By DL PERRIN
The Fawn River does not offer a white water rafting adventure by any stretch. But it does offer a relaxed drift through some of Mother Nature’s most scenic, pristine countryside. Now visitors and locals alike can enjoy the trip because Tim and Lori Mullins decided to take a leap of faith and invest their savings in a canoe livery.
The Mullins picked a nice spot on a piece of land they owned abutting the river near Scott, on the north side of the Indiana Toll Road. On a bright April morning in 2013, T&L Country Canoes LLC was born.
Tim was born and raised along the Fawn River in the tiny community of Ontario. He has always loved the river and the adventures it offered him growing up. He decided, after working for others all these years, he would try owning a business and doing what he wanted to for a change.
“You would be amazed at all the different kinds of wildlife you will see along the river,” Tim said as he walked along the bank where his dock is set. “But you have to be quiet or you will scare them off.”
As he spoke, a noisy crew of kayaks, canoes and kids descended upon the pond after their hour trip down the river. At the livery the water level is deep enough for a water slide, a sandy beach and an old-fashioned swimming hole. The teens were hot from paddling so it didn’t take long for the pond to fill with screaming, laughing teens.
Tim and Lori love their new business but they had to open the doors long before they had intended. Over the years they have acquired several rental properties in and around Shipshewana. One of those rentals sits on a natural pond adjacent to the Fawn River. A few years back the economic downturn dealt Tim a bad turn as he lost his supervisory job at a local plant. His family was forced to make some radical changes in their lives to survive. Being a self-proclaimed workaholic, Tim found himself at loose ends. He needed to keep busy or go crazy.
The doors to their canoe livery have been open for 16 weeks. Business is naturally slow, but is steady as word-of-mouth gets out about their rates and the views of nature offered on this remote, uninhabited part of the winding river.
“The Potawatomi had always known Fawn River by the name Crooked Creek,” Tim said. “It winds, turns and meanders all over the place. Unlike the Pigeon River it doesn’t have all the trees along the banks to block the view. It is a very scenic float.”
The teens gathered near the bus as they dried off from their plunge into the swimming hole.
”This is a church trip with our youth mentor and mentee group,” said Erika Byler. Erika attends Westview High School and is a member of the Marion Mennonite Church group that booked the canoe trip that afternoon.
“We had a lot of fun,” added her friend Sara Brugger. “I’d love to do this again. We saw a big heron, but we were too noisy to see a lot of wildlife. I am sure we scared everything away.”
The livery is located at CR 5775W and CR 750N, Shipshewana. Call for reservations 260-562-2411 or go online to www.tlcountrycanoesllc.com. T&L Country Canoes offers trips ranging from 1.5 hours up to 4.5 hours.