Archive for February, 2009

You can really taste the destitution…

Posted in Uncategorized on February 26, 2009 by huckleberryfinn09

Recently Phil and I discovered a blog called “Depression Cooking with Clara”, a 91 year old retiree who has made a series of videos about the depression and what kinds of meals they made during those hard times.  The site is great, with lots of recipes that are cheap, easy to store, and only require one pot, making them perfect camping recipes!  We decided to take a shot at Clara’s “Pasta with Peas” tonight, and it turned out great.


Rich Cooked...













Phil looked good...

Phil looked good...

























om nom nom












All in all, the meal was a great success and  we have nominated Clara to be the honorary grandma of this trip.


R & P


Gettin Our Swell On

Posted in Uncategorized on February 25, 2009 by huckleberryfinn09


In light of the physical challenges of the trip, Phil and I have been making occassional visits to the gym in an attempt to prepareour bodies for the strain of paddling down the river.  Here’s a link to a video of how we look when we’re getting our swell on…

Rich, that video represents you and only you. Here is a video of what I look like when getting my swell on. “me”   As you can see, I take my work out much more seriously. I would also like to add that unlike you, I treat women real respectable like.   In fact, come to think of it, why is that link on our blog? The foul language hurts my fragile ears. I apologize to anyone who had the misfortune of clicking on the link Rich provided.

Oh yeah?  Well this is my impression of you

We also have photographic evidence of said swell.  (Note the super cool t-shirts…Thanks Tom!)


Yager Bombs

Yager Bombs











The Engine.

Posted in Uncategorized on February 20, 2009 by huckleberryfinn09

Ever since being denied the grant we applied for, my belt has been tightened and I don’t buy expensive gear unless it is absolutely necessary. I have already spend close to a hundred dollars on my life jacket because I figured it would be a worth while investment because I hate wearing the things, so by getting one that was comfortable and allowed mobility makes it much more likely that I will wear it when on the river. By purchasing this life jacket, I am set back a chunk of change that I really shouldn’t have spent. 

The last thing that I really need for this trip is to get, is a good paddle. The thing is, we are doing this trip in less than ideal aluminum canoe it does have some advantages over some fancyer more agile canoes, and that is it has a keel which  makes it track in a straight line very well, but its menuverablity is less than par. With my logic, I figue since we can’t afford a new canoe, we should atleast get some decent paddles that are well balanced and furnished so we could maximize stroke efficiency. I helped Rich pick out a very nice bent shaft paddle at the “Duluth Pack” and I am certain his paddle will help us get power through the water even in strong head winds. It has been difficult to seperate rich from the paddle. I however was unable to find a paddle for sale that was within my very limited price range. I was not dismayed by this because I have alot of faith in my own wood working abilities and have experience as a bowyer and wood carver, so with a plan to carve my own paddle in mind me and Rich made a trip to the “Home Depot” and my quest for the proper piece of wood ended in defeat. Upon return to School, I did a little research and decided that my best bet was to check for wood at the specialty lumber yard “Timeless Timber”. Sure enough they said they had wood that would be of quality to make a good paddle. The thing is however, they only sell wood that has been salvaged from the bottom of Lake Superior that was lost during the logging boom of the late 1800’s. What makes their wood so special, is that most trees salvaged were more than 500 years old when they were initially cut down this makes the wood purely straight grain and A grade quality. 

By buying wood from them I would be paying top dollar, but I would also be getting a piece of history being environmentally friendly because I would be getting recycled wood. I figured it would not hurt to check. So I borrowed Rich’s car and drove out to see what they had. They showed me around and I poked my head about in their pile of Ash, but nothing seemed to call to me. I made my way over to some of their cypress and hemlock, but still nothing said to me “Hey I am the one choose me!” I was feeling pretty defeated at this point and was mopeing around in the corner when it caught my eye. it was a six foot long 2×8 piece of “Flame Birch” a specialty version of “Yellow Birch”. I have worked with Yellow Birch before and know that it is a pretty easy wood to work with.  In fact it makes me sad that most Yellow Birch trees get used as pulp wood and tooth picks. Seems to be a waste for such a pretty looking tree. 

Anyways, I had to have this piece of wood, so I went to purchase it, and the total came to $63. WHAT!? I was feeling embarrassed, because there was no way I was going to spend that much on a piece of wood. I wasn’t about to give up there tho, I put on my cool face and started telling my story about what the wood was going to be used for and about this trip, and all of the wonderfull things that this piece of wood could to for me. I could tell in the cashiers eye that she was interested in what I was saying, so I stepped it up a knotch and leaned in close and started sharing all of my knowlege of trees and types of wood. I must have impressed her, because fifteen minutes later I was walking out with a piece of the highest quality of discount lumber I have ever seen. 

