Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Tuesday April 21

I woke and saw that it was light out. I thought to myself, "Man, I'm late. I gotta get going!". Then I realized I was in a motel room and didn't need to go anywhere. It was 8:30 and I was still in bed. I must have really needed this rest for normally I'm awake before sun-up.

I took my time getting everything together so it was still cold and raining out. By the way, I forgot to mention yesterday it was cold and rainy most of the trip. For the first time, I used the skirt on my canoe. The skirt is similar to what you see on a kayak. It surrounds my entire body and allows no water to get into the canoe. I felt like a bug snug in a rug. It also keeps my lower body warm and with a rain jacket it's like being in my own little home.

I paddled all the way across the country a couple of years ago and never took the time to see how this works. Now I sure wish I had for it would have kept me from bailing water out of my canoe day after day. Just like me - takes too much time to test things out. Oh well, the world is still spinning.

I was just getting ready to take things down to my canoe when the telephone rings. Chuck Amboy was one of the day paddlers that started out with us from Belle Isle. He and the other day paddlers went as far as the mouth of the Huron River. He called to tell me that he had some good pictures and wondered how he could get them to me. Also that Friday before the 50 Mile Heward Challenge there will be a dinner in Dimondale for the paddlers. He wanted me to know that if there was anything he could do for me, he was willing to help. I really felt this was a nice gesture. Thanks, Chuck. I will see you next Saturday.

Not long after, Mike Leyrer called. He is part of the Kruger Memorial Project and lives in Portland. Wanted to know if there was anything he could do to help me get started this morning. He offered to show me the options to get back in the water and give me a tour of the town of Portland. I took him up on his offer and the two of us took about a half hour just riding around. Very interesting man, and very helpful. The pride and respect he feels for Verlen and the memorial project comes through loud and clear.

Mike brought me back to the motel. He was amazed at how light I was traveling. Actually, I thought I was traveling pretty heavy. He also was very interested in my little 20" bike and my trailer set-up. I told him I was fortunate to walk the Pacific Crest Trail, where you had to go light and this has carried over to everything I have done since. I said the key for going light is never carry anything with you that you do not use every day, other than making sure you are prepared for the elements.

I said my goodbyes to Mike only to see him again at the first dam portage just outside Portland. For all his good intentions to show me the options I had to get in the water, as I rode my bike down the bike trail next to the Grand River, I missed every one of them and ended up on the outskirts of town. Stopping for a minute to figure out where I was, a man came by and asked me if I was looking for the river. I said "I think I missed the landing". He said "Yes, it's back in mid-town". Now knowing I don't turn around, I asked him "How do I get to the dam?" He gave me directions so off I went.

As I was unloading at the dam, Mike pulls up. I told him with all the great instructions you gave me, I still screwed up. He chuckled, helped me unload and I was on my way. He told me that Dan Smith's brother Scott would be down the river at the first bridge I came to and wanted me to say hello when I got there.

Before I left, I asked Mike how long it would take me to get to Scott. He said he wasn't sure but maybe an hour. I got there in just a little over half an hour for the river was fast. Scott was standing on a bank with a trailer filled with canoes and a big smile on his face. I pulled in. We introduced ourselves to each other and I asked if I could take a picture of him next to his canoes. He said yes and if I wanted to, I could come up and see his shop, which was less than a mile away. I jumped at the chance for I was very interested in seeing the step by step process of canoe building.

Scott continues building the most popular designs of the Sawyer Canoe plus his own version of Verlen's canoe. Very impressive. Anyone out there interested in canoeing definitely should look at Scott's website. He has something for everyone.

Scott took me back to the water. I said goodbye and look forward to seeing him again at the 50 mile challenge.

The rest of the day was spent paddling in and out of rain, sleet and snow. It was a lot like being in the Boundary Waters. Cold, miserable and enjoying every minute of it. I ended up somewhere past the dam at Lyons before I made camp. As I tucked in for the night I hoped that tomorrow brought a little bit more warmth and that the rain would be over.

