Canoe odysseys
October 11, 2017 11:19 PM   Subscribe

Nine rivers. Lake of the Woods to Arctic Ocean. Gulf of Mexico to Arctic Ocean. Pacific Ocean to Atlantic Ocean. 28,000 miles around and across North America. Highlights: "Our first big river, the kind that we dream about in wintertime." A bear and a wolf, playing. Maps. "Beautiful glass days on the lake." Lowlights: Bugs. Bugs. Ice. So many bugs.
posted by clawsoon (12 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
Brings back memories of canoe trips in Algonquin park. Beautiful scenery, sore muscles and more bug bites than you can count.
posted by dazed_one at 5:20 AM on October 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

I think I want this picture on a t-shirt. Or as a giant hand-drawn map on my wall.
posted by clawsoon at 5:39 AM on October 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

protip: take a live pig with you on a canoe trip; mosquitos will bite it, not you
posted by thelonius at 5:50 AM on October 12, 2017 [2 favorites]

I was on a multi-week canoe trip with the scouts in the BWCA when the bug bit. Before that, camping was a thing my parents made me do. After that, all the crap Heinlien wrote about self-reliance and competence made so much more sense. It was a shame I had to quit the scouts - I loved it so much.

A few years later, I managed to trick into a job working out of Grand Marais, MN maintaining campsites and trails in the Superior NF and BWCA. It's a dream job, really. Also, I fought forest fires - it was dry and lightning starts fires deep in the woods. One that year got big - big enough to bring crews in from out of state. Lots of hotshot firecrews are Native American - especially from the western nations. They are great to work with - professional and seasoned. But, they had never been in a canoe, or portaged, or any of that. So, there I was, whitey mcwhitepants teaching Native Americans how to canoe. The irony wasn't lost on them either, and jokes would abound. It was fun.

We had some Québécois crews as well, because the fire stretched across the border into the Quetico in Ontario. Good guys who spoke with an impenetrably quick french/english mishmash. I also worked with Peter, a writer who had several books in the gift shop. I have an autographed Ghosts of the Fireground, and I can't help but read it in his Alan Alda like baritone.

Anyway, fast forward a few years, and I've got a career and a wife and a house and all that. I live in the city. I do some camping, and get out a bit. But it's different than my dream. So, I convinced my lovely bride to join me in moving to the middle of nowhere, Colorado.

All because of that stupid canoe trip to the Boundary Waters when I was 12.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 8:27 AM on October 12, 2017 [11 favorites]

thelonius: protip: take a live pig with you on a canoe trip; mosquitos will bite it, not you

Made me LOL, but also deeply evil. That poor pig. (Thankfully for the pig, you probably won't get more than a few meters before it upends the canoe and dumps you in the water. As you richly deserve.)

As I was watching the paddles dip into the water, and thinking back to my own experiences, I said to myself: Canoeing is a very ASMR-y activity. It can put you into a wonderful trance.

Looks like there might be a not-horrible weather window around Saturday at noon here in Toronto. I think I might take my daughter on the subway over to Humber River and rent a canoe for a couple of hours.

Anybody want to join me?
posted by clawsoon at 9:22 AM on October 12, 2017 [2 favorites]

Thank you for this, I think.

I've been stuck in an eddy. I'm trying to blend an account of a trip down the Fraser with reflections on the nature of reality and the notion of groundtruthing to save the planet. Paddle paddle paddle and no progress.

What else can you do on a rainy summer-is-gone day on the west coast but keep pushing on, like the people in the links.

Maybe after watching just a few more clips.
posted by ecourbanist at 9:52 AM on October 12, 2017

Whatever you do ecourbanist, take a good camera. Have the sense to backpaddle stop when you see something cool. You live in a great place for this. There are a lot of people of all ilks who know we need to save all we can, so keep wide open in your conversation, so every person can connect.
posted by Oyéah at 11:28 AM on October 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

I was thinking you take chickens on your canoe trip. Save up for a couple of big omelettes a week.
posted by Oyéah at 11:30 AM on October 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

clawsoon, use this higher-res version (without the "1996 called" beveled edge) to make your shirt: Canoe Routes to the West and North
posted by wenestvedt at 6:07 AM on October 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

Thanks, wenestvedt!
posted by clawsoon at 6:44 AM on October 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

Well, if you like that, then explore this AMAAAAAAAZING web site for awesome B&W drawings of Canadian history that would make kick-ass t-shirts or coloring book pages:
posted by wenestvedt at 11:05 AM on October 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

I just noticed that this was my 100th post to the Blue. Perfect, because it's one of my favourites.

I forgot one epic canoe journey:
It was never the MacDonalds' plan to do it with children.

"We didn't think this would take six or seven years," says Geoff. "We thought two years. When it wasn't going to be that, we thought we may as well go ahead and start a family."
posted by clawsoon at 3:35 AM on October 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

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