User Comments & More


Over the years we have had numerous people write articles that we have used in our various newsletters.


On this page we will attempt to provide the articles that we have in our archives.


If you would like to submit an article for this page, or our e-mail newsletter, or our paper end-of-the-year newsletter; please send it to us.


These submittals will be inserted as written unless we find something that is inappropriate; as we reserve the right edit the submittals.


Please remember these are submitted to us and do not necessarily reflect the views, beliefs, rules, and policies of the “Friends”!



Gail's Poem #2

Poem - - By Gail Brophy


Goodbye; Litter!


You may have seen me along the trail,

My name is "Litter," and I hate Gail.


She tells me that I shouldn't belong,

That throwing litter is dreadfully wrong.


Even though I've tried to hide,

She's always looking, on every ride.


She hits those brakes, then I'm in the bag,

Whether large or small, or even a rag.


So please think twice before you throw me away,

As a litter-free trail just makes Gail's day!


P.S. Please get me a trash-barrel-home on Russell Road,

       And that litter accumulation will surely be slowed!



We Won’t Hang Up!


Article by former “Friends” board member Dick Wagon (deceased and sorely missed)


I'm sick!  Yes sick up to here!  No, higher than that!! - - April 2008


I'm on a ladder in the garage working on finishing up a small project and the phone rings.  It rings not once but three times and thinking that a family member might be trying to reach me, I climbed down the ladder.  I missed the last step thinking the floor was next.  Tripping over the junk, I finally reached the still ringing phone.  Guess what!  It was my friend, Mitt Romney.  He even called me by my first name.  Now, I've never called him so I said, "Hi Mitt.  How are things?"  Having never been on a first name basis with him I figured this would be a good time to ask for a few of his big bucks for the Fred Meijer White Pine Trail.  Before I could give him some information about the trail, or even get a word in edgewise, he said; "Thanks for your support" and hung up.  So much for our budding friendship and friends in high places!


I have found an unexpected opportunity for friendships on the trail.  Almost everyone on the trail whether riding, walking, running, rollerblading or pushing a baby stroller gives a friendly "hi " or "hello" as they go by.  It makes you feel a part of a wonderful organization of outdoor enthusiasts; everyone enjoying the privilege of being on the Fred Meijer White Pine Trail.  It is so good to be part of a group like the “Friends” of the trail.  Call us with your ideas and we won't hang up on you.  We Promise! 

Gail's Poem

Poem - - By Gail Brophy


The White Pine Trail is a dream come true, As nature presents her beauty to you.


For so many people it's just what we need, Want to walk?  To run? Go biking?  Yes, indeed!


No traffic to bother, no cars whizzing by, Just nice, friendly people, with a smile and a "Hi!"


Each season presents a feast for the eyes, wild flowers, spring blossoms, even cactus - a surprise!


It's nicely maintained by a volunteer crew, and to all of those workers, we say, "THANK YOU!" 


The “Birdman”


Article by former “Friends” board member Dick Wagon (deceased and sorely missed)


Hey Birdman


I'm sitting in my warm living room looking out the window at the snow and the birds eating at the bird feeder.  Nothing better to do, when it's zero degrees outside, and the snow is so deep.


Watching birds is interesting.  All the birds at my feeder I have seen on the White Pine Trail.  I'm not one of those people who travel all over the country just to spot some exotic birds.  Although, while visiting family on the East Coast, I drove to Plum Island, an area where birds migrate, to see a few birds we don't have here.  I'm satisfied with the local birds that I've seen on the White Pine Trail and out my window; Sparrows, Finches, Chickadees, Tufted Titmouse, Juncos, Nuthatches, Woodpeckers, Blue jays; and in the summer, Bluebirds, Wrens, Grosbeaks, Hummingbirds, and Baltimore Oriels.


Last summer, while riding on the trail, I stopped to watch a bird high in a tree and tried to identify it.  Several people came by and saw me looking up in the tree and I think they thought I was a little "odd".  But I noticed they also looked up.  Kind of puts them in the same category.  Some time later, maybe two or three weeks, I was riding the trail, and a lady that I passed called out "Hey birdman".  Well, I stopped and asked her why the name "Birdman"?  You know I had no wings or feathers or beak.  She told me she was one of those people that passed me while I was looking up in the tree at the bird.  She also had tried to identify a bird that day.  Birds are interesting to watch.  Maybe that's what I'll do until the snow melts.


After thinking about it, maybe I should change my e-mail address to "", but some other "bird" or "odd" person probably already claims it.