Two and a half days of this is enough. Plus I miss seeing the Big Dipper.

By the way, a couple of times on this journey I've been asked what the Big Dipper represents on my website. Thought I'd take this time to explain. A few things have changed since I wrote the entry below for my Pacific Crest Trail journal back in 2003. My mother has passed away. I have two more grandchildren, Ryah and Avery. And of course, many more friends, including the ones I'm meeting on this journey.

The Big Dipper is made up of seven stars and each star has its own meaning to me while out on this trail. Starting from the handle the first star represents my wife, LuAnn, and I take a few minutes to remember all that she means to me and what a great person she is in her own right. She’s a very giving person and if you know her, well let's just say you’ve been blessed. Last night I was thinking about the time I came home a little late and figured I better make a big impression. So when I got to the bedroom door I hollered out, “Superman” and did a half turn in the air and landed on the floor rather than the bed! She’d rearranged the furniture! Can’t Win!The second star represents my sons Dean and Eric, and my daughter Heidi. I could not be prouder of them and their significant others. I told them a long time ago that all I wanted them to do is just grow up to be a little better than their father. Well, they’ve out done me 10 fold! The third star represents our grand children Liv and Rory (Dean and Erin), Devin and Drake (Heidi and Nate) and Lily (Heather). If you have grandchildren you know how special they are! The fourth star represents my mother, Ellen and father, Clarence. My mother is 90 years old and hanging in there. Short-term memory is shot but does not have an ache in her body. She lives with my sister, Clarice. My father has passed away, but I think of him often. I just simply owe them everything. The fifth star represents my sisters Clarice, Cheryl, Sonja, and my brother Don. If you’ve followed my journal you know we lost Don when he was sixteen, yet there is hardly a day that goes by that I do not think about him. My sisters are great and I wish we could see each other more than we do. I see Clarice the most and she and her husband, Ron have helped me a lot getting to and from airports on this hike. The sixth star represents all the people back home. I think about the people I grew up with, like Mac and Newt. My high school and college friends like Niles, Umland, Dorn, Leitzke, Casper, Phil, Cal, Warz, Zeke, Russ, and so many others. My high school coach, John Hansen and college coach, Edor Nelson that played such a part in my own coaching philosophy. My friends in Eau Claire, Diz, Tex, Mic, Browny, Daryl and Denny. They too played a big part in my teaching and coaching philosophy. Then there’s Charlie, Jim, Dean, John and Mike who are my hunting partners back home (Better get back, somebody needs to shoot their deer for them!). I’ve been fortunate to have been touched by so many people it’s impossible to mention all of them, specially all the wonderful people in our community of, Superior, Wisconsin. I’m proud to be a SPARTAN! Lastly, I think of my good coaching buddy, Ted. We’ve been friends for over 30 years, running around to coaching clinics together. Ted has brain cancer and he and his family are always in my prayers. I’ll see you when I get home Ted.Finally, the seventh star, which represents all the great people I’ve met on this trail. All are very special in there own right. It’s been an honor to hike and meet so many nice people. Geezer, Cupcake, Yucca, Kimber, Stretch, Walt, Billy Goat, Garlic Man, Frank, Just Jane, Tapeworm, Chuckie V, La De Da, Pel Mel, Birdie, Suge and Grave Digger are just a few that I had the pleasure to hike with. Phil (Donk), Chaz, Commodore, Yogi and Gottago are the five I know the best. I’ll never forget them. Heck, they did a great job taking care of me!!!Then, finally, I look for the first satellite to pass overhead. That satellite represents my son, Ryan, just simply telling me, “Dad everything is okay. I’m in good hands. Just remember and be strengthened by all the good times I had and not be weakened by my going home.”


Blogger Karen Stock said...

I'm so glad you shared your Big Dipper story. The Superman stunt reminded me of my own superhero, my husband Ken. You'll meet him on Saturday. Stay dry, Coach!

8:48 PM  

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