Tom writes . . .
Lansing, Michigan to the Nifty Town of Grand Ledge, Michigan, October 18, 2016
We put the boat in the water just below Lansing’s substantial dam. Foamy water with some sort of sewer smell. Lansing is our Michigan state capital, so that sewer smell might have been politics, rather than actual sewage.
The river is wide and swift in Lansing. About fifty to seventy-five yards wide today, much wider than before, too wide for a single downed tree to block it. A better situation than earlier legs of this trip, when downed trees often blocked the whole river. (In case you think in meters rather than yards, a yard is almost exactly equal to a meter.)
Finally, a river down which Huck and Jim could float. Contrast with pics in previous posts of a creek-like Grand near the river’s source in Jackson County.
We had a swift current taking us in our desired direction, but we had a stiff wind in our faces all day. We worked pretty hard paddling against that wind.
This time of year (autumn/fall), colorful tree leaves are a major topic in our home state of Michigan. Today, in southern central Michigan, in mid-October, the leaves along the Grand River had turned about 30 percent, from green to red, orange, and gold. Lovely. But, in a couple weeks, they will be magnificent.
We had mostly cloudy weather today, so the changing leaves were not as magnificent as they would be in bright sunlight. Still, we had lovely scenery.
We passed under approximately nine bridges today. We saw about eight people out on the river, only one in a boat (kayak). Spoke with a fisherman who was seeking bass. Many nice homes along this stretch. Some houses seemed too low, too close to the river level. Do they get flooded every year?
Do you know that Great Blue Herons like to fly ahead of boats heading down rivers? A certain Heron flew ahead of us for an hour or so. It would take off just as we reached it, and then settle on the river bank, and wait. Then, it would take off again, and lead us downstream. Herons are common along our river. Joe says they look like Pterodactyls.
Other birds: We saw a large flock of wild turkeys moving through the woods, when we stopped for lunch. (Lunch was delicious roast beef and salami sandwiches with Swiss cheese on fresh bagels. Joe brought them.) Maybe, I saw one hawk. Hawks were more common on earlier legs of this trip. We saw an eagle early in the day, not far from downtown Lansing . Large flock of Mallard Ducks, medium flock of Canada Geese, flock of other whitish geese at our destination pull-out place at Grand Ledge. Not clear whether these were migrating birds or birds that stay over. I guess that the ducks and the white geese will migrate, and the Canada Geese will stay over the winter.
I used to be the family rope/knot guy, but my knots actually have failed holding the canoe onto Joe’s truck. Joe has invented a new knot, and it works, stays tight. Now, when we tie the boat onto the truck, Joe has a polite way of keeping me from tying knots. He steers me away. And does it himself. In a future post, I will teach you Joe’s new knot.
Music between Lansing and Grand Ledge
We sang while we paddled. We concentrated on 45 rpm singles we used to own. Great soulful tunes that were not actual Motown records:
- Spyder Turner’s version of Stand by Me.
- Love Makes the World Go Round by Deon Jackson. Deon was from one of our home towns, Ann Arbor, Michigan. (Joe and I have several hometowns, because our family moved around when we were kids.)
- Dead End Street by Lou Rawls.
- Barefootin’ by Robert Parker.
Joe adds . . .
Tom pretty well summed up yesterday’s journey on the Grand River. The only thing it occurs to me to add is simply the observation that the river – and most rivers, I suspect – is a great place to gain some solitude, if solitude’s something you’re looking for. Within just a few minutes of setting off from downtown Lansing we were in a peaceful, quiet place and things pretty much remained like that throughout our 3.5+ hours on the river.
Here’s a few pictures from our trip.
My view from the pilot’s seat in the stern. I insisted Tom wear a life jacket, now that the water underneath the Billie V has some depth. As the captain- at least for this leg of our journey – it is my prerogative to issue such orders.
We pulled in at someone’s river camp to eat lunch, about 90 minutes of downstream-paddling from Lansing.
The door was broken at our lunch spot, but otherwise the cabin was in good shape. I guess Huck Finn was on my mind; I thought of the cabin where Pap stashed Huck away for awhile.
These mushrooms – they are mushrooms, right? – were found near our lunch spot. My eyes were first drawn here by a flock of wild turkeys parading through the woods.