A Hard Road Home (Part Five) Boundary Waters

            Paddles dip, bloop, swish.  A soft gurgle laps against a canoe as it glides smoothly across a quiet lake.  Relative silence is broken only by chattering birds, the far off call of a loon, buzzing dragonflies, crickets, and the occasional leaping fish.  Quiet, still, by comparison.  No traffic.  No clamor.  Serene. 

My favorite part of canoeing in a northern lake is navigating around a bend in the shore.  When you cease paddling for a moment, and just glide, the spires of spruce, and pines that line the bend, move in three-dimensional counterpoint to the slower moving spires on a distant shore, and differently still from the protruding ranges that climb the next bend on the opposite shore.  Mirrored on a glassy lake, the illusion deepens—a dynamic symbiosis of perspective.  Converging, flowing, drifting—like passing through the entrance to a new and beckoning world.


It would be a busy summer.  With one new grandchild due in June, one in August, and a third in September, my vacations were being planned out for me.  Two of the girls would be having their first child.  But, there were other things I wanted to do, as well.  My high school class was going to celebrate its 40th Reunion.  And, some men in the church were planning a canoe trip to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, north of Ely, Minnesota.  It would be hard to fit them all in. 

By the end of March, I had verbally committed, along with seven other men, to participating in a canoe trip, scheduled for August.  We later expanded the group to include a ninth member.  That was okay because we were assured that the camping sites allowed nine, but no more.  Only later did I realize that the dates chosen would conflict with the due date for Shalom’s baby.  I considered backing out, at that time, but Sandy was certain that Shalom would not mind—after all, I would be going with eight other men, and there weren’t likely to be any blizzards in August.   Besides, Sandy thought I needed the fellowship.  We had just squeezed in a long-needed couple’s weekend at the Radisson, and she was in an encouraging mood.

It wasn’t long, however, before I found myself falling back into my old pattern of compartmentalization.  I knew I should focus on “carpe diem” and such, and prioritize family relationships, but I had always been vulnerable to project-driven blindness.  I would often go without eating, and without stopping, when I’d get into one of my boxes, and say things like, “I’m almost done,” or, “I’ll be right there.”

I was finding myself increasingly fascinated by my own past.  Although my high school class held reunions every five years, I’d never been to a single one (never even answered a single request for information).  High school was not particularly fun for me, not being part of any crowds, let alone the “in” crowd.  But, when a classmate I had known since the 4th grade added me to the newly created West 40th Reunion group page, on Facebook, the previous December, I was intrigued.  There were only a couple of dozen members (out of a class of nearly 700) at the time, but it quickly grew to 60, and peaked at around 100.  It was fun.

Most people, even when you knew they were online, didn’t say anything.  Sometimes, it felt like two or three people talking, and ninety-nine flies on the wall.  But, that was okay.  Stories began to be told.  Stories about the past.  Stories about my past.  Stories about people and places I didn’t recognize.  Sometimes, I was the storyteller.  More often, I was the fly. 

We shared memories about Davenport.  Memories about growing up.  About grade schools, and teachers, and neighborhoods, and part-time jobs.

My Page:

Charley Kabala Hey! I just realized that all the people on this site are old people!!

Like ·  · Unsubscribe · December 28, 2010 at 4:05pm

Sheryl Sievertsen likes this.

Pat Carter Reinhart Brain a little slow, Charley? hee hee

December 28, 2010 at 4:42pm · Like

Pat Carter Reinhart If I make it to the reunion, I expect to see a lot of old people I don’t recognize … of course, I will be one of the old ones. 🙂

December 28, 2010 at 4:43pm · Like

Charley Kabala Wait a minute…. I resemble that remark! 8-{D 

December 28, 2010 at 5:04pm · Like

Larry Seibel Hey who you callin old? Old is all RELATIVE right? He He He

December 29, 2010 at 12:22am · Like

Debi Tucker Boland What? Where?

December 29, 2010 at 9:03am · Like

Linda C. Kelty How old do you really feel?

