Paddling & Pastimes - 2015 publication
Pittsburgh… Minneapolis… Chicago… Milwaukee… Cleveland… Detroit…
Major Midwestern cities that evolved on the banks of these rivers that flowed through them: the Allegheny, the Mississippi, the Chicago, the Milwaukee, the Cuyahoga, and the Detroit. 6 rivers critical to the 6 towns in their discovery, development, transportation, commerce, and enjoyment. Urban paddling trips down each of the 6 rivers, at least the segment of the rivers flowing through these big cities, are wide, deep, slow-moving affairs – not your usual canoeing ‘n kayaking rural, north woods adventures – combining the joy of paddling with fascinating glimpses of history and architecture on the riverbanks. With backgrounds provided by river tour guides and history books, readers of P&P get details on a day trip down each river and the unique view from the water, in words and photos, of the area history and riverside landmarks.
One landmark each city has in common is a major league ballpark either along or near the river. The birth of our national pastime of baseball coincided with the 1800s industrial development of these 6 Midwest cities. The grand old game of baseball offered an escape from our country’s often painful and turbulent shift from a society of primarily family farmers to Industrial Revolution factory workers. The beauty of the hit-and-run, the green grass of a sun-lit field, a ballpark frank and a cold beer, brought the same smile and serenity in the 1800s as they do today... a timeless happiness, much like paddling down a river. Read stories of each ballpark and tales from the history of each ball club.
From the 1800s through the late-1900s, riverside businesses and private residents used these urban rivers as a place to dispose of industrial waste and as an open sewer. The 6 rivers went from a place to swim and cool down to a place to contract cholera & typhoid fever. Although a work in progress, the well-being of each river is being restored through the combined efforts of private citizens, businesses, and government. An excellent marker of the success of these efforts is that the number of insects and fish in each river is increasing dramatically: exhibit A is the Allegheny River system... where only one species of fish (blue gill) was found in the 1950s, today 53 species of fish thrive.
At 3 years old, I learned from my Grandpa Zande that we have a second national pastime: visiting the local old time tavern. Grandpa would set me on the stool at the end of the bar with an orange pop and a bag of chips. I recall looking down the bar, wide-eyed, at the paisans bellied up, downing beers and talking loudly in their broken English. To honor all of our Grandfathers, the day of “paddling and pastimes” continues as you’re directed to a riverside, old time pub in each town for an evening that is every bit the national pastime that baseball is, and afterward a well-deserved check-in at a nearby bed and breakfast.
With over 200 color photos, "Paddling & Pastimes" makes an excellent book for the coffee table, the cottage, or as a gift. The book retails for $47.99. Through our website, you may buy a signed copy for $42 which includes the postage and shipper. Make a check out to "Jeff Fletcher", a close personal associate, and mail it to: Doc Fletcher, 43647 Nine Mile Road, Northville MI 48167. If you'd like the book inscribed, please let us know to who and we'll include that, too.
To the River of No Return,
Pine River book - 2014 publication
The Pine is one of Michigan’s most loved rivers. It runs clear, cold, clean, and is best known for its speed, its high quality trout fishing, & summer-time popularity w/ paddlers (for the best experience, go pre-Memorial Day & post-Labor Day & avoid summer weekends). The Pine has been designated: (1) a Michigan “Blue Ribbon Trout Stream”, (2) a Michigan “Natural River” and (3) in its lower 26 miles, a U.S. Forest Service “National Wild & Scenic River”.
This is not a beginner’s river. The Pine’s final 43 of its 60 miles are serviced by canoe & kayak liveries (rentals), and those 43 miles feature class 1 and 2 rapids throughout. Over the Pine’s entire 60 miles, it has a gradient drop of 7’ per mile, but over its final 43 miles the per mile drop in the river floor is among the Lower Peninsula’s highest at almost 10’ per mile with a maximum gradient drop of 20’ in the 1st mile downstream from the Peterson access.
