Monday, September 24, 2012

Weathered In

We will get home, just not as soon as expected. The winds and waves have kept us off the water - there are some days on Lake Michigan that Makeba just can't handle and this past week has been full of them. We have been weathered in for a week in Saugatuck. Luckily we made some great new friends - our friend Dave has let us stay on his solo sailboat during these stormy days! What a treat in comparison to our tiny, not so waterproof, tent! The name of his boat is the Phagawi. Just think of a group of Boston kids lost at sea wondering where they are, saying "Where the Phagawi?!" Get it? ;)

So we've been staying on this wonderful boat in the channel. Since we have been out of Lake Michigan's sight, we have checked the weather each morning to decide if we can leave that day or not. Some days we have even packed up and headed down to the lake expecting to be able to leave. Other days we just look out of the Phagawi and know it's not meant to be. This is about how each day this week has gone...

 "Looks like a nice sunny morning today!"
 "Finally, a nice day to get some miles in."
 "I'm so excited to get moving again! I can hardly contain my excitement!"
 "Man, it really is sunny. It's probably going to actually be warm today if this keeps up."
 "Oh. Umm, the sky over the lake doesn't look too friendly..."
 "And it's only getting angrier..."
 "Hmmm, looks like we might not be moving today on second thought."
 "Geez, where the phagawi?!"
 "Maybe we should take shelter somewhere...Quick, get inside the Phagawi!"
That's the general morning routine these days...but the weather will clear eventually! Lake Michigan must not want our adventure to end. Even after 86 days, the lake still wants to keep us as her own. We are excited to get home, but I'm not quite sure that we want it to end yet either! The low pressure system that has been over the lake is moving on in the next few days. The high pressure system behind it will hopefully be bringing some lighter, more favorable winds our way. One day soon we will get all packed up and actually be able to leave :) Looks like we will soon have good weather to bring us safely home these last 74 miles!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Just Around the Corner

We are just around the corner from home. It's still a long corner, but it's starting to look shorter and we can almost see the finish line. This is a gorgeous sunset from when we arrived back at our friend Kim's house. We made the 11 miles in 3 hours, beating out a gloomy rainy afternoon. The evening gave us a beautiful ending to the day! The next morning we were able to head out and get past the Muskegon break wall - ferry waves and all. The rest of the day there were large rolling waves. We were able to sail to Grand Haven even though some of the waves were starting to get a bit scary. Some of the largest swells we've seen on this trip!  Luckily they were being "gentle giant whales," as we like to call them, not big breakers so we were still able to ride them.
Pretty lighthouse! We went into town to see if we could pick up some mail, but had no luck. When we arrived back at Makeba the waves had only grown, so we decided to call it for the day. Look at that spray!
Remember our canoe friend Scott who we had met on Washington Island? He took his canoe around most of Lake Michigan starting on the Grand River and making his way counter clockwise around the lake. He guessed we would be around Grand Haven the second week of September - lucky guess! We were able to meet his lovely wife Jennifer and daughter Claire.
That night we went to a hibachi grill - FIRE! Yummy, yummy.
In the morning Scott made us blueberry pancakes and sausage. We loved getting to share more time with him and swapping more fun adventure stories!
We set off from Grand Haven with our fun new friend Tim. Tim just finished a long distance kayak trip where he traveled from the Soo to the Sea. He met us on his sea kayak to paddle along with us for the beginning of the day. We paddled for a short while, but then took advantage of the nice east breeze that was blowing that morning. Once we put up our sail Tim was still able to keep up with us, but we were making him work! He couldn't believe that a log was beating his sea kayak (We couldn't either!) We waved goodbye and we were off! We put in a long day and ended by Holland. Here we were able to connect with our friend's daughter and husband. Thanks for the the great tacos, Jodie and Mark! When we set off in the morning it was very choppy and the south wind was already picking up in our faces. We knew that it would be a short day. We got a sad 3 miles and took a break - we were hardly moving when we paddled.
We took our break by a small town park. We climbed to the top of a nearby dune and got this tremendous view from the top. Three more mile south we could see the Saugatuck pier. At the bottom of the dune there were a ton of private property and no trespassing signs. No houses in site, just a dune. Can you seriously own a dune on the beach?! Why can't everyone just enjoy the beach?
Sometimes we see these signs when we are forced off the water because of wind and waves. We can't really help where we land; luckily we haven't had any trouble with the property owners thus far.
Private dune. Let's go climb it!
After about 3 hours of sitting on this beach the wind died a little and started to switch. We decided to try to go at least to Saugatuck. Paddle, paddle, paddle. Exhausted, but we made it!
We pulled up on Oval Beach and watched this cool ferry boat pull out of the channel. Then look who found us! Mary's parents came up for a surprise visit! They took us out for some delicious pizza.
Thanks for the banana bread, snacks, and hand/foot warmers! Hopefully we don't have to use those much, but we will be glad to have them if it does get that cold at night. Can't beat Lake Michigan sunsets!

