I am currently in the Atlanta airport concluding a 3 month expedition of 2281 miles. I wanted to take the time to reflect and measure what the adventure was like, what the time spent meant and what was gained from paddling a kayak the entire length of the Mississippi River. Before I delve in, summarizing this journey has proven almost equally as difficult; hard pressed in having overwhelming quantities of encapsulating details I find describing the journey to be a hard place to start… So, I guess I’ll begin where I left off, living in the normalcy of everyday life before the river. One of the common questions I was asked the whole way down the river, “why did you want to invest so much time and energy to paddle down the Mississippi?”
Margaret shepherd coined one of my favorite and most useful quotes. When faced with uncertainty, “sometimes you’re only available means of transportation is a leap of faith”. It is no secret that adventure readily waits to provide opportunity to any who are willing to take up the call. There is no singular end as to why I decided to jump into uncertainties divide, no selfless cause or universal push that sent me reeling over the edge without checking the depth of the canyon walls first. And to many people, that makes no sense… I have since realized what I was in pursuit, arbitrarily, to be unique and to do everything in my power to become a better me. And maybe, with this philosophy I decided to take matters into my own hands or, so I thought. Who wouldn’t want to fill their life’s resume with fearless endeavors and accomplishments, beyond the small magnitude that just being alive can provide everyone. It’s a good story, ya know…
Having now finished the trip, one thing persistently knocks my mind. I may have gone in solitude but I was never alone. I experienced many days of doubt, many moments where the canyon wall on the other side appeared to high to climb out of; but, the gift that I was not prepared for was first understood by Paulo Coelho, “and when you want something, all the world conspires to help you to achieve it”. Because of the River, I stumbled across a community of people who think like me. People Willing to be good without reason, give without return and wanting to experience without the journey. Ahhh that last one is more true than the rest. Under no logic would anyone want to give up comfort for cost or give up reason for nothing more than uncertainty? Then all of the sudden, like clockwork, in every town that this matted, beaten up river rat would pull ashore to… people would approach me asking why? Feeding off the fact that, “it is the possibility of having a dream come true, that makes life interesting”. ~Coelho
Having spent so much time in the unknown, the last few days of my trip where the apotheosis of embracing the adventure. Just a day outside of the golf, I was rolled up on by an oyster boat capitan who asked me where I was going. I said I didn’t have much farther to go. I told Captain John (Capt.) I wanted to learn how to oyster, for no other reason then the experience of a new trade. Seeing the opportunity, he allowed me to work and sleep on his boat while we harvested the oysters. I worked two days for oyster pearls and crown royal. Yo ho, it was the oyster pirates life. After deciding it was time to press on, I paddled to the gulf 11 miles across a bay where my only visual marker was knowing where south was because I had been chasing that directional heading for 89 days. Finding Grand Isle LA and a perfect beach I watched the sun set on the gulf feeling emotionless to what I had done… Weird right, but then again is a journey realized in one single moment? The first thing I did was contact everyone who believed in me and supported my journey, I hope I got y’all, there was a lot. Then I spent two more days passing the time shark and red fishing with some new found friends on the beach Tex and Pen.
When Micah (my brother) came to get me I had celebratoraly fallen apart. Seriously, I had lost my cross rock I found in Baxter dam MN, my battery pack that had kept me plugged in all the time, I had lost myself and didn’t care. How happy I was 🙂
I just spent the past few days in Tallahassy FL, having a great time. Except super smash.. No longer the king of that game. As I left, my brother brought up the topic of being a lone wolf… And he pinned it, that I shouldn’t consider myself a lone wolf… It’s better to say I couldn’t find anyone with the drive and ambition to attempt such a feet as the Mississippi. That is true. Earlier I said, “I decided to take matters into my own hands, or so I thought” I have discovered an element of blessing which can only come from one who has the ability to bless. I believe that God had called me to the water if even just to show me how little control I have on my life. I came up with this conclusion, “live in the present, it’s the only place we can, but Jesus, he operates in the future to prepare opportunities for us so that our past can reflect his glory”. I wasn’t flying lone wolf, I am still waiting for God to put more people and more opportunities in front of me because at the end of the day a patient blessing from God always trumps whatever I believe I need.
With that said, thank you everyone for conspiring to bless me on the 90 days of river life.
~ Yak Sparrow out
3 Comments Add yours
Thank you so much for allowing me to follow and read your story on the Mississippi, very interesting and inspiring. May God continue to bless you!
LikeLiked by 1 person
Count me among those who enjoyed following your journey. Perhaps some day I will have one to call my own. But I guarantee it won’t include a kayak.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Haha Pick and choose your journeys but the experiences are unforgettable