The process of erosion is quite an interesting process. Well, it is not interesting to watch, not even on time lapse. But the end process can be quite interesting to see. Different types of dirt, sand and rock, are weathered down in different climates to create some unique natural features. In the case if the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, sandstone, eroded by constant waves from Lake Superior have created a series of “sea caves”. The arrangement of these sea caves is actually constantly changing. New “sea caves” are created and old ones are destroyed periodically throughout the region. The ice that forms on the lake can speed up this process as water expands when it freezes.
I actually own 16 DeLorme state atlases. I pretty much own all of the Midwest states and many of the mountain states. These atlases are a great resource for both outdoor recreation, as well as storm chasing. When I was at the headquarters of the Adventure Cycling Association, I actually saw that they have a whole pile of these atlases as well. They are quite great for everything except urban areas. In each atlas is a listing of places such as campgrounds, lakes and rivers for fishing, ski resorts, etc. Each atlas also has a listing of “unique natural features”. I wonder, not only what constitutes a “unique natural feature”, but also what makes us so drawn to them. Are we bored of the features we encounter on a regular basis? And, how unique are they? Couldn’t sea caves like this form pretty much anywhere along a lake where the soil has primarily been crushed into sandstone by geological processes? Well, maybe that is a rare condition. But, I still wonder what draws us to travel to see them, and any other “unique natural feature”.
Friday’s activity was kayaking in the sea caves, a trip organized by Living Adventure Inc. out of Red Cliff, WI. This trip is quite neat, as they take participants out on kayaks. Tour guides direct the participants to some of the neatest sea caves along the Lake Superior tour. We were even able to kayak through some of them, and into this area known as “the crack”. This agency also offers multi-day tours that travel to the islands. The tour guides were quite knowledgeable too, and described to me the geological process that created these features, which islands had the most interesting sea caves, as well as how many bears each island has! I really did not know anyone tracked bear populations to this level of detail. The only thing I really know about bears is the saying “If it’s black fight back, if it’s brown, lie down”. I guess that is the important part, as to help you not get killed by a bear, but it still surprised me that there were a lot of bears here. I thought they were mainly out west, and remember seeing all of the bear related warnings in and around Yellowstone National Park.
I went on this kayak trip with a group of 8, all of us attendees of Saturday’s wedding in Bayfield, WI. Up until about a year ago, several of us all lived in Chicago and worked for AonBenfield. We had frequent social events throughout the city, and got to know each other quite well. It was really a fun time of my life, and I miss all of the people I encountered this weekend greatly. But life brings about changes from time to time. No matter how much people would like to think otherwise, we are not in total control of our lives. Some people believe in God, or a system of gods, or some kind of external force that guides our life paths. Others believe in a concept known as “fate”, something best addressed in that Gwyneth Paltrow movie “Sliding Doors”. But even those that don’t believe can still acknowledge that many of the events that have the largest impact on your life are completely out of our control. Sometimes it is a decision made by people that are more important than you in a company you work for, other times it is a natural event, like a gigantic storm. Either way, you can’t control what happens to you in life, you can only control how you respond.
And, if it is your response that builds character, than I am personally doing a terrible job of it. As I sit here in my hotel room, preparing to depart for home, my thoughts keep dwelling on all of the people I was hanging out with over the past few days. I was actually quite sad at the end of last night when I had to say goodbye to everyone. In fact, I do periodically think about my old life back in Chicago. I know some people have moved on, and others are looking to move on. The past cannot be recreated, and change is inevitable. I really need to look more towards the future. But, the way I had my life in a rhythm back in Chicago, especially the summer of 2011, when there was always something going on, and I still managed to train for and complete a century ride. Well, it is something that will definitely be missed. Having lots of people that honestly care about me, and appreciate me for who I am (which can be quite ridiculous sometimes), is something that is definitely appreciated. I don’t know what to say except that one fact of life is that there is a first and last to everything, and I truly hope that there were no “lasts” this weekend.
Sometimes it is the little things that you remember most about an event. Over the course of this past month, I have had plenty of opportunities to sharpen my rock skipping skills. On the kayak trip, we stopped at an island to eat lunch. On the island, we had some extra time, and I started skipping rocks. Others joined in from time to time. At one point in time, I actually skipped a rock that was about the size of my hand. I was even shocked that this rock actually skipped. My friend Liz described it as “the most awesome thing I’ve ever seen in my life”, which was definitely an exaggeration.
I was also proud of myself for helping a couple of others with their rock skipping. This goes back to leadership skills I have been pondering over the past year. If you think about the role of any leader, from someone that organizes trips to upper management/ CEO figures, one important aspect of their job is developing the skills of others. This involves knowing when to step aside and trust someone else to get a job done. A leader of this nature cannot possibly have involvement in all of the details of every project in all that they oversee. They must know when to let go a little and trust others, but also know when to step in and assist. I gave my wife Abby a couple of basic pointers that helped her with rock skipping, and was glad to see her succeed. Also, when handed a rock for skipping by Kristin, my good friend Quaid’s girlfriend and date for the wedding, I handed it back to her and let her skip it herself, and she was also successful. I know it is something stupid like skipping rocks, but I was proud of myself for revisiting the urge to try and do everything. This is a trait that can really limit one’s leadership ability, as well as annoy those that report to them. People who end up working for managers that do not know how to step aside and trust people with tasks also typically end up struggling to develop. Overall, it is a lose-lose, but I know it is hard for some to resist the urge to step into everything. This weekend it is skipping a rock, but maybe later it will be something more substantial. At least I did one thing right!
-Photos Credited to Sneha Soni-