Sep 23-25; Days 274-276 We Got Looped!

Ok, so the spoiler-alert title is a bit ahead of the preamble, but for those who know me and accuse me of taking forever to get to the point of a story, I thought I might change tactics with this post. Read on for the details.

After a morning jaunt on shore and breakfast, we left the Little River Diversion anchorage muddy banks behind us and ‘chased’, at 7mph, the few other boats that had left at dawn.

2017-9-24 miss to right ohio to left
Just about to turn left, say goodbye to the Mississippi, and head UP the Ohio River.  See the chart?  We’re going over 26 mph and we weren’t really “supposed” to do that until farther up the Ohio!

About 10 miles before the first lock, we received a text from one of the group.  With a warning that it would be the only opportunity for pleasure craft to pass through and that we had 20 minutes to get there, we hit the pedal to the metal (well, fiberglass)……and hoped that our good gas mileage and adherence to our gas/speed plan from the prior day would hold out with the extra push at a bit earlier and more than the 23 mph than we had authorized ourselves to do.  We reached the group of boats in time….but, needless to say, still wondering about our gas situation.

 

We didn’t have any waiting at the first of three locks– which one could argue isn’t quite a lock yet: the partially-constructed  Olmstead Lock system.  It will eventually replace the next 2 locks (with the non-descript names of #53 and #52).

2017-9-24 olmstead drive thru and new
Here we go on the tails of the whole group in the distance as we are about to enter through the “lock ” that is currently under construction (ie water is same level on the up and the down side). So no door….but it is a narrow passage way so it adds to the delays up river at #52 and #53.  The big behemoth structure to the right will be the main part of the new Olmstead lock. It’s due to open next year (after nearly 30 years of planning/construction) and will relieve tons of shipping pressure and traffic jams caused by the 2 oldest dams in the system that still use wooden wickets,  etc and are not only small but also infamous for breaking down for big blocks of time. 

We tied up to a wall to wait an hour or so for the #53. Lockmaster was nice, friendly and encouraged a dog walk! Always a way to B’s heart!

2017-9-24 lock 52 on decaying wall waiting
The herd of pleasure craft (mostly loopers) corralled together for the day on the crumbling wall. 
2017-9-24 lock 53 measurmts up and down sides
Lockmaster house with river height measurements up the road (which aligns with  the actual dam) and 2 different measurement sets up the building wall–one for the upriver side and the other for the down river side (I guess??…or global warming/modern science required a re-measurement??).
2017-9-24 lock 53 fr above
Nice to be able to stretch 4 dog legs and 2 human legs with a climb up to the high ground above Lock #53. Doesn’t look like much…but boy does it cause problems.

Within a few short miles, the final lock of the day, # 52,  loomed  and was surrounded by waiting barges on all shores on the up and the down sides. We all tossed anchors off the downriver dam side; at least we saved gas by not having to circle and battle the current. The lockmaster told us to sit tight for a couple of hours.  Sunset came and went.

2017-9-24 dark bow 52
Despite hearing horror stories abound among the Looper crowd, the lockmaster did basically follow through; however…. we didn’t get into and out of the lock until it was pitch black dark  No tie ups to the walls.  N’s view from the flybridge past the bow as he maneuvered us in: We were in the middle of the pack floating in a small churning pool with a bunch of other boats.  
2017-9-24 better stern dark low
B’s view from the cockpit as the lock fills up and we get squeezed from the back too.

We haven’t really boated in the dark other than at dusk for a mile or so and certainly not locked in the dark (nor floated with no tie ups on top of that) let alone in the oldest lock with THE WORST reputation in the entire country AND on top of that when: 1) we had NO idea whether we had enough gas to go the remaining 4 miles; 2) the charts don’t actually show where the dock we want is because it is so new (and, by the way,  neither did google earth when we checked earlier in the day);  3) despite trying every light combination available, it was so dark we couldn’t see any channel markers (yet they loomed in abundance on the charts); and 4) likewise, we couldn’t see the infamous debris known to be lurking about.

2017-9-24 dark see
Seeee!?!?  There’s nothing to see!  But we made it!

This made for our longest boating hours in one day and latest arrival time ever! All of which was on the last full day of our entire Loop journey! (gee….what’s that final message supposed to tell us??)  11 hours and 5 minutes of boating and arrival to the Paducah dock at 9:10 pm—10 minutes past our bedtime!

2017-9-24 may flies lamp post
After the exhausting day, we awoke to have the entire boat COVERED with may flies!  N was in such a hurry to spray the hose that we didn’t get a pic. Here’s the nearby lamp post–We snapped this pic a bit later—but you get the point! REALLY gross!  Miles later we were still dealing with partially dead flutters and carcasses! (but at least they don’t sting or bite!)
2017-9-24 paducah dock
Look how high these piers are for the high water flooding!

Paducah, Kentucky dock just opened this week actually and now provides travelling boats a much needed fuel stop. We knew we needed to fuel…..but the pump was SO slow that we couldn’t stand our own impatience to fill it all the way up. So after 60 minutes of fueling, we left with just 60 added gallons knowing it was enough to get us to our next stop.  SO….we had to wait for our final fuel calculation a few more hours.  But obviously we did NOT run out of gas in the dark on the long stretch from Hoppies to Paducah!

2017-9-24 cute paducah
Paducah is a pretty nice little stop with nice restaurants, museums, and quaint streets. We had been here last year in the courtesy car from Green Turtle Bay.  Quiet Sunday morning downtown.  