December 29, 2010 at 11:10am · Like

Pat Carter Reinhart My mind doesn’t feel older, but my joints beg to differ. 🙂

December 29, 2010 at 12:42pm · Like

Larry Seibel I hear ya Pat 🙂

December 29, 2010 at 2:21pm · Like

Linda C. Kelty I bet you’d get a second on that from all or at least most parties. Wouldn’t it be great to have the vigor of youth with the wisdom of age? Sigh….

December 29, 2010 at 2:56pm · Like

Charlie Adkins At least we’re not parents of old people yet.

December 29, 2010 at 2:59pm · Like

Pat Carter Reinhart LOL, Charlie!

December 29, 2010 at 3:51pm · Like

Jeanie Quick Murphy just get the joints replaced and keep on truckin’

December 31, 2010 at 11:30pm · Like

Charley Kabala ROTFL I’ve been close to that. Had arthroscopic surgery in 2009. Am hoping to run a half marathon this year, with my daughter (the longest distance I’ve run since college). 8-{D

January 1 at 8:31pm · Like


Date: Fri, May 6, 2011 at 9:34 PM

Subject: Gear list

Mailed-by: aol.com

Men of Strength,

Here is another list to get an idea of what we might need. We will need 4 Canoes Total and I have two that we are borrowing. Four Guys will have to split the cost of two more Canoes. We can rent them right there at the outfitters when we get our permits and remaining gear ( lifejackets) Bait etc.

Also I have already Paid for the bunk house in Ely the night before we go in. it came out to 25.00 per person. You can pay me the $25 whenever you get a chance. I have also paid for 2 permits as required by the outfitters. These will be for Scott and I. The remaining permits will be due the morning we go in. I believe this is $16 a person. This is good for the 3 days we are there. Three months to get in shape and geared up. The first day will be about 10 miles of canoeing, 1 mile of it will be broken up with portages. Let me know if you need anything. Thanks

Dave Dawson


Nostalgia, I discovered, is not necessarily about shared memories of specific events.  It is more of a fascination with an era.  I certainly did not share any party memories or romantic memories with my classmates.  I had no old flames.  I do half suspect that, for some, the fascination is about the rekindling of past passions, and reconnecting with those you used to date, remembering the back seat, or prom night, or the drive-in movies, or the ferris wheel at the fair, or that time, or that kiss, or any number of stories and secrets known only to lovers, though time and circumstance have brought different roads.  I imagine there are those who return for “what might have been”, or to re-survey the field of the once-conquered.  But, I had none of those old memories.  Although there were a few people on the group page that I knew, and a handful that I’d always wished I’d known, most members I did not know at all.  But, the stories…

I found myself drawn to an era.  Here was a group of people who had walked the same streets I had walked, shopped in the same stores, listened to the same radio station, eaten at same eateries, and recalled the same iconic trivia from growing up in Davenport, Iowa, in the 50s, 60s, and 70s.  There was a bond.  We had all aged alike, mostly past the time of comparing and measuring our successes and failures.  In that sense, we were age-less.  So, whether we knew specifically about Roosevelt Elementary, making the special sauce for Sandy’s Hamburgers, teen night at the Draught House, Harris’ pizza, or life on the westend, there was a commonality.  We were all familiar with the landscape.


John & Lynn O.Kane Web: http://www.VNorth.com

Owners & Operators Email: vno@vnorth.com

1829 E Sheridan StPH/Fax: 218 365 3251

ElyMN55731800 848 5530                            

 Preparing for your Canoe Trip

 You have begun the preparations to take one of the most memorable canoe trips of your life. You will travel through crystal clear northern lakes and follow trails that were once used by the French Voyageurs. You will see wildlife, feast on freshly-caught fish and view an evening.s sky full of stars. You.ll sleep out in tents, prepare meals over an open fire and be able to drink the water out of the lakes.

Use the information below to help you get ready for an enjoyable trip into our wilderness canoe area.