The next morning the weather was looking against us again. We paddled literally 2 miles and got kicked off the water. Luckily we were still close enough to walk to Saugatuck for the day! A cute artsy town to explore for the day.
Indian art!
Adorable penguin kids flip flops! But can you imagine the clumsy 5 year old wearing these?
Mary, just fitting in.
The evening forecast was looking like big storms with high winds. We were able to meet up with our friend Tim's brother in law's dad Dave! (Love all of these crazy small world connections we are making on this trip.) He offered us his sailboat to sleep in instead of weathering the storm in our little tent. We of course took him up on it!
Warm and dry!
Just exploring the inside of the boat - cool glasses, eh? The boat rocked and creaked all night. Not the most restful sleep, but we were so happy to be out of the storm regardless.
This morning you could still see the storm that passed in the night. Strong north winds sticking around, so it would be a weather day. This low pressure system over us isn't giving us too many windows of opportunity to make our distance home any shorter!
Curled up and listening to the rain. Want to head out into the rain for breakfast, Mar? Of course! Let's go explore the town some more!
Out the hatch and into the rain...hopefully we are able to get around this corner of the map soon, but we are having fun getting there, however long it takes :) Less than 100 miles to Beverly Shores!

Two Girl Horse Power

We have been meaning to do a post like this for awhile...we always laugh (because what can you do but laugh?) at the things we are faster than while paddling Makeba. Let's be serious, we're paddling a cottonwood log around a huge body of water that likes to be windy and wavy and usually not in our favor - we didn't expect to be moving too fast. But it's comical how slow we are some days!

A conversation with a power boater may go something like this:
"What kind of an engine do you have in that thing?"
"Oh, just three 300 hp outboards on this thing. What's powering your boat?"
"Oh, just 2 girl hp on this old thing."

Things we are faster than while paddling our log with our 2 girl hp:
A small girl on an over-sized stand up paddle board
The slowest of beach walkers collecting pretty stones and beach glass
Swimmers, as long as we don't stop often for breaks
Elderly sight seeing kayakers who stop often to take in the view
Small children on noodles and inner tubes

Things that constantly pass us up while paddling our log:
Any normal stand up paddle boarders
Any normal beach walker
Sea kayakers
Power boats
Sail boats

This past week we had a first though - we beat our friend Tim in his sea kayak! This was of course once we put our sail up though :) He couldn't believe that a log was sailing past him.
2 girl hp + sunfish sail = beating a sleek kayak :)
We can beat many more water crafts with that handy little sail, so we use it whenever possible! Luckily this whole trip around Lake Michigan hasn't been all paddling...only about 2/3 of it!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Lost and Found, Old and New Friends

 After leaving our friends in Arcadia, we then slowly worked our way to Orchard Beach State Park.  Makeba seemed reluctant to leave since she was constantly stopping dead after every wave hit her.  It felt like a long day, so we were happy to find a sandy shore to pull up on.  Down to one rock here!

