The journeys we fear taking

(Daniel Alvarez)

Though I passed along late last month that Daniel Alvarez had completed his round-trip kayak voyage from Minnesota’s Northwest Angle to Key West and back, his outstanding blog, Predictably Lost, posts 10 days behind actual events. So today, Daniel posted about the end of his journey, at the beginning of it.

I felt like a charlatan once, long ago, back in Greenbush, Minnesota, sitting across from Mavis in the town diner. She’d caught me on the corner with a paddle in one hand trying to hitchhike up the highway.

“Had to rent a car to get the boat up to the Angle,” I told her. “Had to return it in Minneapolis.”

She took me to lunch and introduced me to half the town.

“He’s going to kayak to Key West,” she told people.

She said it like I’d done something more than just shown up with a good imagination. I shook hands and smiled. The high school custodian’s wife gave me a stuffed alligator for a mascot. I called it “Ali” and said I hoped it knew the way back to Florida. I shook more hands and thought about the Looksha’s clean yellow hull waiting for me at the Angle. There wasn’t a scratch on it. I’d never even sat in a sea kayak before. I was all paper.

Throughout his journey, his blog served another purpose besides chronicling the trip. It invited us — challenged us, really — to take a step on a path on which we’re afraid to go.

The last time I saw him — at a boat ramp in South St. Paul — he asked me about some plans to fly a small airplane across the country.

“I’m a little nervous about it,” I said as I helped him shove off.

“If you’re not nervous, you need to dream bigger,” he said as he paddled toward Key West.

I never made the trip.