What to bring

We suggest that each person in your party bring:

  • Two sets of clothing (one to wear and one as a spare.)
  • Two pair of trousers (lightweight for summer or wool for spring & fall)
  • Shorts and/or swimsuit (for summer)
  • Two long sleeve shirts (one cotton & one wool)
  • Two sets of underwear
  • Three pair of thick socks (wool is best for spring & fall)
  • One lightweight pair of socks (as liners)
  • One pair of tennis shoes & one pair of sturdy shoes (or hiking boots)
  • One sweatshirt
  • One wool or fleece jacket
  • One set of good rain gear
  • A cap with a visor or wide brimmed hat
  • Extras for cool weather: wool cap, gloves, long underwear, rubber boots, insulated jacket or vest

Also take Along:

  • Toiletry Kit (towel, toothbrush/paste, mirror, chap stick, skin lotion, comb, etc.)
  • Pocket/sheath knife, duct tape (for repairs), First Aid kit
  • Sharpening stone, waterproof match case, sunblock (SPF 30)
  • Flashlight, water bottle, insect repellent
  • Camera, film, batteries, disposable lighter, sunglasses
  • Compass, 50 . 100 ft rope (per party), sewing/repair kit
  • Water filter

Some essentials for fishing:

  • 2 Fishing rods (1 for trolling 8 . 12lb test line & 1 for casting)
  • Variety of lures & tackle, small tackle box, fillet knife, needle-nose pliers
  • Minnow bucket,  leech storage locker, stringer, landing net

Our bait & tackle shop carries a complete line of BWCA/Quetico proven lures and bait to help insure your fishing success, plus knowledgeable employees and Guides to help answer any questions you may have when you arrive for your trip.


I was so drawn to this new “reconnect with the past” theme, that I spent hours upon hours working on it.  I started by doing internet searches for people I hadn’t seen in years, and got pretty good at it.  Then, I started looking for people that other classmates were looking for, even if I didn’t know them, just because I could.  Sometimes, however, I uncovered little known stories or facts about people that I was pretty sure they would not want shared with others.  I would be fascinated.  But, I began to feel like an intruder.  So, I backed off.  Just because I could find out, did not mean I should.

Because of the work I’d done so far, I was asked by the Reunion Committee to take on the job of being the official registrar for the class.  This meant keeping track of updating all the known lists of classmates, and their last known contact information.  I agreed to do it.  It was daunting.  List after list of unmatched, uncorroborated data.  When I finished tabulating them, the list had grown to over 850 classmates, because married names were not tied to maiden names, and some had been married several times.  Since we now live in an online world, I wanted a data base where classmates would do a lot of the updating themselves.  I decided to create a new website, specific to our class, where it would be safe to reconnect with those with whom you wanted to reconnect, to keep contact information private from those with whom you did not want to reconnect, and where, simply by being members, the classmates themselves would do the updating of the data base for the benefit of the Reunion Committee. 


To LEGACY men of Strength,

I hope to give you most all the info you will need for the trip in this letter.  But if not, just call or e-mail  me or Scott and ask.  I am very pumped  for this trip. If it works out maybe a couples retreat would be in order. (men will discuss)

What to Pack:  (limit yourself to one backpack. Packs can be rented at the Rock island Arsenal in case you don’t have one— Also pack a separate duffle for showering and changing when you come out the last day)

A.) In fanny pack or on outside of backpack or at least in pack with easy access:

  • Camera, extra film, or Digital w/ extra memory & batteries
  • binoculars ( if you want, and preferably, for your sake, if they are lightweight )

B.) Tent (Note:  We can see who might have tents in this case 2 or 3 in a tent is good – less tents for us to haul up there!)

  • needs to be tied securely to your pack
  • a ground cloth, tarp ( not to big, just big enough to cover the bottom of tent )
  • make sure you have it all; tent, rain fly, poles, etc.

C.) Sleeping equipment

  • sleeping pad, small blanket
  • sleeping bag  ( needs to fit securely to pack or in it )
  • stocking cap ( if your concerned about cold weather, 50% of your body heat escapes through your noggin, and most of that through your forehead – although,  it shouldn’t be a problem this time of year )
  • separate sleeping clothes if you wish

D.) Personal Gear and Clothing  ( Don’t pack like a normal trip, i.e.  bare minimum to keep the weight down ) The general plan here is to bring what you’ll wear on first day plus 1-2 extra sets of clothes.  Jeans are bulky and heavy (try to avoid them)

