The Trip: The Why

There will be ample opportunity and time to explain the How of this trip. Planning, logistics, preparation: I can (and will) write for hours about what I’ve already done and what I will continue to do leading up to departure in May. What’s more difficult to put down on paper are the reasons I’ve chosen to do this trip.

As I’ve had the opportunity to try to explain what I am planning on doing to curious friends and family over the recent holidays, I have a decent grasp on what my motivations for this trip are. First and foremost is the adventure and the challenge. I’ve tested myself on the MR340 a handful of times. Every time I finish that race, I tell myself that’s the hardest thing I have ever done and will likely ever do. By undertaking the MR2450, I am changing that realization. I believe this will be the hardest thing I have ever done, and will ever do (until my next idea, I suppose…) The planning that I’ve done has already been challenging and very educational, as I’m certain the next few months will be. And when my loaded up car pulls out of the driveway in mid-May, it will be time to test my planning skills, my ability to deal with challenges that arise and my day-to-day capacity to just survive. Physically and mentally, it will be totally different from anything I’ve done before and I expect to learn much more about myself and the world in the process.

My secondary motivation is not quite as selfish. I’ve learned that many people who’ve previously undertaken a Missouri River descent trip have done so in an effort to raise money for various noble causes. The attention and publicity a long distance paddler will inevitably receive from not only friends and family, but from local media along the way and of course the ever-expanding reach of social media is a wonderful opportunity to do something great. I’ve decided to raise money for an amazing organization, Missouri River Relief. The first line of their mission statement is something that has been on the forefront of my mind since before my first experience on the river and will certainly remain a focal point in my life for the foreseeable future:

Missouri River Relief is a community, volunteer and equipment-based not-for-profit organization dedicated to connecting people to the Missouri River through hands-on river clean-ups, education events and stewardship activities.

Certainly, I plan to expand on what this organization does and what they mean to me, and why I’ve chosen them as the source of any fundraising I am fortunate enough to undertake.

In my personal and professional life, I feel like I am in an ideal spot to take this trip this year. My ever-patient and understanding wife is up for this adventure as well. She’s helped me plan, work through ideas, acted as my reality check and will be my virtual ground crew during the trip. She will travel to Montana to push my boat into the water and will be my eyes and ears back in base camp here in St. Louis during the trip. And she might even come meet me somewhere along the way. My employer will know about my plans soon enough. I’ve been a loyal and effective employee for 13+ years, and I am crossing my fingers that my proposal for a sabbatical will encounter understanding, flexibility and encouragement from them. To be continued…

Thanks for taking a moment to read and hope you’ll continue with me on this adventure.