Eleven feet MEANS eleven feet.

31 07 2010

This morning, at 7:30 a.m., I was happily paddling around Kent Lake, taking in the view from my long board.  In the early morning hours, the lake was serene and despite the cloudy skies, it didn’t rain and it wasn’t even 70 degrees yet.  I paddled to my heart’s content, which happened to be about two hours, before heading home.  To understand why this morning’s paddle was such a win for me, you’ll need a little background info.     

An 11-foot paddle board will not fully fit in the interior of a Ford Escape.  Not with the passenger and back seat down.  Not after any amount of wishing or praying and despite otherworldly levels of optimism.  An 11-foot paddle board will fit inside a Suburban – somewhat illegally – but with all doors and windows closed.  I don’t drive a Suburban though.  I drive a little blue truck-with-dreams.     

I had so much fun stand up paddle boarding (SUPing) at Silver Lake over the Fourth of July weekend.  So two weeks ago, after much a little contemplation, I decided to invest in my own board to enjoy some SUP fun a little closer to home.      

As a result of that one decision, I learned some very interesting lessons:     

  1. An 11-foot board doesn’t look that big on the internet, but eleven feet is really stinkin’ big in real life.  If I had a clone that could somehow balance standing up on my head, that would be about 11 feet.  That would also be ridiculous.  Or ridiculously AWESOME.
  2. Never “eyeball it.”  Based on my sophisticated visual calculations, an 11-foot long board will fit inside a truck with dreams.  Based on reality, it will not.
  3. I’m pretty handy when it comes to installing stuff – if “stuff” refers to roof rack cross bars and a ratchet system that will hold an 11-foot long board to a truck with dreams.
  4. I’m not as handy with a hack saw, but I do own one now.
  5. There’s more than one way to skin a cat use a hex wrench.
  6. Always have a plan B.  And C.  And D, just in case.

Everything, as it so often does in my life, worked out in the end.  I managed to find bars and racks to transport the board and install them.  As advertised, the system provided a rock-solid grip on my board at speeds up to 80 mph (I used an INNO brand surf and kayak rack system if you were wondering), which was great considering I had rehearsed several worst case scenarios in my head that all ended in chaos, property damage and jail time.     

In addition to the lessons I outlined above, I also learned that 67 degrees is too cold for John to be coaxed into a rental kayak for some paddling fun with his one-and-only.  He did manage to capture my clumsy launch on a video that features some shots of my behind from the most unflattering angle imaginable.  Dear John, thanks for that.  I am not ashamed of the board on my roof – or the junk in my trunk.  After my epic first paddle, we spent a good part of the afternoon working on my softball swing and the Tigs are currently up by four.  Considering the lead up, I’m chalking up today as a success.     

In this photo, one can clearly see that my 11-foot board is considerably longer than the interior of my little blue truck-with-dreams. Whatever. Don't dwell on that. Check out the awesome rack job.


Funny little side note for anyone who thinks Squirrel and I don’t look stupidly similar: Squirrel received the following text this morning from a co-worker who has never met me: “I saw this girl clearly ur sister this morning with a board on top of her truck. I looked at her and said OMG this has to be chelsey sister.”  So either we look alike or Squirrel’s coworker saw saw me and thought, “You know what idiots with long boards remind me of?  Chelsey’s family.”  Your call I guess.


I don’t need pictures to remember…

5 07 2010

…just how much fun I have with you.    

My mom has captured almost every significant moment of my life with photos – she’s captured quite a few insignificant events too.  It’s always fun the look through the bookshelves of photo albums and remember championship basketball games, birthday parties and graduations.  I finally bought my own camera last December before Kara and I went to the Bahamas.  While I enjoy taking photos, I’ve found that it’s more important to me to actually make a memory than capture one.    

This past weekend was the Fourth of July holiday weekend, which meant it was time for John and I’s second annual day trip to the Silver Lake  Sand Dunes.  After waking up at 4:30 a.m. and running 12 miles with the team, I came home for a quick shower and then headed for Michigan’s west coast with John.    

