Day 54 – Michigan City to South Chicago

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I can’t believe this is the last day of this amazing upstream journey. Somehow what started as a journey as one I was feeling only lukewarm about doing, more committed because I felt it “had to be done,” that because of the upstream battle nature of protecting the ocean meant  leaving my beloved salty NJ coast and family, forcing my husband and mother to pick up my slack, somehow that less than gung ho attitude shifted along the way to wishing the journey would last a little longer. While initially I felt more committed to the cause than the paddle, once we were underway and staying with strangers in new places, my brain frame changed. If one is on an adventure, one must embrace it, all the pain of getting back into it, all the uncertainty of where one will sleep, uncertainty of well, basically everything. Embrace the challenge, and the challenge gets easier.

As it is with these journeys, the love of adventure and water took over. It didn’t take too long, although the mindset required for this type of “paddle to a schedule” type thing (John Vargo, of “Boating the Hudson and Beyond,” captures the nature of these paddles perfectly in his guest blog “Strangers No More”) kicked into gear faster than the body. The first two days were no problem. Somehow the physical pain slipped into high gear around day three and didn’t let up until somewhere around the Erie Canal, where the shifting and brief respite of hanging out in the locks helped ease me back into paddling long distances.

And so it went. Long distances, scrambling sometimes for places to stay, meeting folks who scooped Lindsy and me off the street or waterways and took us in, we quickly adjusted to the life of homeless nomads.

The playing field shifted again, though, on our approach to Michigan. Lindsy and I actually took a day off due to weather and, more importantly, to a ton of info provided by a new player on the scene. A gal named Stacie Draher-Dimick somehow caught wind of this adventure. She flooded Lindsy with a ton of contacts and info to the point we figured it was well worth our while to sit out a day and organize it all. Well, as much as we could, anyway. So while Lindsy Coons prepared to head out after her month of duty and Jessica Chick-Besock came on, Stacie pretty much made it her mission to get us hosting all along The way from the St. Clair River into Lake Huron. And then she kept going. We have not lacked for a place to stay since. And not only that, she also reached out to press, or found folks who could. I am so thankful that she somehow found out about us and took us under her amazing wing.

Yesterday when we pulled into the driveway of our final hosts, I was in such a rush to get water, being so completely dehydrated I could hardly think straight. I’m a hot weather gal, but was completely not prepared for yesterday’s insane heat. As well as a minor seagull episode…but that’s for another blog. Anyway, so when a “neighbor” named Darcy came over to our car at our host, Maggie Byrne’s house, I briefly glanced at this sorta familiar face before rushing in to gorge on water. It wasn’t until Maggie said, “you didn’t realize that was Stacie” that I made the connection!

Words cannot express how super stoked I am that Stacie came out. It just seems so fitting, all the work she’s done, that she not share in this last day would be horrible and not right- this has been such a huge group effort-these journeys are NEVER singular efforts. Like what it takes to protect and take care of our ocean and fresh water resources, these paddles are symbolic of the effort required. It takes all of us, doing all we can, however we can. Our salty ocean, our inland, unsalted oceans, our rivers, streams, wetlands, and all of us, we are all connected, and we all need to pull together for our blue marble water world.

I am so thankful to be a project of Blue Frontier, to have had the backing of Earth Justice, and the Surfers Environmental Alliance, and so many individuals who helped to make this paddle possible, whether through  outright donations or by hosting and feeding us and getting the word out. And special thanks to Carol Mone. Because of her and a speaking gig in Syracuse she arranged for me, I found two wonderful logistics managers, Lindsy and Jessica. We are so lucky, and it gives me great hope for our future. We CAN heal our water!

Okay-enough from me, Jeff Winterkorn of the Chicago Outrigger Canoe Club and others are waiting for me. Time to gear up and head out! Paddles up!

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One thought on “Day 54 – Michigan City to South Chicago

  1. Margo; you have indeed been blessed to have Stacie “on your bandwagon” she just doesn’t know the word “no” does she. When we read of your journey and the roots behind it we were just like “what can we do to help in even a small way” hence we decided to offer to host you and Lindsey while you were in Pt Huron. We enjoyed your company immensely during your short visit, and hope you enjoyed the fish dinner as well .
    Randy and Teresa Orchard

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