Still Hitting Some Snags


I have a confession to make. I have done hardly any padding since four days ago when we went through Grand Rapids. The pain in my elbow Lake Winnie gave me was more persistent than we hoped it would be. An incredibly nice acquaintance who happens to be a physical therapist was kind enough to discuss it on the phone with me. It’s not a very painful overuse injury, but it’s knocked me nearly completely out of commission for the past four days, or 1/3 of our entire trip so far.

Our progress has only kept up because Dave has paddled 30+ miles each of the past three days while I sit in the front and watch what the DNR map tells me is lowland hardwoods go by. And occasionally mime paddling to keep my injured arm moving and keep warm, which must be entertaining for people in the houses we pass. It’s tough to turn into a passenger on such a big exciting trip, and it’s obviously tougher for Dave in a more physical sense, but it’s either that or paddle through the pain until I completely blow the tendons in my arm.

It’s also hard not to feel like a burden when you are literally dead weight sitting in the bow. There’s not much else to do but try to keep a good attitude. A trip like this demands that you face obstacles with a certain zen, as we learned on the first day during surprise portages 1 through 7. One thing I’m a little sad about is that I won’t be able to say I’ve paddled the whole river, since there’s already a 90 mile stretch I’ve skipped. But as Dave pointed out, I did sit in a canoe for every mile of it, so I can say I canoed the whole thing if we make it. I’m hoping I’ll be able to paddle for short bits over the next several days and slowly ramp it up so that this trip doesn’t just turn into Dave giving his fiancee a three month canoe ride to New Orleans.

The river these days alternates between forest, farmland, and backyards.


Last night we stopped at the campground in Palisade where there were bathrooms, outlets and showers, and where the lilacs are currently blooming. It was a deal at $10 for the spot. I would have paid $10 for the shower alone, which was our first since the Bemidji Super 8. One thing I didn’t expect when planning this trip is how badly we’d want to stay in campgrounds near towns. We thought we’d prefer the more remote canoe access solo spots but after a week and a half of rain almost everyday, three days of highs in the 50s and humidity designed to keep every possible fabric from ever getting dry, a campground with a bathroom with paper towels felt unbelievably luxurious.

We’re at a campground in another delightful Minnesota town tonight where we had $2 beers at happy hour and ate an entire 14-inch pizza. And my feet are dry. So a lot is going well, too. Here’s some more pictures from town:



Their bookstore was also amazing.


23 thoughts on “Still Hitting Some Snags

  1. Dave,

    In the last year I’ve found that if I’m solo paddling, a long kayak paddle is a lot more efficient than a J stroke by yourself.

    Hope you get better soon.

    Wishing you both swift currents.
    Looks pretty cool so far.

  2. Linnea,

    I’m glad to hear you spoke to a PT. I am also a PT specializing in sports injuries so if you need me to take a closer look at it when you are in Minneapolis or further down toward Lake Pepin, I’d be happy to take a look at it. If I watch your stroke, I might be able to make some recommendations as well.

    As for not being able to say you did something. Maybe changing that thought process around a bit would be helpful. We all have grand ideas for trips like this and plan out in our head how we want them to go. We plan for certain challenges but the true challenges are usually unexpected ones. I can tell you all of mine someday. This is yours. Embrace it and the moment. Think about the fact that you are able to experience this time with your fiancee and how amazing it is that when you are down he is able to pick up the slack. This is the real life example of “in sickness and in health.” There will be times during this trip as with your life together (I am sure you know) that you will return the favor. Also you will be able to tell the story about how bad-ass your fiancee/husband was when he paddled you part way down the Mississippi river. How many other wives will be able to tell that story?

    Listen to your elbow, gentle range of motion and stretching and don’t push too early will get you paddling soon enough. It’s a long trip. I’m sure someone mentioned trying a tennis elbow strap as well and some anti-inflammatories if you can tolerate them.

    Hang in there!


    • Thanks, we’ll definitely see you on Lake Pepin, and maybe in Minneapolis as well. I will look into a tennis elbow strap I actually hadn’t thought to do that already. Thanks for all the pep talks so far and for helping keep us hanging in there. You’re right it will definitely make our story more unique and interesting.

      • The above comment is what happens when you’re trying to be eloquent while drunk and using thumbs that are at least 30% as big as a touch screen. Basically you are an ex-boyfriend and I left a regrettable voicemail.

        ANYHOO the gist is that I was overcome, almost to wine-induced tears, when I read the sweet, pragmatic advice given by the other commenters. Then I realized that it’s obvious that you two would inspire that kind of love wherever you go, and also that Minnesota is maybe the best-kept secret since Atlantis. Now that I’m in better control of my faculties I still believe every sentimental thought poring out of me but I’m (hopefully?) better at communicating them.

        Keep on keepin’ on,

  3. Megan just sent me this link, and oh my lord WOW. This is FASCINATING and wonderful!!! I am in awe of you both.

  4. Hey DBlaze!!! (and to Ms. L Boogie — the other half of my favorite couple),

    I’m so glad to hear and see things are going well and/or getting better!
    Thank you so much for your sentiments and well wishes – it was very appreciated.

    Stay dry! have fun for me – as i’ve told you, i’m living vicariously through you both right now! I would love to have this story to tell the kids!

    Talk to you soon,
    <3 Val

    • Thanks Val! Things are actually going much better now. We’re miraculously on schedule somehow, which is awesome but unexpected considering injuries. Hope all’s well at PDF.

      • All is well… we’ve been thinking about you guys!

        looking forward to my updates!

        Peace out to you and your “ride or die chic! ” lol!

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