With our late arrival last night and our hard-to-get marina slip reservation at Green Turtle Bay, we couldn’t stay an extra night in Paducah to enjoy the restaurants. So we just stretched our legs in the coolish air (aka 75 degrees at 8 am) and spent time looking at the cool big mural and repeating a few pix that we took last year at about this same time.

2017-9-24 Z lewis clark statue
Ziggy’s not 8 months old anymore!  Now she will sit and stay for pictures–especially with Lewis (or was it Clark’s?) big dog! Plus, with morning light, this statue can be appreciated better than last’s year’s pic! For comparison and more Paducah pix  See https://oneifbylandtwoifbyseablog.wordpress.com/2016/09/23/day-19-sept-21-parting-shots-and-thoughts-end-of-leg-1/ 

After a leisurely morning walking around and at the Paducah dock, we pushed off for our last (first?) loop day.

2017-9-24 N bow underway rare
It took over 8000 miles and a bunch of spider poop, to get N to dare get on the bow while B is at the helm. A calm river and no channel markers probably had something to do with it too!
2017-9-24 ohio cumberland loop cross
At the confluence of the Ohio (to the left) and the Cumberland straight ahead.  Last year we came down the Ohio to start the Loop.  Last year, as we came down to this point we turned left to go past these metal things and get on the Cumberland.  So here it is….the spot where we  started our Loop, coming up from the other direction and “crossing our wake!!!

 

And here we are boating over our prior “wake prints”!!

2017-9-24 wake tracking over tracks
We did it!

Oddly, even after more than 8000 miles and only traveling by here once before, this stretch of the Cumberland River with it’s twists and turns and occasional industry interspersed in remoteness feels very familiar.

2017-9-24 truck cumberland

2017-9-24 up cumberland

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our last (first?) loop lock!

2017-9-24 last loop lock B

2017-9-24 bollard loop graffiti
Couldn’t let this last opportunity pass by without an extra special penmanship practice!

We had that weird feeling you get when you drive past your old elementary school as we exited the Lock and headed into the familiar channel markers leading us to Green Turtle Bay. Familiar enough but yet definitely feeling a bit older, more sun-worn, and certainly impacted by the journey.

We did finish filling the gas tank and after some double checking and cross checking calculations, determined that we rolled into Paducah in the dark the prior night with only between 1.5 and 4 gallons of gas left in the tank.  Hahaha…more than just fumes! Yay for excel spreadsheet calculations and living by them (mostly)!

2017-9-24 drinks part of trio
Enjoying our celebratory drinks that were waiting for us from Looper friends Let It Be’s Margo and Jerry who called in the order! Kinda DOES look like we got looped, right?
2017-9-24 boat fr gtb yacht club
As we looked down at our “home” for the past year, we enjoyed a nice dinner at the Green Turtle Bay Yacht club.
2017-9-24 larry part of trio
Another random happenstance surprise—crossing paths with Larry (born and raised in our hometown of Tacoma!) and Sherry precisely where we met him last year—on the ramp up from the Green Turtle Bay dock as we both walked our dogs.    

Those random, fun moments along with recently crossing paths with our first siting over a year ago of a looper, In Deep Ship’s Kelly and Terri; and  texts and calls from our original buddy boat, Panacea’s Joan and Don, offering to help trailer the boat back to the west coast, are what, I believe is literally called ‘coming full circle’— it’s a  LOOP!  Altogether pretty weirdly amazing!

2017-9-24 loop circle us b n z
And no, that’s not an obscene gesture…..B is simply making a circle/loop with her fingers as we crossed our wake!

What’s next? Absorbing, pondering and planning for now!  It’s weird to have a destination (or two), but with no “purpose.”

Thanks for reading! Stay tuned!  We have to live up to the title of the blog with some “Land” posts, right?

Here are our Loop raw stats:

387 days “on the Loop” (minus 68 days at home)

184 travel days underway

8,118 miles total traveled (including the approach down the Ohio and side-trips up the Black Warrior River and the Potomac)

5,748 gallons of gas

587 engine hours

176 locks (including a rail chute)

13.8 mph average speed over the entire trip

2 countries; 2 provinces; and 20 states; uncountable bodies of water

Sept 16-19; Days 266-269 The Last of the Illinois River

SEE UPDATED MAP ON HOME PAGE!!

We’re working our way down the Illinois River which, fortunately, is unexpectedly scenic and undeveloped.  The Illinois River is an old meandering twisty 273 mile river that connects (via the 336 mile preamble of the Illinois Waterway) Chicago to the Mississippi River at Grafton, Illinois (just a bit north of St Louis).  In the early 1900’s, the river was second only to the Columbia River in fresh water fishing harvests; not so anymore, thanks to over-fishing and to pollution in general and specifically industry and sewage out of Chicago.

2017-9-19 river edge trees Fall
Fall Colors -A reminder that it’s around the corner.

Despite being in ‘middle’ America, we’ve passed through some very international sounding locales: nights in Ottawa and Havana and a drive-by of Peru! Here’s a collection of a few pix of our river life as we make our way south. (Speaking of which, the geese and ducks in Georgian Bay, Canada were winging, honking and quacking southward over our heads when we were there in mid-August.  Now we are starting to see them here again after minimal sightings along Lake Michigan.)

We left with a pack of six other Loopers from the Joliet wall and had one of our longest and latest days yet.  And all that without the reward of big mileage: 10 hours and 10 minutes and only 44 miles.  Three locks (each with increasing wait times of up to 3 and half hours) turned a short trip into a very long day .

