As long as we remember, the rain’s been comin’ down*

img_5248Our first full day in St. Joe was just like so many of our days in Ludington.  Rain and more rain.  Rain so strong it took out DirecTV at Buffalo Wild Wings, which would’ve been fine if all the TVs in the world shut down so nobody could watch the debacle in Charlotte.  Oh well, we have boating to do.

img_5243Of course, even if it hadn’t been raining on Saturday, all the sailboats rafted up in the marina like a game of giant sailboat Tetris would have kept us there anyway.  The annual Tri-State Regatta was to blame.  Actually we quite enjoyed the sailors and their boats since we weren’t going anywhere anyway.  The marina guys warned us to expect all-night revelry, mostly from the groupies.  The rain kept things down on that front, but also prevented us from going to the concert next door.  Libido Funk Circus was the band.  What, you’ve never heard of Libido Funk Circus?

img_5254In fairness to the Michigan weather, it did clear up on Sunday.  And the temperature and humidity soared into the upper 80s.  Yuck.  Lots of Michiganders were out for the holiday weekend despite the yuck, however.  Can’t count on many days without rain up here so take ‘em when you get ‘em.

img_5252At the beach we found a lighthouse monument to lighthouses.  That seems odd.  It was made from Petoskey Stones, however, which suggests that maybe someone just had a bunch of them laying about and needed something to do with them.

The trains rumbling past the marina mostly were diurnal so not much of a bother.  The marina was clean, with grass for the boys and other facilities close by.  Not too bad a stay, but we’re ready to get to the rivers.

003A2031Despite the not-surprising-at-all threat of rain all week, we took off for Michigan City this morning.  Turned out to be a fine day to cruise the 4 hours.  Along the way a Monarch butterfly kept us company for awhile.  That really brings home just how slow 7.5 knots really is—a butterfly caught us.   He seemed quite attracted to the Tennessee-Orange Vol Navy Flag.  Who wouldn’t be?

img_5263Michigan City will be our last stop in Michigan.  What’s that?  Michigan City is in Indiana?  Hmmm.  Indiana now is our seventh state, which seems pretty non-noteworthy when one recalls that you can “See 7 States” from Rock City.  You also can spot Misty Pearl in the crowd thanks to that very attractive Tennessee-Orange Vol Navy Flag.

img_5265Anyway, mid-afternoon the skies opened up again.  Have you ever seen the rain coming down on a sunny day?  Looks like we’re facing this for much of the foreseeable future.  At least on the rivers we shouldn’t have waves.

We dodged the rain and made it to the Galveston Steakhouse, where Dana and Second Wave found a little something to remind them of Texas.

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Tomorrow we’ll head to Hammond.

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*CCR seemingly wrote the soundtrack for the bottom half of Lake Michigan.  We expect tambourines and elephants any day now.  Is there a song about flying Asian carp out there?

Hey Chicago, what do you say?*

The waitress in Michigan City said that on clear days the Chicago skyline is visible from there.  We’ll have to take her word for that.  Our day was too hazy, but at least it wasn’t raining.  As we headed to Hammond we picked up the buildings with the big lens about 10 nm out.  Wooo.

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764E3DF4-B98D-4164-9B4E-E871DA2B70ACAfter nearly a month here we feel competent to say that Mad Max steam punk post-apocalyptic industrial grime is to the southern tip of Lake Michigan as natural beauty is to the northern tip.  Maybe it’s good that today is Tuesday.  Tuesday is Soylent Green day.

On the way to the dirty city of Hammond we passed by the dirty city of Gary.  Doug and his buddy David once stopped in Gary after a frigid football game—which the good guys won in an epic comeback when Jeremy Lincoln overran Notre Dame’s backup kicker’s field goal attempt but it glanced off his butt anyway—in South Bend.  The only other thing we know about Gary is that Harold Hill didn’t actually attend the Gary Conservatory of Music or whatever he claimed.  (As musicals go, The Music Man is no Mamma Mia.  “Trouble with a capital T, which rhymes with P, which stands for pool?”  Really?)

img_5271The marina in Hammond wasn’t necessarily the best, for us at least.  The slip they assigned us was too small.  The only restaurant within safe walking distance was in a casino.  The people, however, were great.  We topped off the fuel tanks, docked on a face, tied up neatly, and completed our end-of-cruise checklist.  Dana gave the boys their traditional end-of-cruise walk.  The manager kindly delivered a package someone mailed to us.  Two dockhands helped lower the mast for the Chicago bridges.

Ok, so what’s the weather like tomorrow?  Windy?  Rainy?  Crap, let’s go to Chicago right now.  Throw the boys back on board.  Fire up the engine again.  Disconnect the power, slip the lines, and bolt.

An hour later we could see the city a bit better.

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Past the south side, which is the baddest part of town.  Up almost to the Navy pier.  Through the mooring field full of sailboats and the yacht club docks.  When we docked for the second time today, Hammond was just a memory, almost like it never happened.

We couldn’t be much happier with the view from our front porch, although hopefully the humidity will drop.  We guess that’s why they call Chicago The Muggy City.

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*Well a friend of ours named Steve Goodman wrote that song . . .   So we felt obliged to include it on this album.

