By John Hogan
Imagine standing on the deck of a boat in the middle of a choppy Lake Michigan, with wind-blown rain buffeting your face like rice at a wedding.Not exactly the ideal way to spend your 48th birthday.Yet Valerie van Heest prefers this sort of mid-September activity to strolling Chicago's Magnificent Mile with friends and a charge card.
The conversion came 20 years ago, when van Heest met a group of people who shared her long-dormant love of Great Lakes history."In 1988, my life changed," she said.
"All my friends were people from work, and my time was spent either shopping for clothes or working. I forgot how much I missed the water."