2017-9-19 ottawa marina pool
Here we are the morning AFTER pulling in after sundown in Heritage Harbor in Ottawa (Illinois) .   Needing a break and a dip in the pool (and a rest before the next leg), we stayed here for two nights

The bottom line is the commercial barge traffic has priority over pleasure craft; but that is compounded by the barges’ snail’s pace to enter, exit and get tied on/off and the locks trying to beat each other’s safety records. By the time one clears out, another one is radioing in with its approach. No one seems to take note that a mile away for the barge at 1 mph could practically lock through a whole gaggle of pleasure craft!

2017-9-19 ottawa lock trail
Two days provided plenty of time for B and Ziggy to get there “walk on” on what was originally the horse and mule tow path for the Illinois and Michigan Canal (built in 1849!!) Now it’s a great 90 mile walk/mountain bike trail. Bonus points: an entrance to the trail system is right across from the marina!
2017-9-19 abandoned lock ditch
Glimpses of remnants of the old canal which was replaced in 1900 pop out randomly along the abutting trail.  
2017-9-19 sunrise
A few dawn starts to try and get an edge on the barges and the long waits we experienced at the prior locks had us modifying our usual leisurely morning walks, eggs, veggies and coffee routine.  The trade-off was definitely worth it.

Although I’m pretty sure Ziggy didn’t agree with the change in the routine!

2017-9-19 cold dog
Fall is in the air for this cold dog!

Speaking of Ziggy:

2017-9-19 WTF wondering why the dam(n) delay
What-the-Ruff?!!??”  Z checking out the dam(n) delay
2017-9-19 N patient waiting
N’s version of patiently waiting (part of famous Starved Rock Park in background) Yes! He looks relaxed and flowing —right?  Had to get a picture of THAT!

 

 

IMG_21162017-9-19 graffiti
While Z and N patiently wait, B practices her penmanship!  The lockmaster allowed us to tie up to this metal circle thing with D rings…. despite asking 3 times we could not figure out what he called it.  I’d like to chalk it up to scratchy radio reception…but to be honest, he had a southern Appalachian drawl that was  “unique!”   I’m sure we must have a reader that will know what these things are actually called?!?

 

2017-9-19 ill river scene feature poss
The waiting pays off with some nice scenery and morning light.

 

A stop at Illinois Valley Yacht Club (IVY), just north of Peoria, for gas and the night after a relatively easy 74 miles over a 5 hour day on the water.

Refreshing, short leg stretch out to the marina entrance.

2017-9-19 always sophmoricly amused Pee
Apologies to the mature audience, but simply always sophomorically amused!  

In anticipation of our long 205 mile run down the Mississippi between gas-ups, we bit the bullet, got up early again, skipped breakfast and did a SLOW day to see if we could eke out better mileage and make the run without asking fellow Loopers to loan us their dinghy gas along the way. Good news: we increased our mpg by 113% and can make it! Bad news: it is now confirmed–we hate going 7mph!!  But we’ll do it for those 2 days (maybe with a few fast sections once we feel good about the river current, etc)

2017-9-19 IVY sunrise Loopers depart.jpg
Every boat you can see (minus under the covered roof) are Loopers…..all departing IVY at dawn.
2017-9-19 peoria industry
WAIT!!!!  Over there on the left in Peoria, it’s those Nina and Pinta replicas again…..ok, ok there must be duplicate (or triplicate?)  replicas unless they can drop their masts low enough to get under the Chicago bridges??….and change locales as quickly as we do??    
2017-9-19 peoria pollution
And this (along with the thought of Chicago’s sewage) is why we aren’t jumping in to cool off!
2017-9-19 boats in distance at slow speed
We made it through the lock after idling in circles for an hour  as we basically boat-danced and chatted with the other Loopers who, once out of the gate, quickly left us in the dust (or should I say in their spray….well at 8.5 mph, they didn’t go THAT fast…but they did leave us in their wake).  Very hard on N to see them off  in the distance (see the white specks??) as we proceeded on our 7 mph experiment.

Just a sampling of at least a dozen channel markers washed WAY off the mark!  (Remember the rule? “Red right return”– so when going DOWN a river (away from its head), then green is on the right…supposedly! Keeps us alert!

2017-9-19 peru illinoiAside from Peru Proof, here’s a shot of a rare road along the waterway and an even rarer small town. Basically it has been a tree-lined waterway!

Yes, we made it all the way to Havana (by way of Ottawa and Peru!!)

2019-9-19 havana waterfront park
Illinois’ version of the Malecon–waterfront park in Havana
2017-9-19 duck store window
Racks and racks of ducks in this downtown Havana store. Reminded us of Chesapeake Bay museums.  Other stores had stuffed albino beavers, life-sized ceramic does inside glass encased coffee tables and other fine finds too.
2019-9-19 havana bank
No palm trees in THIS Havana…but they nearly have the Banco Nacional de Havana:
2017-9-19 havana fog
 Morning fog after nighttime torrential rain, wind and lightening for 2 hours
2017-9-19 pano muddy water
The Illinois River is getting muddier as we go — wonder how the Mississippi will be!
2017-9-19 fast past power plant thing
Back to going fast–nice to be able to zoom by this creepy thing!

