End of Lake Huron & beginning of Lake Michigan / August 5-16, 2014
August 5-6, 2014
Two days off. However, we went to the grocery store and hardware store to run some errands on August 5. Mrs. Margaret kindly drove us. She also told us the history of the island. She has come here every summer for a number of yeas and welcomes all people to the campground. She is very active and energetic and looks younger than her years. Margaret is a very kind lady. Thank you again, Margaret, for the transportation and the cooler that you lent us.
We also spoke with other neighbours. First, there was the Hurst family. This family have spent the same number of days at the campground as we have. It was refreshing to see how everything was set up to make their children's (Layla, Bronson and Cameron) first camping experience a great one. We tip our hats to them, especially to Ryan who went out of his way for the kids! Dana and Ryan also gave us our first burgers of the trip. They were so good! Thank you again!
Then we talked with Ron and his wife. Ron gave us two cold beers (our first American beer). They were much appreciated! We also talked with Mr. Marv Kuziel. Marv builds his own wooden kayaks. His kayaks are true works of art. He also showed us places to camp along the way and we talked about Bonnie Perry, a leader in the world of kayaking. She lives in Chicago and he believes she could help us get through the city and its suburbs (Chicago is a city now known for its crime. There are not many places where we can camp and to cross the city and its surrounding areas, we will have to paddle for several days).
Everyone is so nice here. We have been very well received and our experience in Drummond Island was very pleasant.
August 7, 2014
We left late from Drummond Island this morning. Marv paddled a little with us and took some pictures. The weather was beautiful and we had a great day of paddling. Despite announcements of strong winds for the afternoon, we have only had nice weather. Lake Huron is being good to us. We stopped at 3:00 p.m. on a long beach past De Tour Village, it was hot, so we drank the beer that Ron had given us this morning. Then we moved to our “office” to plan our next day if paddling: barefoot in the sand, sitting in our chairs with the computer in front of us on a big rock, sand to the left and to the right, the vastness of Lake Huron before us......not bad for an office =:)
The temperature dropped quickly in the evening, but the wind was very light. We plan to get up early tomorrow morning to enjoy the stillness of the lake. We want to get to Hessel for the Antique Wooden Boat show. We do not want to be too late, because it will probably be difficult to find a place to pitch the tent.
August 8, 2014
We left around 7:20. It was still cool this morning and took a while to warm up. The weather was foggy, but the sun broke through behind us. There was no wind or waves. It was so quiet. The islands in the distance seemed to float in the air. In fact, at times, we did not know which was the water and which was the sky, only the islands gave us an indication. When the water is so calm and it mixes with the air, it seems we do not advance at all. It's a weird sensation. It is as if we are stuck in time, frozen in place. But still, we did advance and quickly. This effect plays tricks too. Ours eyes and brain are struggling to adapt and quickly became mesmerized.
Visiting Les Chenaux Channel (near Bessel), we could appreciate what people had told us about the area. There are a lot of beautiful antique, wooden boats here. Some built before the Second World War. At the Hessel marina, there were already several wooden boats moored. Each more beautiful than the next. We also saw several on the water. It's impressive to see them going that fast with so much grace, power and righteousness (if I may say so!). It seems that today’s boats are not as well balanced. However, the old boats make so much noise with their big car engines and large exhaust pipes.
We dined at a grocery/restaurant in Hessel. While waiting for our order, Pierre returned to the canoe and met Mr. and Mrs. Ruhl and their son Jake. This charming couple and their son invited us to set up our tent on their property which is located on an island just across from Hessel. Their children and grandchildren were already installed there. They camp on the island every summer for at least 3 weeks.
In the afternoon, we left the marina for the island. We were very warmly welcomed by the whole gang. What a great family! There was Stewart and Jessie, with their two sons Toby and Woody, and Mark and Carrie, with their two sons Finn and Kipper. We had a great evening with them. They invited us to eat pizza with the whole group, including Mr. and Mrs. Ruhl. We ended the evening around the fire. The stories were fun and the sharing was very interesting. Thank you for your great hospitality and generosity. The way you live your summers has inspired us and we admire that you pass your profound values in to your children. It is priceless!
