We've got some catching up to do since March! We have still been giving a variety of presentations and in these last 2 months we have had 3 big and exciting talks occur. The first big event was Canoecopia in Madison, Wisconsin. We presented last year at this annual paddle sports event and were very excited to be asked to attend again with our life jacket sponsor, MTI Adventurewear.
Our friend, Janelle, was able to attend our talk. We joked that she could sit in as our 'unknown third paddler who has stage fright.' "Who do you think took all of those photos?!" Just kidding, but we do look like we could be triplets.
Here we are getting ready before our talk, just like always in our matchy matchy clothes. Mary - "Come on, you know you want to do the pose."
Amy - "Okayyy, fine let's do it."
Here we are, doing our thing. The one picture providing proof that we actually did some work while at Canoecopia. Our powerpoint went over well and I think everyone really enjoyed it!
Speaking of work, Saturday morning had to include some delicious breakfast food.
Did some work on those pancakes!
Saturday would be a matching day as well.
We were able to try out some new products that MTI is carrying - Fluid belt packs for stand up paddle-boarding. They are small inflatable PFDs that strap to your waist.
Lili was taking video throughout the weekend of people trying on the belts and pulling the cords to see the instant inflation and the variety of surprised facial expressions that would ensue. We were already smiling and laughing before even touching the cords.
We were able to attend many other talks throughout the weekend. The first talk we were sure to check out was "The Art of Great Adventure Writing," which was really, "How to Write Stories That Don't Suck." We were able to pick up some tips and pointers for what to include and not include in our book!
The next talk we sat in on was "Three Men, Two Countries, and the River Between,"a trip that was also about a dugout canoe! Dan Perry traveled for 3 weeks by traditional dugout canoe down the Amazon river between the Bolivian and Brazilian borders - we were very excited to hear about this trip as well as some other stories about his 2 year South American adventure. He had a very animated presentation which kept the audience on their toes and laughing the entire time.
When we signed up to do Canoecopia again this year, we were very excited to hear that some other MTI sponsored speakers would be in attendance - Dave and Amy Freeman! We had been hearing about Dave and Amy's past adventures from MTI, Canoe & Kayak Magazine, and National Geographic. This year, they were nominated for National Geographic Adventurers of the Year for their 3 year North American Odyssey expedition. They are extremely impressive, to say the least. I encourage you to check out the amazing work they are doing through The Wilderness Classroom. It is a 501(c)3 that reaches over 2,700 teachers and 85,000 students. Since starting 12 years ago, over a dozen expeditions have been shared with stories, pictures, and educational content with classrooms all over the world. Dave and Amy brought the canoe that they will be using for their next big environmental expedition. They will be paddling from Northeastern Minnesota to Washington DC to petition the Polymet and Twin Metals mines. After they paddle miles and miles, they will be presenting the signed canoe to the President and Congress as a huge statement to urge the protection of the watersheds that would be damaged by the proposed sulfide mines. Check out this amazing national undertaking and sign the online petition at Paddle to DC. We were sure to sign the petition canoe!
Here's Amy Freeman talking about their North American Odyssey expedition.
Our good friend, Tim Gallaway, was presenting on traditional greenland kayak rolling. We got to watch him gracefully roll in the pool, while naming off complicated Greenlandic terminology.
Sometimes I didn't think he would ever flip back over, but he always did. This summer we're going to make him teach us how to make it look that easy.
The next talk was by a group called Paddle 4ward. This was a group of 11 young adults that canoed over 2,000 miles down the Mississippi River last summer. We had actually previously met one of the girls, Erika, who was part of the trip, so it was great to hear the story from a familiar face!
The next talk, or should I say story telling hour, was by Kenny Salwey. He is one of Mary's favorite storytellers ever.
We weren't able to attend Daniel Alvarez's talk, but we were familiar with his name. Daniel presented on his kayak trip from Minnesota to Key West and back again. He was previously an avid hiker, but the first day of this trip was his first day in a sea kayak. Ever. We had read about his adventure before it even took place because he won an adventure grant through Outside Magazine. He had such a fun and inspiring dream - we could easily relate to his lack of previous experience while setting off on a big adventure. We were happy to place a name with such a happy and optimistic face!
We weren't able to get pictures, but we were also able to see our friend, Stephen Brede speak about his journey around Lake Erie. He's on a quest to circle each of the Great Lakes, and is 3/5 of the way there! We hear he plans to complete half of Lake Superior this coming summer. We also caught Erik Boomer's presentation on his expedition across Baffin Island. We were excited to hear him speak since hearing his fellow Nat Geo Adventurer of the Year winner, Jon Turk, speak about their circumnavigation of Ellesmere Island at last year's Canoecopia. Erik started off his presentation with some jaw dropping video footage of some of the waterfalls that he has run in his whitewater kayak and even occasionally on stand up paddle boards. He then described his most recent trip - a crossing of Baffin Island with 3 other people by cross country skis and hand-built traditional kayaks.
