Sunday, April 25, 2010

Hugh Heward Awards 2010

What a great day for the VKM, and all its participants. The Hugh Heward once again drew in over 100 participants and raised over $1,600.00 that is awesome!

Special thanks to Jim Woodruff. The Hugh is like a snowball going down hill, it just keeps getting bigger and bigger.

Thanks also to all the volunteers and the Chairs, Stacy and Kevin Krause. Awesome job by one and all!

Mike Smith
Old #10 - Kruger Canoes

It's a Wrap!!

The Heward party went downstream on the Detroit River into Lake Erie, then upstream on the Huron River. They eventually worked their way to the divide between the Lake Erie and Lake Michigan watersheds, portaged their canoes and goods into a tributary of the Grand River and then paddled down the Grand to Lake Michigan. In effect, they took a shortcut across Michigan's Lower Peninsula. Once in Lake Michigan they skirted the coast east and south all the way to Chicago.
The Hugh Heward is seen as a warm-up by many marathon canoe racers. It's a wrap as a special plaque was awarded to Jim Woodruff after the 10th runnng of the Hughy.
I'm tell'n ya, if you have experienced Michigan paddling, you're missing out on great country and even better people. The Hugh Heward is a great place to start!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Hughy 2010 Underway

Under a Vail of mist, Old #10 sporting new paint and numbers is put to the test in this very entertaining event the Hugh Heward Challenge. Nice effort refurbishing the canoe Mike!!

Mike Smith in the stoker seat, Mark Przedwojewski the steersman. Old #10 waits patiently on river's edge. See Old #10 in the Verlen Kruger / Clint Waddell - 7000 mile journey in the "Never Before Never Again Video."

Wood gunnel boats and iron men. See it to believe it.

Get ready for the Hughy!!


This could be Old #10 in it's hayday! Or not...

As a good story goes, this one got even better by Mike suggesting he and Mark put Old #10 to the test, Mark agreed to team up and a new tradition is born. Although the Hugh is not a race, the plan is to race #10, then begin offering the boat up to other teams during future Hugh's, to challenge previous records set paddling in Old #10.

Mike & Mark are both accomplished racers, though never before on the same team, resurrecting Old #10 becomes historical in its own right and an exciting day to be a fan of paddle sports and Verlen Kruger, who said it best, "All things are possible."

Thank you Mike & Mark for a great new tradition. And of course, thanks to Jim Woodruffs never ending vision.

Something we like to call

"Old #10"
by Jim Woodruff

Sherry Schmits has a one-chair barber shop in Delta Mills, located only a couple hundred yards from the Kruger Canoe Base on the Grand River. She says she cut Verlen's hair once in a while. One day she was cutting my hair (she spends more time hunting the hairs than cutting them) and I was talking about my "Following Verlen and Valerie" Email project. Then out-of-the-blue she announced that she owned Verlen's 10th canoe. Well, as you can imagine, that got my attention.

On investigation I learned that she had acquired the canoe from Leon Tillitson, Jenny's next door neighbor, and that there were pictures of it in Phil Peterson's book about Verlen's career, All Things Are Possible. Page 39 is a full page photo of Verlen and Clint Baird paddling a dark colored racing canoe with the number 10 on the bow. On page 285 is a photo of a stack of canoes in Verlen's yard including two #10 canoes, one green and one black. Phil's caption says "Derilect canoes, designed, built and raced by Verlen, still rest at Kruger Base". Sherry's canoe is the black one. I call it "Old #10" for the race number, not the tenth one built by Verlen.

I felt that she had an historic artifact and that it should float again on the Grand River. I volunteered to make it happen and she enthusiastically agreed. She Emailed me photos of the canoe which I showed at the Quiet Water Symposium. Then via Email I pushed the buttons of Dan Smith, Mike Smith, Charlie Parmelee, Mark P (still paddling in Florida) and Stacy Krause.

Shortly I got a response from Mike Smith saying that he had had some "seat time" in that canoe when he and Verlen used it to train on the Grand for the 1991 AuSable Marathon. In short order after a minimum of questions he volunteered to take on the restoration project. You can expect to see "Old #10" at Thompson Field during the Hugh Heward Challenge and the Statue Dedication Ceremony. When you see it on the river depends on Mike's progress (with Scott Smith's help).

