Cruising

Wow! It has been a long time.

It has been a long time since I’ve let my fingers walk on the keyboard. So long that I had to look up my last post to figure out where I left off.

Four Months!

July. It has been a long time.

Let’s get started. Here’s what I’m going to do. Give a brief review of our travels in the last 4 months then go back and expand on what I thought were significant.

Last time we were in Canada celebrating Canada Day with new friends. We still are in contact with them through Facebook.

While traveling the Trent-Severn waterway we had a situation with a recurring problem that required the boat to be lifted out of the water. With out a place to stay we rented a vehicle and drove to our home port of Grand Haven, Michigan. Friends and family were gracious enough to put up with us for almost 3 weeks.20160729_134614

 

Thanks again to everyone that helped out.

With the boat back in the water and August slipping away we pushed through the Georgian Bay in 2 days and back into the North Channel of Lake Huron. At the top of Georgian Bay is Killarney, Ontario. We were now in familiar waters, having travelled here in 2013. My thoughts were to push to Mackinac and down the coast of Michigan to Grand Haven. Silly Me

Lake Michigan is not a lake to mess with. We ended up in St. Ignace, MI waiting for weather and waves to become better. Waves again forced us into Beaver Island. Then with our sights set for Frankfort, we were forced into Charlevoix. Let me tell you this. If you are forced into a harbor Charlevoix is a great place to pushed into.

With an open window we moved from Charlevoix to Frankfort and from Frankfort to Manistee. Where again we had to wait for a weather window to move again. Then to Pentwater, Muskegon and finally on September 4 we reentered Grand Haven harbor and completed our Great Loop.

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We stayed at the municipal marina for 2 weeks, met with friends and family, went to Dr, appointments, and caught up with what needed to be caught up with. We were so busy that by the time we left we were ready to get back to the easy pace of cruising.

A salmon festival had us leaving Grand Haven in not the best of conditions. We traveled the Lake Michigan coast in 17 – 20 feet of water. Very close to shore. But any farther out and we were being banged around by 4-6′ waves. We made South Haven and stayed til better conditions arrived. Then New Buffalo MI and Hammond IN.

We arrived in Hammond on Cynthia’s birthday and went to the Casino next door to the marina. If we signed up for Player’s Cards we would get a free buffet. Whoo Hooo, free food and a birthday dinner to boot.

Now off the big lake and into the rivers again for smooth cruising. Our cruise down the Illinois River was uneventful. The upper Illinois River is highly commercial and is not the prettiest of scenery but in improves the closer you get to the Mississippi River Valley.

The Mississippi River has a great current that makes for easy travel at speeds unthinkable in slow-moving vessels. We would travel around 14 to 15 mph at engine speeds that would usually have us at 8 or 9 mph. Then we make the turn up the Ohio and speeds drop from 15 down to 6 in a boat length. But this is only for a couple of days and we enjoyed our nights at anchor on the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers.

From there we entered the Cumberland River just north a Paducah, KY on a Sunday. The Kentucky Lock and Dam was closed for repair and barge and tow traffic had been re-routed onto the Cumberland. Where when we first traveled the Cumberland we saw 1 barge this time we saw and passed more than 12 moving tows. The Cumberland is much more narrow than the Tennessee and the Ohio and water levels were much shallower than the last time we were on it, making the passing just a little more nerve-wracking. But a great day and we were able to enter the Barkley Lock without waiting.

Now up the Tennessee and on to the Tom Bigbee River. We are currently in Columbus MS and what was supposed to be a short stay has become weeks. I turned and put out my back and have been here recuperating until we both feel comfortable in my moving capabilities.

Life goes on.

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Cruising

Who are the people in our neighborhood?

We are running into so many Loopers on the waterways and it seems we see the same faces for a few days then lose contact. Then new faces (along with familiar faces) appear. Some folks have been boating for years, some are on their very first boat. Some plan to boat forever and some plan to sell their boat at the end of the journey, moving on to something else.

