to be raised in a loving family, the power of that love reflected throughout his stories.

Stevens is the author of three previous books about his experiences during WWII:

An Innocent at Polebrook: A Memoir of an 8th Air Force Bombardier (Story of his 34 bombing missions from his base at Polebrook, England over Germany and France)

The Innocent Cadet: Becoming A World War II Bombardier (A prequel to the first, telling of his training in the U.S. before going overseas into combat.)

Back from Combat: A WWII Bombardier Faces His Military Future from Combat: (This book details the time from when he returned from combat in England until the end of the war.)

He is known to the readers of The Citizen’s Voice as the author of Travel Log Articles including “Cruising the Rhine and Mosel”,” Best of the West”, “In Search of Snow” ,  “From Paris to Normandy on the Seine”, and “Exploring New York”.  He is retired, having taught for 32 years, primarily in the Montebello Unified School District.

Those interested in purchasing an autographed copy of any of his books, may contact the author at 323-721-8230 or  Normstevens24@gmail.com.

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