Grey and rainy again today. It's real autumn weather. It is that time of the year that you start cooking hot and comforting dishes. We spent the day resting. We spoke with our neighbour who was very interesting. For my part, I tried to post on our web site, but the connection is not good. In the evening, Addie came to see us and contributed also to our journey. Thank you so much Addie! Again, southern hospitality! :)
We are looking forward to paddling tomorrow. We have many miles to go before we get closer to Tuscaloosa (where our new canoe will be delivered).
October 16, 2014
We left Piney Campground well supported. There were many people who came to see us this morning and provide support for our expedition. Addie, Katie, Noah, Gail, Sherry, Andrew and Evan were all present on the waterfront and wished us a good and safe trip.
We had a beautiful day of paddling. We even had the sun with us in the afternoon. We saw turtles galore! For the most part, they had a relatively slick shell with a row of triangular peaks in the centre. They are part of the snapping turtle family, their name is alligator snapping turtle. There was current and wind today.
Late afternoon, we met a really interesting group. We met them when we were looking for the marina manager located in Turtle Creek. Greg was driving his pickup truck pulling a trailer full of hay bales. Everyone was sitting on the bales. There were several teachers among the group (on fall break for the rest of the week). Beverly invited us for a glass of sangria, and then the whole group invited us to dinner with them. What a great evening we had! It was really pleasant and an unforgettable encounter.
From Greg, we learned that there were three types of snakes to be careful of in the region, the Rattlesnake, the Water Moccasin snake and the Copper Head snake.
October 17, 2014
We started paddling around 8:30 today. It was very dark when we got up this morning. There was a lot of wind during the day and the current was stronger. Despite the current, we still made 42 km. We stopped for the day at a boat ramp (which belongs to a refuge land). We were informed by local people that we did not have the right to camp there. Given the time, we decided to try our luck. We met some very nice people there, including Mike and Brenda. The evening was short for us and darkness settled in quickly.
October 18, 2014
We left around 7:30 this morning. Before our departure, we met Mike again with the refuge manager. He told us we deserved a "break" and for that reason, he let us camp there. Thank you! :) Although we had an early start, we had to turn back and we lost an hour. According to our maps, we could go through islands before returning to the channel, but the water level was too low, so we had to turn back. Still, the scenery was sublime! The mist and the sun mingled together and gave us a magic show in a calm and serene environment. The warm colours of this autumn day, with the light and the calm environment, made us feel just great.
We had a beautiful paddling day today. We saw many alligators fish rising to the surface and a lot of turtles. We often catch them having a sunbath on a branch, but when we approach, they take off and jump in the water. Jasmine is very attentive to their movements. She easily entertained herself with the turtles during the day. The current was even swifter today and we had a lot of wind. We also learned that the valves were opened to lower the water level of the Pickwick Lake (which had risen due to heavy rainfall). We arrived at Perryville Marina where we were warmly welcomed. We were given the right to use all of the facilities free of charge. Thank you to their managers and owners. In the evening we saw "Akasha"! The last time we saw Rosemary and Clark (Akasha), we were in Port Severn (Canada), at the last lock before entering Georgian Bay.
October 19, 2014
It was hard getting up this morning. We more or less slept well and it was very cold when we got up at 5:45. We put on a lot of clothes, many more than usual, but we warmed up quickly. And we had the pleasure of attending a wonderful natural spectacle. The haze above the water formed funnels. It looked like water funnels, but made out of mist. Some rose high in the air. There were everywhere. We were fascinated by this phenomenon. The sun added to the beauty of those “fog funnels”.
We arrived at Clifton Marina late afternoon, where the current was even stronger than it has ever been. There is a green buoy in front of the marina. We appreciated the force of the current when we looked at the buoy, from the cliff, where we settled our camp later in the evening. When we arrived, we met again with the "Pimaro" crew (we had seen them on the water the day before). Chantal and Germain invited us for dinner aboard their sailboat. We accepted the invitation with pleasure! In addition, we had the opportunity to speak French, because Chantal and Germain are from Prévost, near Montreal (Canada). We spent a very pleasant evening. Thank you again to you both! :)
The marina manager, Sonja, is very nice. She is warm and welcoming. She makes us want to stay here. She had met a few days earlier with Cindy and Grant, who gave us a good recommendation.
