Letters 10-24-2016

It’s Obama’s 1984 Several editions ago I concluded a short letter to the editor with an ominous rhetorical flourish: “Welcome to George Orwell’s 1984 and the grand opening of the Federal Department of Truth!” At the time I am sure most of the readers laughed off my comments as right-wing hyperbole. Shame on you for doubting me...

Gun Bans Don’t Work It is said that mass violence only happens in the USA. A lone gunman in a rubber boat, drifted ashore at a popular resort in Tunisia and randomly shot and killed 38 mostly British and Irish tourists. Tunisian gun laws, which are among the most restrictive in the world, didn’t stop this mass slaughter. And in January 2015, two armed men killed 11 and wounded 11 others in an attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. French gun laws didn’t stop these assassins...

Scripps’ Good Deed No good deed shall go unpunished! When Dan Scripps was the 101st District State Representative, he introduced legislation to prevent corporations from contaminating (e.g. fracking) or depleting (e.g. Nestle) Michigan’s water table for corporate profit. There are no property lines in the water table, and many of us depend on private wells for abundant, safe, clean water. In the subsequent election, Dan’s opponents ran a negative campaign almost solely on the misrepresentation that Dan’s good deed was a government takeover of your private water well...

Political Definitions As the time to vote draws near it’s a good time to check into what you stand for. According to Dictionary.com the meanings for liberal and conservative are as follows:

Liberal: Favorable to progress or reform as in political or religious affairs.

Conservative: Disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditions and limit change...

Voting Takes A Month? Hurricane Matthew hit the Florida coast Oct. 6, over three weeks before Election Day. Bob Ross (Oct. 17th issue) posits that perhaps evacuation orders from Governor Scott may have had political motivations to diminish turnout and seems to praise Hillary Clinton’s call for Gov. Scott to extend Florida’s voter registration deadline due to evacuations...

Clinton Foundation Facts Does the Clinton Foundation really spend a mere 10 percent (per Mike Pence) or 20 percent (per Reince Priebus) of its money on charity? Not true. Charity Watch gives it an A rating (the same as it gives the NRA Foundation) and says it spends 88 percent on charitable causes, and 12 percent on overhead. Here is the source of the misunderstanding: The Foundation does give only a small percentage of its money to charitable organizations, but it spends far more money directly running a number of programs...

America Needs Change Trump supports our constitution, will appoint judges that will keep our freedoms safe. He supports the partial-birth ban; Hillary voted against it. Regardless of how you feel about Trump, critical issues are at stake. Trump will increase national security, monitor refugee admissions, endorse our vital military forces while fighting ISIS. Vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence will be an intelligent asset for the country. Hillary wants open borders, increased government regulation, and more demilitarization at a time when we need strong military defenses...

My Process For No I will be voting “no” on Prop 3 because I am supportive of the process that is in place to review and approve developments. I was on the Traverse City Planning Commission in the 1990s and gained an appreciation for all of the work that goes into a review. The staff reviews the project and makes a recommendation. The developer then makes a presentation, and fellow commissioners and the public can ask questions and make comments. By the end of the process, I knew how to vote for a project, up or down. This process then repeats itself at the City Commission...

Regarding Your Postcard If you received a “Vote No” postcard from StandUp TC, don’t believe their lies. Prop 3 is not illegal. It won’t cost city taxpayers thousands of dollars in legal bills or special elections. Prop 3 is about protecting our downtown -- not Munson, NMC or the Commons -- from a future of ugly skyscrapers that will diminish the very character of our downtown...

Vote Yes It has been suggested that a recall or re-election of current city staff and Traverse City Commission would work better than Prop 3. I disagree. A recall campaign is the most divisive, costly type of election possible. Prop 3, when passed, will allow all city residents an opportunity to vote on any proposed development over 60 feet tall at no cost to the taxpayer...

Yes Vote Explained A “yes” vote on Prop 3 will give Traverse City the right to vote on developments over 60 feet high. It doesn’t require votes on every future building, as incorrectly stated by a previous letter writer. If referendums are held during general elections, taxpayers pay nothing...

Beware Trump When the country you love have have served for 33 years is threatened, you have an obligation and a duty to speak out. Now is the time for all Americans to speak out against a possible Donald Trump presidency. During the past year Trump has been exposed as a pathological liar, a demagogue and a person who is totally unfit to assume the presidency of our already great country...

Picture Worth 1,000 Words Nobody disagrees with the need for affordable housing or that a certain level of density is dollar smart for TC. The issue is the proposed solution. If you haven’t already seen the architect’s rendition for the site, please Google “Pine Street Development Traverse City”...

Living Wage, Not Tall Buildings Our community deserves better than the StandUp TC “vote no” arguments. They are not truthful. Their yard signs say: “More Housing. Less Red Tape. Vote like you want your kids to live here.” The truth: More housing, but for whom? At what price..

