Saturday, July 31, 2010

A Night Adventure!

Charlie was visiting from GR and wanted to go down the river in the drift boat.  I hadn't tried very far south of High Bridge so we launched from there.  We left about 3:30 pm and started fishing down as we floated along.  We finally hit Blacksmith Bayou after a couple of hours and kept fishing down the river.

I found it hard to drift and fish so I mainly worked the oars so Charlie could fish.  It was a pretty float and I was seeing new water.  I noticed some logs just under the water and some pointed upstream and some downstream.  Hope I remember them when we head back to the car.

  It sure is a pretty river and I always enjoy floating down.  Charlie started catching a few fish.

It was a small trout but a hungry one.  We were hoping to get some smallmouth bass on this trip.

The water was slightly green and I had trouble seen the snags and stumps.  I didn't anchor very often because it is easy to slide your anchor into a snag and then have to cut your line.  That 30 # anchor costs $40!
When we left, I noticed that it was a 3 hour float to Bear Creek.  We had been on the river for 4 hours and still weren't there.

This picture shows the oar locks that keeps the blades aligned with the water.
 The thin plastic container is slit on the top lid to keep the junk monofilament line inside.

About 7:45 pm I decided that since we hadn't reached Bear Creek and it would be getting dark, so we better start back up-river to our vehicle at High Bridge.  My float boat has a 4 hp motor with a .8 gallon gas tank built into the motor.  It fired right up and away we went.  Going upstream against the current is slow going.  After about one hour, the motor quits.  It is out of gas and we haven't even made it up to Blacksmith Bayou!

It is now after 8:00 pm and nobody is on the river.  I only need one gallon of regular gas as it is a 4 stroke engine.  I wonder if anyone will go by with some regular gas to spare?                                                    

Here we are south of Blacksmith Bayou without water, food, a light, gas but at least we have our cell phones.  We call Charlie's wife, Linda, at my house.  We tell her not to expect us for dinner and not before midnight at this rate.  Then I call my buddy, Jack, to call a friend with a boat and some gas.  Jack says he will send his son, Guy, down in the kayak from High Bridge.  I also ask for a flashlight as I wonder what time he will arrive.  It is just after 8:00 pm and it took us 2 hours just to float down to Blacksmith Bayou.  I start getting nervous.                                                                                                              


Charle just starts fishing while we wait.  I pace back and forth.

Charlie is enjoying himself and lands a nice smallmouth bass.

At 8:25 pm  Guy comes around the corner to a cheer and hardy welcome from the troops!  He made it down in about 20 minutes.  He is sweating like a dog and has supplies.  He hands us a poptart and a flashlight.  Then he holds up a 1 1/2 gallon gas can.  What a welcomed sight.                                    

WE put gas in and start the engine.  What do we do with the kayak?  We tip it upside down and hold it agains the inside of the boat and we are off!  We pass Blacksmith Bayou. (I am getting very tired of typing Blacksmith Bayou!)    After another 45 minutes we get closer to High Bridge.  Every corner looks like it is the last one only to find more river ahead.  It is 9:50 pm and we are using the moonlight and remaining day light to see.  Charlie is guiding me past the river obstacles and at 8:55 pm we finally sight the landing.    It gets very dark at 9:55 pm, we just made it!  Later Linda said she wasn't worried because she prayed for us.  I was praying also and somehow our night adventure turned out to  a great story of how we survived on the river one night.  Well, anyone up for a river float ?  I promise to carry extra gas!                                                              

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Kayaking the Pine

My brother, Gary and his wife, Jane, invited me on a kayak trip down the River River.  They were meeting old friends from Kalamazoo at a nearby campground and spending the day on the Pine.  The Pine River gets a lot of river traffic in the summer.  You have to get a river pass so they can limit the number of people on the river.

I had my Scamp trailer set up for Gary and Jane and I slept at home, which was only 12 minutes away.

The kayaks were ready and I dropped off my car at the lower end.  We had a group of about 14 people but they were in canoes from the campground.  We just followed everyone to Elm Flats.  From there we would float down to Peterson's Bridge.                                                                                                        


We unloaded the kayaks and got our things in order.  We pack small coolers for food and drink and had a towel in a dry bag.                                                                                                           

I guess everyone else decided to go on the river this day also!


That doesn't look too bad. We pulled our kayaks down to the launch site.  Suddenly everything was different!  Where did all these people come from.  It was about 9:30 am and everyone was here!

No one was in charge of take-off!  This was going to be a La Mann's style start!  Everyone was anxious to get on the water but no one was directing traffic.  Chaos!