According to Stacy Krause, Mike's daughter, Mike and Verlen paddled #10 while training for the AuSable Canoe Marathon. He was pretty animated describing it, "piece of junk training boat." He added, they were both pretty poor and it was all that was available for training at the time, not to mention they didn't even have a racing canoe yet. Training began with #10 in April 1991; not sure at the time whether they would even compete in the AuSable. They took #10 up and down the stretch in front Verlen's house during Mike's lunch breaks while he was employed at GM. They also paddled it in Portland near the Weber Dam practicing wider stretches of river. Mike remembers him and Verlen getting caught in a massive thunder and lightning storm there in May describing it as, "nasty, it was pouring so hard we couldn't see each other, it came up quick and it wasn't pretty." They paddled back to the car in near zero visibility. #10 was the only tandem they practiced in, he doesn't think there was anything printed on the canoe at the time besides Verlen's name and #10, "hard to recall," Mike said. He doesn't know where the #10 canoe came from, and until now had no clue it was still out there. Of course, there was no way to know at the time it would come back into his life, 19 years later and needing a little touch up. They eventually borrowed a racing canoe and competed in the 1991 AuSable Canoe Marathon, finishing in a respectable time thanks to hard work and old #10.

Here's a little ditty

to get you in the spirit.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Dedication 2010

Soon a life-sized bronze statute of Verlen Kruger will be placed on the banks of his beloved Grand River at Portland.

The dedication and unveiling of the statue will take place at Thompson Field at 4 PM on Saturday June 26, 2010.

In connection with this ceremony there will be a program at Portland High School the evening before where Verlen's biographer, Phil Peterson, will tell the Verlen Kruger Story. Autographed copies of Phil's book All Things Are Possible will be available.

On Saturday morning at 9:30 AM there will be an assembling of Kruger designed and built canoes including Loons, Monarchs, Sea Winds, Dream Catchers and Cruisers at Thompson Field for a group photograph. His newly restored "Old #10" racing canoe will be included.

Also on Saturday there will be a Memorial Paddle on the Grand from Sebewa Creek to Thomson Field. Launch at 10:30 AM.

Here is my tribute to Verlen for this occasion:

Canoes and canoeists and history are my how did my friend and fellow member of "The Greatest Generation" Verlen Kruger and his canoes fit in?

In birchbark canoes: There were Marquette and Joliet discovering the Mississippi in 1673....LaSalle down the Illinois and Mississippi to the Gulf in 1682....Hugh Heward across Lower Michigan in 1790....the fur traders and voyageurs on the Great Lakes and Canadian waters in the 1700s and 1800s....Verlen and his partners or disciples traced most of those trips in Kruger designed and built canoes....In some cases two or three times.

In partially decked solo oak and cedar British-built Rob Roy canoes (evolved from Siberian kayaks): There were traveler-adventurer John MacGregor in Europe (A 1,000 Miles in the Rob Roy), the Baltic (Rob Roy on the Baltic) and the Holy Land (Rob Roy on the Jordan)....Author Robert Louis Stevenson in Europe (An Inland Voyage)....Sea Scout founder Warrington Baden-Powell on the Baltic (Canoe Traveling ) all in the 1860s and 1870s....Verlen knew of these trips and patterned his solo canoes after the Rob Roys.

In a Henry Rushton American-built lapstrake all-cedar light weight solo canoe patterned after the Rob Roys: Civil War hero Willard Glazier went down the Mississippi to the Gulf in 1886 (Down the Great River)....Verlen and his partners paddled that river all the way in both directions in Kruger kevlar canoes and are in the Guinness Book of Records.

Then there are the books about a couple of his multi-thousand mile trips, One Incredible Journey and The Ultimate Canoe Challenge, of which he is co-author. What a guy! And he didn't start until he was 41....I had retired my Old Town wood and canvas canoes by then.

As you may know, Verlen and I were born the same year, were both World War II veterans and both did occupation duty in Korea but I got over adventuring early on. He never did once he got started. I am so priviledged to have known and been friends with that 5'6" giant.

