It'd been about 30 years since I last visited Belle Isle. A New Year's Day fun run, I believe it was. Thirty years! Because of that, my drive around the island last week was like visiting foreign land.
The James Scott Memorial Fountain, the golf course, the Detroit Yacht Club, even the beach were all new to me. The view of the Detroit skyline from Belle Isle is probably one of the city's most famous angles, but I'd never seen it for myself.
Finally I did, as well as the fishing piers, picnic areas, Dossin Great Lakes Museum, and nature center. But I also saw broken playground equipment, a weed-infested baseball field, and in general, a priceless chunk of land that too many people have chosen to ignore.
Belle Isle really should be one of the coolest things Detroit has going. Unfortunately, touring the island - like touring much of Detroit itself - makes you wonder why it isn't more. And if you're old enough, maybe it also makes you remember what it used to be.