Lake Michigan / August 17 - 25, 2014
August 17, 2014
This morning, the water was so calm, not a ripple and no wind. It would have been a perfect day for paddling, but we had a date with friends and were really looking forward to it. Our expedition is not just a canoe trip, it's a human adventure. We want to share with people and build relationships. We want to live intensely positive and inspiring experiences, and today the experience was very positive and rewarding.
Steve picked us up at the campground around 10:30. We talked on our way to the restaurant about many of our passions and exchanged views on several topics. Geez, we really have a lot in common with Steve! We went to join Wendy, Laura and Rand for dinner at Legs Inn (www.legsinn.com). This restaurant offers really excellent and affordable Polish cuisine. The owner, George Smolak, was born in Poland. It was at the port of Quebec, our old home town, that Mr. Smolak landed in America many years ago. What a coincidence! We talked awhile with Mr. Smolak. He shared his fascinating story with us and treated us all to a divine dessert. Then, really wanting to help us, he gave us a huge package of Polish sausage. Wow! We will not be lacking protein soon. What a generous gift. Thank you so much Mr. Smolak!
The dinner was really nice and the company delightful. We talked about many things and shared many stories. We also spoke of Sir Ernest Shackleton and his expedition of 1914-1916 that has inspired so many people. We spoke about leadership and the talks that Rand gives in schools, all based on Shackleton's style of leadership. Rand is the cousin of the famous explorer. He showed us a picture of him sitting next to a painting of Ernest. The resemblance is striking. Laura and Rand are a charming couple, and Wendy and Steve are infinitely kind and wonderful.
After dinner we stopped at Wendy’s place. She owns a beautiful piece of land in a quiet haven, which Steve takes good care of. Wendy gave us fresh vegetables from her garden for our next dinner at the campground.
Again, thank you to all of you for this wonderful day! You made a positive impact on our journey and on our lives.
August 18, 2014
Yahoo! This morning, the water was calm and the wind was light. Moreover, it was blowing from the northeast, excellent for helping us get out of the bay. We did not leave very early this morning, around 10:30. We waited for news from the local paper (thank you Wendy for the connection). We also met up again with Bob and Norma. What an exciting and inspiring encounter. Bob is currently writing his memoirs. It will be fascinating to read upon completion. Bob and Norma have also contributed to our expedition. We could feel their emotions when we said goodbye and started paddling.
It feels good to be on the water. I haven’t paddled since August 9. We even managed to gain weight during those eight days of leisure. It's good for our morale and our muscles to be on the water again. Our paddling day went well. It is fascinating to see the difference between the waters of Lake Michigan, Huron and Superior. Each lake has its own characteristics and unique features. The water here is very beautiful too, but the colours are slightly different. Instead of having a green hue, the water is rather blue. At times, depending on the rocks on the lake bottom, the water is turquoise. It is as if someone has deposited precious stones in certain places to give the effect of brightness, deepness and richness. It really seemed that the lake bed was lined with turquoise rocks. Really beautiful! The shore consists of many beaches that are formed by pale golden sand.
We arrived at Fisherman's State Park in the late afternoon. The staff was very welcoming. We quickly set up our tarp and then pitched the tent. The forecast announced rain this evening, tonight and tomorrow. More than a 90% chance of rain and thunderstorms.
August 19, 2014
Day off. With this unchanged forecast we did not take any chances. Moreover, the 90% chance of rain and thunderstorms was in effect for the day and the evening. Despite these warnings, we have not received a lot of rain, just a little last night and again this morning. The sun has even shown its face several times. It was frustrating in the late afternoon to see that we could have enjoyed a beautiful paddling day without wind or waves. No rain has fallen during the day, although, it has been very humid all day and everything remains damp.
We took advantage of the shuttle service to do errands and walked on the beach. We hope to paddle tomorrow, but it is forecasted to be bad weather for the whole week.
We have noticed, since our arrival, that many people spend a lot of time picking up pebbles on the beach. We asked a lady what she was collecting. She told us Petoskey Stones. These stones vary in colour and size. They are evidence of the existence of life long before the ice age. Fossils are visible only when the stone is wet, or if it has been sanded and varnished. The fossils are made from coral that existed more than 350 million years, long before the reign of the dinosaurs. The region is known worldwide for its stones. They are mainly used to make jewelry.
August 20, 2014
This morning there was no wind, but a dense fog. We could not see the beach from the top of the small hill where the campground is located. We can’t move in this dense fog, because we wouldn’t be able to see the shoreline or even rocks close to the water surface. Although they were forecasting only a 30% chance of rain, it rained almost all day, so we did not move at all. We decided to contact Steve again. The forecast is bad for the rest of the week, and we have an appointment in Traverse City this Friday. Again, Steve kindly accepted our request and told us that he’ll be here around 9am tomorrow.