We were Lock Lucky on our final 120 mile approach to Grafton.  Only one lock to get through and it was straight in and out due to the low river–barges grounded and lined up on the shore waiting for “water” and/or dredging in some bad spots. All their bad luck resulted in no traffic and minimal clearance for everyone except small pleasure craft (like us!) We zoomed through our 120 miles (and whipped past a bunch of Loopers who had left us in the spray yesterday when we were doing our slow-mph-test)…much to N’s joy today!

2017-9-19 house on stilts
Back to houses on stilts!
2017-9-19 confluence Illinois and mississippi
Confluence of the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers straight ahead.

We now sit at Grafton Marina where the Illinois meets the Mississippi River! That’s Mile Marker 0 on the Illinois and Mile Marker 981 on the Mississippi. Just one more small (relatively) leg and we’ll complete our loop and cross our wake.  Yikes………weird feelings looming!  Time for Taco Tuesday!

 

 

Sep 9-11; Days 258-260 Coastin’ Down Lake Michigan

South Haven should be renamed: Wave Haven.  It seems the usual entry system to all these great little harbors that are sprinkled every 15-30 miles along the east side of Lake Michigan (west coast of Michigan State) is to set up two long protecting jetties and cut an entry in which probably expanded what was originally a little creek or river mouth that then opens up to either a large lake or wider river.  Some of the cuts even zig and zag with doglegs so the crashing storms and unrelenting winds are subdued.  Very nice system!

2017-9-10 s haven bridge view
The small town of South Haven is centered along both sides of the Black River…every possible spot has as many boat slips squeezed in as possible along the banks, in little inlets, and in coves for about a mile up.

 

2017-9-10 unstolen wood
Unstolen Wood–random after-store-hours pic! And a few doors down were a bunch of nice plants and a bench for sale too—still all sitting there at 8:30 pm…and they remained there, unstolen,  again 12 hours later as we passed by on our morning walk!  I guess the bad guys haven’t hit South Haven (I mean Wave Haven) yet. 

We ventured out up the dead calm Black River in the dinghy for a little tour:

2017-9-10 nina pinta
View from the water line in the dinghy: we last saw these two great replicas (the Nina and the Pinta) down  in South Carolina last April see: https://oneifbylandtwoifbyseablog.wordpress.com/2017/04/26/apr-232425-days-150151152-low-country-double-bogey-blues/     They won’t be looping with those masts though!  Bridges too low in Chicago.

After about a mile and a half, the docks, marinas and boat slips suddenly thinned out and ultimately only nature (well, a bridge or two did remind us we weren’t too far out).

2017-9-10 black river dinghy ride Z
In fact, we could have gone further but it was getting late….definitely worth exploring more (with a picnic in hand though!)
2017-9-10 bridge relections
Bridge Reflection– could get philosophical with that title….

We had fun over dinner (and some port back on board) with N’s old work chum, Denny, from Arthur Anderson days and his wife Nancy.  It took some back tracking but we finally pieced together when we last saw them: 2012 …wow- time flies!  And of course, we forgot to take a pic!   But looks like we’ll see them again in Chicago…so hopefully we stop talking long enough to get a shot.

We snuck out onto The Lake on a great day:

2017-9-10 lighthoue storm s haven
No, Hurricane Irma didn’t make it this far north…but just want to show you what it could look like on the edge of South Haven.
2017-9-10 lighthouse s haven clear day
Here’s our pretty exit out at the same location as the above pic ( just the other side of the wall) Yay- minimal winds and flat water!  No floor time for B and Z.

En route, we slowed down to take a closer look at the big Silver Lake Sand Dunes.

2017-9-10 sand dunes
Can you see the cars on top for size comparison?
2017-9-10 shipwreck
While dune peaking, we passed right over an old wreck.  Water was about 15’ deep.

A 60 mile jump got us to a nice night in New Buffalo where we enjoyed golf, yoga, grocery replenishing, frustration with Seahawk performance and some nice walks!

2017-9-10 New Buffalo dock better
A few Loopers here.
2017-9-10 beach trail pano
Only a handful of people enjoying the sandy beach.

2017-9-10 boardwalk

Here’s  one of those “what-is-it?” shots.

2017-9-10 duck blind tow dog boat
Is it a floating duck blind, a floating tiki-party boat, a dog transport, or a tow boat?  I think all of the above…and probably more!

A short 40 mile hop midday, got us to a new state!  Indiana! We are definitely out of the country-side and into “civilization.”  In Hammond, Indiana with industrial smoke stacks of Gary, Indiana to our east and the towering skyline of Chicago to our west.

2017-9-10 marina hammond chicago skylineHammond Marina shares the floating dock with a mega-casino….talk about un-civilized civilization!  See Chicago in the background?

2017-9-10 coyotes sign
Feeling a bit like Dorothy and Toto here. But this really nice long trail through a bird sanctuary/migration spot is a little bit of paradise squeezed between the casino and downtown Chicago.
2017-9-10 ecoli beach
A further reminder that coyotes, cockroaches and crap are not limited to Washington DC….. probably all  will out-survive us!

Speaking of signs (and on a more pleasant note):

2017-9-10 xmas sign
At least someone has their priorities right! Fun!

Heading into Chicago in a bit….Go Cubs!

Sep 3-4; Days 252-253 One Year Anniversary on the Loop: Sittin’ in Frankfort

That NOAA website misrepresentation of wave height (discussed in last post) that resulted in a very, not good wave day has us second guessing our every decision to venture out again into Lake Michigan–well, it has B vetoing while N yells “damn the torpedos; full speed ahead.”  That, coupled with actual major winds forecast (and occurring) have us hunkered down in Frankfort, Michigan for at least 3 nights. You really get to know a small town when you are there that long with nothing to do but walk a dog!  It’s a very nice place with plenty of t-shirt stops, craft beer spots and, unfortunately, a beautiful sandy beach that is going un-appreciated in this weather.