 At this campsite we were heartily greeted by our neighbors; we even had a surprise firewood delivery. The kind people at the site next to us offered us a large bag of homegrown organic cherry tomatoes! That sufficed as a delicious dessert. As we settled into our tent we smelled what we thought was a skunk just outside our mesh walls. We both held our breath and hoped for the best....luckily it was just a passerby skunk. The next morning we were greeted by some drizzle, but pushed on towards Manistee. Here we explored the town and dreamed about wearing new clothes that haven't been shoved in a damp bag for 2 months.

 We even dreamed up our very own lighthouse. It will be this pattern and cater especially to female boaters. We will call it "Femme Harbor." Haha! But seriously, there aren't enough girly polka dot lighthouses on Lake Michigan.
 We had a quick interview with the local Manistee newspaper and then decided to push on towards Nordhouse Dunes even though it was already late afternoon. We set up camp for the night on a nice strip of sandy shore.

 Our only neighbors tonight were lots of seagulls.
 And whatever this giant thing was...
 With predicted rain for the next day, we planned to do a shorter day. Off to Ludington State park - we have to have lunch with our friend Loreen!
 We stopped at Big Sable Lighthouse on the way. Pretty! (but still not girly enough.)
 As we pushed off from Big Sable we noticed a Coast Guard boat a little ways offshore. We weren't sure what to do until they tooted their horn at us - we paddled over, not sure what this was all about. "Where ya headed? Where did you come from? Are you in distress? Someone called and said a little yellow sailboat was about 300 yds off shore and they thought you were drifting." Our response - "No sir, we're not in distress. Just going around Lake Michigan, making our way to Ludington State Park today." Amy then had the officer look up directions to the park while Mary decided to discreetly record everything. They talked to us more and then the young guy asked Amy if he was on tape. Amy - "Probably." Mary from the back of the boat - "Yep." It was pretty funny. We laughed, parted ways, and headed onward.
 When we arrived at Ludington State Park we walked up to reserve a site and thoroughly confused the young guy working at the office when we couldn't give him a license plate number for registration. Eventually our friend Loreen found us. Loreen is working on a 1000 Mile Great Lakes Walk currently - stretches of her walk touch all five of the Great Lakes. She was heading north to begin her Lake Michigan stretch and was able to meet up with us for lunch on the way!
 We went to a great place called Blue Moon in Ludington and then were able to pick up a replacement drybag in town before she dropped us back off at our campsite. She left us with delicious snacks and even some cookies baked by her mother! Thanks Loreen and Loreen's ma! As Loreen was leaving we realized that we had lost our last Hydroflask water bottle. Oh no...we were so sad until we stopped in the nearby camp store and realized that it was meant to be...check out this hilarious wilderness scene  water bottle! Buying it! We also found the original bottle right after.

 The next morning we were once again greeted with some rain, but were able to get going on the water anyways. We were headed to Pentwater and were racing the storms predicted for the next few days. We were able to sail in and land right next to these other sailboats. Isn't Makeba just adorable? SO TINY.
 The Charles Mears State Park was pretty full of RV's for the weekend. We looked very tiny, just like Makeba next to the big boats. That evening we were able to connect with Mary's grandma's friend's daughter...Kathy. (We were a little confused too.) This new found old friend turned out to be a great surprise!
 We met up with Kathy and her husband Chuck in the morning the next day. They offered us their little comfy cottage for the night while waiting out the weather. We chatted over breakfast and old family photographs. Here is an old picture of Kathy's mom and Mary's grandma.
Here is a picture of Kathy's brother, Mary's adorable in love parents, Aunt Karen and Uncle Chuck. Amy tells Mary that she looks exactly like her mom. Don't let her tell you otherwise. "How do I look like my mom?" "Your face, you look exactly like your mom." "How?" "This picture is you. You are your mom. That's what you look like. That's Mary."