Volunteering On The Trail


Article by Roxanne Walker - - July 2009


Volunteering On The Trail


My mother is the sort of woman who will let an eight-foot thistle grow in the middle (and I do mean the middle) of her flower garden just because it pleases her.  As such, she raised the sort of daughter who wouldn’t notice an eight-foot thistle in the middle of the garden until a door-to-door salesman laughed about it.


Whether you call it passion for nature or just a full-hearted acceptance, the drive instilled in my mind motivated me to volunteer with Friends of the White Pine Trail.  The work contributes to my volunteering as Michigan Service Scholar through Kalamazoo College—but, like any good volunteer work, affects me far beyond the paperwork.


On my first day cutting brush and picking up garbage on the White Pine Trail, I encountered…

  • Hundreds of bikers, walkers, runners, and other trail users.
  • A thousand times as many bugs.
  • Three plants with unnoticed thorns.
  • Something that may have very well been bamboo and made an excellent swish noise when cut long, stripped, and wielded.
  • Five reasons to break out my intense shears.
  • At least a dozen people who said, “thank you.”
  • One tremendous reason not to cut: a robin’s nest nestled in the branches overhanging the trail.


And although I’ll be the first to admit my OCD tendencies, which make the work slow, I still unearth lightheartedness on the trail that is hard to find in the nine-to-five grind.  It comes from the earth itself—dirt and wood and green—and from the heart of a community that makes sure to inform me that my efforts are appreciated.


But one other comment on my first day has stuck in my mind stronger than those of gratitude: “You have a lot of work to do.”


He spoke teasingly and with a grin, but also with truth.  The White Pine Trail stretches 90-odd miles, a distance I could never cover over the short summer I am home in Grand Rapids.  Everybody reading this has some investment in the White Pine Trail, but I suspect relatively few have been out working the trail itself.


So if you’ve ever dug your hands in the soil just to absorb its energy, or let an eight-foot thistle grow in your garden; if you’ve ever loved a bug even (or especially) after it fed its bug babies with your blood; if you’ve even been cruising down a nature trail and been hit in the face with overgrown branches… get out there.  Go with a sense of adventure, and a touch of humor; go alone, with family or friends; go morning, noon, or night.  But be sure to go.


Ian & Pete's Trip in March 2009


Ian Meldrum & Pete Reno Travel the Fred Meijer White Pine Trail

On Wednesday, March 10th, Pete Reno and I left Greeneville for the White Pine Trail.  Pete’s dad dropped us off in Cadillac, but after the trail was not easily found without asking around, we did not leave on our bikes until about 1:15 pm.  Cadillac was paved for the beginning portion, but around March, it was purely ice, snow, and slush.  Every once in a while we would get pavement for five or ten feet, but most of the beginning we were just plowing through.  Over time, it really just killed the legs.  Obviously we were stubborn, just saying, “Don’t worry; it will get better just a little bit ahead.”  Well, mountain bike tires actually made it worse because they dug right into the snow, it was necessary to pedal extremely hard.  Hybrid or commuting tires would have been better for the first portion.

Eventually, the pavement with snow and ice ended and dirt was manageable, but only for a short while because most of the dirt portion on the northern end was either mud, or contained large patches of snow.  When it seemed like we needed a serious break, we took left to a restaurant in Tustin to grab some pizza, where the people were very polite.  It was starting to get cold, and when we told a family in the restaurant that we were just planning on biking a little further in the dark then camping in some random spot, the guy told us there was a motel just down the road, and he even offered us a spot right next to the window so we could set our bikes outside right next to us.  After eating, we headed only about a mile more up the road then set up camp in some woods off to the side after only seventeen miles of biking the first day!  However, we seemed to get extremely lucky because there actually was an electric fence that we did not see at night, but just found a part where it was not up.

After locking the bikes up, hanging some food, and camping when it rained, we woke up on day two only to worry that it might be muddy conditions.  Fortunately, it was solid dirt all the way until reed city, where we had pavement for a long time.  For some reason, we both had the impression that the pavement lasted way longer, if not for almost the rest of the ride.  Because of this, we went absolutely crazy and definitely picked up our speed to try and make the rest of the trip easier.  Those thirteen miles from reed city to Big Rapids was fantastic until it was once again dirt.  I think it was just depressing because we were hoping for pavement the rest of the way.  Once we cycled to the dirt, again, we just kept repeating and laughing, “Oh, you got to be kidding me.”  Our plan when we hit the dirt was to just get as far as we can and camp, but if we were still feeling great, it was assumed we would try and bike all the way back to Aquinas College before midnight because our first goal was to make the trip in two days.  Unfortunately, it started raining during our second time on dirt, and we were good for a while, until the dirt became mud again.