After the show wrapped up, we were able to go out to eat with the Freeman's, our MTI friends Lili and Joe, and Darren Bush and fam. Darren is the organizer of the huge event, so it was a privilege to have some time to relax with him and thank him for all the hard work that he puts in to make Canoecopia a success each year. What great people!
Our next large speaking engagement took place at Thomas Metcalf School in Illinois. We were scheduled for two talks - our normal presentation for the 5th-8th graders, and a shorter version of our story for the kindergarten-4th graders. Quiet down everyone!
In our presentation, we included time for all of the students to write down dreams of their own on notecards. We encouraged them all to keep the cards and work towards those goals. Here we are with all of the 5th-8th graders - hold up those dreams!
And here we are with the kindergarten-4th graders and their dreams. The younger kids were especially excited to hear our story and meet us. They had been following our blog and watching our videos in their classroom. One little girl even asked Amy if she could touch her hair, "to know that you are actually real."
We received lots of adorable hugs and thank yous at the end of our presentation. Surprise! One of the classes had made us thank you notes - too much cute to handle!
Our most recent speaking engagement took us all the way up the western shoreline of Lake Michigan to Sturgeon Bay. We were asked to present at the Annual Ice Age Trail Conference. The Ice Age trail is an over 1000 mile trail throughout the state of Wisconsin. We were excited to be heading up to the Eastern Terminus of the trail, but the 5 hour drive required us to get on the road at sunrise. Good thing it was beautiful and foggy!
Our 5 hour car ride eventfully turned into a 7 hour car ride, but we eventually stopped for lunch with our 'Algoma Family.' We had met them on our trip and loved catching up with them again. Those kids are getting so big!
Wish you could have made it, Jane!
We made it up to the conference just in time for the Hiker's Forum. The people that had finished the trail this year, either by thru-hiking or segment hiking, told us of their journeys and answered questions. Whenever someone completes the Ice Age Trail, they are called Thousand Milers. There are about 100 people currently who have hiked the entire trail, with speeds varying from 22 days and 6 hours (ultra runner Jason Dorgan) to 50 years (a segment hiker who put in his final miles this year). We were happy to get to meet many of the Thousand Milers that were in attendance. Then we had a lovely dinner with our new friends, Dave and Luke, and listened to the presentation of Trail Volunteer Awards. There are volunteers for the Ice Age Trail that have logged over 4,000 hours of work on the trail! After a video premiere for the final segment of the trail, we gave our presentation.
We got some good laughs and found a lot more commonalities between long distance paddlers and hikers than we expected.
We found a lot of tramp family, trail magic, and kindred spirits throughout the weekend!
The next morning, we were able to join everyone at the conference in hiking the Eastern Terminus of the Ice Age Trail which is located in Potawatomi State Park.
Amy was excited, but couldn't keep her eyes open for a picture.
Our hike started at the western end of Sturgeon Bay, where it opens up to Green Bay. We didn't go in Green Bay during our trip because of the island hopping to the UP, so this was a new view of Lake Michigan for us.
There is still ice up here! And believe it or not, there were still ice fishermen out on this thin looking ice with areas of open water.
Along the trail there was a tall lookout tower. It was 'closed' for the winter season, but most of us ended up climbing to the top anyway.
Our friend, Dave, told us that he once camped on top of this tower. What a great view of Sturgeon Bay and Green Bay!
All of the trees, mostly birch trees, are still bare. Leaves should be arriving any day now!
The panoramic view from the top.
Amy once again can't keep her eyes open in the excitement.
Let's get to hiking!
This man brought his dog along for the hike - he says he always does.
Pre-hike we got a lesson about the geography of the area, learned more about the Niagara Escarpment, and were told about the glaciers that shaped the land. Once on the trail, we saw the evidence of these natural processes in these beautiful rock formations and the scenic terrain!
Taking pictures of people taking pictures.
Old large woodpecker holes, now sticky with cold sap.
The ground was newly uncovered from the snow. You could tell this by all of the disintegrating, wet leaves.
See Amy being weird and picking up nature.
She is always picking up nature. Usually she ends up with poison ivy or the like on her face. Good thing she has those mittens on this time.
Hike, hike, hike!
Down to the water's edge, errr the ice's edge.
We did it!
So, we logged our first 2 miles or so on the Ice Age Trail. Hey, it's a start. One foot in front of the other, one step at a time!
Time to hop back in the car for a ride home. As we started off on our trip, it was down-pouring rain and it was only about 45 degrees out. We checked the forecast and saw that it was 74 degrees and sunny in Beverly Shores...step on it, Mar, we gotta get home for sunset!
A gorgeous end to the trip! There was a warm breeze off the lake and we weren't even cold. It felt like we were waking up after months of hibernating. Barefoot and free. It's about time.
"It's a beautiful day, isn't it, buddy?" "It is a beautiful day." "Orange slice?" "Yes, please."