"Tales of the Midwestern Northwoods" -Enrique Vazquez, 2023 Book Collecting Award
1975 was a tumultuous year for my family. My father was on another 1-year tour of duty in Viet Nam and we were living in Bangkok. As South Viet Nam began to fall, we lost touch with my father in the horrible chaos of war. All we knew was that he was in north and every now and again, would hear from friends that he was working his way south. In April of that year, my recently widowed grandmother had a terrible accident and my mother decided that we had to return to Minnesota to take care of her. So, we left Bangkok not knowing where our father was and if we would ever see him again.
A couple of months later, we heard he was safe and out of the country and would be joining us soon. I was 15 years old and thought that a canoe trip would be a good way to reconnect with him. My family liked to camp and it was a favorite part of growing up with my parents. So, I planned my first expedition and made arrangements with an outfitter in Ely to spend a week canoeing in the Boundary Waters. My mother (& 9-year-old sister) decided to stay with my grandmother, so it was just us boys, my 13-year-old brother, my dad, and myself.
On the drive to Ely, we adopted a feral kitten born behind a gas station, soon to be named "Ely". As it turned out, Ely was a fearless kitten that adapted perfectly to the canoe and water. Ely would ride atop one of the packs and swim just for fun. We had a wonderful trip. At that time, there were no permits required and we could camp and go wherever we wanted. We went the entire week without seeing any other party. We ate Smallmouth Bass or Walleye every night and sometimes in the morning, too. It was truly wonderful and the experience is still one of my favorite memories. Further, I felt like I could do this forever. I found that I can live the bush life, which led me to Alaska, where I've lived for over 40 years. I still love the bush life.
After that first BWCA trip, we continued with a number of subsequent canoe trips to the BWCA and elsewhere. We're on our third generation of voyageurs now.
One of the most memorable experiences of my life was a 50 mile canoe trip in the Boundary Waters with my two sons and their Boy Scout troop.
If you ever need a new name for your column, how about "Obscure to OMG."
Hmmm - I never even heard about Boundary Waters area...
Great story! Terrible narration to the film. Why do people with apparently no skill whatsoever presume to inflict their inability on others? The text of books like this must be expressed from a deeper understanding of their spirit presence and not 'just read' like first timers almost always do. The Art of Living clearly remains a total mystery even to those standing right before her greatest gifts. What I am saying is the deep seated comprehension Olson clearly possessed of this incredible nature-scape is obfuscated and almost totally lost in this amateur presentation. Had he to suffer it spoken in this way Olson would no doubt roll his eyes in disbelief.