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Wild Raven Adventure

End of Michigan Lake & Illinois River / September 5 - 14, 2014

September 5, 2014

We had a good night in the comfort of Mike & Jane’s trailer. After a shower and a good breakfast, Pierre went with Mike to Mike's place of business. Jane and the children were all very busy during the day (school, transportation, appointments ...). For my part, I stayed at home to update our blog and to do administrative tasks. It was very exciting for Pierre to visit Mike’s company. He learned a lot about the vision of this great company and its many facets. Pierre told me about his day with passion and fascination. After hearing his story, I was equally impressed, intrigued and passionate. The company advocates leadership, responsibility and deep values. We also had several interesting discussions on life, philosophy, religion, society and the economy.

Before supper, Pierre began work on the tree. He also showed me the excellent work done by Mike to improve our wheels. Super! Then we went out to dinner before picking up Ella & Faith at a football game in Zeeland (the Chix vs Duck ... great rivalry between the two teams from the same school).

September 6, 2014

This Saturday morning, the whole family worked on the tree. We got our hands dirty too. In a short time, everything was back to normal. Mike and Jane also offered to take us to South Haven. The wind still keeps us from moving and it is late in the season to be on Lake Michigan (not because we are sick of being there, on the contrary we love Michigan, but because fall is coming and we were supposed to be off of the lake by September 1st). It was therefore agreed, that tomorrow (Sunday), they will drive us to South Haven. This morning, we received an unexpected visit from Lynn’s sister. What a nice surprise! Her sister is dynamic and there are some points of resemblance to Lynn. It was very interesting to meet her.

In the afternoon, we walked into town. We went into the downtown (very nice) and returned along the shore of Lake Macatawa. We also smelled the pickle factory, passing near the Heinz plant. We had a very good dinner with the whole family. Then, to our surprise and delight, Mark, Mindi, and Mindi's father came to see us. They found us through inReach. Mark and Mindi drove us across the Mackinac Bridge at the beginning of Lake Michigan. In five weeks, they will be in Guatemala for their humanitarian project. We look forward to hearing about their experience.

September 7, 2014

Mike, Jane and their children went for a reading session this morning. We stayed at home to prepare our equipment for transport. Upon their return, we talked, then we were off to Covert campground, south of South Haven. Again, there were very beautiful and fruitful discussions throughout the trip. We really enjoyed our stay with the Lansers. We learned a lot and broadened our horizons. They showed us infinite kindness.

8-9 September 2014

We left Covert vowing that we would do as many kilometers as possible. We have made good progress during the day. The scenery was very beautiful. During the day, we thought of all the people we met in Michigan and how they were all important to us. Lake Michigan and Michigan deeply touched our hearts. We never imagined so much goodness, kindness and generosity. Every person we met was unique and they are all dear to our heart. The people of Michigan know how to live every day by "being kind to one another".

We stopped at Warren Dunes State Park for dinner. It was very beautiful. Tonight is the full moon. According to the weather forecast, we have a weather window for us to paddle during the night. Tomorrow, it is supposed to rain. After talking, we decided to make a night navigation to get to Indiana Dunes State Park. The park will mark the end of the state of Michigan.

After a two hour stop for dinner, we left around 8:00 pm for a 50km night paddle. It was worth it! We were graced by a beautiful sunset at the same time as the moon rose above the sand dunes. Truly magical and memorable. The night paddling went very smoothly. We stopped to sleep on a beach 5km from the park before resuming paddling with the morning light. What a fantastic night it was! For me, it was my first time. I am so proud to have done 100km in less than 24hrs. It was thrilling to see the lights from Chicago appear as we went along. We could see buildings in the morning.

After a portage of about 2km, we arrived at the campground. We set up our camp, but it was not until the afternoon that we were able to get some sleep. We are thrilled to have seen so many beautiful things in such a short time. We think of all the people we have met in Michigan. To all of you, we say goodbye, thank you and and hope to see you again!

September 10, 2014

It rained hard during the night. There were warnings for "flash floods" in the region. We managed to stay dry that night. It was not the case for our fellow campers. Around 11:00 am, Dan and Lynda Covey (whom we had met in Traverse City) picked us up at the park. When we had met them in Traverse City they had offered to transport us out of the Chicago region and the risky zones. In addition to offering transport, they invited us to stay at their home for the night. Again, so much generosity and kindness. We are blessed.

