Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Oh go jump in the lake

Man jumps in Lake Michigan and exclaims: "it's bleepin gold"— is it Blogo??
…No, it's your friendly neighborhood blogger, and I probably said: "it's bleepin COLD!!"

Back on New Year's Day, 2007 my wife and I went down to Loyola Beach to cheer on some friends who were part of the Polar Bear Club. That particular year there was not any snow or ice at the beach and those who participated in the Polar Bear "plunge" just ran straight into the lake. I was pretty inspired to jump in with them… but felt that it would be better if there was snow and ice there so that you knew it was winter. Besides, I did not have my swim suit with me and did not want to be unprepared.

Fast forward one year to New Years Day, 2008. I do not know why my wife looked up where the plunge was going to take place, but she did and let me know the day before. I knew it was going to be cold, so I decided to be prepared. Besides my usual hat coat scarf, I dressed in loose layers so that I could quickly dress after I got out. The first layer was just my swim suit, followed by the heaviest jeans I could find, a sweatshirt and a zipper flannel sweater. I brought my sandals so that I would not have to worry about cutting my numb feet on all the beer bottles that are thrown into the lake. My wife made a thermos of coffee to to warm me up after I got out. After all our preparations, we were off to see the glaciers.

I don't know if you have ever seen Lake Michigan in the winter, but there is a big buildup of ice along the shore that resembles glaciers. Because of the buildup of ice, you cannot tell how deep the water actually is. This put my wife into a panic because she thought that the depth of the water had to have been at least 5 feet or more judging from where the edge of the ice was and where she felt the shoreline started. After some scouting by other members of the club a point of entry was determined and everybody was told to get ready.

All of us had to negotiate around a large puddle to get to the edge of the glacier. Once there we all posed for our "final" photographs before heading in. Probably the hardest part was stepping down off the glacier and into the water— after that it was very easy to wade out about ten yards, turn around, and dunk.

The trudge back to the edge seemed longer— are there hidden rip tides in Chicago??… but I managed to get out unscathed. Once out I noticed my feet getting awfully heavy and were caked with ice— I was worried that I would not be able to get my sandals off, but realized that I could always chip away at them. I was also covered by a thin sheet of ice all over my body which thankfully was a great insulator— I used to hate the fact my body is so hairy, but now I'm glad… that's another story…

A quick rub down with a towel while on a thermal blanket my wife provided to keep my feet off the ice— then I got dressed and we went back to the car. Unfortunately I was too "focused on the prize" to hook up with other polar bears to go to any warming parties afterwords— but was quite proud of my accomplishments… so you could say I didn't need to party.

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