Day 330: Nina Moose Sunrise

Something caused me to stir before dawn, perhaps it was the steady thud of spruce cones landing in the dirt, dropped a red squirrel from the treetops in its endless search for food, chickadees and sparrows signally a new day, or one of the innumerable natural sounds that surrounds us. It certainly was not the mechanical shriek of the sirens, cars, trains or other “civilized” noises that we left behind nearly a year ago. The source is not important– consciousness caused me to open my eyes, revealing a golden, mist-covered surface.

Amy stirred slightly as I wiggled out of my sleeping bag and quietly slipped out of the tent. Sliding the canoe into Nina Moose Lake I silently glided through the calm silence, drawn through the fog towards the horizon’s golden glow. I knew it would be gone in minutes, but I tried to focus on the beauty, the hint of coolness and the mist that hung in the silence. Content to live in the moment, concentrating on nothing but the feel of the paddle propelling me forward– body, boat and blade, as I was held in the sun’s fleeting, golden glow.

Coffee and muesli, conversation and plans wouldn’t begin until Amy’s first smile of the day cast its own glow across my world. For now I was alone, reminded once again how lucky I am to be here. Engulfed in silence, breaking the stillness with my cupped hand, raising the cool water to my lips, I drink it all in.

Day 328: Paddling Through Wild Rice

The Nina Moose River is lined with tall stalks of wild rice that are starting to bend under the weight of the ripening kernels of goodness. Soon the ricing season will be upon us. Wild rice has been a staple for this region’s native people for centuries and it remains an important food source and connection to the land for many people.

Clean water is vital to wild rice and even small amounts of pollution can decimate the rice. The sulfide-ore copper mines being proposed in Northern Minnesota threaten to pollute our lakes and rivers, and in turn threaten the wild rice and many other aspects of this fragile ecosystem.

Day 328: Portaging Past Curtain Falls

A stiff headwind slowed our progress as we paddled west down Crooked Lake. We hopped from island to island, taking shelter from the wind and waves when possible. As we neared the end of the lake the steady rumble Curtain Falls drowned out the wind.

A cool mist from the falls, driven by the wind, cooled us as we portaged past. There are few portages in the Boundary Waters as pretty as the portage between Crooked Lake and Iron Lake. Between the falls, rapids and the towering pines that line the trail, it’s hard to beat.

Day 327: Appreciating Every Wilderness Moment

Watching the light slowing change as the sun inches towards the horizon from our temporary home pitched on the edge of a Wilderness lake is one of the many simple pleasures that our Year in the Wilderness affords.

With only 6 weeks left in the Wilderness, the idea that we will be trading the silence and solitude of the Wilderness for the hustle, bustle, and conviences of the modern world is beginning to sink in. Warm, idyllic weather make this an especially pleasant time to be in the Wilderness. We are consciously trying to appreciate the million moments that are happening all around us so that we can bring them with us when we leave the Wilderness. I hope our consious observations will help us share this national treasure more deeply when we leave.

Day 322: Playing on a Boundary Waters Beach.

Our luxurious campsite on Basswood Lake, that we dubbed the Hilton, became a hive of activity when the Goldsteins arrived. Joseph(15), Jacob (12), Joshy(6), and Jonah(6), their parents Jeff and Kemia, and Jason from Ely Outfitting Company paddled up as we relaxed on the expansive beach in front of our site. The Goldsteins are not new to the Boundary Waters. They started coming to the BWCA when Joseph was 6 and Jacob was 3; this is Joseph’s 16th trip to the Boundary Waters! We have been looking forward to their visit for a long time. Joseph has been battling Lukemia for 2 years, he is a remarkable young man who has become a dedicated and effective voice for the Wilderness. We are inspired by his strength and commitment to protecting the Boundary Waters. Joseph, Jacob, and Jeff set a goal of visiting us during every season of our Wilderness Year. This is their final visit and they brought the rest of their family with them. After swimming for an hour, most of the crew moved back to the beach and quickly began burying Jacob and Jonah in the sand. We look forward to several more days of adventures with our friends.

Day 320: Food and Friends on Fall Lake

We began loading our canoe as the sun burned the final whisps of fog off of Fall Lake yesterday morning.

We spent nearly a week on Fall Lake visiting with a continuous stream of friends and family. With all the visitors came an astounding amount of fresh food and delicious treats.

Just yesterday our friend (and amazing French chef) Bernard paddled up to our campsite and delivered some of the best food we have eaten all year. As if his homemade pound cake, rhubarb compote and lasagna weren’t enough, he procured a watermelon from his pack too!

That evening we had a visit from Paul and Sue Schurke– owners of Wintergreen Dogsled Lodge and Wintergreen Northern Wear, along with their daughter, Berit, and a friend. It was such a treat to see those guys. After they left, our friend Dave arrived with the fixings for rootbeer floats. I’m not sure what got us most excited, seeing our good friend, the novelty of eating something cold or the super sweet taste of rootbeer and frozen custard.

Fresh food, friends, and family are really about the only things we miss out here, but it feels good to be on our own again moving deeper into the Wilderness.

Women of Tobacco Gardens July 23rd-29th, 2016

July 23-29, 2016
Tobacco Gardens Resort and Marina
Lake Sakakawea, North Dakota

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Lake Sakakawea is the third largest person-made lake (reservoir) in the US. It runs along a 178 mile stretch of the Missouri River in central North Dakota. Here’s Alyce enjoying the view from the bow.

Natural rhythm

A day can quickly turn into a week on the river. Time does not exist here as we have known it elsewhere. In the canoe, a watch is useful only to tell how much time has passed. There are other ways to do that too. Need to know about time? Observe the sun’s position in the sky and the sounds of your stomach. Need to know about travel? Watch what shape the clouds take and the direction the wind moves across the water. Need to know about rest? Pay attention to the feeling in your shoulders in the late afternoon and the thoughts looping through your mind. On the river, how you feel and team morale are more significant than time of day or day of the week.

This is what it’s like to live in a natural rhythm. This is freedom for me. It’s different than moving from one task to the next, waiting for the clock to run out just to move on to the next thing. I’ve lived that way plenty too. I’ve sat annoyed in rush hour. I’ve daydreamed through lectures at school. I’ve crossed out days on a calendar that represent time between what I’m doing now and what I really want to be doing. I’ve been bored, restless, frustrated, and dazed. I’ve felt lost and unsure of myself. I’ve worn myself out by spinning my wheels and trying to gain traction in the wrong places.