But N did find a diversion to get to his diversion before the bad weather hit:

2017-9-3 N golf scooter
Can you see his golf clubs on his back?  Certainly easier than on the bicycle—especially when the course is a notch too far.
2017-9-3 golf course
That is NOT Lake Michigan  beyond the golf course; but rather Lake Crystal –about half the size of Lake Washington–at 15 sq miles. Although N returned from golf raving about the size of lakes here and how Lake Chelan pales in comparison. (talk about under-appreciating our home state!)

We did, however, unceremoniously celebrate our one year anniversary since starting the Loop though!  Luckily we happened to go for a brunch with another Looper couple  so that counted as our acknowledgment of the day. I could get all “retrospectivey-philosophicky” here…but since we are about to close the entire loop circle in a month or so more….I’ll hold off.  You’re spared…for a bit!

2017-9-3 imagine 2 moon light
 Our brunch companions left the dock and took a mooring ball for the first big wind hit…nice moon light before it hit.

Speaking of night shots:

2017-9-3 tv screen
Here’s a reason NOT to make N go out for an evening stroll before bed.  He’d only covet this set up more by night!  You can’t see it, but they have a major football game on that big screen. But N has been ecstatic with the internet here and even streamed the game on his ipad while smoking his cigar on the back of our boat.  Who needs a big screen!??!

 

 

It is shocking how many mega fishing-equipped small boats there are here on Lake Michigan.  These guys are going out and just circling the little harbor and beyond at all hours–day and night. Look at that collection of lures in lower left window!

2017-9-3 frankfort street
Ok, so when you are stuck for 3 days in a small town and you have no need for another t-shirt, fudge, icecream, or craft beer and despite that you’ve walked the streets about 50 times, then looking at the fish cleaning station becomes a great pass-time!
2017-9-3 fish cleaning station clinical
Really impressive fish cleaning station at the boat ramp. Very active all day long—Alas, except when I came back to take pictures for the blog during the wind and rains!  

One of the prize catches are king salmon.  “Wait!” you ask!?!  “From a fresh water lake?”  Yes, about 150 years ago they introduced kings and cohos here for sport.  They survive and they keep stocking the lakes too. We even saw them trying to spawn up a stream that was damned/blocked off.   Kinda weird/unnatural if you ask me!

No, this is NOT another artistic shot of a pretty stone that B has stumbled upon!

2017-9-3 roe closeup
It’s salmon roe!  They’ll use it for bait; despite B insisting that they should do as our loyal reader Bjorne does and clean it, etc and serve yummy salmon caviar to us!

Well, when you’re stuck in port and the internet is perfect, the readership gets a quick back-to-back posting—albeit just a snippet of life at the docks in a small lakeside town. We actually may push off late this afternoon (so it might not be 3 nights at the same port…but not going back up to edit that earlier paragraph!)  If so, we’ll make a quick run to the next port to keep working our way down and get off this GREAT lake as soon as possible before the really bad weather sets in.  Of course, that departure is weather dependent and subject to B’s veto!  Oh and speaking of weather….

2017-9-3 labor day weather duo

The Tale of Two Cities! Here’s a juxtapostion of realities: so much for skipping out on the NW typical bumbershoot, non-picnic weather at home!  That water shot is NOT through the window! Look at the size of those rain drops! Accompanied by big thunder and lightening too…. stay tuned for more.

PS AND, Happy Labor Day too!

 

Aug 27-31; Days 245-249 Back, Back, Back in the U.Ssss.-Aaaay!

We walked a mile or so late in the afternoon from the nice marina into and around the little town of Blind River–our last Canadian town.  It was a ghost town with for sale signs and closed-permanently signs on practically every commercial building in the 3 block core. Very few cars and even fewer people were out.   That same experience repeated itself (save for one little grocery store and one diner) at DeTour, Michigan…our first US town.  Sort of sad and anti-climactic!  BUT  we did subsequently learn that, at least with respect to the for sale signs, it is a common test- the -market (aka hope for a rich city- dreamer to stumble in the door???)  at the end-of -the-season phenomena in these small tourist-driven summer-only towns.

 

2017-8-29 blind river sunrise last
Last Canadian sunrise –for THIS trip.  Clouds and winds blew in well before we departed for our 20 mile open water crossing. Mother Canada must have wanted to try to get us to stay! In fact, due to the weather, we weren’t planning on making the crossing….but as we approached we just decided to get it done and veered southward out of the harbor of another likely ghost town-Thessalon.  So without much acknowledgment to the fact we had just bypassed what was supposed to be our last night in Canada we plowed ahead.

As we hit a big mile marker on our total trip odometer, B and Z rose from their rocking wave refuge on the lower floor and we coincidentally left Canada.  A few fun facts (from our standpoint): We were in Canada from June 16 to August 27; covered a total of 1296 miles locking, docking and zig zagging as we got to know Quebec and Ontario provinces, dipped our bow in Lake Ontario, Lake Huron, St Lawrence River, and uncountable other cities, towns, rivers, lakes, and islands;  51 total days enjoying the sights from land and water of which 35 were actually underway; and 22 days escaped home to visit the new baby and get some boat repairs.

