At last, after a long day and very few miles, we are staying warm around a fire. Last night, our new best friend Brett Cease met us on the northern shore of Bemidji Lake. "Yah, we'll get you a good hot meal. Oh, boy, what an adventure you all have ahead of you." A true northern Minnesotan. We'd made plans to meet him and spend the evening at a site he'd rented out. Within the hour, the eight paddlers and Brett were feasting on chicken, rice, locally grown produce, and a few beers. The rain picked up outside of our monster-sized tarp. Brett put on his flannel and never let the conversation come to a lull. The night led into s'mores and hilarious stories. Hilarious because of the content but more so because of the awesome "yah-der-hey" accent.
It was tough waking up to the drizzly morning. Louis woke faster than anyone, though. The nine-foot oar we had used to prop up the tarp came swinging down like a hatchet to Louis' face at about 5 a.m. This all after the other oar fell to Zach's noggen earlier in the night. Both drew blood. We'll learn. On the water by 1 in the afternoon, we added a canoe to our fleet. Brett Cease joined us in a solo Grumman canoe making occasional striking comments such as "This is what life is all about, I'd say." But within a quarter mile on the lake, we took a turn for the closest shore. Swells became whitecaps and the vessels were taking on more water than we could handle. "One big wave," Louis said, "and we're swimming." We stayed silent for a moment then Louis declared the assumed, "I don't want to swim." Time to put on the thinking caps.
After sitting around and eating some jalapeno cheetos, Brett made a few phone calls and in no time, another great Bemidjian,Tom Kusler, up with a truck and trailer to drive our three mile portage to the outlet of the lake. The River was calm. The breeze was warm. Mist floated around us until the sun made its promised appearance to warm our exposed feet. Still with us, Brett had an ear-to-ear grin paddling gracefully with a straight back and smooth stride. If he were an animal, he'd be a bald eagle.