Yesterday evening turned into Rough Riders Reunion 2014. In the wise (and paraphrased) words of Mike Peet: "Paddling like it's 2009!" The turn-out was fantastic (26 boats!), and the waves were apparently the largest of the summer. It was a perfect evening for rock gardening and practicing towed rescues. A bunch of the original Rough Riders were present, including Jeff H, Mike, Steven, Dan, Jeff B x 2, Rita & Garnetta, Sue, Ann-Marie, Nick, Dave, and I. It was also fun to meet some newer (i.e. in the last 3 years, so maybe not so new) members. Matt from Brooklyn was in the area for a couple weeks and recently bought a boat from BayCreek. I'll be in NYC on Monday to visit friends, and he provided some helpful tips for kayaking around the City...
Last night we crossed the Eastern/Central time zone and realized it was much later expected, so we pulled over and camped in the Squirrel Rapids Picnic Area, halfway between the Apostle Islands (WI) and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore (MI). We were up early to the sound of lawn mowing all around us. After a quick stop at a farmstand for veggies and breakfast, we drove across much of Michigan's Upper Peninsula (the UP) on Route 28.
At Pictured Rocks we attempted to find a campsite at the Twelvemile Beach Campground (I'm pretty sure this is where Marika and I stayed 3 years ago), but all the sites were full (on a Monday!). Instead, we headed a bit further east to the Upper Hurricane River campground and snagged a big site where we cooked up an extravagant veggie-full burrito lunch.
There are 21 Apostle Islands in Lake Superior (on the southwest corner), which were named by French missionaries after the 12 apostles (they clearly couldn't see all 21 islands). The islands were formed by wind wave erosion between ice ages, and were glaciated repeatedly after that. Terraces and wave cut platforms suggest that water levels used to be higher in Lake Superior. Of particular interest are the sea caves found on many of the islands. The Devils Island Formation geology is a red sandstone that formed from rivers depositing sediment thousands of years ago. The sea caves form when waves erode and undercut the base of the cliffs.
Early morning #5 billion. After a near miscommunication mishap with the Bismarck baggage agents, I successfully picked up (stole? it was so easy...) Jeff’s luggage before heading east to Fargo. We arrived within a few minutes of each other and booked it across the state of Minnesota in an attempt to arrive at the kayak shop by 4pm. 9 hours later, we arrived at Living Adventures Inc kayak rentals in time to pick up Pierre, the yellow Canadian Current Designs Storm. In Bayfield, we grocery shopped and discovered that Wisconsinites don't eat hummus or pitas (disaster!!!). We noted the intense humidity to which neither of us is accustomed. We went for a 2 hour evening paddle, launching from the Apostle Islands Marina and paddling south along the peninsula to Pikes Bay. The sandstone cliffs here are nearly vertical and bright red.
After a quick bagel breakfast with Devin and Ginny, during which Devin attempted to make espresso with a broken machine (no luck, resulting in another steamer), I hopped in the car and headed east: destination Bismarck. I only made a brief stop in the Badlands (Medora, ND), where the gas station attendants were amused by my inability to operate an old-fashioned gas pump.
After a work-related conference call on the side of the road in Missoula, I drove the 3 hours to Bozeman. Devin was home from his hike and we went for another “hike” along the trails and hills near his mom’s (Ginny's) house. On the way home we stopped at the new Bozeman Public Library, where Ginny works, but she had already headed home.
When we returned, Ginny was starting some dinner and together we sipped a delicious Argentinian white sparkling wine called “New Age,” which is apparently very popular in Argentina. Ginny made a fantastic dinner of butternut squash soup and stir fry with veggies from her garden. We sat in the backyard listening to the adjacent babbling brook and admired the view of the “M” on the side of the mountains (there’s a similar one in Missoula). After dinner, Devin and I walked to downtown Bozeman where the weekly "Music On Main" was just wrapping up, and the streets were filled with a rainbow of teenagers, college kids, and the old ones like us. Devin was almost run down by a fleet of 4 police cars when we weren't paying attention. In accordance with our elderly status, we went to the coffee shop and I ordered chamomile tea while Devin ordered a peppermint steamer. Back at the house, we were greeted with ice cream, berries, and delicious gluten-free chocolate chip cookies.
