The rain begins to fall and I know by the sound I am close to home. Southern rain has a feel to it. Storms approach in the bright blue with a mighty fury and then disappear without so much as a goodbye leaving the asphalt to steam and hiss. That’s how I remember them back home however; this storm may set in a while.
Suddenly, I grow exhausted and sad. It is a happy sad and as you read this you may wonder what that means while others will know exactly what I speak of. I’m not even sure why I’m sad but I know why I feel so exhausted. As I approach the end of my mighty journey down the Mississippi river it is hard to fathom how far I’ve come. I have reached levels of exhaustion that I never knew possible. Waves of mental and physical exhaustion. I am bone weary. Weary has a certain feel doesn’t it? A tired that is soul deep. I wasn’t even half a man when I started out in Minnesota almost four months ago. Still sick with disease and deprived of the muscle strength I had once been accustomed to pre-near-death. I’ve filled out a bit I’m happy to say… maybe a little too much around the waist. But I was never prepared for the magnanimity of this adventure.
I expected so much from this river when I launched in knee deep water on June 10, 2011. I expected healing and clarity. I expected recognition for miles paddled… but that has changed. My mind was focused on records and titles over two thousand miles ago but all that remains is the echoes of their stories. They needed me and I needed them. Their faces snap and pop in my mind; the people of the river, like watching the raindrops kiss the silver roof outside the quaint Louisiana café and trickle down out of sight. Though they will never be far from mind.
This endeavor was never about such things… such prideful meaningless things. It has been and always will be (even though I couldn’t see it at times) about a broken man healing his soul while bringing hope to others by bearing witness to a merciful God who has never, nor will he ever, leave us or forsake us. I can’t prove that fact to you and it’s not my job to be a part of such silliness. I am to live the truth that once I was dead… and now I live.
When your soul rages war and life comes in onslaught you may think he has abandoned you to weather the storms when in fact… he is napping at the stern. His mighty hand ready to claim, “Peace be still” but not until we have faced what must be faced. Not until we taste the violent winds and vaulting waves will we understand the beauty behind breezy days on glassy seas. I wish it were not so because in the moment, in the middle of tsunami, I feel as if I may cave and die… but you don’t… you don’t die… your heart keeps on beating and you live to fight another day.
I promise you. Don’t give up. Help is on the way.
I have faltered towards the end… who am I kidding, I have bumbled and faltered all the way down. If it wasn’t for my sweet Suzie coming to my rescue for the last leg I am sure I wouldn’t have finished. She has followed me hundreds of miles putting wear and tear on her Mazda SUV and on her own heart. But she believes in me… she believes in my journey, and there has never been a more soothing balm to my broken spirit than having someone believe in me so deeply.
What does it mean to finish. For me it is finishing the meaning of why I started in the first place.
As the day's paddle came to an end the Rolling Stones began to sing, “You can’t always get what you want but if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need.” How amazing it is that something out there knows enough about what I need to deny me what I want because in the end what I needed was always what I wanted.
So what now as I approach the Jazz pumping spicy gumbo of one of my favorite cities in America. Well I’ll tell you what… the Mighty Journey is not over… I have more to share and there are more lonely hearts that need signs of a miracle. So I will paddle my busted up yellow board into salty seas, my soul’s home, and make my way back to the sunny state via Gulf currents.
To my mom and dad… you are more precious to me than gold and I dedicate my journey to the mighty people you are. Make way for Tumbleweed and his tattered pirate flag… he is coming home.
Hangin at the Juke Joint, a little blues cafe in Vicksburg MS. I'm relaxed at the moment... which has been a rarity the last few days. This is a treacherous part of the river. And devastatingly lonely. My feet hurt from gripping my board with ape-like toes. I've been holding on for dear life while paddling through Mississippi, Arkansas, and Louisiana. If Suzie and her glorious generosity had not come to be with me on this part of the river I don't think I would have had the strength to make it. I wonder if this is typical for all adventures... a faltering heart near the end. Perhaps its a part of the Pilgrams Progress. Could it be true that if a journey is at its worst near the end it makes accomplishment that much sweeter? Makes sense...
What to do what to do...
I flew from Orlando to Minneapolis on June 8, 2011 for several personal reasons but the one at the forefront of pack was this: To be the first man to paddleboard the entire Mississippi River.
