Incredible Support, New Routes, and Other Updates

As the time stamp on the blog post will corroborate, it is already the first week in October. Where did the last couple months go? Well, THIS HAPPENED! (it actually happened prior to the last post, but I didn't have any pictures).

The groom crushing a piñata at the reception.

The groom crushing a piñata at the reception.

This past August, truly one of the greatest guys I know got hitched to an awesome gal, and it was another walk down memory lane in the Pacific Northwest. It also may or may not have involved a near pass on the classic NES game Adventure Island 2. And by may or may not, it did. Two final boss level visits before complete performance collapse. Not the best showing. Nor the last.

Roommates (with the groom) from 2005-2007. Still looking good.

Roommates (with the groom) from 2005-2007. Still looking good.

So, back to things pertinent to the trip, like where is everyone these days? Adam and I are holding down the fort here in Minnesota, chipping away at the menu and gear lists, but still finding time to build deer stands and install sand point wells up north. Dan just worked his last shift out West and is spending quality time in the Twin Cities before returning to Saint Joseph. John has a couple more shifts in Utah before deer hunting opener and the serious November trip-prep push. Jarrad is working wilderness therapy in Wisconsin, and Luke is between Iowa and Colorado, getting academics and work obligations all settled.   

 

Now to all of the work here in Minnesota. Reality was quick to set in when August ended, and the month of September turned out to be nothing but steady progress on trip preparation. In truth, the most encouraging part of the past couple months has been the ever-gracious outpouring of support. From boats to cereal, printing and event venues, we've gotten help in just about every way possible.  

Sand point wells are hard work. Don't let anyone tell you differently.

Sand point wells are hard work. Don't let anyone tell you differently.

First and foremost on goals for gear items was trying to get all three boats bought and outfitted in order to test packing configurations and weight well in advance of the trip. Fred Rupp and Les Voyageurs Inc. were kind enough to offer us this Old Town Tripper at a crazy price as part of their donation to the trip. It did include a hole punched through the royalex by a rogue tree branch in a terrible storm. No one without a thorough knowledge of the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan will get this, but I'm calling it the Tripper Reborn in order to better commemorate the scar. I can also guarantee that I'll be the only crew member to call it that. In the end, Adam made short work of it with a fiberglass repair kit, and it's good as new.

The Tripper Reborn from afar.

The Tripper Reborn from afar.

Padan Fain? Ishamael? Tree branch? It's a mystery.

Padan Fain? Ishamael? Tree branch? It's a mystery.

We have since made some pretty aggressive moves concerning our boat situation. An outfitter company near Grand Marais, MN offered us a great deal on a couple Spirit II canoes, which rounded out a complete fleet of the same boats. End of the day, we'll be paddling the three Wenonahs, and have this Tripper as a back-up boat in case anything happens.

Shot of the barn in Welcome, MN.

Shot of the barn in Welcome, MN.

Whole Grain Milling Company in Welcome, MN.

Whole Grain Milling Company in Welcome, MN.

One of the little local treasures we were lucky enough to stumble into was the Whole Grain Milling Company in Welcome, MN. Lin and Doug Hilgendorf run an organic mill in southern Minnesota and are proud to provide Rediscovering North America with all of the hot breakfast cereals for the trip. They were also nice enough to give me a tour of the facilities, which left me with a great appreciation for how much hard work goes into this stuff, and little desire to try and emulate it. And we thought paddling-up the Mississippi would be difficult? Try and work a season with these guys! Big take-away here: if you've got a trip in the works and need quality breakfast grains, get in touch with Doug and Lin.   

Lin and Doug Hilgendorf where the magic happens!

Lin and Doug Hilgendorf where the magic happens!

One last honorable mention on the donation front. Thank you so much to Greg Harren and Sentinel Printing. They were gracious enough to print our tri-fold brochures and fundraising posters in order to promote everything over the past couple months. As well as anyone can explain something, you can't beat a well designed visual aid.

I hope this last part is as exciting to everyone as it is to us. I have a couple of route updates to announce. The first is at the very beginning of the trip. Instead of starting on the Mississippi River at the Gulf of Mexico, we're going to meet up with it later. Instead, we'll start on the Atchafalaya River, which parallels the Mississippi River to the west. It should cut off some serious distance and reduce the amount of commercial traffic and other issues we'd have to face in the beginning of the expedition. Simply put, it also affords us a more authentic and less clumsy Gulf beginning.

Comparison of the two routes.

Comparison of the two routes.

The second bit is much less exciting and easily expected. In all likelihood, the Hood River will not be a feasible option for the end of the trip. While we will definitely pack the requisite maps, I think everyone can plan on the crew finishing on the Coppermine River and Kugluktuk to finish the trip. The Hood will have to wait for another year!

Lastly, I wanted to let everyone know that there will be a fundraiser this Saturday, October 11th from 3 - 7 pm at the Ultimate Sports Bar and Grill in Waite Park, MN. Come and buy a burger, all proceeds go towards the trip. Adam, Dan, and I will be there with maps and answer any questions you might have. Hope to see you there!