Friday, June 27, 2014

Done! Bucket list #30

Several years ago I read a human interest story Neal Rubin wrote about a family who swam in all five Great Lakes in one day. It sounded interesting and like something that I would like to attempt someday. Coincidentally the summer solstice was on a Saturday this year, so Bill and I made concrete plans to do it. We met a few people along the way who doubted it was even possible. It took 13 1/2 hours (granted we stopped twice for coffee and once for sit-down lunch), but it's definitely possible, with good planning.

Our route was very deliberate and went east to west, knowing the western side of the time zone would be light a few minutes later. The goal was - obviously - to drive the least number of miles between lakes. It would be significantly shorter if we could hit the first three lakes from the Canadian side, so on Friday we headed toward Toronto and immediately we got off to a bad start. We had to wait about 20 minutes to get through customs at the Ambassador Bridge. We weren't stopped, and there was no problem, just a lot of cars trying to get through. Immediately thereafter we ran into massive construction getting onto the 401. What normally takes 10 minutes took almost two hours :( Would it have been better from the tunnel? Probably.

We stayed in Oakville on Friday so we'd be right there on Saturday. The original plan was to swim in Hamilton, but our hotel was less than five minutes from the lake, so we went while we were there. It wasn't a beach. It was really rocky and no one else was in the lake. The woman who took our photo implied we were crazy haha It was so cold (and rocky) that I made it to mid-thigh and decided it was enough. I didn't need to get my hair wet when it was only 61 degrees!

Next stop was Lake Erie, which was more beachlike, and the nicest experience of the day because it was warm and at a beach. We didn't stay long though.

Lake Huron was soooooo cold! It was cool and windy and the water was freezing! That was a quick visit :)

(I was very deliberate in making sure Lake Huron and Lake Michigan were different. Had we swam right at / under the Mackinaw Bridge, haters would claim it was only one lake, or it was cheating. Just for fun, we took this photo the next day, but on Saturday it was five distinct lakes.)

The longest drive would be up to Lake Michigan in Petoskey. We made it there around 6:30 and the beach was largely deserted. The man who took our photo works at a medical complex in Southgate. Of course he does - I meet Michiganders everywhere in the world, so it was only fitting that I'd meet someone from my hometown while traveling in Michigan.

The final drive was through the Upper Peninsula and was getting close to sunset. We were the only car in the parking lot and the beach was super small - maybe 4 feet from the water to the tree line. There was a boat launch, and the water at the beach was all rocks, so we "swam" from the boat launch. Lake Superior was beautiful, but very buggy!

Lake Superior. We were in a super small corner of the lake in a bay area.
Here is the original route, for anyone who wants to try this:

Lake Ontario
Beachway Park
1100 Lakeshore RD
Hamilton, Ontario

Lake Erie
Main Beach
202 Main St.
Port Stanley, Ontario

Lake Huron
Canatara Beach
1200 Lake Chipigan Drive
Sarnia, Ontario

Lake Michigan
Petoskey State Park
2475 State Route 119
Petoskey, Michigan

Lake Superior
Brimley State Park
9200 West 6-mile RD
Brimley, Michigan

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