Friday, July 15, 2011

100 Miles in 28 Hours

                        Sunrise on the Red River with motivational quotes we love so dearly...

We love Canada! We're in Winnipeg, Manitoba hanging out at Starbucks writing this blog and preparing to launch into the Canadian wilderness. Lake Winnipeg awaits. Hopefully with gentle south winds and blue skies.

Out to eat with Christine, Nick
and my parents in Fargo!
The night after our last blog was one for the books. We went out with Riverkeepers, Christine and Nick. We had some good discussions about Riverkeepers role in involving the people of Fargo in watershed protection. They have tons of cool programs and love helping people get out on the water. Check them out!

The Menogyn group headed to the Coppermine River
and Hudson Bay Bound.
After dinner, we were so lucky to meet up with a Menogyn group headed to the Coopermine River in the Northwest Territories. It was so great to see another group of people excited about getting out into the wilderness.

Then, we had a six day break!
Natalie did a great job as her sister's maid of honor. Here's her favorite story:

I was the maid of honor for my sister Leslie's wedding in Philadelphia on July 2nd. I was immediately thrown into a salon for a manicure and pedicure, which I received while sitting on a massage chair and drinking a mimosa. My life makes little sense these days! Anyway, during the wedding I was crying because I'm a huge sap (I cried more than my mom. ouch.) and because I was so happy that my sister and Brian were getting married. During the service I was trying to keep my nose from running but when I bent over to fix the train on my sister's dress all of the snot flew out of my nose and onto her beautiful white gown! I tried my best not to laugh but it was hard when I saw some of the faces of the other bridesmaids and groomsmen. I managed to keep my cool. It was great hanging out with family again!
Natalie and her brother Tim and Leslie's wedding reception!
  I was busy at home in Inver Grove Heights getting the rest of our food and maps together.
Here's all the maps of the Hayes River.
We can't wait!

St. Olaf friend, Sara Galbraith, helped me paint our canoe with its name Kawena Kinomatea (no worries in Cree) and with Hudson Bay Bound spray painted on the right side. Reminder! Our canoe is coming back from York Factory and will be auctioned off at Stone Harbor Wilderness Supply in Grand Marais, Minnesota with all proceeds going to YMCA Camp Menogyn. 

We got back on the Red River on July 5th. Here's a photo journey of our last week or so on the Red.

A sunken car in the Red River. The annual flooding takes in a lot of debris.

Here's an eagle's nest! Both parents were home. We see eagles everyday. God Bless America. 
The Historical Society of Climax, MN had a Barbecue for us at this rebuilt cabin. They also let us stay in their "artist's apartment" in town for the night. The next day, Asher (far right) and Wayne (right behind Natalie), went paddling with us in the morning! It was so great to have companions. They are in charge of a program called River Watch that teaches high schools along the Red River about water quality. Check out their really awesome program at:

The stretch of river from Grand Forks to Pembina has a slumped barn around every corner. We were told there used to be a thriving farming community, but in the last decade the flooding has caused people to abandon their farms and homestead along the Red River. 

I went swimming for the first time all trip! It felt really good and the water seemed plenty clean. 
A beautiful sunset from our tent on the Red River.
Story of our longest day yet: We arrived in Pembina on July 11th. Ron Hustvedt from the Star Tribune/Outdoors News had driven 5 hours to meet us for dinner and an interview. Look for an article in this Sunday's Star Tribune! The next day we crossed into Canada! The Canadian Border Patrol were waiting for us at the top of the hill in two HUGE SUVs. Once they saw us they drove down to the boat launch to meet us (we had called to arrange this a couple of weeks before). We should have filmed it because when we rounded the bend their SUVs had its emergency lights on and four six foot Canadian's dressed all in black got out to talk with us. They didn't want to come near the boat because of the mud, so we brought them the shotgun and our passports. I went with two of them to fill out the gun permit and pay $25 while Natalie flirted with the other young and cute border patrol agents. When I got back, we joked around and took off around noon. The wind was calm and we paddled easily St. Jean Baptiste. We were really craving donuts, so we went to look for them. But, when we got out of our boat we were immediately stopped by a man named Richard with a thick french accent and told we had to go get Manitoba's best poutine at Yahooz. It was free pool night too! What a great stop! We had Canadian beer and talked it up with everyone in the bar. They were excited about our trip and are hopefully following the blog now. We were back on the river by 7PM. We had a nice sunset paddle to Morris, but we decided we didn't want to camp we wanted to go keep going to Winnipeg. After a couple of rounds of coffee we were back in the river. We paddled all night and until 10AM the next day when we arrived at the Best Western in Southern Winnipeg. We were finally in bed at 12:45PM. Paddling at night was perfect. There was an almost full moon and no wind. We could clearly see the river banks and hear farm dogs announcing our arrival. I hope we didn't freak anyone out when we sang to keep awake. We could have been mistaken for ghost-like river sirens. We approached the border of Winnipeg around 7AM greeted with a flashing orange sign saying DANGER NO BOAT TRAFFIC. We had no idea what it meant, so we spent the next hour trying to figure it out. The authorities of Winnipeg weren't sure either, so we carefully kept going. Turns out there's a dam that was being closed to put water into the diversion channel that goes around Winnipeg to protect the city from flooding. We portaged up some rocks and recommended to a worker that they add more to their sign. Here are some pictures from our first night paddle. It was really good practice for what we will probably be doing regularly on Lake Winnipeg.

We stopped in St. Jean Baptiste home of Manitoba's best poutine (french fries covered in gravy).  YUM!

Sunset before our night paddle to Winnipeg captured with the GoPro.

1:30 AM. The best picture of the moon we could get. The night was much more beautiful than our cameras could capture.

1:30 AM. Natalie says, "blai!"
3:45 AM. The sun started to illuminate the sky at 3AM.

4:30 AM. Natalie's silhouette in the sunrise on July 13th.

7 AM. The sign before the diversion gate near Winnipeg.
A special thanks to the wonderful people who have housed us and taken the time to swap stories along the Red! And now for our latest video blog...we'll update again at Norway House. But for now, we're off to ADVENTURE!!


  1. You guys are ridiculous and wonderful. I swear, that photo of Natalie at sunrise looks just like a photo from our long trip together - sunset right before you saw a "bear." Beautiful clouds, great light, and paddle in hand. Paddle on!

  2. So great to hear everything's working out so well. Loved the videos. You guys are such wonderfully fun weirdos! Must be something about those who canoe. Best of luck on the rest of the trip.

  3. Paddle on Women and please keep singing and dancing and sharing it with the world!!

  4. I just about died when I saw the picture of Natalie and her brother hahaa I miss you girls so much!! Best of luck and can't wait to read more about all of your wonderful adventures. XOXO Leah