Sunday, May 20, 2012

Talking to Tom Heineman about Adventure

On Friday I was able to meet up with Tom Heineman of Chicago. Tom circumnavigated Lake Michigan in his kayak back in 2006. ( ) He finished in a record 49 days – super impressive! We will by no means be traveling that speed, but I was able to pick up lots of tips and pointers to help us along the way. Tom graciously offered advice on difficult open water stretches, food (peanut butter and tortillas were great!), and gear selection. He even helped us out by providing us with his old marine radio and an extra SPOT Satellite Messenger. This is a handy device that uses GPS satellites to provide our exact coordinates to whoever may need to know them. We are hoping that only our friends and family need to ever know our exact location – we will have the SPOT update our location every day so that you will be able to follow us on a map of Lake Michigan! (I guess you can even bug us and tell us if we’re going too slow, huh?) In the worst case scenario, there is also a button on the device that sends our exact coordinates and a help message to the appropriate emergency responders. We already have one SPOT, but now Mary and I will both be able to have one tied to our PFDs. Better safe than sorry when you’re out on a lake this size! I don’t want to get in any fights with Lake Michigan because she certainly has the strength to win. This way we’ll have our backup to call if she ever starts bullying us.

It was great to hear stories in person from someone who has completed a trip so similar to ours. Tom loves Lake Michigan and realizes how precious she is. He also fully understands our want for adventure. He told us that he meets with basically anyone who plans a trip of this sort – someway or another they get directed to him. They come with various incentives and various modes of transportation. He said our dugout is definitely a first! Haha. But each person comes with a purpose, if for nothing else than adventure’s sake.

He told me about an area where he stopped on his circumnavigation where he talked to a young boy (maybe 6) and his slightly older sister (maybe 12). The boy wore a quizzical, puzzled look on his face when he asked, “Why would you ever go around Lake Michigan in a kayak?” Of course his dad was not too far away starting up the engine of his huge yacht. But his sister got it. She snapped back at her younger brother, “He’s going on an adventure, stupid!” Tom said he could tell that she knew about adventure, or at least had read about it. She had been fascinated by stories of past adventures and her imagination had been stirred by adventurers that would live on in history. Tom guessed she had studied someone like Amelia Earhart in school that year. I think he’s probably spot on.

“Adventure is worthwhile in itself.” – Amelia Earhart

Well it’s a good thing Tom, the young girl, and Amelia believe adventure is worthwhile in itself, because this will be one big adventure for us. Tom thinks we are headed in the right direction and that is great to hear. Tom says, “The wild card is indeed the dugout. But, boy, if you can pull this off in a dugout you would not only have an adventure, you will make history.” Pretty exciting stuff. We aim to make it all the way around Lake Michigan in the dugout, but even if we somehow don’t, this will be the adventure of a lifetime. 

“The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure, the process is its own reward.” – Amelia Earhart

1 comment:

  1. Good write-up Amy! I hope I will be able to paddle parts of this journey with you and Mary.