Jim Woodruff
On the Grand River
in Delta Township

Making the base

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Big Pour

The pouring of this column that the rock will sit on has to cure for seven days before we move on to phase three. The weight of the rock is 7960 pounds.
Phase three will be placing the rock on the column then getting it leveled and position in the right direction then pouring cement for the outside collar and the floor. The floor will lock the rock into place.
The bricks are being put in starting May 9. If you are gonna get one have the form back to us by May first. See our web site for information on how to do that.
A very special Thank You goes out to, Cook Brothers of Portland for giving us the rock and bringing it to the site. To Goose Creek Foundations, Heath Moyer and Brian Thelen for all their time and expertise in making sure that this base will last. To Joe Miller of Miller concrete. Joe has donated the concrete for this job and also the concrete for the pavilion in 2006.
Thank You All, The Memorial Board and Supporters

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Verlen's Statue...

makes progress

The original rock we were gonna use for the statue of Verlen was not big enough for him to stand on, we put the template of his feet on it every way that we could but came up short. However Cook Brothers here in Portland donated a beautiful red rock that will work and looks great.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

The End... or only the beginning

DinaSnore " Big Thumbs Up"
Florida Challenge 2010
28 days, 6 hours, 57 minutes
Super Snore has done it! He has completed a 1200 mile journey around the state of Florida, including the 40 mile portage between the St. Mary's and the Suwanee Rivers. Now 7 others set out, Snore is one of the sixth that finished, a most memorable run. What makes his run so memorable, is his humor insight and numerous mishaps.
Day 1 would have brought most ordinary people to the grips of a DNF, but after equipment failure strong winds and bitterly cool weather, he persevered. Remember that was only the first day... trial and tribulations, highs and lows, but the onlookers cheered on Go Snore GO!
For Sharkchow Wisdom - Click Here
Check the Watertribe Rosters - North Carolina Challenge 2010 right around the corner!!

FC Update #92

Runningmouth reports: 9:00am
Hitting it hard at Ihop!! Took the cafe down for a mega stack of flapjacks in Verlen's honor and followed up with a huge burger.
Still riding the tide of success, reality struck..."Time to plan another trip"
He's all jazzed up!! Down to the launch to wait for Snore to come in!!

FC Update #91

Sharkchow Wisdom:
And then there was one. -
SnoreBringGator is taking the offshore route to the finish line at Mullet Key. He is looking good and is in the midst of a really inspiring push to the finish. He'll have to tell us when he gets in how much rest he's had, but he is moving and moving well. Go Snore.
Wind today is from the SE at 10. That should be close to a headwind, but he is moving. Late afternoon it is forecast to turn west. Sat. night it should turn east at 10.
Here's the bottom line. The deadline in this month-long, 1,200 mile, round-the-clock race around Florida is Sunday at noon. Snore looks to be in position to easily beat it.
There is only one thing left to say. GO SNORE.
Mrs. Snore Speaks:
As of 8 this morning Snore is doing good. He's tired and hasn't been out of Perseverance since 6pm Thursday. Ate his last instant meal and has requested I bring him food. Snore should be crossing the finish line sometime after noon.
Thanks to everyone who has provided support and inspiration to Snore during his journey around the great State of Florida. Not only does this race provide a personal challenge for all participants, but it also brings life in the real world back into perspective.
Mrs. Snore (Gail)

FC Update #90

5th place
2010 Florida Challenge 1200 mi
27 days, 14 hours, and 35 minutes
What an adventure! Would like to say congrats for an epic finish! Quite fun for me to get to know you John! Thanks for the laughs, the adventure the challenge!! Congrats - Click here

Friday, April 2, 2010

FC Update #89

As the boys (Snore and RunningMouth) push their way south, deadline looming the wind builds out of the south southeast. What a run, what a joy to follow their adventure. Looks like they are both in double digits, under 100 miles to go. More at Sharkchow Wisdom - Click Here
When I spoke with John (Runningmouth) he stated that he was savoring every minute. He's not sure how he can go back to normalized living. The lure of his sweetie has given him strength and encouragement, I think he called it "snuggle time". wup wup...

Thursday, April 1, 2010

FC Update #88

Congrats to Crazy Russian!
25 days, 22 hours, and 30 minutes
4th place -Florida Challenge 2010
Outstanding effort! The congrats continue - click here

FC Updates #87

Snore Reports: 3/31 7:59pm
Has the sail up, not sure how far he will go, has no destination in mind.

Runningthmouth reports: 3/31 8:50pm
Cedar Key baby!! My Phone not so great here. Having dinner with Tyro but I'll try to call and send some stuff tomorrow.
Nasty Headwinds coming out of river but then quick run to Cedar Key. Joe got me a hotel room, first real shower since Fort Clinch!