Small change for the blog ... rather than writing up each day, I'll do a summary of the week.
There are so many things that have happened over the last seven days. First, we stayed two extra nights in Grafton Harbor. The staff is really nice and the owners were very kind to us. On Sunday, September 21, there was a brunch for the loopers. We did not attend as we had far too much to do. Instead we did the laundry, we planned our next days and tried to finalize last week's blog post. When the loopers returned, it was crazy, but a beautiful madness! We are now known by everyone! Everybody was talking to us! It was impossible for us to keep on working as we were constantly approached by people wanting to talk about our adventure. In the afternoon we went to join King and Sharon, on "Blue Moon", so that we could continue working. Thank you Sharon and King for welcoming us and allowing us to use your boat as an office. Much of the next morning was also spent on "Blue Moon". That evening, we had dinner with Cindy and Grant on their boat. Grant’s spaghetti was really delicious! It was a beautiful evening! Thank you both.
The next day we finished up our administrative duties. In the afternoon we walked to the vineyard, located at the top of the hill, above Grafton Harbor. The view was stunning! In the evening, the King's hosted a dinner in our honour. Everyone brought a dish to our campsite. We met with many boaters that night. The evening was a success and we greatly appreciated the initiative of King and Sharon. It was very strange for us to have had a special night just for us. Thank you again to you both and to everyone who came to spend the evening with us!
Tuesday morning we left Grafton, but, first we had a hearty breakfast on the "Blue Moon", courtesy of King and Sharon. We shared a great time, in good company, with our hosts plus, Cindy and Grant. Afterwards our friends accompanied us to the boat ramp. We were glad to get back on the water, but at the same time sad to know that we won't be seeing our friends again until a distant future. The sun was shining bright this morning and we made good progress during the day. We paddled to St. Louis where Stewart Munson was waiting for us with his family. We met them in Hessel earlier in August, when they offered to let us set up our tent on their land. They had planned well for our arrival in St. Louis. Stewart had also included JoJo and Hogan as part of the welcome committee. It was around 14:00 that we met them, for the first time that day, at the Chain of Rock. Hogan and Jojo were there when we arrived and had snacks, drinks and watermelon ready for us. Jojo and Hogan, along with two strangers (whom we thank), helped us portage our gear. Then we headed down the Mississippi to St. Louis where we stopped just before the arch and after the new bridge. Stewart and Jojo were waiting when we arrived. We could not have asked for a better welcome. Just fantastic!
Stewart took us on a tour of the city before driving us to his in-laws, Robin and Kip Ruhl. We were so happy to see them again. There, the whole family gathered for a good dinner. It was a very enjoyable evening. Thank you all for your welcome, your generosity and hospitality.
The next day we finalized the power point presentation for that evening and did some errands with the pickup truck that Stewart had generously lent to us. By late afternoon, we learned that the presentation was postponed to the next day. Then, since it was Stewart's birthday, we went out to celebrate. We laughed during the dinner and I personally learned a new word in English that I have happily used since then.
Thursday, we prepared an alternative presentation for the evening (subject to the requests we received). Then we visited Stewart at his business, Maplewood Bicycle. The store is great, the staff is professional and the quality of equipment and service speak for themselves. Maplewood Bicycle is reputed to have extensive expertise in bikes ... whether it be for bike enthusiasts, athletes or triathletes. Many people from across the U. S. come to Maplewood Bicycle for their expertise. Impressive! They have equipment on the cutting edge of technology. Simply.... Congratulations!
In the evening, we went to the Alpine Shop. This is where our presentation took place. We met many people that evening. It was very nice. The Alpine Shop staff are very friendly and the owners are passionate. We talked for quite a while. The store is large and offers a great choice of clothing and equipment for winter and summer sports. There is everything you will ever need for camping excursions. It's a place to stop!
Friday morning, Stewart drove us to meet Perry and Emily, from the Alpine Shop. They transported our boat, which had been kept in the store entrance during our stay in St. Louis. We had breakfast at a restaurant before heading off to the Mississippi River. We launched the canoe in the same place where we had arrived a few days earlier. Perry paddled with us during the day. It was very pleasant to share a beautiful day of paddling with a water sports lover and very good kayaker. We arrived in the afternoon at the Hoppies Marina. Emily came to pick up Perry and we set up our camp on the hill overlooking the marina. Emily, Perry and the Alpine Shop: a big and huge thanks for the hospitality that you have shown us throughout our stay in St. Louis. Thank you for the transportation, the loan of the trailer, your time, your passion and interest. Stewart, we are grateful to you for everything. Your devotion and your help are legendary, just like your good humor. Kip and Robin, we appreciated everything you did for us. Thank you for opening your home to us. You are fantastic and you both have a special place in our hearts.
Saturday, we stayed at the Hoppies Marina, located in the town of Kimmswick. We took advantage of our day off to go walking in the village. We were very surprised at how busy it was. There is a cluster of small shops and a very good restaurant. The town was swarming with people! The streets, as well as the facades of the shops, are really pretty. Back at the marina, we prepared for tomorrow. We wanted to leave early to avoid the hottest part of the day ... it's very hot these days! Ha! I would also like to mention that the owner of the marina is Fern. She is a lady full of knowledge on navigation and on the Mississippi. At the end of every day, she invites boaters to an information meeting ... not to be missed!