When a day turns into a week and I haven’t felt too many of those miserable kind of feelings, I know I’ve found my natural rhythm. From the canoe, I can set my own cadence or follow Alyce’s. I can live according to the senses of my body and the voice that is my intuition. I can hear and follow these things more clearly because I am not caught up in the flurry of distractions that accompany “front-country” living. In the back country, I have to pay attention to the basics – weather, shelter, food, water, and morale. The stakes can be high and challenges arise daily, but in my natural rhythm, I can see more opportunities than obstacles. When I’m free from the captivity of the clock and not needing to constantly keep pace with others, I can make decisions more easily. I can move through time more fluidly and with more confidence.

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Alyce taking a break on the red shores of the lake.

When rhythm changes

The last week came and went in the awkward transition between a natural and a timed rhythm. On Friday, we were hauled across a windy, wavy bay to the safety of Tobacco Gardens Resort and Marina. With the help of our friends in a pontoon, we covered the mile-long stretch in minutes. This same stretch would have taken a long, dangerous hour by canoe if we had opted to paddle. This is when time changed. When convenience (which we are grateful for at times) alters your plans and moves you faster than you are capable on your own.

We were treated to air conditioning. There were meals we didn’t have to cook ourselves. We had shelter that we didn’t have to pack up and move every day. We could sleep in until 8:00 – sometimes even later – because the sun wasn’t roasting us through our nylon tent walls. We didn’t have to travel any distance; we just had to rest. We also had to catch up on a lot of work (writing, uploading photos, communicating with the outside world). Work tends to pile up without such conveniences as internet or electricity you don’t have to generate from the sun.

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Lisa and Alyce flank Peg, the owner and River Angel of Tobacco Gardens Resort and Marina.

This luxurious hospitality was a gift from our newest friend and honorary “river mom”, Peg Hellandsaas. Peg is the owner of Tobacco Gardens Resort and Marina. She takes great pride in taking care of the paddlers that come through Lake Sakakawea. She keeps a cabin open for paddlers to stay in, free of charge, and invites you in like family. We only intended to stay three days and ended up staying for five!

Gifts from the Women of Tobacco Gardens

Peg owns the restaurant at the Marina and employs a staff of 13 women and three men. Over the five-day rest stop at Tobacco Gardens, we got to meet and hear the incredible stories of these people. The women we talked to were mostly pioneers. Many of them have worked every kind of job under the sun including: engineer, farmer, nurse, miner, teacher, truck driver, cook, and server. Then add mothering to the list, as almost all of these women also have children. Some have grandchildren.

Many of the careers that these women had moved through and to were in largely male-dominated industries. One woman we met, Kelly, was the first woman to work on a crew of all men in a gold mine in Nevada. Another woman, Gwen, had moved to North Dakota from Alaska to find work as an engineer for the oil and gas companies. And then there was Peg who traded a life-long career as a nurse to run a marina – something she knew almost nothing about but had the confidence to try. Each woman had her own incredible story.

What all these women had in common was nerve. Some had just found the nerve to move away from home for the first time into a new place. Some had gotten the nerve to enter into a new phase in life. Some had worked up the nerve to walk away from a toxic past. Some were somewhere in between. In just five short days, we were invited into the lives of these women. They shared stories and secrets, wants and fears, and let us participate in both their fun and more serious moments.

Why did these women share so much of themselves with us? I think because we asked. Because we asked and then we listened. We also came into their space in a vulnerable state ourselves. We, travelers of the river, seventy-five days in to a 170(ish) day expedition, were tired and needed shelter from the storm. We, explorers navigating our own paths to confidence, were (and are) searching in earnest for the answers to the questions we ask. Perhaps it was our vulnerability that invited the same from these extraordinary women.

We conducted several interviews and had countless conversations with the Women of Tobacco Gardens. I find these raw moments with other women to be like light at the end of a tunnel. They are the distant shore that, finally, you land upon after paddling for hours in the wind, waves, and sun. They take the right mix of energy and patience to get to and are well worth the effort. The words and ideas women speak don’t have to be particularly profound because the truths always are. When I get to hear a woman speak her truth and feel safe enough in her company to say what is in her heart and what’s on her mind, it feels like they are giving a gift. I love it.

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Beauty, up close.

Positive risks

What we heard from these women were stories about taking risks. Here are a few:

  • Going from only ever getting to hold the flashlight for dad while he fixed engines to being a system operator and then supervisor for an electric company.
  • Hearing a bunch of women laughing in the kitchen of a restaurant, missing that sound only working men, and asking for a job right then and there. Then showing up the next day for work.
  • Moving away from home to a brand new city, a new start.
  • Being the first woman to work on site in a gold mine. Going from being ignored by everyone on the crew to becoming good friends.
  • Telling your kids that you love them and how proud you are of them even when they make mistakes.
  • Letting your kids make mistakes.
  • Walking out on bad relationships that leave bruises on the body, and worse, the mind and heart, and seeking counseling to mend the pain.
  • Taking a risk with a new person who shows you real love and respect.
  • Taking over a business that you have to learn every little thing about.
  • Working from 5 am to midnight and coming home to do laundry and take care of the husband.
  • Doing these things when most of the people around you don’t know what to make of it.

Create or destroy

All of these risks take confidence and all of these risks build confidence. That doesn’t mean you are always confident in the moment though. We asked these women what they thought the biggest barrier to building confidence has been. One theme that emerged was that others have a tremendous ability to help in creating or destroying confidence. This can be confidence in the ability to do a task or confidence in oneself. Either way, we came to the mutually agreed upon conclusion that we all impact each other with our words and actions whether we intend to or not.

We all agreed that other women can be our best friends or worst enemies in the confidence game. One woman “letting off steam” by gossiping or making passive-aggressive remarks can devastate another who experiences the words as insensitive or hurtful. On the other hand, the depth of compassion and the loving wisdom that resides in the hearts of women can create the most profound and beautiful spaces for other women to be themselves and to feel loved and appreciated.

So, how do we get more of the good stuff? How do we tap into the power of the naturally creative (and destructive) female spirit? Part of it is creating safe spaces for women to share openly, without feeling the need to hide. Maybe another part of it happens by changing how we view destruction. When something is broken down, something new can come in to take its place. Perhaps we need to see these spaces after the destruction as opportunities to create what we want. This is not to excuse ill-treatment, unkindness, or abuse; but to look closely at the opening that exists when something is washed away.

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One life ends and another begins.

A tree that has blown down, been stripped of its bark, and bleached in the sun is no longer a tree but can become a home for a seedling to sprout. Maybe someone’s careless or hurtful communication is an opportunity for you to recognize what is important to you and speak up about it. Maybe this becomes an opportunity for the other person to grow as well. Even if it doesn’t go over well, at least it’s out there. If it continues to not go well, maybe you know it’s time to try something new or move on. This can be another opportunity (not that it’s easy).

