It was raining this morning and has rained all day. We stayed put at Woodford State Park. The park remained deserted as before. We were alone, all by ourselves. We learned though, from the park manager who came to do a quick visit, that squirrel hunting was underway. We thought about taking out a hunting license for Jasmine. For once, she would have the legal right to catch squirrels! ;) In the evening, we had a visit from Lucy and Dean Moyer. They live near by and offered us their hospitality and assistance if we needed it. Really nice of them. Thank you for the offers.
Small addition to yesterday's story ... we saw our first jumping carps. Many hit the canoe, but fortunately we were spared. One of them jumped right over the canoe, from one side to the other. Jasmine failed to catch it while it flew over. We think that she would enjoy hunting for carp also.
September 16, 2014
It was very foggy this morning when we woke up and already we could hear rifle fire. Fortunately, the fog cleared just in time for us to begin paddling and more importantly, to be seen by the hunters.
We think that the Illinois River is very pretty, although its water is brown and troubled. We began, also, to feel the southern aspects of nature. We saw lots of pelicans today.
We arrived at the IVY Club, in Peoria Heights, around lunch time. We want to meet up with Ron and Jan Matuska from the "Adagio". They contacted us after visiting our website. We met the marina’s owner upon our arrival. He kindly invited us to stay on the beach owned by the IVY Club if we wanted to, but, we had errands to do downtown and the conditions were favourable to continue. So, after lunch, we headed towards the public dock in Peoria, where "Blue Moon" and "As the Crow Flies" are moored. We got there in no time! We were really happy to see our looper friends again. Ron also joined us and drove us into town so we could do errands. Thank you Ron! It was a pleasure meeting you and we greatly appreciated your help.
We rafted the canoe to "Blue Moon" and put our equipment on King and Sharon’s boat before dinner. Jasmine happily remained onboard "As the Crow Flies" during dinner. She really loves Cindy and Grant’s boat...especially their bed! :) Near the boat "As the Crow Flies", there were the Pinta and Nina ships. This is the third time we have met them, the first time was in Frankfort, then in Muskegon on Lake Michigan. We spent a very pleasant evening in good company and we had a lot of fun. Thank you Sharon and King for inviting us to stay on your boat for the night. It was greatly appreciated. Thank you for your hospitality! And thank you Cindy and Grant for taking such good care of Jasmine.
September 17, 2014
After a great breakfast with the whole gang on the Blue Moon, we left around 9:30 in the direction of ... well as far as we could. It was cold this morning, but we felt good paddling. The day was very productive. We made 43 miles or 69km. Along the way, we saw many swallows and pelicans. In some shrubs, which grow mostly on the east side of the shore and look like papyrus, we could hear thousands of insects singing. The noise was very loud at times. We have no idea what kind they were.
We took the opportunity to enjoy a beautiful day with little wind. By late afternoon, there was no wind, not even a leaf stirred on the trees. Although, we have a good head wind ... wind we generate ourselves because of our speed. The current was strong and we paddled well.
We arrived around 17:30 in Havana. The place is very charming and it only cost $5.00 to sleep on the campground. Our friends were all tied up at the Tall Timbers Marina, located next door. They welcomed us with wide open arms and were impressed with our paddling speed. It warmed our hearts to be welcomed like that. They offered to cook hamburgers near our camp and we made a fire. Another really lovely evening. Thank you all for the welcome, the hamburgers and your company. These moment are truly valuable to us and we are grateful.
September 18, 2014
We left at 8:30 this morning. Our friends went ahead to mile 88 and docked on a barge at the entrance to Beardstown. We made good progress in the morning. Around 2:20 p.m. we arrived at mile 88. We moored on the barge and walked into town to meet with our friends. They had texted us prior to our arrival, but, our phone was not working. We didn't find them, so we decided to enjoy more of the good weather and the current, to move on. Several people had told us about the Boatel,located just over 20 miles from Beardstown, in the village of Naples. It is there that we ended our paddling day. It was nearly 19:00 when we arrived, after traveling 56 miles, 90km, it was starting to get dark. The Boatel is a very nice restaurant where you "have to" stop. The owner was really nice, allowing us to sleep on the restaurant property and the use of it's facilities.
It was a beautiful day of paddling. At times we were moving at 12km/h. We were tired at the end of our 10.5 hours paddling day, but it was worth it. We saw a lot of bald eagles, royal eagles, pelicans and swallows. We also saw different vegetation along the shore.
September 19, 2014
It was funny this morning to see a pelican floating south on a branch. He had found a lazy way to move along without getting tired. For us, it was quite the opposite. The wind was strong all day. Our destination was 44miles or 71km along. We wanted to get to Hardin where our friends were going. We succeeded, but, with great effort. The "Blue Moon" offered to tow us, but we declined. It was very nice of them to offer.
The scenery was beautiful today and it was very hot. We were happy to arrive in Hardin. Again, we received a very warm welcome from Cindy, Grant, Sharon and King. It was really fun and very much appreciated. We had permission to pitch our tent on the restaurant grounds, near the docks. After we set up we all went out to have dinner. It was worth it! The prices are very affordable and the pies are incredibly good. Grant made us laugh with the frog legs! Cindy also gave me a pendant. I had given her, a few days earlier, a Petoskey stone. She made a piece of jewelry with it and gave it back to me. Thank you very much Cindy. I know it took a lot of time and I certainly did not expect to get the stone back. Thank you very much for this nice surprise.
We ended the evening with an aperitif on "As The Crow Flies". We all told jokes and we had fun. ... Another beautiful day shared with really interesting people.
September 20, 2014
That's it!... the Illinois River is completed! We only had to do 21 miles to get to Grafton, a town where the Illinois and Mississippi rivers meet. It was windy today. We started later, around 11:00 am, after a good breakfast in good company.
When we arrived, Cindy and Grant took good care of Jasmine. King and Sharon had already talked to the marina’s owners about us. The owners, Jan and Joe were very friendly and caring. They had taken steps to get permission from the Sheriff so that we could set up our camp on the grounds, near the docks. The marina is called Grafton Harbor. We were very well received. The staff even got us a stove and wood. We spent another wonderful evening around a fire in good company. We cooked for the gang... Mediterranean Pasta, from Harvest Foodwork,and Snackeroons. They all loved it!
We also met Steve and Sheli Sterk from Pura Vida. Funny fact, they know the Lansing family (that we met in Penwater with the Lanser). Small world! We also met many people that are doing the Great Loop. Tomorrow morning there will be a brunch for all loopers. There will be about 27 of them here in Grafton. Impressive! What a very nice community!