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Stage 3: Watertown NY to Mackinac Island MI
Entering Ontario Provence was another culture shock. All things
French, including language, abruptly disappeared. Went looking
for moose. Didn't see any. Saw a Timber Wolf, though: standing
in water up to his haunches and staring at me as I puttered by.
||The last half of this leg was in big waters
with a lee shore. Difficult, but doable.
|| A railway lock. It's like being on the top
of a roller coaster.
Sometimes the view is idylic...
...and sometimes there's no view at all.
[Does not enlarge]
||And sometimes it's just too bumpy.
Stage 4: Mackinac Island MI to Grafton IL The
Northern half of Lake Michigan, for hundreds of miles, is magnificent,
panoramic, and totally unspoiled. The only sign of human impact
revealed itself one day while running close inshore; I spotted
ahead the rotting pilings of a long ago dock. Surprising, since
their is no protection on this windward shore from the prevailing
West winds, and I had seen no other boats, big or small, for several
days. As I drew closer, I was even more surprised to see some
of the pilings seem to shift positions as much as a foot or so.
Finally, all was revealed as the pilings turned out to be not
pilings at all but dozens of people standing in water up to their
chest in more or less a straight line stretching out into the
lake. Who they are, where they came from, how they got there,
I don't know. The dunes leading down to the bay are hundreds of
feet tall, some of the largest in the world, and there are no
roads on this part of the coast. As I swung out and around them,
not one payed me the slightest bit of attention, but I liked them
immediately; I pictured this band of people finding their way
to the dunes, climbing or sliding down the hundreds of near vertical
feet to the white sand beach, and wading out into the water to
just - stand, on a hot day. I projected this image to the early
evening when I imagined they would leave the waters, climb back
up and over the dunes and disappear leaving behind only footprints
in the sand.
||I just saw one of those pilings move.
||The magnificent sand dunes of Lake Michigan.
||Beached at Aux Sable Point Lake Michigan.
||Kite Flying in Little Traverse Bay MI.
||Frank Gehry. Peoria IL
||Why bridge builders need designers. These two
are within a half mile of each other.
||This classic Karmahn Ghia has apparently just
been pulled from the river.
Notice the rapt attention the three guys are paying to the
||"Pretend you don't
see him; he's just
going to ask us
if we have any
spare change". Me
Stage 5: Grafton IL to Nashville TN. A short
layover in Grafton found me in a nice pickle: I had left the boat
in a little lagoon fed by the Illinois, and on returning discovered
the water level had dropped by four feet, leaving me high, dry
and several hundred feet from the river. However, my luck holds;
several people showed up to lend a hand. The first was Kenny,
who has a combination Bookstore and Barborshop on Main Street,
then Tom Foster, from the Kayak rental place across the flats.
His idea was to get a couple more guys, unload the boat to lighten
it, and carry it a few feet to firm ground and a trailer he would
provide. We were in the process of figuring what this would cost
when (my new best friend) Steve, a lineman for the county, shows
up with a friend and a Bobcat (the Bobcat is a forklift on tracks).
We were back on the river in twenty minutes and they wouldn't
take a penny for their efforts. I'll have fond memories of Grafton.
The Illinois joins the Mississippi just below Grafton. The current
kicks up to four plus knots and it can get quite turbulent at
times with eddies, whirlpools, and rapids. These are not a problem,
but not particularly comfortable either.
Leaving the Mississippi for the Ohio saw my speed over the ground
drop abruptly from 10k to 5.5k at half throttle, but the weather
was near perfect, and I was in no hurry.
||Where the boat was.
||The Mississippi current.
||The St. Louis Arch. Quite impressive.