It's been more than a few days since we said our goodbyes, upped our life insurance policies (Yogi has to be taken care of), and headed off on this crazy adventure. With all that time having passed I figured the moment was right for another list. To go alongside the five weeks of service here are the five things I've picked up (thus far) from the journey.
1) A Tale of Three Rivers- From the moment we've hit the water the talk has always been, “Wait until you get to St. Louis, that's when things really change." This might be true, (how should I know, we aren't there yet) but if you really do the whole thing your first clear crossover is at St. Paul, Minnesota. It's here when you see your first barge, truly make up your own campgrounds, and most importantly trade in portaging for the locks (who really wants to carry their canoe?). Each side of the city has been its own adventure, and I can't wait to see what the south has in store.
(Just hanging with a new friend of NQLC)
3) So What, You're a Barge- At the beginning of this trip we were continuously warned about the danger of barges. We were told they're mean, ruthless, and can flip a canoe just by looking at you! With a lead up like that this may come as quite the surprise; the barges are the least of our concerns. Yes they are gigantic, but they're also slow (we can just about keep pace with them), they don't leave the shipping lanes, and the ones we've seen don't produce a wake. While we understand the dangers of getting too close we've had to focus more attention on the motorboats. Unlike the barges we have no idea where these people are headed, and if you get a cluster of them you can bet a few waves are coming into Jean.
4) So Far Away- Something in the distance is distant (let that soak in). Back before there were motors those ship telescopes were just a cruel joke. You're not breaking the speed limit in a canoe so you will be staring at the same cliff, island, or lock and dam (they're the worse) for hours. Plus, ever since we left Minnesota the river has really straightened out; that's great for our pace but not our mental psyche. With a winding river you really feel like you're covering a lot of ground thanks to the ever changing landscape. However, once things straighten out sometimes you have to look behind you to remind yourself you're indeed moving forward.
5) Do Some Good- There must be something in the water out here, because everywhere we've turned we've been met with nothing but kindness. I'm talking rides (including one boat ride that turned into an epic night of drinking- I'm looking at you Ryan and Amy), free food, and just an overall eagerness to help out two complete strangers. Plus, let's not forget we’ve also raised over $2,700 for cancer research! At the start of the journey I really wasn't sure what to expect, or even what I hoped to get out of it. But if the trip ended tomorrow my biggest takeaway would be an increased effort to try and help my fellow man. Small acts of kindness can really change someone's day (especially when you're two exhausted canoers), and after this adventure I have a laundry list of make goods to get to.
Finally, if you've been listening to the podcast you know we aren't good at holding onto our equipment. As a bonus here's what I've (Austin) lost thus far.
Cooler (a joint item)
Jetboil (best camp stove ever, RIP)