One Well-Oiled Machine

Have you heard about our latest marathon of trip preparations? It was a doozy! We started with sewing ditty bags on Friday morning. We use ditty bags to organize smaller items that will go in our packs, like toiletries and pens. It may have taken us a bit of practice to get it down, but by the time the last crew member arrived, we were able to help her sew all her ditty bags in about ten minutes. Thanks to everybody who sent sewing machines and to Sue Bowe and Jeryn Sia Su who re-threaded each machine 17 times for us. We also got hooked up with fishing equipment and advice from Jim Bowe, our resident expert fisherman.

Next, we set off for a taste of #traillife. We paddled 3 hours from basecamp to the Mississippi River Park. We had our first canoe tip (but we saved the pack from getting too wet!), and made our first dinner over fire from the food we've been preparing for the last several weeks: mixed veggies, rice and hamburger in a one pot wonder with baked beans and confetti cake batter. Then we found out Stearns County is a little more picky about where we put our tents than Ontario; we had missed the official campsite by about a 5 minute walk. After 47 fresh bugbites and help from a friendly park ranger with a Gator, we relocated to a ::ahem:: cozy spot just down the trail. On the bright side, we got some more practice with the tents and avoided the bugs during dinner. 

And then the finale: packing. In about 4 hours, we packed all the gear and food we'll need to live in some of the most beautiful and untouched land on Earth. (Too sappy?? Those sunsets, though!) Anyway, it's almost go time - 91 hours until the Last Supper - and I can't say enough how proud I am of how this crew has come together. They're sweet and tender and spunky and determined. Most of all, they're embracing everyone's strengths, kryptonite, and bad (read dad) jokes. I can't wait to see this machine of a crew on trail!

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Before...

... and After

No Rest for the Weary

The girls had a crazy week; you may have noticed your daughters' complete absence from home or the entire crew sleeping on your front porch. 

Last weekend they had a crew sleepover at basecamp. Some of the girls portaged down a portion of Pine Point; they learned 5 paddling strokes; practiced pivoting, side-passing, and turning their canoes using those strokes; put together their first draft of a route; learned how to put up their tents; went for a morning paddle at 5:30am; and kicked-off their food dehydrating. And they managed all of that in about 20 hours!

The week brought more excitement with boot and trail clothes shopping on Monday. They found some stellar floral-print, 100% silk, button-up shirts and throw-back windbreakers. Kate Bowe made a heartfelt, rare gift while we made our beef jerky on Tuesday. Allie kept us all busy and organized packing food on Thursday, and Kate Tomczik made us all look good doing it (wait until you see the pineapple dance that Fred caught in a video). And I'm sure they're gearing up now for their high-stakes Crew Olympics in the morning!

First Canoe Flipping

First Canoe Flipping

We tackled our first day of canoe flipping today, rain and all! All the girls did a great job with flipping (get low, get low), but also with encouraging each other and spotting the flippers. Even though they all got pretty tired and a little bruised before we finished, Allie, Alyssa, and Morgan got to the step just before the final flip, and Rachel and Tomczik got the canoe onto their shoulders! After a few more practices, they'll be portaging like pros.

Canoe flipping is one of the first tasks a crew learns together. It's awkward and unstable for everybody at first, but some people struggle with it more than others. It's not always predictable - and never important - who struggles more and who picks it up quickly. What is important is how the ones who pick up the skill quickly treat and help those who don't. By that measure, this crew is looking mighty fine.

We also learned a few knots today (square knot, double half hitch, taughtline, and bowline - see if your daughter still remembers how to tie and use each of them!). We might still be lost in a mess of 4's and bunnies and trees, but we'll keep practicing ;)

First Crew Meeting

First Crew Meeting

Basecamp was bustling tonight with canoe flipping, meal planning, paddle sanding, and a parent meeting. Les Voyageurs 2017 is in full swing! 

Tonight Lain crew members signed up for their pre-trip managing jobs:
Food Manager - Allie
Dehydrating Manager - Rachel
Contact and Meeting Manager - Alyssa
Special Events Manager - Missy
Skills Manager - Bowe
Maps and Route Manager - Morgan
Medical Manager - Tomczik

And they're already off to the races planning their respective tasks with canoe flipping on Saturday, meal planning on Monday and Route Planning on June 1. Getting to finally sit down with all these girls was such a treat for me. It's already apparent that they're going to be a solid and fun crew. I'm itching to spend more time with them in the coming weeks and months!

Welcome new Voyageurs!

Welcome new Voyageurs!

Welcome new Voyageurs!!

Thinking about what Les Voyageurs means to me, and thinking about you embarking on that journey - an entirely new adventure for you - just plain gives me chills. Allie, Alyssa, Emily, Kate (x2), Missy, Morgan and Rachel: I'm incredibly excited to get to know you, watch you grow closer to each other, celebrate the first time you flip a canoe by yourself, struggle through gnarly bushcrashes together, and laugh until our bellies ache at some joke that only we will understand. Trust me, it's going to be great! Thanks for giving me this opportunity to be a part of your LVI expedition!

And parents! Thanks for everything you've done to prepare your daughters for this trip. I'm excited to share their progress with you via this blog as they prepare food and gear, learn how to paddle and portage, and create bonds with each other. I hope to also offer you answers and assurance for any of your questions or concerns. I'm looking forward to meeting you as our crew invades (neatly and quietly, of course) some of your houses for gatherings, food dehydrating, and packing for trail!

I can't wait to meet you all this weekend at the Parent Meeting, and then to start scheduling crew activities in the third week of May! Voyageurs, take time to fully embrace each step of this process because they're all oh-so-sweet. 

Peace and warmth,

Kayley