I had know idea when I landed that there were two others with the same idea. Out of 6 billion people on the planet, Matthew Crofton, Alex Linnell, and Dave Cornthwaite all had this one brilliant idea. Young Alex has taken the title as first man and Dave now holds the longest distance record...and now there is one left. He is different from the rest... older, slower, and no where near the athleticism as the others. He's a bit of a bumbling oaf but he has a kind heart and has fallen in love with the people of the river.
I had my plans and God had his. I was escaping a broken heart (at least I thought I was) but in reality, I was running from a broken spirit. For over a decade I have been an unhappy man. I have failed so many times I've dubbed myself the modern day Charile Brown. Then, to ice the cake, my life was almost taken from me a short year ago. So as I reflect on prior motives I can see now that the purpose of this journey has become so much more than records or titles. I failed to prepare my due dilligence anyway to be credited for any world record so it wouldnt matter if I went further than Dave.
So here I am toiling away with the only thing that helps organiize my puzzled mind and that's my words. I struggle with what to do once I reach New Orleans just a couple weeks away because I believe, in my heart, the Mighty Journey is over. I have found Matthew again... I have found the one God intended me to share my life with... I have found peace. What more could I possibly be looking for?
I move forward out of sheer stubborness to see this thing through but in my heart I just can't wait to get home and start over, sun on my face, with what I believe to be a blissful future. I believe there are still some who need to hear my story and share in my miracle so for this I will press on with my message of hope that God is alive in our lives, whether we acknowledge it or not, and miracles still exist.
This photo will always bring me back to the moments before The Mighty Journey began that crisp morning with my father by my side cheering me on. We make plans for the future... I thank the good Lord that might don't always work out as planned.
I anticipated many things when I came up with this crazy adventure while sitting in Joy and Hecner's living room back home in Orlando.
I expected hardship, loneliness, exhaustion, friendship, stories, and to be pushed to my limits... but I never expected Suzie... not in a million years.
Suzie and I had run in the same circle for over a decade and never once ran into each other. We should have met on several occasions but never did. Through FB (and several smart ass remarks between us) we became immediate friends and a couple of months later she found herself next to me, in an inflatable kayak, on the Mighty Miss and my life would never be the same again.
In Suzie, I have found the missing piece to my hearts puzzle. Her loyalty, honesty and willingness to lay her life down for me turn my eyes moist with pride. Her playfulness and ability to make me laugh leaves a smile on my face even when nobody is around. She brings peace to my raging storms... she calms the bear inside.
I simply adore you Suzie Lane and wonder where you've bee all this time... but now that you are here... I'm not going to let go. The Mighty Journey has a love chapter and I am so excited about what the future holds with you by my side
World... meet my Suzie
Quincey, Illinois news story.
I paddled well into the night, amber moon as my guide, and reached St. Louis around 10:00pm. My parents flew in from Orlando to be with me as I reached my halfway mark. I've missed them so much. Without them this journey would not have been possible.
For over 75 days I've been paddling this black water. The stories, the people... its just been so overwhelming. Life changing actually. I'm no longer on the river to break a record. Young Alex Linnell beat me to the title as the first person to Stand Up Paddle the Mississippi river, congrats buddy, and Dave Cornthwaite will take it a step further to hold the record for longest distance paddled.
Sure I could keep going and break his record but I failed to take the necessary steps in the beginning to prove my distance so it wouldn't be recognized any way. Funny thing is... I don't care. The Mighty Journey has changed my life forever. And I'll always know what I did.
Before my days on the river I faced death and then the loss of someone I thought loved me completely. I started this journey a broken man but along the way I have slowly began to collect the pieces of my spirit once more. My tales range from near drownings to fish fights with a little love story thrown in the mix... and I'm only halfway home.
So you see, records mean little to me at this point... I'm smiling again, I have hope for the future, and Suzie's beautiful face that I carry in my heart every day until the day she is in my arms again... This has been my journey of a lifetime.
So let's finish this shall we...
Thank you so much to Tina, at the Canton Quality Inn for the free pizza!!!
I am on my way to Quincy, IL with a heavy heart... I do not want to say goodbye. Suzie Lane came at a time when I needed her most. I've been on this river with a powerful purpose but a broken spirit. I feel like I've been pressing through a dark forest - feet muddy and thorn bush ripping my flesh. She has been a light through the canopy. It is amazing how far kind words can go. The whole "sticks and stones" bit is a crock... words destroy but words can also bring peace to the storm.