2017-8-30 7000 miles canada border
Wow! 7000 miles since we started this trip…nearly a year ago! US Customs waiting for us on Drummond Island.
2017-8-29 n drummond shopping USA
N couldn’t wait to get off the customs dock and support the local economy! Oh yay!  ANOTHER baseball cap! (ok, ok…at least it doesn’t take up very much room). Oh and by the way, the guy behind N cleared customs right after we did—he declared all the bear meat and skins/fur he had on board after his hunting trip. That was a first to hear at a border!

Customs and shopping was quick and easy so we took a little jump over to quiet DeTour Village, Michigan for our first night back. Michigan DNR has a nice (and relatively inexpensive) collection of marinas which, as of this writing, we have made use of at 3 different spots.  Certainly THE best “deal” at tourist haven Mackinac Island….where rooms range from 300-1500 a night. yikes…give me my Bayliner and a marina in the center of all the action any day!

Mackinac Island can only be reached by boat or ferry (which, ok, i guess a ferry technically IS a boat) (well, actually i think there is a little airport too). OH,,,,and Ok!… in the winter you can take a lamp lit/christmas tree lined “track” by snowmobile over the ice there too.  BUT there are NO motorized vehicles allowed on the island. Everything is on foot–pedaling, walking or horse transport!  It was a really great way to re-enter “civilization” after all those days at anchor on the remote islands.

2017-8-30 night shot mackinac town
Mackinac by night
2017-8-29 hay delivery
You’d probably expect this hay delivery wagon.
2017-8-29 amazon delivery
But would you expect truckloads and truckloads of Amazon Prime!??  I guess Jeff Bezos would!  The horses even pull big loads of construction material and dumpsters of garbage back and forth to the far side of the island for barge pick up off the beach.
2017-8-30 flowers mack
Pretty Victorian houses and seaside cottages with flowers galore everywhere.

 

2017-8-30 mack main st
The main drag by day. Only about 3 blocks long. Mostly fudge. Yes, we bought some. Yes, it’s almost gone.
2017-8-30 port view fr fort
View from the old fort.  Plenty of empty slips at the marina while we were there.  But it filled up for Labor Day weekend.
2017-8-30 grand hotel longest porch
Hard to tell because it is a panorama shot….but this is THE longest porch in the world! 366 feet long at the Grand Hotel. 
2017-8-30 grand hotel ext
Here’s the exterior of the Grand Hotel—See the length??  The hotel was last remodeled in 1970-something. Edgy, pseudo modern, nauseating, near-gaudy.  But it’s famous and booked solid from June til October. ..when the ice hits.

Although REALLY fun, the problem with renting a tandem bike is that it’s hard to take a picture of the person/dog you are biking with!

2017-8-30 N z tandem
The ONLY state highway that does not allow motorized vehicles!  Really fun…except listening to N complain about horse poop everywhere!

 

2017-8-30 arch rck N B Z
We biked the 8 miles around.  That was good because if we had taken the criss-crossing roads through the interior, we would have had a hilly route!  A good leg stretch at the really pretty arch.
2017-8-30 arch
Before leaving the last morning, we walked some of the interior roads and trails.  We made it back and up to the top of the arch for the view seaward.
2017-8-30 no hammocking
“No Hammocking”.  I actually did not see one No Loitering sign in the town area.  Is this their version? And who turns nouns into verbs?  And besides, now don’t you just WANT to hammock here…..these trees are perfect!

We probably would have stayed another day on Mackinac Island, but weather is looming and we actually have several days of big exposure as we make our way south along the coast of Lake Michigan to Chicago….so we pushed off in light winds and a little choppy, swelly water.

2017-8-30 mackinaw bridge
As we crossed under the Mackinac Bridge that connects Mackinaw CITY to the more remote Upper Peninsula of Michigan, it actually felt more like “crossing a border” than our earlier actual entry a few days ago.  NOW I feel like we are in the USA.

 

Aug 22; Day 239 Sittin’ in Killarney (proof reading)

Really this post is just to get the yesterday’s post’s completion to trigger! So to see it you may have to scroll down past the home page on the actual www.oneifbylandtwoifbyseablog.wordpress.com  site.    It does have some typos and other issues…primarily  though, it seems to have left off at least one key paragraph:  the one about WHY we were towing the boat!  Here it is because I simply cannot get back into that post to correct and inseert it to the part immediately before the picture of Nick in his green coat in the dinghy::

“Even  the weather cooperated, the Bayliner Beast did not.  About 3 miles shy of our destination, a screaming jolt emitting from the engine area stopped us dead in our tracks…or rather made our wake crash up onto the stern swimstep.  What the —-????   Seriously??  How can this be?  No shallows, no rocks on the chart, new engine gingerly broken in, no crabpots (remember this is a lake afterall). UGH! Ok, well time for ANOTHER first: let’s tow ‘er in.”

In the meantime, here’s a view of Killarney waterfront –a town of 400. It only got its first road to it about 45 years ago so everything along its 3 block length has a dock.  Not only do you pull up to the dock for gas but you also pull up to the liquor store, the grocery store, the icecream store and a variety of restaurants at each of their individual little docks. “Parking” is limited to 30 minutes at most places!  haha

Lots of Loopers passing through. Some we met last Fall way up on the river; others we’ve read about on the Looper forum.

Ok we only have a handful of Canadian towns to pass by on THIS adventure so winding towards Lake Michigan and Chicago on the horizon.  Check back again. We’ll try to post as often as possible. Hope all your retinas are intact after eclipse gazing!