At their beautiful home, we met Max, their 11 year old dog, who is still very energetic. After dinner, Dan and Linda gave us a tour of Chicago. We could not have asked for more. The city is really beautiful and we believe it would easily take several weeks to see everything. Thank you Dan and Lynda! We greatly appreciated the visit and the knowledge you have of this beautiful city. We deeply appreciate the time and opportunities you gave us.

September 11, 2014

Dan and Lynda, very generously, drove us to do our errands before heading to Starved Rock State Park in Illinois. By taking us so far, we bypassed all the risky sections and especially, any dangerous, Chicago neighbourhoods. A thousand thank yous for your time and help! We had dinner in a really nice Irish pub in Utica (Duff's Pub). The burgers were excellent and it was typical of a real Irish pub. Very nice!

The campground is located about 5km from the ramp (too far for our wheels). With Dan's help, we met Mark McConnaughhay and Randy Timmons, both work for the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). These two have offered us transportation when we are ready to launch. We were relieved and really excited to start our Illinois trip so positively. We believe that we are starting a new journey from here. We leave behind the Great Lakes and start our travels on a river south of Ottawa, Illinois. The last time we were on a river, it was in Ottawa, Ontario Canada … the place we started our trip. When Dan and Lynda left us, we had butterflies in our stomach just as we did on our very first day.

September 12, 2014

Rest day. The temperature doesn't permit paddling. In addition, the river is very high and we have to monitor warnings for flooding. At lunchtime, we had a visit from Mark, a former DNR police officer and a fascinating historian. He told us about the history of this region with great passion. He has written two books. It was very interesting to meet him and feels his passion for history.

By late afternoon, Randy and Mark came to visit us. Randy gave us a box of fresh tomatoes and two green peppers. We were really happy! This area is famous for its tomatoes and corn. Having tasted the tomatoes, we admit, they are really delicious! Mark brought us a bottle of wine. We were really spoiled again! It's amazing how people are so nice. Each time, we cannot believe all of the kindness. We often talk about it, but it's true ... people are so generous and kind.

September 13, 2014

We checked the state of the river before deciding to move. After talking with the lock master, we contacted Mark. He arrived quickly with lots of information that can help us during our journey in Illinois. We put all our gear in the trailer and in no time we were at the boat ramp. We met Jolyn, Mark's colleague. We would like to mention that the DNR staff are really super nice and helpful. DNR can be proud of its employees and the welcome they offer visitors. It was sunny all day. We were happy to start our "new" trip on the Illinois River.

The water is brown and we cannot see anything underwater. The shoreline is mostly covered

with trees. We crossed some towboats with barges, one with 15 barges (3X5). That's impressive! We actually managed to outrun it and we could hear comments from the pilots on the VHF radio. It was great fun! We arrived at Hennepin late afternoon where two boats (loopers) were already docked. It was very funny, because both had read our website that morning. They are Cindy and Grant Crowson of "As the Crow Flies", Canadians, and King and Sharon Cole of "Blue Moon", Americans. Cindy & Grant invited us all to have dinner with them on board their boat.

After putting our feet on the ground, Pierre went to inquire if we could camp here. Finally, the deputy, Buck Gapinski, gave us permission. He even invited us to take a shower at the Sherif's Station. This gave us the opportunity to visit the oldest court house in Illinois. It was inaugurated in 1828. The furniture is authentic and the building houses some very old paintings and books. Beautiful! In addition, there are several old documents on the walls, some signed by Abraham Lincoln. It also possesses the oldest known picture of Abraham Lincoln, he was 34 at the time.

We spent a lovely evening with our new "loopers" friends. A thousand thank yous for

dinner and the evening!

September 14, 2014

It's been 100 days since we left. After breakfast, King and Sharon generously gave us

their Great Loop flag which was on their boat "Blue Moon." The gesture was very much

appreciated. We too will be recognized now by the other loopers. Thank you so much!

Thereafter, we started paddling. It has been windy all day and the wind was cold at

times. Still, we made good progress. We stopped for the night at Woodland State Park.

The park was virtually deserted. No campers and no rangers, no one to greet us. So we

set up our camp on the site of our choice.

After dinner, we had a visit from Harley and Marlene Aeschleman. They were driving by

and stopped. They generously gave us corn, which they had purchased earlier in the

day. Again, so much kindness! Thank you to you both!

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