This time, we decided to trying to plow through would not be a good idea because it was actually just as fast and more beneficial to just walk with the bikes.  We walked in pouring ran in the dark for approximately seven miles until we entered Morley.  Pete figured we were very blessed to get to Morley because we both feared that we were going to get hypothermia within the next couple miles, and after hearing two major sirens go off, I was not sure if there was going to be a tornado or something.  I cannot say I was surprised, but the people at the gas station said it was suppose to thunderstorm.  They also mentioned that the sirens were just for some electrical buildings, and that there was a motel down the street.  Obviously, we ended up staying there for the night.  The next morning we had to fix Pete’s bike rack, and then headed out.  After watching the weather channel in the morning before we left the motel, it was quite exciting to know that it was going to be good weather.  The rest of the way was solid dirt until we hit pavement in Sand Lake, which was perfect the rest of the way.  Once we left the trail, we cycled through Grand Rapids to get back to Aquinas College.

Now, there were great things and bad things during the trip.  I will start with the bad.  The first one was definitely the conditions on the northern part.  Trying to pedal through them flat out destroyed our legs the first day, and was totally pointless because the conditions were not really passable.  It could be possible to do the trail in March, but one must check the weather for the days that they are going to be on the trip, as well as the days before the trip.  If there has been good weather before the trip, then the northern route would be fine.  However, it was obviously still too cold to pass some of those portions.  I would say one could start the trail in April, and that the best time to go would be in the fall.

While we were forced to walk through rain on the trip, and those seven miles became quite freezing, I just held in the back of my mind that it was part of the adventure, and not knowing what to expect was exciting.  Unwelcoming behavior seemed to be the most disappointing part of the trip.  There were definitely times where if we would ask people where the nearest gas station is, or what town we were in, they really did not seem like they wanted to talk to us.  Ashton and Morley, in specific, had people who really didn’t care that we were visiting and passing through their town, by which I was very surprised.  The employees at the Ashton gas station, however, were thrilled for us.  They asked us how it was going, what we’ve liked the best, how the trail has been in these conditions.

Morley didn’t seem to welcoming either.  Gas station owners there were quite polite as well, but the other people just seemed to nod and not really care that we were there.  When we asked the pizza place if we could make a pizza, they said they were closing in fifteen minutes, and that it would take about ten to fifteen minutes to make a pizza.  Honestly, I was a little upset.  I mean, we cycled through and stopped at their town and they can’t make a pizza for us as they are closing.  I probably would have made an exception if I had visitors in my town.  The owner of the motel did not seem polite either.  He really was constantly in a grumpy mood, but did give us five dollars off the room for being college students.  Not that it mattered, the guy charged fifty dollars a room, when there is no way one should charge fifty dollars for that (oh well).  After 44 miles the second day, I was really just excited to lie down and sleep.  Plus, heat was great to have in the motel.

The pros definitely outweighed the cons in this trip.  Rockford, Reed City, Big Rapids, and Tustin had some very polite people, who were excited for us.  When they heard what we were doing, they were amazed, and would tell us, “Good Luck.”  There are some excellent places to eat too.  Howard City has Latitudes, and Rockford has Arnies.  Great weather allowed for us to have just over forty miles the third day, including a lot of pavement.  In conclusion, I loved not knowing what to expect in terms of weather, not carrying a map for most of the trip let me just wonder what was ahead, and cycling through some bad conditions was just a great challenge.  

Ladies Arm Yourselves

Article by former “Friends” board member Dick Wagon (deceased and sorely missed)


Ladies Arm Yourselves was the night before Christmas and all through the house; not a creature was stirring not even a mouse.


I don't know if you remember years ago before D-con and other brands of pest killers were placed on the market, mice were plentiful in basements of houses with Michigan stonewalled foundations.  They were able to get in the smallest holes to look for morsels of cheese or whatever.


Why in the world am I writing about mice?  I'm glad you asked, so I'll tell you.  Looking out in my yard the other day at a piece of pipe saved for a small stake to fasten a short fence, I came face to face with a little mouse.  It's nose looked cold and it's brown eyes were looking suspiciously at me, probably wondering why I disturbed his (or her) sleep in that cozy nest inside the pipe.  This is Christmas time, so being the tenderhearted soul that I am, I let it alone.


