The Sailing Scene in Chicago
By Misty Tosh
*The view is from the cockpit of my C & C 30. Lovely.
Every year, dead in the heat of summer, thousands of sailors overtake choppy Lake Michigan to compete in the longest freshwater sailing competition in the country, the Chicago Mackinac Race. This 333-mile jaunt to Mackinac Island, Michigan starts at Monroe Harbor and attracts elite sailors from around the world, as well as first-timers just looking to get some time in on a sailboat. You can catch the action from most vantage points alongside Lakeshore Drive, but if you don't make it out for this annual primetime spectacle on Saturday, July 14, here's a handy roundup of ways to get your sailing fix in the Windy City. The temp's not going down anytime soon, so you might as well get wet!
The Sailing Scene in Chicago
What would you do with 20 fresh limes? Make a gigantic batch of minty mojitos? Whip up a bowl of lime-green Jell-O? It doesn't really matter…not when all 20 cost $1 at Supermercado Chapala, my favorite neighborhood grocer and Mexican diner. And that's only one of the deals at this always-packed market, where you'll also find fresh pineapple, melt-in-your-mouth carnitas and, best of all, an unassuming cafe in the back that only a handful of locals seem to have a clue about.
I happened upon it a few months ago when I first started really exploring my new Rogers Park neighborhood. The smiling fella out front, who served elote (corn on the cob slicked with mayonnaise, cayenne, cheese and lime) to everyone who happened by, caught my eye first. Then, out of my peripheral vision, I saw the word "taqueria". Ahhh, that's what I'm talking about. Taco joints in the back of grocery stores get first dibs on produce and meats, which means they serve up superior goods to a steady stream of customers all day long. And the goods at Supermercado Chapala are superior, indeed.
Ya gotta wonder why some are obsessed with certain things and others could give a flyin' flip about them. One of my biggies is maps. I love everything about them: the squiggles that represent rivers, the deep blue that signifies oceans, the shades that equal mountain ranges and most of all the sheer exoticness of the names splashed all across them. I bought a new bounty of books on half.com last week in a get-me-outta-the-grind frenzy--Tales from Nowhere, Surrender or Starve, Chasing Che, Gringos in Paradise, Waiting for the Barbarians, Plenty: One Man, One Woman and a Raucous Year of Eating Locally, and Misadventures in the Middle East. That last one had a really rough and scrubby looking map detailed on the inside cover and when I laid eyes on it, my heart literally soared. I just wanted to be there that second. I guess you can tell my other biggie is books. Which by the way, in November, I am going back to Indonesia for a month to volunteer in this tiny village at the base of Mt. Rinjani on the island of Lombok (just east of Bali) to help build a library (among other things). If you have any books you want to donate, shoot me an email. Oh, and I'm gonna learn to scuba dive while I am there, too. Another upcoming obsession, I'm sure. Oh right--there's the boat, too (that one is the biggest obsession of all). Gonna sail that thing down the Mississippi to the Carib next year. I guess I overwhelm myself sometimes with all the obsessions...but at least they are clean, honest fun, though...Hell, wait to you hear about the Mexican Pilates/Cooking/Volunteer Retreat I'm putting together for Feb. More to come on all of this good stuff and in the meantime...happy obsessing!
Sometimes you just take the plunge. There are no warnings, no signs and, in the end, no doubts. For me, all it took was a plain sheet of white notebook paper posted on a phone pole in California, painted with an image of a small sailboat and the words "For sale." Before I knew it, I'd bought a 25-foot sailboat on eBay and found myself driving into the remotest corners of Baja to learn how to sail it. Alone.
That typical Misty adventure happened back in 2004, and I've since sold that boat and forgotten everything I learned about sailing. Still, the backdrop of Lake Michigan dotted with bobbing sails never let me truly ditch my jones. So, after seeing a 30-foot C & C for sale in town, I once again took the plunge. At least this time it was in my own back yard.
I could tell by the quizzical stares I was getting that all the folks wandering into The Fish Keg thought I was crazy. Here I was, a wide-eyed gal dressed in Pilates wear, spreading hot-out-of-the-fryer food onto the hood of my dusty black truck.
To them, I was a loon. To me, though, I was just trying to set the perfect food shot in the correct amount of light. It if means maniacally rearranging a piece of crispy fried shrimp or a golf ball-size hush puppy barely a smidge, well, it's all worth it for the sake of snapping the very best picture. And, thankfully, after a brief photo shoot, I'd captured my goodies to my liking and the time had come to dig in.
I ended up at The Fish Keg by accident. I found myself with a free day since I wised up and hired a sweet little Polish gal to clean my place. After realizing that I had an entire day to myself, I felt lost and unsure of how to spend the day. Movie? Bike ride? Shopping? Of course it all turned back to food. I just did what I do best and started cruising the streets looking for some inspiration. I found it on Howard.