Of course we got ice cream!

 We were kind of bummed that it wasn't storming like predicted. We walked down to the pier to check things out. Lake Michigan must have known that we were coming, because she brought up these nasty clouds and waves.
 We were spotted by two cyclists who recognized us from a recent newspaper article. It's strange to be known by people in some of these small towns from our faces in the paper! They were very sweet and talked to us for awhile about our trip, before we asked them to take our picture.
 This is the next day - 2 weather days in a row and things still weren't looking favorable. Lake Michigan is just being moody lately. Luckily we were stopped in a fun beach town! We relaxed down by the pier, drank some fall drinks (even though we aren't admitting that fall is coming until we get home), and watched a couple get married.
 Makeba just may be in the background of some of their wedding photographs!
 We explored downtown Pentwater and happened to run into family friends of Amy's from Michigan City! What are the chances! We enjoyed great burgers at the Brown Bear with the Fallons. So great to see such kind friends in such an unexpected place!
 That evening after some rain we saw yet another rainbow. Good omen for taking off on Makeba in the morning perhaps?
 This is what we woke up to - still a little cloudy, but pretty nonetheless! Let's go. Thanks for everything Kathy and Chuck!
 Leaving Pentwater we paddled, then paddle sailed, then sailed, then the wind picked up so we paddle drifted (paddling with the waves helping push us along - one of our faster means of transport). When we were nearing our campgound for the night, Mary noticed someone on shore who looked like they might be flagging us down. Ugh. Again? We reluctantly paddled into shore, riding the onshore breakers from the sandbar. We arrived to shore soaking wet and a little annoyed, nevertheless smiling at the officer. "Where are you headed today? Someone called and said there was a small sailboat without its sail up that might be in distress." Us - "No sir, we are not in distress. We are just paddling our handmade boat around Lake Michigan." He was confused, but determined to lecture us about the risks of hypothermia and drowning in Lake Michigan, confessing that we might know more than he does. We reassured him that we would be careful, as we have been for the last 71 days. We parted ways - i.e. got pounded by waves trying to get back past the breakers on the sandbar. At one point a wave crashed over the side of the boat, carrying with it a little fish. There was now enough water in the bottom of the boat that this fish was able to swim around and make Amy scream like a little girl. It tried its hardest to hide in our tiny boat, but alas Amy scooped him up and set him free. Wow, a little bit too much excitement for the day. We paddled the short 1/2 mile south to Claybanks Township Park Campground. It was a nice grassy lot, but where was everybody? Oh wait, it's after Labor Day now. So we had our pick of any site we wanted! The owners, Jack and Jan, graciously gave us a site on the house. They enjoyed hearing about our adventure and we enjoyed hearing about other fun adventurers who had passed though their campground.

 In the morning we were off, with a mission to reach Kathy and Chuck's daughter Kim's house near Muskegon. We got kicked off the water early when the south winds picked up in our faces. We beached Makeba and began to try to figure out where we were. Where are we?
 Oh. Lost Valley. That is where are. Seriously?! Kim kindly offered to come pick us up from wherever we were, so we tried to describe to her where we were located. She found us by a farm, 2 miles from where we had left Makeba, and we were so happy! Haha, we still didn't know where we were.
 Kim took us to her lovely house where we have been ever since.

 Does Lake Michigan have kelp? This is foreign seaweed to us.
 Weather days, weather days. Please stop.
 The strong south winds and large waves were keeping us off the water so we have been checking out Muskegon. We saw this cool submarine!
 Then we saw another huge ship unloading bases of wind turbines. Those things are gigantic! Anyone know what that little orange pod is?
 This morning we woke up to unsure weather. The lake looked reasonable, but the forecasts were all over the place for their predictions of what the lake would do later in the day. We decided to bring the boat at least from Lost Valley to Kim's house. Departing this morning with Kim and Julie!