This whole incident reminded me about a day earlier in the year while riding on the Fred Meijer White Pine Trail.  I overtook some ladies screaming in the middle of the trail.  They were all hugging each other and were very excited.  Thinking they may have been accosted by an assailant, I stopped to find out the problem.  No, they were not harmed.  The ladies were frightened by a little tiny mouse that ran across the trail in front of them.  Hence the screaming!  Ladies, arm your selves; it's a scary world out there.


Black Velvet


Article by Mike Bowler - 2007


Eight Miles of “Black Velvet”


Today I parked at the Russell Road staging area and instead of turning right (south) I turned north and traveled along the base pavement of the addition to the White Pine Trail.  Nearly a mile north of Russell Road I crossed the newly renovated bridge over Cedar Creek and continued to Cedar Springs through fields and forested areas.  In Cedar Springs, the trail goes through the commercial areas of town formerly served by the railroad and continues to the north edge of Cedar Springs near Northland Drive. 


After crossing Cedar Springs Avenue the trail continues north parallel to Northland Drive with only the base coat of pavement and unfinished shoulders.  At Ritchie, everything changes, as the crews have put the finish coat of paving on the trail, making it smooth as velvet!  The crews have finished grading the shoulders north to Sand Lake and were hydro-seeding the edges of the trail today.  The trail continues to Sand Lake, smooth as black velvet!  I stopped at a used bookstore and the owner has already noticed an increase in bicycle traffic in town.  He had already contacted the “friends” for information on advertising on the trail map!


On the return trip I met over 30 cyclists and three groups of pedestrians on the new section of trail.  Soon thousands will be enjoying these eight miles of “black velvet.” 

The Forgoten Thirty

Article by Rex Houseman - February 18, 2007


The Forgotten Thirty


The thirty miles north of Reed City is some of the most pristine trail north of Grand Rapids.  As you leave Reed City, you pass by No-She-Mo Springs; at one time this offered some of the finest mineral water ever bottled in the 1800’s.


Traveling north, you will arrive in the small town of Ashton, where the general store offers bottled water and snacks. Going further north, you come to the tunnel just south of LeRoy.  This small town is like a trip back in time.  It houses one blinking light in the center of town and many friendly faces.  You will travel up the trail passing two stores and two restaurants.  Stopping at the local general store, gives you the opportunity to get a taste of the friendliness of the small town.


Continuing north, you will reach the village of Tustin.  Powell’s General store is happy to offer homemade beef jerky and beverages.  Tustin offers one of the most peaceful stretches of trail because it is housed through the trees and far enough off the beaten path that you get the opportunity to be one with nature.  Leaving Tustin you will pass the head waters of the Pine River.


Further north you have the opportunity to see a large variety of wildlife, beautiful scenery and ride the cinder covered trail onto Cadillac.


A Spring Walk


Article by former “Friends” board member Dick Wagon (deceased and sorely missed)


A Spring Walk


Why would anyone take a beautiful Sunday afternoon sitting in the house to write an article for the White Pine Trail newsletter?


One reason is that our fearless leader wanted someone to.  Another reason was that I already walked on the trail today and enjoyed it very much.  Today was the first really nice day, warm enough to walk, bike, roller blade or run.  The snow was finally gone - did I say 'the snow was finally gone"?


Families all along the trail were talking and enjoying the freedom of being outside after the long winter.  By the way, many of us walk all winter long in the snow and enjoy the cool weather.  There were a lot of children riding their little bikes ahead of their parents or grandparents and waiting for them to catch up.  Many of them (the older people) were pushing strollers with little tykes in them.


The Rogue River which runs alone the trail in several areas was raging with all the snowmelt and the rain we had the past few days.  If you want to see water almost out of control, stop by the dam in downtown Rockford.  It is amazing to see such power in a small area.  I often wonder how the fish can swim upright.


Do not forget to be courteous when on the trail.  Call out “passing on the left" when overtaking other trail users.  Dog walkers should take a plastic bag for picking up after their dog.  It is the right thing to do.  Deposits can be made in the refuse barrels.


Have a nice spring and summer and make it a safe one.  In a few weeks, the trail safety patrol will be out again and you can get help and directions from them. 

Jeff's Apple Experience

From: Jeff Festian  Date: Sun Aug 14, 2005  10:38 pm  


Subject: Flying Apples


I went for a ride tonight on the White Pine trail from Riverside Park up to Rockford and back.  I pedaled up past north park, past the ballpark, and over west river drive.  As I'm cresting the bridge over west river drive I see 3 kids scurry off the trail and dodge into the bushes on the right side.  I think to myself, not highly unusual as I typically see a lot of kids playing around the trial in this area because there are a lot of houses.


