Tuesday, May 12, 2009

May 3rd - A Day and a Half From Chicago

Just a gorgeous morning. In the 60's and a slight breeze. We were on the water by 7:30 - actually 6:30 for we are now in the Central Time Zone. Mark and Dan still go by Eastern Time.

The suggestion was made, "Maybe we could cut straight across to Chicago. It's only 32 miles." This is what Jon Holmes did a couple of days ago. Jon is the paddler I started with on the Detroit River. When I left the lake a few days ago he moved ahead and was a couple of days in front of Mark, Dan and Toby when I joined them two days ago. A friend joined him for this 30 plus mile journey. From what we hear it was not the easiest of crossings. They fought winds and were quite dehydrated when they reach Chicago. Good news is they made it and are safe. Congrats Jon! Wish we could have spent more time together on this trip, You can follow Jon's journey at http://www.advonthegrand.com/)

At about 11:00 we came to a spot on the lake where we needed to make a decision to either continue to follow the shoreline to the left or cut the corner to Gary, IN. Cutting the corner saves a good 10 miles of paddling. Did not take long for a decision. We are on our way to Gary, IN. Our aiming point is a steel mill we see 12 miles away.

Crossing was very easy for the winds stayed calm. Only real excitement was when I was taking pictures of the many lake trout fishermen fishing these waters, Toby takes off. By the time I got back to paddling he was some distance in front. Dan must have been feeling a little spry this morning for he took off after him. I promised myself at the start it was going to be an easy day of paddling. Of course that went right out the window and off I went.

After sometime I could see Dan right behind Toby, but Toby did not let up. He just kept going. When I reached Dan, he said, "Enough of this", and backed off. Of course I had to continue. Finally I caught Toby and paddled about half a canoe length behind him for a few minutes, thinking he'd slow down. He didn't, he just kept it going. I'd came to my senses and decided to wait for Dan and Mark. Later Toby stopped and joined us. I think Mark said something like, "Are you kids done now?!"

For the rest of the day we all paddled together, reaching the steel mill in the early afternoon. We now had about 7 miles to go to Hammond, IN where we hoped to camp for the night. That would leave us about 12 miles to go to Chicago in the morning.

Mike Smith, Dan's brother, has been helping us out the last few days by googling earth and seeking out possible camping spots for us. Dan would keep in touch by cell phone. Each day we'd decided on a camp spot and then change it at least twice. This was no exception, we must have called Mike at least 4 times. Each time we asked him to find something further ahead.

Thanks, Mike for your patience and especially thanks for today's stopping point. We ended up at a state of the art marina in Hammond. Mike had made arrangements with the management telling them of our arrival. When we got there we were each handed a key that allowed us entry in and out of the marina, plus more important, the facility that had the nice warm showers! Great job, Mike. Nest to the marina was a hugh casino, which meant a huge buffet. Nothing could be better unless one could win a couple of bucks at the casino. Mark, Dan and Toby were smart enough not to play. This Norwegien could not resist. Fortunately I only played for about a half hour and even walked out a couple of bucks ahead.

That evening we set up camp on the marina's lawn. Not a lot of conversation this evening. I think all of us have thoughts on finishing tomorrow and what's transpired since the start. My thoughts are with my brother who'd be 63 today. We lost him in a car accident in 1963 at the age of 16. Happy birthday, Don.


Blogger Karen Stock said...

Thank you for sharing all of this, Coach. It's so cool to hear all these details, like the friendly competition between you and Toby. Boys will be boys!

6:19 PM  

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