These women, having experienced so much destruction (inflicted by others and sometimes the self), are still creating beauty in their lives and in the lives of their children and communities. Of course there are arguments, mistakes, failures, and sometimes some people just can’t seem to get along. But when you step back and look at the bigger picture, all of those “failures”, can lead to something new. Tobacco Gardens is a haven created by one woman and maintained by a community of women. Even havens have dark corners, but the power of these women in this place is tremendous. I want them to know that they impressed us as much as they kept telling us we impressed them.

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Lisa, Kyla, Jody, Peg, Alyce, and Mary at Tobacco Gardens Resort and Marina.

Source of confidence

Reflecting on the wisdom found at Tobacco Gardens, I find myself asking: how are my words and actions impacting someone else’s confidence? Am I a source of confidence? Even when I’m in a destructive mood, can I maintain a level of self-respect and respect for my fellow sisters and let the mood pass before acting or speaking? Can I be supportive of someone else building their confidence even if I don’t feel confident myself? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. It’s a work in progress.

Hearing the stories of these women and reflecting on the themes of our interviews, one thing is clear: we all have power. Creating and destroying – it’s what we start doing as pre-teen girls and continuing doing all the way through the years. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s not. Sometimes it’s intentional, sometimes we are totally oblivious.  What is important to recognize is the choice in how to use that power. Confidence can be hard to find and even harder to hold. While you may feel uninspired or sort-of lackluster, you may not realize all the ways in which you have and are inspiring and impacting those around you. We can create confidence by destroying the obstacles, barriers, and limits in our path. We can create spaces for other girls and women to do the same. Instead of competing with each other for confidence, we can support one another. I come back to the question: am I being a source of confidence?

Fear of missing out

We needed to let our bodies and minds really rest after 75 days of intense expedition. We also needed to have some fun. The expedition is fun, don’t get me wrong. But it’s the type of fun that comes from challenge and learning. Its the type of fun that means a lot and lasts a long time, but honestly isn’t always very fun in the moment. This is what is known as Type 2 fun.

We were in some serious need of Type 1, mindless, awesome fun. Cue the jet-ski! Jody gave us the keys and the three of us, along with Kelly and her awesome fiancé, Mike, had and great day at the beach. We went tubing and sped around the lake on a wild, windy, joy ride. We did not take the speed for granted, that’s for sure. Just some light pressure on the gas and we were flying. It was like being on a spaceship compared to a mile-and-half-an-hour, upper body workout in a canoe.

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“Type 1” fun. Thank you so much, Jody Hauge!

I guess it was inevitable that my rhythm would get thrown off while taking time to rest, have fun, and catch up on writing. Now, with all these great and needed distractions from the expedition, I was staying up later, sleeping in longer, and eating greasy food that my stomach isn’t used to. It made getting the things on my to-do list harder to get done which makes me feel uneasy, unproductive.

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Post cards from the river – one way we stay in touch with family and friends.

With all the excitement of meeting so many new and extraordinary people, the fear of missing out had me back on the clock and over-booking myself. I didn’t want to miss the fun, the conversations, the shared meals, etc, and still needed time to rest and work. I slipped out of my rhythm and into the shared time of social and business life. I was out of my natural rhythm, back in to some old, stress-induced habits. I know I feel the best in my natural rhythm on the river, but wanting to accomplish more, though tiring, actually made it harder to want to get back on the water. We ended up pushing our departure a day later.

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The face of transition. Leaving Tobacco Gardens for the wilds of Lake Sakakawea.

Finding Balance

When we finally got back on the water (not until about 11am on the 21st), it was hard to shake the “vacation” feeling. It took nearly two full days to get back in tune with the natural rhythms. Alyce and I talked about the pace of our expedition. We agree that it’s not sustainable to continue to go full-throttle for weeks and then crash for days. It just doesn’t feel good. We need to strike a balance that allows us to travel, rest, write, plan things for the future, and have fun in the moment. Easy, right?

We tend to be tempted to travel during any “paddle-able” weather on the unpredictable and often turbulent, massive reservoirs of Fort Peck, Lake Sakakawea, and Lake Oahe (coming up). We had a lot of good weather on Ft. Peck and ended up burning through our energy without enough recovery. We need to find a better balance between “gettin’ while the gettin’s good”, and giving ourselves time to rest and have fun as we take on Sakakawea and Oahe.

As always, we’ll see what happens. Oh yeah, and one other thing. I do not have Lyme’s disease. I was experiencing a lot of symptoms that were likely the product of expedition exhaustion and fending off a cold. The strange bullseye must have been caused by something else. All symptoms have now disappeared. We’ll call it a Tobacco Garden Miracle.

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Smoke from our fire arcing into the sunset; guitar slung over the shoulder; back in the natural rhythm.

-Lisa

July 23, 2016

Today all I did was sleep and eat. I didn’t realize how exhausted I was from the expedition in general and the stress of the last three days. I am so thankful to be in air conditioning resting all day. It was truly what I needed. Eating at the restaurant and chatting with the women who work there was very enjoyable. Spent time talking with Jody. What a great women. And Peg! We got to chat more today and she is a strong women, running the marina and resort. What a great and much needed true rest day.

-Alyce

July 24th, 2016

Sunday Funday! I spent the morning relaxing and getting a little writing in. We conducted a group interview after lunch. What amazing women, with tremendous life experiences and interesting opinions. Once Kelly and Jody where done working we headed to the beach with them and Kelly’s finance Mike. We got to ride to the beach on Jody’s jet ski! She then gave us the keys and told us to take it for a spin! It is really different going 30 miles an hour on Lake Sakakawea, when we were only averaging about 2 miles an hour paddling on the lake. The afternoon went by way to quickly, tubbing from behind the jet ski and talking on the beach. All of a sudden it was dinner time and we headed back to the restaurant for a much needed hamburger. Once the restaurant was closed we had our second interview with the rest of the women who work at Tobacco Gardens. Some times I get overwhelmed with emotion during these interviews, as I am manifesting my dreams. Getting to talk with women from all over the country, speaking about confidence and the challenges associated with building confidence. I think back to this past winter, while planning for the expedition, thinking about all the women I will meet and hopefully get to interview. Now here I am, interviewing women about confidence. My dreams in action. It is a truly powerful feeling. After the interview I spent time hanging our with Jody and Kelly, not really talking about anything, just enjoying each others company and the night time coolness after the hot day. Another day of river life, fully lived.

