Out of Chicago

Day 35

I woke up pretty rested, it’s amazing what humans can get used to. Last night was 4th of July and after fireworks the harbor was jumping with boaters conducting alcohol inspired manuevers and tenders bringing revelers to and fro. Meanwhile back on land, bikers exhibiting symptoms of late stage testosterone poisoning were challenging each other to loudness contests. Add to this cacaphony and general mayhem the up, down and sidewise vectors my little boat was executing in the chop, and sleep would seem unlikely. F-it, I had a beer and a good time making movies during the fireworks. Ready to crash!

One tender captain joshed me as he motored by, “No campfires in the harbor!” Another captain with a load of passengers saw the camera’s light and thought I was signalling for a pickup and when she approached they caught me in mid rant.

Mary the tender captain picked me up the next morning and said that back in the harbor master’s office they were calling me the mountain climber of Lake Michigan. Not bad.

The plan was to lighten the load by shipping back the drives I had cloned and the books I had taken or been gifted. I kept only “Catamaran Sailing”, “Wilderness Medicine” and “Knots and Slings for Climbers”.

As the 5th was observed as a federal holiday, the only shipping location available was at the McCormick Convention Center, a place I’d been many times before for conferences like the World Con (science fiction), Siggraph (computer graphics), Sigchi (computer human interaction) and NSGA (computer graphics).

I rode the Z bike south against a very intense wind to the convention center and after some wandering found the very nice ladies who carefully boxed up my crap.

There was some event in progress involving youngish people and uniforms. Seeing them sitting on the floor waiting for the next session replete with badges and schedules made me whistful for the misspent days of my youth.

Back on the streets, the wind was blowing me back uptown steady and strong. Time to get out of town. I had maxed out on the city, i felt tense and lonely. Does this presage my decision about returning to NYC?

In leaving Chicago, I would be missing out on interviews with presidents and directors of institutions like the Shed Aquarium and the Field Museum. I should have made arrangements weeks earlier, I certainly wasn’t bumping into them at barbeques.

You probably don’t get to be the leader of an high profile aquarium or museum unless you’re somewhat vested in the status quo, so i’d have to ask uncomfortable questions. This project is not about what’s going wrong, it’s about what’s going right. Maybe these high muckety mucks were not so relevant to the project. Anyway, I’d have to stay at least several more days to meet them, the timing was off.

I couldn’t find any decent food to resupply so I just went back to the harbor master’s office to settle up and take one more Baolong bike tour of the harbor. I had been told to leave fenders on the starboard side of Hello World to fend off the tenders, but the fender line had gotten snagged on a sharp edged shroud shackle and cut. Three Baolongs lost. I had searched the harbor and found one, which was a minor miracle because the place is HUGE. This last tour was fruitless, I trust the other two found caring homes.

Back to the North Oscar 29 can at 1:00 and ready to sail at 4:00. While prepping a single hull solo sailer coming off the Big Lake told me it was powerful out there. My main concern was just getting out of the harbor. The wind was blowing south and I had to go south and east to exit. There were boats clustered in cans east and west of me. Way too windy to paddle clear of the other boats, I’d have to let go of the can while under wind power. Of course I’d never done anything like this before.

When the time came I rerigged the can for quick release with a caribiner, then pulled on it to position Hello World on a tack that would sneak us by the other boats. She took the wind, I popped the biner and we slid out, collision free. Once past the breakwaters we turned and took the full power of the wind on a north course – 245 by the charts.

4:00 and 30 miles to sail before dark, with this wind it could be doable. The torus popped off it’s bungee and dragged behind making an awful racket. I hauled it back and clipped it to a backpack. I got into the wire and we hauled ass.

I called jung Woong Kim to chat about his family’s summer plans, and while on the phone I recovered a colorful beachball. After I hung up I recovered another beachball and then a child’s swimming ring, but missed a green kick ball. I’m going to upgrade found objects on the water to 30 points so the score for Chicago was (2 fenders x -50) + (3 floating toys x 30) = -10 points.

Up on the wire I was able to look down on the port hull and see that the deck around the front pylon seemed warped. It was late in the day and the deck was wet and shiny so I couldn’t tell if I was just seeing things. I’d have to check it at the next stop.

By 5:30 we had blown north 10 miles and were looking good. Around 8:00 we pulled in at a public beach for directions, Lake Bluff. Yes, there’s the navy base 2 miles north and past those smoke stacks is the Nature Preserve. Thanks very much! 5 miles to go.

We beached just north of a big power plant with a bit of light still in the sky, 9;00 pm. This beach had no tracks, tire or foot. The Nature Preserve is human accessible by permit only – I found this out later. It was a pleasant night and deep sleep, there on a desolate beach watched over by a brooding hunk of humming infrastructure. I am constantly reminded me of my status as Rat in the Wainscotting.

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