Thursday, December 8, 2011

Where we are now...

Since the end of our journey, nearly a year and a half ago, Aaron and I have both enlisted in the Navy and Coast Guard, respectively. Aaron is currently training at the Great Lakes Naval Base, while I am now stationed at Coast Guard Station New Orleans.

While our schedules are both very tight, we are happy to answer any questions about the trip or assist anyone that is looking to make the trip. Being stationed in New Orleans, I have had the pleasure of meeting others completing the trip. If you plan to travel to NOLA, be it by canoe, car or plane, let me know.

There is a chance Canoe for the Cure will be revived, most likely in a solo adventure. I will keep you posted.

Friday, January 28, 2011

For anyone who is thinking of doing the trip...

If you are thinking of doing the trip, I would be more than happy to help and give a little advice. It was a beyond helpful for us to talk to people who had done it before when we were planning and getting ready. I'd love to pass it on. You can email me directly at, or call me at 630-341-0042.


Sunday, August 1, 2010

Open House August 21st

We have changed the time that Aaron and Jake will speak at the open house to 3:00 - 5:00 p.m. at Glenwood Forest Preserve in Batavia. The open house will be held from 1:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. All are invited to attend the open house, Aaron and Jake are looking forward to sharing their stories with everyone. Click on the link to the right for a map to Glenwood Forest Preserve.

Posted by Aaron's dad.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Thank you

The friends, family, and followers who supported us throughout our trip certainly motivated us until the end. As Jake said, there were times when moving on seemed impossible, but we thought about the followers at home to push on. This venture proved to us that there are still many decent people in this world that are willing to give, share, and motivate. It is amazing how many people donated to the cause in these economically harsh times. We are happy to be home and hope that everyone who is interested in the trip can make it to the open house on August 21st. It is hard to show our appreciation with words, but this trip wouldn't have happened without all of our supporters. Again, thank you to all of our friends, family, and organizations who cheered us on until the end.


Monday, July 26, 2010

Thank You

I cannot begin to explain the uplifting effect everyone’s following of our journey had on us. The support was so motivating, I am almost certain the trip would have been unbearable, if not impossible, had we not known everyone was cheering for us at home. There were times when we didn’t know what to think, didn’t know why we should push on, other than that there was no way we could let a few hundred diligent followers down.

At one point, the dreaded two week mark, it had been raining for a few days and we hadn’t seen the sun in six. We were soaked, even under our raingear, and beginning to get very sore and extremely uncomfortable. We were lucky enough to find a campground across the river from Redwing, Minnesota. First of all, this place had showers! Even better, we found friends. Jim, Jim, Sandy, and Linda were camped in the site next to us. Being in a campground that catered to the weekend camper-trailer type, we stuck out like sore thumbs. We quickly explained to our new neighbors where we had come from, what we were doing, and gave them a card. Within five minutes, we were looking over Jim’s shoulder at the blog, absolutely astounded by the posts, comments, and followers. We were also quickly showered with food, everything from chips and salsa, to cheese, to chocolates. We were in hog heaven, and our spirits couldn’t have been lifted higher that evening. We woke to a wonderful breakfast of bacon, eggs, and hash-browns (I’m sure everyone has seen the picture). Paddling away with a perfect send-off, we quickly crossed Lake Pepin and continued our journey, as if the emotional low a few days prior hadn’t occurred.

We found this boost throughout the journey, in Dubuque, Galena, Canton, Wickliffe, and New Orleans, hearing all the time that more and more people were following. The support was motivation through the difficult times, constant reinforcements for our psyche. Thanks to everyone at home and across the country, we never lost the feeling that we were doing something great. My appreciation for the posts, comments, messages, and donations really cannot be put to words. Without the resounding support of everyone that has heard of our cause, the entire journey would have been unfathomable. Thank you, so very much, for making such a wild dream of an adventure possible and successful.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Father's Perspective

We are looking forward to the Open House/Celebration on August 21st.  Again, everyone and anyone is welcome to attend.  We may extend the time frame that Aaron and Jake will speak to the crowd ... stay tuned.

As we made the 15 hour drive home yesterday I had time to reflect on the last 50 some days.  My original intent was to update the map and post a short blog about the trip once a week.  This changed when I got Aaron and Jake's first text on May 29 that said, "Made 25 miles, camping at Stumphges Rapids."  I knew Aaron said they were hoping to go 15 miles the first day but he wasn't sure if they could make it that far.  I looked at the Minnesota maps to see where Stumphges Rapids were and read about that section of the river.  I felt this needed to be shared with everyone.  It was apparent that this was not going to be a leisure stroll down the river.  The feedback I got from friends and family was overwhelming so I decided to post everyday. 