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Jody, Lisa, Alyce and Kelly enjoying the fun beach day.

July 25th and 26th, 2016

I spent these days working on posting pictures to social media, writing about the last week and reading about what has been going on in the world. It is always a shock to be out of touch with what is happening around the world and then I bombard myself with reading the news. It can overwhelming, though good to know what is going on while I am paddling on the river. On the 26th we went for a sunset ride in Peg’s ranger. I was not feeling ready to leave tomorrow and expressed a desire to stay for one more day. It was an easy decision to stay and get some more work and rest in.

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Alyce and Lisa driving around in Peg’s ranger.

July 27th, 2016
So thankful for our extra rest day at Tobacco Gardens! I finally feel rested and ready to get back to paddling tomorrow. Though my sleep schedule is way off, staying up later and sleeping in. I am thinking its going to be a little rough to get back into our normal rhythm of up early and to bed early. Though the time at Tobacco Gardens has been incredible and much needed, as we look to paddle the rest of Lake Sakakawea. It is a daunting task to think about, especially with the way the wind can blow across the Dakotas. As the afternoon rain came around, I was very thankful we had decided to stay this extra day. Since Wednesday was the one day the restaurant was closed, we were back to feeding ourselves. We really wanted pizza for dinner and messaged Jody and Peg, inquiring if there was any place that delivered. Jody offered to bring us pizza that night, though she wouldn’t be back to Tobacco Gardens till 9pm. Peg messaged back that she was on her way to us, with pizza in tow. When she arrived, with 4 of the best tasting pizza’s I have ever eaten, she told us that before she got our message she was planning on bringing us pizza! What a women and one of the best river angels I have ever had. Peg has become more than a river angel for us and is more like our river mom! Words don’t express my sincere gratitude and appreciation for all the generosity and kindness we have received at Tobacco Gardens. Thank you again to all the river angels out there.

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Lisa and Alyce enjoying the time at Tobacco Gardens.

July 28th, 2016
We bid farewell to Peg, Jody, Kali and Mary today, as we finally got back on the water. Our stay at tobacco gardens was excellent and a part of me was sad to leave. We had meet some amazing women and made great memories. Yet it was time to get back I the canoe and see what the rest of lake Sakakawea had in store for us. After picture taking and numerous hugs, we were back in the boat after our 5 day hiatus! Getting a later start than usual, along with having not paddled for several days and the wind blowing directly in our faces, we were not moving fast.

We ended up only paddling 5 and a half hours today, because sometimes that’s all you can do. It was evident that our goal of paddling 15 miles a day to make it to the garrison dam by August 4th was not realistic. Calculated when thinking we would average 3 miles an hour; today we were averaging 1.5 miles an hour. Being back on the water, setting up my tent was great. Taking longer breaks really helps me to appreciate this river life. Amazing sand bar and lots of rock hunting took up most of the evening. Drift wood was plentiful and close to the waters edge, so we built a good size fire, cooked over it and stayed up a little later watching the sun spread her magic across the land. It was one of the best sunsets I have ever experienced. The colors, the pinks, oranges, blues and deep purples, played tag with each other in the sky like children on a playground. Swirling, running, jumping, bumping and mixing together. A true sight to be seen. I am thankful for these river nights.

-Alyce

Reflection questions:

1. Have you ever experienced “natural rhythm” like Lisa described? If so, when? How do you find it? How do you get it back when you lose it?

2. Can you name a woman in your life that has been a “pioneer” in some way? What does she do? What are some of her character traits that you admire?

3. What do you think about the question “Am I a source of confidence?” Do you think you could use that question to help you navigate tough situations with others? How?

4. Who has been a source of confidence in your life? Have you ever told them? What do you think it would be like if you did?

5. Lisa described two types of fun, “Type 1” and “Type 2”. What is the difference between these two types of fun? What happens if you get too much of one and not the other? Or not enough of either? How do you find a balance between these types of fun in your life?

Half the distance with three times the effort. July 19th-22nd, 2016

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Inside view of Fort Union.

July 19, 2016

Missouri River, Ft. Union Trading Post, North Dakota

At 2am, strong winds woke me as the mesh of my tent walls was pressed against my face. Lightning in the distance drew me out of my tent to fasten my rain fly. No big deal, everything was in place, all I had to do was roll it over the top of the tent and stake it down. I looked over and saw Alyce doing the same with her tent. It’s too hot to keep the rain fly on if it’s not actually raining or really windy. I accomplished the task quickly and just as I was pulling out the guy lines and driving the last few stakes into the ground (and realizing I’d somehow lost a stake), there was an abrupt halt in the wind. It was as if someone had just shut it off.

Without missing a beat, a torrent, and actual torrent, of mosquitoes descended upon me. Of course, if it’s too hot to sleep with the nylon on the outside of your tent, it is also too hot to sleep in any clothes. So, there I was with no protection whatsoever, trying to defend myself from hundreds of blood-thirsty, needle-nosed pests. These were not the early-season, give-up easy mosquitoes of Montana. No, these were some Midwest, make-you-wanna-scream mosquitos. I scrambled to get back in my tent while cursing the stupid, mean bugs, only to realize that when I had left my tent to deal with the wind, I had left my tent door unzipped. Now my tent was filled with more stupid, mean bugs. I spent the next 20 minutes on a murderous rampage and did not stop until the entire space was secured against the enemy.

With all the adrenaline from the wind and bug attack, I couldn’t fall back asleep right away so I thought a little bit more about the storms we’d seen. The storm the had kicked us off the water the day before came on quickly and was east and southbound. As it passed us by, it threw 15mph winds back in our faces from the west for at least an hour. Now this storm, which I could see gather steam way in the distance, had spit what was probably about a 20mph wind at us for maybe 10 minutes and then totally just dropped the subject. I hoped it was over, anyway, as I was not in the mood to have to stay up and pay attention to lightning. I stayed in my tent until 11am. I took a bath in the river. I read my book – a novel about Sacajawea, of course. Living the dream.

We spent all afternoon and evening at Ft. Union Trading Post. Air conditioned, thank goodness. They let us hang out in their break room all day and gave us ice cream. We each bought a lot of things at the gift shop. I got tons of writing accomplished and talked to almost everyone who works there, at length about our expedition and our plans for the future. It was fun to talk to people who know so much about the history of the the Lewis and Clark expedition, the Plains Indians, and the river in general.