Suzie is leaving now. She has been kayaking next to me for two weeks and I can't remember the last time I have laughed so much or been more at peace. I never anticipated my book having love chapters but this is truly turning out to be a Mighty Journey.
I will press on through Hannibal (home of my boy Mark Twain) and on into St. Louis. I am nervous about the St Louis harbor. I've been hearing horror stories but I've had to deal with horror before so let's rock n roll.
Hours become days, days become weeks, and it seems like it's all running together. I'm so very close to the halfway point in this 2,400 mile quest for peace. Midway will be St. Louis. A year ago I was heading out west and I stopped in went up inside the Arch... a few weeks later I was given hours to live. Now I will be visiting the Gateway Arch once again with a different perspective.
This adventure has been life changing in so many ways and I am so often lost in the magnanimity of it all. The colors, smells, and sights begin to flow into some sort of synchronized waltz. I am so taken back by the kindness of the people of the river. I close my eyes and see their faces. They are like a garden in my soul vibrant with color.
So much has happened to me since my last post and I have been awful about posting but it will be in my book, The Mighty Journey, I can promise you that much. Right now, instead of keeping up with a blog I am living the blog. My sweet friend said to me, "You are not on this river because of a broken heart... you have a broken spirit, and slowly you are piecing it back together."
I believe she's right...
Been hard to keep in touch lately. Cell phone service and web have been hard to come by. My website is more on the suck end of the spectrum than the "I really like my website" end. It won't let me load photos or videos so www.facebook.com/mattisyourpal is a better place to keep up with my pics until I can have a new site built.
I'm putting right alone. Holding up in Bellevue, IW where a wonderful lady (who saw me on Chan 9 news) offered me an RV on the river.
I should get better at keeping up with my blog but I can assure you the book will include many stories I have yet to share. Still deciding on the title A) Standing Tall B) The Mighty Journey
Everyone has their time of day I should think. My dad's is in the deepness of the early morn... I don't even like the smell of 5:00am but that's where you will find him. Some like the noon hours some enjoy the night.
Mine is around 6:00pm. That is when I began to reflect on the day and anticipate tomorrow and somewhere around there I find a calm. I am turbulent inside though my outward appearance may fool you. I fight battles deep within and the "bear" is noisy for the most part but in the dusk hours we all lay down our weapons and search for peace.
As I paddle through Clayton, Iowa, the sun drips into dusk behind me and falls to places I have not seen or may have seen at one time or another and I suppose wherever the sun drips there is the same mixture of comings and goings in other lands. I miss my new river friends... I miss my childhood friends. I miss the chances I had to make things right and the moments to make things last but for now I'll let myself be. I am here now, on this river, and I am ok with me for a bit.
I have been in much pain for days now... my disease constantly reminding me who is really in control. Then I grit my teeth and give my heart to the big guy and together we remind ALL who really runs this showboat.
My competition has far since left me in their wake. First place has almost conquered the river and my friend from England in second place has laid hundreds of miles between us. As they scoop up popularity and press I am left behind in the shadows. I am used to being one step behind. Most things in my life have been one step behind... "you should have been here yesterday," they tell me. I am an average man with lofty dreams but I dare say they will most likely remain in the clouds where they first hatched. But that's ok... I am content with the moment. Had I been in a big hurry I would never have met the people of the river and for me "they" are what my writing is all about. My books on my travels are not memoirs... they are called "themoirs" the story of they who have touched my heart. I am an ambassador to your story and I believe your life should be told.
When the river man flows through town embrace him, I beg of you, for he is weary and in need of divine touch. Do not fear this stranger from a strange land for he is gentle in spirit and love is his muse.
I miss my "detour". I miss the farmer Johnson's and the Bass Camp Clan. What a wonderful, wild world we live in and I have become addicted to the connection two strangers can make when hearts are open to the mystery of human connection.
I was missing you today mom. While paddling in the water I thought about the Wunderbar, that little German eatery in the old Altamonte Mall where you introduced me to a bagel and cream cheese for the first time... I think I was 8? Then we would go get a brownie at that little bakery. That was back when Chik-Fil-A was in the mall. I remember when you would pick me up from school on Fridays and we'd go to the grocery store together. I thought about how you made every Christmas so magical.
