Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Wilbo Passes His Summer among the Landings of the Muskegon River and the Ports and Quays of Lake Muskegon.

A powerful storm arrives with wind and clouds, raindrops certain to follow. A first drop has splashed on my knuckle. So has a darning needle, a small dragonfly, chosen to touch and go land on my knuckle. A friend who owns a popular Blues club, Mal from Dreamers, has vowed to catch a few big fish before the rain douses the dock, makes the unpainted wood slippery. A minute lag between the flash and thunder means the core of the storm has drawn near.

Every summer, finding a summertime place in June pays off by August, and the docklands of Lake Muskegon have given me a place to escape. The power plant nearby has a deep port for welcoming lakers full of coal; Consumers Power has promised to tear down the old brick structure within two years. Fisherman's Landing has a deep slip and on the other side of the water, the Verplank yards have piles of what might be road salt, ready for the upcoming winter. On the far side of the piles, another port where Ruddiman Creek flows into the lake. I am contemplating taking the Kayak up the creek soon, wondering if the tunnels under Business US-31 are passable, maybe rife with spiders.

The clouds at Eight had a portentous look, and north of here a water spout spun through the State Park. A local caught the water tornado crossing Scenic Drive and reported the image to the weather service. I've heard about these spouts striking the Muskegon coast. I have yet to be confronted by one.

Sunday night, as dark claimed the surface of the waters, I kayaked out of the south branch of the Muskegon River and decided to make for Terrace Point Marina, imagining a pint for all my paddling on the outdoor deck of the Lake House Restaurant. The ten stories of Shoreline Inn was shining with palatial brightness and the lone house of a new neighborhood had light glowing from two second floor windows. I made for those landmarks, and encountered headwind and waves that broke over my bow. For a new kayak, I had invested my trust in her hull and trim. For a moment, I glimmered with insight, the native paddling out on a vision quest, determined to harpoon a whale. I knew the wind that contested my forward progress could easily carry me into the arms of Fisherman's Landing, my body enough sail to propel my craft. The idea of a tall pint kept me paddling, maybe a pour from Paddle Hard in Grayling? A low flying flock of nine Canadian Geese soared just off the right blade of my paddle.

As I turned into the mouth of Terrace Point Marina, gazing at Max McKee's freighter moored at the Mart Dock raised a challenge in my mind. I could make for it, pass three more ports, and arrive virtually at my doorstep, the Four Green Fields of Heritage Landing. A lagoon, the inlet crossed by a bridge surmounted by a pergola, awaited at the landing to welcome me home. However, my arms had fatigued and the calm waters of the marina offered refuge and relief.

The docklands, the boomlands and the Muskegon River landings have made my doorway into this summer and night cannot wipe their features from my imagination.
— at Fisherman's Landing Launch and Campground.

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