Thursday, July 10, 2008

Vacation Over

*I wrote this last Thursday. It's what too much coffee, a two hour ride and a Blackberry will do to you . . . *

We're on our way home. It's a perfect Michigan day, perfect for getting a sunburned in the dunes and swimming in the white caps. But we did that yesterday. It would be greedy for me to expect more perfect in my life.

Yesterday we moved out of the riverside cabin and into the Ship n Shore. I kayaked into town from the cabin. I love that river so fucking much, I can't even tell you. When I saw where I had turned around the other day, and how many twists, turns and passages cut through the cattails I would have had to intuit, I was glad I turned around.

But the water slipped quickly, thick and silty. The sky was all morning blue and hot, climbing sun. The breeze kept the bugs away. I was all alone, except for the birds. And frogs. And butterflies.

When I got through the peaceful wetland and back onto the main branch of the K, I had to work. The open water had some chop and the wind was blowing at me hard. So, I adjusted what I now think of as my 'kayaking skirt' (ps, River, if you think kayaking's for girls, I invite you to come along sometime. I'll have you crying like a girl, too!) and bore down.

I basically came down a branch of the K that creates a wetland, feeds Silver Lake, and reunites under the Blue Star Hwy and forms Kalamazoo Lake, and then becomes the Kalamazoo river again right in town. (I'm talking to myself, here. Sorry. I've been trying to form an aerial image mentally. All this thinking hurts.)

So, I paddled my ass off from upriver into the wind and hit the I-196 overpass. The cement pillars created a mess of waves, as did the increased boat traffic once I got to the Blue Star overpass. Then into the insane chop of the lake. All I wanted was to see Ken in the Smokercraft so I could give up. I was soaked and it had to be beer thirty.

But I just kept going. Less than ten minutes later, the River picked back up and coursed through town. That crazy, stiff wind blowing off Lake Michigan was blocked by the steep, tree covered dunes to the west. I paddled serenely through town, forgetting how I had clenched my jaw and spit water out of my face minutes before.

I saw two hefty, tanned and cranky looking women who had to be sisters sunning on the deck of a pontoon, rocking small, colorful bikinis. Although your first impulse will surely be, "old fat chicks in bikinis! Gross!" I'm here to tell you they were awesome. They just didn't give a fuck, and I loved them for it.

I saw a super-duper rich old dude on his yacht, watching as some other guy fixed something on it. The first old guy wave at me and I pointed out the obvious.

"My boat's pinker'n yours."

We both know he's totally jealous.

Moments later I was in front of the Ship n Shore, waving at Ken. He looked mildly relieved, probably because he secretly thinks I'm going to get stuck in the mud one of these times, and he's going to have to rescue me. Not this time, though.

So, we tied the kayak up, got in the Smokercraft and went downriver to the Lake. Ken thought my report of the chop on the K river and lake meant that the Lake might be too much for the boat.

We soon came to find out the Lake we could have worked with, two-footers notwithstanding. It was the at least three-foot waves bouncing chaotically within the channel walls leading out to the Lake that were going to turn us over.

We were thwarted after two scary attempts to maneuver through the channel and another comment from the Mistress of the Obvious:

We have a son.

Neither of us felt so compelled by adventure or proving that a wild stew of channel waves can't stop us. We beached the boat in the cove and followed the trail through the dunes to the Lake.

The scratchy beach grass itched my ankles. The dune smell-of hot sand and grasses, the green and white smell of the Lake Michigan dunes, made me regress to age ten.

I love Lake Michigan so much.

We found a patch of empty beach in a sandy bowl surrounded by grass. The recent storms had washed up a lot of stuff. Today, the sun shone on the silty river water exiting the channel, turning the deep blue of the Lake a muted olive color. I watched the waves roll and looked through them, just before they crested. Clear and green like glass.

I dove in, swam out and let waves carry me in, over and over. I regressed so fully that I remembered to do my favorite thing: lay in water shallow enough to sit up in, but deep enough to mostly float. That way, the waves could churn me back and forth. In water that wavy, I have to have my head pointed out to the lake so waves don't crash in my face. I rest there as long as I can so later that night, when I'm going to sleep, I can still feel the waves tugging and pushing at me.

Meanwhile, back on the beach, Ken was digging a three foot hole in the sand--a McGyveresque beer cellar. We drank our beers, listened to the water and got way too much sun. Even though we were busy doing all kinds of fun stuff all week, I realized that was the place to be. I immediately started plotting my return to this very place.

*Some pictures should be forthcoming. I still haven't totally unpacked.


theeriver said...

I come back from Jersey and I'm stunned. You would think that I'm so sexist to state that kayaking is just for girls. I'm hurt. I'm sure there is ALOT of effeminate men that enjoy kayaking. As for me crying like a girl, better wrap that little paddle with barb wire only way to get me to cry.

Nora said...

Heh heh. You wiseass.