As I coast down the north side of the bridge and hit the flat leading up to Rogue River Dr, out of the corner of my eye I see it.  Here comes an apple sailing through the air that one of these kids has thrown at me.  The thing hits me in the arm...I've got pieces of apple still stuck to my arm.  I'm pissed!!!


In a brief second of clarity I have unbelievably thankful that it hit me in the arm rather than in my front tire or face.  But needless to say I'm still pissed!!!


I hit the brakes hard...locking up the back tire.  I screech to a stop.  I look down....I can't believe what I see.  I see what these kids were up to when I came over the top of the bridge.  First they are throwing apples.  Not only are they throwing apples, they have lined the trail with banana peels and squished grapes.  A nice line running perpendicular across the entire trail.  A geometry teacher would have been proud at how straight this line was.  First the bananas, the then the grapes.  Banana peels and squished grapes.  Sounds like perfect items for someone to lose a front tire on and go down hard!  An educated guess says that was the intent.


I'm fine, I don't go down, but now.... I'm reallllllly pissed!!!   Intentionally trying to make someone crash is low class to say the least.  Some people might say "kids will be kids" but even my daughter who isn't even two yet knows not to throw things or intentionally hurt other people.  What were these kids thinking.


I couldn't see the kids through the heavy brush along the trail so I'm yelling at them.  "Not funny.  Throwing apples and putting banana peels on the trail is dangerous.  Do you really think it would be funny if I cracked my head open at 20 miles per hour.  Where are your parents?"  Of course I get no response.  I don't think they expected someone to actually stop.  Lets see if they expect this....I take the trail north about another 50 yards and turn right onto Rogue River Drive.  There they are.  The three kids standing there (about ages 10 to 14, old enough to know better)  They're shell shocked.  Eyes open, just standing there not blinking or moving.  My god, someone is confront us for what we did.  Something we knew was wrong.


Dad and grandpa are also there.  I stop my bike in the road and just look at them.  Dad opens his mouth.  The first thing Dad has the nerve to say is that it was an accident that the apple hit me.  He says "she didn't mean to hit you with it, she was only throwing it towards you."


Okay...stop...this is literally what went through my head at that instant...Golly gee mister, do I look like it an idiot????  I may like to ride bikes with skinny tires and wear tight black shorts, but that doesn't mean it cuts off the circulation to my brain.  The thing actually does work.  And this really isn't that complicated.  If you throw something "towards" someone, you do understand there is a pretty good chance it might actually hit them.  And if it does, your a$$ is in trouble.  I refrained from saying that exactly...but thinking about it now, it probably would have been a heck of a lot more fun to do so.  I refrained.


I did explain to him I thought that was a very weak argument.  The banana peels, the squished grapes on the trail, and the fact that when they saw me coming they ducked off the trail to get ready for me to pass seemed pretty convincing that his line was a bunch of hot air.


The father saw my point and had his daughter (about 12) come apologize to me for throwing the apple.  I thanked her for the apology and asked her not to throw things at riders again.  The dad also told the other kids to go clean up the fruit on the trail.


My next thought was, how would these kids feel if I did the exact same thing to their dad just to see him crash.  Lets say he crashes and now he's in the hospital with a concussion.  I can't imagine how bad I would feel.  There are just too many other people that count on each one of us to treat other people this way and put them potentially in a situation like this.


As all of us are riders in this club, we all ride knowing the inherent risks involved and understand that we are taking those risks when we get on the bike.  If I fall on my own accord (happened last year) it's my fault.  When someone else (eg a driver, a dog, a kid with an apple) puts me at risk I have an inner fire that lights up because it's just not right.


That leads me to the opinions side of this email.  What do the Trail Patrol people have as protocol for this situation?  I believe the kids realized what they did was wrong and won’t do it again, but it didn't seem at all like the father took it very seriously if at all.


For anyone that has crashed, you're well aware that going over the handle bars at 20 mph can do a lot of damage...and the intent to cause a crash was definitely there.  The blatancy was obvious.


I've got the address of the house.  I'm looking for any other RW's that have had any type of similar experience.


Anyone had something happen at that exact spot before (White pine Trial just north of West River Drive)?


I wanted to let the situation sink in a little and hear some other opinions before or if I call the Kent County sheriff.