The past few days have been very stressful and emotional for me as a parent.  I was well aware of just how difficult the last section of the river was.  On Saturday, my wife Carol and I drove over 200 miles on a reconnaissance mission to find a place to pick them up on the river so they could get a night's rest in a hotel for the final push to the Gulf.  Actually I had to convince both Aaron and Jake that they would benefit from a good meal, shower and bed, neither wanted to stop.  This section of the river is all industrial, it is also under the control of the New Orleans Port Authority.  This means 90% of the shoreline is not accessible because of fencing and guard stations.  After we spoke to a Port Authority security guard and after a visit to the 2nd ward Police station, we found a park on the water's edge at mile marker 101. I had spoken to Aaron earlier in the day and told him we could get them at the "steps" in downtown New Orleans which is mile 94.  Aaron said they were not making good time, it was very hot, the ship traffic was non stop and the current was slowing down. "I don't think we can make mile 94 Dad", said Aaron. The park at 101 would be perfect.  We drove to the park and tried to call Aaron to tell them where to stop, but there was no answer.  As I called I could see this little canoe on the opposite side of the river from the park!  Carol and I yelled and waved trying to get their attention.  This had no affect because the river is wide and the guys were focused on each stroke of the paddle as ocean going ships and huge barges passed them by.  Even if they did see us there was no way for them to cross the river at that point without being run over.  Helplessly watching them plod along filled me with every emotion imaginable.  I was so relieved to see them, I was so proud that I teared up, I was so mad that they couldn't see me, I was so scared for their safety, I was so concerned that they now would have another 7 miles to paddle and it was already close to 6:00 p.m.  We drove the seven miles through crowded streets to the "steps" and waited anxiously.  If they didn't see us at the steps there would not be another spot to pick them up for the next 50 miles.   Luckily I got a  hold of Jake on the phone and explained that the city of New Orleans was going to be on their port side "O.K. I better hang up then because we have a small window to cross the river right now", said Jake.  The rest of this story was explained on the post titled "Who Dat?"

Two days later I was in Venice, Louisiana once again trying to find a place to get Aaron and Jake.  As we drove to the end of any roads we were confronted with a "military type war zone".  Because of the BP oil leak this entire area was now under BP/government control.  I went to one of the two marinas in Venice and walked around with my canoe for the cure shirt on hoping to find a boat to pick Aaron and Jake up.  You see, mile 0 is 12 miles beyond Venice.  I spoke to a man that was obviously a local fishing guide.  He said, BP has every single boat under contract. "I would like to help ya but I can't, BP has everyone of us contracted 24/7".  The marina was filled with 100s of people walking around in Coast Guard uniforms, there was not a smile on any one's face.  The whole scene really was eerie. Finally we spoke to a police officer who told us there is not a chance of us getting a boat.  He also said "You better let them know that if they go to mile 0 there will be no rides back and they will have to paddle upstream to get back to Venice."  A few minutes later I drove up on the levee (illegally) and saw Aaron and Jake paddling down the river. I snapped a few shots as the Coast Guard gave Aaron and Jake the same information I learned from the police.  1/2 mile later I drove to an old boat ramp where Aaron and Jake's trip came to a quiet end. 

There was no fanfare, no fireworks, no bands playing.  Perhaps this is fitting,  both Aaron and Jake are very humble and they never did this with the intent to gain recognition.  Instead they did this for a cause.  I handed Aaron a cheap bottle of champagne they purchased Saturday night in New Orleans.  The trip was over.

Extreme pride and relief poured over me as I snapped over 100 photographs of the finish.

Aaron's dad's last post.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Trip Statistics and New Pictures

2239=total miles paddled
48=days paddled
52=total days including days off
46.6=Average miles paddled per day
35=pounds lost for both Aaron and Jake

The final set of pictures has been uploaded. Click the slideshow above to see them.

Monday, July 19, 2010


Aaron and Jake put in a marathon canoe session to end the trip.  They spent 26 continuous hours in the canoe cranking out 81 incredible miles since Sunday morning.  They paddled until 1:00 a..m., slept until 5:00 a.m. and canoed again until 9:30 a.m.  They were not able to reach mile 0 because the Coast Guard informed them that no boats would be able to bring them back to Venice.  They reached mile 13, some 2239 miles total.Below is a picture of the conversation with the Coast Guard.