I am not kidding when I say that this piece of wood is magical. When holding it it gives off an aura that unlike anything I have felt from a piece of wood before. The grains are extreamly tight, and there is not a single knot in it. I knew instantly that this piece of wood will be my paddle for the trip despite the fact that it will be about 4x heavyer than Rich’s cedar bent shaft. 

100_3789 I spent last night measuring out the paddle I have in mind. My goal is to make a classic ottertail design that will serve will as an all purpose open water paddle. It won’t be ideal in shallow water or places with lots of rocks n’stuff but thats okay we will be spending most of our time in deeper water and I can use a reserve paddle when need be. 100_37901

My tool selection is very limited. I have no clamps and no power tools. All i have is my home made bow saw, my kukri, a drawknife and determination. I began carving it today, and once I started I couldn’t stop, the wood just melted against my knife. After about 3 hours of carving I now have a wonderfull blank of wood, and can’t wait to start plaining it down with the hand plainer I picked up.  I will make sure I keep all of you loyal readers informed of my progress.

Take it easy, 



I have been working almost non stop, blood has been spilt and my sweat has dried up; both of which are signs of a good product.  I have managed to scrounge up a clamp from “Big Phil” and it has proven to be quite usefull. I took advantage of the dorms community kitchen as a work space, but some of the residents did not approve of wood shavings getting in their food, so I was forced to retreat to my place of solitude and convert my dorm room into a work shop. With all the wood shavings on the floor all I need is a hamster wheel and my room will look like ana nimal cage. Maybe I will maximize my work to rest ratio by peeing on the floor. Anyways, I have been referring to Murat’s blog  and his work has been very inspirational. Although, it seems that he specializes “flat blades” which is a type I have never been a fan of. I will be baseing my paddle on a  “spined design”. which can be seen here on Murat’s page.  I got fed up last night with using my desk and chair as a work bench, so I made a midnight raid where in my reign of looting and pillaging, I commandeered a workbench from an undisclosed location on campus. 












Well…I like paddle making, I am very please with the product and look forward to putting on some final touches and baptising it in the Apostle Island sea caves. As expected it is about 4x heavier than Rich’s cedar paddle but I have a feeling this one is tough. I will post more photes when I get some artwork onto it. Then I will begin making a second paddle, it is too much fun to stop at just one.


So…I was working on the shaft of the paddle by sanding it down a little further and I was distracted for a split second, rolled my hand to the wrong side and in doing so the paddle took the opportunity to strike. The wound that ensued caused the most pain I have experienced in a long time! The spurting blood photos did not some out so well, but I will let your imaginations roll when I say check out what I removed  from underneath my fingernail. Cool huh? 


This is only half of it, it broke off where the nail meets the fingerm so I am forced to let it sit for a couple days and hope it loosens up. At the first sign of festering I will be forced to remove the finger nail to get at it. Well…I may try to soak it in warm soapy water first. 

100_3810This is my personal logo I burned into the throat of the power face. Mahng is the Ojibwe word for loon. 


Update: 3/11/09,

The rest of the splinter has managed to come out on it’s own. No signs of any infection, all is well. 


Posted in Uncategorized on February 15, 2009 by huckleberryfinn09

One of my favorite aspects of camping with the same people on multiple occassions are the traditions that grow up over time.  Certain activities and objects acheive almost cult status in these traditions, and even when these friends part ways, the traditions are still carried on, along with the memories.

One of my traditions was born with some friends while we were fishing in the BWCA in northern Minnesota.  My companion Drew had brought a jar of Marshmallow Goo, a delicacy that only he enjoyed.  The rest of us felt a little left out as we watched him down raw Goo, until my friend Steve had a brilliant idea!  He leapt to his feet and started pawing through the food bag until he came across a box of Ritz Crackers.  Marshmallow Goo and Ritz Cracker were united for the first time and a great tradition was born!  

Eliza, the only girl on the trip, looked on in disgust, but eventually succumbed to the deliciousness.

To celebrate this grand tradition, Phil and I will now show you how this meal is prepared…

Step 1: Gather Ingredients


Step 2: Combine Ingredients












Step 3: Devour Ingredients












Step 4: Get Diabeetus












Try experimenting with different combinations.












Enjoy!  Yay tradition!

