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Wild Raven Adventure

Kentucky Lake - Tennessee River / October 6 - 14, 2014

October 6, 2014

We have transportation! It was Penny who found a solution for us. He borrowed a trailer that he could attach behind his pickup truck. Wonderful! He offered to take us where ever we wanted to go. We had thought about the Kentucky Dam State Park. The park is located near the dam and lock, just at the entrance to Kentucky Lake. By going there, we would bypass the problematic area for us. When we arrived at the park, the access to launch our canoe was not easy. So we looked for another place. Finally on the other side of the lake, at Hilleman Ferry Campground, we found the right place. We booked for the night upon arrival (as there was 80% chance of rain and thunderstorms during the day and evening). We thanked Penny again for all his help, and then we set up our camp. The weather forecast for tomorrow is not encouraging. Because of circumstances, Wednesday seems to be the right day to start paddling again.

October 7, 2014

The forecast for the day was not very good. Still an 80% chance of rain and thunderstorms. We can paddle with the rain, but thunderstorms.... that's another thing ... especially when you paddle with carbon paddles. They are excellent conductors of lightning. So we decided to stay another night here. Despite the horrible weather forecast, the day was gorgeous, we even had sunshine! Then Pierre decided to clean the canoe. While cleaning it, he discovered a big crack. A few hours before arriving at Fort Massac on October 2nd, we hit a submerged metal peg (probably a peg for barges). The canoe seemed to crack open by the sound and vibration emitted, but it was hard to tell if we were taking in water at that time. The canoe already had water in it due to heavy rainfall that we had received during the day. When we inspected the canoe the next day, we noticed a large scratch, but there was no indication of a perforation. When Pierre washed the canoe today (inside and out), he was able to assess the extent of the damage. The canoe is perforated longitudinally, there is a slice through the Kevlar fibre, just next to the honeycomb core. This is a disaster for the canoe! We started to search for solutions. After several calls, we had confirmation of what we thought ... a complete repair of the canoe is not an option. We need a new canoe. The rest of the day was spent making calls and searching for alternatives (short and medium term). We expect several answers by tomorrow.

Meanwhile, we spoke with Rhonda McGregor and her daughter Sydney Hayden. They brought us, at lunch, home baked peanut butter cookies. They were really excellent and I must say that they tasted just like those my mother use to make when I was young! Rhonda cooked us a great Italian dinner which was delicious! She also found us places to buy equipment to try to temporarily fix our canoe, so we can keep on moving until we receive a new canoe.

We already want to thank several people who helped us to quickly find solutions. Thank you to Michael Schwenger (our good friend), Greg Button, Chris Dawley and Josh from the StressCrete Group who helped us with transportation logistics for the old canoe and the new canoe to come. Thank you to Morgan from North Water for all of his actions taken at different levels. Thank you to Emily and Rich from Alpine Shop (St. Louis) for all the research and connections made to find a new canoe. Thank you to all of you who have written us to propose solutions or just to comfort us. Thank you Rhonda and Sydney for your great help and generosity. Sydney, always keep your great love and your passion for the outdoors. It was great to meet such an outdoor enthusiast as you are.

October 8, 2014

Pierre and Rhonda went to NAPA to buy a fibreglass kit this morning. Upon their return, Pierre noticed that the kit was not complete, although the box was sealed. Yikes! After contacting the NAPA retailer, we received, here at the campground, a complete new kit. So around 11:00 a.m., Pierre was able to undertake repair work on the canoe. He also talked with Mathieu from HTM Composite (located in Quebec) to confirm what would be the best way to temporarily repair the canoe. Here is what has been done:

  • Fibreglass patch inside to prevent water from entering the canoe and trying to put some strength at this location (now very soft)

  • Duct tape (always the good old Duct tape) outside to prevent leaks

  • The heat made by the products used to fibreglass will “weld” the Duct tape on the hull (the Duct tape has been previously applied)

It is only when everything will be dry that we will know if the repairs will work (at least a few weeks).

Many people worked hard to help us today. We are very fortunate and well supported.