“beep beep beep beep” Sara’s watch alarm beeped quietly inside her sleeping bag. I was already awake, as often happens during 5:45am wake-ups. My phone alarm rang minutes later to a much louder tune. We packed up camp, loaded our damp kayaking gear into the trunk, and departed for the 7:15am ferry on the other side of Orcas Island. This time my car was loaded next to a massive lumber truck on the left and sewage truck on the right (previously it was a flammable liquids truck). Apparently when you have kayaks on the roof you are lumped with the big ones.
When we arrive in Anacortes at 8:15 we'll drive down to Seattle and return Sara’s kayak Renaldo. They've become close over the last 5 days and it will be a tearful goodbye. In Anacortes I'll be careful not to speed, as Bridget was awarded a $200 speeding ticket after disembarking the ferry a couple days ago. We'll be mailing Bridget’s sleeping bag, sun hat, and some other goodies back to Oregon after we return Renaldo. After I drop Sara off at the airport, I’m headed east towards Spokane.
Don’t know where I'm sleeping yet tonight! I’m going to try to get as far east as possible today. Rya, a friend that I met in Santa Cruz back in my hostel-staying days, lives in Colville now, 1.5 hrs north of Spokane. She offered her couch to me, but I'm struggling with adding 3 more hours of solo driving. I may just camp in a field tonight! I just got word that Devin will be in Bozeman when I'm there tomorrow night, so that’s a nice surprise! Our last meetup was during my previous cross-country road trip with Marika a few years ago, before I moved to California and Devin and Anna moved to Vermont.
Okay, the ferry is arriving in Anacortes shortly so time to close up and head down to the car!
Next morning update: Yesterday went more or less as planned. After I dropped Sara off at the airport I drove east to Spokane, where Rya and I planned to meet for dinner. I was early, so I blogged at the Rocket Bakery, which had speedy internet and delicious lemondade:
Rya's truck broke down (likely overheating - it was 102 degrees!) north of Spokane, so I drove up to meet her at Twigs. It was fun catching up - she's engaged and in the middle of building a cabin by a lake in Colville. I couldn't stay long as I was headed to Missoula (3 hours away) for the evening. I ended up solo camping at a National Forest campground an hour outside Missoula. Some views from the drive...
I slept in a couple hours longer than Sara to try and rid myself of a standard migraine (which usually lasts through 2 or 3pm the next day). Around 10:30 we headed into town (Eastsound) for some coffee ands discovered pistachio fig chocolates and mint ice cream. Mmmm breakfast! At a little park on the north end of East Sound, Sara made some phone calls to work and Southwest baggage. Southwest informed her that her second bag, which contained all of her camping/hiking/running gear, was considered permanently lost. Southwest agreed to reimburse her for the cost of the items, with depreciation, but it’s not clear exactly what that means. It’s a sad day :(
Monday morning we “slept in” and made a dinner-breakfast of spaghetti with tomato sauce, supplemented with mushrooms and chard – yum! Sara and I packed up our tents and left camp earlier than the rest of the crew. Everyone else was headed back to Anacortes later that morning, but we were headed to Orcas Island to continue the second half of our San Juan Islands trip. Even after multiple calls to the Southwest Airlines baggage counter (at 3 different airports), there was no indication that Sara’s two checked bags would be delivered, so we headed into Friday Harbor to replace some of the lost items. A 45-minute shopping spree later, Sara was the proud owner of some new chacos, underoos, paddling gloves, and other items. We made the usual stops for water, ice, and coffee before boarding the inter-island ferry.
This is a blog about exploring the outdoors (mostly by kayak), traveling, trip planning, and coastal engineering. It currently focuses on kayaking in the Netherlands and Belgium, but previous posts cover Upstate New York, California, and much more. See the Complete List of Blog Posts for a history of the site. Looking for something specific? Search the site here.
In addition to the blog, check out the Water Nerd section, where I write about coastal engineering and hydrology.
Email updates on new blog posts, about once per month.
Click the "Read More" link at the bottom of each summary for more photos, to see an interactive map of the route, and to read about the adventure.
Maps in each blog post: Click the icons to learn more about the launch site (amenities) and destinations. Click the square in the bottom-left corner to see an aerial photo behind the route.
Click the RSS Feed link, copy the URL, and paste it into your favorite feed reader.