I'll never know what it was like for you to watch me dying in that hospital bed... To see your strong son whither away to nothing. Your litte boy who used to where that Mr. Nonsense t-shirt until it basically fell off my body. I'm so sorry you had to go through that. My motivation behind everything I do is to make you and dad proud. I am so scared that I will come to the end of my life and never had done anything to honor who you are.
I feel so useless sometimes mom. What use is there for someone like me in this world... I was born a couple hundred years too late. People like me were of great to have around back when the world was flat... back when the world needed to be explored... then people really needed someone like me. But what good am I now? I feel so lost sometimes... so out of place.
Do you think God will ever have use for someone like me???
I love you mom. If I never had anything in this world and died penniless I would be considered a wealthy man for having parents like you and dad.
Woke up to some bad rain and wind in Hastings. Been in this town for three days now. Got kicked out of the park by the sheriff because of "River Days" festival. Can't have a bum in the park! So I packed up my gear in the rain, climbed into the river, and 100 yards down ran into non other than Dave Cornthwaite! My friend from England that is paddling the Mississippi as well.
Thank you so much Tom and Charlotte for the wonderful company, the cozy bed, and the BEST breakfast burritos ever!
If I were to get mugged on the river tomorrow it would not change my mind that Minnesotians are some of the most warm, caring people I have ever met on my adventures. Everyday it is something new with these people!
Two days ago while camping in Atkin, I was picked up at the park by Jodi and Daryl. They took me to the grocery store and waited outside for me. When I was done I said I wanted to find WiFi and I would walk there if they could point the way. They weren't having it. They took me to a hotel so I could use their internet and told the clerk to call them when I was done so they could pick me up and take me back to camp. Amazing...
The next day I over shot my camp ground by a few miles and had to camp in someones back yard. I walked to the only bar/rest near camp and by the time I was done eating the most amazing burger ever at The Bridge, the owner, Jo, handed me $50, the guy on my left, Shane, gave me $10, and the guy on my right, Ryan, gave me $20! I ate like a king and walked out with $60.
The next day I paddled into Brainerd, exhausted. I just wanted to find a cheap hotel to get a hot shower and sleep in a bed. I asked, Deb and Vinny, who were out kayaking, if they knew of a place near the river. An hour later I was eating dinner at their grandma and grandpa's cabin, Doris and Jeff. I had a hot shower and slept most of the day today in a warm soft bed. My disease will sometimes ignite my body with pain... it was a much needed rest.
There is great evil in this world. Life is full of pain... but people like the ones mentioned above are why I believe in the words of Earnest Hemmingway, "There world is a beautiful place and worth fighting for."
God bless you my new friends.
Longest day on the river so far... 31 miles!
Yesterday when I was launching I looked up ahead and there, 100 yards ahead of me, was the 3rd runner up on the river, Dave Cornthwaite. I have to say I could not be happier losing my 2nd place position to a better man. I knew eventually I'd be in last place because my disease does not let me go far before my feet and legs swell up. Dave and I camped out together, had a couple beers and told some great stories. Dave is an amazing guy doing amazing things and I look forward to seeing him at the end of the line... and I look forward to being his friend.
His website is http://www.davecornthwaite.com/ you should check him out!
I told Dave I take naked photos for beer and he moved his tent away from me.
I miss the sun. I've got the tropics in my blood all the way. It plays with my mood being under cloud cover for so long. If a ray sneaks through the gray I lay on my board, close my eyes, and bask. But the river is beautiful. The people of Minnesota are amazing... they don't take any crap up here. Its either be real or nothing at all. I like that. I've logged in about 300 river miles but it feels like I've barely gone an inch. This is a much slower journey than my motorcycle that's for sure. I've underestimated the magnanimity of it all... and my physical condition... but I'll slide into slow river mode soon enough. I think I'll buy some coveralls. That will complete the Huckleberry attire for sure!
My first attempt at crossing Cass Lake (aprox 8 miles) was a failure. Strong headwinds kept me from going forward. I managed to go about 50yard in an hour and a half. I was eventually plucked from the lake, exhausted, by Marlow and his grandsons. He towed my paddle board back to shore and I live to fight another day. The next day the lake was like glass and I made it across in no time at all. Cass lake done... Big lake Winnibigoshish here I come.