Augusts 14 -21; Days 231-238   Georgian Bay: Epitome of Nature’s  Beauty…. and the Beast Bayliner

 

Ok, Ok… I know we aren’t posting as often as we should be; but seriously, the internet connectivity is a REAL problem here.  And now that is compounded by multiple nights at anchor in the middle of nowhere which in and of itself has been compounded by a 3 day small craft warning requiring us to hole-up  where we are lucky to get a sporadic half-bar signal a couple of times a day.  That’s where I sit as I start to write this…hopefully we will make it out to a town of 400 by Sunday the 20th and hopefully there will be connectivity there!  We’ll see.

In the meantime, the days are blurring together so perhaps the photos here will not be in exact chronological order (but unless you are omniscient (or have been here) you probably won’t know the difference!)

The bottom line (from this perch that feels like the top of the world) is the soul-fulfilling visual trip caused by the geology formations.  Georgian Bay and the adjoining North Channel, is a mere sub section of Lake Huron –separated from the main body of Lake Huron by the Bruce Peninsula and Manitoulin Island. Georgian Bay alone is almost as large as Lake Ontario.  The whole area is famously referred to as the Canadian Shield with its igneous and metamorphic bedrock exposed by the passage of time and the last ice age—kinda like a rock yamaka perched on the top of Canada.

2017-8-21 big chart overview
Here’s a big picture of the area we are boating in for a few weeks.

 

The northern shore is dotted with literally thousands and thousands of solid rock islands and even more wannabe, little islands the size of cars, busses and large houses (some of which are dangerously submerged under merely 6-12inches of water)—hence, the area is called 30,000 Islands.  They are the mere remnants of 39,000 foot mountains that were formed with the accumulations of multiple layers of volcanic molten from over 150 different volcanic belts.  And the shallow waters between all the islands and the mainland are lined with that same solid rock…making anchoring sometimes tricky!

Stunningly beautiful, impossible to capture in a photo, and treacherous if you meander out of the channel for a blink.  (kinda sounds like a teen describing his first crush!) Here is a geologic sampling to give you an idea of what we’ve had in the last week.

2017-8-15 wreck island beach

2017-8-15 wreck i molten rock hardened

2017-8-19 grey peach best

 

2017-8-17 wreck is
Imagine the hot molten lava swirling down and cooling at water’s edge…or maybe there was no water yet?
2017-8-16 white vein
No,  not a property line…NOR graffiti… just a big long white vein! Looking at the rocks is like going to the granite store for your kitchen counter top…every hue: black, grey, pink, white, red. Some solid others with layers, veins, and warps
2017-8-15 moss etc sandy bay
  And from every crack, crevice and depression a little pocket of accumulated decomposing leaf and sand or thin layer of soil makes a home for bright green moss, muted lichen, grasses and then the occasional tree and bush.
2017-8-21 parry sound
A zoomed in overview of just Parry Sound area– a tiny section from the bigger navigation chart (Parry Sound Harbor is on the right hand side in the first chart above)  Shows the mazes between the islands and the water. Remember there are over 30,000 of these land chunks!
2017-8-16 zig zagging thru hairpin turns
Zig zagging our way through the mazes.  We frequently have to make hairpin turns on this journey! Literally and figuratively it seems!

It is actually impossible to get a feel for all this geology and aura by photo (and certainly even less possible by words alone)…you’ll just have to make the journey.  Georgian Bay is so cool that it actually inspired the second best art work of all of Canada (behind the amazing British Columbia totem poles of the Salish and other Firsts):  The Work of the Group of 7.

2017-8-20 group of 7 4 part art
Around the 1920’s, they famously collectively committed to exploring art through the unique character of the Canadian landscape and, in particular, Georgian Bay, With nationalistic sentiment and a break from the European tradition their work reflects a distinct Canadian identity. Up here you see reference to their work allllll over!

2017-8-20 group of 7 art

And here’s my photographic version of the above:

2017-8-21 phto like group of 7
Just missing the stormy clouds!  But i’ll take those blue skies over what we had a few days later…even at the sacrifice of an artistic pic!

So that’s the geology stuff….here’s a smattering of the rest of the week.  Our highlights have included Beausoleil, Monument Channel (a big hang out for the Group of 7 artists), Wreck Island, Sandy Bay, Strawberry Island in the Bustards.  We’ve also stopped at Killbear Park, Parry Sound (for a harrowing taxi ride to the grocery store and back),and  Ojibway Club for gas and a look around at their nice getaway locale.  Here’s a collection of shots of some of our stops, scenery and beautiful anchorages:

A few pix that got left off from our boating time with the Canadians last week: pancake delivery…..and yes! WITH Canadian maple syrup, double rainbow after a thunderstorm/rain dump; dinghy safari to the rapids.

Sandy Bay:

2017-8-16 sunset pano sandy bay

2017-8-16 sandy bay from high
At anchor ….noone else in sight.

 

Hers and His Ways to Explore

2017-8-16 sunset sandy favorite
This was perhaps our favorite anchorage during the whole 6800 miles to date.

 

Although we do see little cabins and large homes  along the shore more frequently than you might expect, often you would be hardpressed to know humans had even passed by.  But here are a few “signs” hard to read: “Site of the original barril denoting safe passage thru turbulent waters” barrel marks ; quintessential island with sign marking towns; and cuter than average arched cairn.