By late afternoon, we received a call from a reporter from 7&4 News in Traverse City (UpNorthLive.com). She asked to meet us at 7pm for an interview. We gladly accepted the invitation. So late in the day, we met Jamie Innis, a very nice and professional person. Jamie thank you for the opportunity to share our story.
August 21, 2014
Ho ho! This morning there was no wind or waves. A perfect day for paddling, but Steve was already on his way. We were really happy to see him again. We loaded his truck and trailer, then we headed for Traverse City. The day was just beautiful. We arrived at the campground (Traverse City State Park) about an hour after leaving Charlevoix. We spent a lovely morning with Steve in the city, then we went back to the campground. We set up our camp, and gave another interview, this time with the Huffington Post of Detroit.
August 22, 2014
Beautiful day today for paddling, but we had an appointment with Troy, Brady and Missy. We met Troy and Brady at Wilderness State Park a little over a week ago. It will be wonderful to see them again tonight. During the day, we also had another interview, this time, with the Petoskey newspaper.
Troy and Brady picked us up around 4pm and took us to their beautiful home. We had not met Missy before. She welcomed us with open arms. We even had the chance to do our laundry at their place. The dinner was delicious and it was very fun to learn more about our new friends during the evening. Brady is also a very interesting boy. He is only 6 years old ... and we thought he was 10. He is very mature for his age and very knowledgeable. He is interested in survival and cooking ... two essential elements to be in the outdoors! Tomorrow, Troy will come and get us at the campground. We will go canoeing with his family, his brother and his brother’s family and his mother on the Crystal River near Glen Arbor.
Missy, Troy and Brady: a huge thank you for everything! Your kindness, your warmth and generosity have touched us deeply. Thank you for the excellent dinner and for letting us use your washer and dryer. Thank you for the biscuits for Jasmine and the survival kit that Brady gave us. Thank you also for the breakfast.
August 23, 2014
What a beautiful day it was! We went canoeing with Missy, Troy & Brady on the Crystal River. Troy's mother Debbie was part of the group, as well as his brother Scott, his sister-in-law Bethany and the two 2 years old twin nephews, Bentley and Lachlan Troy's mother is simply a great grandma. She was running with Brady in the river and he was shooting water at her. She also had one of the twins with her in her kayak throughout the descent. There is a strong bond between the brothers, Troy and Scott, and their mother. They love to tease her about her dog.
Crystal River is a shallow river. The water is warm and clear. The sand is golden and its shore is lined with several species of trees, including cedars. The area is especially pretty. We had a lot of fun travelling down the river with the whole family. It was a beautiful day.
After the descent, Troy and Missy drove us to the D H Day Campground. We were lucky to have a place for the night. We were assigned to a space that was not even supposed to be rented.
Missy, Troy and Brady: a thousand thank you again for your generosity, the great day and for sharing family moments with us.
August 24, 2014
Beautiful day! We covered 50km today and arrived at a beautiful place. The Sleeping Bear park is really beautiful and it's sand dunes are definitely worth seeing. (Just to add to your list of things to see and do at least once in your life.) The dunes provide impressive views of the water and at times they are very steep and descend right into Lake Michigan. Beautiful! So unique! In one place in particular, I believe Old Baldy Dune, people were trying to climb up the sand dune from the bottom. Everyone ended up sitting for a time because the climb was so steep that even the most fit people were out of breath. (I think I would have been!).
We also saw a beautiful fort at Point Betsie. We managed to take a picture from the water while thinking of Ted and Jayne (who travel to visit forts). We arrived in Frankfurt in the late afternoon. We searched in vain for a place to set up our tent. All of the marinas have given us "no" for an answer. Continuing to search, we found a B & B in Elberta. Jan and Bill Buck are the owners and we were made to feel very welcome. While they are Americans, they lived a long time in France and speak French fluently."LaRue House Bed & Breakfast" (www.laruehousebb.com) was not located on the water. However, transferring our things was not a problem and there was a boat launch nearby. On our way we drove past a restaurant where a couple noticed us. They came to meet us shortly after we arrived at our destination. He had visited our website and they came to give us a donation. This allowed us to go out for dinner tonight! We wish to acknowledge and thank Greg and Cindi McPherson. They own a Bed & Breakfast in Bear Lake.
August 25, 2014
Day off. It rained hard this morning and the risk of thunderstorms remained high throughout the day, into the evening. We had coffee with Jan and Bill at the B & B. The lovely house dates from 1880 and belonged to Jan’s grandfather. Jan told us the history of the house, as well as the house located next door, built in 1889, the house they live in. We also learned that Jan's descendants (La Rue) were one of the first European families to have settled in this Michigan region. We heard many interesting stories, a part of local history. Jan and Bill graciously invited us to stay for another night at their B & B. Thank you so much for your generosity!
Pierre also took the time to get a haircut. His first time since we began the trip. He went to the hairdresser in Elberta. The hairdresser cut his hair for free. Thank you!