Ft. Union was established in 1828 to serve as a trading post for the American, Native, French-Canadian, and various European traders to come together and exchange goods and socialize. They traded mainly furs, meat, corn, beads, weapons, ammunition, and other valuable items. All these cultures lived in relative harmony for nearly four decades at and around Ft. Union until more white settlers headed west and ruined the party.

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Fort Union Trading Post

We returned to our mosquito-infested campsite after running the mosquito-infested gauntlet through a jungle of willows and mud to from the Fort back to the river. We had our 2nd Tiger Eye session submerged in the river to stay cool and avoid the bugs as the sun set into the most beautiful colors I have ever seen. Brilliant orange encased by a rich, royal purple with thick rays of golden light piercing the breaks in the clouds. It looked like the sky was on whimsical fire. The orange light the flame, and the deep blue and purple clouds the rising smoke. The clouds climbed from the west horizon in one long, puffy plume, turning a deeper shade of grey-blue as they made their way overhead to meet the full moon in the eastern sky. I could scarcely contain my awe, not that I needed to. If only the bugs weren’t so bad. All I had to do was think the phrase, and out of nowhere, the wind was in my face. It is crazy how it just appears without warning. HERE I AM. Well, it swept the bug away.

-Lisa

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Sunset on the Missouri River.

Awesome rest day! Slept in, as we were positioned so that the sun rose behind us, providing shade from the low hill. I had positioned my tent so the door faced the river and had the sun behind it, giving me shade all morning long!  This meant I didn’t get hot right away and there was a slight breeze. Slow and relaxing morning, around noon we ventured up to the fort. Carrying our frost river packs on our backs, I felt like voyagers of old coming to the fort to trade for goods.
Upon entering the main building, we were greeted by the immediate relief of central air conditioning. Just waking up to the fort I broke out in a sweat! The rangers and interrupters knew we were coming! Jeff brown had informed them of our impending arrival, when he was at the fort at the end of June for the rendezvous. We meet everyone and chatted for a while about our expedition and the history of Fort Union. We also inquired about being able to stay in the building all day, out of the heat and sun. They generously allowed us to use their upstairs break room area, complete with large table and bathroom near by. What a delicious treat, like a free ice cream truck on a blistering summer day.

The afternoon was spent using the Internet, writing and emailing. I spent a little time walking around the actual fort and taking in the vistas from the upper level of the fort. It was important to remind myself that all of this symbolizes the destruction of a whole people; of a culture and way of life that had existed on this land for thousands of years. I must remind myself what this Fort means to the native people of this land.

The afternoon went by quickly and all of a sudden the fort was closing. It was time to be back out in the heat. We had brought our dinner supplies to the fort with us, because we knew our camping spot by the river was going to be mosquito infested. The internet extended outside of the fort and we used this time to finish up some computer work. With dinner consumed, we made a mad dash back to the river, through the mosquito infested willow thicket. Good times. Getting back to the river, we immediately jumped into. The water was cool, relieved the itching of the new mosquito bites and offered us protection from these pests. The sunset this night was one of the best I have ever seen. Watching it from the protection of my tent, the mosquitos swarming around, unable to gain access. Another day of river life.

-Alyce

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Boat ramp near the confluence of the Missouri and Yellowstone Rivers.

July 20, 2016

Missouri River, Williston Boat Landing, North Dakota

I didn’t even think of Lyme’s disease. I’d been so tired and sore in strange places. Headaches, stiff neck, loss of appetite, feeling like I was fighting a cold. I just chalked up to 70 days on an expedition, this stuff is hard. But then I saw a bullseye. Right there on my ankle. Where did that come from? Did it just appear? I’m not an expert on tick-borne illnesses, but that sure looked like the bullseye I’d heard about accompanying Lyme’s. Ugh. Not good. I showed Alyce, right away. She agreed. I took a picture and sent it to a couple of friends who have more medical expertise than me. They agreed. Go get it checked out.

As we were approaching the city of Williston, it was clear that if I was going to get this checked out, I would need to do it right away before we headed back into the sparsely-populated plains. I looked up more of the symptoms and more than half of them matched what I’d been experiencing over the last few days. It would be kind of a pain to get up to Williston as it is not right on the river, but it seemed worth it to at least get a professional opinion.

I called a cab when we got to the highway 85 bridge and headed to the hospital while Alyce stayed behind at the Williston boat ramp to hang out with our stuff. We had been warned by a number of people to be careful around here, that it’s not always a very safe place and definitely not a safe place to leave things unattended. After an expensive ride to the clinic, I spent the better part of the visit being harangued by an aggressively-assertive doctor who insisted I could not possibly have contracted Lyme’s. I was so surprised by this steamrolling, and so tired after having traveled more than thirty miles on the river that morning to get to Williston, that I started to cry. Tears twice in one week? That’s almost a record for me.

I explained that I wasn’t there to diagnose myself or get a prescription I didn’t need, I just wanted to figure out if the source of my symptoms and this strange red bullseye was something I needed to be concerned about. I think the doctor realized how inappropriate his handling of the situation was, but it was really too late. I was so uncomfortable and demoralized, I got out of there as soon as I could. They said they’d call with the results from the blood test in a few days.

I stopped to get some dinner to bring back to Alyce at the bridge and got an awesome surprise when a friend of a friend sent me a message that she was in the area and could give me a ride back to the river. That was great because on top of everything else, I really didn’t want to have to pay another $25 to get back. Jody came and picked me up in her truck and explained that she was friends with Peggy, the owner of Tobacco Gardens Resort on Lake Sakakawea a few days by canoe from where we were. We had been in contact with Peggy previously as she likes to keep tabs on all the long-distance paddlers that come through.

Jody was on her way back to the lake when she heard we were looking for some help. I felt like I could cry again when she came to get me. Once back at the bridge, I filled Alyce in, telling her it was unlikely I had Lyme’s. Alyce filled me in on the situation we were in at camp: 24-hour lights and bridge construction. Perfect. I set up my tent and called a friend who usually makes me feel better when I’m really down. It worked. We went to bed early, hoping to catch up on some much-needed sleep.

No rest for the weary, they say. At 2am a strange thing happened. A truck had pulled in to the parking lot and started playing music really loud. This was easy to ignore compared to the clanging of the construction and the trains speeding through and blasting their horns at regular intervals. It was easy to ignore until the truck drove over and parked right next to Alyce’s tent and all of our gear.

The music was on full blast now and the driver began flashing the lights on and off. Echoes of the warnings we’d received about this place flashed through my mind. Having no idea who was in the vehicle or what they were intending to do and not feeling in any way equipped to deal with the situation under my current level of exhaustion, I found myself dialing the number to the Williston police department. I figured they’d just send a car and an officer could handle telling whoever it was to quiet down or move along. No big deal.