The high sandy banks of the lower Pine, along with the river’s deep & rich riverside vegetation, provide a beautiful back drop to a canoe or kayak trip. Located in the northwest Lower Peninsula, the Pine is the best way to travel though the counties of Osceola, Lake, Wexford, and Manistee. The “Pine” name comes from the White Pine forests that were thick along its banks. In Michigan’s logging days of the mid to late 1800s, the Pine River was known as the South Branch of the Manistee River. The Pine & Manistee Rivers meet in Manistee County, 5 minutes north of the small town of Wellston, a mile and a half above the east-west M55 highway. The confluence of the rivers takes place as both flow into the Tippy Dam Pond, east of Tippy Dam. On the west side of Tippy Dam, only one of these two great rivers continues its westward flow as the Pine is no more, its waters absorbed by the Manistee.
The headwaters of the Pine form 15 miles southwest of Cadillac and 3 miles west of Tustin, a community found 1 mile east of US131 exit 168. The river is created by the merger of two creeks, the East & the North Branches of the Pine, a few feet SW of 20 Mile Road & 220 Avenue. From this beginning, the Pine flows southwest and then it divots to the northwest until it ends at the Tippy Dam Pond north of Wellston. On its 60 mile journey, the Pine flows through or near the towns of Riverbank, the ghost town of Edgetts, and the small communities of Bristol, Luther, Hoxeyville, Dublin, and Wellston.
The first 17 miles of the Pine are not serviced by canoe & kayak liveries, and are full of logjams. This book then is about the final 43 of the Pine’s 60 miles, i.e. the section of the river kept free-flowing by the 6 canoe & kayak liveries located along the river. Within these 43 miles are 12 public access points. In this book you will find listings of liveries, public access points, and campgrounds found along or near the Pine. For the 26 miles of the Lower Pine (beginning at Elm Flats), due to large summertime crowds, paddling permits are required by law from the Memorial Day Friday through Labor Day and are available at www.recreation.gov.
The final 43 miles of the river are broken up into 6 day trips, each day trip getting its own chapter, or travelogue. The daily travelogue notes miles and minutes from that day’s start to finish, and from start to various landmarks along the way, letting you know how you are progressing against the daily total time/miles, as well as letting you know what to expect downstream. Also noted is each day’s degree of paddling difficulty, a simple 3-step rating system: 1. Beginner, 2 Intermediate (the difference vs. beginner is “can you steer around/through obstructions OR rapids?”) and 3. Highly Skilled.
The Pine meanders through an area of rich Michigan history, detailed in this book in a series of articles, including one about the most important day of fishing our country has ever known. Of all the joy that the Pine brings to us, it’s biggest contribution to our lives began with one man fishing the river in 1925 near private land, an act that led to a lawsuit and a series of legal actions culminating in a 1936 Supreme Court decision confirming that anyone in the United States has the right to paddle or fish on a river – any river – through privately-owned land.
To keep an ear on the Boys of Summer while paddling the Pine, turn your radio dial to 93.7FM. Go get ‘em Tigers!
To order by mail, send a $26 check (made out to "Jeff Fletcher") to: Doc Fletcher, 43647 Nine Mile Road, Northville MI 48167. The $26 covers the book, the shipper, and postage. All books will be signed. If you'd also like a special inscription, please include with your check a note with the inscription request.
Paddle Now – Chores Later,
Pere Marquette River book
Published in March 2013 was, "Michigan's Pere Marquette River: Paddling Through Its History". To order a signed and inscribed copy from our website, see the details at the bottom of this page.
The Pere Marquette River, known to many as the P.M., is the mid-state boundary holding together the northern and southern halves of Michigan. It is the Great Lakes State river highway where north meets south, a state of Michigan designated Blue Ribbon Trout Stream & Natural River, and a federally-designated Wild and Scenic River.
If you love canoeing and kayaking you will love your time on the P.M. A day on the river features a current with above-average speed, steering challenges through and around its fallen trees and hanging branches, gorgeous driftwood, and among its abundant wildlife are majestic blue herons flying just ahead of you. A journey down the Pere Marquette is wonderfully wide-open as the P.M. is the only major river in the Lake Michigan watershed that flows unimpeded by a dam.
The 65-mile long Pere Marquette River runs through the Manistee National Forest. Located in the northwest section of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, the river flows from east to west, roughly parallel and south of US10. Its headwaters form southeast of Baldwin, at the confluence of the Middle Branch and the Little South Branch, a place called “the Forks”. From there it winds its way westward by the towns of Baldwin, Branch, Walhalla, Custer, and Scottville until the P.M. empties into Lake Michigan a few feet south of the lighthouse in Ludington.