That’s why they call it The Drizzly City

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img_5274Yup.  We’re still in Chicago.  The weather has caused a Looper clog in the funnel through which we all enter the river system.  No offense to Joliet, but we decided to wait here until things clear up rather than sit on the wall there for several days.  After all, we’re in a pretty sweet spot.  Walking distance to most everything we might want.

img_5289While in The Dangerous City, one is required to do touristy things.  That meant a boat tour—which we took on the one hot and muggy day—not because we’re desperate to ride on a boat, but because we wanted to check out the path through town.  On the way we literally had to dodge sparks from a dude cutting steel on a bridge above the path.  Surely that violates whatever hot-work requirements apply in Chicago.  Or maybe the dude’s uncle is an alderman or otherwise is “connected” such that he doesn’t care.  Anyway, we made it to the tour boat.

Hopefully we’ll get a time-lapse video when Misty Pearl takes the trip.

The rain returned later that evening, while we were eating dinner a mile from the marina.  The artistic eye will note our unintended but visually-stunning color coordination.  And of course the city lights in the mist.

Another day brought another downpour, which was a chance to change the oil.  Along with the oil change came Chicago CSI.  Okay those probably were unrelated, but CSI—the real thing not the TV show—did block off the end of the dock.

Unfortunately the dive team staged inside a tent so as to keep nosy and bothersome people away.  We were a bit offended, of course, since all we wanted to do was poke around and ask some questions.  The rumor on A Dock was that the search related to a missing girl, but we were gone when they wrapped up and left so we really don’t know anything.  One unconcerned local summed it all up as “It’s Chicago.”  Maybe that’s why they call it The Murder City.

img_5318We scored day-of-show tickets to Hamilton, which (1) was an unexpected turn of events and (2) required us to break out our best Sunday-go-to-meetin’ clothes.  Meaning jeans.  Hey, we live on a boat.  So after deep dish pizza, we hit the CIBC Theatre (“Theatre” being the way snobby people spell “theater”) with Brent and Karen.  The play was entertaining enough, but a bit fast and loose with historical accuracy.  For one thing, we doubt there was as much rapping during the late 1700s.  The founding fathers also probably didn’t dance around as much.

This morning we awoke to more light rain.  Since we were in the hood, however, we took the boyz over to the Shedd Aquarium and then back along the scenic route.

img_5314The Columbia Yacht Club clubhouse is just down the way from us.  That wouldn’t be at all interesting except the clubhouse is a ship, which is different and cool.  The Abegweit was an ice-breaking ferry before the yacht club converted her into a playroom for Chicago’s hoity-toity boaters.  The kind of people who probably wouldn’t be comfortable in a plain old “theater.”  If we had better clothes maybe we’d try to sneak in.

Saturday and Sunday look to be good days for watching football.  Surely there’s a sports bar around here somewhere.

Dear Abby, Dear Abby*

Since we elected to hang around Chicago over the weekend, we figured another touristy thing or two might be in order.  So up to the Signiture Lounge we went.  Dana discovered that the view from the “powder room” was best of all.

img_5338Saturday is football day.  On the way to join up with the Chicagoland Vols, Doug passed by 2122 North Clark Street.  This of course was the site where Al Capone’s boys massacred Bugs Moran’s boys on that bloody Valentine’s Day in 1929.  Now it’s a park near a retirement home.  It seems like all famous or important sites should have a plaque or something, but there’s nothing here.  img_5316Just like there’s not a single thing at the orange monster sculpture to commemorate that day truant Ferris Bueller—aka The Sausage King of Chicago—passed by it with Cameron and Sloane just one step ahead of creepy Dean Rooney.

img_5339Anyway, Doug made it to the bar.  Everyone sang Rocky Top.  Vols won.  Since the latter is fairly unusual these days, somebody should put up a plaque.

img_5348Hey here’s a plaque.  As mentioned in our last Chicago-based post, the Columbia Yacht Club is next to our marina, with a repurposed ice-breaking ferry—the MV Abegweit—as a clubhouse.  We surmised that the club likely would be far too high-society to allow the likes of us on board.  Turns out the folks over there are pretty decent.  Paul and Suzanne—a super-duper nice couple who race sailboats and just bought a Loop boat in preparation for their own adventure—are CYC members who read our post and invited us to tour the Abby, as she is known to those in the know.  Of course we accepted the offer.  The Abby is way cool, with awesome views.  And awesome mimosas to which Paul and Suzanne treated us.  We hope they’ll let us know when they start Looping.

The most recent excitement on A Dock was when TowBoatUS dragged over a sinking sailboat and parked her next to Misty Pearl.  Divers patched her up temporarily and they caught most of the leaking diesel fuel, but the owners understandably were distraught.  High wind apparently shredded their mooring lines and drove them into the rock wall just south of us.  We gave them a bottle of wine and some chocolate but probably nothing could improve their spirits.  We guess that’s why they call this The Boat-Killing City.

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Assuming the gale subsides, we’ll be outta here tomorrow.  We reached Lake Michigan on August 10, which seems like a month ago.  Wait, tomorrow is September 10?   It WAS a month ago?  That means 30% of our Loop so far has involved Lake Michigan.  No offense to you Lake Michigan, but although we’ve had some great times together we’re pretty sick of your big water and big-water problems.

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*Here’s a link to the John Prine classic.