We are in New York City! About to leave for New Jersey so we can launch the SUP’s and circumnavigate the Statue of Liberty.
Since Matt and Brad have joined the trip, the adventure has taken on a different feel. And it’s not necessarily Matt and Brad joining that has changed the feel; it’s the fact that there are tons of people. It’s all about people. The hosts we had in Boston, Rhode Island, and Connecticut all added value to this adventure. The support and enthusiasm is overwhelming. Thank you to Stacy Mac for putting together a great group of paddlers to join us in the Boston Harbor. Included in the group was Jon, aka “Chino”, the only board shaper in Boston. Check him out at www.bostonsurf.com You can also check out Stacy at www.supsonas.com In Rhode Island we had John from http://www.paddleboardri.com guide us through downtown Providence. The paddle included going under a mall! Meet up with John as soon as you can. He’s moving west and we look forward to hosting John. In Connecticut we had Frank guide us through the Thimble Islands. Frank is a fellow teacher, coach, and ocean lover.
Again, thank you to all that have added to our experience. It really is all about people and relationships.
I am sure you have heard that Montana is Big Sky Country. I don't why. The sky appears to be closer--like it is trying to lick the luscious green landscape. Don't get me wrong, the sky is expansive; it is blue, deep blue, but it looks like a lid over the green valleys just waiting to stick its tongue down and lick. When I think of big, I think the sky would appear to have more depth. Like I said, the sky in Montana, as was in the other northern midwest states, is closer to the land. Just as the people in those states appear to me closer to the land: they make a living off of it, own acres of it, and do most of their recreating on it.
The people in Montana, Wyoming, and South and North Dakotas have a sense of community that is endearing. For example, while driving through Wyoming and listening to the radio, the owner of a car dealership announced the hiring of "Lisa" as a new sales associate and the Chief of Staff of the local hospital announced the hiring of a new orthopedic surgeon. When was the last time we heard of a hiring on the radio in California? And get this, The County Bounty, a newspaper, advertised why you should consider using their classifieds: "We reach 18,000 households, making us a juggernaut in advertising."
And in Murdo, South Dakota the people are mean, but they are proud. One lady, Mandy, who returns each summer to vacation with her kids and visit with her mom, explained why she feels people in Murdo are mean. "They never have been out of this county. Everyone knows everyone's business. They never socialize outside the 800 hundred that live here." For the record, I looked it up. Murdo, in the county of Jones South Dakota, only had 488 residents in the 2010 Census. But I am sure Mandy knows better, and she probably knows each of the new 312 residents. She has a different view of visitors to Murdo and Jones county. Rather than see them as intruders, she sees opportunities to learn, to connect, and to extend hospitality.
But Mandy is unusual and serves as a contrast to her fellow Dakotans. But that is what makes the Dakotas so interesting--the sharp contrasts that make entertaining juxtapositions. In front of a cemetery next to the interstate, a massive white billboard shouts, "Abortion Kills." It made me wonder what else killed the people in the graves just below the orthodox sign. The American Legion maintains markers on the side of the road where people have died due to alcohol related accidents. Another example, there was a kid wearing a shirt that said, "That was undude of you" only to learn he has never heard of "The Big Lebowski". The people in the Dakotas refer to Chicago as a different state than Illinois and they proudly let you know that four seasons of weather can take place in one day in Jones County.
And when I arrived in Chicago it's clear why the Dakotans see Chicago as a different state than Illinois. There are tons of strangers, people in hurries, and noise. Tons of noise. That is what I notice in the cities. Life thrives and if you look you will find plenty of animals and fauna, but the noise is the major difference. And cities make the simple complicated. I treated myself to a hotel in Chicago and the check-in process was complicated: too many questions asked and everything had a surcharge.
I hope tonight I will have the opportunity to write and post reflections. It's exhausting having to constantly track weather reports and examine radar in order to predict good times to paddle. This has been going on since South Dakota. Yet, I have gratitude that I have been able to find gaps in the weather--it's just causing some extra driving and slight changes in paddle locations.