Key Largo to Elliott Key (Biscayne Bay), Florida / February 16 - 26, 2015
February 27, 2015
Chokoloskee to Key Largo (Florida) / January 7 - 17, 2015
January 18, 2015
Key Largo à Elliott Key (Biscayne Bay), Floride / 16 - 26 février 2015
February 27, 2015
Saturday, June 24 to Friday, July 14, 2017 - Winnipeg (MB) to Fort Frances (ON)
July 15, 2017
We began this new leg of our journey on the Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day on the Red River in Winnipeg. Our friends David and Caroline brought us to the water's edge of the Red River under a torrential rain. We were heavy hearted to leave our friends. We had such a great week with them and we will always be grateful for what they have done for us. We were sad though that we could not say good-bye to Nevada (who was with her father at that time). However, we were able to see her again from the top of a bridge with Caroline and David later in the afternoon.
We started paddling across the river, toward the opposite shore to join the Red River Brigade. That day, the event of 150 Canoes on the Red River was to take place. Unfortunately for the organizers, the temperature did not help and there were only three other canoes that accompanied the two Voyageurs canoes (canot du North) along the course. Then around 4:00 pm, near the fork (junction of the Assiniboine and the Red River), about twenty canoes joined the group to paddle the last hundred meters in order to arrive before the La Compagnie de la Vérendrye in Saint-Boniface, who fired their muskets and swivel gun to greet the group (Click on the following link and you will be able to read more about the event and even see us in a picture: http://www.cbc.ca/beta/news/canada/manitoba/canoes-canada-15-winnipeg-1.4177261).
Then we shouted "Vive la Brigade” and proceeded along the Red River northbound toward Lake Winnipeg. We ended our day at the Royal Manitoba Yacht Club where we were invited to set up our tent for free in the courtyard. The next morning we had the pleasure to talk with the owners of the restaurant, Maryanne and Richard. We had the royal treatment with two big free breakfasts and bacon for Jasmine (even more extra bacon for Jasmine for later).
All day, we played cat and mouse with storm cells. We dodged the majority of the rain, but we received two intense showers, but brief ones though. Then we passed the only existing lock on the Canadian prairies. The St. Andrews Lock and Dam was officially opened in 1910 by Prime Minister Wilfrid Laurier. It is the largest infrastructure of its kind in the world, ie Camere style (which uses a removable curtain system made of horizontal Douglas fir laths that rise or close to control the water level.) This system was very popular in western Europe in the 19th century.
At the end of the lock there must have been at least thirty fishing boats. It was the first time this year that we saw so many boats in one place. We ended our day at Breezy Point at Willow Springs Campground. Bill and Helen warmly welcomed us with their daughter Crystal. They invited us to pitch our tent where we wanted. We had a dinner with them and a great evening. A really nice couple. Bill and Helen invited us to stay one more day to avoid the northerly winds on the lake. We followed their recommendation. We had the pleasure of sharing more with our hosts and sharing even more delicious meals with them. When we say that Manitobans are generous and welcoming, here is another proof. Then, accompanied by their friends and residents at the campground, we went for a pontoon boat ride to explore the area. It was a lovely trip and the scenery was beautiful. On the way back, we had a great surprise. Connie and Smitty (from Matheson Island) came to see us. They were in Selkirk. We didn’t know. So the timing was just perfect to meet. It had been over a year since we had seen them and it was like it was yesterday. We were really happy to see our friends.
On Tuesday, June 27, it was time for us to leave and go back to Lake Winnipeg, just over a year after leaving it. We said goodbye to Bill, Helen and Crystal and thank them again for everything. We wish Crystal that she will also receive the news she is expecting in August.
We enjoyed a southeast wind all day. We even used the sail on a few occasions. We went very well with 75 km covered in one day. Along the way, we met people who were kite-surfing. Funny, one of them approached us and told us he was following us on Facebook (Thomas).
We stopped on the extreme point of the beach of Victoria Beach, located just in front of the tip of Elk Island. The sand was white and made noise as we walked on it, just like on the beaches of Lake Michigan. This noise is created by the large amount of quartz and the grains must be well rounded to create this funny noise.
