Nov 8, 2010

Visiting Michigan's Third Coast

John and I had never heard of the “Third Coast” until we planned to visit Harbor Country in Michigan. John had signed up to learn how to surf and paddleboard with Third Coast Surf Shop in New Buffalo. It was on his Bucket List. Surfing on a lake sounds so much safer and easier than surfing in an ocean – no rip tides or sharks. As we were flying over Lake Michigan, John looked down at the lake and commented, “I don’t see any surfers.” He had read in Outside magazine that it was one of the best places to learn to surf.

John’s Surfing 101 Group Lesson started with learning how to the carry the board from the transport vehicle to the beach. The easiest way is on the one’s back. It was fall time and the water was cold even though the weather was nice so he had to don a wet suit. On the beach the class learned the fundamentals of surfing and water safety. The group was instructed how to paddle out by laying on their stomach and how to stand up on the board once they caught a wave – that’s the tricky part. John walked the board out but a wave took it back into the shore so he had to walk to the shore to retrieve it. After several attempts at standing up on the board he found it more fun to ride the wave in on his stomach.

In the afternoon he was off for Stand UP Paddleboarding 101. We had never heard of this sport but I am sure it will show up in more places – places with flat, slow moving water. Paddle boarding started in Hawaii and is a growing sport. It is relatively easy to do with a little practice. The paddle board is essentially an oversized surfboard but a little wider and thicker. It is more stable than an average surfboard. And, it had with a small slot in the middle for easier carrying. Again in his wet suit he set out for a serene paddle on the Galien River near New Buffalo, Michigan. “I really enjoyed the quiet and scenery. A great way to explore a river or lake,” John shared his adventurous day with me while dining at the Stray Dog Bar & Grill.

But the water fun wasn’t over for John. The next day he was up at o’dark thirty to go fishing with Sea Hawks Charter on the St. Joseph River for Chinook salmon, Coho salmon, Steelheads, and Lake Trout with Capt. Clark. “I didn’t catch anything because it was between seasons but I really enjoyed being on the river. It was a beautiful fall day.” After lunch John was back on the Galien River with Ryan Gerard of Third Coast Surf Shop. “This was my favorite day,” John explained when we met up for an wonderful dinner that featured local produce at the Brentwood Tavern, the restaurant at Marina Grand, the sister property of the Harbor Grand where we were staying. “Nothing beats a peaceful day fishing or kayaking on a tranquil river in the fall.”

You might wonder what I was doing while John was having all this water fun. I had my own kind of fun visiting art galleries, local farms, and wineries. Phew, it was tough but someone had to do it!