Thanks All


Jeff F.  

Barbier's Ride In 2004

2004 from Barbier


For several years, Jack Heuvelhorst at Zeeland Schwinn has been encouraging me to ride my bike up the White pine Trail, take pictures, and write a short story about the trip.  My original plan was to go with my 14-year-old grandson Daniel and have him write this story, but he has four part time jobs, band camp, and other activities, so he could not take 3 days off to go with me.


My trip started on the west side of Walker Mi. where my wife Lill dropped me off.  I started off on a cool, overcast morning riding through quite residential streets in Grand Rapids to Riverside Park where I started north up Riverside Trail.


As I rode on past 5/3 Ballpark, I do not think there was ever a time I could not see a bunny, chipmunk, or robin on the trail.  Soon I was past Belmont and in Rockford, a beautiful town on the banks of the Rogue River.  It was nice to ride the new section of the trail that passes behind the Wolverine Shoe Company.  This is a very nice improvement.  Soon I was riding trough the area where I helped a crew cut brush along the trail during one of the volunteer workdays.


North of Rockford at Russell Rd., the pavement ends but the surface is smooth, hard, and very rideable.  Soon I was passing through Cedar Springs where the aroma of a bakery filled the air.  Shortly before lunchtime, I was in the Village of Sand Lake.  I took a break in Salisbury Park near downtown.  This park is where my biking buddy, Walt, met his wife in the summer of 1949.


My lunch stop was at the Lakeside Inn.  Walt and I have eaten here before when riding the White Pine Trail so I knew that this was a great lunch stop.  The restaurant was busy as usual but service was fast.  This place has an awesome menu – four pages of breakfast items served all day and many other pages of delicious items plus eight kinds of home made pies.  This is a recommended stop for anyone passing through this area.


When I left, the restaurant rain was falling.  I was very glad that my wife had repaired my raincoat on sewing machine the night before.


After passing the village of Pierson, I was riding farther north on the trial than I have been before.  Soon I stopped to visit with a biker along the trail.  He encouraged me to come to the flea market in Blanchard the following Saturday.  It sounded like fun but I already had plans to go to a car show in Coopersville.


Soon the sun was peaking out and my raincoat was off.  After passing trough Howard City, I crossed Highway M-46.  Here the character of the trail changed dramatically.  Horses have torn up the whole surface of the trail.  I chose to ride my old rigid frame mountain bike fitted with 1.75 “ street tires for the trip.  It worked very well up to this point.  Now I wished I had ridden a bike with suspension and I should have used a strap to hold my glasses on.  The rough surface shook my glasses right off my nose.  Soon my hands were numb and my shoulders were sore.


After taking a break in Morley, which bills itself as the “Trucking Capitol of Michigan.”  I was hoping for easier going, but that was not to be.  Although there are signs all along the trail saying equestrian use was prohibited, horses can’t read and their riders chose not to read them either.  Unfortunately, they left more than just a torn up trail.  South of Stanwood, one can see where most of the horses turn west into a farm and things smooth out again.


A friend told me that last year the grass and weeds were above his panniers on the trail.  It’s very evident that the tractor loaned by Voelker Implement has been put to use by the trail volunteers.  The grass has been all cut along the way.


At Big Rapids a welcome sight appears – pavement again!  After a break in Big Rapids for some Gatorade and a Power Bar, I donned my raincoat again for the fourth time.  This time, it was for warmth.


Soon after riding over the bridge crossing the Muskegon River which affords beautiful views I passed three fishermen walking down the with their catch of trout.  After passing a large flock of wild turkeys, I came to Paris where there is a fish hatchery and a nice park for campers.


Upon arriving at the Osceola Inn there was a sign in the door saying “Closed after 99 years of business” – a sad sight indeed.  Fortunately, I was able to get a room at the Reed City Motel.  After a good night’s sleep and breakfast at the Nestle Inn, I pedaled off east down the paved Pere Marquette Trail.  On the way, I observed a deer out for a morning stroll down the trail Soon I turned south to the beautiful small (pop. 300) Village of Hersey, which is situated, in an idealic spot where the Hersey River flows into the Muskegon River.


There is a dam and waterfall on the Hersey River just as you enter the village.  I pedaled to the canoe landing on the Muskegon River to check out for a planned canoe trip.  Coming back through the town I sopped at the Hersey General Store.  This is a must-stop if you are in the area.  It’s like a step back in time with old wooden floors and old display cases.  The owner/operator is a young, 24-year–old entrepreneur named Jamie Catlin who greets her customers with a warm smile and a helpful manner.  The store has been in business almost continuously since 1869.


