Day 34 – Taking a day in Caseville & Port Austin

At the American Gothic barn outside of Port Austin.
At the American Gothic barn outside of Port Austin.

Hanging with the family for a hold up day enables the body to get a break and allows one to soak up the local scene. We packed in a lot yesterday. Jessica and I had earlier hit the local Methodist thrift shop in Caseville-can’t beat two great pairs of pants for three dollars! So I could put away my pants with the whole and wear my spiffy new black ones. Jessica found a bag did her dirty clothes so we both scored!

We hooked up with Carl and the kids.  Billy and Julia attempted to fish off the breakwater at Port Austin, but kept getting soaked by waves, so we all quickly nixed that idea. Well, not so quickly. Julia and I poked about for rocks and fossils. Then we decided to go search out a barn with American Gothic with gas masks painted on one side and a giant pigeon on the other. Here’s a bit about that- http://m.michigansthumb.com/mobile/news/local/article_b867950c-e344-534e-9479-2d2057959d67.html

I’ve been hearing, from many of the folks we’ve been staying with and meeting, about a plan Canada has to dump nuclear waste a mile off of Lake Huron. Between the petroleum refinery across from St.Clair and this proposed nuke dumping site (http://www.voicenews.com/articles/2015/06/12/news/doc557af82e523ff381884332.txt ), it’s like Lake Huron is Canada’s version of what we’ve done to our poor Gulf of Mexico in The South! This is so not right not right the mess we’ve made in the Gulf for our fellow country folk and not right what Canada has got planned and is doing to Lake Huron. Surely Canada is not the only culprit in damaging Lake Huron, but it sure isn’t helping!

I’ve been hearing from the locals in Port Austin about the factory farming of cattle now, in addition to the crops that are grown further inland in Michigan. So in addition to crop land run off, I’ve learned that there has been a large influx of farmers from Europe who came here to run their condensed cattle feed lots. Apparently, some (or all?) European countries no longer allow this extremely polluting and harmful way of raising cattle anymore, but of course we still do, so hey, they are just keeping their businesses going, right, by moving it here? Why pollute your own country when you can do it elsewhere? What can we expect from this? Oh, more algae blooms of course and dirty water!  More about this here:  http://animalrights.about.com/od/animalsusedforfood/g/WhatIsCAFO.htm

Steve Penn, an avid SUP paddler, has been working furiously to get this adventure about our water out to the local press. He now devotes his retirement to getting as many folks on the waters here. He works at Port Austin Kayaks and turns folks onto the wonders of the area, like Turnip Rock, among other special areas. Be sure to check out this awesome little shop-it’s owner, Chris Boyle, has great plans for it. I’m seriously going to hafta come back!! This whole region is poised for insane water growth! The paddlers in this area have been making this place, this awesome inland ocean that is Lake Huron into a Mecca for paddlers. And my downwind run from Harbor Beach to Port Austin is just one of the many fun things one can do on the water here! Check out what you’re missing by NOT visiting here- http://www.portaustinkayak.com

It wasn’t until I ran into Randy Hampshire, who’s been running his  family farm (100 years in his family!) as an organic farm since 1988, that I learned about the flying cows. Apparently a tornado hit one of the massive 3000 head dairy farms and sent cows everywhere. All this while my kids slept in a tent behind the sweet little cottage that the dynamic Stacie Draher arranged for us.  We are staying at a cottage her niece rents for the summer here in Caseville, where I will paddle to today so I can have a better shot at crossing the Saginaw Bay tomorrow.  Let’s hope conditions hold! More on the flying cows and other tornado news from this area.
http://www.mlive.com/news/flint/index.ssf/2015/06/community_helps_clear_storms_w.html

Stacie’s sister, Katie, is also a bundle of energy and wealth of local knowledge. We chatted with her upon our arrival where she have us the lowdown on where to eat and what avenues we should explore to get the word out about this paddle for our ocean and clean water. Stacie and Katie grew up here, at Oak Pointe, and have been amazing resources. Stacie labels herself as a “bored seamstress,” but that is an understatement. First of all, I bet she is the best, most detailed and conscientious seamstress around, because the amount of time and effort she’s been putting into this side project-finding Jessica and me places to stay (and now even looking into places that will host Carl and the kids!!!!) as well as connecting me with local paddlers-has blown us all away.

Randy Hampshire, by the way, should you be lucky enough to meet this guy, carries loaves of bread around in his car. I caught up with him at the breakwater at Caseville where he was checking things out with his daughter, Haley. He not only has a bakery in Kingston, but he also grows and mills the wheat to boot!! And the bread is delicious! His website is here and is worth a look-Hampshirefarmsorganic.com.  I’m hoping we can maybe visit if I can get back in time today from today’s short paddle.

I also neglected to mention, in a past post about Port Huron, Freighter Frank.  It’s too bad I missed him in Port Huron (yes, he’s for real): http://www.freighterfrank.com

Another mea culpa for not making clear that the City of Harbor Beach hosted us in their brand spanking new cabins at their waterfront. That town is definitely going to turn a corner.  Thank you Ron Wruble.  Your town has a ton of potential!!  Can’t wait to see the progress! It does have an amazing waterfront with great water. I’d like to go back and like around a bit more.  I’ve heard wonderful things about what they’ve done with their public beach as well!

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