  • 3-4 changes of underwear and socks
  • 1-2 T-shirts
  • heavy shirt, sweatshirt, jacket ( Preferably a fleece jacket – layer your clothing then you can peel if need to )
  • swim trunks ( if you want )
  • pants and shorts ( both, don’t count on warm or cold weather )
  • raincoat or poncho ( the more your protected the longer you can stay out and catch the trophy )
  • hat (for sun protection)
  • flashlight, extra batteries
  • Boots and sandals or whatever you want to bum around the campsite in, but I don’t think you need more than two pairs of shoes.  Note too, you will get wet feet , so plan accordingly. ( it is a good idea to have sandals to swim with )
  • cards games in case you can’t handle that much fishing or exploring
  • sunscreen
  • sunglasses
  • insect repellant
  • toilet paper, deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrush
  • towel
  • washcloth
  • soap ( biodegradable kind )
  • a few personal snacks  ( a Few, Jim!!)

E.) Meal Kit

  • insulated plastic mug or camp cup ( for coffee or hot cocoa )
  • water bottle ( if you have a hand water purifier bring it. you can buy tablets too.
  • knife, spoon, fork, plate and/or wide bowl  (we will have soups so plan on that)

F.) Fishing Gear

  • 1 or 2 rods and reels
  • your own tackle
  • filet knife ( If you don’t have one or don’t want to bring it that’s fine we will have a couple at least)
  • needle nose or hook puller ( you don’t want to stick your hand in a pike’s mouth)

G.) Other

  • multi-tool knife or pocket knife
  • duct tape
  • camp rope or clothesline wt. rope
  • extra heavy duty garbage bags

Note:  You need to get extra large ziplock bags to pack “everything” in.  Get the 2 gallon size for clothes and bigger items.  1 gallon is good for most other things.  Get freezeer quality if you can and DONT buy the off brand. Get Glad or Ziplock ( Dow ).  Everything you put in your pack should be in a ziplock.  Fill the ziplock then compress the air out, like vacuum sealing it.  And it’s a good idea to line your pack with a large garbage bag before packing.   Remember too, everything you take you have to carry so pack as light as you can and get it all either in or on your pack.

If it is not listed you don’t need to bring it.  We will have all the cooking items and meal prep stuff and most campsite needs.  We will take care of our meals.  If you doubt or have any questions, just ask.

Our Schedule: August 23-27 

I have talked with Pastor and have put together a tentative itinerary for something to shoot for.  Of course the trip is flexible but this will help you know what to expect.

Tuesday (Noon):

Meet at Church.  We will shoot for leaving the church by 12:30 PM.  We should be able to have Supper around Duluth around 6 or 7 PM.  We will head north inland to the Ranger Station before 8 PM for permits, etc.  We should arrive at an Outfitters near our entry point to camp the first night before we go in.


Up and at ’em.  We’ve got a long travel day  ahead.  Lots of canoeing and portaging.  Nothing too harsh though, but this is our only travel day besides coming back out.  We plan to make Lac La Croix by afternoon and set up camp.


Fish, explore, enjoy!  There’s a lot of neat day trips besides or along with fishing; history, waterfalls, etc.


Up early, pack up and head back out.  We may camp one more night before coming out.  (yet to be determined)


We will load up the van, and head for home.


As best as I know, this is how it works out:  Plan on about a minimum of $150-200 for the trip itself.  That includes the trip, gas for traveling, meals on the way, etc.  We will let you know more specific costs soon.  When we know who all is going we can determine how many Canoes we will need.  Please let Scott or I  know if you have any questions about anything; like how to pack your pack, or “it won’t all fit, now what?”, anything.

In Christ,

Dave Dawson




Building a website during the winter, using special templates from a webhosting site, took hours, and hours and hours.  I pre-populated it with all currently known data I had on classmates, on pages that are not available to search engines on the internet.  I then digitally cut, cropped, and pasted every single senior picture from our yearbook, and added them to the site, one, by one, by one. 

Sandy was not happy with me.  I thought I was dedicated and persevering.  She thought I was obsessed.  Either way, building a website, and beginning to prepare for the Boundary Waters were both keeping me from doing more with the family.  

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