We had to stay a second night at this place due to the wind, waves and rain. The morning of our departure, we could not even see the Elk island, even the tip on it that is almost touching the main land. There was a thick fog, and occasionally a glimmer of light appeared in few places. Finally, more and more light started to cover the sky to the east, where we were going. Soon after, the cloud disappeared and we enjoyed the sun for the rest of the day. We left Lake Winnipeg to enter the Winnipeg River right after lunch. We began to see granite rocks, a sign that we were at the edge of the Canadian Shield. We arrived at the first dam (of several of them on the Winnipeg River), located in Pineview-Pine Falls. We met Tiffany and Ryan who offered us a lift to the convenience store to buy something cold to drink. It turned out to be a hot day. Then we hauled our gear and canoe over the dam and walked to the Blue Water RV Park & Campground. We were warmly greeted by Joyce and Gail. Hard to imagine that in 2008, there were only two sites available then. Now, there are more than 100 sites to choose from. The campground is family operated and several sites rest on beautiful long granite rocks http://bluewatercampground.ca/site/. (You may have noticed, we love the Canadian Shield and we cannot get bored by its rocks).
The next day we crossed two other dams. There was a little more current (we are paddling upstream on the Winnipeg River). We first went to Great Falls. We had to get out of the water far enough from the dam, causing a longer portage of about 5 km. Then we went over the McArthur Dam. We walked to the end of the levee and found a nice place to set up camp. That night, we were stormed by thousands of mayflies. In the morning, there were hundreds of them stuck on the wet tent (dew) and on the canoe.
On July 1, Canada Day and the 150th anniversary, we were very happy to be able to be in Canada, on an major river very important in the history that served to develop this beautiful and diverse country rich in culture, history and size (territory) on which generous people live. That morning, we paddled on very calm Lac du Bonnet (still part of the Winnipeg River). It offered us a perfect reflection of the landscapes. Later, we saw several times a Hercules (military aircraft) flying over.
Then we arrived at the Seven Sisters dam (here is a link to learn more about this dam:https://www.hydro.mb.ca/corporate/facilities/gs_seven_sisters.shtml). We had trouble finding a place to get out of the water near the dam to make the portage. Finally, by entering into the spillway and working hard against the current we were able to find a trail. We contacted our friend David, as we were trying to inform his parents that we would be arriving late in Pinawa. We had a good headwind and we had to find a place to get back into the water after the portage. David made the connection with his parents (Dieter and Hanni) and they decided to come and get us. We met them on the roadside in the direction of Pinawa.
Dieter and Hanni are a really charming couple. They are so beautiful to see together. More than 57 years of marriage and they still walk hand in hand and do not miss an opportunity to demonstrate affection. After a good beer, a shower and a great supper, we went to the Lac du Bonnet (the village) to attend the Canada Day fireworks. The village was alive and packed with people. There was a fair, music and animation while waiting for darkness. The fireworks were grandiose and quite honestly, the biggest and longest we have seen since a long time. We returned home late that night.
The next day, Hanni and Dieter convinced us to stay another day. They showed us Pinawa and the surrounding area. We noticed that there were a lot of deer in the village. We kept on wondering why there was no more deer on the river's edge. Well, the answer is that they were all in town. Here they find flowers, gardens and above all a certain security, because hunting is not allowed in the city.
During the day, we also had the pleasure of meeting Stan and Doreen with whom we all went for a pontoon ride on the river. This getaway allowed us to see sections that we would not have seen when leaving Pinawa. We were very grateful. At supper, it is David’s sister, Susan, and her spouse Les, we had the happiness to meet. Susan and Les are great horses lovers. Susan made a long journey in a wagon (pulled by horses) with a group a few years ago. A unique experience. Then we met in the evening, Oma (Hanni) and Opa’s (Dieter) neighbour. Doug is retired from a career as a professional guide. He is currently writing for a book combining a series of hunting and fishing stories which he has experienced during his more than 35 years experience in the industry. We also learned that Doug is the father of the founder of the now well known and recognized company "Rocky Mountain Soap Co".