chicago yacht club race to mackinac.

19 Jul

It’s not often that I feel homesick for the Windy City.

I am very lucky to live in an outdoors(wo)man’s paradise; in a little apartment nestled in a lush green valley, that’s cradled by tremendous 12 and 13,000 foot peaks. Heck, my humble abode even boasts a bubbling creek in the backyard and I often eat breakfast on my deck with the hummingbirds, as they zip in for a taste of the sweet nectar in my cheery red hummingbird feeder. On my “weekends”, I hike 14ers, hang out at the lake, and venture through the woods for a glimpse at the wonders of Summit County’s mammoth rock walls and brightly colored wildflowers.

But this particular week always pulls at my heartstrings and makes this homegrown midwesterner second guess her decision to move away from the great city of Chicago. You see, it’s Mac Week. The start of the Chicago Yacht Club’s Race to Mackinac, a 333 mile (289.4 nautical miles) regatta starting at the Chicago Yacht Club and finishing in the confluence of Lake Michigan and Lake Huron off of Mackinac Island, Michigan.

For freshwater sailors, the Mac Race is the pinnacle of their year. Crews spend the majority of the spring and early summer training for this 333 mile dash up through the deep blue waters of Lake Michigan. A dash that can be as quick as 24 hours and take as long as 80.

In our family, the legacy of the Mac Race began with my Dad, well actually with Blair Vedder. An avid sailor, Blair taught my dad to live and breathe the ever-changing winds of Lake Michigan, to be enamored by the cold fronts and summer storms that roll in off of the temperamental lake, and how to read the sails and the rocking and rolling of a hull like the fluidity and rhythm of his own body.

The Mac is a test of patience, a challenge of the wits, and the best adventure a boat lover can experience. The race is highlighted by moments of adrenaline fueled drives to survive; where the excitement that’s pumping through your veins is all that’s keeping you alert and moving lightening quick on a deck that’s pitching and bucking like a bronco stung by a bee. There are other moments (sometimes days) of extreme quiet where you crave a bit of movement in the air. Just enough to see the speedometer reach 0.01 knots and if you hit 1.00 knots, a round of cheers ring through the quiet air from your fellow crew members and the boats drifting around you. The race is punctuated by the scent of pines trees wafting through the air as you make your way down the Straits, the feeling of elation as you cross under the Mac Bridge, breakfast with the sunrise, and dinner with the sunset.

Sailing and boats have been part of my life since I was just a few weeks old. I’ve spent nearly every summer enjoying the cool spray of Lake Michigan on my sun-warmed skin. I’ve fallen asleep to the soothing rocking of Slapshot as she settled comfortably into the deep waters of Lake Michigan with her shrouds singing a calming lullaby as they rang against the mast. And I’ve completed the Mac Race three times. And while I love the cool summer air and scent of the Earth as I hike through Mother Nature’s masterpiece, my summers on Lake Michigan are never far from my heart.

Fair seas and following winds to all the 2014 Mac racers out there. To the crew of Slapshot, I have a brown drink on order for your finish.

Track Slapshot’s progress here! Boat name Slapshot 124

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a belated 4th of july.

14 Jul PhotoGrid_1405283456760

It was a busy 4th of July weekend up in the High Country, punctuated with lots and lots of patriotic visitors from the Front Range, a Dark Star Orchestra concert at the Lake Dillon Ampitheater, a nutrious donut breakfast with the Provost family at the dock, and an epic firework session that withstood the torrential downour that occured minutes before the fireworks were to be lit.

I hope you and yours had a wonderful weekend honoring our great nation and those who have fought to keep it so.

Here’s a glimpse into our weekend!

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the peruvian chronicles, the jungle.

13 Jul

I never knew I had a preference.

I mean, I’ve always known that I love being outside; being in the presence of something bigger than myself and the little dramas that make up my life. Whether it be the desert, the mountains, Lake Michigan, heck, a gum-filled sidewalk in the middle of Chicago, I would always rather be there than inside.

So as we continued our descent deeper and deeper into the Peruvian jungle, in the midst of leafy green ferns and mammoth avocados that hung pregnant from the lush Avocado Trees, I was somewhat surprised at my indifferent, albeit appreciative reaction to life below 11,000 feet in the Andes.

Now don’t get me wrong, the humidity and heat beating down on your bare skin from the hot, equatorial sun was beyond refreshing after a few days in the snow and rain, and the flowers and birds? Holy cow. Everywhere you looked cheery greens and yellows flitted by overhead and violet and white orchids wound their way out of the thicket.

There was a relaxed meandering mindset that punctuated our trek down and into the lower Cloud Forest, which was the perfect opposition to the determined pace of the previous few days as we made our way up and over Salkantay Pass. As it turns out, it’s less of a challenge to wander through a lush green rainforest taking in surprise sightings of wild turkeys (distant relation to the Peruvian Mountain Turkey, which by the way, has made several visits to Summit County, CO…), hummingbirds, begonias, and puya cacti, than it is to climb a glacier garbed head to foot in garbage bags.

And the bugs. Ew. Ick. Blargh.

I have never been a bug fan, but some of the creepy crawlers that crossed our path were fairly impressive in both size and color.

And while the bugs and the birds and the flowers piqued my curiosity and the company kept me giggling, a little part of me wanted to head back in to the wilds of the Vilcabamba Mountain Range. Feel the enveloping sense of drama exuded by Salkantay and Humantay as they preside over the valley, the contrast of the jungle greens melding with the grays and whites of the glaciers, and the pinks and oranges of the setting sun illuminating the craggy peaks as they touched the sky.

