Who’s The Boss? Lake Michigan Puts Me In My Place

Do you ever watch news coverage of extreme weather and wonder who the hell those people are walking by the lake in high winds or strolling down Michigan Avenue in a blizzard? I always ask that oft-raised rhetorical question: Who are those jackasses?

On Tuesday, “those jackasses” included me.

Roiling Lake Michigan
Roiling Lake Michigan (author not shown)

I didn’t mean to put myself in a situation where one of Chicago’s Finest would have to wave me away from the running path I was on. He asked if I had seen the yellow “Do Not Enter” tape at the entrance to the lakefront path. I actually hadn’t seen it because it had blown away. I am pretty sure he was asking himself why he ended up on the detail that would require him to deal with dumbasses like me.

As I retreated following my conversation with the officer in the bullet proof vest (which seemed a little excessive given the context), I realized there were only three of us regular citizens on the lake front path. That should have been a clue, but it wasn’t. I was so happy to finally be running and out on the lake. I had been checking on East Coast friends all day in the wake of Sandy. I just couldn’t wrap my mind around the idea that it would be dangerous here in Chicago.

I know it wasn’t my brightest idea to run on the lake path during high winds.

I certainly didn’t plan to get too close. But I did want to see. I wanted to see Nature’s sublime power from a close-but-still-safe distance.

It was just a run on the lake, not a motorcycle ride without a helmet or a sushi dinner from the gas station.

And while I hate disappointing authority figures like the frustrated officer who wanted me to go back where I came from, I am glad I saw the lake in all her power. I won’t soon forget the sound of the waves crashing against the wall and the spray of water over the path ahead of me. While it was nothing compared to the scene on the East Coast, it was a helpful visual for someone like me who sometimes gets confused about the amount of power she wields in the world. Next to the Lake, it was quite clear who was boss.

Not me. Certainly, not me.


32 thoughts on “Who’s The Boss? Lake Michigan Puts Me In My Place

  1. Love this post, love the lake (I’m on the other side, in west michigan), glad to have found you through yeah, write nablopomo 🙂

  2. I almost drove to the city just to see it for myself. It’s a big ass lake that, to me, is like an ocean and it sure looked angry on the news. I’m glad to have seen it “live” through your video. P.S. if I still lived in the city, I would have been down at the lakefront running just like you were and may or may not have paid attention to the yellow tape to get an upfront view.

  3. Bring out the surfboard! Sandy’s reach was amazing. Some people in NY/NJ died when they were out in it. One woman went out to take a picture of a blown transformer and was set on fire by the wire. So scary! Now it’s just like something out of Road Warrior out here – especially the gas situation. I went out and took pictures Tuesday morning too (and was sent home by a cop). We are so smart 😉

  4. On Monday before the weather got bad, I very nearly snuck into Central Park to run. In retrospect, after everything that happened Monday night and Tuesday in NYC, it seems like a remarkably stupid thing to do, but runners are a strange breed, and what the hell did I know then? When I got to the park there was caution tape everywhere, but I still looked for a way in (couldnt find one), and ended up running along Central Park West instead. My blog post from Monday is almost laughable in hindsight, and the progression of my posts from Monday to today is downright eerie.

  5. I too went out for a run in the middle of the high wind warnings. I didn’t get far before I realized it was a dumb move with all the tree limbs that seemed eager to separate themselves from their mama trees. It’s awe-inspiring to be out in the midst of nature in her fury, but I was very glad – and very grateful – to head back inside to my warm house and watch the rest of the action from a distance.

  6. Used to live in west Michigan-the lake is so changeable and strong! Now we’re in CT, fortunately inland and mostly safe from Sandy-but still, with winds like I had NEVER seen before (steady at 50 mph, 70 mph gusts!) I had to go out the front door to marvel at the trees. I held onto one of the front porch pillars as a precaution!

  7. I can see the draw; when I ran a lot I loved running in storms and funky weather. For one thing, you get the trail to yourself! Don’t beat yourself up — at least you gave that poor cop something to do.

  8. There’s just something about checking wild weather! Rob (my hubby and I) stayed put during Ike in Houston a few years back and during the worst part, I was out on the front porch, trying to take a video of the insane way the trees were bending toward the ground. I always say people are dumb who do that, but I’m secretly jealous. Except when they have kids. I remember for Ike watching (before the power went out for a week) a mom talking about how she just HAD to take her two (very little toddling) kids down to the seawall in Galveston because they NEEDED to see God’s power. The whole time the news was showing that clip, I was like, “for the love of GOD please someone keep those two toddlers from being swept away by the ocean!” So, I’m okay with people being dumb unless they involve their kids, or else are SO dumb that it takes like thousands of dollars of rescue efforts to save them. 🙂

    • Jesus, kids around the sea wall? THat’s a bit excessive. I agree that children should be left out of such daredevilry. Gah. And it is expensive to rescue people, so that’s no good. And I can see God’s power just fine, when I turn on the TV.

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