Saturday, August 28, 2010

UP. Michigan that is.

August 28, 2010 by LW

I have a plastic cup filled with an ESB from the Lake Superior Brewery in Grand Marais, MI sitting next to me. Also sitting: me. In a real chair. Funny the things that stand out after a while without. Like sitting in chairs. It's nice.

You know what's also nice? A hot shower. I just had my fourth one of the last 2 months. Surprisingly the thickened bronze coloration of my skin didn't wash off with the soap. Turns out I'm just super tan, which makes a lot of sense. My mustache is getting long and blond too.

After finally getting through Whitefish Bay earlier this week we pushed on to the Two Hearted River here on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. We were eager to meet our friends, Britta and Claire, in Grand Marais but the wind and some miles prevented us from a rendezvous. So they came to us. And while The Lake whipped up some of the biggest surf I've ever witnessed on her shores, we watched in awe. Then we paid for a campsite and drank wine and beer. At 10AM. Later we hiked and picked bulbous blueberries that just happened to be perfectly ripe.

"The forests are blue," claimed some random guys at Crisp Point Lighthouse the day before, which struck us as weird since we already had a blueberry season about a month ago on the north side of The Lake. But we didn't complain and enjoyed hucking ourselves down into a deep chute of a sand dune with our lips blue and bellies full. Sadly, that's when my digital camera checked out. Too much sand in its private areas. My last picture is of Greg grabbing some mad air.

Since meeting up with Britta and Claire we've paddled across gorgeous water next to bright tan beaches. Britta's cooking has reinvigorated us. Their company has brought some spirit back. And the birthday cake and massages have supplied the connection to our friends and family that maybe we didn't know we were missing, but definitely were. The sunsets since Whitefish Point have nearly brought me to tears nightly. The stars cover us like a veil and the orange moon rising (which it is right behind me out the open screen door beyond the balcony) gets my heart frenzied with giddiness as I think about the changing season.

We will paddle on this expedition through two seasons and are starting to see the transition into fall as we move along. First some changing leaves in the canopy as we crossed Whitefish Bay. Now and again we've been seeing our breath. I dream of the cold nights and frosty paddling days that autumn will bring. But then the nasty little black flies harass us at lunch and we know summer isn't done yet. Especially after the unseasonably warm days of recent. My nose is burnt again (and has been since Minnesota back in early July) and after a long day of paddling in the heat yesterday we stood naked in waist deep water holding a mug of wine trying to cool off our core with the lake water since our tall dune-side camp had no shade to offer.

Now, back to where I'm sitting. It's our last night with the ladies and it just so happens that Chuck, Greg's dad, has driven out to meet us for the weekend as well. Since we couldn't paddle out from Grand Marais today, even though we tried, we hit the brewery and then drove into Munising for the night where a hotel room waited for us. Again, it feels really nice to have a shower now and again. And right now it feels great. Tomorrow the girls will head west back to the twin cities while we get a ride back to our stashed kayaks in Grand Marais. We'll load up and hopefully hit the water heading west too, but along the shore in our kayaks towards Pictured Rocks National Park. 400 foot tall sand dunes, sandstone cliffs and arches, sandy beaches and slowly closer to Duluth. Honestly, we're excited for that.

There's a fantastic Steve Earle tune playing on Pandora now and I have a cigar to smoke on the balcony with my friends. A gift from Greg for my upcoming birthday. Aww music. It's sooo good to hear. I'm overwhelmed with the many "small" things that normally accompany my daily life but haven't for the last 60-some days. Tonight is good. And tomorrow will be great.

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