I can’t help but feel as I kick back with my 1/2 french press and cardamom bun ($4.50!) that we truly are on the cusp of realizing sustainable civilizations. Who’d of thought that in downtown Ludington, Michigan there would be coffee shop ambiance to rival – nay – surpass the Tea Lounge in Brooklyn? Redolencia has straight up coffee so fine I can hardly concentrate to write what with the buzz I got on. Local musician Chad Rushing has already given me multiple mini tours and he’s not even the owner. This place is clearly an incubator for local culture combined with the super friendly Michigan vibe. There are young people here, lots of them.
I just finished my first interview of 2010 with Tom of the Plaza Cafe. It’s spooky how close his story is to Chris and Tanya of Homegrown in Traverse City – it took him 10 years to shift over from conventional restaurant worker to organic evangelist but now – stand back! The Plaza has just started it’s 4th year and it’s Tom’s first business venture. His kids are slinging wraps with him too. One son is going to chef school and his 14 year old daughter can practically run the whole place solo. I had the cream of asparagus soup (organic milk AND cream) and it’s the only soup they serve that’s not gluton free.
I’m getting a little ahead of myself. Let’s jump back a day for some tedious trip details.
Being cozy in a tent when it’s raining is nearly the most romantic situation imaginable, second only to being cozy in a tent when it’s snowing, whether it’s on high altitude pass in Rockies or an illicit encampment in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. More often than not I’m alone when these situations are transpiring, more’s the pity. My next search will be for women who camp!
In spite of ideal atmospheric conditions, it wasn’t all that pleasant waking to wet after a fitful sleep and slightly disturbing dreams.
When pitching the tent it seemed like a good idea to first place a waterproof tarp over the wet horsetail and poplar shoots. The rain pitter pattered prettily against the tent all night, then oozed down to the tarp and pooled in the low spots – like under my foam bed roll. I mused on the art of site selection as I broke camp and packed the soggy gear back to the beach.
At 12:30 pm we pushed off into curling surf and a bit of whipping drizzle. As NOAA robots were whispering about thunder beings in the churning gray above, Hello World and I offered the ritual of jumper cable deployment.
I was disheartened at the prospect of sailing in chilly wind (mid 50s) with no warming sun. I wondered why I hadn’t just stayed home with a book and a hot bath or slumped in a rocking chair with my feet aimed at the cheery glow of a woodstove. Soon enough we were jumping south-ish in the brisk NE blow and I was competent guy, with no time for wussy old man thoughts.
The 210 course turned out to be more like 240. I was intrigued to find the new Silva compass had a frozen bezel. This had happened to another Silva in 2009, a couple of days before it blew up. Turns out the adhesive velcro I had used to mount it to the tiller was the culprit. I didn’t realize the compass bottom articulated. The old compass exploded because the velcro had formed a seal where there shouldn’t have been one.
We dashed past the break waters of Manistee and on to Big Sable Point in one long, strong tack and then turned south. Dedication paid off, a bit of blue opened to the north. Just before Big Sable, the cloud cover began rotating around us, with the southern clouds heading inland and the northern clouds moving out over the lake. Trippy. I took it as an acknowledgement of our sacred quest.
|Approaching Big Sable Point and Ludington State Park||Sun at last||Big Sable Point lighthouse|
Ludington State Park was a potential landing spot, but reconnaissance proved the beaches too crowded for inconspicuous camping. We kissed beach at the remote southern tip of the park but the “no camping” signs were a deterrent.
Riding the north-ish wind we glided past the festive beachfront of Ludington, across the breakwater and on towards rugged bluffs that suggested difficult beach access for the few houses perched above. The wind had been powering up and we surfed it another couple miles right into a secret pirate cove, complete with sparkling springs and a crumbling fortress. 5:00 pm arrival, 30.5 miles in 4.5 hours on the water.