This trip has been amazing. The views, the people, the pure joy of being on the water, but there might not be a week yet that I’ve enjoyed as much as this one.
Knowing for awhile that my buddy and best friend Sam Bales was going to be joining me on the water, I had been looking forward to this stretch for quite some time. I’m fortunate enough to have a great family and so many great friends…but Sam has been my go to guy since college.
We played football together at Ohio Dominican and from the moment I met him I hated his guts. Why…I’m not sure. And I’m sure he didn’t like me all that well either when I tripped up a D-Lineman in practice and the dude fell on Sam’s ankle and broke it. From the beginning it definitely wasn’t what you call friendship at 1st sight.
The funny thing about it all though, is by the end of that freshman year, you would have never known we ever hated each other. Maybe the friendship grew from the long days on the football field that 1st year at ODU, or the evening prank calls to the girls floor telling them we were the maintenance crew and needed for them to move all their chairs, desks, and furniture out to the hallway so we could do the yearly inspections. Or of course it could have been the hours we spent in little old Alum Creek, as he taught me how to fish…and then I began slowly out fishing him every time!
As broke college kids, our adventures entailed blowing up $4 dollar boats from Big Lots and riding down the creek (and dams). As our bank accounts grew, so did the level of adventure and stupidity we added to the mix. It was his bright idea to hike the Smokey Mountains in early spring without food a few years back. “Don’t worry, we will catch fish”, he said. Zero fish and a week later, that 1st Big Adventure would go down as definitely one to remember.
Countless other trips later, it has only added to the bond and truly made him like a brother to me. That’s why this week has been so awesome. Getting to hang out with this guy is always a blast…but when it means paddling by dunes, pristine swimming beaches and neat little towns…it’s hard to top that. Sure has been a welcome change from paddling by myself all the time.
And if having Sam out here wasn’t enough to make this week amazing, my dude Mike Enright really hooked us up. I taught with Mike when I was in Columbus. Getting to kick his butt at tennis back in the day was always a blast, so when I knew he would be up in Manistee for vacation, I knew we had to meet up some how.
Not only did he just meet up, he really hooked us up. He gave us a ride to shuttle Sam’s car down from Frankfort to South of Manistee where he was staying. Then offered for us to crash at the beach house for a day after paddling down the coast. Because of him, Sam was able to come out and paddle without worrying about how to get the truck or back to it. It was great just to get to see him, but he went way above and beyond for us, just showing how great a guy he is. I know I owe him a couple rounds of golf for sure when I get back…and I even might let him win.
A huge thank you also goes out to Sam’s amazing wife Amy for continuing to let him hang out with me. My mom said she used to get mad at my dad when he went off on business conferences for a weekend. Just goes to show how supportive Amy Bales is, to let her husband go out on week long adventures while she watches the 4 little girls at home. If he married anyone else, I don’t know if our friendship is what it is today.
So as day 65 hits today, I get to spend one last day with my buddy, before he heads back to Ohio and the real world filled with work and dirty diapers. While I wish he could stay out on the trip longer, I think he has had enough of Big Adventure… at least for a bit.
Time for one more legendary day with this dude before we say so long for now!