Now this may comes as a shock to those of you who know me, but as it turns out, the mountains seem to be my preference.

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W-I-L-D flowers.

9 Jul

I caught a glimpse of one of last winter’s numerous “snowpocalypse” weekends and thought to myself,

“I wonder why I was so over the snow”

Then, I saw these babies and remembered that summer has just begun.

summer

“sunday”

1 Jul

Today I went for a “Sunday” stroll.

Sunday is a relative term, as my Sundays tend to fall on Tuesdays, but that’s besides the point.

My “Sunday stroll” began later in the morning, as most things planned for a “Sunday” should.

The morning was warm. Warm enough for shorts and t-shirts. A cool breeze blew off the swift moving water of Deer Creek, kicking the scent of decomposing pine needles and Aspen leaves up into the clear Rocky Mountain air. 

Rocks and boulders disturbed by the melting snowpack littered the trail and a perpetual trickle of snow melt carved a deep groove in the soil, washing the dust from our boots as we wandered our way up into the woods. 

There wasn’t a soul in sight, but for the creatures of the wild lingering in the shade of the dense Lodgepole forest. Only the the singsong twitter of the birds, the rush of the water pouring over beaver dams before settling back into the creek bed, and the whistle of the wind winding its way through the trees.

Somewhere along our stroll, we picked up another dog. A dog whose name was Lucky and whose tag requested that Lucky be dropped back off in Montezuma after our hike. No phone number, no address, just a brief note from the town that Lucky calls his own. 

Lucky, Abbey and Rome raced up the hillside, laughing in the steely face of Red Cone. Whipping their way through the pinks and blues and reds of the wildflowers that claimed the marshlands. Galloping after marmots and pika and galumphing into the creek for refreshing dip, before sprinting off to “tree” the next squirrel that crossed their path. 

The five of us lunched in a grass green valley, complimented by Indian Paintbrush that glowed orange among the the grays of the rock and green of the grass.

The sky was blue. Bluer than I’ve ever seen it, with not a cloud on the horizon. The sunshine blew soft kisses over our cool skin, warming it as the breeze flurried through the air.

Glacier Mountain towered over us five, while the mighty peaks of Grays and Torreys stood a silent watch over the valley; and while we are but a few small peoples in the midst of the wild world, we were secure in our Sunday stroll.

 

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so here’s the thing about new jobs…

28 Jun

They take over your life!

I’ve essentially moved into the Inn at Keystone…ala “Eloise“, which doesn’t leave a whole lot of time for short stories about the magic of Peru. Having said that, that last few episodes of “the peruvian chronicles” are in the works, but in the meantime here’s a snapshot of the last few weeks. Come visit, I happen to know the manager at a cute little mountain hotel :).

In training for the USA Pro Challenge

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Frisco BBQ Challenge

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Hummingbird visitor off the deck

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Good morning from the Inn at Keystone

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Hike up to the 7:30 Mine in Silver Plume, CO

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Abbey Road and Gucci pup

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Summer storm over Lake Dillon, Dillon, CO

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Tommy moved next door! 

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Ska Brewing Company, Vinifera Stout 

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Drinks with the girls at The Warming Hut

yum

 

 

the peruvian chronicles, day 4…RATED PG-13

19 Jun

12 times. 

I had been up hustling, with my headlamp aglow, between my soft, warm bed and the cool tiles of the bathroom floor.
 
12 times. 
 
And no, I wasn’t really feeling any better; in fact it felt as if I had taken an invisible sucker punch to the gut.
 
Alas, the show must go on and an eight mile descent from the “Peruvian Flats” at 12,900 vertical feet to the Cloud Forest at an elevation of 9,414 feet, was on the books for the day.
 
So I popped a few Imodium, sucked down some Gatorade, and strapped on my big girl boots, all while silently praying to the travel gods that there would be some good “potty breaks” on the trail.
 
Outside the sun’s early morning rays danced atop the razor sharp edges of the Vilcabamba Range. Donkeys and mules brayed as porters loaded the animals with luggage, food and water. And although it was was crisp 32°, the heavy, wet air from the jungle that lay just below, mingled with the cool mountain air causing water particles to cling to what little oxygen they could find at nearly 13,000 feet above sea level. 
 
It was a blue bird day, a complete 180° from the weather that the GBB encountered the day before crossing Salkantay Pass. And as we trekked downhill the excited chatter and good-natured banter that had accompanied us during the first few days of the trip, returned.
 
It was no secret that I was feeling a little…ahem…shitty. So each time I fell behind for a “photo opp”, a series of fart noises would emanate from my brother, Tommy, as he wandered ahead, keeping pace with the group. Laughter would ensue and then I would be left in peace to take care of business. 
 
As we descended, our scenery evolved from snow and ice and dramatic glaciers that nearly touched the sky, to a thick overlay of ferns and towering trees creating a canopy under which we strolled. Bulbous avocados littered the ground and hung heavy on drooping branches. Orchids, rhododendrons, Lady Slippers and Lupine decorated the scenery bringing a wide range of magentas, sky blues, happy yellows and oranges to the endless greenery.
 
As we reached our final destination, perched high atop a steep hill overlooking an orchid garden and the vibrant Colpapampa Valley, brightly colored hummingbirds flitted in and out and around our heads; perhaps in greeting, perhaps in defense, but nonetheless providing the group with a feeling of lightness and joy.
 
On a side note…don’t drink the water.
 
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