The weather was perfect – warm and sunny – and as you may have heard, road trips with John are always an adventure.  Early in the trip, he was already in rare form – dancing a variation of the robot to the Usher song, OMG.  As I’ve mentioned before, road trips are a great opportunity to learn more about your significant other.  For example, I learned John’s stance on cyclists who ride in the middle of the road: “Are they even allowed to be in the road?  You’re not Lance Armstrong.  This is not the Tour de France.  That’s a fake jersey!”  Once we arrived at Silver Lake several hours later, our first stop was the watercraft rental on North Shore Drive.    

Last year, we both rented kayaks and paddled all the way across the lake to the sand dunes.  This year, while John opted for the tried-and-true kayak and a securely-fastened life vest, I decided to take on the challenge of stand up paddle boarding.  This involved balancing on a surfboard and paddling from a standing position.  I was doing pretty well until the gentlest of waves rocked my board and tossed me flailing into the lake.  I’m sure John probably wished he had a few of my down-goes-Frazier-aquatic-style moments on film, but my camera isn’t waterproof.  I eventually got the hang of it and elicited stares from every passing motorist and pedestrian as I paddled along the shore near the road.  You don’t see someone standing on water, casually paddling down the beach every day.    

Some guy stand up paddle boarding in an exotic location like Hawaii where they have waves that are more than foot-high ripples made from jet skis and speed boats.


Instead of waiting on line to get a parking spot for Lake Michigan, we opted to go on the Mac Dunes ride, complete with a trip to the neighboring Whippy Dip to pass the short wait.  Just three words on the Whippy Dip: Chocolate.  Marshmallow.  Malt.  Along with a stellar uneven sun tan on my shoulders, we also had an up close bald eagle sighting over the wildlife area of the dunes which was special considering John’s plans of world domination as a bald eagle.    

After the ride, some of the lake traffic had cleared, so I decided to catch a few rays on the beach while John took a quick nap in the car.  The wind had picked up and all I got was earfuls of sand, so I walked down to the Little Point Sable lighthouse (the tallest working lighthouse in Michigan) and then headed back to the car.  John was asleep with the windows open so I leaned in and in my deepest, manliest voice growled “hey there, dark chocolate!”  He bolted straight up with an absolutely priceless look of surprise and horror on his face until he realized it was just me.  Win.    

We headed to what looked like the only full service restaurant in town for a perch dinner before finishing off the day with some go-karting.  It was during this time that John realized he is now officially too big for go-karting.  Not too old, too big.    

On the drive home we compared old school to modern hip hop with a little help from channel 50 on Sirius radio and John performed a rendition of Big Daddy Kane’s I Get the Job Done.  He also falsely accused me of “letting one rip” and rolled down the windows to let in fresh air, only to be slapped in the face with a gust of the same skunky farm smell that he had accused me of creating.  Sadly, nobody won that war.    

Another highlight of the trip home occurred when we took a wrong turn, causing John to unleash an impromptu reenactment of the scene from the horror movie Wrong Turn where the guy is driving along with his girlfriend and she is just talking to him and then out of nowhere an arrow “splits his wig” (John’s words) and kills him.  It was truly a cinematic little treat.    

All in all, our trip was awesome and even though I don’t have a single photo to show for it, I have a day packed with hilarious memories from what I consider two of the most beautiful places in the world: Silver Lake Sand Dunes and right next to John.    

Like any good Americans, we grilled out on the Fourth.  Not to brag, but I made the most delicious butter burgers, which John grilled to perfection along with kosher dogs, corn on the cob, kettle chips and the crown jewel of any good barbeque: strawberry jello dessert with a butter-pretzel crust.  If you have not tasted this, please request the recipe. You will not be disappointed.  We capped off the evening with sparklers and a fireworks show set off by John in the field behind my apartment.  Nothing like celebrating the birth of our nation with good old fashioned Chinese pyrotechnics.  The lack of photos during this part of the weekend is largely due to our desire to not create photos that may later be used as evidence by law enforcement agencies.    

Squirrel comes home today, John just strolled through the living room singing Bob Marley’s No Woman, No Cry and the Clawson fireworks are tonight, which means the good times will continue to roll.  Happy Fourth of July and God Bless America.  How did you celebrate?