Upon waking up the morning of August 21, there were already white caps on the Bay of Quinte, created by a strong west wind. We could have taken advantage of the wind for a while, but the journey to get to Kingston forced us to go south and we would have had big waves breaking at our side. We therefore agreed to designate this day as a rest day. We planned to spend the weekend with Richard St-Onge, a kayaker we had met for the first time on the Rideau Canal more than a year ago. We have kept in touch and Richard has become a friend. In seeking a way to get to Kingston, Richard offered to pick us up. This was the beginning of a superb weekend with Richard and his girlfriend Kristine. What a great time we spent all together. Richard and Kristine showed us their city. Kingston charmed us! It offers a European accent, like Quebec City, with its old stone buildings. It has everything, including a university (Queens University) and it is easy to walk everywhere. It is a city that seems dynamic and cultivated, but yet not too big. It is located on the St. Lawrence River as it flows out of Lake Ontario, a prime location. Richard and Kristine, thank you for your generosity, your hospitality and sharing this wonderful weekend with us.
August 24, 2015
Richard drove us to the Cataraqui Canoe Club this morning. After giving an interview with local television, we left Richard. We know that we will soon meet again in October. This was only a goodbye. Richard, thank you again for everything!
We are back on the Rideau Canal, one of our favourite places. We had paddled here last year in June. As expected, from our first strokes on the channel, we immediately felt at home and happy to be here. The Rideau Canal is so beautiful! We stopped for the night at Upper Brewers Lock.
August 25, 2015
We had a nice surprise last night when we read our emails coming from our inReach devise. Frédéric Pepin from Radio-Canada Kingston (TV), contacted us to do an interview about ourselves and our adventure. At 8:00 this morning, he was with us. We enjoyed the way Frédéric works and his professionalism. Frédéric, thank you for the great opportunity.
The landscape between Upper Brewers lock and Davis lock is very beautiful. It is a little wilder and we paddled from lake to lake. There are pine trees, rocks that look like Georgian Bay rocks and a multitude of birds and animals. We enjoyed our day in this peaceful scenery. At Davis lock we met a very nice family. Sharon, Shawn and their two daughters came to talk with us for a while. Sharon also offered her help to get in touch with the media and to spread our story. Sharon, thank you for your help and enjoy your stay on the Rideau Canal with your family. :)
August 26, 2015
We planned a short day as we wanted to take our time to enjoy the Rideau Canal. When we arrived at Narrows Lock we had a good tail wind, which is quite rare. This opportunity was too good to pass up. We only had 30km to get to the next lock (Poonamalie) and it was just 2:00 p.m. We made the decision to keep on paddling. Unfortunately the wind did not live up to our expectations. Once on the other side of Narrows lock, the wind died and was felt very little in the first half of the journey, during the second part we were threatened by rain. Our luck held as we remained between the two systems. We had strong crosswinds shortly before arriving at our destination, but nothing really bad. It was 6:00 p.m. When we arrived at Poonamalie lock. To our delight, Don and Remi were there, along with Dylan. We had spent three days last year at this lock and we had the chance to get to know Don and Remi. Don and his wife Tracy had given us muffins on the morning we left. We have good memories of our stay here and we were glad to come back because this is where the human kindness all began. The kindness of the people, their generosity, their goodness ... this is where our journey actually took shape last year.
August 27, 2015
We stayed at Poonamalie lock because we simply wanted to. We wanted to take the time to talk with Don and Remi and live at a slow pace. It was a beautiful day. Don brought us muffins on his arrival and treats for Jasmine. Thank you once again Don and Tracy!!! The lock is very beautiful and well maintained. It is also highly prized by boaters.
August 28, 2015
After saying goodbye to Don and Remi, we paddled towards Burritts Rapids lock. We stopped along the way in Merrickville, a charming village directly overlooking the locks. It was nice to see that people still remember us. We also met Denis and Claire, two boaters from Gatineau. It was a beautiful day. We experienced kindnesses all day and it is heartwarming to see that the human kindness adventure continues.
August 29, 2015
Late check out after giving a telephone interview to Katrina from Rapid Magazine. Katrina, thank you for the interest and the good questions.
The goal today was to get to the next lock, Long Island. We left after our fellow kayakers, Dave and Jessie. We met them a few days ago and yesterday we camped in the same place. We were happy to see them on the way in Long Island Marine. We had camped there last year. We had the chance to meet with Captain Peter again. He is still as fit and smiling as before. We stopped for an ice cream before arriving at Long Island lock. Dave and Jessie arrived later on. We are very proud of their accomplishment today.
August 30, 2015
We only paddled to Black Rapids lock today, which was a short paddling day. Tomorrow is our last day on the Rideau Canal and it will also mark the end of the first loop. We are feeling nostalgic. 15 months have passed since we left and we are on the verge of finishing the first chapter of our NorAm Odyssey. 13,000km of adventure, discoveries, meeting great people and experiencing human kindness. Tomorrow will be a very special day, full of emotions.
In the afternoon, Denis and Danielle came to visit (our very good friends from Quebec City). They did the round trip only so that they could leave us a car on the Gatineau side (right across from Ottawa). Indeed, we need transportation to return to Quebec City. We have finally decided to finish our loop where it all began 15 months earlier. A huge thank you Danielle and Denis!!! You have done so much for us. Thank you for your friendship and all the help you have given us.
August 31, 2015
The day began with a portage. We had camped upstream last night and wanted to be on the water by 8:00. We wanted to make sure to arrive before the opening of the next lock at 9:00 because we had arranged to meet the media at 11:00 am in Ottawa (locks 1-8). We did not want to be late! The portage went very well and we were able to launch on a small sandy beach at the bottom of the lock. We were treated to a beautiful sunrise. All was quiet this morning.
The journey from Black Rapids Lock to Ottawa Locks went well. The landscape has changed progressively as we are getting closer to downtown Ottawa. The latest locks of the Rideau Canal are located next to Parliament Hill. When we arrived, the locks were dry. The water had been removed because there were repairs needed. So we had to wait until 12:40 before starting the descent to the Ottawa River. Meanwhile, Pierre-Paul, a cameraman working for CBC News Network joined us. At 2:40 p.m., we were "live" on CBC News Network with Carole MacNeil. The interview went well. We were happy to have had this wonderful opportunity to speak live at the end of the first loop.
After the interview, we crossed to the other side of the river to Jacques-Cartier Park in Gatineau. It was precisely here were we started last year. Our good friends Danielle and Denis had left us a car there. At 3:40 p.m., the car was packed and the canoe was out of the water and on the roof of the car. We headed toward Quebec City. We did not talk much in the car as we were both lost in our thoughts. We were happy and proud to have achieved this first loop but sad to have to take a break before continuing with the second loop (which will begin in early spring, 2016). We remembered all the people we met, complete strangers who played an important role in our adventure. They all impacted us positively and several of them have become very good friends.
Thank you all for your help, support and kindness. Thank you for following us. Thank you to our friends and family for their encouragement and thank you to all those who helped us and changed our lives for the better during our journey. Thank you to our partners for their support. Thank you all!!!
Note: We will continue to update the blog during our months of preparation. So stay tuned to hear news on our preparations, our adaptation to a return to "normal" life and of course, for more details on the next loop coming that will begin in early spring 2016.