I journeyed east to where the Pavement ended at a scenic truss bridge in the town of Evart.  After mailing some post cards in Evart, I turned back west into a stiff head wind stopping at Hersey General Store for a Sandwich, which was big enough for my lunch and supper.


Back at Reed City, I rode north on the White Pine for a few miles.  The surface was hard and smooth.  Turning south it was off to Big Rapids to spend the night.  Thursday morning it was a chilling 46 degrees when leaving the motel.  I arrived in Sand Lake just in time for another delicious lunch.


There were children riding along the trail in Pierson, Sand Lake, and Cedar Springs, but when I reached the pavement near Rockford, suddenly the trail was alive with riders and walkers of all ages.  While stopped at the riverside overlook near Rockford a trail volunteer stopped and said, “you had better move back, you’re near a bee’s nest.”  He had a can of insect spray in his bottle cage and quickly dispelled the bees.  Thank goodness for our great trail volunteers.  From here, it was a smooth ride back to Walker where my wife was waiting.


Ice Grippers


Trail Walker Finds a Support System to Deal with Icy Trail Surface:


Jan Proli, from Rockford, discovered a great device to help her walk on the ice or slippery snow covered trail.  The device is an "ice gripper" that attaches to the bottom of your walking shoes.


The “gripper” is made by a company called “Yaktrax” and can be purchased over the net at, or, in Grand Rapids, at Bill and Paul’s Sporthaus, Eastern Mountain Sports, or the Walking Co. (Woodland Mall).


The “gripper” is guaranteed for 90 days.  Yaktrax suggests for heavy walking, purchase their Pro version.  One caution- when using the device it is important to walk on a slightly snow covered or ice covered surface.  Walking on bare tarmac or road surface will shorten the life of the product.  Jan highly recommends the “gripper”. 


Mexico Biking

Mark and Pat - Cycling in Mexico 2005


Mark and I left Michigan in mid-December bound for a month of camping in Mexico.  We carried a tandem and a mountain bike although we had no idea what the biking would be like in Mexico.  We had several happy surprises.  Mexican drivers were extremely courteous to those on bikes.  On two-lane roads they would drive slowly behind us until traffic was clear ahead and then they would pass with a wave. 


There were lots of bikes on the road.  People took their children to school on bikes – sometimes two at a time.  Men used bikes to go to work – carrying their machetes and shovels lashed on.  They would carry loads of firewood and grasses for animal feed.


When Mark was out for a ride one morning, a Mexican biker stopped him and invited him to join a group for a ride the next day.   He joined them and got to see some of the back roads and hills.  A spill on the way down one hill left him skinned up in three places and cracked his helmet.  No permanent harm was done, and he continued to take the mountain bike for rides.  On the weekend we saw lots of bike groups out for rides.  


The Meijer Story


This article appeared in our 2006 Winter-Spring Newsletter


The Meijer Story


Two years ago, this September is when the Meijer story began.  There is a lot to this story and I will tell it as best possible in a somewhat abbreviated form.


We were short of completing the local match for the Russell Road to Sand Lake paving project and the DNR was indicating they would not make up the difference.  At that time, we had come to a standstill on the fundraising efforts.  It was decided that the time had come to approach the Meijer Foundation to request assistance.  The shortage was roughly $80,000.


We contacted the folks at Meijer and an appointment was set up to give them a presentation.  We prepared the presentation to tell the history of the trail, the history of the “Friends” and our then current needs.  Jan Proli and I planned to do the presentation.


The folks at Meijer we were to meet with were two vice presidents.  We arrived at the Meijer headquarters and were escorted to a small conference room.  The two men explained the Fred was in the building and that he would be arriving shortly, as he wanted to personally hear what we had to say.


Fred soon arrived and we gave the presentation which took only approximately ten minutes.  After we were done, Fred sat back in his chair and said that he was going to help us.  (Now let me say that we went to this meeting hoping to at least start a good relationship with the Meijer Foundation, and possibly come away with a commitment to give at least a part of the $80,000 we needed.  At this point when Fred said he was going to help I was pleased but had no idea of what I was about to hear).  Fred said that he was going to give ONE MILLION DOLLARS to the trail.  (I was speechless for probably a minute and for those of you that know me you know I am seldom without words).  Fred continued with; the only conditions were that he wanted his name added to the trail name and that the money first be used as match money to help get the trail paved.  Further, if there was money left over after the trail was completely paved he trusted the “Friends” to use the remainder of the money to best serve the trail user.  Fred also related that the money would be held by the foundation and that the “Friends” would be the clearing agency to make sure the money was used properly through a committee that would include the “Friends” and Meijer Foundation representatives.