Home · Articles · News · Features · Paddle your own canoe
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Paddle your own canoe

Anne Stanton - September 28th, 2009
Paddle Your Own Canoe

By Anne Stanton 9/28/09

Dreams can take awhile to make their way to reality, but Stephen Brede, at age 58, decided it was time.
The Petoskey writer had always wanted to make a big canoe trip. So last winter, he planned a summer trip to circumnavigate Lake Huron, and on June 21, he pushed off.
Ruth, his wife, noted that his launch date coincided with their first wedding anniversary. That’s not to say, she wasn’t fully behind the effort and would have joined him, except that she didn’t feel she was a strong enough paddler.
In fact, she had her own worries about Brede, who had spent so much time planning the route, supplies, and equipment that he had little time to paddle or work out. She cautioned him to take it easy the first few weeks, particularly after hearing about a kayaker starting out this spring on a 3,800-mile Great Lakes expedition. The kayaker gave up after three weeks, plagued by tendon problems in his arms.
Stephen Brede said he had been long inspired by the late Verlen Kruger, a downstate Michigan plumber and father of nine who fell in love with long-distance paddling at the age of 41. He held the world record for miles paddled—more than 100,000 miles, or the equivalent of four times around the planet. Pause and imagine that for a minute.
Kruger died five years ago at the age of 82, not from a paddling accident, but from cancer.
When Kruger wasn’t paddling, he built and sold his own line of expedition canoes, and Brede felt lucky to find a used one for only $3,500 on Craigslist.

On Saturday, after 78 days on the water, Brede came back to his starting point in Mackinac City, where seven friends joined him for the five-mile paddle across the Straits from St. Ignace. Even more friends cheered him at the finish.

Here’s an interview with Stephen on his cell phone while he was still two days from his destination:
NE: So what’s your typical day?
SB: I wake up, sit and read for an hour, make breakfast—fruit, granola and tea. Then I wipe the dishes and pack up camp. I get on the water between 10 and noon. Sometimes I have to fix something on the boat, fix a knot. I can be obsessive about things being shipshape. Some mornings I took pictures. Then I paddle about six hours, stop for lunch usually.

NE: Do you have to eat a lot?
SB: The first week I was getting headaches. When I saw my wife, after the first 10 days, she took one look at me and said I wasn’t eating or drinking enough.
Hold on a minute, I have to fix the sail. This is a really nice day—the wind is pushing me along and I’m making great time. I only get to use the sail when I’m going downwind.

[Lots of noise]

NE: Do your arms feel weary from paddling, paddling, paddling?
SB: No. With a canoe, you can significantly change up your paddling motion, much more so than a kayak. So, when one side gets tired, you simply switch to the other. And, with one blade, there’s less wind resistance when you pull the paddle out of the water. So I haven’t had any problems. The only thing I hurt was my back from lifting and pulling the boat out of the water. There were a couple of days I could barely walk. My right leg was getting numbed—it had never gotten that bad. Just about that time, I took off 2 weeks for a family reunion in Seattle, and I had a chance to heal.

NE: How far is this trip?
SB: It will come to over 800 miles. I’ve been doing some pretty big crossings from island to island, so I’m getting more confident. Right now, I’m two to three miles from the mainland. That’s pretty cool. I get up and go into outer space all day; no one knows where I am. I’m totally insignificant, and then I come back to earth. My daughter keeps asking, ‘Do you get bored?’ I never have.

NE: Have you missed the news?
SB: Literally I have. It’s been a good break for me. I used to read a couple of papers a day. I was very caught up. I really think it’s important. One issue I wanted to address on this trip was health care. I wanted to know what Canadians think. I talked to probably 15 people, asking them if they were unhappy with their health care system. They said no, it had problems, but they were grateful to have it. When I asked them if they’d trade their health system for ours, they gave a resounding ‘No!’ There was no question in their mind.
NE: So back to the trip, does it feel funny to be on the water day in and day out?
SB: At first it did. When I was a kid, I had a bad experience on the lake where I got caught on with my sister and cousin in a rowboat and suddenly the weather turned. The motor conked out and I was scared and the waves were big. I ended up lassoing the dock with a rope, which I thought was pretty cool. Can you hold on a minute? It’s the sail again.

[Lots of noise]

Okay I’m back. Water always scared me, big water like that. But now it’s weird. I’m up on a 17-foot by 30-foot vessel, miles from land, and it would be a stretch for anyone to find me. And I’ve taken some pretty big waves. Today there were five-foot swells. You just kind of go through them. You have to approach them at an angle. The boat goes up and over. There have been days where you can’t go fast and it’s been no fun. Sometimes it feels like I’m driving in metro Detroit traffic—you really have to watch every one because they’re all coming at you and they’re all drunk.
I never felt scared, but sometimes I felt sort of concerned. Like today, the waves were fairly big and I was going a mile or more across the bay. They were big, the worst was when I was going into the wind and wasn’t moving anywhere and paddling for all I was worth. When nature turns on the power, there’s not much you can do about it. I guess you can always turn around and let the wind push you in a different direction.
There was one time, early on, I was battling against them, boom, boom, smacking the waves, and part of it was me going against them. So I decided to let the wave come up, and then I rolled over them. I realized I just needed to calm down a bit. One wave at a time.

