Day 58: The Finish Line

The moon rises out of the forest in the east as I drive south on US 131 towards Grand Rapids

 

I woke early Sunday morning, it was dark out, and Ivy barked. Not the bark I had learned that meant she needed to go, but a different bark. I opened the door and there was Beth coming in from the race – it was 4:36 AM and she and William had just gotten home from following the race. 

The Ausable River Canoe Marathon is nicknamed the toughest spectator sport and is well deserved. The race had started at nine, some seven hours earlier, and it was still going. I talked with her briefly before climbing back in bed and she said she had been to Mio Dam some thirty or so miles downriver and watched as the paddlers portaged their canoes. Portage means to get out of the canoe, carry it over the dam, and put it back in the water. To a geographer a portage is the point where goods need to be changed from one mode of transportation to another. Regardless, she described it as wild and witnessing it further ingrained the concept of the canoe marathon as a larger than life sporting event, almost super-human. We both went to sleep and as soon as my head hit the pillow, I was gone, again. 

The Ausable River from Grayling to Oscoda - Mio is #5 on the map

 

I woke a few hours later and climbed out of bed, careful not to make any noise lest I disturb anyone, even Ivy. It was 7:30. I started the coffee and opened the computer. I found the transistor radio beside the computer; the batteries were dead. I went to the cupboard, found fresh ones, and replaced them. I tuned in Y100 FM and the strains of country music faintly filled the room. I checked the web and learned the leaders of the race had cleared Five Channels Dam and were leading by more than ten minutes. They were the first canoe through at Borcher’s and had lead the entire race. 

It was the final day of the Tour de France as well. The final leg of the race finishes in Paris with laps up, down, along the Chaps Elyse from the Place de Concorde to the Arc de Triomphe over cobblestone like pavement. I cannot image how that would feel. Soon after I got up, Olivia woke and wanted to go to Kris and Nicks. I told her it was too early and I would call at 9:30, to see if it was all right to come and play with the boys. She waited and at 9:30, I called. It was okay and she took off down the lake. Beth and William were still asleep and I was determined to keep it that way. An hour passed, I worked, I wrote, I listened, and kept an eye out for the Champs Elyse. Finally, at 10:45 I woke Beth – “If you want to catch the end of the race and see the Champs Elyse, you had better get up.” And she did. 

I had finished writing the blog for Saturday describing Friday’s events and had been working on piecing the video together. I used pictures Beth took and pictures from my camera, giving the video two different perspectives for each scene – the start, Rayburn Lodge, and the finish. Once I had the pictures together, I put in sound track “The Finish Line” by Train. I realized I could snip the audio to shorten the length of the video and I did. I checked it, once, twice, and I was almost tired of the song by the time I was done. By that time, it was already afternoon and the race was over. Steve Lajoie and Andrew Treibold had won the race by fourteen minutes. It was their third consecutive win. The Tour de France was over and I needed to finish my project, pack, and get on the road home. I still wanted to have a fun day and I guess I did, it was just fun putting the video together and posting it to YouTube. 

To see William’s face when he realized he was on YouTube was priceless. He was so excited he got Allison and showed her. The time counted, it made a difference. 

Beth and William had gone to the dump and to town. Olivia had had the boys over to play Wii, and was now playing down at their cabin. I quietly got ready to leave; I cleaned up, folded clothes, and packed. Before Beth had left, I had shucked corn and cleaned beets. The beets were done and I made pickled beets and eggs. A few years ago, I would have not touched these, but now I find them very tasty and a summer staple. Even the kids enjoy them. I will get a chance to enjoy them when I come back Thursday. 

I left for Wheaton. The sun was setting in the west. By the time I reached US 131 at Reed City it was a bright orange ball slowly drifting into the trees and it was gone. Rising in the east was the moon. Round and light orange, it rose out of the trees higher and higher into the evening sky. As it rose, it became whiter and less orange and seemed to get smaller. The day was ending. It was a good day. I had miles to go before I slept and driving 300 plus miles gives one an opportunity to think, reflect, and surprisingly, renew. Tomorrow is gonna be a great day. 

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