Today would have been perfect... had I not lost my fin. Without a fin you basically fight with every stroke to keep the paddle board straight but I still managed to cross a 2 mile lake and log in a total of 19 miles. The river itself was amazing. Like glass... I would come up on schools of Rock Bass, hundreds of them fat and juicy. Wish I had my fishing pole (and my fishing buddy) About 2 hours into the day I paddled up to a group of people grilling, fishing, and just enjoying the river. They were a youth group from Leech Lake. They asked me what I was doing and invited me to join them for the best hot dogs I've EVER HAD! I spent about 20 minutes with them, they signed my board (I brought a Sharpie with me so everyone I meet can sign my paddle board) and then I was off again. Today was also the first day I tested out my new pack. It was perfect! Everything is compressed into one drysack: Tent, sleeping bag, 38, clothes, ect. I portaged my first dam and past the northern most point of the Mississippi river. All down hill from here right! My dad has been my vehicle and emotional support for the last week as I tested the gear. It will be extremely difficult when he goes home.
It has been a rainy windy day. I will cross the first of three large lakes (one being 15 miles wide) so I thought it was to "listen" to nature speak and lay low for the day. Lake waves can sink a boat. These lakes up here are like oceans compared to our lakes in Florida.
I pray for those who do not have a father... or a good father. I would not have continued this journey without him. If you need a good dad find him on FB. He will adopt you and you can be my brothers and sisters. He is the most amazing, genuine and supportive man I know. I've often said if I never had anything in this life but I had my parents I would still be considered a wealthy man. It will be hard when he leaves next week. Because he stayed in Minnesota with me I was able to analyze my failures, test out new gear, and regroup for the long journey ahead.
And my mother... from far away. I can't imagine what it was like for her last year to look down on my lifeless body knowing from a medical stand point if something divine did not step in she was going to bury her son. Now, a year later, she is watching him attempt yet another crazy adventure. She supports me and believes in me whether I fail or succeed. It is from her that I get my stubborn unwillingness to quit and my iron jaw. She may not like what I do but she understands me. She calls me her soul child.
What a challenging but SPECTACULAR day on the river. The first hour started smooth enough until I got lost in the marsh. I circled lakes and ponds looking for the channel back to the river. The headwinds were so strong it blew the surface water in different directions and I began to retrace my steps and ran into dudes in a canoe. Randy and Alex are teachers from Minneapolis. Alex taught me a valuable tip. No matter what is happening on the surface, more often than not, the grass below is laying in the direction of the rivers current. Sure enough, I looked down and the grass lay low in the right direction even though the wind was blowing the opposite way. Hmm, you can't always judge the surface... I was never a fan of first impressions. They were cool cats and we spent most the day paddling together. I hope to hang with them in their hometown. I logged in 24 miles and got a little sun.
Music of the day: Mishka, Motorhead and Pearl Jam
Keep passing the word of my journey! It is ALL for charity. Thank you so very much for those who have donated so far and to everyone who continues to pray for me.
What an amazing day on the Mississippi. I went from 18 miles of hell on Friday to 22 miles of bliss today. My back still hurts but nothing would compare to how I would have felt if I gave up. I would have been in bad shape if it wasn't for my parents (been the case more than a few times in my life) They support me no matter what. My dad changed his ticket home so he could stay a few days to follow me down in the car so I can test out the new gear and make adjustments. It has been endless fields of tall grass with the river twisting and turning in way I didn't know a river could twist! In the next 2 days I'll have some big lakes to cross the biggest being 15 miles.
Music of the day: Jimi Hendrix, Bob Marley and Beastie Boys.
Going for 24 miles tomorrow taking me into Bemidji, Minnesota.
Just wrote about my first day on the Mississippi entitled, Ten Hours on the Mississippi. You can find the story under the Matthew Writes tab in the Folk Tales section.
Back on the river tomorrow!
I'm almost too embarrassed to tell the story of my first day on the Mississippi River but I promised my journey would be an honest one and I would share everything. I'll post the story soon. It's called, Ten Hours on the Mississippi. I just finished repairing aprox 30 holes, cracks, and gouges on the bottom of my paddle board. I'll be back in the water Monday morning.
Spent the day goofing off with my dad. We hung out in St. Paul this morning and had breakfast at the famous Mickey's Diner. Dad thinks I sat right where Lindsay Lohan sat... now I feel a little itchy.
I took my GPS back... I don't want it. People found the new world by navigating the stars I think I can figure out the Mississippi river. I've got some good maps from the Department of Natural Resources... love the crinkle of a good map. Picked up some "gator repellent" for my 38 revolver in the land where bullets are as plenty as peanuts.