Keep checking the blog for more posts and new pictures.

Posted by Aaron's dad

Game Face

Sunday morning I took Aaron and Jake to the International House of Pancakes for a send off breakfast prior to their last two days on the river. The night before the guys got some of the local flavor of New Orleans as they ate po boy sandwiches and crayfish e’touffee. Carol and I were treated to many stories about Aaron and Jake’s trip. They were bright eyed as they told each story with enthusiasm. It seemed one story would stimulate the memory of another story. It was like watching a tennis match listening to the stories shared by both guys. We took a quick stroll down only one block of Bourbon Street when both Aaron and Jake said they should get to bed.

I saw a different demeanor on Aaron and Jake’s faces as we walked the two blocks to IHOP. The banter at breakfast was much different than the night before. It was obvious they both had their game faces tightly secured. As a former head coach of 10+ years I have seen this look often. Both men were completely focused on the remaining task at hand. They knew these last two days would be an extreme challenge as the current fades and ocean going ship traffic increases. They ate a sensible breakfast loaded the canoe and were off to finish the trip.
Posted by Aaron's dad

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Re-Energized for the Last Push

Well they are off,  94 miles left to mile 0.  This picture was taken this morning just before they started the last leg of the trip. The current is really slowing down and the boat(ship) traffic is speeding up.  They should be done tomorrow afternoon or evening.  I am still working on procuring a boat to pick them up at mile 0.  All the Fishing guides are doing work for BP in the oil clean up effort.

This trip will soon come to an end but the blog will continue for a few more weeks.  Aaron and Jake will be posting some messeges in the next few weeks .  They will also update the pictures in the next week or so.

Don't forget August 21st is the open house/celebration for Aaron and Jake.  You can find a map to Glenwood Forest Preserve to the right of this post.  Anyone is welcome to attend.  Aaron and Jake will be speaking to the crowd from 4:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.

"Who Dat?"

Who Dat?
Not far from Jackson Square is a riverwalk along the Mississippi River. On this river walk there are stairs that lead right to the river’s edge, so close that one could dangle their toes in the river. At 6:45 p.m. Carol and I sat on these stairs looking upstream for the better part on an hour. Finally, in the distance we picked up the movement of a small boat silhouetted against the New Orleans’ skyline. I grabbed my camera and snapped a few shots. Over the next ½ hour I would snap more frequent shots and Carol and I would occasionally point or make a comment about the canoe which was inching its way closer. The other people around us started to take notice. 20 – 15 people in our adjacent vicinity started to slowly ask us questions. Each answer brought more questions, and the questions started to pick up in frequency as the little boat neared the stairs. “Who dat?, Where did they come from?, Where is Minnesota, isn’t that north somewhere?, Where do they sleep?, How they gonna paddle back? Didn’t I hear something about these guys on CNN?” By the time Aaron and Jake made it to the stairs the crowd grew to 30 or more. Some people had no clue what was going on “Is it legal to put a canoe on this river?” Some people were starting to grasp the enormity of the effort as Carol and I continued to answer questions “How many days has it taken them?” Some people simply sat there with tears in their eyes “I can’t believe they did this – my mom died of breast cancer last summer”. We helped unload the boat but the questions just increased. One overly inquisitive 5 year old latched on to Jake and fired question after question. Jake patiently answered every single question as he handed me gear from the boat. “Did you eat any alligators?, My uncle has a boat, do you know my uncle?, How many times did you tip over?, I got a fishing pole for my birthday, do you want to see it sometime?” After our entertaining of the crowd was over we got the guys a good meal, a shower and a good night’s rest.

Aaron and Jake paddled 52 miles to marker 94.

Leaving in 15 minutes to take Aaron and Jake to International House of Pancakes and then back in the river by 6:00a.m. for the final two days.

Posted by Aaron’s dad

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Over 2000 Miles Paddled!

As you look at the map to the right you probably would think that Aaron and Jake only have a little ways to go and it is all downhill from here. You would be correct from a mileage standpoint. However this part of the expedition may in fact be the hardest of the entire trip for Aaron and Jake. The last section of the river has really taken a toll on the guys both physically and mentally. The physical strains are obvious, aching arms, backs and hands. Unrelenting sun, day in and day out has turned their skin to leather. Constant battles with bugs require thick applications of bug spray, which at best just minimizes the little critter’s pestering. A week and a half of 90+ degree temperatures has depleted the guy’s electrolyte balance even when they are drinking sometimes 3 gallons each per day. The mental toll is less obvious, however I can sense from the nightly texts and the occasional phone call that they are both beaten down. They have a tunnel vision to reach mile 0 as soon as possible. It is hard for them to think past the next paddle stroke at this point.

