My First Zero Day and Lodging Near God’s Home

Little Falls, Minnesota
August 9-11, 2019

Dear Family & Friends:

On August 9, we traveled 30 miles from our campsite behind The Bridge Tavern to Brainerd, Minnesota.

We spent the night at a Quality Inn motel in Brainerd. Jon & Jeff resumed their journey down the River in the morning. I elected to take the day off and spend it with a wonderful River Angel family who live in Merrifield, just a few miles out of Brainerd

Vickie and Major Jon Dudeck live with their young son, Hunter, in a beautiful Riverfront home located on 33 acres of rural property. They share their home with one dog and three cats. Jon just retired from service in the Army. He served in the infantry in Desert Storm. Vickie is a court stenographer in a courthouse in Brainerd. Hunter is in middle school in Brainerd. On August 9, Jon transported our boats from the River to the hotel. In the morning, he returned to transport Jon and Jeff’s boats from the hotel back to the River. He then picked me up and took me to his home in Merrifield.

This zero day on August 10, after 14 days on the River, is one of the highlights of my trip. Jon drove me all over Brainerd, to purchase needed gear and ship home unneeded gear. Jon even took me to his barber for a haircut.

In the evening, we had dinner at Ernie’s on Gull Lake near Jon & Vickie’s home. The atmosphere was really fun, with an indoor and outdoor bar and restaurant, lots of families, a play area, a marina for boats and a really good singer. The appetizers and food were fantastic. We had chocolate ice cream for desert at Jon and Vickie’s home. What could be better?

I’m so glad I took a zero day. Thanks Vickie, Jon and Hunter for your friendship and hospitality. You capture the essence of what if takes to be a River Angel. And, thanks to you Major Dudeck for your service to the country.

On August 12, I paddled about 37 miles from Brainerd to a large park behind the Grace Covenant Church in Little Falls, Minnesota. It was a fun day, made easier by my rest day.

I have now traveled 370 miles from the headwaters at Lake Itasca. This leaves me with less than 2,000 miles to my destination in the Gulf. Yippee!

(my posts are a little delayed this week because my daughter Lisa, who sends out my posts, is in on a much needed vacation)

The Bridge Tavern
Farewell to Jon & Jeff
Vickie & Major Jon’s home on the River
Vickie, Hunter, Bill & Major Jon


10 thoughts on “My First Zero Day and Lodging Near God’s Home

  1. Bill, you are making some fabulous connections on your journey. “The connections we make in the course of life, maybe that’s what heaven is. ” (Fred Rogers)

    Blessings, live like Dan.


  2. Hi Bill,
    Really love reading your posts. i was concerned when a few days went by without hearing anything. Now I know it was because of Lisa’s vacation and all is o.k. These river Angels, how often are they taking people into their homes and helping them in so many ways? Do they do this on the weekends, sitting there looking for someone to take in? The whole idea is pretty awesome.

  3. Fantastic Bill and making good mileage too…love your tent and wise move with a rest day, just like an extra day at the South Col. Under 2,000 miles is quite a bench mark and 1,000 here you come!
    “One paddle stroke at a time!”

  4. Boy I have to get up in that part of the country. Sounds a bit different than here in Southern California. Fun post. Wonder if you will catch up with your buddies on a zero day for them. Or perhaps meet some more paddlers.
    Stay safe!

  5. Great to hear from you Bill. It’s been so nice to read your posts-we are living vicariously.
    You are so very observant-so much fun to read what you write. Be safe! Love, Leo and Kari

  6. What an incredible impact you are making on so many lives: those of us who read and pass along your posts, and on the people you meet along the way. How will Hunter view the world over time and then contribute to it after having spent time with you and with the other travelers that share his home? I am in awe of everyone who contributes to this journey in so many ways and on so many levels.

  7. It was fun to run into you and Ollie in Costa Mesa last year at the park and tell you how much we enjoy following your adventures. My husband is from Minnesota and we were up in the Brainerd area just a couple of weeks before you at the family cabin on Crow Wing Lake in Fort Ripley. We have kayaked down that stretch of the river and it is beautiful. Stay away from the mosquitos!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *