Campers are typically very friendly, polite and love to help out. These are the kind of people you love to have around you as you camp. In fact this is very characteristic of most campers anywhere we have been. This fact was exceptionally true on our current trip to the Algonac State Park.
The purpose of this trip was to observe the passing Lake Freighters on the St. Clair River. We had done this for the first time last year and we couldn’t wait to come back again. The weather yesterday was beautiful. Terri and I gathered along with my parents to watch the passing ships from between our sites. These sites are situated directly across the road from the river. This provided us with a perfect vantage point to observe the ships. We were outside the entire day and well into the night. The ships looked incredible at night as well. They would be all lit up. At 4 am we watched 5 ships pass within 20 minutes. These vessels actually blew the welcome “Toot” with their enormous horns as they passed by our park. We got very little sleep and it was great.
We knew the ship viewing would be great, but we didn’t realize how friendly all the people would be. We met more people here than we’ve ever met in one weekend. We chatted about RVing and shared some spectacular stories.
As I write this it is already Go-Home Day. The weekend has been much too short. We have seen 29 ships go by and have made countless new friends. This will be a hard place to leave today.
Pooh and Blue Bunny love to watch ships pass as well.
This is our first trip down the Rifle River. We put the kayaks in at Moffatt Bridge. We then traveled down the river to the Outdoor Adventures Rifle River Resort. The resort is located at the Melita Road Bridge.
The river where we launched our boats is about 50 feet wide. The water is 1 to 2 feet deep at this point. Several places along the way during our trip were shallow enough to cause our kayaks to drag bottom. However, at no point did we need to get out and drag our boats across the rocky bottom of the river.The entire trip took about 3 hours. We did some floating and an average amount of paddling.
Anyone who knows me knows that I don’t get very excited over sporting events. Last night, however, I witnessed an event that totally astonished me and I can’t seem to get over what took place. This was the most fantastic sporting event I have ever attended.
When I called last week to reserve the site at the campground we are currently at, I was asked if we were coming to town to watch the canoe race. I replied that I didn’t know what he was talking about. The guy from the campground just snickered and proceeded to explain that it was a canoe race from Grayling, Michigan to Lake Huron along the Au Sable River. I thought it would something fun to see if we had nothing better to do.
When we arrived at the campground my wife picked up a brochure about the race. It said the Au Sable River Canoe Marathon was a 120 mile race on the Au Sable River. It would take the contestants 15+ hours to complete the race. The Marathon started in Grayling at 9 PM with the canoes staged downtown in the street. We decided to head over and check it out. We arrived in town to find thousands of people waiting for the race to begin. Shortly after we got there the starting gun was fired and the paddlers picked up their canoes to make a mad dash for the river. The Au Sable River at this point is only wide enough for about 3 canoes. The contestants bumped and crashed as they try to enter the river at the best possible spot.
The crowd roared as the last contestants set their canoe into the river. This was definitely the home town favorite. It was Al Widing and his partner, 21-year-old Hailey McMahon of Grayling. At 87 years old, this is Al’s 40th attempt. Al currently holds the records: Most Marathons Entered, Most Marathons Finished, Oldest Paddler to Compete, and the Oldest Paddler to finish in the top 10.
This event is advertised as” North America’s Toughest, Richest Canoe Race and the World’s Toughest Spectator Race!” The contest pays out over $50,000 in cash & prizes. The contestants come from all over the world for a chance to compete in this distinguished event.
To get an idea of how fast they paddle down the river, we made a trip on the Au Sable earlier that morning that lasted just over 3 hours. The pros get down that same stretch of river in 1 hour 8 minutes. This is amazing.
Back in Mio we woke from a brief cat nap to go down to the dam to wait for the Paddlers. This was spectacular. There were crowds of people waiting for the paddlers. The canoes were approaching the Mio Pond in total darkness. Some had a small lamp but others had nothing at all to guide them through the obstacles in the river. We have a hard time avoiding these things in broad daylight. The only thing to alert us of their arrival was the faint sound of paddles entering the water and an occasional ” Hup!”
I really can’t belive that I have lived in Michigan all my life and never head about this event. While the world watches Olympics events like Synchronized Swimming, Trampoline, Badminton and Ping-Pong, we have the grand-daddy of all canoe races right in our back yard. Next year give yourself a treat and check this out. It will be an experience that you will never forget.
This has been our richest kayak trip to date. We left McMasters Bridge at 8:30 am. The temperature outside was in the mid 50’s with a small breeze. The weather was perfect for a ride down the Au Sable River. The river here is about 60 feet wide and 2 or 3 feet deep.
There was absolutely no one else on the river but us and a couple of fishermen in a rowboat the entire morning. The only time we come across anyone else is when we got to our destination at Parmalee Bridge. This place was a mad house. There was a constant flow of traffic trying to get to the river and dump people in.
During our trip we encountered a lot of wildlife this morning. More than ever before. We saw a Bald Eagle, a Marten, Ducks, a Great Blue Heron, Hawks, Geese, Fish, Turtles and even a White Tailed Deer. This was a very productive trip.
I made my reservation at Oscoda County Park with Dan. He said that the place was pretty much full due to the upcoming canoe race. He said he would reserve me a site near the river. He also took the time to explain about the Au Sable River Marathon that was to take place while we were there. Make sure you read my posting about this event.
When we arrived at the campground, Jim checked us in at the office. We then headed over to our site. What we found was a small site with no water and a bush in the middle of it. Knowing that this site would be a problem we headed back to the office. We were told that all the other sites were taken. After a bit of coaxing, Jim did. however, reluctantly switch us to a new site.
Our new site was really nice. This one even had water. Most of the sites here are shaded. Some are rustic, some have electric and others have water and electric. The dump station also has potable water even though it is located on the wrong side of the one-way entrance. There is not much of a view of the Au Sable River from any of the sites due to the tree coverage. If you go up the hill at the end of the park you can catch a bit of the water from there.