"For an occurrence to become an adventure, it is necessary and sufficient for one to recount it." ~ Jean-Paul Sartre

Friday, August 5, 2011

A Part Time Adventurer Meets a Full Time Adventurer

Have you heard about this guy Dave Cornthwaite?  He is a British Adventurer embarking on a series of twenty five 1000+ mile journeys each with a different form of non-motorized transport.  Dave has done many impressive feats such as skateboarding the length of Great Britain, and across Australia.  He also kayaked the length of Australia's Murray River.  This is just a sampling of Dave's adventures for a more complete and impressive list you should go check out his website at DaveCornthwaite.com, go ahead I'll wait... just don't forget to come back.
Dave taking break
Pretty cool right?
A couple months ago I stumbled across his website and thought WOW! This is the type of thing I would be doing if I could.  More on this later...
Evan watches the dredging operation
When I saw that he was getting ready to start another journey, this time on a stand-up-paddle-board, traveling the length of the Mississippi river I thought "Wait a tick, I live near the Mississippi, in fact I cross it twice every work day."  It was the equivalent of a major sporting event being played down the street from your house.  There was no way I was going to miss it!  Adventure was coming to me all I had to do was wait.  I followed Dave's progress down the river on twitter, facebook, and his website. 
one of the places we stopped
As he got closer I was starting to wonder how I was going to locate one person on such a great river.  I started emailing back and forth and before I new it there was a time and a place to meet, Hamburg, IL.  I asked if there was anything he might need, and he said they were running low on water.  I wasn't sure who else was with but it didn't matter.  I bought a 2.5gallon jug of water and Beth and I headed out to Hamburg.  Upon arrival there was no sign of Dave, and believe me there is no place to hide in Hamburg.  We drove back and forth, waited, and drove back and forth some more.  Eventually I saw a canoe out on the water and then there was Dave Cornthwaite on a SUP.  I turned around and headed back into town and started to unload my gear at the boat ramp.  They pulled off a little up river from where I was and we introduced ourselves and I met Evan who on a whim decided with no paddling experience to travel from the Headwaters in Lake Itasca to St Louis to raise money for the Susan G. Komen foundation (he lost his mother to breast cancer, something we have in common).  He definitely has the adventure spirit!  Dave apologized for being late, the headwinds were terrible and they weren't making much progress.  It was doubtful that we would make it to Grafton.  We talked for a bit and then we were off like a shot, a slow shot into the mighty headwinds.  Being low to the water in my kayak I was less affected by the headwinds, and it looked like Dave and Evan were really working hard.  I kept it easy and maintained whatever pace they wanted to set.  We stopped and rested a few times and discussed philosophical topics ranging from the subtle differences of candy in the UK vs US to speed dating at 60hours with no sleep.  It was a good day out on the river the brutal headwinds helped us cool off, the heat index was 118degrees.  Once it became clear that we were not going to make it to Grafton I was worried about where Beth was going to pick me up (I had just recently sent her driving all over the sketchy back roads of Okawville in an attempt to pick me up off the Kaskaskia river and I did not want a repeat of that experience).
Dave recording while Evan calls the Dam operator
We went through the lock at the Winfield dam which was an experience.  Evan said I was lucky because my first lock was as difficult as it gets, which was only slightly difficult and mostly uninteresting.  It's supposed to go like this: Paddle up to the location indicated by the signs, pull the chain, wait for the operator to open the lock, paddle in, wait for the water to lower, and paddle out the other side when it opens.  Really a very simple procedure.  In this case the chain was broken so Evan looked up the number and called them.  They asked when we would be there and he informed them that we were there already and their chain was broken to which they replied something to the effect of 'we keep forgetting to fix that'.  The rest of the trip through was uneventful.  After we made it through the lock we looked for a marina that appeared to exist only on Evan's map. 
Me, Dave, and Evan
We ended up taking a rest over on the shore.   Dave and Evan rested on their mats while I sat on a pointy rock.  Since you can only sit on a pointy rock for a limited amount of time I went down to the water and waded out a bit where I called Beth who had scouted some locations to pick me up.  We decided on the Double Ranch Marina because there was a store.  I had planned on buying Dave and Evan a beer when we got to Grafton so I thought this would be a good alternative.  Unfortunately we pulled in just after 5pm and the store had closed.  I felt horrible.  I gave them the rest of the water and food that I had with me and wished them well.  I hope they enjoyed the burritos I gave them.  They both seemed very excited to have them.  
Dave's SUP, Artemis.
As Beth and I drove away I felt a bit sad to not be going back out on the river.  Beth was all but certain that I was going to tell her that I was going back out with them.  While my time with Dave was short I found it to be very inspirational.  While I cant't travel all over the world completing grand adventures the way Dave does I can embark on my own adventures in the surrounding area.  I am very fortunate to live in the St Louis area, in that there are many opportunities on a wide variety of terrain all within a couple hours drive in any direction.  
I've got some ideas of a few things that want to do but I will keep them under wraps until I work out a few of the details.  Suffice it to say that my Adventure Spirit has been rekindled and I am looking forward to what the future holds.  Now if I could just find a way to quit my job...does anyone want to pay me to be a professional adventurer?
I wish Dave the best of luck on the rest of his journey down the river and on all the rest of his adventures.  If you haven't yet Check out his website and at least consider making a donation to one of his charities.  They are both really good causes.  


  1. This is really cool. He seems like a nice guy and definitely has the adventure spirit. Glad you got a chance to paddle with them and get your spark back. If you find someone who wants to pay you to adventure and they have a little extra $$ after that, send them my way, please.

  2. I wish I could have made it, I really wanted to do it, it was just a day too early for me. Sounds like a really great adventure though.


    I still can't get this comment thing to work right, it has to be my computer.

  3. Very cool you got to meet up with Dave and Evan on the river! Was it intimidating going through a lock in a kayak?

  4. Patrick, great blog! It was a real pleasure to meet you on the river and thanks for joining up for 27 of your very own Blue Miles. Keep on adventuring, the key isn't necessarily to do it for a living, but to get enough life out of doing it in the first place.
    PS. The burritos were top dollar! Thank you!