Day 53 – Benton Harbor to Michigan City

Margo and Wendall leaving Benton Harbor
Margo and Wendall leaving Benton Harbor

The last few days of this paddle are proving to be every bit as sketchy weather wise as much of the section of the Erie Canal, when thunderstorms swirled around, chasing me up to Lake Erie. Pulling up to wait for a storm to pass adds time and sometimes miles to the journey. Definitely one has to consider this before shooting points. Don’t want to be stuck out too far if a storm hits.

Yesterday my friend Wendell Martin joined me on the water-for the WHOLE day! Mostly on these paddles I’ll have folks join me for a portion of the day, but rarely for a whole leg. Your butt really needs conditioning for that kind of thing. Even starting this journey I realized a little late that long hours on the SUP (stand up paddle) board don’t really translate all that well for long hours in an outrigger. Your butt hurts! Makes me a committed stomach sleeper, that’s for sure. And blogging in bed means shoving pillows under my head so I can use the iphone on my stomach. (Yes, you CAN blog on an iPhone!)

I met Wendell some years back at the awesome Carolina Cup. It’s a SUP race at the end of April in Wrightsville Beach, NC. It’s a great way to see how bad the winter has been. Because if you don’t get out and train, you’ll be in serious pain and, in my case, DFL (dead fucking last). In fact, that’s my normal spot in that race! I own it!

Wendell’s company made the miles go by faster, at least for me. Toward the end I know he was getting a big sore-he was paddling a Hurricane which, while they are great canoes, are not known for the comfort of their seats. The beach option was the closest take out and where we decided to haul out, rather than go inside the harbor.

We were joined on the water near the harbor entrance by Kayak Ken and Jessica in a tandem kayak, and John, another member of the Northwest Paddling Association. What an awesome organization they have! And how kick ass awesome was it to see Jessica sitting in the front seat!

Thanks to Tim Frame, Harbor Master of Michigan City Port Authority for his support and for keeping my boat safe overnight!  It was a bit of a stroll to the spot where my boat was to stay for the night, but not too terrible.  After getting showered up we ambled over to Heidi Brooks’ amazing “Overboard” restaurant. Much thanks go to her and Dan Plath, the president of the very active and large Northwest Indiana Paddling Association. They hosted a knock out reception for me and Jessica there at the restaurant. They also gave me a copy of a documentary they did, “Everglades of the North: The Story of the Grand Kankakee Marsh.” It’s about the most condensed pocket of diversity in the country-such a small space with the most “stuff.” Can’t wait to watch it!

I’m kicking myself right now because I had a bag of blue marbles and didn’t remember to give them out until most everyone had gone!! I’ve been trying to remember to pass them out to folks, sometimes I’m on it, sometimes I’m completely failing at it. Last night was once such major fail!! Aagghh!! So Dan and John and Ken, you’ve got marbles coming!!!! I love this blue marble thing that Wallace “J” Nichols has started. Check out bluemarbles.org or hunt down Blue Mind on google to see what it’s all about. The blue marble is a perfect thing to give folks along the way-it’s what our earth looks like from space. We ARE the water planet after all, and we are all connected by water. Without water, we simply could not exist. And did I mention it needs to be clean???

Right now Jessica and I are getting ready to head out and leave yet another fantastic host’s home. We are at the home of Mary Catterlin and her mother, Betty. Mary and her friend Amy Lukas traveled around Lake Michigan in a dugout canoe that Mary built. This thing weighs 300 pounds with all their gear and they average 2 miles an hour in it. I cannot even imagine. To find our more- visit their FB page which has a link to their website. Also, please “vote” for them so they can receive grant money to continue on their journey! More info here- https://m.facebook.com/profile.php?id=221104444635755&tsid=0.026261749444529414&source=typeahead

Their website is LakeMichiganInaDugout.blogspot.com

What a grand journey-I wish more folks would explore, and be able to explore, our inland ocean. We need a paradigm shift in this country to allow more folks to tap into our amazing natural resources. This place is for everybody. And it is amazing!

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