Thursday, April 11, 2013

October 13: Kevin's little floating adventure

 My notes during the portage are a bit disjointed, but this newspaper article had it together:
Written by April Scheinoha for the Northern Watch Online
He is biking and canoeing his way to New Orleans
Five hours. Usually, the 17-mile trip from Newfolden to Thief River Falls doesn’t take that long. For Kevin Saff, it did. 
“At one point, I was a mile or two away, and I thought I was not going to make it,” Saff said. He was probably grateful that Hardware Hank and Anderson Power and Equipment are located on the west side of Thief River Falls.
Saff is traveling via bike and canoe from Calgary, Alberta, Canada, to New Orleans, a trip of about 2,500 miles when traveling on roads. He rides the bike when he can’t travel by canoe.
Prior to heading out, Saff put his rig together. The rig consists of the bike, a boat trailer and the canoe. The bike folds up for those moments when Saff can actually canoe.
Besides the rig, Saff brought along a tent for those moments when he wants to sleep. He also brought along other necessities like a journal.
The arduous trek is actually meant to be a break for the former Missouri resident. “It’s a fun thing to do,” said Saff, who has lived and studied in Calgary for three years. 
This is the first time that Saff has participated in anything of this magnitude. In Missouri, he participated in a nine-day bike trip. He has also participated in “little bike trips here and there.” 
On June 22, Saff began the largest bike – and canoe – trip of his life thus far.  In his words, he threw his boat into the Bow River in Calgary. It took him three months to travel to Winnipeg, a trip of about 825 miles when traveling on roads. From Manitoba, he made his way into the United States. 
Saff plans to travel down the Mississippi River to New Orleans. He expects that the Mississippi River leg will take about three months. “I’m just hoping I beat the freeze,” said Saff, who has read about similar travels on the Mississippi River. However, in Saff’s case, he may face difficulties that those travelers haven’t faced – darkness and colder weather. 
Saff has already faced some formidable foes that would have forced less hardy folks to abandon the trip. There was the foe known as the Red River. Saff was traveling upstream, when he encountered a set of rapids. Of course, then a wind gust blew him 20 feet backwards. The next day, it rained, and Saff was so sore that he decided to stay in his tent all day. 
Later, Saff continued making his way to New Orleans. On Sunday night, he found himself in a different city with “new” in the title: Newfolden. Saff was staying at the Newfolden City Park, when he was approached by Pastor Phil Rokke. “I thought I had to see this thing,” recalled Rokke, who noticed Saff’s rig. Saff looked like he needed to warm up, so Rokke invited Saff to his house for food and a place to spend the night. 
On Monday, Saff was off again on his trip. That’s when an axle broke on his boat trailer. It was hard for him to pedal, but he made it to Thief River Falls five hours later. At about 4 p.m. Monday, he arrived at the businesses Hardware Hank and Anderson Power and Equipment. 
Employees tried to find Saff the necessary parts to fix his trailer. They were unable to find the parts in Thief River Falls. Then employee Jim Voytilla salvaged some parts from his farm in Viking. Some spare tires were also given to Saff. By the time the parts were found and put into place, it was about 8 p.m. It was too late for Saff to put up a tent. 
Instead, Saff stayed overnight at employee Scott Hemingsen’s home in Viking. In the meantime, Saff’s bike and canoe were safe at Anderson Power and Equipment. 
On Tuesday morning, Saff was off again, leaving an envious employee, Lyle Hanson, in his wake. However, before leaving the city, Saff went to the Thief River Falls Public Library to check his e-mail and write in his blog, “Kevin’s Little Floating Adventure.” The blog is available by logging onto Then he was off again – on his way to the Mississippi River.
One thing she didn't mention was Jim's side of the story.  He had seen me at a gas station and driven a good ten minutes down the road before thinking "That guy's canoe said Calgary.  I bet he's in a lot of trouble."  He turned back for me and in the end it was the bike wheel in his garden that had what I needed to make it to Itasca.

Day 114 ended: Scott Hemingsen's home in Viking 

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