Thursday, July 26, 2007

Location, Location, Location

As with real estate, where a symposium is held is import in selling it to the paddlers. Based in two different states, there are pros and cons to the locations of the two symposiums under discussion.

Door County is held in Wisconsin at Rawley's Bay where the open end faces south onto Lake Michigan. It is shallow and getting shallower. This offers lots of area for instructors to stand in the water while working with students, however, the bottom is rocky and it is often too shallow for safe wet exits.

Grand Marais is on Michigan's Upper Peninsula on a bay that faces north onto Lake Superior. As the lake has receded, the water line has come closer to boats moored just off shore. There is a shallow shelf for instructing, then a drop off. There seems to be adequate space and deep enough water so that all classes function without annoying one another.

Purely out of convenience (for me), the drive to Door County is a whole lot less than the other. Aside from that, the Wisconsin location offers certain advantages: A lodge on site with its own excellent camp grounds. Food is available in the lodge. There is an ice cream store at the camp grounds. One is generally sleeping within a hundred yards of the water. In addition, trips to inland lakes and trip sites are short and generally less than 20 minutes. Most trips are a half day long, allowing for a half day of lessons.

Grand Marais has few motels (the Arbor Gate is on its last year since a condo will appear there next year...but I digress). There is a camp ground about 4 blocks from the beach.There are a few places to eat, the best (in my judgment) being a diner just to the east of town...a two block walk. Trips, unfortunately, put in at a site about 40 miles away. These trips are generally a day long.

(Beach on Lake Superior

outside Grand Marais harbor)

Door County has lousy launching over shallow water with a rock bottom. A carpet of artificial turf is floated to lessen the pain. One does have to carry the boat down a short embankment, and this is best done with two carrying the boat. On the other hand, Grand Marais is a wide open beach with easy launching. Unfortunately, it also guarantees you will have sand in everything by the end of the weekend.

At the end of the day, things between the two balance out. I would, however, have to vote for Door County on this one as it is so convenient. I must admit that it also offers a comfort factor in that I know so many of the folks who staff there. Hey, what would a symposium be without Nancy cracking the whip?

Tomorrow: classes.

Paddle safe...



DaveO said...

I would agree. You have to reaaallly want to go to Grand Marais and the day paddles at Pictured Rocks required 3 hours in the car. Scenery is spectacular however and the folks are very nice. Plus as you may surmise, I'm a Superior-o-phile. Speaking of which, you guys should consider a road trip to Two Harbors for the kayak festival next weekend. A large contingent of we SKOACers are heading up including RonO and myself. Methinks about 6.5 hours from Milwaukee.......

Silbs said...

Hey, daveo. JB and I resolved the travel problem by camping and paddling Picture Rocks between the sympsiums. As for you invite to the Two Harbors happening...I remind you that my wife's brother is a divorce attorney :)

JohnB said...

As my wife told someone recently, "we went from 'breathing space' to lots of 'breathing space'." No divorce attorneys in her family though ;))

This weekend we (Oz--my wife--and I) are off to Indiana (Back Home Again in Indiana) for our 40th high school reunion. Together with Oz in the car for 6+ hours each way will be a different experience than being with Silbs in the car for 6+ hours (but I digress. . .) ;)))

Saturday a group from our class are getting together to build a house (a Habitat for Humanity project). Something that I'm looking forward to, it's sort of a return to my community activist roots that I sprouted there back in the '60s when I was very involved.

Next week, watch for a return to my blogging (wait, I just did on Silbs' nickel) LOL !!!

Silbs said...

Good for you on the habitat work.Enjoy the trip (although I doubt Oz will sit by the fire and sip Irish Whiskey with you) :)

Michael said...

The ice cream stand would clinch the choice for me! LOL That and naturally who the presenters and instructors are. The actualy setting is less of a deal for me. Interesting set of posts!

Silbs said...

Oh sure, a famous circumnavigator- blogger-musician like you can get away with anything :)))

derrick said...

my spin on it, is I hate having to leave the grounds for stuff. Inland sea lets me walk from my tent to most events. Shopping and restaurants are close. Just have to drive to some presentations. Nice learning area right there. Some trips mean a bit of a drive, but it's worth it. maybe 20 minute drives sometimes.

Michigan is perfect with even presentations on site. all meals served there. entertainment, music, campfires. All right on site. Plus it's held on a warm inland lake which makes instruction a breeze. Comfortable for everyone.

Thing with door is that place is so expensive and the campground is far enough away to be a pain sometimes. Then town is way off. Also door has very few decent teaching areas for beginners. Places that are waist deep and protected from wind. Conditions can be challenging for students even in the bay. Driving 5 miles to a lake takes time too. Much to nancy's credit door is easily the most organized. Of course the down side is that "door is the most organized". LOL!

The new symposium in Chicago has some nice features, but getting to a store is a bit of a work out, and you are wise to stay in "your area". LOL.

Thing is everyone works within their region and target students, so there is a lot of options. Then each symposium has it's own personality depending on the organizers. Some like clean, businesslike symposiums while others see them as big paddle parties with instruction.

Wendy Killoran said...

Although I haven't attended the Door County Symposium, I must say that the setting, the people (presenters-instructors and attendees), and the restaurants and "Lickety Split" icecream parlour plus the diner only a block from the beach were great. The scenery is top notch. Lake Superior is outstanding. The sandy beach, sheltered, is a great place for classes and launching. Personally, I had a SUPER time at the Great Lakes Sea Kayak Symposium.

Silbs said...

You forgot to mention the positive effect of your presentation. I saw an awful lot of paddlers seeking you out afterwards and you spending lots of time answering their questions.

RoyM said...

Hi Silbs

everyone seems to have forgotten the fireworks display at Grand Marais. Short , but sweet :)

Best Wishes Always

Silbs said...

Right you are, Roy. And both had flare deomos as well!