Well, turns out the driver of the truck was pretty intoxicated, definitely over the legal limit to drive and they ended up taking him in. Not a good night for anyone. The one redeeming moment was getting to talk with the sheriff, a woman, who was very enthusiastic about our expedition. She said we reminded her of Reese Witherspoon in the movie “Wild” and offered us bug spray. “It’s all-natural,” she said.

-Lisa

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All you can do in this heat is wave your hat in the air.

Starting the morning off sweating isn’t a good sign for the day ahead. Today it was already hot and humid at 6:30 am when we emerged from our tents. The mosquitos were really annoying and we quickly got everything packed up and in the canoe. Stopped for water at the boat dock 5 miles past Fort Union (side note: the water seemed fine at first, just like well water, though as the days progressed we began to question its source, as it tasted stronger and stronger of sulfide. I would not recommend this as a drinking source). It was a nice day of paddling, enjoying the river and landscapes. 

As we are ahead of our timeline right now we started talking about camping around 1pm. As there was no wind and the temperature wasn’t that bad, I always elect to paddle more and put in a full 8 hours. I can struggle to relax on the paddling because I start to think about getting wind bound on the upcoming Sakakawea and Oahe lakes. These are both ocean-like, person-made lakes, that are notorious for storms and wind. Some paddlers get stuck for days on these lakes. My thinking around paddling is do it when there isn’t bad weather and have rest days on days when we can’t paddle. This thinking gets in the way of enjoying the journey.

It’s also tiring when the weather is continuously good and I keep thinking well what if tomorrow there is wind. Using the weather radio helps with planning our travel and rest days, though she is not stagnant and ever changing, a thought always playing in the back of my mind. I am working to find a balance, it’s just some days are harder than others and it can be a struggle. We aren’t route-stressed now and I don’t want to be in the future, though thinking like that ends up creating a sense of route-stress, in trying to just push on. The crux of long distance paddling. Yet also, the general crux of trying to find a balance, always present in my many different lives-lived. 

We started to have another disagreement on this subject and I was feeling very indecisive. I asked Lisa for patience and expressed my feelings of anxiety. I could tell Lisa was working hard at having patience, even though I felt like from her body language she was annoyed with me. This can be a crux in a partnership like ours: when you don’t like what the other person is asking for and having to come from a place of compassion to honor the request. We decided to take a swimming break and I tried to relax and change my mindset about camping early for the day. 

Well all of that became mute because Lisa found a bullseye marking on her leg, one of the signs of Limes disease. At this point we were about 12 miles from the 85 Bridge, where we could get driven into the  town of Williston for Lisa to go to the clinic. It was a rough afternoon, trying not to go down the rabbit hole of thinking: what if it’s positive and what will that mean for the expedition. The temperature increased and our paddling slowed down, so we didn’t arrive at the bridge till after 4pm. I stayed at the boat landing and public park area with all of our stuff. Although Dave Miller stated in the Complete Paddler that he stayed here and had a good experience, that was before the oil boom. So by this point we had been informed to stay safe and that Williston was an interesting place.

I spent the rest of the evening uploading footage, posting to social media and talking with my mom. Several hours later Lisa arrived, driven in by Jody, an amazing river angel. Lisa had kindly brought me a hamburger from in town. We were going to have to wait 5 days for the test results to Come in and were luckily only a 2 day paddle from the Tobacco Gardens Resort and Marina, where Jody worked. We were looking forward to getting there, as we had heard terrific things about Peg, the owner. It was declared a paddlers must stop and for many reasons. Lake Sakakawea is huge and can present quite the challenge to paddlers. Thoughts of trying to fall asleep early evaporated like dew in the morning, with the 24 hour bridge construction.

-Alyce

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24 hour construction of the Highway 85 Bridge, outside of Williston, North Dakota.

July 21, 2016

Lake Sakakawea, west of Tobacco Gardens, North Dakota

At 7am, we got another rude awakening as the guy from the night before showed up again, full of anger about the police encounter. Part of me felt guilty for not getting out of my tent to talk to him before calling the police department (not 911), but at the time, that wasn’t a risk I was willing to take. If he hadn’t been so angry, maybe I would have explained how threatening his behavior seemed and that even though had meant no harm, his decision to drive under the influence was what did him in. I kept my mouth shut though and he moved on.

We got out of there as soon as we could, a little sour on our experience with some, but not all, of the people in that place. In fact, all of the women we had met in Williston – the cab driver, the female nurses and doctors, the Sheriff, and Jody were incredible. They were exceptionally kind, caring, and generous people which should not be overlooked. We resolved to avoid camping at boat ramps for the rest of the expedition.

The heat is becoming increasingly brutal. It remains 75 degrees even after the sun goes down these days. We await sunset each day like kids do Christmas. Now that we are farther downriver from the dam (which releases very cold water from the lake bottom), the water is much, much warmer and doesn’t do as well to revive us. The color of the river has changed too. Once we passed the confluence where the Yellowstone River joins the Missouri just east of Ft. Union, milky white swirls twist and turn through a chocolate-colored backdrop. It’s mesmerizing. It’s like watching a big, muddy screensaver while we paddle.

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Another form of expedition entertainment: bug watching.

The current has yet again dissipated as we approach another dammed-up section of river, Lake Sakakwea (pronounced Sah-kuh-kuh-wee-uh). Again, we must shift into lake travel mentality and try to keep morale high as it takes greater effort to move shorter distances without the help of the current. Now, instead of moving five or six miles an hour, we’re down to about three. Swimming is one of our top morale boosters. We swim all the time. We swim before getting in the boat, we swim while we float with the boat, we swim at camp, we swim before going to bed. Today, because it was 96 degrees, with the heat index in the triple digits, I ended up eating all my meals, mostly submerged in the river. This also keeps the flies from biting.

We also listen to a lot of music to keep ourselves entertained. We fasten one of our iPhones to Alyce’s dry bag and keep it under the solar panel so it doesn’t overheat in the sun. When it runs low on battery, we plug it in to the panel and the sun keeps it going (at least the sun is good for something right now). If it’s not windy, we can both hear the music great. If the wind is blowing, not so much. That makes the windy days all the more difficult. On airwaves this week we had Beyoncé (we listen to her every week), The Head and The Heart, India Arie, Dessa, and Valerie June, to name a few.

