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 Justine's Journal

CackleTV Productions


Newfoundland and the Great Lakes
Tuesday, May 31, 2005

hello from Chicago - a pit stop between kayaking and filming on the Great Lakes and Newfoundland. It's really exciting to be 'on the road' meeting fun people and kayaking in new places. Just over a week ago I was the guest speaker at the Newfoundland and Labrador Kayak Club's 'retreat', an annual gathering of sea kayakers and river paddlers. Alun and I were very well looked after by the locals, and we were given a 'screeching ceremony', where we were made to eat and drink all sorts of funny things, kiss a cod & speak in a funny language.... all wearing a bright yellow so-wester hat. I gave a presentation about 'my adventures' and gave a few classes and presentations and on the last day we had a real treat and were taken down "Pipers Hole", a grade 3 river by Geoff, Betsy, Louise, Ryan, Dave & Gary. I was petrified at the start because I haven't done that many rivers but I loved it - the scenery was wonderful, there were a few fun waves to surf on and my river sense isn't quite as bad as I thought it was! To top it off, on the drive back we saw 2 moose on the road.

After that we flew to Chicago and some of the local Lake Michigan paddlers took us on a 3 day trip out to the Manitou islands. That was a lot of fun - it was beautifully flat calm on the first day with tropical looking turcoise water (and I stress tropical LOOKING water as the temperature brought you back to reality!). The shore of the lake there is dramatic , with massive sand dunes several hundred metres high and lots of trees on the top of them. The sand is glacial till from the last ice age and there isn't a rock in sight. The islands are hilly dunes aswell and no-one lives there so we had them pretty much to ourselves. The 2nd and 3rd days were windier and we contended with a head wind, a following sea and a side wind as we explored South Manitou island's stand of virgin cedar trees, and an impressive looking shipwreck that has been colonised by cormorants. The sight of it is only overshadowed by the smell of it! We met lots of interesting people and did some filming for the sequel to 'This is the Sea', which is due out this Autumn (or Fall). I also filmed a feature on Doug Vandoren who is a traditional 'Greenland style' kayaker who is a great advocate of the traditional blade and boat in all conditions - he believes that several thousand years of evolution of kayaking in Greenland can't be wrong and thinks we can learn a lot from trying to understand their style. When I saw him surfing waves I had to agree that he could perform easily as well as someone in a modern fibreglass boat and 'Euro' blades. We mounted my minicamera system on his kayak and he did a range of rolls. You can see the motion of his body and paddle under the water so I'm excited to put that in the next DVD.

We've just returned from the 3day West Michigan Coastal Kayakers Association Symposium where I was the guest speaker, and where we met some more lovely people. The event is held on a sheltered lake near Muskegon and about 200 beginners and intermediate paddlers attended. It was a great location for teaching skills and everyone seemed to get a lot out of it. I instructed in a few classes on the first day without telling people I was the guest speaker. In a women's clinic I went through the theory of how I pee from a kayak and one lady asked me if I had ever used the technique. "A few times" I said. The next day after my talk about some of the expeditions that I have done she was laughing about asking me that question.

Tomorrow we are going back to Newfoundland for 9 days to do some filming of some of the hotspots and to enjoy the scenery. We hope to go out to a massive gannet colony and go up to Quirpoon lighthouse on the Northern peninsula where our fingers are crossed for some iceberg sightings.

Tara rwan


Blogger bonnie said...

Sounds great.

Wenley at On Kayaks and I, being slightly in the grip of hero worship where you're concerned (maybe especially me), were going to team-tag you with the "book meme" because we are very curious about your favorite books (and plus we seem to have cross-tagged each other so we figure we get to combine those)...

Of course now I'm embarrassed because good grief you're a busy lady & this is much more of a focused paddling blog that either of ours...but, well, if you think it would be fun we'd love to hear about at least the "5 books that mean a lot to you" part of the game - and maybe the last book you bought & the last book you read (I've done my "tags" with an eye to getting recommendations for books to add to the "to-read" list, actually).

Sounds like a fantastic visit. If this is the symposium Derrick went to in Michigan, I can't wait to see his writeup too.

4:25 am  

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