August 9, 2014
Mr. and Mrs. Ruhl, Stewart, Jessie, Carrie, Mark, Finn, Kipper, Toby and Woody: Thank you all again for your warm welcome and great generosity. We hope to see you in St. Louis soon!
Leaving this morning, we went back to the Hessel marina. We wanted to see all the beautiful boats from the water. The event takes place only today, so we wanted to enjoy it before leaving the region. Unfortunately, access is forbidden from the water, so we had to leave the marina. Too bad! However, we saw a few boats at the entrance.
It was already close to 10:00 am. We did not know how far we would be able to go. There was wind, but no big waves, in the morning. We started crossing from point to point, then from island to island. In the afternoon, the water was so calm, it was like a mirror. We decided to paddle directly toward St. Ignace and make the 12km crossing. Once again Lake Huron was very kind to us. It saved us several kilometres during the crossing as we could take the shortest path. When we arrived in St. Ignace, we stopped at the first hotel we saw on the waterfront, a Best Western. Pierre went to see if there was a room available, but nothing was. Everything was booked in town. Ron, the manager, has been a great help. He tried to find us a place to stay overnight. In addition, he offered for us to leave our canoe and equipment at the Best Western in a safe place. He then drove us to the hotel where there was availability. It was, in fact, the last available room! Ron, a huge thank you for your help. The service you gave, even though we did not stay at the Best Western, was above and beyond. For the rest of the day we ran some errands and I admit.....we ate ice cream!
August 10, 2014
Finally, we found a place to pitch our tent at the campground at Straits State Park, which is located directly on the water. We took a taxi back to the Best Western, to get our canoe and our gear (which was very well guarded). We did not have the chance to say thanks to Ron again before we left (he was not present).
We paddled the short distance to get to the campground. The place is ideal! We have the most beautiful view of the water and the Mackinac Bridge (connecting St. Ignace and Mackinaw City). This bridge is considered to be the longest suspension bridge in North America. We booked for two nights, because tomorrow, there is a 70% chance of rain and thunderstorms.
In the evening, we met several people, including Ted and Jayne Carrington. They are from Warren, Pennsylvania. They gave us a lot of information about the Allegheny River. We will see them again, next spring, on the Allegheny. We are very happy to have had the chance to meet them. This couple decided to live their lives fully, to travel and live simply. It was a very good encounter. We have several things in common with them and it was pleasant to share their company
August 11, 2014
Another rest day. We met again with Ted and Jayne. Late in the morning, a reporter (Erik), from the local newspaper in St. Ignace came to see us. Someone at the campground contacted the newspaper to tell them about us. Thank you to this unknown person for the advertising and opportunity! :) We spent some time with the reporter. Then in the afternoon, we walked about and did some administrative tasks.
The weather was grey all day, but until now (18:00) it hasn't rained. The waves are high and there are a lot of white caps so we could not have made the crossing today anyway. We decided to book for another night. It calls for the same conditions tomorrow and the small craft advisory is still in effect. We are anxious to resume paddling and we would like to cross the strait Wednesday morning.
In the evening, we spent some pleasant time around the fire with Ted and Jayne. We greatly appreciated the time spent together.
It finally started to rain around 9:30 pm.
August 12, 2014
Getting up this morning, we listened to the weather forecast. Nothing to do ... the small craft advisory is still in effect. The waves are still strong, as is the wind. Besides, it rained hard last night. When we woke up this morning, we noted that several campers had left. The lady at the front office told us that around 4:00 am, most of the people left. Our tent, Hilleberg, has done a very good job and we stayed dry all night.