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Lake Sakakawea

Today, we decided to do something that I’ve done on many of my Outward Bound expeditions with my students to help them get to know one another. It’s called “5 Pivotal Points”. I didn’t make it up, it’s a common activity that instructors use on those expeditions. The idea is to think of five important moments, events, or people that have influenced, or been “pivotal” in where you are in your life today. The beauty of the activity is you have plenty more than five important experiences in your life so you can choose if you want to share the deep ones, keep it more surface-level, or go somewhere in between.

I decided to go deep. Alyce knows me pretty well, but even as close friends, there are plenty of things we don’t know about each other. While we may know a lot about what the other person likes or dislikes; what makes the other person scared or upset; what makes them happy or inspired; hearing the deeper stories of what has influenced each other’s decisions and life paths leads you to a whole new level of understanding. Now instead of just seeing “what”, we can also see “why”.

It felt really good for me to think about these things for myself. What have been the most influential moments in my life? What has shaped who and where I am? What do I want Alyce to know? It felt really good to share some of my most closely guarded secrets with Alyce. It seemed to add power to the parts of my story that I really like and took power away from the parts I don’t. I’ll be posting some of my answers here. The rest will be in the memoir I will mostly likely write someday.

-Lisa

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Drying things out at camp on Lake Sakakawea.

 

What an awful start to this day, which actually began around 2am, when a man came to the boat ramp, blasting his music and parking really close to our tents. I awoke with a start and thought no way. I got up and asked him to turn it down and that we were tying to sleep.  That we wouldn’t have normally camped here, yet we were in a bit of a pickle because of needing to access a clinic. He was intoxicated and didn’t seem to understand that we were paddling the river and had to camp here. He had his dog Lady with him and she started to jump on me in the excitement. He immediately told her no and when she did it again, he put her in the back of his truck. This put my mind slightly at ease, because if he wanted to intimidate me he would have let his dog jump all over me. There are some folks who will use their dog to make another person feel scared or threatened. It was a, mind you small, sign of encouragement. Honestly this is the thought that went through my mind. I also kept a good distance between myself and him; a safety measure women learn. This conversation was not fruitful and he said no to turning down his music. I went back to my tent unsure of what I would do next. At this point I heard Lisa on the phone, with I assumed the sheriffs office. Well I guess that is all we can do at this point, since I had politely asked him to turn the music down and it hadn’t happened. Then I hear him walk over and begin asking me what we are doing. I get out of my tent and have a conversation with him and he finally seems to get it. After a few minutes he hands me a ten dollar bill and says to buy a hamburger. He walks back to his truck, turns the music down and begins to drive away. At this moment the police arrive, as Lisa had requested this over the phone. He was clearly intoxicated and should not have been driving.  

Yet I still felt conflicted about the whole thing/situation/event (heck I don’t even know what to call it). He was probably just bored and unfortunately it is more of the norm in states like North Dakota to drive while under the influence. Along with the fact that he was not white and here we are two white women calling the cops. I am really conflicted about this situation, and will be processing for a while how my white/socio-economic privilege acted out and affected/influenced/solidified (yet again not sure what word). Though at the same time he should not have been driving under the influence; a thought that passed through my mind was that could have been the night he got into a car accident and hurt other people. What a complicated situation and experience. I’ll just leave it at that for now, since I have so many thoughts swirling in my head; too many to put into writing. 

The sheriff, who was a woman!, showed up and talked with us. We didn’t see a need to fill an official complaint. We talked with the sheriff, who had seen the move Wild and had been inspired from it! She was enthusiastic about our journey and wished us luck. The man was arrested for drinking and driving, which honestly was the reason I was able to fall back asleep. Why was I so scared that he would get angry and try to hurt us? Was I naive to think he was harmless before? He was in the process of leaving the boat ramp when the cops showed up and had honored my requests to turn down the music. Heck I don’t know what to think or feel about it. 

I was asleep until 7:30 am, when the man returned. Shaking my tent to get his ten dollars back. “I was just trying to help” and “you didn’t have to call the cops.” This will follow me for a long time. He immediately left and we got the heck out of there. Don’t camp near the Williston bridge. 

We spent the morning processing what had happened and moving slow because of pure exhaustion. About a mile down from the bridge we passed an amazing place to camp on the right. it’s interesting that it didn’t even cross our minds to paddle past the bridge and camp downstream. The heat has a way of doing that though, playing little tricks with your mind and straight up exhaustion. Further on the river began to change, widening out as we approached the official start of open water on lake Sakakawea. The surrounding land flattens out, as we entered the braided chain of channels. Sticking to the main one, the water kept getting wider and wider, with large bluffs and hills blanketing the horizon. The immediate shore on both sides was mud, with sticks jutting out, almost like they had been placed their deliberately; to keep us or any other creatures out! Not a very hospitable environment it seemed. Tree stumps also lined the shore, making some of it in accessible. 

Getting into the actual waters of Sakakawea the shore line did a dramatic thing and changed to beautiful rocky beaches. With bluffs casting shade, as the sun let go of her strong hold on the day. There were still some tree stumps along shore tho. They weren’t that bothersome. The beaches were covered in rocks of every shape, size and the range of colors was stunning. Black spots marked the shore sporadically; shallow coal eroded to the surface, not useable as a fire starter. 

We found the perfect beach, unloaded the boat, got camp set up and quickly ran into the shade of a magnificent bluff. The evening was spent reading, swimming, writing and eating a simple dinner of ramen and precook end lentil packet. All enjoyed in the shade!! Another spectacular sunset graced the sky. Yet again I had aspirations of going to sleep early, yet the sunsets make my mind come alive. Alas, I can sleep when I’m dead.

-Alyce

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View of the sunsetting from Alyce’s tent door.

July 22, 2016

Tobacco Gardens Resort and Marina, Lake Sakakawea, North Dakota

We listened to the radio and heard “damaging winds, thunderstorms, hail, and tornados” moving across the plains. That was enough incentive to get our butts in gear despite the increasing winds from the east, the direction we were headed. We took turns loading the boat to stabilize it in the waves. It seemed like it took us forever to get out of camp, but we did it.

We clocked ourselves traveling between 1 and 2 miles per hour in the headwind with waves crashing over the bow every once in awhile. Ww then figured we were going about a third the distance we normally travel using at least three times the effort to get there. It was slow, tough going, but we had our sights set on Tobacco Gardens where there would be shelter from the storm. So, we kept paddling.

We paddled for three hours without stopping lest we lose progress to the wind and waves. Finally, we reached the lee (protected from wind) of a north-south shore. As we approached the shore, the waves started to change shape and seemed to be coming at us from two angles now; east and south. I thought they might be waves refracting
off of the shore we were approaching. After watching the waves, that didn’t seem quite right as we weren’t near enough to the shore nor was the shore steep enough for the waves to be refracting (bouncing back). I focused on paddling hard those last few minutes to get to shore so we could eat lunch and empty our totally full bladders.