Aaron and Jake struggled to paddle 61 miles to mile marker 146. The current has slowed down so miles are getting harder.

Posted by Aaron’s dad

Friday, July 16, 2010

One Hour

Thursday Carol and I drove to Memphis, Tennessee. We averaged 65-70 miles per hour. During one of those hours the following happened: We saw the corn fields of northern Illinois slowly transform to the Mississippi Delta. We ate ham and swiss on rye, chips, string cheese and peanut M & M’s washed down with and ice cold Coca-cola. We listened to music for a while and then listened to a book on tape. I adjusted the air conditioning so we could be nice and cool inside as the temperature outside rose to 97. All of this happened during one 65 mile stretch of our drive.

Thursday Aaron and Jake paddled to mile marker 207. They travelled 63 miles. During the day the following happened: They saw the same scenery they have seen for the last 4-5 days. They ate some oatmeal (again), snacked on some Nature Valley snack bars and washed it down with 97 degree water. They listened to the music of the water as their paddles dipped repeatedly in an out of the river. They endured once again a sultry day as the temperature outside rose to 97+. All of this happened during one 63 mile stretch of the Mississippi River.

I wonder how Aaron and Jake will adjust during the car ride home. Will the miles start to become insignificant to them as they whiz by every hour? We will travel the distance home in about 15 hours of driving in a car. This same distance took Aaron and Jake over 30 days to paddle. 30 painful, sunburned, poison ivy infested, dehydrating and mind numbing days. What happens in one hour in the car is soon forgotten. What Aaron and Jake will have accomplished in a few days will not be forgotten.

Posted by Aaron’s dad

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Melting Pot

Aaron and Jake paddled an incredible 75 miles Wednesday to mile marker 270.  They did this by getting on the water early and never got out of the canoe all day.  They "rested" in the mid-day heat by floating down the river.  They are 40 miles north of Baton Rouge and some 175 miles north of New Orleans.  Forecast for Thursday is 97 with isolated thunderstorms.

New Orleans – a True Melting Pot

New Orleans was originally founded by the French in 1718 but later ceded to the Spanish Empire in 1763. What we now refer to as Cajuns were actually French Canadian refugees who were banished from northeast Canada after the French and Indian War. In 1763 the Cajuns moved to Louisiana only to find out it was now under Spanish rule, the Cajuns were once again banished – this time to the swamps where they thrived. New Orleans was reverted back to French control in 1801. The architecture of the French Quarter comes from the Spanish period. Napoleon sold the territory to the United States in 1803 which opened the flood gates for French, German, Irish, African and Creole immigrants as New Orleans was one of the main entries into our country in addition to Ellis Island in New York. The Haitian Revolution of 1804 brought refugees from that island which added to the melting pot.

The cultural melting pot has resulted in a culinary melting pot that New Orleans is so well known for. Many of the dishes we enjoy today had a French, Spanish, Haitian or African beginning but use easily accessible local ingredients. Jambalaya for instance, is a spin off of the Spanish dish paella. Gumbo is based on the French dish bouillabaisse but uses the African plant okra to thicken the sauce. Beignet, straight from heaven, is a little fried dough pillow dusted with powdered sugar.

My wife Carol and I are going to arrive in New Orleans on Friday. This will give us a few days to test out this cuisine and make sure it is suitable for Aaron and Jake.

Posted by Aaron's dad

Mud Island River Walk

My wife Carol and I are heading south tomorrow to meet Aaron and Jake.  We are going to stay over night in Memphis, Tennessee at Aaron's suggestion.  He and Jake stopped in Memphis and stumbled on the Mud Island River Walk.  Aaron said this is a must see.  The Mud Island River Walk is an exact scale model of the Lower Mississippi River flowing from its confluence with the Ohio River at Cairo, Illinois 954 miles south to the Gulf of Mexico.  The River Walk is one of the most unique representations of the Mississippi River in the world.

"The "1,000" mile journey concludes at the Gulf of Mexico, a one-acre enclosure that holds 1.3 million gallons of water. There, visitors can enjoy a leisurely pedal boat ride around the Gulf area with the Memphis skyline in the background".

Click this link to check it out:

Posted by Aaron's dad