It was an adventure I'll never forget and it changed me forever. It was the summer between my junior and senior year.
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I planned all summer and spent hours getting the boat and trailer in perfect condition. My friend, Joel, was to accompany me to the regatta. It was held in Muskegon, Michigan, and it would take over eight hours to drive there. We would leave Thursday night and drive through the night. I was very excited because all the sailors had said that CatFight would be, if nothing else, a great learning experience. Thursday I spent all day getting gear packed and preparing for the eight-hour drive. We left a little later than planned, around eleven, but at least we were on the road.
We planned to drive in shift although I feared Joel's driving ability, especially with a twenty-foot boat attached to the car, so I did my best to stay alert. Cleveland was our first detour. We seemed to have gotten off the freeway a little earlier than expected and took a scenic tour of southeast Cleveland. The view was a bit frightening, though there were many businesses, but most were gun-stores and liquor stores. Eventually we wandered back to I-90 and then off to the toll road for a quick journey to Toledo. The drive between Toledo and Cleveland was boring but I was too excited to feel fatigued.
We passed through Toledo at about two o'clock A. M. Once in Michigan the drive seemed to go quickly. It was only a few short hours to Detroit, then a seemingly extremely long drive across Michigan to Muskegon, located on mid-eastern Lake Michigan. After driving through Detroit I drew weary and Joel soon took over. Joel hadn't slept during the drive to Detroit, which worried me, but I soon was asleep in the passenger seat. When I awoke we were in Muskegon and the sun was rising. We passed mansion after mansion and soon were at the gates of the sailing club. Sailors were already eating breakfast and preparing their boats.
I can distinctly remember the fragrance of the lake it was like nothing I've ever smelled. It was a pure delightful aroma, which was quickly replaced by the musty smell of Joel and I. We had spent an entire night in a car and were not smelling too appeasing. Once in the parking lot we began the normal procedure setting up to race. The sailors were very friendly and helpful. The time seemed to pass so quickly it seemed like minutes and the racing for the day was already over. After the races of the first day we were exhausted. Neither of us had gotten over an hour of sleep in 36 hours.
We pulled the boat to shore, took down the sails and dove into bed. It was fairly early in the day only about three P. M. the cookout and party were just beginning but we were too tired to even notice. It wasn't until the next morning we awoke. We grabbed a quick breakfast and immediately were back on the lake. After the races we hung around for the party afterward. Sailors were telling stories of horrendous seas and other unbelievable tales. There was a wide range of people there from all over the world sailors came from as far as Australia and brought with them delightful tales from "down under".
The third and last day of the regatta was the quickest. Everyone was anxious to return home. The races were fast as always and afterward people sat around and exchanged stories and tips. All ninety boats were disassembled and put onto trailers where people from all over the nation would be returning home. It was a peaceful feeling to know that we sailed against the best in the nation and even beat a few of the best in the nation. Before we left I captured a few last pictures and then we began the last leg of the trip. The journey home was not as exciting because the anticipation was gone.
We knew that once we returned we would once again start another school year. It was more disappointing than anything else. As we entered Ohio the scenery distinctively changed and once near Ashtabula it seemed we had entered the wilderness. Back to the old routine, it was frightening. The regatta was fun and we learned a lot from the elder sailors but most importantly that life is about the experiences and stories
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