It could be the hot summer air. It could be the fact that Joe Purdy has been popping up on my Pandora station more often than usual. It could be that I’ve reached a point in my life where I am constantly peeling back layers, feeling more exposed than I have in years. Regardless of the reason, skinny dipping has certainly been on my mind. As a Yooper and a bit of a free spirit, I’ve never found shame in stripping down to my birthday suit and plunging into open waters. In fact it’s one of my favorite things to do. From Marquette to San Pedro La Laguna. In my high school days and in my late twenties. After a long trek or to close off the evening. My skinny dipping adventures have not been isolated to a specific time, a specific place or a specific state of mind. They’ve just been. As I look back on all of my bare naked adventures, here are some of the highlights:
While living in Seattle I made frequent trips to LA to meet with clients and, more importantly, raise hell with good friends. June of 2011 was one of those times. It was a typical weekend, we hopped around Venice beach, indulged in few liquid toxins and somehow found ourselves near the pier at 2AM holding a bottle of wine that was strategically wrapped in a paper bag (read: classy). There Nate, Portia and I sat, sipping away and singing obnoxiously while we prepared ourselves to face the Pacific waves.
Out of nowhere two Englishmen approached us and shouted “oh, a bunch of Aussies!” I’m unsure of how they came to this conclusion, but lucky for me I had just returned from Australia … game on. For over an hour we fooled them with our broken Australian accents, trying not to burst into laughter or pee our pants. As time passed our acting abilities began to wear off. We no longer sounded like three Australians, rather a Southern bell, a Midwesterner and an Irishman. We needed a distraction. It was time to take this party to the ocean.
I stripped down with confidence and darted towards the water. Nate and Portia were just behind me, or so I thought. When my head emerged from the water I saw only one thing. One very naked, very unkempt Englishman running towards me. I ran as fast as I could in the other direction but the “jungle of love” wouldn’t stop chasing me. To his credit, he may have thought that skinny dipping was a game rather than a simple act of swimming in the absence of clothing. I learned a hard lesson that weekend: Never skinny dip with strangers.
In December of 2006 during one of my efforts to “save the world” I ventured off to Guatemala to chill with some extremely adorable orphans. On a typical day I worked for six to seven hours at the orphanage, met with my Spanish teacher for a two-hour lesson and used my evenings to explore Xela. While I was satisfied with my routine, New Years Eve was on the horizon and I was itching for a foreign adventure. As I hiked over to Casa Argentina to sign up for a three-day backing trip with Quetzeltrekkers it became apparent that this New Year’s Eve would be unlike any other. Little did I know that I’d be trading my high heels for flip-flops, my ball drop for a Shaman and my champagne for Gallo.
From Xela to San Pedro La Laguna, we wound our way through remote villages, climbed early for a volcano infused sunrise and made our way down “Indian’s Nose”. Like most good backpacking trips the terrain was challenging, the views were epic and our bodies were starting to acquire the perfect combination of dirt and sweat. As we made our descent Lake Atitlan was sparkling below. There was no question, when we arrived there, we were all going in. Nearly 50 feet from the shore and backpacks started falling, t-shirts were flying and everyone was running. An opportunity to skinny dip in what is claimed to be one of the most beautiful lakes in the world? Hell, yes.
It would be impossible to count the number of times that I’ve skinny dipped in the Great Lakes and having recently returned to the area my experiences only continue to multiply. From solo missions to thunderstorms, I’ve seen it all, while wearing nothing at all. The stories are endless, but one particular evening stands out.
It was July of 2010. Yoopers from all over the country had traveled back to Marquette to celebrate the birth of America and a matrimony among friends. It was one of those amazing summer nights where you could find more drunks at the Lower Harbor than at any other local watering hole. Posted up at Ty’s boat, we too were participating in the shenanigans. As the night went on people continued to trickle into Cinder Pond Marina, the coolers were stocked and our minds were slowly fading. Come 1AM my skinny dipping recruiting efforts (read: peer pressure) were in full swing. As I sat there pitching an epic twilight swim to everyone near the boat, something caught my eye. There at the marina lay an abandoned wheel barrow. Light bulb. It was one of those thoughts that I should have kept to myself, because the second it was vocalized there was no turning back.
Before I knew it myself and one other brave soul had squeezed into that wheel barrow with our friend Jason standing behind us. He was preparing to push us off of the dock and into the cold, polluted marina water. What a stupid idea; however, it worked. Our wheel barrow plunge created massive excitement across the crowd of intoxicated Yoopers. Suddenly everyone wanted in on the adventure. The floor of the boat, covered in clothes. Naked bodies, leaping from every direction. I’m sure we pissed off a handful of people that evening, but what a small price to pay for such a memorable night.
Day 10,127. Skinny dippin’, dippin’ girl.