We finally got into the water and it was crowded.  The Pine is a small stream but it can be tricky.  We pushed off and headed around the first corner to re-group.  As Jane came around  the corner a canoe backed out into her space and forced her into the tree limbs.  Over she went!  Jane always manages to get wet right away so she doesn't have to worry about the first spill.  .... and it wasn't her fault!

Gary stopped to help and pulled the kayak up the bank to get the water out of it.  Our group was down stream somewhere.  Soon we were back in the water.  Most of the people were in large groups and they stopped often to get a drink or spray the floaters with their water guns!

The river was in good shape.  It was moving at a nice pace but you could still spot the ripples where rocks and branches were located.  The corners were always tricky because you had to stay on the outside or the current would suck you in toward the logs.  We didn't paddle much and tried to just float with the current and just correct your position as needed.  We passed the group but decided to keep floating in our small group of 3 kayaks.  We would all catch up somewhere along the river.

We stopped every so often when we could find a sand bar to stretch our legs and look for the group.  We would get something to drink and then get back on the river after the break.  Actually, we had the river to ourselves for most of the time.  Sometimes someone would come up on you from behind and you wouldn't hear them.  Then they would pass on the corner and push you into the corner!!   Most of the people were not very good at steering their canoes!  Luckily we got ahead of most of them because we weren't drinking beer and kept on floating down river!                                                                                

Jane enjoyed the trip and took over the lead for most of the second half of the trip.  We were headed to the halfway spot.  From Elm Flats to Dobson Bridge is about a 2 hour float.  We took 3 hours and ate our lunch there and used the bathroom.  The second part from Dobson Bridge to Peterson Bridge was another 2 hour but we took another 3 hours to float it.  By floating down instead of paddling, you get to sightsee a little more. It was fun to notice the wild flowers and spot the birds along the trees.  It was peaceful most of the time.  We did get together with some painted-up college students.  They were polite but very drunk. 

This was my favorite view.  You can see the green colored  river pass on the front of the kayak and the faster water up under the tree.  The faster riffles were fun and we looked forward to them.  You just had to scout ahead to see where the rocks were by reading the river.

There were some beautiful cabins on the river.  They were so peaceful but I wouldn't want a bunch of drunks floating by every day in my front yard.                                                               


Gary was the only one not to get wet in the river.  I slipped over too close to the log jam and the force of current pinned me and then tipped my kayak over.  I dove in and grabbed my paddle and pulled my flipped kayak into the log jam.  It could have been a bad moment but just my pride was injured!  The kayak was swamped with water and very heavy.  I managed to get the bow up the bank and the water slowly drained out the drain hole.  It was too heavy to flip over so I just waited for 20 minutes for it to drain.  Then I had to figure out how to get off the log jam and back in the river with the current coming towards me.  It took some planning but then I was back in the river floating down stream   Later I thought about how dangerous it could be if you don't pay attention.

We finished the float and never saw the group we started with.  They were to be picked up by the shuttle and we had our own car so we didn't worry.  We would all meet back in the campground.

It was a great day on the river and we were hungry.  Gary and Jane had an extra steak so we grilled our dinner and relaxed while we dined outdoors on the picnic table.  Another great day in paradise!  Next time, join us for our next adventure!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Pastel Art

I recently received a lesson in Soft Pastel art from a friend I showed how to make glass beads. I have to try to learn how to draw and shade the colors of my picture.

First I bought a simple travel pastel kit to start with.  It only had 12 colors and it got me started.

I used a pencil to sketch a picture for my first pastel drawing.  Amy showed me how to look at light and the sight line and perspective and so much more that I was happy just to complete my first picture.

Other than the flash spot, it was my first crude picture.

Next, I started a still life pencil sketch.

Yes, it is a pear and an apple!

After a few drawings, I knew I needed more help.  I ordered a few books on pastels and saw they were offering a class in Manistee.

I went to a couple of classes and started practicing.  My instructor said to use photos we took ourselves.

I tried to copy this but have to work on it.

This is not easy!  Now I have to learn to shade and watch my light source.

Now I have enough colors to do some serious shading.

I learned how to make paper pencils for shading called torchons by rolling wet paper or paper towels around a toothpick and allowing it to dry.  This is used to blend in the pastels.  You can always use your fingers but you have to keep the fingers clean in between to not smear your picture.                                              

I tried several types of paper.  I quickly found out that pastels require a special paper with a lot of "tooth" to hold the pigment.

I try to draw and paint every other day so I'll have something to work on in my pastel class.

This one will need the teacher's help.

I wonder what she will say about this one?  I hope you can tell it was a pinecone!!!!

This landscape needs some work in the foreground.

I don't know what this is.  Maybe a thistle?

This was my last painting.  I'll miss class next week as I am going to Slippery Rock.  I'll take some pictures!

The class has helped me to open my eyes to my surroundings and look for a picture.  What do you think?