The majority of the P.M.’s riverbanks are privately-owned, but there are 18 well-maintained public access points on the river, from the Forks in the east to the Father Marquette Memorial access at Ludington in the west. At 4 of the 18 access sites there is camping available: Gleason’s Landing, Bowman Bridge, Sulak, and at Henry’s Landing. A 5th Pere Marquette riverside camping area is a free “canoe-to-only” campsite known as Elk, 10 minutes downstream from the Upper Branch Bridge. Although not a canoe/kayak access, a 6th riverside campsite is at Claybanks, located between the Green Cottage and Gleason’s Landing access points. Info about, and directions to, all public accesses and campsites are listed in the back of the book.
This book breaks the 65 miles of the Pere Marquette River into 8 paddling day trips. Each of the day trips gets its own chapter, or travelogue. The day trips range in miles from 5 to 12, and range in hours from 2 to 4. Each chapter lists the miles and hours for that day trip, directions to its starting access point, a day trip overview and a river map outlining the day trip from start to finish. Key landmarks are noted along the way to let you know how you’re progressing against the trip’s total miles and minutes. Also included is a “degree of difficulty” paddling rating for that day trip, a simple 3-step rating: 1. Beginner, 2. Intermediate (the difference vs. beginner is “can you steer around obstructions or through fast water?”) and 3. Skilled.
Chapter 1 puts you on the river at its beginnings, near Baldwin. From there each subsequent chapter takes you further and further west, until the river flows into Lake Michigan in Ludington at the end of chapter 8. As you travel west, the fascinating history of the area will open up to you in sidebar articles, from the Idlewild resort just east of Baldwin, a special getaway where non-white vacationers were welcome (while being entertained by Louis Armstrong and Sarah Vaughan) during segregation days, to Father’s Marquette’s death on the shores of Lake Michigan near the Pere Marquette’s rivermouth, as he was trying to get back to his beloved St. Ignace. One of the historical sidebars, in between Idlewild and where Father Marquette took his final breath, tells the story of one of the last great Native American versus Native American battles in the Midwest, known as “Notipekago” and fought along the P.M. south of the town of Custer.
To order by mail, send a $28 check (made out to "Jeff Fletcher") to: Doc Fletcher, 43647 Nine Mile Road, Northville MI 48167. The $28 covers the book, the shipper, and postage. All books will be signed. If you'd also like a special inscription, please include with your check a note with the inscription request.
Let the P.M. put an imprint on your soul,
Paddling Michigan's Hidden Beauty
Need a gift idea for the Lunar New Year? We can't help you.
BUT... if you're looking for a book to kick back with, as you settle into your favorite reading chair, feet stretched out towards the roaring fireplace, a book that inspires dreams of canoe & kayak adventures to come, we may have something for you. "Paddling Michigan's Hidden Beauty: the Rivers, the Towns, the Taverns" has been published by Arbutus Press. The cover is a beauty, showing Maggie maneuvering a kayak among the fabulous rock formations of the Menominee River, in Michigan's far western Upper Peninsula.
The book features day trips down twenty Michigan rivers including...
* paddling along the banks of the Red Cedar thru the heart of the Michigan State University campus,
* Carp River whitewater runs thru the gorgeous U.P. Mackinac Wilderness,
* the strong currents of SE Michigan's Clinton River (40% of our boats flipped over; 100% of our paddlers loved the trip!),
* the surprisingly scenic, rural, memorable and delightful Flint River,
* the gorgeous riffling waters of the Boardman River, near Traverse City,
and fun-filled river trips down the AuSable, Crockery Creek, Black (South Haven), Cedar, Manistee, Paw Paw, Pentwater North Branch, Pigeon (Grand Haven), Prairie, Shiawassee, taking the Rouge as it merges into the Detroit, the U.P.'s Indian, and headwaters paddling on two of our state's longest rivers, the Grand and the St. Joseph, with GREAT (the Grand River Environmental Action Team).
