Put a little bit of Saturday in a bottle and just call it INSANITY!!!!!!
What a doozy......hit the road, mind-blowing drive through the early morning fog, with the sunrise coming through the mists, glimpses of flaming colors as the dawn faded......picturesque scenes as I crossed over the streams and rivers surrounded with turning leaves, and wisps of steam swirling into the calm morning. As I turned inland and towards Grand Rapids into the BLUE DAY, the sun began the warm-up and the leaves began to twirl on their stems.
The farther North I got, the more the hills began to rise and the colors began to multiply.....I got the call that some of the boyz were going to do a downwinder to Frankfort, somewhere in the 25 mile range. I cruised on to meet them at the coast. Through the deep forests, and on into the noon hour I drove, stopping only to pick up some smoked fish, cheese, crackers, and Ale (two hearted, I might add).
Made it to the beach to the sight of kites launching, sand blowing, sheep grazing and sun shining. Shopping Cart told me to rig the 9, and get ready for the shiz!!! The crew had already departed and I know that they "make tracks", so I ate a bit, toasted the day and got the 9 rigged with my short lines.
The waves were chest high and coming in nice already, and they would pick up the entire way down the coast. It was sideshore all the way down, due to the fact that the high dunes kept it along the shoreline, even thought the coast curved a bit here and there.
By the time I hit the water the crew was miles down the beach with no chance of catching them. I knew this would be a "solo" run, so I'd stay close to the break the entire way. Looking up and down the coast, it was as majestic as any painting I have ever seen. Simply put, it was a masterpiece of a DAY!!!!
Had a couple of teenage boys on the beach help me launch my kite, they got a kick out of it, then I proceeded to light it up right off the beach, caught a few waves, saluted Chase and Bret, and headed on into the madness. The coastline twists and turns below the dunes that line the beach. The waves were stacked up in orderly fashion like soldiers on an 18th century battlefield.....one after another after another for mile after miler after mile.
I would catch a set on the outside, ride it till it began breaking, crank a few bottom turns, ride the reform, take it all the way to the sand, and head back out for another round trip. HOUR after HOUR I repeated this routine, only once or twice going farther out than the break!!!!
The dunes would give way to ravines and rock formations on occasion, but mostly the 2-300 foot dunes, that were a mile or two in length, dominated the coastline. Some were barren, others were covered in trees that were changing colors and dropping leaves. Their was a very narrow sand beach that lined most of the run...a perfect place to sit (with kite flying) and take it all in; I probably came in to shore to "sit and be" a handful of times for 5 minute "rests". I felt as if I was in a trance, a dreamlike state, as I stared at the overwhelming beauty surrounding me....just me sitting on a beach with Ol Mother Michigan, the dunes, a lone sailboat, three kites disappering in the distance, and that Bald Eagle that was riding the dune drafts.
I would encounter a few cottages on the bluffs, a dock or two, and a few small breakwalls as I continued on down the way. The waves continuously built till the sets were over-head high. At times the wind would back a bit, but it help me to refine my light-air wave skills....making sure I laid down my bottom turns in the right spot to keep enough speed to smack the lip on my cutbacks......looping the kite when I didn't have quite enough to get there....but then it would pick back up, making the wave riding seemingly effortless!!!! Wave after breaking wave I continued on down the coast towards Frankfort.
By the time I saw the lighthouse at Frankfort, I had coverd near 20 miles. Clouds had come and gone in a wide array of formations, shapes and sizes.....finally giving way to the blue that kept taking over the sky. A couple of miles before I hit Frankfort, the SUN took charge and dissipated the remaining clouds......the waves were now pumping, and the wind "kicked in". Although I had been nicely powered the whole way, now I was "juiced".
The bottom turns started flowing like a mountain stream after the thaw.....one after another, I would lay into them with no thought at all running through my mind...I disconnected from the ritual....I just let it go....for about 45 minutes, I became the wind, I became the water, I became the kite, I became the board....I've written about it before....SATORI. When it all flows, with no hold-ups, no sense of differentiation....just letting it all happen, not restricting the ENERGY. I was that bald eagle, that leaf flying on the breeze, that wave breaking on the sand.....I continued on down the coast like a madman across the water!!
I set up for a quick turn on an 8 foot smooth face that was jacking up, and I hesitated for just an instance, and I was too late to hit it....just watched it barrel up and smile at me.....I thought about it briefly, and It was ME again...I was back in my body and my mind was racing, I tried fervently not to think, but it was gone, the fleeting feeling passed.....I rode the whitewater to shore, sat for a bit, took a deep breath and laughed hysterically at the MAGIC!!
