A Beginning

I had been awake for an hour, listening. We figured we had only 37 miles to go. Just two more days. It was 7am and I finally sat up. With my head unwrapped from my sleeping bag under our yellow tarp I could feel the wind. I insisted on listening to the weather radio. Then I had to see the waves. I despaired at being stuck there.

Nooooooo! I was anxious, and angry, and miserable. I stormed back into my sleeping bag to keep warm, rotting in my own stench. It had been 16 days since my last shower, 10 days since I last washed my hair, and a week since I changed my base layers.

Will was beaming positivity and I could do nothing but apologize for my foul mood. He went about sqawking and burbling happy tunes while creating a branchy wind block to keep the snow from entering the mouth of our tarp.
I fumed while sipping my tea and journalling my struggle to adjust my attitude.

I wrote   

This was my honeymoon.

In the summer 2011 Will proposed a honeymoon. It was my favorite kind of night. We were sitting on the front step letting hours slip by talking and drinking. Our relationship had been founded on front step sitting and outdoor adventures. We’ve built snow thrones on the front lawn to watch a blizzard and drink hot toddies. Currently I was slapping mosquitos as we recalled our awesomeness on last year’s Boundary Waters trip. That summers trip was coming up so we were full of planning and dreaming.

Now my memory is a bit fuzzy but it went something like this:
Will: “We could totally paddle both Voyagers National Park and the BWCA!”
Me: “Wow, yeah, awesome! How long would that be?”
Will: “I dunno, like 300miles?”
Me: “Geez, we’d need like a month off of work, we don’t have that this summer. How the hell would we ever both get a month off?”
Will: “We could make it a honeymoon.”
He went on to picture us getting married at the trail head. Maybe I could get white paddling boots.
But we were drunk, so I didn’t take him too seriously.

It took until April 2012 to officially make it official. We allotted 20 days to paddle his grandfathers aluminum Grumman canoe the Canadian border from International Falls to Grand Portage on Lake Superior. It would need to be mostly in October because the mosquitos are mostly dead. In October a permit is free because it’s potentially freezing. So we set the dates for the trip, and then the wedding.

September twenty-second two-thousand twelve was a partially sunny day with the highs in the 50’s. In February that sounds downright balmy, and that was what I emailed our guests. We said our vows in front of his parents white pine, with a friend officiating from his kindle resting in Tolken’s The Hobbit. It was all very fitting considering our journey ahead.

It took 19 days. Which means I had a lot of time to figure out how to summarize the trip.

Hard. Hard is all I can seem to say about the trip.

We had a special kind of fun. The kind where there is screaming and crying, and by the time it was over everything felt broken, except the marriage. It was the kind of honeymoon where we were either too sick, tired, cold, dirty, or sore to even think about being romantic.
Will told me there are 3 types of fun. Type 1 is when it’s fun now, and later. Type 2 is when it’s not fun now, but fun later. Type 3 is when it’s never fun. There were a couple times when it was snowing, or we were stuck, or I was scared in which I would say “This is type 3!”
“No, type 3 is where a bear steals all our food and we have nothing to eat for days. Type 3 is where we capsize and lose everything.” Will would say.
“Fine.” I felt very near my fun threshold “This is type 2.7.”

The truth is that it’s type 2 fun that is the most fun. That is I what I had to remember on windbound day 17. The best stories are not the ones that go “everything went perfectly and we were happy.” As I struggled to adjust my attitude I recalled that I actually liked this kind of comically miserable fun. It would be over soon and I decided to relish it. This was a good resolution as the next two days would be the most ridiculous yet. At least it would make a good story.

Next: Preparations

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