If you think you'd like to get a copy for yourself or to give to paddling family and friends, the book ($18.95 retail) will be sold in bookstores across Michigan and online at the dotcoms. If you'd like a signed copy, with inscriptions appropriate for the boathouse or the bathroom, I can sell copies from my stock at $18 each (if I'm handing it to you at one of my "book tour" dates - see "Calendar" section) OR $24 (if mailed, to cover the postage and cost of the shipper). Send checks, made out to "Jeff Fletcher" (a close associate) to: 43647 Nine Mile Road, Northville MI 48167.
If you'd like to purchase books for resale in your store, please contact Susan Bays at (231) 946-7240, or firstname.lastname@example.org
The forecast calls for paddling fun!
Canoeing & Kayaking Wisconsin book
A day on the river is a week of happiness. "Canoeing and Kayaking Wisconsin:
the Rivers the Towns the Taverns" is written to get you out into the middle of that
happiness as easily as possible.
20 river trips through Wisconsin
are included, from isolated rural trips on small streams
as narrow as the White River
near Drummond (in sections, only 5' from riverbank to
riverbank), middle-of-nowhere rivers where bears sip water at the shoreline and eagles
perch overhead, to the urban adventure of the Milwaukee River
, taking you past riverside
taverns on your way to a rendezvous with Lake Michigan
. As a bonus, a paddle on the
, taking you through the steel & glass canyon of downtown Chicago
included as a 21st river trip.
From whitewater to flat water, from experience required to beginner friendly, you'll read
about fun river trips through Wisconsin
Each river gets its own chapter. That chapter opens with the river background, it's paddling
degree of difficulty, a detailed 2 to 4 hour day trip outline, the trip noted in miles and hours/
minutes, a map of the river trip, and info about a local livery that can rent you a canoe or
kayak, that can spot your vehicle, and can pick you up at the trip's end. After the river, the
chapter moves on to the nearby town including fascinating history of the area and, so that
you can follow your sports teams while on river expeditions, you're given the local radio
affiliates of the Green Bay Packers and the Milwaukee
Brewers. Each chapter concludes
as you're directed to an old time tavern where you can grab a post-paddle bar burger & a
PBR or a Schlitz or a Leinie to go with it.
At the back of the book is a comprehensive listing of Wisconsin
canoe & kayak liveries
(all rivers are listed alphabetically) and a Paddling/Camping Checklist.
Inscribed copies of "Canoeing and Kayaking Wisconsin" may be ordered from us by
sending a $24 check or money order (covering the cost of the book, the shipper, postage)
made out to "Jeff Fletcher" and mailing it to: Doc Fletcher, 43647 Nine Mile Road
Northville MI 48167. Include a note letting us know who to inscribe it to, along with
the address the book should be mailed to.
Books may also be purchased at one of Doc's river talks (click on "Calendar/Doc's book
tour schedule" for the places and dates), at Amazon.com or other dotcoms, or (beginning
February 2011) at bookstores across Wisconsin
Rivers featured in "Canoeing and Kayaking Wisconsin: the Rivers the Towns
Baraboo, Black, Bois Brule, Brule, Chicago
, Chippewa, Eau Claire
, Flambeau South Fork,
Grant, Kickapoo, Lemonweir, Little Wolf, Mecan, Milwaukee
, Namekagon, Sugar,
Tomahawk, White, Wisconsin trip 1 (headwaters), Wisconsin trip 2 (Spring Green) and
trip 3 (taking it as it merges into the Mississippi River
The Chicago Tribune wrote a nice review on this book, but probably our favorite review of
To order this book for resale at your store, please contact Susan Bays
Books for sale: Weekend Canoeing in Michigan & Michigan Rivers Less Paddled
A total of 41 Michigan paddling adventures are detailed for you in Doc's two books, "Weekend Canoeing in Michigan" (20 rivers) and "Michigan Rivers Less Paddled" (21 rivers). You'll read of river fun found all over our great state, from the Upper Peninsula to the Lower Peninsula, including
slow meanders down family-friendly rivers to more challenging runs on swift-flowing waters. Only rivers serviced by canoe/kayak liveries are included, so that this book can be a guide to all who love paddling Michigan, whether they own their own boat or not.
