You’re packing a suitcase for a place none of us has been, A place that has to be believed to be seen – bono
Ok, so it’s one week until I head off to Michigan. So I’m suddenly experiencing that quick shallow breathing that comes with not being even slightly prepared for the trip. Not to mention the fact that this is the first “solo” trip I’ve taken in many years. Normally Mary and I make most of our trips together but this time schedules did not match up. Especially if we want to make a fall trip together to the Georgia symposium.
So the big plan is to leave next Tuesday morning and drive up to Manitowoc WI and ride the SS Badger across the Lake Michigan over to Ludington, spend the night there then rise at 6 in the morning, drive north to a beach I’ve never heard of by 9 am for a 10am launch. From there a group of around 13 of us will be paddling the 6 or so mile crossing to North Manitou Island and spend the next couple days exploring both North and South Manitou Islands. Then Friday morning we have to get back to the mainland and get on the road to Camp Pendalouan in Muskegon County MI. I keep having this feeling I’m going to get totally lost in Michigan in not turn up again until 25 years later when I walk into a little diner asking who the president is. . .
Since I’ve done very little camping out of my kayak I’ve been digging through a lot of information about cook stoves, tents, sleeping bags, etc., mainly concerned with size and weight. I could certainly bore you with hours of details in this regard but not this time. I ended up getting going to MSR for a Windpro stove, Ventana Tent, and Miox water treatment system.
I’ve found that a sleeping bag has become the bane of my existence. I’ve been putting off buying a new sleeping bag for quite some time. Hey, we already have sleeping bags. The problem is that they are classic old fashioned bags that we’ve been zipping together for almost 9 years now. I knew trying to get one of these cotton dinosaurs in my boat was futile, especially if I wanted to take food. However buying a solo sleeping bag has a certain amount of negative connotation. It’s an odd thing that when you don’t share a double you are suddenly in a “mummy” bag. I keep going back to this animated film I saw many years ago called “When The Wind Blows“. The movie was based on a book by Raymond Brigs and follows an an elderly British couple as they follow government pamphlets to prepare for an impending nuclear attack. After the attack on London the couple who are located some miles away, begin to feel the effects of radiation sickness which they assume to be common maladies of pensioners such as themselves. Near the end when you know they are dying of radiation sickness, the couple crawl into potato sacks as prescribed in a civil safety leaflet, secure in the knowledge that, “The powers that be would get to them in the end. . .”
Synthetic sleeping bags hold their warmth even when wet. Not that getting your sleeping bag wet is a good plan mind you. So I could skip looking at “down” altogether. Personally I am not going to spend $300 on a sleeping bag. Sorry, it’s just not going to happen. Even then the choices are most overwhelming. My personal favorite was the expensive bag with no insulation in the bottom because you have to buy the pad separately and insert it into the bag. Sorry boys, I’m not going to pay extra to, well. . . pay extra. What a daft proposition this is! Especially when there are so many other choices out there in the same price range that did not skip putting insulation in the bottom. So 4 stores and 3 cities later, I spent about $150 at REI for a bag that will get me through late spring to early fall. I will actually stuff the bag into a dry bag instead of the amply large stuff sac it comes in. I also bought a 42 inch self-inflating 1 inch pad. Again the main consideration is packing space. Depending on the length of the trip a sleeping pad of any size could end up being left behind.
Thanks to to everyone who has wished Mary and I a happy anniversary. On May 20th it will be 5 years since our wedding at 6am on the south shore beach of Devil’s Lake State park. We have actually been together for 9 years since our first “date” which was on my birthday (June 29th) so long ago. (I’m pretty sure it was a pity date since I would have otherwise been on my own for that occasion). I took her down to Madison for the evening. Poor Mary was all dressed up for a night on the town and it certainly started out that way. However when the rain began falling in torrents only seen in Akira Kurosawa films things changed. Hey, I love rain. After dinner we stood in the doorway of Stillwaters for a few moments watching shadows scattering under slipstream light pouring from the streetlamps. I suggested we go over to the Memorial Union where we could watch the storms come in over the lake. Unintentionally I left out the distance we had to run (about 7 blocks or so) and that we would NOT be under a shelter of any sort while watching the storms. It wasn’t until we got back into a warm, well lit area that I noticed what kind of damage rain can really do to eyeliner! Since then there has been a lot less eyeliner and a lot more water. . .