How often have I paddled from South Haven pier towards Van Buren state park? Maybe in the hundreds of times? I don’t know. It is different every time. After kayak surfing in San Diego, I feel like I’ve cheated on a very loyal, but tempestuous milky skinned midwestern girl in favor of a more tanned athletic Pacific coast one. So in order to assuage my guilt, I think I have to say something sentimental about my last two trips to Lake Michigan.
I’ve gone out twice since I’ve been back. The bright azure clear skies and cool southwest breezes offered unparalleled opportunities to see the shore of south east Lake Michigan up close and personal. I often cruise past the tumbled concrete pilings, rusty iron shore breaks, the truck tires, to get down to the dunes. But I decided to inspect her, warts and all this Sunday.
The water has been crystal blue green, with little wavelets racing from somewhere in Illinois. The calm conditions have made it easy to see the shore, and the cold water has kept the FIPS _(fucking illinois/indiana people)_ away. The sandy beaches are often interspersed with the wreckage of concrete and rusting construction grade steel that is either dumped in the lake, or has been left there to neglect from days when more big freighters made their stop in South Haven. Houses now line almost the entire shore of the Lake, making a landing there an occasionally unfriendly occurrence. But the little coves and rusty breakwalls made for interesting fodder to bow rudder, side slip, and hanging stern draw myself around.
I have to say the rust belt flotsam and jetsam is not something most people would find interesting. But there is a certain tainted beauty to the 5 miles between South Haven south beach, and Van Buren State Park. It’s like driving through the desert and stopping at a diner to find a slightly middle-aged beauty queen working the counter, she’s got a few tattoos and some wrinkles, maybe one too many piercings, but as Tom Waits always said, “there’s nothing wrong with her a hundred dollars wouldn’t fix.”
There are certainly more pristine sections of Lake Michigan. Hell who wouldn’t take the Pacific if you had a chance. But this is the girl I married, and she delivers every time, you just have to know how and where to look.
*Some poor bastards have to write shite like this about Lake Erie.*