Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Couple that Paints Together . . . Finally Has a Launch Date

Well, Meridian is all cleaned, polished, waxed and bottom-painted. Phil did the polishing and waxing, but Bernie came along to demonstrate her painting skills when it came time to add a coat of bottom paint. And you should have seen us . . . we wore our matching painter's caps, which was just so cute. Every couple that paints together wears matching caps, don't they? They don't match anymore though. Phil's has paint all over the top while Bernie's has a little speck that you can maybe see if you look closely and squint really hard.

Unfortunately, Meridian threw a little tantrum with Bernie. Apparently, she was upset that Bernie never came to visit her over the winter so she gave Bernie a bump on the head with her swim platform.

That was Sunday morning.

On Monday, we took our bicycles to Roscoe Village Bikes to have them tuned up for the trip. Roscoe Village Bikes is a small independent bike shop here in Chicago. Bernie knew of it because the co-owner used to work at the Greater Chicago Food Depository with her. This is the first time we've used them, but they seem to be a really good bike shop. Had we not taken the bikes there, we'd have taken them to the Quick Release Bike Shop here in Chicago. Phil has used them over the years (all the way back to 1981 when they were on Webster Avenue. They've been to at least three other locations since then). They are another really good independent bicycle shop here in Chicago.

Then on Tuesday we drove up to the REI in Northbrook to pick up the kayak we bought about a month ago. If you do any kind of outdoor activity, we highly recommend checking out REI. The service there (at least at this store) is phenomenal. The sales people are extremely knowledgeable and helpful. We haven't experienced that kind of service at a large retail location in a very long time. We can't say enough good things about REI. Just as an example, the person who helped us load the kayak on our Highlander Hybrid happened to own a Highlander Hybrid himself. The HH requires you to screw in tow hooks to the front bumper to serve as tie downs for the front of the kayak. Unfortunately, the HH only comes with one tow hook. The sales person actually lent us the one from his SUV so we could properly tie the kayak down for the trip back to Chicago! You just don't see that kind of service very often.

About the kayak: it's a Wilderness Systems Pamlico 135. We haven't used it yet, so can't give much in the way of a review. Hopefully, there will be some pictures of it (and, even more hopefully, with us in it!) showing up on the blog during the summer. We fully expect our first experience launching and boarding it from Meridian to be worth a blog entry by itself. Especially if it's like our ordeal when loading it onto Meridian.

When we drove up to Northbrook it was nice and sunny. As we finished loading the kayak on top of our Highlander, it began sprinkling. It gradually rained harder and harder on the return trip to Chicago where, apparently, Meridian was the epicenter of the Great Chicago Downpour of 2008. But we were on a schedule, so Phil climbed up into Meridian and pulled out the foul weather gear. Then we went to work removing the kayak from the roof of our SUV, carrying it to Meridian, and lifting it (with ropes) the sixteen feet onto Meridian's forward deck. By the time we finished we were soaked. And, maybe, one of us was a little cranky. OK, maybe both of us.

With that complete, we are now hard at work loading stuff from our condo onto Meridian, cleaning the condo, preparing food, and basically just getting ready.

Oh, and we have a launch date . . . Monday June 9. Only five more days!!!

After launching, Meridian will float by the dock at Canal Street Marina and Yacht Yard for a couple days as we do our final preparations. Then, hopefully, on Wednesday 6/11 we gas up and move her into a slip in one of the Chicago harbors - preferably, here at DuSable. Then, if all goes well, we cross Lake Michigan on Thursday 6/12 and the adventure continues . . .

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