We have now been on our “Loop” adventure for exactly 5 months, traveled 2500 miles through 8 states and Canada, have had our engines running for 330 hours, burned 1600 gallons of diesel fuel, negotiated countless locks, bumped the bottom twice and went hard aground once (fortunately with no damage). These statistics are fun to record and to think about, but they are not nearly as significant as the number of great people we have met and enjoyed traveling with. It is overwhelming to consider how our lives have been impacted by the people we have met and spent time with during these past months.
Each day that we have spent on Lake Michigan has brought us a crazy variety of experiences and challenges, especially as we continue to linger on the lake into the month of September. We have been told and have learned from recent experiences that the weather, specifically the wind speed and direction, will clearly dictate our ability to safely move the boat from one location to another. There are safe harbors about every 30 miles as we travel down the east side of the lake and we have been thankful for every one of them. Over the last 2 weeks, we have been able to cruise some distance south only about one out of every 3 days. If the wind is blowing from any direction with a “W” in it, we have not ventured out on the lake, knowing that it would be a very uncomfortable ride. The safe haven harbors that we have ducked into have been some of the most interesting and enjoyable towns that we have ever visited. Small towns with names like Charlevoix, Leland, Manistee, Pentwater and Grand Haven are friendly villages that thrive on boating, fishing and summertime visitors. The Michigan locals in these places are glad to see us and always interested in ensuring that we have a pleasant and memorable stay.
Patience is the key to staying out of trouble on these waters, so we have waited until the weather predictions have been extremely favorable and then ventured out for 5 to 6 hours of cruising at a time as we head south toward our final Lake Michigan destination of Chicago. Waiting for the right days has resulted in some of our most spectacularly beautiful cruising. We have typically motored about a mile off the coast in clear emerald green water with stunning views of a shore lined with huge sand dunes and sparsely populated woodlands. During these carefully picked cruising days, it might have reached 75 degrees, which makes us feel like we’re chasing what is left of a summer that eluded us in a part of the country where the we can’t stick our big toe in the water. Stel and I have not experienced a day without wearing a sweatshirt or jacket, and our bathing suits are buried in a bottom drawer somewhere. No complaints….knowing that our friends and family back home are still sweltering in the heat. Hope to be in Chicago by September 12th, spend 5 days in the big city and then start making our way down the river systems toward the deep south. God is good!