We decided to stay here another night. The wind and the wave conditions are not supposed to improve and will remain poor for us to paddle for at least another 5 days. We decided it was time to start thinking about a solution and to find a way to keep moving. We want to be out of Lake Michigan by mid-September. If only we could cross to the other side of the strait, we would not have to wait for good conditions to go under the Mackinac Bridge (which is 6km). This strait has a very bad reputation.
Shortly after breakfast, Ted and Jayne came to say goodbye. We will see them again next year on the Allegheny River. They also made a generous donation to help us find a way to continue our adventure on Lake Michigan. Thank you again Ted and Jayne! Safe travels.
Pierre spoke later on with Callie Smith, the lady at the park office. She worked hard to help us find a solution. We salute her.
Earlier this afternoon, we moved to another camp site as the one we stayed on was booked. We were happy to be located close to the Gerdes family. We have talked quite a bit with them. Mark and Mindy have 4 children between the ages of 11 and 18. Their names are: Emily, Ben, Jonathan and Andrew. In the evening, we ate S'mores for the first time. Yummy! Really excellent! Then we talked about a variety of subjects, including the humanitarian project that Mark and Mindy are just about to undertake in Guatemala this October. It was exciting! Mark and Mindy also offered to transport us tomorrow to the other side of the bridge. We are so happy that they have kindly offered us the solution we need!
August 13, 2014
This morning we gladly packed up to move, not by canoe, but by car. Mark and Mindy, accompanied by their youngest son Andrew, transported us to the Wilderness State Park. While driving over the bridge, we comfort ourselves that we made the right decision by not paddling the Strait. There were white caps everywhere and the size of the waves were big. When we arrived at the Wilderness State Park, the wind was blowing very hard and there was no way we could have paddled in these conditions (up to 50km/hr.). These winds are expected for the next 10 days. It is as cold as if it is autumn. We even wore our toques! Brrrrr.
We decided to give some of the donation, that Ted and Jayne had given us, to Mark and Mindy for their humanitarian project in Guatemala. We proposed it as a thank you for their help. We want the money that we received to benefit other people. We hope we can create a small chain of caring and kindness. We will do this as often as possible, our way of "paying it forward." Ellen Degeneres always says at the end of each of her programs, "Be kind to one another". We try to give back as much as we receive, no matter how we can do it. Mark and Mindy will write to tell us how the money helped the community they visited after their mission in Guatemala. We will post their account on our blog in late October or early November.
August 14, 2014
It was really windy last night, in fact, it blew hard and despite the sun this morning, it was cold, very cold (8°C). We donned our toques and our warm coats. We searched for a place to hide from the wind. On the site where we were, last night and this morning, there was no protection. The location is really nice and perfect in warm weather as we have direct access to the beach. But, we were not tempted to swim! The waves have been very strong all day.
We have itchy feet. It's nice to take a break, but we want to move forward and carry on paddling. We brainstormed different options last night and again this morning but we thought that this was probably more than we could figure out. We thought we might portage toward Cross Village using the hiking trail, then from there, re-analyze our options. We thought of renting a car but there is nowhere to rent in Mackinaw City. Then we thought that by going to the general store, we would find someone who could help us. The general store is still the best place to meet people and find out what is happening. In addition, the Wilderness General Store makes really delicious homemade donuts (worth the trip)!
We met Wendy, a fantastic person and co-owner of the Wilderness General Store. She took us under her wing and found a number of solutions. With great kindness, she found us not only transportation, but also a place to buy an American plan for our cellular, a campground and she arranged a special meeting with her friends. This woman is full of resources and filled with optimism. She exudes serenity and calm, and is a certified meditation coach. Our next few days are now planned and we have a much sought after form of transportation. We are excited to learn more about Wendy and her boyfriend Steve. We are equally excited to meet Wendy’s friends this weekend.