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Sweet, sweet safety of shore after a 3 hour battle with wind and waves. Lunch break and then…back at it!

As we landed on shore and looked out at the distance we had covered, we couldn’t help but notice a placid scene in the place of the raging sea we had just powered our way across. Was this some kind of joke? Who turned off the wind? Then a gust hit me from the southeast and I realized what I had been witnessing in our last few strokes to shore. It wasn’t refracting waves, it was the wind changing direction. It was a southeast wind meeting up with a northeast one, adding some excitement to our paddling. Now it seemed as if the northeast wind was finished blowing, leaving the southeast one to menace us for the rest of the day.

We listened to the weather again. Now it was predicted to be 20-25mph winds from the east and a chance of thunderstorms. Not something we wanted to camp in, but not as bad as the original forecast. We decided to keep the train moving while we has this relatively calm water.

We traveled north along the shore enjoying the rich red and orange sand-stone bluffs. There were strips of black coal, not the kind you burn, pressed in-between the layers of red and white and brown. I didn’t expect so much beauty here. It kind of surprised me. We stopped every so often to admire the bluffs while continuing to move forward toward our destination.

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The bluffs of Lake Sakakawea.

When we rounded the point to head east again, the break was over. It was time to put our heads back down and dig in to the wind. The waves were big, probably 2 feet, and coming in quick succession but we didn’t take on as much water this round as we had earlier in the day. We calculate our speed again. Still about a mile an hour. That meant we still had a few more hours to go. I was feeling pretty well-rested but paddling in a headwind all day kind of sucks. Alyce seemed to be a lot more tired but still willing to fight the wind.

I started looking for campsites along the south shore in case the wind picked up or got worse as we move farther east. The pickings were getting more and more slim and I was starting to worry about the impending storm. I was growing more and more skeptical about our ability to reach Tobacco Gardens and really didn’t want to get stuck camping in a super-exposed spot. Alyce expressed a desire to keep moving, so we did. Mostly, I didn’t want to spend another afternoon arguing and I didn’t mind continuing on.

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These outcroppings reminded us of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore back home on Lake Superior.

When we got to the point on the west side of Tobacco Garden Bay, the wind had increased and the waves had gotten bigger. We considered our options: paddle around the point and potentially swamp the canoe in the cross-waves; portage our stuff around the point to take the waves head-on, still with the potential for swamping; or camp on this exposed beach. I could see that Alyce wanted to continue on, but my judgment weighed too heavy on me to stay silent. “These waves are too big. It’s not safe.” She quickly agreed and we decided to try to find the most sheltered spot to camp.

After unloading the canoe in the growing swells, a pontoon showed up and a lady hollered to us to meet her around the point where they could land the boat more safely. We headed over and met Nikki, her husband and two kids. Nikki is the daughter of Peggy, owner of the marina where we were headed. Peg had been watching our tracking device and, not wanting us to get stuck in the storm, sent her daughter out to get us. Well, we didn’t want to sit in that storm either so we grabbed a few of our things and jumped on the boat.

Peg was there to greet us once we made it to the safety of Tobacco Gardens. We hooked up a trailer to Peg’s super ATV and went to rescue the rest of our gear. When we got back we had hamburgers, beer, showers, and an air conditioned cabin while a storm we no longer cared much about raged on outside our door.

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The shores of Lake Sakakawea.

– Lisa

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Loving the rock outcroppings on Lake Sakakawea.

Groggy morning. Still feeling tired from the lack of sleep the night before, I felt half asleep until we got in the boat and started paddling. Then I was really awake for we had a good strong head wind, barreling right at us. 3 hours later and only a handful of miles, we luckily had shifted directions and were in a wind shadow from the the rocky shore line. 

Lunch was consumed at a beautiful rocky beach. Thoughts of camping here drifted through my mind, though the weather radio dashed those dreams. A large and severe thunderstorm was being forecasted for the area and we were roughly 10/11 miles from the Tobacco Gardens Resort and Marina (TG). The owner Peg is a River Angel and TG is a paddlers must stop. We were determined to get there before the incoming weather. We had a break from the wind for several miles and were paddling fast. We paused to investigate the red rocks and shore line that we’re starting to become more numerous. Lake Sakakawea is huge and with imperiled beauty, my frustration with paddling into the wind evaporated. 

That was until we rounded the next point. The lake seemed to double in width and the wind was once again right in our faces. The rest of the miles were hard fought and it wasn’t until 5pm when we reached the entrance of Tobacco Gardens bay where the resort and marina are located. The wind was still blowing and I was exhausted from the days hard paddling. With no choice, we got out of the boat and unloaded her on the sandy beach. I guess we can just camp here for the night and paddle into the marina in the morning. A nice beach, though it looked like a party spot and it was a Friday. 

All of a sudden a family in a pontoon boat came up to the beach on the lake shore line and directed us to walk around the point into the more protected bay. Amazingly it was Pegs daughter, Nicole and her family. Peg was rolling our tracking device and saw that we were stuck at the point. Nicole and family were out enjoying the day and she asked them to pick us up!  Thank everything! We arrived at the marina in style! Peg was waiting for us at the docks and we were quickly brought to the bunk house, where we would spend a few days resting. What a place! We each had our own beds, it was air conditioned, there was a mini fridge and curtains on the windows! I was really looking forward to getting to sleep in tomorrow! 

We got settled, ate a snack and then Peg drove us in her Ranger, off road vehicle to the point we got stuck at to retrieve our boat a gear. Jody was done working for the day and accompanied us. We had quite the fun experience! After an adventurous time getting the trailer unstuck from the sand and the boat tied down, we were back at TG eating hamburgers and drinking a cold beer. What a day! What fantastic and kind and generous people. I fell half asleep even before my body hit the bed! What a treat, a real bed.

– Alyce

Reflection questions:

  1. What is one lesson that nature helped teach Lisa? Have you ever learned a lesson from nature? If so, what was it?
  2. Alyce and Lisa figured out that they needed to do something to break their big dream into smaller, more manageable steps so it didn’t seem so overwhelming all the time. How did they do this? What big dream do you have? Are there some small steps you can start taking today to get there?
  3. What were all the factors that went into Lisa and Alyce’s argument on the way to Ft. Union? How did they handle the situation? What would you do in that situation?
  4. What are 5 pivotal points in your life? What have been the most influential moments in your life? What has shaped who and where you are? What do you want people to know about you?