September 27. Presumably, if all goes as planned as it often doesn’t, this will be our last full day on anchor for the epic summer cruise of 2012. We’re sitting comfortably in Nicloet Bay’s sand bottom anchorage on the shore of Peninsula State Park. It’s beautiful here and we’re watching the fall leaves make their appearance and the chilly air is refreshing, but also telling us it’s time to head home. By a stroke of luck, the State Park provides internet. We didn’t discover this until last night after two days on anchor. It’s okay to be disconnected. I do love that at times, but after my spending spree in the boutiques and gourmet shops in Fish Creek and Egg Harbor, I need to check my sorry bank account. I thought I’d update my blog first.
We plan to be back in Racine next week. It’s bittersweet, really. I’m ready to get my house decorated for fall and Halloween and see my family and friends, but I’m not ready to say goodbye to summer 2012. I set some goals for myself last spring and I’m happy to say that I’ve met quite a few of those benchmarks. I swore that I was not going to allow my body slip into middle age baggy and saggy and admit failure to the climbing number on the scales. I started to run. I made no excuses, did it slowly and can proudly proclaim that I’m ready for a 5K. I had a bit of a setback when my shins started sending out electrical shocks of pain and I had to take a few days off of my routine despite being tied to a pier for 10 days. It was depressing especially since we were now in the land of cheese again. I love cheese. It’s my nemesis. So instead of running, I was walking to artisan cheese shops and tasting and buying and making up for all the time in Canada when I couldn’t find a decent chunk of cheese. My waistline showed the indulgence. But, I’m back on track. It’s been honestly exhilarating. I FEEL good.
One of my other goals this summer was a bit more existential. I wanted to be able to say that I’m a positive person. A person that can look at a gray cloud and see inspiration for creating my own sunlight and not accepting an ugly day. I get so tired of people, especially women, who allow their fates to be determined by sadness and grief of the past. We all know the type; those that have holes in their souls, blame events and others for their unhappiness, drag down other people, nit pick other’s choices in life. The people that feel that other people live exciting lives due to luck or become so distraught with their own realities that they create drama and anger and become so ugly that the aura around them is toxic. I felt myself becoming one of those people or at least being surrounded by them. I call this my goal of spirituality. I want a clean and joyful spirit. Since this is such a personal goal and a process in which there is struggle with guilt and past hurts, I won’t indulge more than that I feel that this summer brought me spiritual growth. I’ve shed many of the negative aspects of my life and the naysayer thoughts and aspirations for perfection that have kept me from being happy. Sailing can parallel that spiritual growth. Once you set those sails and you’re feeling the joy of capturing the wind, the wind can shift, grow or die altogether. Shifting thoughts to keep things moving along is no different that adjusting and tweaking the sails to keep the wind working in your favor. Today, I FEEL good.
My other goal was more mental. I read a lot, but my choices in reading material have often been dictated by what is on the top of the New York Times Best Seller List. That’s limiting and doesn’t help expand one’s aspirations of writing, learning and becoming open minded. I look back over the books I have read over the summer. Yes, I did read a Nicholas Spark book, reluctantly, and I indulged in some guilty pleasures found on the best seller lists, but I also read books I wouldn’t normally read. I read self published books I found for a penny by first time authors. I read some of the crime novels that Jim reads that I normally shun because serial killers terrify me. I read biographies which usually bore me, books by those with dramatically different political views than I hold, I read sad books with no point or plot, and books with a plot that were so silly I laughed at myself for actually finishing them. But, I also read some inspiring, fantastic fiction that made me cry, laugh and help me form some opinions that about what life is about that helped me with that second, existential goal of mine. Mentally, Jim challenged me with installing all new electronics. I was exasperated since I felt comfortable with the old stuff. Well, I’ve conquered that challenge. You can teach an old dog new tricks.
So, as this summer comes to an end and things are going to get really busy and chaotic as we enter back into landlubber world, I will keep one foot on the boat. I never feel more peaceful as when I’m on the water and as we settle into home life I’ll keep my heart on the boat. Plans for next journey, the BIG one, will keep me focused on this feeling. We got a goal to meet next summer. To hell with the naysayers and the negative thoughts. Spiritually, physically and mentally I’m up to the challenge.
September 23 The incessant high winds have been insufferable. The cats have taken to actually burrowing under blankets. There have been frost warnings and snow. We didn't actually see snow, but it was reported to have fallen a few miles from where we're sitting in Egg Harbor. I don't doubt it for a moment becasue it's been icy cold. And Jim and I are having the time of our life.
We're not letting the sudden onset of winter dampen our spirits. We continue to make plans for next summer, compiling lists and pile of stuff that we intend to take home and not take with us next year. Egg Harbor isn't a bad place to be "stuck". The winds have topped out at 50 knots this week and last night it was a consitent 28. We're hunkered down, cozy and have the proper outer gear to protect us from the elements. We've shopped, gone to the theater, tasted magnificent artisan cheeses, seen friends and a former student and relaxed. We're good at that relaxation thing.
We'll be home within the next couple of weeks and that will bring a new set of realities, but we're looking forward to it. Looking forward to home, friends, family and the 70 degree temperatures that are predicted for next week.
