Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Friday, April 24th

Up very early this morning and on the water well before sun up. Again the water was calm, just a slight breeze from the southeast. A very peaceful paddle all morning.

At about 8:30 I noticed what looked liked a park and figured I must be at Tunnel Park in Holland. I pulled over to shore to check it out. At Tunnel Park there's supposed to be a tunnel through the sand dunes and into the park. I saw no tunnel but decided to check it out anyway and walked up and over the sand dunes. Sure enough it was a park so I decided to get out and pulled my canoe and gear up and over the sand dunes. Once on the other side, I found out it was not Tunnel Park but Kirk Park. This meant I still had about 7 or 8 miles to go to Holland. I needed to get to Holland by 10:00 in order to get back to Eaton Rapids for the luncheon by noon. So I hooked up my bike and started pedaling on a very nice bike trail.

I arrived at Tunnel Park just before 10:00 and my former football player, Pat Paquette, arrived a short time later. We pack everything up and headed for Eaton Rapids.

Pat Paquette is one of the most talented athletes to come out of Superior, WI and that is saying a lot. For I believe Superior still has the most individuals inducted into national hall of fames than any other city. I'm sure that is correct for a town under 50,000 people. Pat played for us in the mid 70's. As a sophomore, he not only started, but was a main factor in us being the number one football team in the state until we stubbed our toe late in the season and lost two games in overtime. That happens in life. Big thing is one must pull themselves up and get after it again, which that team did.

Fortunately over the years I had very talented players and we were very successful. But success to me was what became of those players after football. In most cases they've became very successful young men making significant contributions to the communities they live in. Pat is no exception. He, along with his partner Clair, own Spectators University Bar and Grill in Saugatuck, MI. Pat tells me it's going well. More important was when he told all the ways they give back to the community. (Had a little tear in my eye and a heart full of pride as he spoke.)

We arrived in Eaton Rapids shortly after noon. There must have been 20 plus people at the luncheon including the five paddlers I started with, Toby, Mark, Dan, Charlie and Jon. Great reunion and lots of stories of our journey passed back and forth.

Chuck Ambroy was also there. Chuck and a friend (name I forgot) paddled the first day of this trip from Detroit and has some great pictures I hope to post when I finish. More important, Chuck picked up the tab! Another unbelievable paddle angel! Also there was Jim Woodruff, as stated in earlier journal entries, responsible for starting the Hugh Heward 50 Mile Challenge a few years back. Great to see he and his daughter Karen again. (He continues to call my canoe a junkyard! )

Because it was only about 2:00pm I decided to paddle to Dimondale with Toby, Mark, Dan and Charlie. I've done this section already and could ride over but I'd be there with nothing to do. Joining us for the paddle were Nancy Anderson who met me when she came to Dimondale with the Woodruffs, and shuttled me to Portland a few days ago. (There was one more person, who's name I've forgotten.) Just a nice relaxing paddle, sharing conversation with all.

At Dimondale we were met by other paddlers doing the 50 miler. Turned out to be a great evening meeting new people including Bob Bradford, his wife, son and nephew. Bob saw us off at the start of our journey back in Detroit. What I did not know then was he and his partner, Clark Eid hold the record for paddling the length of the Mississippi in a time of: 18 days 4 hours and 51 minutes. Unbelieveable! Check it out at: He and his wife will be paddling a Kruger Crusier tomorrow. They are good and will be the first Kruger Canoe to arrive in Portland. His son and nephew will be in a racing canoe and most likely will be the the first racing team to arrive in Portland. Very talented family.

I also met Brian Weber, his daughter, Marissa and her friend Hannah Grow. Brian is also blogging this trip for Kruger Canoes at: He's a great young man and works a lot with at-risk children. We shared lots of ideas which I hope to follow up on when I finish. His daughter, Marissa and friend Hannah will be the youngest paddlers tomorrow. They have paddled all over the USA for breast cancer, including doing a paddle from Kansas City to St. Louis. You must check out there website at:

I must also mention Pat Harrington and Robin Barfoot were there to help all us paddlers out in any way they could. Pat went beyond the call of duty. He works on bikes and took mine home with him and did a complete service job on it. What did I say about paddle angels, they are unbelievable! Thanks Pat and Robin.

A group of us had a great dinner at Mike', up town. Mike plans to open at 5:00 in the morning so whoever wants can have breakfast before we push off.

Time for bed. More great friends! Just another great day.


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