We are 20 miles from the river head waters. Dad had me soak in the hot tube and tonight he's feeding me steak! What's he trying to do to me? I'm going to get too comfortable! HA
Tomorrow morning I launch, 9am... and yes, I am wearing the same clothes 3 days in a row. GET USED TO IT. GET USED TO STINKY BOY. YEE HAW
The paddle board and all my gear made it safety to Minneapolis. I'm going to delay launch for a day to spend it with my dad in the town where he was a boy. All the stories he told me when I was little usually were about him growing up in Minnesota. It's been 50 years since he's been home but it hit him like it was yesterday. Memories seeping through the cracks like water from rock. His mom and dad split when he went to college and he never came back... all his of his memories of Minnesota are happy ones at least... before the crumbling home.
The guy playing guitar near my gate is pretty good. Good enough for me to drift at least. I often feel like my life has background music. Most of the time it's circus music... today the soft twang of an acustic guitar seems fitting. The last time I was on a plane I could barely move. The hospital in Utah would not release me until I could at least get out of bed and into a wheelchair with assistance. I remember rolling out of the hospital feeling the rush of fresh air on my pale cheeks for the first time in two months. I was drugged enough on the plane that my head was slumped over drooling on my mom's arm rest. Now I'm getting on a plane to float down a river. I would never tell someone what they should believe. I don't know anything about anything... but I do know there is something watching over me. I do know he is love. And at the end of all things if I am wrong and there is nothing but I managed to love others and listen more than I talk then... well... I believe that is still a pretty good way to live.
Just had my first radio experience! Thanks Monsters at Real Radio 104.1 for helping me get the word out. They want me to keep in touch as I paddle down the Mississippi so my next update on the radio will be in the field!
I'm all packed and ready. Flight leaves in T minus 23 hours!
My dad surprised me last minute by telling me he's going to fly to Minnesota and be with me when I leave the mouth of the Mississippi River. It's been over 50 years since he stood at the beginning of the mighty Miss with his own father and now he is going to see his son off on a wild adventure. I dedicate this journey to my parents who have loved me no matter what. They have loved me even when I put them last in my life. They have loved me regardless of failure or success. If I had nothing more in life and I were to die tomorrow I would be considered a wealthy man because I had them. T-minus 2 days till my journey begins.
Four more days till launch. I'm feeling the joyous anticipation that can only be found on the brink of a new adventure. I promise my journey will be honest. I promise to report all things good, bad, and ugly. I hope with all my heart that word gets out and somehow I can give back to those who are in the position I was a year ago. I can't imagine what I would have done without my family and those who loved me. As I prepare to leave I have been thinking about a quote from one of my favorite movies.
“It is only after we have lost everything that we are free to do anything.” Tyler Durden
I found some pictures of me from last year in the hospital. Sometimes I still can't believe how close I was to not being alive anymore... I can't thank you enough.
Well it appears that I have competition. One of my competitors will leave on June 1st and have a couple hundred miles on me. I knew it was to good to be true that I may have a shot of accomplishing something that has never been done before. And to think we had the same idea to leave on the same month... Why am I always one step behind. I have to admit my hopes have been crushed but anything can happen I guess. It will still be an amazing adventure and ultimately we are all trying to raise money to help others. Who knows, maybe I'll just turn around when I'm done and come back up river.
Most preparations have been made. My father wants me to have a GPS but I want the crinkle of a nice map in my hands. I don't want to know where I am going to find food and water. I don't want to know what's around the next corner. No... It's not smart... It's just me.
Purchased one-way plane ticket to Minneapolis Minn. Rosanna, the agent for Frontier airlines was so sweet. I told her what I was doing and she worked hard to help me get a 30lb 12' paddle board on the airplane. It's three hours north to the beginning of the river so I've yet to figure out a plan from the airport but I am not opposed to sitting by the road with my board and a sign saying "Take me to Lake Itasca"
I think I'm going to do this... I think I'm nuts. To my knowledge it hasn't been done before and that is worth the risk to me. Not only will I be the first to paddle board the Mississippi River but I will also break the current GWR for the longest paddle board journey to date.
It's done. I've made up my mind.
If you are on the east side of the river look for the fool in the tattered trunks riding the red, white and blue paddle board. If you are on the west side... well... pretty much look for the same thing. Those of you in the south look for the coming of Tumbleweed bearing sour patch kids, smiles and much tomfoolery.