September 17 We are in Wisconsin, but still a few day sails away from home. We're hanging out here for the wedding of my friend Allison and just to hang out in an area that we have never explored.
We had a great sail under cloudy skies and cold winds from Fayette to Fish Creek. We spent a couple days there spending too much money on shoes, hats and other things that we found on sale. It's a beautiful area and the State Park is lovely. I had a great run through the trails in the park. The temperatures are dipping into fall-like comfort and I have to admit that I'm welcoming a bit of a nip in the air, especially when running.
We then headed to Egg Harbor, which we motored since it's only around the corner from Fish Creek. We met up with our friends and fellow sailors, Kristen and Scott. We restocked the pantry at the grocery store, visited the touristy stores and of course, spent some more money. We're here now until Thursday and plan on seeing a former student of mine, Erin, and the play, "Lombardi". Erin is part of the production staff at Peninsula Players. Good times in Door County!
September 13 September has been a fantastic month so far. Obviously, I haven’t updated this blog much, but it hasn’t been because we have had nothing to report. I’ve looked at all of the pictures I have taken the past couple of weeks and it leaves me hopelessly regretful that I didn’t take more. I should have taken pictures of our new buddies, John and Laura onboard s/v Kiltiie. We met up in the Benjamin Islands and didn’t part ways until we left the North Channel. Their animals, Lola the cat, Rum Dog and Little Dog gave us hours of entertainment. Future plans to meet up in the Turks and Caicos Islands later this year will give me another opportunity to take some pictures.
We left the North Channel and said our goodbyes to Nickie and Hugh. That was sad because we won’t be going through those waters for the next two years. We’ll have to keep in contact through email and blogging. Hugh made us a great going away breakfast of whitefish strata with fresh fruit and veggies. I was so glad that they pulled away from the pier in Gore Bay before we did. It just made the goodbyes a little easier when they made the first move.
We’re now sitting in Fayette, Michigan. We’re holed up here waiting for the 35 knot winds and high waves to pass. It’s not a bad place to take shelter. Fayette is actually a ghost town, but the State of Michigan turned it into a State Park and they maintain it well. The buildings have been restored and the historical significance of the former company town is portrayed in the displays. We’re loving the nature, the scenery, and the step back into time here. The wind is obnoxious tosay and we can’t wait for it to settle down. It’s noisy, but we’re well protected in Snail Harbor. Other than the wind, though, the other frustrating part of being here for more than two days is the lack of communication. Our cell phones work on occasion or if we climb the bluff. The local watering hole is a mile and a half walk and they don’t take credit or debit cards. The nearest ATM is 8 miles away. It’s all part of the quaint charm of the area. Jim and I both got a kick out of the yooper accents and the indigenous culture of the far north. We were able to scrape enough cash between the two of us for two drinks and time to kibbitz with the locals. We’re headed back tonight for a whitefish dinner if they will take a check from us.
It took us ten hours to sail here from Beaver Island on Sunday. There were gale force winds predicted, but we didn’t see anything to write home about. In fact, we sailed nicely for only about 3 hours of the voyage here. We had to use the iron jenny for the rest of the trip when the wind died on us. Maybe it’s the end of summer and it’s getting to both of us, but we found the trip terribly tedious and each other very annoying. Thankfully, we’ve had a great time in Fayette and we’re back to the fun loving couple of love birds again.
Beaver Island was good, as usual, but the stop at Mackinac Island was more impressive. Jim and I rented horses and went riding through the streets of Mackinac Island, around the Grande Hotel, and peacefully trotted through the woods. This was Jim’s first time horseback riding and he loved it. We were assigned older, calm horses named Eagle and Feather. Feather was my horse and freaked me out when she insisted on taking the lead ahead of our guide. It was a great time though, and Jim insists that he wants to do this again soon.
Prior to our stop on Mackinac Island, We anchored in Les Cheneaux Islands/Government Bay. It was here that I got the opportunity to sail on a Melges 20 and scream across the Bay. It was an absolute blast even though Jim was a little upset that I took the ride at first. There were two guys sailing it and I looked up from the book I was reading to watch them sail by us. When they raised an asymmetrical spinnaker I couldn’t resist shouting out to them. They asked me if I wanted a ride. How could I turn that offer down? This is where Jim’s apprehension came in to play. Taking a ride from strangers probably isn’t a good idea, but the owner of the boat dropped off his crew member as collateral with Jim and I hopped aboard. What a rush! The owner, Andy, allowed me to control the head sail and then the spinnaker. A Melges 20 will be my next boat once we settle down from the cruising life.
Jim and I also kayacked around the Les Cheneaux Islands and took a look at some of the summer homes and boat houses along the shore. There are some very pretty places along those shores, but we would have needed our motorized dinghy to really explore. We chose not to carry it with us this year, which is fine because this is the only time that I think we could have used it.
So, we’ve been planning our route back to either Racine or straight to Larsen Marine in Waukegan, IL for haul out. We’re not sure yet what we plan to do. It all depends upon the weather. The wind last night (Tuesday) gusted into the 40 knot range. It was nothing but noisy, though, since we’re tied up safely and securely on the wall in Fayette.
The wind is predicted to calm and change direction by noon today, so it’s our plan to head out once that happens.