Picture This

We took a drive up to Lake Superior recently, to catch the fall colors against the backdrop of Pictured Rocks in Munising, Michigan.

As we walked along the lake front, the winds were snappy and the sharp knife of cold cut our faces, and winds bit our ears. These frosty winds were the birthing pains of what Great Lakes residents know as the Gales of November. These winds have been known on occasion to reach hurricane levels of 100 mph.

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In this brisk, gloomy weather, what did we do? We opted to take one of the last boat tours of the season to see Pictured Rocks, despite my common-sense nudging that this might not be a good idea in this windy weather.

I once took the wildest ride on a ferry boat, from Door County to Washington Island and the waves were 6’-9’, it was both exhilarating and frightening and I figured if I lived through that, that this would be cake, as the waves appeared fairly calm. But I didn’t realize we were in a pretty big harbor.

After we boarded, the captain warned people that if they didn’t like roller coasters that this might not be the boat ride for them. After that, several people exited for a refund.

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The boat tour started out uneventfully, touring picturesque spots in the harbor and along Grand Island, most notably being the East Channel Lighthouse. Then we traveled onward along the shoreline, seeing wonderful scenery such as Miner’s Castle and the Painted Coves.

Winds were picking up and we were getting sprayed with Superior’s icy mists. The boat began to rise and fall like the rollercoaster that the captain had forewarned us of.

Another boat in the fleet was just returning from the area where the most scenic of the sights were. They advised our captain to turn back, since it was getting too rough. Indeed, my stomach was starting to feel the effects of the random dips and bobs. The captain said we would be safe pushing onward, but that our stomachs would not be able to handle another hour and a half of these conditions, and he surely didn’t want to clean the mess. We would be given a partial refund and the scenery would have to wait for another day.

Life is sometimes like that boat ride. It’s fun, exhilarating, and beautiful, but sometimes when we encounter rough seas it’s time to head for the home port, back to safety. If you push ahead, yes there could be wonders like you’ve never experienced, but what price will be paid? Perhaps it’s best to take the advice of those who have been that way before.

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Those adventures are not always worth the cost right now, whether it be a major purchase, a job change, a relationship, a move, or buying a house. Knowing when to quit or wait isn’t easy, especially when we are eager to keep moving.

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I am always envious of those who can learn from others, rather than like me, having to learn the hard way. As I’ve grown older, I have learned that like the boat ride, in life there is no dishonor in retreat, in order to avoid the messes of life.

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