Originally posted in January 2008.
At first I thought it was an early April Fool’s joke. Surfing in Lake Michigan? In the dead of winter? That’s insane! But last night I heard a story on Chicago Public Radio (WBEZ, 91.5) on this very topic.
The only time the Great Lakes (say it with me now, the boys’ school just held its geography bee: Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, Superior) or at least Lake Michigan is surfable is in the winter. If you’ve ever spent a lazy summer day at a Chicago beach this makes sense. The waves are just too small. Last night’s story on WBEZ explained that a protective warm layer of air over the water keeps the wind at bay at that time of year. However, the protective layer dissipates in cold weather, creating sizeable, surfable, waves. Never mind that cold weather means temperatures of 30 degrees or lower, a
crazy dedicated group of people don their wetsuits, ignore their frozen snot and the icicles forming on their wet brows for a chance to hang ten.
You can’t catch a wave on Chicago’s beaches; surfing is illegal in the city. According to the story, though, it’s allowed in parts of Indiana, and I found a YouTube video of surfers in the northern suburb of Highland Park.
I guess surfing is about more than the sun, the sand, well-tanned bodies and upbeat music. Yeah, it’s about gray days, frostbite, hypothermia, and gosh, I can’t imagine what kind of music comes out or is favored by this group. As for me, I’ll take a tip from Chicago musician Ralph Covert (of Ralph’s World fame) and stick to Surfin’ in my imagination.
Now I’m off to find out if our WBEZ membership is current and then run a slew of errands, which frankly sound like more fun than surfing in a freezing cold lake.