Rich’s Valentine

Posted in Uncategorized on February 15, 2009 by huckleberryfinn09

Today I met my true love.  Phil and I were on an excursion to Duluth to look at camping supplies.  I met her in “The Duluth Pack” and it was love at first sight.  


After getting to know one another a little, we knew we were made for each other.  Romance ensued.


One thing led to another…


We’re happy together.  We haven’t decided on the wedding date, but she said “yes”.

I am NOT happy about this!

It’s OK Tchaikovsky, you can live on my floor.

Her name is Lady Amelia Macentire III, by the way.

I don’t care what her name is, she can’t stay with us!

Shutup Tchaikovsky.


Posted in Uncategorized on February 11, 2009 by huckleberryfinn09


Sturgeon River Wilderness.

Sturgeon River Wilderness.

The other day I was talking to a good friend of mine in from South Africa and she was saying that she liked the fact that our blog had very little to do with the actual trip but rather was a representation of ourselves just using this trip as a background theme. 

I was quick to disagree with her, but the more I thought about what she was trying to say, the more I realized she is absolutely correct. Granted, we are canoeing the Mississippi River which in itself is no small feat. Especially for two schmucks like us who find trouble around every corner even when we are not looking for it. We are not the most humble individuals when it comes to things like this. Infact we like the attention but despite this, the purpose of this blog is not to boast about our bad ass ruggedness but rather to invite all those who are interested along with us.  

It is my hope, that as we continue this blog, people are able to feel like they have been plopped right into the canoe with us. We will try to accomplish this by sharing all of the shenanigans that take place on this trip. The depth of which we submerge ourselves into mischief is limitless, and I hope that all those who watching will dive in with us. We won’t bore you by describing the green sludge on the walls of the lock but rather describe the encounters and events that take place between us. We will most likely drive each other crazy, and when we do, you will be the first to know. I am not really sure of what the point of saying s all this is. I think it may be the simple fact that it gives me an excuse to say shenanigans. I think I’ll go get my broom. 


I think what my esteemed collegue is trying to say is that this trip is not only about the physical act of canoing the 2300+ miles to the Gulf.  We also have a habit of seeking out trouble when it doesn’t find us.  For example, in the picture above, we had the option of walking around the dip in the ground to get to the road we were aiming for, or we had the option of walking across on this conveniently placed tree.  Indeed, walking around would have been much safer, but the tree was too cool to resist.

As of this point I have read two books by people who have canoed the river solo, one by Matthew Mohlke and the other by Eddy Harris which I will review as soon as I get around to it.  In both books, they placed a great deal of emphasis on personal reflection and growth, which makes a great deal of sense because they both canoed the river solo.  Phil and I are placing a greater emphasis on a different aspect, the fact that we’re completely insane.  This is bound to result in some very interesting adventures, all of which we shall dutifully report to you our loyal readers.  While personal growth and spiritual reflection are nice, we feel the comedic value of this trip will more than pay for itself in the long run.  

With this in mind, it does make sense that this blog is more a representation of our personalities and less about the physical act of canoing the river.   Lots of people have written about the trials and tribulations of canoing from Itaska to the Gulf, but how many people will be able to say they fired a canon off the side of their canoe on the 4th of July, or got attacked by a rabid dolphin just north of St. Louis?  

We set sail bearing south-by-north-adventure!  Who’s with us!


Chess + Hiking = Awesome

Posted in Uncategorized on February 7, 2009 by huckleberryfinn09

Although Phil and I have been doing it less and less these days, one of the founding principles of our friendship has always been the great game of chess.  Last year, when I lived down the hall from him, we would often “chess it up” four or five times a week.  Our battles were epic in their proportions, often resulting in loud noises and streams of curse words that would make a sailor vomit out his ear.  

A magnanimous game of chess

A magnanimous game of chess


What we lack in skill we make up for enthusiasm for the game.  We started a tradition in which on every camping trip we go on, we always have a board and we always play at least one game in an odd location. This picture above was taken in the Porcupine Mountains in September 2007.  It always makes me cringe, because I was doing such a wonderful job of slowly picking off his pieces without losing any of mine, ensuring a quick victory, until Phil brought his rook to the 8th file, trapping my king inside his own castle.  A foolish mistake I’m sad to say I make quite often.

The picture below was taken on the Devil’s Track River near Grand Marais, Minnesota.  It took some adventurous leaping to get on that rock, and we were constantly in danger of being swept over the side and down the waterfall, but we prevailed and managed to complete three games, although I do not remember the victor.


Thats all for now.  Cheers!

R & P