We were fortunate enough to meet a couple that have been on the Loop for 7 years and haven’t completed it yet. Some people leave the boat for a month or two, or the winter, and then plan to start again in the spring. While we were in Peoria we had heard stories of a couple canoeing the Loop.

Wild Raven Adventures canoe fully packed.

Wild Raven Adventures canoe fully packed.

We happened to meet them in Peoria, and then again in Grafton. I found their story fascinating and exciting. The couple – Jennifer Gosselin (34) and Pierre Pipen (55) – met when Jennifer was enrolled in an extended outdoor leadership course. The course was taught by Pipen. Having the same interests, love blossomed and the two became a married couple. They lived in Quebec City, Montreal. Jennifer was raised in the area while Pierre was raised, in his words “all over Canada”. Pierre joined the Army when he was 17 and became part of a joint venture between the Canadian and U.S. Army special forces. He did his first guide work in the wilderness at the age of 18.

Pierre and Jennifer - modern voyageur.

Pierre and Jennifer – modern voyageurs.

They both enjoy all types of outdoor activities, from snow shoeing, wilderness survival, back packing, hiking, and canoeing. While on a Christmas holiday canoeing in the Everglades they met a local guide who spoke of the “Voyageurs”. Historically these mainly French Canadian people engaged in the fur trade, moving furs from the wilderness to populated areas. All this done by canoe. Jennifer told me that while in school the only mention of fur trade was about the Hudson Bay company. Not much, if anything, was taught on the Northwest Fur Company, which was very active at the same time as the Hudson Bay Companies, and a chief rival. The Northwest Fur Company was established in 1783 with its wilderness headquarters in Grand Portage, now Minnesota, on Lake Superior. Jennifer and Pierre became interested in the travels of the Voyageurs and decided that they would like to follow their route from Grand Portage to Quebec City. The first long distance canoe trip of 2300 kilometer was planned to take 8 weeks. They paddled the distance in 8 weeks, with a 2 week hold up due to poor weather conditions.

They returned to the everyday work scene, Jennifer was employed by a Canadian Software company as an Operations Manager. Pierre worked in construction, with his specialty being theater stage construction. Both Jennifer and Pierre grew disenchanted with everyday life and spoke of the stress of work, the problems with dealing with other people stressed about their lives, and the negativity that they dealt with on a daily basis. Pierre and Jennifer decided to sell everything and begin a “NorAm” Odyssey trip down the great rivers of North America. They had not heard of the “Great Loop” until after they started their adventure. Now members of the AGLCA they have posted on the site and met a number of the members.

Toots and Jasmine - an attempt to play.

Toots and Jasmine – an attempt to play.

Jasmine, the bear dog.

Jasmine, the bear dog.

Starting from Ottawa, Canada, the two have paddled through Canada to the Georgian Bay, the North Channel of Lake Huron, down the West coast of Michigan and currently, into and down the Illinois River. So far the trip has covered 1500 miles. Joining them on their adventure is their dog Jasmine, a Karelian Bear Dog. Jasmine joined the team as a pup and has been with them ever since. When I approached the campsite Jasmine met me prepared to defend the camp, but soon found that I was not a threat and became quite friendly. She desperately tried to play with Toots and got our old girl moving a little. Being from the Montreal area Jasmine is used to commands solely in French. There has been a lot of interest in the “NorAm” Odyssey and their campsite has an almost constant stream of people asking questions and chatting about the adventure. With French as her primary language, Jennifer speaks English but does not consider herself fluent. However, guests find she is more than capable in communicating. Pierre also speaks primarily French, as well as English and Spanish. Both are very easy to talk to and Dearest and I were lucky to be included in a couple of evening get-together around their campfire with snacks. We wish them the best of luck and safe travels and hope our paths cross again. If you want to learn more, or follow them on their adventure, go to their website and blog at www. wildravenadventure.com. We both feel so fortunate to have met these people tackling this amazing adventure.

Until next time, follow your dreams and make it happen.

Jennifer's tattoo says it all.

Jennifer’s tattoo says it all.

I just wanted to let you all know that this post is a joint venture between Cynthia and myself. So, when you see that the text is laid out better than usual you can thank Dearest for her efforts.

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