Meanwhile, during our research process this morning, we met Troy and his son Brady. They were at the General Store while we were looking into our options. They were very touched by our problems and interested in our expedition. They wanted to help us look for solutions. We have met them several times during the day after this first encounter. Brady is a boy who likes to help others and has a huge heart. With his father, he came to bring us home baked cookies (very good!). They also came back around supper time to bring us a raspberry sorbet (delicious!). We met again with Troy in the evening (Brady was sleeping) on his campsite and talked around the fire. It was a wonderful evening. Thank you again Troy and Brady for your help, your generosity and your time. We really hope to see you again in Traverse City.
At supper time, we returned to the General Store. Wendy mentioned that Robin Adams would be there and that she would cook a great meal for us. Wendy was right...Robin is a fabulous cook! She served us the best burritos that we have ever eaten. They literally tasted like heaven. Attention all! You need to enjoy the cuisine from Robin and taste the donuts from the store.
The day was filled with beautiful and positive encounters. Again, we have witnessed the great generosity of people, their empathy and their kindness.
August 15, 2014
It was very cold when we woke up this morning. But the wind was a little less than the day before. Then around 9:30 am, it looked like someone had just mounted the rheostat, it started to get warm again! It was finally nice! At one point this morning, we thought about paddling, as the water seemed calmer. Thankfully we listened to the voice of wisdom, because the wind and the waves came back quickly and as subtly as a fly in the soup.
Steve, Wendy's boyfriend, arrived around 10:00 am. What a strange coincidence, Pierre and Steve share so much in common. It seems that this encounter was orchestrated in advance by who knows who. When Wendy arrived, she made every effort to find us a campground and even offered for us to stay at her home. We have to mention again Wendy's profound kindness and gentle nature. To know her is to love her. Steve realizes the treasure he has and takes great care of her.
Before we left, we met with Randy. We had met him yesterday with his son Jackson. Randy came to offer us his hammock. What a beautiful gift and such an unexpected one. In fact, it is a loan for the rest of the expedition! Randy, we'll take care of the hammock :) and we will get you a new one! Thank you again for this gift and your generosity.
After all of this we loaded up Steve’s pickup truck, with the canoe secure in the trailer, and headed for Petoskey. Steve took us via the road that goes along Lake Michigan. What a beautiful drive! He also told us a lot of information about the area and we shared stories of our lives throughout the trip. What a great time! Steve took us to the cell phone company which he deals with. The staff was friendly and we came away with everything we needed. Steve, thank you again for your patience. We had dinner together and finally Steve took us to Magnus Park. Wendy had worked hard to find us a camp site in the park. We have a place to stay until Monday morning. Perfect for us to meet Wendy and Steve and their friends Laura and Rand Shackleton. Rand is related to Sir Ernest Shackleton. Ernest Shackleton has always been a model of perseverance for us, a great adventurer and also a great example of leadership. Many books have been published on his journeys and his leadership. He is regularly cited again and again in leadership courses. Shackleton is a hero to both of us. To meet one of his close relatives excited us so much! In addition, Laura and Rand give so much of themselves by working with disadvantaged schools. We can't wait to learn more about them and what they do. We will meet them again Sunday for lunch, with Wendy and Steve.
August 16, 2014
Although the sky was gray this morning, we had a beautiful day. For my part, I took the opportunity to update the website and Pierre did some errands. We have Wi-Fi access here, but the connection is not regular. Nevertheless, I managed to do what I had to do. In the afternoon, Pierre met with Bob. This very nice gentleman invited us to have dinner with him and his wife Norma. We accepted the invitation with pleasure. Bob (or Camper Bob) suffers from bipolarity. He was diagnosed in the late 70s. He told us several passages of his life and how he managed to live well despite his illness. He will never be cure, but he is on his path of recovery. Today, he helps others people who, like him, suffer from bipolarity. He allowed us to share his email address for anyone who would like to contact him: email@example.com.
The dinner was very nice and funny. We even got an episode when Bob took care of the barbecue. It involves mushrooms, a barbecue and a Ziploc bag. ;) Norma and Bob have been married for over 47 years. Norma is a patient and generous lady. Thank you both for the wonderful evening.
Note: Bob, very nice backward roll during the campfire. 9.9 / 10!