From the Worst of Days to the Best of Days

Minneapolis, Minnesota

August 16, 2019

Dear Family & Friends:

Following my midnight encounter with the kind Anoka police officer, I woke up to a bright new day at 6am on August 15. The day immediately turned sour. While disassembling my tent, I broke a tent pole. Now I have no functioning tent. Then, I opened a dry bag that contained some of my gear. One item of gear was a canister of bear spray. Unfortunately, the trigger lock come off the bear spray and,  unknown to me, the canister sprayed bear spray all over my dry bag and its contents. It was a total mess. I made matters worse by trying to clean the dry bag and its contents. This coated my hands, arms, face and even feet with bear spray. Now, my body was on fire! It felt like a blow torch was aimed directly at me.Nothing I did alleviated the pain.  The bear spray would not wash off my body. This sad predicament moderated somewhat but lasted most of the day.

In an effort to change my attitude and my fortunes, I took a cab into Anoka to enjoy a hearty breakfast. I had a wonderful breakfast at G’s Cafe. I pushed off from the Park at 10 am and headed for Minneapolis. I faced headwinds most of the way, but it was an enjoyable trip. I had one more portage at Coon Rapids Dam, and it was short and easy.  Eighteen miles and four hours later, I rounded a bend and was overjoyed to see the famous Hennepin Avenue Bridge in Minneapolis. What a great site!  I beached my canoe at Boom Islands Park. Minutes later, I met another River Angel.

Scott Hite rode up on his bicycle and introduced himself. What an amazing and interesting person.  Scott has paddled the Mississippi River many times. He is currently on an epic 3,400 mile bicycle trip through many states. The trip will last over 100 days. He is camping the whole journey. Scott gave me a lot of really helpful information about the River and asked me to call him any time if I need help or advice. One piece of advice he gave me was extremely helpful. He told me there is a Minneapolis-based company that offers free portage service around the St. Anthony Dam in the City. So, I called the Midwestern Mountaineering Company (MMC) in downtown Minneapolis to discuss my tent problem and ask about the portage service.  The folks at MMC could not have been more courteous and helpful. Paul and Steve told me they would fix my broken tent poll for free and offered to store my canoe so I could check into a nearby hotel and enjoy a rest day. They also gave me the telephone number for the portage service company. As an added bonus, they invited me to a customer appreciation party being hosted by MMC.

I called the portage company and spoke with Theo. Within an hour, he picked me up with my canoe and gear and transported me to MMC. We made arrangements for him to pick me up on August 17 to transport me back to the River, downstream from St. Anthony Dam. All for free! I arrived at MMC just as the big party was starting. While I enjoyed brats, beer and live music, MMC fixed my tent pole for free. I reciprocated by shopping for gear. At 7 pm, I checked into the Courtyard by Marriott Hotel, three blocks from MMC.

On August 16, I had dinner with Joyce Peterson and her great family. They live near Minneapolis. Joyce is not a River Angel. She is just an Angel. When she was in college, she babysat many of my grandchildren. She had an especially close relationship with my beloved grandchild, Danny. Joyce will always be part of my family. Joyce is an Assistant Principal at two elementary schools. She is married to Scott, a Sergeant in the Marine Corps and a Scoutmaster. He is currently employed in the defense industry. I really like Scott. Joyce and Scott have three children-Scotty, Daniel and Kennedy. Scotty just became an Eagle Scout. We enjoyed a great dinner at their favorite Italian restaurant. Thanks Joyce and family for meeting me and thanks Scott for your service to our country.

Lesson of the day: fight adversity with positivity, know that the darkest night must yield to the brightest day, try to find the best in strangers, especially those who want to help you, and, most important, trust in the Lord.

Bill

Breakfast in Anoka

Hennepin Avenue Bridge in Minneapolis

Scott Hite

Party at Midwestern Mountaineering

Joyce, Scott, Danny, Kennedy and Maya (Kennedy’s friend)

Dinner at the Italian restaurant

Joyce holding Danny on his 1st birthday

Joyce visiting Danny as a teenager