For each river, you're provided information about a suggested day trip including that trip's hours, its "degree of difficulty" (letting you know if this is the appropriate trip for the paddling ability of you & your group), liveries where you can rent your canoe or kayak from (who will also help you with your own equipment), and key landmarks that act as your "clock on the water", letting you know how you're progressing against the trip's total time.
After each chapter opens with a river day trip outline, you'll next read about histories of nearby towns along with their Detroit Tiger radio affiliate so you can find the Boys of Summer wherever you float, and then the chapter concludes by directing you to a local old-time tavern, a place where you can relax & relive the day's trip over a great bar burger & a cold one.
Signed copies of both books may be ordered from us by mailing a check or money order that covers the cost of the book, postage & shipper. For "Michigan Rivers Less Paddled" mail $24, for "Weekend Canoeing in Michigan" mail $23. The money order should be made out to Jeff Fletcher. Include your address and a note telling us who you would like the book(s) inscribed to. Mail the money order to 43647 Nine Mile Road, Northville MI 48167.
Both books are also sold at each of Doc's river slide shows (click on "Calendar/Doc's book tour schedule" for places & dates) at $18 for "Michigan Rivers Less Paddled" and $17 for "Weekend Canoeing in Michigan". The books are also available at bookstores across Michigan and in limited
cities outside of Michigan that are located around the Great Lakes, as well as through Amazon and other dotcoms.
Rivers featured in "Michigan Rivers Less Paddled":
* Upper Peninsula - AuTrain, Escanaba, Ford, Tahquamenon.
* Lower Peninsula - Bear, Betsie, Black, Cass, Crystal, Dowagiac, Grand, Hersey, Kalamazoo, Looking Glass, Maple, Raisin, Rocky, Rogue,
Rouge, Thornapple, Thunder Bay.
Rivers featured in "Weekend Canoeing in Michigan":
* Upper Peninsula - Fox, Manistique, Michigamme, Ontonagon, Two Hearted.
* Lower Peninsula - AuSable South Branch, Chippewa, Flat, Huron, Jordan, Little Manistee, Little Muskegon, Muskegon, Pere Marquette,
Pigeon, Pine, Platte, Rifle, Sturgeon, White.
To order these books for resale at your bookstore, canoe livery, or other retail outlet, please contact Susan Bays at email@example.com
or call her at (231) 946-7240.
Michigan Out Of Doors TV with Maggie & Doc on the Sturgeon
The PBS TV show "Michigan Out Of Doors" co-host Jimmy Gretzinger, his wife Dana,
and their friends John & Melissa joined Maggie, Doc, and fellow crack researcher Tom
Holbrook for a two-day trip down the 20-mile long Sturgeon River. The Sturgeon is the
Lower Peninsula's fastest flowing river, tied for that distinction with the Little Manistee -
both of these two rivers drop 14' a mile.
To see the Michigan Out Of Doors segment on the Sturgeon, go to their website at
1021 for the week of May 20, 2010. Two segments precede the Sturgeon piece.
Goodwillie Environmental School
Expanding the minds of students, teachers - and even of its visitors - is what happens at the Goodwillie Environmental School in Ada (Grand
Rapids), Michigan. Maggie & I visited our niece Paige's school in April to speak to her 5th grade classmates about paddling across our Great
State. Besides following the basic 5th and 6th grade curriculum, Goodwillie Environmental School students use the outdoors as their "living
classroom" where they learn to understand and care for nature.
The students, working with the father & son team of Jim & Kevin Finney, built a 24' long voyageur canoe which they posed with in the
accompanying photo. The kids & the Finneys have built two other canoes, one made out of Elm bark and the other created from a Tulip Poplar tree.
Goodwillie students paddled these 3 boats on two trips down the Grand River, including on the 2010 "Grand Expedition".
One cannot help but feel very good about our future after even a short visit to Goodwillie. You can learn more about this school at http://www.fhps.us/goodwillie/
Wine in Michigan: everything that you wanted to know
While you're exploring paddling opportunites across our Great State, take the time to visit the many wonderful wineries that we have in Michigan. An excellent guide to these wineries is the book "From The Vine: Exploring Michigan Wineries" written by Lorri Hathaway and Sharon Kegerreis. You can take a virtual tour of Michigan Wineries, and be introduced to the book and its authors, by clicking on the link below...