Today: 3.48 miles Total: 1695.5 miles 10.5.10
So. Um. It’s my birthday. [ed note: in the story. not today. however, wishes aren’t discouraged].
Happy birthday to me. Happy birthday to me. Happpyyy biirrtthhdaayy deear mmmmmmmmmmmmmeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee. Happy birthday to me.
A birthday breakfast of eggs and potatoes included a card from Chelsea with a miniature bottle of tobasco (I’m talking MINI) and a coupon for a restaurant dinner while biking (which I’m super pumped on). Aunt Nettie gave me a pin from the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore and Jay Cooke State Park–I’m so glad, since I didn’t buy pins there [ed note: significance will be explained one day].
Like everyone has since we all met up, they left me to make the decisions for the day’s actions. “It’s your birthday, it’s your trip, yadda yadda yadda.”
For my birthday, I allowed Chelsea the privilege of helping UR with the dump station duties in my place. Following that ordeal, we biked the couple of miles into town–but only after someone at the campground decided to start talking to me. And talking and talking and talking and talking. This guy explained every detail of each of his bike tours, in addition to riveting tales of his life, family, and other fascinating topics such as styles of pavement and the air quality of Wisconsin. I contributed often through a series of nods as I wrote the message-of-the-day on my dry erase board.
In town, we arrived to a quickly rising temperature and bluebird skies at Carl’s (Northern-Kayak-something-or-other) kayak tour headquarters. Carl was a slow talker and mover, but finally we had the boats and gear loaded and in his/behind his van. We followed him to the put-in near Miner’s Beach.
We loaded them on their little dollies and rolled them, loaded with gear, 100 yards to the water. AN and I were in one tandem, Chelsea and UR in another, and Carl in a single. It was a warm and wonderful (birth)day already.
After a brief overview to ensure we all knew how to paddle and maneuver, which we all do thanks to our extensive (read: 1 year for me) kayak experience, we were soon beside the 175+ foot walls that make Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore just that, a National Lakeshore.
They were AMAZING geological specimens, colorful vertical ends-of-the-land reaching far into the sky above our water-level boats. Shipwreck Point, Bridalveil Falls, and soon Lover’s Leap, a huge arch that we doubled our water time by paddling to. It was really, really spectacular scenery.
We paddled THROUGH the arch. And it was wild. The water passage, obviously, was much narrower through the arch.
It was shallow, really choppy, and made Aunt Nettie and I really sea sick. We were about 4 miles from our put-in/take-out at that point, so we just had to turn around and paddle back…sick. Literally, paddle back sick.
The colors cascading down the huge rock cliffs, though. Wow. We stopped for a quick break on a small cobblestone beach, where we ate a small lunch. My lower back was really hurting me on my left side for some reason.
I’ve never had back pain in a kayak, and I have no idea why it hurt, but it was really painful, and getting out was a nice stretch.
We experienced Pictured Rocks exactly how it should be experienced. I’m really glad we kayaked here on Lake Superior instead of taking a cruise or something. We were literally touching the rock cliffs, with the water and wave spray getting us all wet. I like diving head-first into things (well, the water was really cold, so sitting in a kayak sufficed this time), so spending extended time beside the park’s feature, the cliffs, satisfied me. I can confidently say I’ve visited Pictured Rocks now. Being my 23rd birthday with family only made it better.
We were originally wanting to be back on shore by 3pm since I hoped to bike some distance today. Choosing to paddle to Lover’s Leap arch, and the time extension it necessitated, was the right decision, though. It would have killed me to only look at this beautiful arch from far away. I hate looking. I like doing.
We derigged the kayaks and pulled them back to the van. In the RV, the 4 of us quickly drove to Miner’s Castle for the famous view. While there, I decided that since it was already 4:40pm, we should just forego biking today, eliminating any rushed feelings we may have had. We were all tired from being in the sun all day, so relaxing sounded nice.
At the Visitor Center in Munising, I purchased a pin as they closed for the evening (although it says Grand Island instead of Pictured Rocks).
Back at North Shore Kayaking, Carl kindly offered us the opportunity to use his parking lot for the evening’s campground. I quickly took him up on it.
Later, we walked down to the weekly Farmers’ Market in town, where UR bought us each a little square of fudge. Then, after returning to the RV, AN served a great birthday dinner of pierogies with grilled veggies and apple sauce. I’m SO tired this evening.
But check this: an ICE CREAM CAKE! She totally read my mind; I’ve been craving one all day. We had invited Carl to come back in the evening, and he returned to his shop’s parking lot and joined us in the RV for some birthday cake. He’s a really super nice guy. However, I was really super embarrassed when I decided to, after everyone had a sliver of the cake, single-handedly ruin my birthday by almost finishing the entire ice cream cake alone. (ed note: WHAT WAS WRONG WITH ME!? Seriously? An entire cake?]
Everyone has been treating me so nicely since it’s “my” trip; but in my mind, it’s fully and equally everyone’s trip.
addendum: OK, so Carl sat in the RV and we all talked as I ate and ate and ate ice cream cake, eventually eating more than 1/2 the cake myself, legitimately making myself sick for the 2nd time on my birthday (1st being sea sickness). And, as Chelsea made clear, no one felt bad for me either time!
Carl kind of took the hint (although it was entirely unintentional), and, after I was groaning in my bunk on the verge of puking, left.