The following Monday I contacted the DNR director’s office to set up a meeting to fully inform the director of the offer and to discuss the process that was needed to move the name adjustment forward.  This meeting was set to include representatives of Meijer Foundation, MDNR, “The Friends,” and the MDNR Trust Fund.  At this meeting, we found there was going to be substantial resistance to the name adjustment.  (I will not go into detail of the resistance, as it may be inflammatory). 


After approximately 1 ½ years and many, many, meetings, phone calls, negotiations and discussions we have now accomplished the name adjustment and there is planning in the works to get the process started to use the Meijer money as intended.  I would like to thank all those that supported us during the very trying time of moving the name adjustment forward.


We are extremely fortunate to have such great people in West Michigan; the trail will be improved in a much more acceptable time than it would under the normal government process and granting procedures.  Fred has been a great benefactor in West Michigan and we the “Friends” can feel very privileged to have such a great partner in our work.


Take and Give


Originally from the Winter / Spring 2004 newsletter


Take The Trail To Heart And Give Some Of It Back


It was late February and a warm sun shone brightly on the rapidly melting snow.  Along the sides of open fields overlooking the trail, the snow was still drifted to a depth of 2 feet.  I realized that because I was standing in it, cleaning out bluebird houses the “Friends” had placed there 6 seasons ago. 


This is not a task, I normally associate with great pleasure and gratitude, but this day was different.  The sheer beauty and the quiet of the day were striking in themselves, and it was great to be out and alive in nature, but still there was something else. 


Several of the birdhouses had been repaired.  They were painstaking, precise repairs, not just hammered together at the side of the trail.  Then I remembered, the shattered house I had seen late last summer, vandalized and lying ripped from its post.  I had vowed the next time I rode by to retrieve it for repairs.  A few days later when I looked again, it was gone.


Here, in the late winter sun, the house was back.  A new side and roof carefully formed.  It was sturdily fixed to the post, clean and ready for the arrival of nesting birds.  Some anonymous, caring individual, who wanted no thanks, had taken the house home.  Their careful repairs were made and it was brought back, just when needed.


Obviously, I wanted to thank that individual.  Sit down with him or her over coffee or warm soup and share the story of how I found their handiwork.  What kind of day was it when they were out at this very place?  Perhaps in late December, gray and warm, before our first real snow.  Or did they brave a devastating wind chill and blowing snow to replace this house. 


Then it struck me that there was another message here.  Perhaps not deeper, but broader and just as caring.  A message about trail ownership.  One of pride in a wonderful community asset for all to use and enjoy.  A call to beautify and care for the trail, forever a part of the public domain.


Just as the birdhouse was taken home in pieces, we can take a portion of our trail experience home with us.  There we nurture it and mold it, to bring it back in the form of an idea, a vision, a new project, or event to further enhance the trail and broaden its appeal.


Should you have such an experience, or idea, or desire to help; you are not alone.  As, our name states we are “Friends” waiting to hear from you and help you bring your ideas and visions to reality.


Lets keep in touch.


Work Is Play


Article originally from the 2005; Spring / Summer newsletter


Work is play with a purpose


I have been a member of the Friends of the White Pine Trail for a few years but have not done much with the organization until last year.  I started coming to the “First Saturday of the Month” trail work days organized by Kerry Kilpatrick.  It feels good to give back a little to a trail that gives this community so much.


I see hundreds of people enjoying that trail when we have our workdays.  The demographics are across the board, elderly people moving the best that they can, athletic types, little kids, families and little babies in strollers traveling safely off the streets and away from cars.  I have even seen a few people commuting to work with their lunch pail strapped to their bike.  There are youth groups that get together to ride and just groups of neighborhood kids that get out and get some exercise safely on the trail. 


Working on the trail is play with a purpose.  It is good exercise, it is outdoors, you accomplish something lasting; and it is with some of the best people that I know, other people who give back to the community.  It gives you that warm fuzzy feeling plus a feeling of ownership every time that you ride, roll or walk the trail.  I hope to see many more volunteers this year.  No experience necessary.  We “play” hard and have a good time


I am not sure what arrangements will be made with the state and county but I hope that they do not do all the work on the trail.  I would like to continue to contribute to the trail that I use.