October 20, 2014
We stayed at the marina today. We had a lot of administrative work to do, plus our laundry and some errands. Chantal of "Pimaro" offered to help us. She brought us back food that we would not have been able to find. Thanks Chantal! We walked to town in the afternoon. The main street is very charming and the building facades look like the American Midwest. On our return, we chatted with Sonja. What an amazing lady! Then we had the pleasure of meeting her husband, Coach. Pierre also spoke with a former engineer who had worked for 50 years on towboats. He was able to ask all the questions he had in his mind since the Illinois River. He was very happy!
In the evening, we went to join Coach and Sonja around the table located in the marina store. Later on, more people came and we talked a while. It was really nice. It was as if a gang of good old friends found themselves together in their favourite place. We loved the atmosphere! Hard to describe, but it's probably in smaller villages that we can experience this feeling. A place to gather and have fun. Coach and Sonja, thank you for the pleasant evening!
October 21, 2014
We started our day with a big breakfast thanks to Coach. He invited us to eat with him at the marina. We spent a very pleasant morning with him. It is said that all good things must come to an end, we left with a heavy heart around noon. The goodbyes were difficult. Coach is a great person, as Sonja is. We will miss them. We are very fortunate to have met them.
Our day went well. We managed to do 18 miles in the afternoon. It is at mile 176 that we stopped for the night. The place was not perfect, but for one night, no problem. The tent floor will be on an angle. We may finish at the bottom of the tent after sliding our way during the night. ;)
The view that we had of the river and the waterway is superb. We enjoyed a beautiful sunset.......and we thought about Coach and Sonja.
October 22, 2014
We left this morning just after the fog had cleared, around 8:00. The scenery was beautiful this morning, and the water level had dropped significantly overnight. It was very cold at dawn and the dew soaked everything. We were on the east side of the river and it was only when we got on the water that we could enjoy the warmth of the sun. Again this morning, there were “fog funnels” above the water. It was really beautiful.
On the west side of the river, above the sand cliff, there were cows. Jasmine began to bark at them. During the day, we saw a lot of turtles and fish. We enjoyed beautiful sunshine all day. However, we had a strong wind at times and always the same strong current. We paddled along the shore on one side or the other to move forward. We also made several crossings. By late afternoon, we found sand on the west side, near mile 201. It is an uninhabited place that we called home for the night. The ground had to be leveled to set up the tent, but the place was perfect.
October 23, 2014
Finally! We paddled the last miles against the current today. We went through Pickwick Lock & Dam around noon, but to get there, we worked hard....very hard. The current was strong and at times, we were practically not moving. Fortunately, we had a short distance to go before reaching the lock.
On Pickwick Lake, we headed to the park of the same name. We met with Ranger Clark Walker who has greatly helped us. In the afternoon, he went with Pierre to do grocery shopping. Jasmine even got treats! Clark thank you so much! In the evening, we made a fire, thanks once again to the Rangers. We spent some time by the fire. The heat was good!
October 24, 2014
We left the campground around 9:30 this morning after a portage. Before leaving, a very nice lady (close to our camping spot) gave us apples. She and her husband came to watch us leave.
The day was gorgeous! It was also nice to finally be back on water which is flowing in the same direction as we are going. Pickwick Lake is very pretty. The trees here were also changing colour, but especially those at the water's edge. We paddled along the east shire before entering the Tombigbee waterway. We saw several houses along the coast, some were beautiful and impressive. We entered the Tombigbee at mile 450. We paddled on the lake and then entered a man made channel. It is 24 miles long and there are rock walls on either side. Despite this, we stopped about halfway along, at a creek. We left most of our gear at the bottom of the rock wall and just brought up the necessities for the night.
October 25, 2014
The sun rose gradually just after the rooster crowed. There is probably a farm not far from here. There was a little bit of fog on the river this morning but it dissipated shortly after we started paddling. During the night, we had little visitors near the canoe, there were footprints everywhere! We had also heard coyotes howling, probably after a kill.
The day was sunny. We had a bit of a headwind, but nothing disturbing. This made us feel good, because we had a warm day. Bay Springs Lake is beautiful. There was a bunch of sandy beaches. The lake reminded us of Kentucky Lake, but it was a little colder. Boaters could also choose from countless bays to anchor in. At Whitten Lock, we were greeted by the lock master. We were able to chat a bit with him. It was very pleasant. He also informed us that there was a lot of wild boars in the region. We also recently learned that there were 6 cases of people infected with West Nile virus. We have to be vigilant. We ended our day at sunset near mile 404. It is on private land we stopped. Andy, Ashley and Smiley have received us warmly. We thank them very much for allowing us to stay here. Even today, we were privileged to experience the friendliness and hospitality of the people of the south.