Complete! Finished! Done!

August 8 – 10, 2020
Grand Rapids to Lake Michigan

Tom Writes . . . 

Cranky Old Men with Stiff Legs and Sore Rears
Glorious Michigan Summer
Truly GRAND River

We started at the southwest corner of Grand Rapids. The river loops south, and then north, before heading west. The lower Grand here is different from the upper part of the river: Serious boat traffic starts here. More than just a few kayaks, fisherpeople, and pontoon boats. Rather, lots of big cabin cruisers and speed boats, and even sheriff patrol boats.

We had to worry about boat wakes tipping our canoe, for the first time on this trip, but we got through, no real problems. Plus, high banks on both sides, and the river is wide and deep. We saw more birds than ever before: cormorants, swans, ducks, geese, egrets, cranes, our favorite blue herons, a green heron, seagulls, terns, kingfishers, jays, hawks, eagles, and many more.

I (Tom) have been loathe to brag about our trip in any way. Hubris. What if something went wrong? What if we had to stop short of the finish, for some unanticipated, uncontrollable problem ( e.g. weather, wind, waves)?

But, Brother Joe hyped us. He got a dozen members of his/our family to greet us and cheer us, when we reached the Grand Haven piers, just at the end of the river, on the verge of Lake Michigan, the brink of our goal. And, he arranged for a wonderful talented writer/reporter from the Grand Haven Tribune to interview us, film us, and cover us. Thank goodness, it worked out and we finished!

Monday night, a number of wonderful friends grilled ribs and corn and peaches in our honor: Thank you, Luanne, David, Abby Keiser, Abe, Clare and Bob Agra, Meryl and Brooke Wilsner, Amy and Brian Wisner, Aimee, Peter and Anna Eldon. Let us not forget our respective wives – my Cynthia and Joe’s Linda – for their support over the past 5 years . . . and everyone else, too!

Top left: the bottom of the Billie V after 252 miles on the river
Top right: approaching the drawbridge in Grand Haven
Bottom left: arriving at the pier and the end of the Grand River
Bottom center: the channel was choppy and a bit frightening, as we expected
Bottom right: part of our family welcoming group on the north pier

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This entry was posted in canoe, family, Great Lakes, Michigan, paddling, rivers, Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Complete! Finished! Done!

  1. Patricia says:

    We are mother/daughter kayak enthusiasts. Excited to find your blog. Hope you might share specifics on the Webber Dam (access) and Wagar Dam. We put-in the River from a private home on Peckins Road, Wagar Dam visible to our East. Satellite views don’t show much. This is our 3rd time kayaking the Grand. Thanks for posting and happy water trails to you both 😊

    • Joe Neely says:

      We’ll talk and see what we can remember. Is the Wagar Dam the “deadhead” dam, all under water? I remember not having much info either and feeling lucky we got over it without trouble. Seems to me we were instructed to approach it river right but don’t take my word for it. You’ll see a lot of bald eagles in that area, as you probably already know. (Joe)

  2. rothpoetry says:

    Sounds like a most interesting adventure. Love the photos!

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