I rounded the lighthouse at Frankfort, and rightly so....a nice set came in to usher me to shore. I got two turns on the outside, rode it towards the elbow, turned a foot or so off the jetty's rocks, hit the lip, and got 4 to 5 more turns taking it all the way into the inside, watched it reform and smacked it a couple of more times until I was onshore. WOW!!!!
The crew that had left before me, had come and gone, hours before.....I saw four kites headed downwind to Pt. Betsie and thought that it must be Rorke and friends, so I took a deep breath, and headed off in pursuit. 6 more miles of sure bliss, and sheer exhaustion lay ahead....
By the time I reached bout half-way, I had caught up with the kiters....I saw that Eclipse tacking back upwind to the "dune stairs", and knew it had to be Rorke. I lit one up on the outside, heard him hoot and holler, and knew that I had a ride, a beer, and some food waiting at Betsie. All holds barred, it was time to drain the energy bank!!
Rorke, CB, Kim, Brian and I rode the rest of the way slashing up together. Nice to ride with my buddies after crusing by myself all day. Rorke was ripping it up very impressively on his surfboard....riding strapless, he is getting in tune with that thing!! Saw him catching waves left and right, and screaming down the line. We tag-teamed the waves for a solid hour upwind of Pt. Betsie....milking the "pristine" wave conditions. The perfect size, 6 to 8, for keeping it clean, and orderly on that break!!!!
All the while the sun was sinking lower in the sky....but it was a slow sinking, as if the day didn't want to end.....I had a gut-check about then, and began singing a Beatles tune that often enters my head in those scenarios......"when I get to the bottom, I go back to the top of the slide, then I stop and I go for a ride...."
Wave after wave came our way, and we rode them as hard as we could. I caught two set waves with CB in front of me....and I was stoked to watch him turn his BRO board on those emerald gems......we rode 'em all the way to the sand, and turned back out to grab another.
We hit Pt. Betsie to the sight oh so familiar....the sight of sand being blown side-shore down the beach!!! The sun was sinking, the wind still cranking, and the coastline was shimmering in the sunset glow. Still blowing a steady 25 with over-head high waves!!!!
Five and a half hours, bout 30 miles as the eagle flies.....immeasurable bottom turns, and a boatload of scenes that have been burned into my memory........PURE MICHIGAN, and I had been dreaming about the 18th give or take a day or two for a month or so.....a dream that was nowhere near the "dreaminess" that was reality. ALL HAIL the GODFATHER!!!
Made it back to Frankfort, in fresh, warm clothes that Shopping Cart had for me....with a cold beer....Kim and CB had crackers and tahini, Rorke....well, we know what Rorke was sporting....
!!! When we got to Frankfort, Johhny Babka (Shopping Cart) fired up the BBQ, and Rorke took me to pick up my lil ol Red truck.
We listened to some Band of Gypsies, and then some Derek and the Dominoes....kept the mosquitos away, and enjoyed Red's Rye by Founders. The evening colors were reflecting off the trees, the moon was rising in the East....pure exhaustion had set in and I just sat back and SMILED!!!!
Spent the night with my buddy Matt Mulligan....aka "the Godfather". He had been working and could not make it, but assured me that we would be riding the next morning at Leland on a NW. He had ridden Tobago earlier that evening, and we shared stories of the day. I drank a two hearted and passed out in the chair, climbed into my bed and slept soundly with the dreams of an eagle soaring the dunes.
Woke to the sound of wind... sunrise burning through the fall leaves in Traverse City, we grabbed some doughnuts, Mountain Dew, some Marlboros and headed to Leland. Another awesome FALL drive, too spectacular to detail, and hit Van's Beach to 12m weather. We rode from bout 11 to 4. Nice coastline with unbelievable turns in the coastline. We rode inside the jetty for a while and hit the small beach break for hours.
The wind started building about 3 and continued to do so till I left at 4. Shopping Cart said that it would switch a little more North and pick up evern more.....but I was "toast".
Counted my blessings and headed back on another scenic drive through he NORTHWOODS, just watching the leaves fly through the golden afternoon. The moon came up before sunset and lit my drive all the way home.
MISSION COMPLETE.....dreams fulfilled.....destinies met.....rocks shaken!!!! Salute another Lake Michigan kiting extravaganza of a day!!! A masterpiece, a true masterpiece!!!!
....that's why Schiff, THAT'S WHY!!!!!