Near Grand Marais, MN – July 24, 2012
It feels like a lifetime ago when I stayed up until 6am making a video about this trip to send to Outside Magazine. Then I got a call that said I was one of five finalists and it would come down to a vote.
There were some amazing trips to compete with. Biking across Siberia sounded like it would end with a thousand stories or death or both. I would have loved to set sail in search of the secret to happiness or gone on a wild ride across Thailand like Mr. Toad. And anyone who knows me knows I’m partial to walking around for months on end.
They are all great trips, all worthy in their own way, but someone had to win and I was the lucky one.
“We’re gonna need a photo,” Outside said.
I thought they would just send some guy and a camera to take a picture, but after helping to lug a few hundred pounds of equipment to the beach this morning, I knew I was in way over my head. There were lights and computers, batteries and generators, tripods and reflectors. It was like we moved an entire studio down to the shore of Lake Superior.
I smiled a thousand different ways, I grinned and smirked, I tried to look serious or stoic or tough even though the whole thing made me laugh. It felt surreal standing there in the water staring at such a production with the lens focused on me.
Within the first minute, it was clear that I’m no model, I freeze, I look awkward, I don’t know what to do with my face, so if David and Greg got anything good, it’s to their credit. If they all turned out bad, blame me.
From what I saw though, the pictures were beautiful. Me and the Looksha, just the two of us on this grand adventure together. We’re all alone with Lake Superior behind us, ready to swallow us whole.
But that’s not the truth, even if it feels that way sometimes, even if it makes for a more dramatic story. The truth of this trip is that I’m not alone and never have been out here. Each click of David’s camera reminded me that he is only taking pictures of me because of you.
You’re the reason I won Outside’s grant. I couldn’t vote for myself 2,000 times. I couldn’t tell your friends or twist their arms. It was all of you, all my friends who did that for me.
Friends I sat in contracts with on the first day of law school, friends I met dancing salsa at 3am, friends I played freeze tag with in 3rd grade, friends I walked with down thousand-mile trails, friends who were strangers until they gave me a ride or put me up for a night, friends who cheered for the Gators with me on Saturdays in the fall, friends who paddle and love the water, friends I’ve known all my life, friends I’ve only met once, friends I’ve never met before.
Thank you. Thank you for being there with me then and here with me now. Thank you for making all this possible.