Saturday, May 09, 2009

Sunday- April 26th - Day after the challenge

Yesterday my good friend Jim Mc Intyre again drove all the way from Racine, WI to pick me up after the 50-Mile Challenge and take me back to Saugatuck, MI. I called Pat Paquette and told him we were on our way. Pat gave us directions to Spectators Bar and Grill. Once there, Pat treated us to one of the best steak dinners I've every had. What a nice place! Lots of room both at the bar and for dinner, plus a beautiful outdoor patio. Very clean and a great atmosphere. If you are ever out this way I wholeheartedly suggest you stop. Plus, Saugatuck is a beautiful little community and worth visiting.

Not only could we not pay for dinner, Pat had a room reserved for us at the Best Western. Can not thank him enough, for a good shower and nice bed was just what the doctor ordered.

Pat met us in the morning for breakfast with his business partner Clair and his son Alex. After breakfast he gave us a tour of the town and showed us the new football complex which was state of the art with synthetic turf and track. Unbelievable facility for such a small community.

It was now time to get back in the water so we drove down to the beach. Took a bunch of pictures and said my goodbyes to Pat and Alex. Jim was going to find a semi-pro baseball game to watch and catch up with me in a day or so. I'd stay in contact by cell phone with him.

What was just great was to see Pat and his son Alex again. He's done well for himself and again has made an old coach feel very proud.

When I pushed off from shore it was just beginning to rain and rain it did. It poured off and on for most of the day. Although I was snug in my canoe with the canoe skirt around me so no water could get in, it still made it a miserable paddle. Once when I crossed a bay and was some distance from shore, fog set in (see picture) and made it difficult to see the shore. This could have been a problem if it had stayed for I had no compass. In fact as I was concentrating on the shoreline a rolling wave that I did not see hit me and I thought I was about to flip. Not a good situation, but a lesson learned.

I continued to paddle until about 3:00PM. The wind was picking up which with the rain continued to make things miserable. I've been in this situation many times and did not mind it. In fact I usually enjoyed the challenge, but today was different. My heart was not into it. Maybe it was the feeling that I'd had last evening as Jim and I drove back from Portland. I felt I'd accomplished what I wanted to and from here on it was all anticlimactic. Maybe I just did not like paddling big open water for all you see all day long is the same sight, water. Mostly I think it was my thought that I should be finishing this with the paddlers I'd started with, Dan Smith, Mark Prezdwojewski and Toby Nipper. They were still about 3 to 4 days behind me and if I continue there's no chance of them catching up, even if I did lollygag a little, which is hard for me to do.

Whatever it was I decided to paddle to shore about a few miles from South Haven and call Jim. There was no real place to pull out and get to a road so I just pulled over and walked up over a mountain of a sand dune. I knocked on a door to see if it was okay if I got out here and used their driveway to get to the highway. Now this was not just your little rambler home along the beach so I was preparing for the answer "no". Instead, when they heard about my journey, the couple (did not get names) was like everyone else - more than willing to help. So I pulled everything up and over the sand dune, put my bike trailer system together to the astonishment of the two and was on my way. I did get hold of Jim and he met me along the road in about an hour. I told him I needed to think about this. Used the excuse that it was too dangerous out there by myself and would make a decision in the morning.

Next morning I awoke at 5:00, went outside and walked around thinking about what I should do. Weather was good with no wind so I could easily go, but I just didn't want to. Later, after Jim awoke, we went to breakfast. I told him I would start out again and see how things go. That changed quickly for the winds picked up and the weather report called for hazardous lake winds with no lake travel advised. My decsion was made for me. We headed home.

Actually I felt good about this. I will be back. Hopefully I will have the chance to continue with Mark, Dan and Toby in a few days. For days I felt this challenge should be finished with all of us together. Now it's possible, but if they would like to continue on by themselves I would understand. Then I would come back at a later time and finish, which I must do one way or the other.

Time to get out of here before I change my mind again!


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