 

Strawberry Island in the Bustard Islands Group:

2017-8-17 bustards pano strawberry

We took shelter here for 2+ days of a storm/small craft advisory.  It also happened to be N’s birthday (a big one, btw, …just sayin!!)

 

2017-8-17 sunny bday eve at anchor better
Stern tied and ferried back and forth to shore in dinghy..no motor disturbing the solitude…nor heave ho’s from rowing!

 

2017-8-17 blueberry crack
Blueberries! Fortunately the rough and ready (and yummily ripe in August!)  blueberry has taken ahold on some of these outcroppings! Just 20 feet from the stern.
2017-8-17 blueberry patch patience
A whole patch on the warm side of the little island: Our backyard!  Wild berry picking is for the patient person….or in the alternative one becomes patient while wild berry picking. Either way, it’s good for the soul!
2017-8-17 blueberry pickins
How handy—a birthday gift for N!   Doesn’t get much better than vine ripened, fresh picked (with love!), wild, organic, non-gmo blueberries!
2017-8-17 bday blow
Happy Birthday! Brownie and yogurt with the blueberries and donut peaches (from Washington)  snatched up at the Parry Sound grocery store!
2017-8-18 rain strawberry
Big storm blows n as i write this but we were tucked into our nice little anchorage where it’s calm….but still wet!

Being holed up for 3 days in one spot on a 28 foot boat under weather watch, with no generator for back-up power, shore excursions onto patches of land the mere size of a double-wide, no “third parties” to interact with could  lead  to ____( I’ll let you fill in the blank!)  But seriously, B was fine with her naps, tiny island explorations, minimal reading, rock yoga and swimming (aka skinny dipping)  while N barely hung in there with a morning swim/shower, ipad solitaire, finishing all his books on his kindle and cleaning non-stop….suffice to say “ I’m going expletive deleted insane” was his mantra. As this is typed, he has actually announced he will simply leave B (and presumably Z) on shore with a tarp and sleeping bag and make the crossing, regardless of condition, and return when the weather is better. With that pronouncement the loons started their wailing, haunting call and lyrical return whistle  that we’ve grown accustomed to.   Not sure what they were communicating to us with but it did sooth!

Well,  after watching the big sailboats that were in the abutting small inlet all scoot out earlier, N managed to hang in there and we sat out the weather watch  for the second night in a row under even bigger winds that attacked us from a different direction than the prior night.  We were fine after adding our second anchor (in addition to our really great and well-set anchor AND the stern tie).  We fared the night well and, in the morning, after checking about 4 websites by holding our arm up in the air to get a one-dot-signal and waiting for downloads of weather, wave and wind info, pulled up anchors and brought in the stern tie and headed out to take a peak and maybe make the 20 mile crossing back to the mainland.

2017-8-19 ready to cross N

2017-8-19 dinghy tow
Here’s N making slow but steady headway pulling the boat into Killarney.   Ok I have to admit that one fun thing about the whole event was that a monarch butterfly  (they are on their way back across the Great Lakes right now to Valle de Bravo, Mexico) flittered and followed N and his lime green rain coat for about 10 minutes and then abruptly turned left and headed southward.  Despite the flitting, it was so intent on its whole purpose and,personally, I thought it was a good omen!
2017-8-19 tow ropes to NVR
Tying up for a more efficient tow
2017-8-19 towed by nvr
Loopers Jim and Jeff from NVR II NAUTI towed us in!  Actually, we think the boat should be re-named: NVR II NAUTI AND NICE ! Thanks for the ride!

Made it to Killarney! It’s cute and one of the last Canadian “towns” for us.  They have some fresh oysters on the half shell flown in here! Yay! Ok not the cheapest on the trip (well, to be honest definitely  the most expensive…) but we indulged after our tough last few days and enjoyed while relishing in how really bad that whole problem could have been.

2017-8-20 dingy ride rescue
We ventured out in the dinghy to explore and take a swim….and ended up rescuing a father/son duo who had flipped in their rented canoe…that was fun!

We now sit, at a nice dock, slooooowllllly downloading and re-uploading to the blog website one pic (REPEATEDLY (btw. this is about my 4th attempt at getting this posted) at a time, wrapping up this writing and (happily) waiting for the mechanics from Orillia (who replaced the engine a few weeks ago) to drive up on Monday.  Phone diagnosis is the clutch and they plan to just fully replace the outdrive to be done with the matter….hmmmmm. ok—it’s all on warranty—yay!

OK you’ve heard of concierge doctors, personal chefs and life coaches, right!  Does this guy look familiar?

As this attempts to upload to the world of Blog,  Supermechanic Kyle (also known as pancake deliveryman (see above photo!)  and his buddy (prbably an even more super mechanic) have just arrived (after a 4 hour drive from Orillia!!)–luckily not quite a personal mechanic but being under warranty is the next best thing!

Let’s see, more on all that later. In the meantime, enjoy that eclipse wherever you are!

Epilogue:  Posting this at 3 am when wifi connectivity is a bit better (but still some tech difficulties…so post isn’t perfect   and ….ok, yes,  I might appear dedicated!  aka obsessed! but the reality is that there is a major lightening and thunder storm right now so might as well do this while i enjoy the scene.  and yes, the boat trial was a success…..new outdrive slammed in quickly (and under warranty!)…but bad weather for a few days so looks like we’ll be in Killarney even longer! Yikes…need to get off the Great Lakes by the first week of September or the weather will be even more problematic! Cue the thunder rolls outside!