Sunday, June 16, 2013

Grand Rapids, Michigan (by way of Marion, Massachusetts, and Muskegon, Michigan)

An Ingrid interior--a boat on the boat list
Traveling again, this time for my parents' fortieth wedding anniversary (believe it or not) and a three-day camping trip with Sonia and her two beautiful boys. We pulled into a campground I'd chosen on the internet, sight unseen, with thunder roaring and lightning cracking directly overhead, rain flooding the ranger station, at ten at night—me coming directly from the airport and two awake children in the car. Luckily the kind ranger allowed us the use of a cabin for one night, because when we pitched the tent in the morning, we discovered we had no poles. Not to worry. The 1920s army tent we'd brought as a playplace for the children pitched just fine. Another victory for the brave, foolhardy, impulsive travelers who do not plan.

As is this one: K. is currently in the middle of the Atlantic, racing to Bermuda. Check here. He is on the little pink boat, Elusive, almost dead last. It's okay. It's a rookie boat, class C, and although we'd had our names on the crew list since last year, it was only when we took the brave and foolhardy step of waltzing through the yacht club doors to handwrite our names on the bulletin board that we got a call. So he gets to cross (or half-cross—let's call a spade a spade) the Atlantic before I do.

I'm not jealous. Really, I'm not.

Okay, I am. Desperately jealous, but also so immensely thrilled and pleased for him. His first real ocean race, his first experience with a structured watch list, and five blessed days in blue water under sail.

He'll come back either ready to settle down and farm again, or even hungrier for one of the steel ketches he's been surfing online, the ones with built-in woodstoves that we could sail to Iceland or Greenland or through the Northwest Passage. Casting Off has been metaphorical for a time now, but it's a good reminder that it could always become literal.  Again.

And tonight we dined on kale and beets and local fennel sausage in downtown Grand Rapids, a town which has suddenly, and without my noticing, become hip. I used to say, when I visited my family here, that it was like stepping back in time to 1952. But now it feels the opposite—like stepping forward to, say, 2020—a place where all cafes have their own greenhouses, and art galleries host their own deejays, and every bar stocks jalapeno-infused local vodka. One can only hope.

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