Northern Michigan, Southern Ontario, Upstate New York - CC Road Trip Day 4
After another morning swim, and the skipping of stones we packed up the tent left our camp on the dunes above Lake Michigan and set out for Canada (coming from an Iriquoian word meaning settlement, village, or land).
The border crossing we would undertake later in the day was the case-in-point for our less-than efficient meandering; that we would drive East, by driving North. We crossed the border into Canada at a place called Sault Ste. Marie, and to be honest I was a little nervous they would confiscate the house plants because of, “Agricultural Reasons”, a term I’m assuming my imagination made up to give me something to worry about. The crossing was smooth, and our little family of plants continued on.
That morning before we crossed, we traced along the waters of the shore of Lake Michigan, seeing evergreen trees, and (inland) sea birds, and the blue light. I replayed a story I’d heard the day before we started the drive, told to me by my friends, Tammy and Phil - Michigan natives transplanted in Colorado. They gave a glowing review that had Phil spinning with enthusiasm as he described the dunes and their superior (no pun intended) qualities to the mountains of Colorado. We were in prime Tammy and Phil territory this morning, and no doubt they would be jealous of the house plants we had buckled up in the back seat, with their perfect view of the famed dunes just outside the windows.
We explored along the (near) land bridge that is the Upper Pennisula, extending between Lakes Superior, Michigan and Huron, running through the nations of the United States and Canada, as well as the nations of Menominee, Ho-Chunk, Ojibwe, Ottawa, Potawatomi, and others.
On that day listening to an audiobook I mentioned in yesterday’s journal entry (The Death and Life of the Great Lakes by Dan Egan) we heard this quote,
“[…] Michigan, the most coastal of the lower 48 states and the one with a most oddly nautical motto: Si Quaeris Peninsulam Amoenam, Circumspice — ‘If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you.’ […] He thought about a long-ago ferry trip across Lake Michigan that took him into waters so endless, he might as well have been in the middle of the ocean.”
At the southeastern tip of a place called Manitoulin Island, following in the foot steps of the quote from Egan’s book, we drove the CRV onto a ferry the size of an ocean liner and took in the visibly unending body of light-shimmering water that was unbroken all around us.
Over the course of one full day, September 18th, we travelled for 18 hours through Northern Michigan, Southern Ontario, and Upstate New York, covering nearly 600 miles, made a two hour ferry crossing over a section of Lake Huron between South Baymouth and Tobermory, back stroked in Lake Michigan, dove off rocks into Lake Huron at a place called Bruce Peninsula where the water was so teal you’d think it was tropical, swam in a cave, sprinted off a cold and windy pier closed for repair in Lake Ontario in the dark at 2am, skateboarded through the empty neon streets along Niagara Falls watching water crash down onto the rocks below and breathing in the mist, and eventually pitched our tent at 4am in a patch of woods along the edge of field on a place called Grand Island where the river splits around it the land. It was a day of countless wonders, of crossings, of joys, and of facing fears.
This day was an act of diving and driving headfirst into a new life chapter. The act of moving across the country into an unknown life with my wife Emi - dealing with health concerns, new jobs, new (tiny) apartments, new city, new friends, scant parking, can we pay for everything, etc etc. This life chapter felt (and feels) as vast as that endless open water, for better and sometimes worse. There were high and lows, ebbs and flows, and I felt like this was the day of the road trip where I was the most raw and in tune with some of the more vexing and intimidating feelings of such a big life shift. The widest emotional river cross or Great Lake to dive into, if you will. As we crossed threshold after threshold, border after border, river after lake after river, the exploration of water as a lived experience and living metaphor grew deeper and deeper in my imagination, shaping and being shaped by this water moving Eastward.
With so many visuals, places and ideas spinning in my head after what has been a high-water-mark day of my adult life thus far, we went to sleep still feeling the motion of the road beneath us in our sleeping bags. Long slow breathes like tides, filling our lungs.
What fears or challenges are you currently “diving headfirst” into? I would love to hear your story. Please leave it in the comment section below, or send me your story at firstname.lastname@example.org Also, I’d love for you to submit your story of water in connection to a life experience on the Public Prompt page. Thank you