October 9, 2014

It was supposed to be a grey and rainy day again, but we decided at the end of the morning that it was time for us to paddle. We made several phone call before leaving the campground, and we received great news! First, we will have a new canoe in about 3 weeks. Clipper Canoes, a company located in British Columbia, Canada, will help us. With much consideration, support and excellent service, we were offered the Sea Clipper model. We really look forward to paddling our first strokes with this canoe. It was designed for big rivers and ocean touring (which is what we are doing) and the far north. Wonderful! It is as if this canoe was just waiting for us! It has a fast shape, the gunwale raised at the front (I will probably take in less water) and it is very roomy. It is 18'6 'long. It will be Kevlar with a protective layer of gelcoat. We had to choose from many beautiful colours. We chose yellow to be visible on the water. There will still be a lot of traffic over the rest of our journey, so we need to be seen. However, we must review our "interior design", because the configuration of the Sea Clipper is different from our old canoe (made by another company). We will take the time to find the right fitting when we receive it. By late afternoon, we received more good news! Given the change of canoe, we had no choice but to change our spray deck. North Water, with whom we have always done business, will help us too. We will remain well protected from all weather conditions and Jasmine will still have her place on the deck :) Thanks Clipper Canoes and North Water! You have saved our trip, in addition to increasing our pleasure, our comfort and safety.

We paddled 20km this afternoon to get to Fenton campground. The repair is holding well. When we arrived at the boat ramp, a family was fishing on the waterfront. To our delight, Richard, Tommie and Emily offered to help us make the portage. We put all our gear in the back of their pickup truck and then we sat on the tail gate. Pierre held the tip of the boat, which was mounted on its transportation wheels. It was one of our easiest portages. Thank you for the help!

October 10, 2014

Rainy day. We stayed on site at Fenton Campground. Last night we had a visit from coyotes. Jasmine played her part by barking repeatedly. We received a lot of rain overnight, but the tent remained dry. Coming out from our shelter this morning, we enjoyed the fall season, smells and colours. Everything was soggy around us, the humidity was 98%. Merely being outside made ​​our clothes wet.

During the day, we meet with our camping neighbours. Dale & Mary are on vacation here with their grandson, Elijah (whom they have legal custody), and with Dale's mother, Erma, and her husband, James. Elijah is adorable! At four years old, he spreads good cheer around him. Dale offered to take us to do our errands in Murray. I went with him. While driving, we exchanged stories about our experiences, our beliefs and values. It was very interesting. When we returned, Pierre was being interviewed by a reporter from the Tribune Courier. Rachel Vaughan had found us thanks to a call received at the newspaper office to report our presence in the region. We had a lot of fun talking with Rachel. She was very natural and open. We had a good laugh at the "Y'all", we hear this more and more since we're in Kentucky.

That evening, we again heard coyotes.

October 11, 2014

Last night, in addition to coyotes, we heard gobbling wild turkeys near the tent and a wolf howling. There's life in this park! We also saw deer during the day. We stayed put today due to the rain and the wind, but, the afternoon was not too bad. The climate is still very humid and it seems to me that moss is going to grow on us!

During the day, we met a Montreal lady (Quebec, Canada) on vacation here. It was a very good and inspiring encounter. Louise is traveling alone. She is 67 years old and she will travel the next year across the United States and Canada in her pickup truck and her fifth wheel camper. She is capable of anything! She is very resourceful and a go-getter. She has an exciting life filled with adventure. She transforms dreams into projects and realizes them. It was a privilege to meet you Louise!

Late afternoon, we received a wonderful visit. We were really happy to see our friends Cindy and Grant (As The Crow Flies). They took a week to escape to Nashville and Memphis. They had rented a car for the duration of their trip and they were now on the way back to their boat further south of us. Despite a large detour, they came to have dinner with us. They brought groceries, so we cooked over the fire. They also brought food for Jasmine (bought in Nashville ... there was no dealer close to us and there will be none for a long time). Jasmine enjoyed her surprise from Cindy! We spent a very pleasant evening and had many good laughs. Thank you again Cindy and Grant for driving all the way here to see us, for bringing Jasmine food, and for sharing such a nice evening with us.

October 12, 2014

Finally, we are back on the water. We felt numb from not being active lately. It felt good to use our muscles!

Before leaving, we said goodbye to our neighbours. Dale allowed us to make an easy portage to the boat ramp with his truck. The sky was grey, and we knew it was going to rain in the afternoon, but we wanted to move on. So far, the repair holds up. We can also see that there has been infiltration of water into the honeycomb core. Hopefully, the temperature won’t drop below zero before we get the new canoe. Our canoe is still a very good and fast canoe and we have enjoyed it. But now, its purpose will soon end.