NE: You must be a lot stronger.
SB: I am. A big part of this was to reclaim my body. As a writer (for Harbor House Publishers), I’d been driving a lot for my job, hundreds of miles a week going to assignments and then sitting at a desk in front of the computer. I knew I could stand to lose 10 pounds. I don’t know how much I have lost, but I feel much better.
I like knowing you can use your own power to push this boat along, and that I’m using solar power and wind power. You might not be able to power the entire country this way, but if everyone did a little more with alternative power in their own daily life, it would go a long way to reducing our consumption of non-renewable resources. Walk to the store. Instead of driving the car to the gym, walk to the gym. It seems kind of ironic that you’d drive to the gym.

NE: What’s it like to paddle in the rain?
SB: The boat has a cockpit seven feet long with a canvas cover, and I can wrap it around me. The first time it rained, it was unbelievably beautiful. The drops of rain would hit the water and bounce up. It sounded like a rain stick. If there’s thunder or lightening I pull over.

NE: What’s next?
SB: I’m not sure where the rest of my life is going to be. One of Verlen’s goals was to circumnavigate all the Great Lakes. I like the Great Lakes a lot. You can swim and wade in them without fear of being bitten or stung, and you can drink the water.

NE: Did you miss Ruth?
SB: Yes, I missed her a lot, but we talked every night, and we were meeting every 10 days on the Michigan side—less often on the Canadian side. It’s been an adventure for both of us. She did the web page (www.greatlakescanoe.com). I thought I’d be blogging, but camping has been the hard part and takes a lot of time. I’ve got to find a place, unload the boat, cook and clean, put the tent up, take it down. I gave her a disk of photos every time we met and she said I’d taken 4,000 photos.

NE: How many miles a day do you go?
SB: My longest day was 28 miles, but that was a crazy day. I started at 9 a.m. and ended at 11 p.m. I stayed with people and didn’t have to deal with making breakfast and taking a camp down, and I was going to meet Ruth in the harbor in Tobermory.
It’s been about 10 to 15 miles a day. I don’t judge them in terms of miles, but more on the people I meet and the photos I take. I’m not exactly going very fast—about three miles an hour. Today, with the sail, I’m going four to five miles an hour. The sail is fun.
NE: How do you recharge your phone?
SB: I have a pretty cool solar panel. It rolls up, 12 x 40 inches, and it’s imprinted with photovoltaic cells. You can lay it on the deck with a bungee cord. I have a whole bunch of electronic stuff. The camera battery and a marine band radio.

NE: Highlight of the trip?
SB: I never knew how liberating it was to be alone and set my own schedule. At first, I was kind of concerned I wasn’t going enough miles a day. Then it clicked on me, it was whatever pace I was going. It didn’t matter.
The other highlight is meeting all the people on boats and onshore.
They’re just unbelievably generous – and interested. One guy north of Oscoda came down to my camp with this trout, wrapped in aluminum foil and grape leaves. It was just amazing.
The most interesting time I had was on Cockburn Island, across from Drummond Island in Ontario. There are no police, and one caretaker for this 100-year-old village that has no ferry service. The day I was there, I was the 13th person on the island. I walked around, and heard these four guys talking on their porch. I asked them if there was a store. And then they all said at the same time, “No, there’s no store. You want a beer?” I got the feeling that this had happened a few times before.
They almost immediately invited me to dinner. One of the four guys was a caretaker. They told me, “Darrin will give you a tour of the island and we’ll give you dinner at six.” So he gives me a tour-hour ride around the island, beating around the dirt roads, showing me the old school and cemetery.

NE: Speaking of hospitality, was it hard to find a place to camp?
SB: Not really. The beauty of this boat is that I can land anyplace. I don’t have to go to a marina. There are some wild and remote areas on the lake, so it’s no problem there. But sometimes at the end of the day I’m in an area that’s bumper-to-bumper cottages. My strategy there is to pull over, and wait for someone to walk by on the beach, and I ask if they’d mind if I camped there, and inevitably it works out.

NE: Do you wear a life jacket?
SB: Yup, all the time. It’s crazy not to.

NE: Now the money question. How much did this cost?
SB: I can’t give you a good answer. Food wasn’t too expensive. Fruits, nuts, power bars, some dehydrated food for vegetarians. Ninety percent of the time, I was sleeping for free. If you don’t include the canoe, it didn’t cost that much. Maybe the price of a home entertainment system.

NE: So what’s next?
SB: Well I quit my job—a great idea in this economy (laughs). But Ruth and I are working on a book documenting the trip, with lots of photos, and maybe a calendar too.
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