A couple of adventurers — currently on a nearly 1,600-mile Kayak trip from the source of the Wabash River to the Gulf of Mexico — made a stop in Terre Haute on Sunday.

John Abnet and his wife, LaNae, parked a pair of yellow kayaks on the boat ramp at Fairbanks Park before enjoying an afternoon on the Wabash riverfront. The 17-foot long kayak — named Work — is John’s, and the 15-foot one called Pray is LaNae’s. Their Terre Haute stop marks the 300-mile point of their journey. 

The residents of Berne, which is 35 miles south of Fort Wayne, started the trip on April 1.

But the beginning of their trip was not by boat, but on foot. As they sat on a bench in the Terre Haute park, John Abnet said they walked 18 miles through an Ohio farmer’s field and the headwaters of the Wabash River, “which is nothing more than a drain pipe with water flowing from it,” the couple wrote on the daily journal posted on their website, www.separateboats.com

“It’s just too small to put a boat in,” John said. They walked to Fort Recovery, Ohio, where the body of water became wide enough to launch the kayaks, which they did on April 4. From there, they logged about 100 miles per week. 

John, 53 and LaNae, 52, have been planning for the trek for about a year. Their kayaks are filled with supplies, including three sets of clothes, utensils, a tent and cooking equipment. 

“Just the bare minimum of what you need,” LaNae said. 

But their food is “unique,” John said. “My wife dehydrated and vacuum-packed all of our meals,” he said. Most of the food came from their garden, he added. “It’s delicious.”

The couple has traveled 300 miles now, but they still have  1,291 miles more to New Orleans, La., and the Gulf of Mexico. The trip is a total of 1,591 miles, crossing through three rivers: the Wabash, the Ohio and the Mississippi. The couple is on the journey for the experience and also to raise $40,000 for The Fortress, a charity that provides a home for unwed pregnant girls in Kampala, Uganda, in Africa, John said. 

“Life’s short,” John said of his reasons for embarking on the trip. “We’re not getting any younger. We still have good enough health to do something like this.”

They anticipate arriving at the Gulf around Aug. 1, where John’s brother, Del Abnet, wife Becky, and dog Cocoa, will meet them for the journey home — by truck. Del and Becky, Fort Wayne residents, visited John and LaNae Sunday on the riverfront. 

John and LaNae planned to spend the night in Terre Haute before going back on the river this morning. They spent Saturday night in Clinton.

John said one of the challenges of the journey so far was having to navigate around the “man-made” structures in the river, including dams. It was muddy and very hard to get out, too, the couple said. But the trip has allowed them to meet many different people. “We have met so many wonderful people along the way,” LaNae said. “We’ve met new friends.”

The river adventure also opened their eyes to perspectives not many people experience. 

“It’s a different view,” LaNae said. “You see things that you can’t see from the road.” 

The river adventure is slower than driving, so it allows them time to appreciate what they’re seeing, she said. They also witnessed the blooming of the trees and leaves with each passing spring day, she added. 

“There’s just more to it than what you see driving over a bridge,” John said. “You constantly have something around you going on.”

Reporter Dianne Frances D. Powell can be reached at 812-231-4299 or dianne.powell@tribstar.com. Follow her on Twitter @TribstarDianne.

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