Kentucky Lake is really pretty. We appreciate this national park and nature preservation. The leaves in the trees are progressively changing colour and it gives an additional charm to the area. At several points during the day, we were amazed by the scenery. We saw pelicans (it's been awhile since we had seen one), we also saw several turkey vultures, blue herons, wild turkeys and a coyote. For lunch, we stopped on a pebble beach. There was a fisherman just in front of the beach with whom we talked for a while. This little place was surrounded by a steep cliff. We found a shell of an armadillo and many carcasses of large fish.

We finished our day at Piney Campground. This is the southernmost campground of the "The Land between the Lakes" National Park. We were lucky because we had time to set up our camp without getting wet, even though the sky was grey and heavy. We were greeted by several friendly campers. Lots of people came to talk to us and they were all willing to help. We even received an invitation to eat potato soup with a family. Unfortunately, when they came to pick us up, we had not finished setting up our camp and had to decline the offer at the last minute. Jeff, who was working at the gatehouse, gave us wood to make a fire. Southern hospitality is definitely evident! People are friendly, proactive and sincerely want to help out. There was even a person who wanted to pay for our night at the campground! We learned this from Jeff and Leeann, a very charming and generous couple working at the gatehouse. We also received a donation and a poem by Seth, he had left them close to our tent before leaving, while we were out for a walk. Seth thank you for the very nice gesture! Here is the poem:

Camping on Kentucky Lake

Talking to my Friends –

And the rocks

Around the fire.

The lake is black and still.

Coyotes climb on the water and carry themselves everywhere.

Lungs tight –

Stories stopped. –

We don’t much matter –


But it is good to be here –

Catching our breath.

October 13, 2014

The weather forecast is very bad today, especially for the late afternoon and evening. There will be possible tornado formations in the storm system that is coming west from us. With that information, we opted to remain here! We received an invitation to eat fried fish, but we had to decline. We had another invitation to do errands. Leeann and Jeff picked us up this morning to take us to do our shopping in Paris. Yep! Paris! Who would have thought? There is even an Eiffel tower in the village and we saw it twice! Later, Jeff and Leeann invited us to dinner at a Chinese restaurant. It's been so long since we had eaten Chinese! We really enjoyed it! Then they drove us, just about everywhere, to find topo maps of Tennessee (which we did not find). Thank you Jeff and Leeann for your help and generosity! You treated us with such welcome! Thank you for all the information that you gave us including the history of the region. We learned a lot with Y’All! :)

We began preparations to make our camp ready for the extreme weather conditions. The canoe was tied between two trees and covered with it’s spray deck. The tent and the tarp were fully secured. All our equipment has been stored away in the vestibules of the tent. We filled up with water and planned to be stuck for a long time in our tent. We were also ready to run quickly if the tornado siren was activated. The tornado shelter closest to us is the building where the showers and restrooms are.

During the height of the storm, we communicated with Karin and David, our great friends from Quebec, who were worried about us. It was very pleasant to communicate together. :) We also communicated with Cindy and Grant, who were also caught in the storm. For us, the storm was not too bad. There was wind, rain, lots of lightning, but no tornadoes. Cindy and Grant had to find refuge in a shelter with other boaters. They were located about 1 hour south of us, close to where a tornado touched down. Fortunately, there was no damage and everyone is healthy.

Jeff came by a few times to check on us.

October 14, 2014

Another grey and rainy day, so we decided to remain at Piney campground. We talked to several people during the day. Definitely, southern hospitality is really true! We receive lots of invitations, offers, treats and donations. That's incredible! Truly amazing! There is not a day when we are not surprised by what people are willing to do to help us. It is amazing! We often say it, but we have been overwhelmed by all this generosity, kindness, a sense of mutual support and fellowship. It's refreshing, inspiring and deeply touching.

In the evening, we had dinner with Jeff and Leeann. We had what they call the "Hillbillies pork." It was delicious! It is a southern meal that is found in the area. We were happy to taste local food. Leeann had also prepared a delicious soup. Thank you again to both of you for your great hospitality. We spent a wonderful evening with you. We hope your trip back to Nashville went well.

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